Orange Box(PS3) : Final code impressions by 1UP

•December 3, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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On the recent 1UP Yours podcast, they revealed that they have recently received the retail version of the Orange Box for PS3. Here are some choice quotes from the segment, which begins at around 1 hour and 8 minutes into the podcast.

“They did overcome a significant number of the fram-rate problems”

“They fixed some shit”

“But not all of them”

“They got rid of the really janky parts”

“feels a hair out of sync”

“slightly, perceptively, not quite as smooth as the 360 version”

“If you own a PS3, absolutely no reason to that you shouldn’t get this”

Why we should fear Wii Fit

•December 1, 2007 • 11 Comments

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“Wii Fit, is it” – Reggie

Nintendo’s Wii Fit was recently released in Japan just in time for the holidays at around $80. Online retailers such as play-asia have it on stock for $189.90. As I heard this news, I couldn’t help but flashback to this years E3. Specifically, when Miyamato’s next big game was revealed, Wii Fit. At this point, I believe a deafening silence swept Nintendo fan-boys everywhere. The same Nintendo faithful, that stood by Nintendo through the N64 and Gamecube era, were seemingly shafted for the casual market. In years past, we were treated to things like Mario Galaxy and Zelda Twilight Princess, franchises that were symbolic of the Nintendo brand, but instead we got what was effectively an interactive weighing scale. With that announcement, it became clear that Nintendo’s approach to gaming was in a new direction, “Audience Expansion”.

Wii Fit will be, comparably, the second coming of Wii Sports. It will be at the forefront of Nintendo’s campaign to draw-in people that don’t play games to buy the Wii. With a name like Wii Fit, it is obviously targeted to the older and more health conscious demographic. With activities such as yoga, aerobics, stretching and “games”, Nintendo will be earning a lot of positive attention from mainstream media. This is why traditional hard-core gamers need to be cautious about the kind of success that Wii Fit will have. Mario Galaxy, the 2nd highest reviewed game in history (according to Game Rankings), did not sell as well as expected in Japan, compared to New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. If, in the next few months, Wii Fit goes on to outsell Mario Galaxy in Japan and in other major regions, say goodbye.

In all likely-hood, Wii Fit will outsell Mario Galaxy. The Japanese market will eat this thing up, it will be like the Wii launch all over again. A few months after, Wii Fit will come out in the U.S. market starting all sorts of media mayhem. I can imagine seeing this thing on Oprahs favorite things list, the Today Show, Good Morning America and making #1 on Times invention of the year. When that time comes, Nintendo will have even less incentive to pour development efforts into franchises like Mario or Zelda, that require so much more money and will not sell as well. Miyamoto might even be ‘expected’ to come out at next years E3 with his next ‘casual gaming gem’ instead of an actual game.

Sure there is always the argument that any money going into casual games is good for the industry as a whole, but as the Wiis line-up of games has shown, that is not the case, and the forth-coming Wii Fit will cement this argument as a good or bad thing for the traditional gamer.

PS3 Firmware 2.01 = Assassins Creed fix?

•November 18, 2007 • 7 Comments

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With the release of Assassins Creed marred by tasteless Jade Raymond jokes, glitches, freezing and a “white screen of death” , PS3 and Xbox 360 owners are up in arms. It has been noted that many of those who have encountered issues are using the 2.0 firmware, causing many users to hold off on the current update. As of now, Ubisoft Official Forum managers are urging its forum give them as much information as possible so that these problems may be resolved. Within the very same time-frame, the official Playstation Blog has let word out that a 2.01 update is on the horizon.

A 2.01 update so soon after the big 2.0 seems rather strange. The only detail mentioned in the blog post is that the coming update will be “a minor update that will improve the stability of PLAYSTATION 3.” The key word definitely being stability. This is why, I am of the opinion that this coming update directly addresses the technical issues with Assassins Creed, similar to the updates that did some tweaking on Warhawk and Lair. Hopefully this will get resolved quickly cause my pre-order just shipped.

