About Playstation Home

January 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

About Playstation Home

Playstation Home is an interactive function utilized on the Playstation 3. It is basically a virtual world wherein the player can customize features and interact with other players. This is a modern realization of “The Getaway Online", originally planned for the Playstation 2, which was cancelled and the idea put on hold. Forms of virtual social networking have become more and more common in consoles, and Sony intends to take things to the next level.

When first announced, there was talk of a full-fledged world with virtual theaters and gaming stores for playing demos, all of which are gradually being realized on the ever-expanding function. These include the ability to buy and personalize your own home, playing a real game through your virtual home, and traversing the virtual world interacting with other users. Both Playstation Network games and games on your hard drive or in your disc drive can be played in Playstation Home.

Users can immediately customize their own avatar, choosing from a wide variety of appearances, clothing and accessories. Next up you’re free to customize your "Home-Space"(typically an apartment room, house, etc.) It's even possible to invite another user to your home and watch streamed videos on your virtual TV, if the video is installed on your hard drive. Also included are functions to upload pictures and hang them on your wall, listen to and show other users your music, and play online games together such as chess and bowling.

Communication between users is handled in a variety of ways including virtual keyboard, USB or Bluetooth keyboard, headset, and emotes: fixed text messages, expressions and emotional displays. The "virtual keyboard" appears onscreen with the press of a button, and players can input text with their controllers. However, it's recommended that you use a keyboard or headset (or both) to take full advantage of the communication aspect of the game.

Additional updates have been confirmed; Sony intends to add pets and additional clothing, amongst other features. The function is entirely free to play, but there will be certain in-game items that can be bought with real money at the Playstation Store. All of these dynamic and innovative functions have helped to make Playstation Home widely popular amongst users.

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Most Anticipated Games of 2009 Part 2

January 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Here at Video Game News Blog we have been trundling the web to bring you what we think will set your gaming experiences in 2009 on fire! Here is the second part of our Most Anticipated Games of 2009.

Ghostbusters (Windows, Xbox 360, PS3)

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Dan Aykroyd? Check. Bill Murray? Check. Harold Ramis? Check. Ernie Hudson? Check. What more could you want? The original Ghostbusters from the cult 1984 film of the same name are here in what write, Dan Aykroyd, describes as “essentially Ghostbusters III”. The story for Ghostbusters the game is written by the writers for the film, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The best part of the game is you get to join the Ghostbusters a new recruit, testing out Egon and Rays new equipment. The story is set 2 years after Ghostbusters II and with the original creators and writers, as well as the cast, this should definitely be a worthy Ghostbusters storyline. The reason this game is on the list is two-fold, I am a Ghostbusters fan and also this game nearly didn’t make it on to the shelves. After Activision and Blizzard merged, Ghostbusters was one of the games to be dropped. Luckily Atari where there to step in and to publish the finished game. Just remember, don’t cross the streams!

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Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

What would a Sony console be without a version of Gran Turismo released for it? Not a very good one. So far the PS3 has had the lacklustre Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, that at first whet our appetite but in the end just became a visual feast more than a next generation driving simulator. Gran Turismo is stated to having near photo-realistic graphics and superb attention to detail with the cars (this I can believe, as in an interview with Polyphony Digital they said it takes a minimum of a week to model just one car) and unparalleled driving physics. Could this really be the Real Driving Simulator the series claims to be.

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Halo Wars (Xbox 360)

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The success of the Halo franchise on the Xbox and the Xbox 360 has rocketed Microsoft into one of the leading console manufactures and publishers. Halo 3 was one of the fastest selling games of all time. Now, Halo is taking a new direction into the realms of Real Time Strategy with Halo Wars, developed by Ensemble Studios. This Xbox 360 exclusive sets to change the way RTSs are played consoles and to change the opinions of RTSs belong on a PC with a mouse and keyboard. Halo Wars has a huge chance to be a massive success in 2009, with the popularity of Halo being so great, but also this is Ensemble Studios last game and they will want to go out with a bang.

