Day two was longer than the first by two hours, and I have no idea how that is decided. The biggest news of today was probably the better swag. This was most likely a result of an increased number of booth tours and appointments which, due to the fact that I didn’t know I’d even be attending E3 before last week, I made yesterday. Let’s see what happened today, shall we? Continue reading
I have decided that the best way to do my one-man E3 coverage is a huge list of games I played each day with a short impression of each. I’ll do bigger pieces on the ones I found particularly interesting/important and maybe even some you ask for in the comments. It’s like a reality show or something! Anyway. It’s 10:00 p.m. and I’m already sleepy so let’s do this. Continue reading
Sometimes, people really love sports games. And sometimes, those people are mocked. “Why don’t you just go play the real sport outside?” I’ll tell you why. Because playing football in real life gets your bones broken. And football players are big and scary and occasionally serial killers. Plus, running is hard.
The same stigma exists with music games (even after Rocksmith, which uses a REAL GUITAR). “Why don’t you just learn to play a real instrument?” The “instruments are expensive” excuse hasn’t been valid since the $250 Rock Band Special Edition, but “instruments are hard to learn” and “I’ll never be this famous in real life” are still valid arguments. Most of us will never get the rush of performing in front of an entire room of people there just for you. Most people can’t play the “Freebird” solo, and never will. But having the rock star feeling, and having fun with a bunch of friends in your digital band? People can do that.
My thing right now is pinball video games. You have to remember, a game of pinball costs a whole quarter (sometimes more!), and the nearest machine is waaaaaaayyyyyyy over there. —–> The neat thing about pinball games is that we’ve come a long way since the days of Pinball on the NES. The physics are spot-on now, a new table is just a few bucks, and you can even bring it on the go. But the quality… varies. Continue reading
After spending a solid 20 minutes on one battle Draw-ing 100 Blind spells for each of three characters in Final Fantasy VIII on my PSP last night, I realized something. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it sooner, like when I spent a solid summer playing nothing but Animal Crossing: Wild World – even then, the playtime was largely on the toilet until my legs fell asleep – or that time I had to teach Ultima to everyone in the Game Boy Advance port of Final Fantasy VI, one Cactuar at a time, to prepare for the final battle. I don’t play handheld games for the riveting story, or “meaning,” or immersion (although finding those things is great). I use handheld systems, including my smartphone, as a time suck. I play them to waste time, or kill time, or do any number of other unspeakable acts to time because – to me – they are merely a stopgap until I can get back to my “real” games on my home consoles.
And that’s okay. Continue reading
PlayStation Plus is one of the best deals in the history of gaming. For less than the price of one game a year, you get dozens and dozens of (pretty) new games, to be played as long as you continue to have a subscription. “$50 for games I already have?!” Yeah, some of ’em. But compare this to the Xbox 360’s $60/year just to play games online, with random weekly deals that – comparatively – are not even in the same league as those offered by Sony.
It’s funny… first they did Achievements better with their Trophy system, and now they one-up Microsoft in the paid subscription realm. Now if they could just keep their servers up more! Oh, and security. I guess. But PS+!
Is it too much of a good thing? The Vita is… lacking. Everywhere – hardware sold, the number of new game releases, sales of new game releases… even review scores. Did you know there is only ONE Vita game with a MetaCritic average over 90? Check it out. PlayStation Plus for those with a Vita, however? BAM. Uncharted. Wipeout. Retro City Rampage. Jet Set Radio. Plants Vs. Zombies. Gravity Rush. Ninja Gaiden. All free. And only for PS+ members. Continue reading
I’ve been playing my shiny new 3DS (well, it’s new to me) long enough to determine that, at its heart, it’s really just a better DS. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel; Nintendo just stuck with what worked, and gave it better graphics, a simply terrific analog stick, and some 3D-ness. One thing in particular I had hoped they would improve, however, is the audio. The speakers are much better, for sure (have a listen on Nintendo Video or Netflix and compare it to any DS game if you don’t believe me), but I still have exactly zero qualms about playing nearly any game with the sound off. When I think back to some of the incredibly catchy melodies from the original NES – over 25 years ago – this lack of advancement in the sound department is simply unacceptable.
This is one area in which Sony has always excelled – the PSP and the Vita have some pretty great speakers, and the games on those systems recognized that fact, so much so that investing in a decent pair of headphones to play games is actually recommended. (I’d expect nothing less from the creators of the Walkman.) The higher-capacity UMD format helped too, I think, as did the ability to play PSOne Classics on the systems. The CD format and the original PlayStation is when game technology finally made it possible to do sound design, spoken dialogue, and full orchestral soundtracks by real full orchestras justice, and the disc format has helped every console since do more with their games’ sound and music. But the 3DS and DS aren’t disc-based. Continue reading
At Sony’s gamescom conference on Tuesday, they made an announcement that is sure to make the thousands of Vita owners very happy: if you buy any of the three upcoming PS3 releases PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal, Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force in Europe), or Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, you get the Vita version absolutely free. They’re calling it Cross-Buy, and if you’ve tried Sound Shapes, you’ve already seen it in action.
This is great news for current Vita owners who, besides Sound Shapes, haven’t really had a lot to look forward to recently. This is also great news for people on the fence about getting a Vita in the future; if you are buying any of these titles on PS3 anyway, then you’re basically getting a free packaged-in game with your shiny new Vita. The problem with Cross-Buy, though? While it won’t degrade the perception of value of a standard AAA PS3 console title (that will be a solid $59.99 at least until the next console generation), the perceived worth of a Vita game will go down even farther than it already has. Why would anyone pay $40 for a Vita game when you can get the always-superior PS3 version too for just $20 more? Continue reading