Tag Archives: ps3

A Cry for Relevance – Gamestop Wishes to Play with Playstation Now

In a move that surprises no one, Gamestop wants to get in on that hot Playstation Now action.

 

Gamestop has done their best to keep up in an ever changing digital world, with some ventures more successful than others. Now, they are going to Sony, saying that they want to sell access to Playstation Now. The move makes sense as Gamestop’s stock fell the day that the service was revealed at CES last week. There’s no public knowledge of the pricing structure of Playstation Now, so no one can say how specifically Gamestop could become a part of this. Sony has gone on the record saying that there will be a rental and standard subscription model; but no details are known beyond that.

 

You can read the original news story HERE

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Grand Theft Diary – Entry Two

I Need a New Shrink

 

I’ve been seeing  a psychiatrist for my anger management problems. I figure, for a guy who has the occasional psychotic tendency, it’s probably good to go ahead and talk to someone about all that you are going through. I’d like to think that we’ve had a couple of breakthroughs, but it’s hard to say.

 

Most recently, I had relapsed into some…well…let’s just say I was being a ne’er-do-well. After laying everything out for my doc, he said that I was a prime candidate for buying my sessions in bulk….

 

…because I obviously have a lot of issues

 

…and he’s a money grubbing piece of ______ .

 

This obviously didn’t put me in a good place and he and I had, what is becoming quite a regular occurrence, a yelling match. This ended with me storming out.  As left his place, in a fit of rage, did what only came natural…

 

I stole his red sports car.

 

Yeah, it was petty, but it definitely put me in a better place. Hell, I saw someone get mugged and I got their purse back for them. It was a kind gesture, for sure.

 

Albeit, I ran the thief over…and then backed over him…a couple of times..

 

but nonetheless…

 

maybe this therapy thing is working after all.

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Grand Theft Diary – Entry 1

So, it’s been a bit since I’ve posted anything substantial here; and I greatly apologize for that. Nonetheless, one of the giants of the industry was released recently, and it already has broke records by making over 800 Million Dollars in ONE DAY.

 

So yeah, if you thought that Grand Theft Auto V wasn’t a big deal…sorry, you’re terribly mistaken.

 

Because the game is so large, and so much of the fun is created just by being a part of the world; for the next couple of days I am going to be putting up some of my more ridiculous misadventures. I will try to keep it spoiler free, but I’ll make sure to warn you before hand. So without further adieu,

 

Entry 1 – or I just wanted a haircut

 

The game had just opened up for me, and one of the main characters had just been dumped by his girlfriend. Feeling his pain, I decided that he was in need of a new look to help him move on, or at least to make her jealous. So I started driving around looking for a barber.

 

Eventually, I stumbled across one. Now, I try to be a good citizen when I am not acting the criminal. So I parked nicely in front of the shop, I had followed all the red lights, and just walked on into the place.

 

What I didn’t notice was the group of thugs just outside the building.

 

I had just walked past them, but if I had taken the chance to stop and hear what they were saying, I might have reconsidered my choice of establishment. Almost immediately after walking in, one of the guys rushes in and tells me to “f*** off,” and proceeds to take a swing at me.

 

So, I punch him in the face.

 

And all his buddies.

 

I didn’t want to kill them, I just wanted a haircut. So, when the police finally show up, I assume that they are here to rescue me. Just a small man in a violent world, where all I want is to look good for whatever girl I may find at the bar. Sadly, the police officer had a different worldview and I took a shotgun blast to the chest.

 

Alas.

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The Joys of “Dumb” Fun

I love Dynasty Warriors.  It is completely ridiculous, hard to follow, and the voice work is so bad it makes you cringe. Yet, I cannot get enough of that game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy every iteration of the series, but it is one I come back to every handful of years. It is completely brainless in its action, and it doesn’t take much to understand what the game wants you to do.  Its the video game equivalent of a “popcorn flick.”  There’s no real substance to it, and that’s okay by me.

 

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Screw Lu Bu. Seriously, for eight games the guy has been a total dick…

 

Normally, the games I play (and then in turn write about) are the types that are trying to convey some sort of message or tell a story in one fashion or another.  Usually, these games are fantastic, and move the art form forward.  This is always a good thing.  Yet, like the movies, not every game can be Oscar bait; there always has to be a Transformers.  A movie, or in this case a game, that reminds us that the medium can just be about “fun.”

The More You Know...