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Final Fantasy XIII (PS3 and Xbox 360)

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The most shocking news of E3 was when Microsoft and Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to the Xbox 360 in North America and Europe. Barring all flame wars on whether this is a good thing or not, Final Fantasy XIII will still be a great game and one of the most anticipated games of 2009. The success of the Final Fantasy franchise in the western world started with the release of Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation and with XIII being released on the Xbox 360 in the West will mean more people will enjoy the delight Square Enix will produce. No doubt the graphics will be breathtakingly superb and the story, as with so many RPGs, will be full of twists and turns, as well as heart stopping moments. Final Fantasy XIII has all the makings of being one of the best games of 2009 and will be set to delight JRPG fans around the globe!

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Diablo 3 (Windows)

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Blizzard again grace the most anticipated games of 2009 list, this time with Diablo III. The secret project they were working on and us fans were hoping was coming, was finally confirmed at 2008's BlizzCon to massive rapture. Gamers will be delving into the depths of Hell to battle demons and the like to end the madness that plagues the Diablo world. Three of the five classes in Diablo 3 have been unveiled so far - the Barbarian, Witch Doctor and the Wizard - and this time players can choose the gender of their character as well. The graphics have taken on a massive overhaul from the last incantation and the art direction looks super awesome (though that is a matter of opinion and various petitions have been created to make it more "gothic"). Blizzard again look to have a sure fire winner with Diablo 3 and it is sure set to entertain me in late 2009.

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Retro Arcade Joystick Announced for the PS3

January 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

xcmdominator 300x210 Retro Arcade Joystick Announced for the PS3Where you the Arcade King of yester-year? Well, with the newly announced XCM Dominator joysitck you can rain down those furious combos on your foes! This pure old-school peripheral for your PS3 offers six control buttons and a navigational stick. Also it comes with programmable rapid fire and macro modes that can store 20 commands, which will surely make those tricky combos a blast to pull off!

The XCM Dominator has only being announced for the US so far, so Europe and the rest of the world with either have to wait or order it from US sites. It will cost $89.99 and will be released next week.

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id Hire Award Winning Writer for Doom 4

January 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

doom4 300x227 id Hire Award Winning Writer for Doom 4

John Carmack and the guys at id Software, the creators of the great Doom and Quake franshise and the upcoming Rage, have announced that Award Winning Sci-Fi writer Graham Joyce, author of 'The Tooth Fairy', 'Dark Sister' and 'The Stormwatcher', is to be writing the story for Doom 4. This is a welcome change for the FPS genre, where story is usually bolted on to give meaning to you blowing seven bells out of aliens and the like. Having a well scripted story in Doom 4 will immerse players into the world of Doom, and will give it a much more structured feel. As usual Doom 4 will have id Softwares new technology, but with the inclusion of Graham Joyce in the story writing department, this will add another focal point to the Doom series, but also to the rather bland FPS genre as well.

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Anticipated Games of 2009 Part 1

January 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

2008 was one of the best years for games to date (we always seem to be saying that year after year...) with releases like Gears of War 2, Fable 2, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, Metal Gear Solid 4, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3 and many more. Will 2009 trump 2008? Let's see what the competition is shall we?

Starcraft II (Windows and Macintosh)

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StarCraft fans have been anticipating this one ever since the first instalment came out in 1999. StarCraft pushed the RTS boundaries with deep story, balanced gameplay and its pure addictiveness. It had three vastly rich races and near limitless potential for strategic variations. It is still played today extensively, especially in South Korea where they are Blizzard crazy. The second instalment to the series looks set to blow RTS and StarCraft fans away. Blizzard has an extremely good record for releasing games, with none of their games being a bad egg. They are now putting the finishing touches to their sequel with updated graphics, new unit types and abilities and a new improved online system. This is a mostly anticipated game indeed.

