Posts Tagged ‘ PSN ’

Dead Nation – PSN

We tend to steer clear of any announcements on new games or ‘slim’ consoles. Just let the others get one with it and we’ll pick out the best from the rest to talk about. So while I watched the SONY press conference, I say watched – read read a live blog, I was waiting for information on new games. I don’t need a slim PS3, I already have a phat one. I was watching, Reading, for news on PSN titles.

I’ve always thought that the original games on PSN wipe the floor with XBLA (until this summer when XBLA knocked out some great games) So I was eager to see what we might be getting. Then I read the words Dead Nation and that it looked like a twin stick shooter with Zombies. Big deal, I said, we already have Burn Zombie Burn, but I still waited until the conference ended and searched for any videos I could find. I love me some Zeds.

How Effin’ amazing does that look?! Superb graphics, Left4Dead style visuals right down to a “boomer like” character, atmospheric lighting and shooting from twin sticks? Yes please!

When I first bought Burn Zombie Burn I was hoping for a twin stick shooter, but it was a mix between twin sticks and button controls. While still a great game the controls were lacklustre, Dead Nation looks to fix that whilst bringing with a more mature art style and theme. I for one seriously can’t wait for this game!

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Archer Maclean’s Mercury

Puzzle games have always been a great fit for handheld gaming, the high score mechanic and low system requirements leading to some of gaming’s finest moments. Whereas Lumines became a new interpretation of the classic Tetris formula, Mercury much like Super Monkey Ball can trace its roots back to marble madness.
The game tasks you with the challenge of moving a blob of mercury from one end of a stage to the other by tilting the stage itself, in a manner very similar to Super Monkey Ball. However the way in which the gelatinous blob of mercury moves couldn’t be more different, sloshing about as you would expect and dividing into smaller blobs upon striking certain objects. The simple idea leading to you attempting to get as much of the original mercury blob from start to finish as possible.

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Stages are split into four main types finishing with a final Boss stage which combines elements of all of the stages you have completed to get to that point. The four main stage types are Race, Percentage, Task and Combo with each type subtly changing the way you approach each challenge. Race stages require you to get to the end of the stage as fast as you can. With the emphasis on speed spilling some mercury does not mean game over but will affect your score. Percentage however is all about getting a certain percentage of mercury to the finish line, with a minimum amount required in order to complete the stage and time being irrelevant to how you score. Task stages are all about setting off switches in order to progress through a level, often requiring you to split into multiple blobs of mercury and even changing colour in order to do so. Finally combo levels as the name suggests combine elements of multiple disciplines similar to boss stages but to a lesser extent.

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As an extra challenge for the hardcore Ninja levels can be unlocked by beating the top scores of all tables from within a world. As you might expect these levels up the difficulty a notch or two and are welcome additions for players really trying to push themselves.
The pick up and play nature of the game along with the short burst nature of the levels make the game ideal for handheld gaming. Whilst the high score reward structure challenges players to play stages over and again to try and perfect a level, and it is here where the greatness of the level design truly shines. Using the natural momentum and friction of the mercury you begin to traverse routes which initially seemed impossible, taking shortcuts which shave seconds off your previous best attempt. After spotting a possible new route it’s difficult to ignore until you have perfected it.

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With everything sounding great so far there is one small caveat, being that this game is not perfect for everyone. If you are not the kind of perfectionist who is willing to play the same level for an hour in an attempt to get that perfect score and unlock the ninja levels you will definitely not be getting the most out of this game. However if like me that sounds like a perfect slice of gaming fun you really are in for a treat. I like to think of it as the thinking man’s Super Monkey Ball and the perfect company for any journey. Originally released on UMD in 2005 it is now out on PSN for £4.79, easily downloaded and installed to your PSP from your PS3, you’d be a fool not to take advantage.