The More You Know…

Frank O’Connor of 343 Studios said that Halo was about finding the five seconds of fun, and then repeating it throughout the course of the player’s experience in the game.  In that game’s case its about that combination of shoot, grenade, melee, repeat.  They built a whole multi-million dollar franchise on that simple concept.  Dynasty Warriors is about taking on and defeating multitudes of nameless enemies by the hundreds and Gears of War is about chainsaws and “bros.”  None of these games are bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, its quite the opposite.  Yet, the majority of these are not game of the year contenders either.  They exist purely for the fun of the player.

 

Just a little bit of chin music...

Just a little bit of chin music…

 

Games like these are good for the industry. They exist as “palette cleansers,” “guilty pleasures,” and many other things.  Games like Halo and Gears of War are the summer blockbusters of the gaming world and are amazing experiences.  We need games like this.  Not everything needs to strive to be a Journey or Thomas was Alone.  Sometimes, we just want to play a game.

 

 

Escapism doesn’t have to be a bad word, and for many people who play games, that is the number one reason they choose to.  They want to experience something fantastic, they want to try something new, to see some strange new world and be the big damn hero.  That’s why Destiny and Infamous Second Son looks so appealing to me; they are both taking me to a different place and time and letting me experience something that I never will.

 

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns...

The only thing this game needs is Tauntauns…

 

For every Fez, Hotline Miami, and The Witness; there needs to be a Call of Duty, Titanfall, or Ratchet game.  There is a place for all types of stories and mechanics in this industry, and with the upcoming generation there will be even more opportunity to see all sides of this entertainment medium explored.  So whatever your tastes; now more than ever, is a great time to be a gamer.  Enjoy it for how it makes you think…and how is sometimes gloriously doesn’t.

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Here are Some Reasons to NOT get a New Console This Fall

I know. I know.

 

We’re all excited for what is coming out this fall.  Regardless of your feelings on which one you may think is better or which one you may be purchasing, this holiday is a big deal because of the launches of the Playstation 4 and the XBOXONE.  They each have a pretty solid launch lineup, and adopting early is a guaranteed “in” to the conversations that will be circulating the industry.  Yet, despite all that; there are some pretty solid reasons for not grabbing one on day one.

 

Games, Games, and Games…

 

Like last generation, both platforms are still going to be releasing new products on each of their previous gen systems, and many of those games have the potential to be amazing experiences.  There are titles coming out, big and small, that will be only coming out on the 360 and PS3.  Games with names like, Grand Theft Auto V, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Beyond: Two Souls, Puppeteer, and Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus.  These are titles that will still have an impact, but won’t be on their newer big brothers (or sisters if you prefer.)  I am just as excited for these titles as I am for some of the big launch titles.  Both companies are making an excellent case for you to upgrade this fall, but they are giving you an equally compelling case to make sure that you hold onto your old system as well.

 

 

The Possibilities of New Hardware

 

I know that this sounds like a positive…and it is; but do we all need to be reminded of the “red ring of death?”  For all the excitement that builds around a new console launch, we all seem to forget the problems that happen.  I know people who went through four 360s, and people whose launch model PS3s ran as hot as a jet engine.  These types of problems happen at the beginning of a life cycle.  Hardware will always have kinks to be worked out, and there will always be a small number of people who draw the proverbial “short straw,” and end up with a dud.  It completely sucks, but statistically speaking; it is bound to happen.  Buying a new console has the possibility of being like russian roulette, and it can be just as nerve wracking.

 

 

 

Cross-Gen, Split-Gen, but is it Really Next-Gen?

 

The interesting thing about a launch are the games that seem to be on both sets of systems.  This year games like Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch Dogs, Fifa, Call of Duty, and many more will be on both the old and next generation systems.  I won’t deny that the PS4 and XBOXONE versions will be prettier, and probably have some more features than their older counterparts; but for some that isn’t enough to justify a new console purchase.  This can be especially true when you think of the horror stories from last launch, games like GUN, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, and Just Cause that were just higher resolution ports of the other versions.  We’re not going to truly see some actual “next-gen” gaming until next year, when we start to see games that were made exclusively for the new systems from the ground up.  Until then, these split-gen games only muddy the waters and make the decision to upgrade a difficult one.

 

Price

 

Lastly, do you simply have the money?  With all the above reasons, do you really want to drop anywhere from $400-$600 on a new system this fall?  In the end, I guess you weigh all the previous factors together and factor them in to this one final decision.  So, in the end, it all comes down to spending your hard earned cash.  Is it worth it?

 

So there you go; my attempt to talk you out of buying the “new hotness” this fall.  Albeit, I am getting a PS4, and my own arguments mean nothing to me.  So, what are you doing this holiday?  Are you sticking with your old system or taking the next gen dive? Comment below or just use the nifty poll I put up. (Also, this was our 101st post, so thanks everyone for supporting us thus far and continuing to share us with your friends.  Hopefully we’ll still be doing this for another 100!)

