GamesCom: Sony drops PS3 price

ps3-slim-comparison-1It’s old news, at least by Internet standards anyway, but at Germany’s GamesCon, Sonty final made some hardware announcements.

1st, effective immediately (or until online stores make the appropriate changes) the PS3 80GB model has dropped in price $100, to a new attractive price of $299.

2nd, for those that can wait until the end of the month, Sony also confirmed and unveiled the PS3 Slim, 120GB model also at $299! So a few more weeks and 40 more GB for the same price, yeah….I’ll wait.

The PS3 slim is 32% smaller than the oringal PS3 and consumes 34% less power (250W as opposed to current 280W), and supposedly run quieter than it’s big brother. When the PS3 is released in just a few weeks, a frimware 3.0 upgrade will also be unleashed which will have support for Bravia remotes, modified friends lists, tweaked trophies, some interface changes, blah, blah, blah. Linux is dropped from the OS. Wonder if anyone will still use Home or what changes are in store for Home…do you even care?

Well, it looks as if I’m finally going to get a BluRay player….I’ve been witing for a significant price drop for some time. Even though I’m still mainly 360 guy, you can bet I’ll be getting this eventually for movies, and, well maybe Killzone & Little Big Planet.

Advertisements

E3 2009: Ubisoft Impressions

I’m a little late in making any E3 posts as I have to tape the live shows and watch them later in evening when I get home from my regular day, so while today is Wednesday, the Ubisoft press conference took place on Monday this week.

Instead of tackling games per platform, I’ll just offer up some highlights and general notes on games and developments (in no particular order) showed during Ubisoft’s presentation:

  • Commented that ‘tween’ demographic is one of the largest growing segments in gaming right now, mostly appealing to young girls and that many companies follow their lead.  They place a heavy emphasis on their ‘imagine’ line of games for DSi, Wii, and PC.  Of course you can expect to see more ‘Petz’ titles this year as well as some new fashion orientated games that allow players to mock up pictures they may take with their DSi camera’s.  Players can also trade pets and/or data using the DSi’s built in WiFi.  Ubisoft calls this ‘inter-connectivity’, and finally metioned the ability to create items such as jewelry, and then pruchase your creation online, and then have an actual physcial item shipped to your.  The example they used was a necklace in which a young girl designed it via her stylus and DSi, and then finished product was shipped to her home.
  • U-Play: Ubisoft seems to want to make a more interactive web/forum experience for those that purcahse their products.  U-Play looks somewhat similar to the new X-Box experience, by having 4 ‘blades’, each having a specific purpose such as  walkthrough/hints, store, etc.
  • Assassins Creed 2: I never played the first one, but I understand it was one of the best new and fasted selling IP’s of 2007.  Expect them to expand on all the previous features including swimming, new stealth based kills, larger areas, and new characters.  They seem to be taking this one pretty seriously, and the trailer they showed was stunning.  Now that the original has dropped in price as a platimun hit at $19.99, I may go back and pick it up in preparation for the sequel.  Ubisoft claimed thay have over 400 people working on this title!
  • Raving Rabbid’s Go Home (Wii): Looks like this franchise is departing from it ‘party-game’ format into something a bit more structured and customizable.  There is now a plot in which the rabbid’s want to get off the earth and make their new home on the moon….but how do they get there?  Well, they feel the need to take ‘stuff’ and build a tower of random junk that will lead to the moon.  There are some open sand-box play fields and some mini-games as well.  You can also customize the individual looks of your rabbids and unlock additional items as you progress.  Of course a lot of silly humor goes into this over the top cartoon stylized game and it appear there may even be some co-op gameplay.  This is worth a closer look as more details will come and looks like a cute, smash, fun time-sink game.  Probably good for kids and non hard-core gamers.  Because of the open play field, story-mode, and campaign, this may breathe new life into this IP.
  • RUSE: They showed a pretty intense trailer that led one to believe it would be a real time and epic military strategy game that looks akin to something in the Tom Clancy universe, but instead of controlling individual people, it looked more like broad units, platoons, brigades, etc.  Kind of like a very detailed game of Risk they uses ground, air, & sea elements.  Not much was said, just the trailer.
  • No More Heroes 2Desperate Struggle (Wii): Long awaited sequel in the works from the surprise adult-orientated wacky Wii title.  Will help fill the serious gaping gap that hardcore Wii users are so frustrated about.
  • RedSteel2_BoxartRed Steel 2 (Wii): Utilizes Nintendo’s new Motion Plus controller and another adult themed title that again addresses Wii’s lack of hardcore software for the more serious player.  The showed what looked liek a very nice opening cinematic trailer and then about 10 minutes or so of actual gameplay.  Looks very nice, both in graphic style and art direction.  I was amazed how well the sword handled with the Motion Plus and nun-chuck controller tethered on.  While the first Red Steel never lived up to its once-hyped potential, I have a feeling this one will deliver.  RS2 and NMH 2 may give me a compelling reason to but a Motion Plus accessory.  Will be out in December of this year and no multiplayer mode.
  • Splinter Cell – Conviction:  Oh my!  Looks just as awesome as some of the others AAA titles coming out and a welcome return for Sam Fisher.  Ubisoft looks to be on a roll this year at E3 and Conviction should be out Q4.  The gameplay demo’d look fantastic.  The art direction and lighting has come so far in this franchise.  The devs emphasized that while stealth is still very important to Sam Fisher, this will be slightly faster paced, and Sam will be relying much more on both the actual environment and low-tech objects he finds.  The devs also are introducing some great story-telling methods in the game with the use of real-time flashbacks….hard to explain, but you have to see it in action and it will maek sense.  Objectives also are displayed during game within the game in a new twist, ala, Fringe (FOX TV series).  Lastly, Sam uses a new combat mechanic that allows him to ‘mark’ shots in a queuing sequence before he takes action.  Again, you have to see it to undertsand, but it’s really slick, looks easy to use, and really pumps up the adrenaline factor in this stealth based game.  Most likely a ‘must-buy’ for me.