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Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3)

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Killzone 2 is one of the hottest First Person Shooters of 2009. This follow up to the original on the PS2 has broken the boundaries of what is possible graphics-wise on the PS3. In a couple of words it looks freakin' awesome! I was lucky enough to snag a view at it at the London Games Festival where they were showing the Beta build (I think - sorry I can't remember fully). From first looks it was simply stunning. Killzone 2 doesn't follow the mantra of previous FPSs, Guerilla Games have implemented a cover system that allows for a more tactical approach to your play and will give you time to plan your next move. They have also built an extremely engrossing atmosphere, with the crackle and pop of machine-gun fire and other sounds from the warzone. Clever AI will keep you engaged as they try to flank you or rip to shreds your cover you thought was safe. If you are a PS3 owner, this is an absolute must have.

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MadWorld (Wii)

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This is arguably the most promising Wii game of 2009 as well as being one of the most bizarre looking games, it lives up to its name. The look of the game is its most distinctive feature. It looks like the world of Sin City, with black and white being the sole colours most of the time. The games is based around a deadly game, called Death Watch, which has sprouted up because of an outbreak of a deadly virus that has forced Varrigan City, the setting for the game, into quarantine and chaos. MadWorld sees you fight to the death in battles to win the ultimate prize in Death Watch, your life. The concept of this game echoes Battle Royale, and with its brilliant art direction and, as ever with the Wii, it will have a very unique control scheme. Hardcore gamers have been waiting for a 'hardcore' game for their Wiis, could this be it, i think so.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic (Windows)

Star Wars Galaxies had lots of promise before it was released. Initially it delivered on that promise, to deliver a believable online world in the Star Wars Universe. Unfortunately they ended up messing it up by changing the core dynamics of the game, which made the game a challenge and fun to play, and ultimately lost subscribers. But all is not lost on the Star Wars massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), in conjunction with BioWare (RPG masters), LucasArts have revisited the times of the Old Republic and turned it into one of the most anticipated online games of 2009. Because the times of the Old Republic haven't been written about as much as the times around the six films, there is a lot of scope for a very exceptional story in Old Republic. One of the interesting features of the Old Republic is that every decision you make whilst you complete quests, will affect the outcome of your character and the story, and this cannot be changed. You have to live with your consequences, as you fall into the dark side or rise to the light side.

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Video games- a byte sized history PART ONE

January 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have recovered from the glorious pun in the title, then we shall begin. Video gaming has been around long enough now to have become firmly ingrained in the public consciousness as a legitimate entertainment industry that commands a large share of the overall global media output and intake. From the early days of the 2600 right up to the newest versions of the Xbox and Playstation, there has been a ridiculous amount of fun to be had. Not everything worked out, and not everything was quite as awesome as people would have you believe, but video games certainly have their history.

The Video Game industry began in the early 1970s and after almost collapsing in the mid-1980s, it is now one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world.

The First Generation Home Video Games

Many people have fond memories of playing the legendary Pong, the very first arcade game to achieve any kind of notable success. Despite it’s simplicity, it was hugely addictive and became a genuine classic very quickly.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the advent of many arcade game machines (man, remember those tabletop video games? Those were AWESOME). Some of these proved to be hugely addictive. Popular games of this era included Pac-Man and its many variations, Space Invaders, Battle Zone, Defender, and Donkey Kong. Personally I was very fond of Moon Cresta.

Many gamers longed to play these games in their homes, and eventually, many of the games were in fact available to play on at least one home video console and often more than one. In the original home video game market, games were hard wired into the console. All of this would change with the advent of second generation consoles, and the scene was to explode.

Second Generation

The second generation home video game consoles allowed for cartridges that could be swapped in and out of the console. The defining console of this period was the Atari 2600, which often shipped with the popular Space Invaders game.

The main controller for the Atari 2600 was the joystick, which often wore out and had to be replaced or refurbished. The console also included paddles which were used in racing games and in some sporting games. Greats for the 2600 included Pitfall and Berserk!

This era also saw the rise of the handheld video game market. Many of these centered around sports, such as basketball and football.