 

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“If players are excited that means we are doing something right,”

-Shuhei Yoshida President of Sony Worldwide Development Studios

Aptly Put…

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Best Things to Do During the Summer Game Drought..

Well, it’s the summer again, and that means absolutely nothing is coming out anytime soon!  (This is especially true this year because of the upcoming console launches.)  Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and not be bored.  Here is our, Best Things to Do During the Summer (When Nothing Seems to be Coming Out)

 

1) Play The Last of Us

Seriously; why have you all not played this yet?  This is the frontrunner for game of the generation and is easily Playstation 3’s best exclusive game.  It will take you on an emotional roller-coaster and leave you wondering what all that was about.  I refuse to speak of any of the game’s narrative points in this post, but suffice it to say, this is a MUST play.  Then, once you’ve beaten it, play it again on Hard….then Survivor…the Hard+ ….and Survivor+…..and the multiplayer is good too…….

 

 

2) Enjoy the games you might have missed over the Holidays (or the New Year)

Okay, none of us have enough money to buy all the stuff we want to play. (Disclaimer: There might be people who enough money that they CAN buy all the games they want to play, but I’m assuming that most of us don’t.)  As such, there are probably some things that got missed in the shuffle this year.  Did you miss Sleeping Dogs, Darksiders II, Dishonored, or X-COM.  What about the downloadables that might have slipped off your radar?  Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Guacamelee, Sound Shapes, Journey, Mark of the Ninja, and The Unfinished Swan all come to mind, and should be played.  There is probably a backlog of games that you like that are now totally cheap.  Take advantage of all your newfound free time and play some of them.  They might make your list of best games you played THIS year….

 

 

3) Clean up that Pile of Shame

We all have one of these too.  Games that are in our collections that have been left unfinished.  Whether it is a JRPG you just got bored with, or a game that you liked that got put to the wayside because something else came out; you should hunker down and complete it….or get rid of it.  You will want to have a clean slate going into your new console and so when fall hits, all bets are off.  The odds of you going back and finishing these things gets slimmer and slimmer the longer that new system sits in your living room, so take advantage of this time and finish some of those guys up.  You also don’t want dead weight in your collection either, so if you know you’re not going back, and there is no emotional attachment to it, be done with it.  Cull the heard….

 

 

4) Watch E3 Videos….then Pine over Them…

A lot of stuff gets announced at E3, and if you have a job…I doubt you’ve seen all the coverage and interviews.  What better way to get excited for what’s coming than by looking at all in lovely HD video.  IGN has tons of hours of content that will last you through the summer and beyond; making the wait for the fall all that much harder. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but they are idiots. Watch as much of that stuff as possible…Greg Miller makes some good jokes.

 

 

5) Enjoy your other hobbies

I try to do other stuff besides write about and play games.  Now that the summer is here, I have more time to indulge in said activities.  Read some books, go to the beach, rock climb; whatever tickles your fancy.  You have some spare time on your hands, so go enjoy it in a way that you know you will.  I’ve already downed a couple of books that have been on my shelf, and I’ve been indulging my outdoorsy tendencies occasionally too. Find something else that you love and do it…like this guy….

 

 

or maybe not….that guy is crazy

 

 

6) Troll the Internet

Just Kidding…don’t be that guy.

 

7) Play The Last of Us

Please refer back to Number 1

 

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Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie….

Spoilers for Sleeping Dogs

 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am bit late to the party on this one.

Sleeping Dogs was the epitome of a “sleeper” game. It came out the same week as Darksiders II, and there wasn’t much buzz going into the game’s release.  Yet, as the reviews came through, the narrative seemed to change.  Garnering solid scores across the board (7’s, 8’s, and 9’s), Sleeping Dogs was no longer living under the shadow of its torrid past as a True Crime successor.  It had become the open-world underdog; a great game that sold based on word of mouth of those that had experienced its fullness of its created Hong Kong.  It was a “cinderella story” for the games industry.  It sold well enough at retail; but it wasn’t until it came up on Playstation Plus that I finally got around to playing it.

I should have played it sooner.