Army of Two sequel announced

Army of Two 2

Army of Two 2

EA has announced an upcoming sequel to last years co-op bad-boy romp, Army of Two. 

Army of Two: The 40th Day will reunite players with both Salem and Rios this winter (2009) will find our troublesome twosome amid chaotic events in Shanghai. 

Electronic Arts’ Montreal branch is developing the game for XBox 360, PS3 and PSP platforms and promises many new and expansive co-op tag-team manuevers.

I for one am looking forward to this.  While the first game received medicore to slightly good reviews, I found it very fun and action packed playing solo.  Sure, there was some excessive swearing and confusing environments (meaning many skins/textures/props defied both physics and originality), but I’d really classify the game more as an arcade shooter that I would a tactical simulator that is GRAW or CoD series games.

I hope they make it slightly longer, with a few more interactive or destructible environments (ala Mercenaries 2), and easier co-op play.  My friend and I tried co-op a few times and it was fun, though we didn’t get very far due to scheduling conflicts.

PAX 2008 gaming coverage – part 1

PAX 2008

PAX 2008

The Penny Arcade Expo was held this last week up in Washington State and helps showcase many small time and independant video game developers.  However the last few years, it has grown in scope to include major developers as well including Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, etc.  In addition to new video games be showcased, attendees can alos be seen playing both fantasy inspired table top games like Heroclix, Warhammer, and collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering.

This year attendance broke a new record with over 58,500 tickets sold and plans are underway to expand it once again, and even to hold an east coast version to be held in Botson, most likely in March of 2010.

So in no particular order, here is some information that was either revealed at PAX itself, or coincided in timing with the expo.

Gear of War 2: Confirmed this would be an XBox 360 title only, meaning no port to PC.

Fallout 3: Nearly completed.  Going through final bug clean up and beta testing.

StarCraft II: Blizzard announced a delay from late 2008 to early 2009.

XBox: It has been confirmed there will be an upcoming price reduction in Japan, making it the cheapest next gen console available in that country.  This most likely strengthens the rumors that yet another price cut is coming to North America sometime in early September, possibly as early as the 7th.

Mirror’s Edge: DLC content may only be PS3 exclusive once released.

Demigod: Developer, Gas Powered Games shown game play of their upcoming RPG/RTS currently scheduled for a Feb. 2009 release.  In the demo I saw being played, it looks very pretty and very unique with a lot of depth in its skill tree models (RPG element).  Has some steampunk elements to it as well. 

Rock Band: There are 3 PAX inspired tracks as DLC that were made available on September 2nd.  You can buy the tracks at a reduced price individually or as the PAX 2008 Collection.

Guitar Hero World Tour: Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan will be a playable character within the game as well as debut their new upcoming single ‘G.L.O.W.’ as part of an upcoming Smashing Pumpkins Track Pack as DLC for the game.