Hi-Score: -Level design, that just one more go appeal

Lo-Score: – Occasionally irksome camera

Final Score: – 8 out of 10

Problems and Promise

Where to start……Dear me, what happened EA?
I’m assuming by that first line you know what I’m referring to, but for those who need some enlightening let me shed the light. Wednesday 8th July saw the release of Battlefield 1943 on XBLA, an event that has been widely hyped in preview sections and on many podcasts. Falling onto our dashboards priced at 1200 points, people across Europe and the world were ensuring that they had enough points in their balance and getting ready for war.

As a big fan of the Battlefield series I was armed with the points and ready to download it as soon as it was up. Then it appeared, kind of. The first problem of the endless list was that the game would only download from XBOX.com or the spotlight section on the dashboard, not a huge problem, I grabbed it XBOX.com and it started downloading. With my new game settling in it’s new home I hit the A button and launched it for the first time. I was greeted by a fantastic menu system with triumphant music, this was before I entered my first match and experienced horrendous lag.

Bullet lag, characters that seemed animated by Aardman (stop motion style) and walking forward five steps only to lag backwards four steps, the game was unplayable. It was broken, for an online only game to not work online is a big problem and I wasn’t happy. After a few measly attempts at getting a few games on my new purchase I gave up for a while. After posting my thoughts on Twitter I gave it one more go and, Success! There I was standing on Wake island, no lag, no issues, time to fight.

And what a great fight it is, with stunning graphics for an arcade title and epic gameplay usually reserved for retail games, Battlefield 1943 is a fantastic edition to XBLA. A capture the flag mixed with territories style game is the only mode to play at the moment, but there’s no issue there. It’s a great game mode that always seems to keep the scores close and the games finish with only a small margin between teams. Choosing one of three classes to fight as, scout (sniper) infantry (gunner) and rifleman (name says it all) you will rank up your profile as you capture flags, kill the other team and blow up planes and tanks. With destructible scenery too, everything is here for a great game.

However, the problems came back, the lag struck again. According to the Twitter account of the developers it was an issue with packet data and would be finished within a few hours…..and it was. Then the servers failed. It seems, despite what EA and DICE say, the interest in Battlefield 1943 was underestimated and there weren’t enough servers to cope with demand. Games couldn’t be found in the search function, friends couldn’t play together and if you managed to get into a game you were kicked from it swiftly. This continued for some time and the Twitter feed of the Devs kept spitting out excuse after excuse.

We are now some five days after the launch of the game and despite most problems being fixed, there are still a few left behind.

Arthur Gies from Eat.Sleep.Game and Rebel FM said this on Twitter just yesterday; Battlefield 1943 is completely fucked. we couldn’t even do a private game without a hitch.

After trying to arrange a community game yesterday, former 1up writer Nick Suttner said this; Wow, that was a massive failure. Sorry everyone. We had a full room, too! Back to the fully-functioning PS3 version…alone…

This really isn’t good enough on EA’s part, releasing a game on XBLA that is quite obviously broken and in need of removal. But what really gets my goat is how we, the gamer, have received no apology on the situation. Surely under consumer law EA should at least part refund these games as people have paid for them in in worst cases have lost five days of their purchase. I’m utterly speechless that a game that was so hyped can have been so underestimated by it’s own developers and publishers. When Battlefield 1943 works, it’s a beautiful combination of gunplay and teamwork that plays amazingly, But it doesn’t work and that’s just sad.

Trash Panic

Trash Panic from SCEJ appeared on the Playstation Network a couple of weeks ago now. In that time you would have thought I’d be some sort of expert, but to my dismay I am only slightly proficient in waste management. You see, Trash Panic is diamond hard and I mean totally ball breaking hard. I like to think of myself as a seasoned puzzle gamer having cut my teeth on Tetris and more lately Poker Smash. However Trash Panic lives up to its name and has you panicking right from the off.