In addition to the Atari 2600, some gamers also purchased the Mattel Intellivision or the ColecoVision. The home video gaming market nearly died out during this era, and only the Atari 2600 remained. Gamers would be rewarded in just a few years with the advent of third generations machines.

Third Generation

The third generation in video gaming was inaugurated in the mid-1980s by the classic Nintendo NES console. It normally shipped with the original Super Mario Bros game, which remains a favorite to this day and has spawned countless other games, TV shows and even a movie. Other titles included Duck Hunt, the Legend of Zelda and many variations of Super Mario games.

The Nintendo NES was revolutionary in that it replaced multiple controllers with one game controller that easily fit within the two hands of the gamer. Also available was a pistol that was used with Duck Hunt and other titles.

The ease of play with the NES and the enjoyable games allowed it to easily dominate the video gaming market for several years.

The Sega Master system was the alternative to the NES, offering the same 8 bit technology with a sleeker design and a more detailed game design. Many of the Master System’s most popular games were action based, such as Shinobi, Altered Beast and the like.

Home video game consoles would continue to evolve over the late 1980s and beyond. Make sure you check out PART TWO of our Byte-sized history of video games soon!

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REVIEW: Prince of Persia (Multiplatform)

January 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Prince of Persia games have been around since the days of the Apple II and have graced previous generations of consoles like the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The last reincarnation of the Persian Prince on these platforms were fantastic. The first Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time was a platforming gem, whilst The Warrior Within took the fighting mantel. Lastly the Two Thrones melded these two important elements into one great game, finishing off the story brilliantly.

Now the Prince is reborn on the new generation of consoles with the Prince of Peria on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the trusty PC. The Ubisoft team have gone with a completely new art and graphical direction, with the game looking like a beautiful painted canvas. The new cell shaded design is an instant win, for me, and the new Prince and his sexy side-kick Elika both look stunning.

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The basic story premise is Elika's father and ruler of the kingdom destroys the Tree of Life, which contains the God Ahriman. With the Tree of Life destroyed, Ahriman begins to infect the kingdom and its lands with Corruptions. It’s the Prince's and Elika's job to heal lands known as fertile grounds to restore power back to the Tree of Life and stop the evil god Ahriman escaping. Nice and simple!

You as the Prince has to jump, swing and do your usual platforming tricks to get to where Elika has to use her magic powers to heal the fertile grounds. When I first started I expected to be doing the many button platform moves that engrossed me in The Sands of Time, however, I was met with the same style of "platforming" as in Assassin's Creed, which makes platforming more like the gimmicky quick-time events that plague most video games these days and takes away the skill needed. This did not impress me! To do a wall run and then jump to an opposite ledge, all I had to do was press X (yes I'm playing on the PS3....), then wait till he got near to the platform I am suppose to jump to and press X again. Also, the places where you are suppose to wall jump are nicely marked out for you with what looks like cat scratches along the wall. To be brief, I am not happy with the platforming element one bit! But I will say the animations are superb.

Moving on, once you reach the healing place in the fertile ground it is time to do battle! Each fertile grounds has a sort of boss which you have to fight and kill to allow Elika to heal the grounds and restore power to the Tree. And here is where my other moan is. After the great fighting you could do in The Warrior Within, we get this drivel!! Block....keep blocking, right my turn, gauntlet attack, sword attack the Elika's magical attack then repeat. Fun I say in a sarcastic tone. Yes you can mix it up a bit more and unlock new moves and attacks, and there is the odd God of War style button mashing element, but really it is a pathetic attempt by Ubisoft, again in the mould of the repetitiveness of Assassin's Creed. The enemies are different and do have distinct attacks, but when they do attack all you have to do is press block, then do which ever combo you have memorized.