E3 2008: Sony press conference – Day 2

PS3

PS3

I’m a little late on this because I am a pretty detailed person with a lot to say and with writing the Nintendo report, I needed a small break to collect my thoughts and also give time to the other things I do as well. 

Even though I don’t own a Playstation, (I do however own a PSP) I was still looking forward to what Sony had to offer and possibly counter with Microsoft’s day 1 press conference.  I also needed something to be excited about after Nintendo’s weak offerings.  And dare I say, there were moments I was excited enough that even I wanted to go out and buy a PS3 just so I could play a few exclusive titles.

So Sony’s events was held at the Shrine auditorium, and clearly since they had this by themselves (Nintendo and MS were at the Kodak theater) they were able to build quite an electronically impressive stage and light show.  They had at least 6 very large screens (possibly more) surrounded by numerous (30+) monitors.  It looked very promising to say the least.

Unlike MS and Nintendo, Sony’s host didn’t seem as scripted (even though he was) and more human and thus more believable….and funny.  Funny in the way his jokes and comments felt genuine, unlike the force fed lame lines that Nintendo’s Cammy and Alex for driveling off.

Throughout the event, they had there requisite slides and graphs and charts that are always questionable to me since every company claims the exact same industry leadership, growth, sales numbers, blah, blah, blah.  But Sony did something innovative here….they used the creative aspects of Little Big Planet to build a presentation and it looked so awesome.  A great way to show off the game and keep people interested in sales number and projections.  Kudos to the person who cam up with that idea.

Okay, onto the meat of Sony’s offerings:

  • Movie Rental and Download service: Actually went live the day of the announcement itself, I suppose is Sony’s answer to MS/Netflix partnership.  Sony will offer both SD and HD versions of many movies and shows with direct partnering with the major studios.  SD rates will be $2.99-$3.99 where HD will be $5.99.  You can also opt to purchase a movie outright for even higher, but I don’t understand this feature for any console (360 included).  What happens if you someday upgrade to PS4?  If you download to the internal harddrive, do you always have to keep the console forever to watch them?  There isn’t an option to burn to a DVD that I’m aware of (is there?).  You don’t get all the cool extras that you would get with a DVD purchase (out-takes, gag reels, making of, etc.)  What if I want to take it over to a friends house some day?  Does that mean I need to lug my PS3 over there?  Seems lame.  One neat aspect I do like though, is that if you own a PSP (firmware 4.05+) you can transfer content via a USB cable and watch on the go.  Same if you have a PC.  That’s cool.
  • Hardware:Sony will not be dropping the price on either PSP or PS3, but instead on the PSP will offer some upcoming specialized bundles for $199, and the PS3 will have an upgraded 80GB hard drive (up from 40) on all new consoles for the same $499.  No other peripherals were shown.
  • Sony Home: Ah, the often talked about and just as often delayed Home was shown yet again.  Did mention it was being tested in Beta, but no street date given (surprise, surprise).  What they did show looked graphically impressive and a cool concept, and not to be critical, but I don’t get it.  I buy a console to play a game or watch DLC, not to walk around a virtual house I can decorate and talk with friends in one large virtual IM chat room.  I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t never use it, but just seems like an unnecessary distraction from hard core gamers, which clearly PS3 is targeted at.
  • PSP:No new models or design changes anytime soon.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t have more apps mentioned like Nintendo did for the DS, especially the rumored Skype or phone capabilities.  Two new bundles by the holidays including a Madden ’09 and Ratchet & Clank versions.
  • Resistance 2: Lengthy hands on demo that was visually stunning and impressive.  It felt as the yang to MS’s ying with GoW2.  One of the games I wish I actually owned a PS3 for.  There will be a Resistance version for the PSP which I’ll probably end up getting.  I recommend seeing the trailer or demo…I can’t really describe how impressive it actually looked and jealous I am.
  • Patapon 2 & Loco Roco 2: 2 PSP offerings where shown in a video montage that should have these niche fans happy.  Though Patapon 2 looked a lot like the original, I’ll probably still get it as I enjoy the first one still and a lot.
  • PS2: They’re still making this platform and if they’re accurate with their numbers, Sony is pretty impressive that this thing is still going strong at $199.  So strong in fact they said there are at least 130 games in the pipeline for PS2….they didn’t mention how many were only to be release in Japan though.
  • Little Big Planet: This exclusive for PS3 just looks incredible.  Here is the second game in which I am jealous that it will not be on the 360 and is tempting me to buy one.  There cannot be enough said on how visually stunning and creative the world of Sack Boy will be.  There will be so much player created content, it will be crazy.
  • DC Universe Online: Wildstorm and comic book artist legend, Jim Lee, was on-hand to show us a sneak peak of DC on-line.  This will be an MMO that crosses over to a PC as well that will allow players to be either established super heroes or villains, or create there own and live out there fanboy fantasies.  I kept thinking it looked like a prettier version of City of Heroes, and some of the moves and powers looked exactly the dame, just re-skinned.  Not to many details on how the game works though and how hero/villain creation will be worked out and if (and how) you level up.  I hope to see more details in the future.
  • Greatest Hits: Similar to Microsofts greatest hits, Sony will be taking many of the older titles and repackaging at a $29.99 price point.  Expect a lot of classics here.
  • Motorstorm 2: Announced and a brief trailer.  Looked cool, but nothing innovative I saw.
  • God of War 3: Probably the big announcement was the trailer for the return of Kratos.  Out next year.  No gameplay footage, just a teaser trailer.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prologue race channel: There will be a unique PPV channel embedded with GT 5 that players can watch both live and taped events and shows related to various car racing gigs within a separate function of the game.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s exclusive here.  I’m not a huge race fan, but it seems strange to me to pay additional money to watch a real taped race or car show within a game itself.
  • Buzz series: Various incarnations of the Buzz game show will be made available on PS3 and PSP with future DLC available.
  • Various montages throughout the event showed regulars like Madden ’09, NBA Live, Tiger Woods ’09, Soul Caliber IV, Force Unleashed, GH World Tour, Rock Band, Sing It series, etc.