Trash Panic in its very purest form is a classic puzzle game. You have a play area which is a trash can and you have a varied assortment of trash falling from the top of the screen to pack into said trash can. Sounds simple enough but there is a lot of depth to this game. A conveyor belt on the side of the screen brings in random objects which need to be disposed of. You move and rotate the trash to where you want it and either smash it into the bottom of the bin or drop it in lightly. Breaking down trash is the name of the game here and you will need to master the art of smashing the more resilient objects with smaller ones to keep your bin from overflowing. There is no time limit for clearing a level but you need to keep on top of things as any unbroken piece of trash that falls from the top of the bin will count as an out, three outs and its game over for you.

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On the first level you start with a normal sized office bin with objects like erasers, scissors and knives falling from the heavens for you to compact. As you progress through the levels your trash can gets bigger and bigger, unfortunately it doesn’t make things easier as you have bigger things to put in it until you are disposing of oil tankers and eventually golf courses and mountain ranges! Every so often a special item will come along the conveyor called a ‘Mottainai’, these are to be protected at all costs because if they are broken you will pay the hefty price of a bunch of almost unbreakable junk dropping in to your dustbin. If you manage to get one of these ‘Mottainai’ to the bottom of the can you will be rewarded however with a useful object that can be used to smash all but the most stubborn garbage.

Not all rubbish is bad though occasionally you’ll get flaming torches which can be used to burn flammable items away. Combine this with the ability to close the lid and you have the makings of a furnace. On the bottom left of the screen are two gauges, one for temperature and one for oxygen. Closing the lid will heat up the inside of the trash can reducing almost everything to ash, but keep an eye on the oxygen gauge because if that falls to zero the fire will go out. Another helping hand are mould spores. Combining these with water you get from some of the trash, such as toilets and barrels, the bacteria begins to eat away at objects to further aid you. Don’t get too complacent though as there are bosses to fight as well, these range from piggy banks to tow trucks and must be dealt with quickly and efficiently. You get ten seconds to reduce these bosses to scrap otherwise you get another lorry load of hard rubbish to dispose of.

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There are a few hang ups with the game in my mind. It took me two days of play to realise that the difficulty could be changed in the main mode from Main Dish (normal difficulty) to Sweets (easy). Sweets mode is a lot easier but you’ll be missing out on the bosses. Also I think the game could really do with a tutorial mode as I found that using the mould spores can be hit and miss. Loading is also a bit of an issue with blank screens staying up for far too long.

Don’t let the difficulty of the game put you off this little gem, I’ve had enormous amounts of fun trying to get through the main mode and it has that ‘just one more go’ appeal. The presentation and graphics are fantastic for a PSN game. Combined with a versus, mission and unlimited mode as well as an option to record and upload short videos of your handy work to YouTube all for the princely sum of £3.99 and you are onto a winner.

Hi-Score-Just one more go, great game play, lots of hidden depth, cheap as chips

Lo-Score-No tutorial, very hard on main dish, loading

Final score- 9 out 10

Burnout Paradise: Big Surf Impressions

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Well the second island is finally here. After months of excitement and build up to the ultimate content for Burnout Paradise, Big Surf Island hit XBLA and PSN yesterday. With the 1.9gb update out of the way, I fired up the new Dune Buggy that is given to you as you arrive on the island and set out on my vacation from Paradise City.

At first look the island is overwhelming with the sheer amount of mega jumps, twisting corners, blistering straights and the usual smashes and billboards. As you start your journey you’re greeted by the first of the islands mega jumps. A jump so big it’s nosebleed inducing, as with the super jumps you have to land safely on the other side. There are fifteen of these jumps on Big Surf and each of them are a joy to attempt, Particularly the ski jump in which you’re likely to hit five seconds of air time.

As is the tradition for Burnout Paradise hunting for billboards and smashes are as fun as ever, but slightly easier on the island. To be honest though, a lot of Big Surf is easier. It feels as if some pressure has been placed on Criterion to deliver a more “casual” experience. The events are easy to find and complete, from what I’ve played so far and the jumps, smashes and billboards can be found quickly.