 

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Sleeping Dogs starts off similarly to moves like the original Fast and Furious; you are an undercover cop sent into the triads to attempt to bring them down without getting too deep.  Yet, it is from that starting point that the developers made a point to have the player start caring about those you are trying to bring down.  I laughed as I began the game, thinking, “I’m not going to go ‘native.’ It’s hero boy to the rescue.”  Yet, the further I played through, the more I began to question my motivations.  When a rival triad gang murders my boss at his wedding, after I had taken his fiancee around town to pick up her things the day before; my first thought wasn’t, “what will the HKPD need to do,” but rather, “get me the biggest gun you can find.”  This is a giant credit to the game’s writing staff and speaks to the strong narrative that they were creating.  There are tons of moments like this peppered throughout the game; moments of just gut, emotional reactions.  This is especially true as you near the end of the game; as it climaxes towards its inevitable conclusion.

 

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Mechanically, the game is quite sound.  The driving is better than GTA, and the overlay they use on the world to tell you where to go is incredibly helpful.  The cars and bikes handle well, and the game captures that feeling of drifting through the city streets perfectly.  Where Sleeping Dogs really shines is in its melee combat.  Though not as strong as the Arkham games (the new gold standard), Sleeping Dogs’ combat is still quite stellar.  It takes combines the rhythmic and timing based attacks of Batman, and adds in an almost fighting game style combo system.  These different button combinations have your character string different attacks and finishers together to great effect.  It becomes more about managing the group and spacing, than about comboing a single enemy.  Unfortunately, the lock on system isn’t that effective and sometimes button inputs aren’t that responsive; which makes the giant multi-man brawls you fight late game all the more difficult.  The gunplay is exactly what you would expect in an open world action game.  It’s perfectly average; but they do give you a bullet time feature that you can use when you hop over cover.  It’s fun the first time; but when you get good enough to clear out a room of ten+ enemies with one jump, it looses its luster.

 

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After completing the game, it is not surprising to see why everyone liked Sleeping Dogs.  It gave players an interesting story, solid gameplay, and a place that was both foreign and familiar at the same time.  Sleeping Dogs is better than the sum of its parts; and is worth the play through if you have the time.  Hong Kong is large and vibrant; with street races, criminal activity, karaoke  and much more flowing through its busy streets.  It was an exciting place to tell a story, and I hope that there are more to tell here.  If only I could remember to drive on the left side of the road…..

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Finishing the Unfinished…

Spoilers for The Unfinished Swan

As some of you may know, I am currently playing through The Last of Us.  So far, it is an amazing experience, one that is definitely worth your time. The AAA visuals are unmatched and the narrative strikes a chord with the player like very few games do.  Yet, that game in inherently bleak, depressing, and dark. As such, I turned to some other games to act as palate cleaners in between my ’bouts with the darkness. It was with that mindset that I finally got around to playing The Unfinished Swan.

 

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The Unfinished Swan came out in October of 2012, made by Giant Sparrow; another developer that had made a three game deal with Sony, much like thatgamecompany; makers of Journey. This was their first big endeavor and it was received to critical acclaim; even garnering some nominations for game of the year from different publications. Though compared to thatgamecompany’s previous efforts, Giant Sparrow’s first game tackled a far different theme, and introduced to a little boy named Monroe.

It was over the weekend that I was introduced to Monroe, his paintbrush, and the unfinished work that is the namesake of the game. It only took me around three hours to complete the tale, but when it was all said and done there was a well earned smile on my face. The Unfinished Swan is a game built around a pretty simple mechanic; the player, as Monroe, is able to use his paintbrush to affect the world around him.  In the initial level you use black paint to reveal the world, in another, blue paint to create water.  It is pretty easy game to pick up and play; but it is the themes and narrative that really shine and bring out the game’s best qualities.

 

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Monroe is summoned into this world of paint and fantasy by following his mother’s painting of an unfinished swan.  Through this very Alice in Wonderland premise, Monroe finds himself in tale that seems to be quite similar to the ones that his mother told him before she died.  This secondary story is revealed through storybook panels found throughout the world, told by Monroe’s mother. Revolving around a king that is never happy with his current situation, the tale gives the player a glimpse into the mysterious world that Monroe travels through.  It is a picturesque place, reminiscent of Escher paintings and minimilist works that naturally create a sense of childlike wonder.  The  player is left to affect the world as he or she will, but the less you do, the more magical it seems.  You don’t want to sully the environment that you find yourself in; you just want to walk around the world and experience this magical place.

 

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If the game was just those special moments of discovery, it would still be a good game.  Yet, underneath the childlike exterior is a story about the loss of a parent, and one child’s way of accepting death and change.  To me, and many others, that was where the game became exceptional.  You don’t see these sort of narrative concepts discussed often, if at all, in games nowadays.  It’s a touching story that resonates with anyone who has a relationship with their father and mother.