To sum it all up, Sony had a pretty strong showing that made up for the Nintendo sleep fest.  They showed or at least announced some pretty good heavy hitters coming up, but clearly focusing on more hardcore gaming as opposed to Nintendos casual style and Microsofts hybrid of both hardcore and casual.  ‘Home’ is still in beta and may debut by the holidays, and Sony has a counter albeit not as expansive video service at the MS/Netflix partnership.  I expect to see more PSP titles in the upcoming year too.  Microsoft and Sony clearly taking this seriously, although Nintendo has the Wii jugernaut behind them (despite crapware right now).

E3: Nintendo accesory to compete with rumored new 360 controller?

Motion Plus hopefully means better games.

Motion Plus hopefully means better games.

Today is the first day of E3, 2008….the gaming industry showcase where we get a sneak peak at the various offerings the big three (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) plus game developers have in the works.

Many have already stated that the first half of this year has brought in a lot of unprecedented buzz and exciting games that are generally saved for the holiday season.  This years looks like an exception to the unwritten rule….Microsoft has already cut the price on the 360 again, ($299 as of this past Sunday along with a 60GB HD), Sony delivered Metal Gear Solid, and Nintendo dropped Super Smash Bros and Wii Fit.  Rockstar brought us GTA and other developers have given us other stellar games such as Lego Indiana Jones, Bioshock, Rock Band, etc.

It was rumored, and still is (we’ll have to wait and see) that Microsoft may unveil a new motion control sensor.  Rumors also indicate that we 360 owners may get a completely overhauled dashboard (Yay…!!) and a signed agreement with Netflix should allow for watching movies on demand if you have a Netflix account.

Nintendo, perhaps in a move to take the limelight away from Microsoft, announced the ‘MotionPlus’ accessory…an additional hardware plug-in (pictured) that will add additional space recognition to the Wii remote.  Supposedly, this will allow the Wii to identify height, 3-d spacing, and possibly fine tune movements on the Wii remote.  Not sure the price on this, and I for one will probably buy at least one (if it’s no more than $19.99 each..hopefully it’s $14.99).

If the price is $29.99 or more, I’ll most likely pass until I know more awesome games are provided for the Wii.  Right now, while I still think the Wii has a lot of potential and I personally own one, I am somewhat disappointed with the caliber of games thus far.  Seems like most of it is shovel-ware (aka crap) right now.  Even if the games are slightly cheaper than 360 and PS3’s ($49.99 instead of $59.99), most of the games play like they are $9.99-$19.99.

My Wii has been collecting dust the last 3 months as I’ve been waiting for games to drop in price or I get my hands on a Wii Fit.