After two hours with the expansion I’d found all billboards and mega jumps and with only eleven smashes left, it won’t be long until I’m done with the extras. At the two hour mark I had only finished two events and had plenty more to do. In terms of content, Big Surf offers you more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing but with a new aim at “casual” gamers, Burnout aficionados will have the content polished of very quickly. Even the achievements are simple to get and highlight the new “casual” approach. For example, in Burnout Paradise, finding all 120 billboards rewarded you with 20 points. In Big Surf however, you only need to find 15 of the 45 for same value of points.

There’s still plenty to do though, with nine cars to unlock (after the buggy), loads of road rules and of course the ten island freeburn challenges which can be done with 2-8 players.

Is Big Surf worth 1000 MS points or £9.99 on PSN??
Yes it is. With any Burnout Paradise content it’s not how many more races or jumps you get, it’s how much fun you have and you get bucketloads with Big Surf. Jumping off of the mega jumps with friends will be a thrill for anyone and enjoying the stunt sections that have been included is a given. My only quibble is that PS3 has 10 trophies compared to the XBOX’s 5 achievements.
All in all, worth the wait and well done to Criterion for delivering such great content.

Outrun Online Arcade

There comes a point in the average person’s life when they have to give up on the idea of taking a Ferrari on a road trip across America, drifting around sweeping bends with a blonde admiring your driving skills from the passenger seat. Thankfully Sega can help you realise that dream without even having to get up from the sofa and for a fraction of the cost.

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If you have played either Outrun 2 or Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast you will pretty much know what to expect but you may be surprised at how nice it all looks now. Visually the game has had a nice hi-def makeover with everything looking a lot crisper and those typical Sega colours look much more vibrant. The frame rate is now a solid 60 FPS which makes drifting around corners smoother than ever. The classic Outrun Soundtrack remains although is missing some of the newer additions from Coast to Coast, purists will be happy to note that the classics Splash Wave, Magical Sound Shower and Passing Breeze are all intact though.

One of the key factors that made Outrun 2 so enjoyable was no doubt, the sublime controls, which are in place and as enjoyable as ever. If anything it feels slightly smoother, but it is hard to tell if they have been slightly tuned or if the combination of higher frame rate and the 360 controller just make it feel like it has been. Drifting around corners feels so good that its infeasibility doesn’t matter in the wake of your ever growing smile as you glide around corners and weave in and out traffic. It is however in the Time Attack mode that you truly realise how subtle the controls are and a laid back arcade game morphs into a surprisingly deep time trial racer.

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One area where Outrun Online Arcade does take a slight misstep is in the amount of content provided. If the previous versions didn’t exist this wouldn’t be such a big point but they do and they are also backwards compatible. With this version you only get the stages from Outrun SP with no reversed versions or any of the stages from Outrun 2. Also missing in action are a number of cars and unlockables due to the removal of the Outrun Miles. There is still plenty to do with Outrun mode, Heart Attack, Time Attack and Continuous Mode and Online Leaderboards and Achievements go some way towards providing more content. There is the possibility that some of the missing tracks could be added as DLC with the cuts having been necessary to hit the low price point but nothing has been confirmed so far.

It seems a little churlish to complain about these minor points however due to the fact that for a mere 800 MS points you can now grab yourself what is easily the best racing game available on XBLA. An arcade racing game in the truest meaning of the term, accessible to everyone yet with a depth that few will truly master.

HI Score:- Looks Beautiful, Awesome Handling, Low Price

Lo Score: – Missing some of the features fans may have expected

Final Score:- 9 out of 10

Outrun online arcade

SEGA have announced today that outrun online arcade will be tearing onto XBLA and PSN on April 15th and 16th respectively. They have also announced a very pleasing price of 800MS points and £7.99 for PS3.
This is a great price point for an arcade game that supports 6 people racing online together and full leaderboard support.
Included modes are OutRun, Heart Attack and Time Attack modes. Plenty to keep you busy and all for a great price point.

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Check out our review coming soon.