Once disposed of the enemies its time for Elika to heal the fertile grounds. Once she has performed this piece of magic, you watch as the plagued lands and corruption that resides there is destroyed and the groun transformed magically back to its fertile state. Honestly, when i first saw this, I thought it was majestic. Once the lands have been transformed back to their fertile state, you notice orbs floating around the fertile grounds. These are light seeds, they are what Elika (you really) need to open up new grounds for you to heal and also you can improve Elika's magical powers and your own skills.

With your task complete it is now time to move on to the next fertile ground to heal. Fortunately the ever so helpful Elika has another useful trick up her sleeve. She provides you with a Fable II style compass, but unlike Fable II's disappears after a few seconds. Don't know why they didn't leave it on permanently. Oh well, a little more on Elika! Elika is important to the Prince, as whenever the Prince is in trouble, for example you thought you were playing the Sands of Times and thought you had to do proper platforming but finding yourself tumbling to your death, Elika pours out a magical hand that grabs you and pulls you back to your original starting point of the jump you messed up. Nothing like the rewind ability in Sands of time one bit.... Also she is there to help you jump further with a quick tap of the triangle button or Y button i presume for 360 gamers. She also elaborates on the plot of the story more as you have the ability to talk to and understand more about Ahriman, the Tree of Life etc.

Overall, the new Prince of Persia is a good game. It has luscious graphics and animations, especially when you heal the fertile grounds. However, it is let down the same way Assassin's Creed was let down, it is overly repetitive and it doesn't allow for skill to complete the game, but opts for a a quick-time event styled press a button and let the animations do the rest. Elika is a nice addition but could be used more, and being able to play her in a co-op mode would be fantastic, more so when you are fighting the Corrupted. The story is simplistic and won’t win any awards, with the voice typically American. I'm sorry but when did a Persian Prince have a Yank accent.

I was looking forward to this game greatly as I loved the previous incarnation of the Prince, but with new incarnation I am unfortunately disappointed. Its too simplistic and repetitive and no replayability in it. The other problem is it has the potential to be a much better game. I would recommend people to play it if they have never played previous Prince of Persia Games, but to true fans of the series be warned...

Graphics - 9/10
Story - 6/10
Gameplay - 5/10

Overall - 6.5/10

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Console Parties are the way to go

January 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Haven't got in on the idea of console parties yet? Where've you been for the past decade?

The concept is very simple indeed. The thing about gaming is that if you have lots of people over, one console is never, ever enough (this is something that amers have known since the Atari 2600- you can never have too many consoles in one place). So first of all, in order to do this you need a bunch of friends with consoles they can bring over. If you know people who are into console gaming, some of them undoubtedly have a console or two. In order to keep things diverse, you should have separate consoles with different games at the party. Whioever would have thought console gaming could be a social thing? ;P

An ideal collection for a console party would be to get an Xbox 360, another of any of the three consoles, and specifically a Wii, and all the controllers needed. Then, get Halo 3 going on the Xbox 360, either Rock Band 2 or Guitar Hero World Tour on whatever console you choose, and Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Wii. Now, doesn;t that sound like a recipe for an awesome evening in? The multiplayer action in Halo 3 and Brawl should keep you and others engaged for hours. Also, not only will the music game on the other console engage those playing, but it will provide a varying musical atmosphere made up of some of the best songs ever bashed out.

Over the years, there have been alternative variants on the Console Party. For an example, see the "Party Console Party."

For example, if you are more partial to party games when it comes to parties, well, it's a free country. But if that's what you want, you're probably not going to get it on the current Xbox 360 or PS3, as there are virtually no good party games on either console. For that sort of thing the Wii is the right place, with unprecedented, highly-rated and darn well established party games like WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, and Rayman Raving Rabbids. Or maybe you're hoping for an all-out shooter party. The Xbox 360 and PS3 may have fantastic graphics, but when it comes shooter control schemes, nothing paralells the Wii. For four-multiplayer shooting action on the Wii, Medal of Honor: Vanguard is a viable option.

Just remember- it's only a game. You're not actually onstage in front of screaming fans. You could be, just strip to your boxers and play Guitar Hero in front of an open window. Then the screams may well be from your neighbours.

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