Update :

According to a blog post from William Harrison over at bebo, entitled “How To Stop Assassins Creed From Freezing And The Frame Rate Issues”. The freezing and frame-rate issues can be fixed by simply turning off the information board and not signing in to the Playstation Network.

 

5 Ways the ‘One Console Future’ might go wrong

•November 7, 2007 • 1 Comment

 

 

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With various industry figures, including Dennis Dyack and EA, clamoring for a “One Console Future”, it has become very hard to ignore the idea that in 5-10 years, there may only be a single console. The common sense prediction is that once this uber-console(I will be using this term from here on out to refer to the One-Console) exists, developers would only have to work with a standard set of API’s to make their games. No more having to go through the costly process of porting the same game to multiple platforms. A tired practice that has developers learning(and wrestling with) the intricacies of entirely-different console architectures to get their games running as best they can. For gamers, it would mean having to spend for only one console and get ALL the games coming out.

Before I continue, let me preface this by saying that I for one, am all for the idea, I’ve been looking forward to it since the SNES-Genesis days. Gaming is such an expensive hobby and it only seems to be getting more so as the years go by, for gamers and developers. Also take note that I had to make a ton of assumptions for this opinion piece, one important one for simplicity’s sake, is that only one company will be making this console, unlike the 3DO era.

Now lets say hypothetically, that the Big 3 somehow came together to produce a single console, the only console you’d need, where all games would come out for and where you could go online with acheivements and everything. Ultimately, if this does happen, I believe there will be more pros than cons, with that said, here are some of the possible(and somewhat insane) ways that the “One Console Future” might actually make things worse.

5. Unpredictable Console Lifecycle

In the current console war, the decision on a particular consoles’ lifecycle is vital to the companies success. The Xbox 360 came out of the gates with a life expectancy of 4-5 years, the PS3 reportedly has it at 10 years. At the end of a consoles life, a more cutting-edge iteration is released to gain or regain the upper hand in the newest generation.

Since the “One Console Future” will almost surely be a sort of monopoly, the importance of planning the uber-consoles lifecycle will play a far less of a role. Nintendo President Iwata recently said that as a developer he couldn’t wait for the next exciting technology, but now the console cycles need to be longer for developers to learn to get a better handle of the new consoles.

In other words, depending on how much ‘they’ might want to print or save money, whoever will be manufacturing the uber- console might opt to have it have either an incredibly long or incredibly short shelf-life.

4. New Forms of Exclusivity

One of the main reasons that gamers would embrace needing only one console, is that it would mean death to traditional exclusives. Mario, Master Chief and Solid Snake, all on one console. Having to develop only one version of a game, the cost of game development would go down, possibly seeing the rise of more game development companies.

With everything turning into a wide open race on every front, It wouldn’t be that insane to think that a publishing giant like EA might do something as insane as an exclusivity deal with all the major sports leagues like they did with the NFL. Maybe Activision gobbling up the Marvel license, preventing further incarnations of the Marvel vs. Capcom series.

All I’m saying is that these larger publishers will find some way to maneuver content exclusivity, now that exclusive console deals are no longer an option.

3. Possibly Higher Prices

This is an easy one. I once heard someone on a very popular podcast say that he would be willing to pay $1,000 dollars if it meant only needing one console. Well guess what? You probably will. Consoles are generally loss-leaders. Microsoft and Sony are losing hundreds of dollars per console hoping to make more of a profit on software attach rates. Nintendo on the other hand put the Wii out, already making a profit on it. You can expect the uber-console to sell at a profit from the beginning, possibly having the same Trojan-horse strategy that Sony had with Blu-ray, as a way to standardize a new expensive HD format.

I can almost see the dollar signs on the faces of the marketing department, revenue streams everywhere. Expect proprietary technology for accessories like Hard Drives, Wireless and AV cables. Insanely priced downloadable content, in-game ads(anyone seen the in-game ‘Axe Body Spray Guitar’ in Guitar Hero 3) and required subscription services. These things are common-place today, expect things to ramp up even more in this hypothetical future.

Some of you might be thinking that with only one version to develop for, game prices will go down, but lets face it, prices of CD albums have stayed the same, eventhough the cost of pressing CDs have gone down tremendously since they were
introduced.