By the time Monroe finally meets the King at the end of the  game; he and the player have discovered that the King is his father, his deceased mother was the Queen, and he is simply following in his dying father’s footsteps.  Out of context, these moments don’t seem like much; but within the scope of the game they tell a story of accepting the reality of your parents’ lives.  As children, we all believe that our parents are immortal; that they will be in our lives forever.  We see them as kings and queens that rule our lives and the little worlds that we dwell in; yet at some point we have to realize that this can’t be true.  Our parents are mortal, they can make mistakes, and will eventually leave this world; hopefully with a positive legacy behind them.  Monroe’s journey to the king is the journey to that realization; the journey that we all go through at some point in our lives.

 

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The Unfinished Swan is a game to be experienced.  It takes a couple of hours and leaves you with a feeling that warms your heart.  The story alone is worth the journey; but even from a gameplay perspective, that fact that you are not interacting with the world through the barrel of a gun is refreshing.  If you have the time, $10, and a Playstation 3, you would be remiss to not play this.  It was a joy and few games are now.

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No Mummies Here or the Return of Tomb Raider

It’s good to have Lara Croft back.

 

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After a brief hiatus, one of the first ladies of gaming is back in a new adventure, simply titled Tomb Raider.  Starting from the very beginning, Tomb Raider shows us the start of Lara’s days of exploring and some of the formative events that make her into the Indiana Jones style bad-ass we all know and love. Crystal Dynamics has taken a page from recent movies like Abrams’ Star Trek and games like Ninja Theory’s DmC and given the player a prequel/reboot of the entire franchise; and like those endeavors, it succeeds wonderfully.

 

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Lara has had her shares of ups and downs throughout her career. Her initial outings garnered her much acclaim, and the subsequent movies that followed only grew the legend of Lara Croft. Yet, Angel of Darkness, released in 2003, almost killed the franchise with its poor controls, narrative, and design. Yet, Lara would not be put down so easily. Crystal Dynamics took the reigns from Core Design and brought Lara back in Tomb Raider: Legend. The game was received well enough, and spawned two sequels.  Yet, those games were in the shadow of a new up and coming adventurer; Nathan Drake. The Uncharted series had taken the crown from Lara while she was away and getting her feet back  under her. Lara couldn’t get by doing the same old things anymore; because Drake and the team at Naughty Dog were doing it better.  Crystal Dynamics had to make a distinct change in the way Lara played and the way they told their stories, and with this new game, they did just that.

 

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Tomb Raider is a blast. It breathes fresh air into the series, while keeping it true to its core. The Lara you start with isn’t the Lara of series fame, but rather a grad student reluctantly living in her father’s shadow, on an expedition for a reality television series. She has skills, but they are untested; and she is thrown into an impossible situation.  What’s most interesting in these beginning sections is that for the first hour or two, Tomb Raider gives the impression that it is going to be simply another Uncharted clone. There are scripted events, quick-time sequences, and the player does not have much control over the situation at hand. Yet, after that initial rush; the player is given open play on the island.  At this point it becomes less Uncharted and more Arkham Asylum. There are multiple points were you will areas unreachable or tombs that you cannot access until you come back later in the game with the proper tool set. It creates a natural feeling of progression (on top of the skill tree they have in-game) to all that you do. There’s also a fair share of collectibles throughout the story. Most are throw-away at best, but some of the character journals are worth reading, if only because they add depth to the paper thin secondary cast.  The island is huge, with some optional tombs to raid, and it is these moments of exploration that the game seems to shine. Sadly, it falls back on many of the tropes of the third person shooter in its final hour or so; but frankly that’s forgivable in the light of its narrative

 

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If there is to be any complaint leveled at the game, its the narrative dissonance that becomes quite evident to the player early on.  The game’s narrative hinges on the Lara’s innocence being lost as she traverses and deals with what the island throws at her. Her first kill affects her, and she is astounded by the situation she finds herself in. Yet, the moment that the player gains a weapon, bow, gun, or otherwise; that Lara disappears and she becomes a killing machine. Its easy to write off that this is a video game, and the most common way for a player to interact with a game is through shooting, but this seemingly goes against the grain of the story that they are trying to convey. Nonetheless, most players won’t be bothered by this, or even notice it.

 

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Tomb Raider is worth playing. It has its faults, but they are outweighed by its strong narrative and interesting backdrop. It going to be fun to see where Crystal Dynamics takes the series; especially if the next iteration is planned to be on the next generation of consoles. Lara has regained her good name in this new take on the series. Let’s hope that those in charge of her fate don’t waste this chance; because I don’t think she can survive another trip down the water fall…

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