2. Japanese won’t be fully on board

The Japanese like to do things they’re way, North America and Europe, however, are the larger gaming markets. Another of my assumptions is that most of the basic hardware design and philosophy will be for these larger markets. Many developers have expressed a disconnect with Sony and how the company practices differ from region to region. Their culture also has been known to be xenophobic towards foreign tech, this may also be due to simple patriotism for local brands.

Miyamoto had a great deal to do with the design of the Wii controller as well as the Gamecube controller. He needed them to suite his design philosophy. Unless Miyamoto and other Japanese industry figures are willing to accept more western gaming sensibilities, we might see these guys taking some of their more radical ideas elsewhere, like the DS or cell-phones(I’ve seen Japanese cell-phones with motion-sensing games).

1. Death of The Industry We Know

All of you probably already know this, but the lack of competition will be the ULTIMATE downside. There will be more reason for lazy developers to rest on their laurels, resulting in bad games. Game changing hardware innovations, like the Wii-mote, may also go away since they may be considered too much of a risk. We will lose guys like Reggie and Peter Moore spinning things their way. Fanboys will decrease in numbers. Alot of the dynamics that make this industry so exciting may go away in-place of a more stagnant, controlled, pricey and predictable status quo.

1UP Yours – Pseudo review of Super Mario Galaxy

•November 5, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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In this weeks episode of the 1UP Yours show, Shane Bettenhausen(EGMs reviews editor), having finished the game, shares why he thinks this is the best game on the Wii. Here are some of the points he makes at around the 18:00 mark :

Warning : Shane does go into a spoiler or two on some of the surprise levels that he saw

Pros :
- Hated the game for making him love his Wii
- Says he hasn’t felt this way about a platformer
since Mario 64, it takes everything that that game did and evolves it in new crazy ways
- An instant must buy, must play
- Mario kicks the shit out of Ratchet and Clank
- Overall package is stunning and shocking
- More open ended and takes more ques from western game design

Cons :
- Graphics aren’t that great
- Some controls are inconsistent. He points out the motion controls for shooting fireballs

One of the final comments he made on the podcast was that the 1 year delay on Super Mario Galaxy, resulting in it being “Immaculately polished”, makes him feel even more optimistic for MGS4 despite its delay.

Assassins Creed scores 37/40 from Famitsu 360

•November 2, 2007 • 3 Comments

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If there was any doubt that Assassins Creed would ever live up to the immense hype resting on its shoulders, a recent post over at the Ubisoft forums may just assassinate those fears. According to the post, the recent Famitsu 360 scored the game :

10, 8, 9, 10 – 37/40

The Full Article also contains summaries of what the reviewers had to say about the game. Of the points mentione, I find this the most cause for caution :

“One-button combat is somewhat unsatisfying, but will make the game accessible to more people.”

[I've already pre-ordered my copy over at play-asia, which they have listed for a November 8 release, which by coincidence, coincides with the Uncharted Demo.]


Play-Asia.com - Buy Video Games for Consoles and PC - From Japan, Korea and other Regions!

Tekken And Onimusha, In Theaters Soon

•November 1, 2007 • 2 Comments

ComingSoon.net has revealed that the Tekken movie, a film adaptation of the popular video game, is being handled Screen Gems and has already released a teaser poster. According to the article :

“The story centers on two childhood friends who enter a worlwide martial arts tournament. As they progress, the pals move toward uncovering a secret that lies within the mysterious Tekken Corp. Charles Stone will direct.”

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The poster itself isn’t very compelling, no cast details at all. Just a big letter “T” made out of stone in the middle of the some field. Above it there is some text that reads :

“After the great terror wars, government fell…Seven corporations rose from the ashes to rule all men…Together they were known as The Iron Fist…The mightiest of which was…Tekken”

The same article reports that the Onimusha movie, with Christopher Gans at the helm, will be seeing an April 2008 release. If that name sounds familiar, Gans was responsible for the very faithful adaptation of Silent Hill to the big screen.

 
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