PSN Return Imminent

Sony has announced that all PSN services will be fully restored by the end of this week. Of course it would have been nice to see the services, including the store, fully functional before the three-day Memorial Day weekend, but I digress.

Once the PSN Store returns, Sony will offer a ‘welcome back’ package. While this is a nice concession on the part of Sony, it kind of sucks for me that I already own the PS3 games on offer:

All PlayStation Network customers can select two PS3 games from the following list. The games will be available for 30 days shortly after PlayStation Store is restored and can be kept forever.
*Dead Nation [day one purchase]
*inFAMOUS [own, but have never played; yes, I suck]
*LittleBigPlanet [own the Game of the Year Edition]
*Super Stardust HD [long time ago purchase for me]
*Wipeout HD + Fury [via PlayStation Plus (PS+) service, so technically I don’t “own” this one]

My PSP situation is much better, as I do not own any of the games being offered:

For PSP owners, you will be eligible to download two PSP games from the following list. The games will be available for 30 days shortly after PlayStation Store is restored and can be kept forever.
*LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
*ModNation Racers
*Pursuit Force
*Killzone Liberation

Of course it will suck if you have to download these straight away, because I will have to pick up another memory card. Hopefully this will work like other PSN items; ‘purchase’ and download later.

Other ‘welcome back’ items of note:

A selection of “On Us” rental movie titles will be available to PlayStation Network customers over one weekend, where Video Service is available. Those titles will be announced soon.

I have never ‘rented’ a movie from the PSN store. I think Sony should offer a couple of vouchers vs. limiting this offer to one specific weekend.

Existing PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive an additional 60 days of free subscription.

This is a good deal. For my money, PS+ has been a good value; Sony should offer time lost plus an addition month.

To welcome users Home, PlayStation Home will be offering 100 free virtual items. Additional free content will be released soon, including the next addition to the Home Mansion personal space, and Ooblag’s Alien Casino, an exclusive game.

I am not really a big Home user or fan; I guess I do not have enough ‘virtual’ friends, and at my age, many of my friends and colleagues do not game. I know, I need to run in different circles. I will have fun letting my kids help me decide which free items to consume for my avatar, home space, etc.


Now Playing, Watching, and Reading

I have a smorgasbord of games in my current rotation, which is really unusually because I almost always sick to 2-3 games at the most. In no particular order:

Joe Danger – What a fun little game. It is going to be really hard for me to get 100% (from a Trophy consideration) on this one because some of the Time trials are really tough. This has to be one of the best games I have purchased from the PSN (got it when it was 50% off).

FIFA 11 – I play this one a few times a week when I want to get my soccer/football jones satisfied. I love the Virtual Pro feature.

Marvel Superhero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet – I picked up this one to play with my 4-year old, as he is really into superheroes right now. One of our favorites is Captain America (for me) and Bucky (for my son), so it was really cool that the version of the game I purchased had a good for this DLC.

Dead Nation – Only when the kids are in bed. To be fair, I have not played it in a while, but would play it more if I could play when I was not such a sleepyhead!

Gran Turismo 5 – Need I say more? It is really the only racer I am playing right now, but at some point I have plans to jump back to a couple of forgotten titles.

Space Invaders Infinity Gene – I got this one a couple of weeks ago for the low, low price of $4.99. What a great pickup. As a fan of shooters, I have to say that this game provides a lot of nice shooter pleasure. The music mode is incredible; nothing like putting in some Cure Disintegration and just sort of zoning out.

LittleBigPlanet – Mostly the Game of the Year Edition right now, but I plan to jump right back into LBP2 Collector’s Edition soon enough. Actually waiting for a patch to make sure all my goodies from LBP1 correctly import. I wrote about my love for all things LBP a couple of weeks ago. Not sure how I made it this long without discovering the pure pleasure of LBP. Collectively, these two titles are easily in my Top 5 favorite PS3 gaming experiences (that is another article!)

PS+ Gets Some Love
I wanted to do a quick link to this article, which pretty much sums up how I feel right now about PS+. Subscribing to the PS+ service has been one of the best uses of $50 gaming bucks that I have made in the last calendar year. I am going to stack my subscripting in the new few weeks to take advantage of the continued opening gambit of 3 free months. If you have not subscribed to PS+, you should really check out the last 90 days of content and discounts, which have been incredible.

Looking Forward To …
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection, MLB 11: The Show, the next NASCAR game, Journey, and Catherine (as of right now, Atlus has not announced a US release date).

Now Watching
Spartacus: Blood and Sand. OMG (wanted an excuse to talk like the cool kids) is this one over the top, but from a story standpoint, it is actually really good. I am just starting disk 3, so I am about 8-9 episodes in, and I have to admit that I anticipate see what happens next. Some of the characters are really fascinating; I want to see how their story lines progress and see how certain political motivations will screw over various targets.

I could do without all the meat just flapping around; I have never seen so many dongs just out in front of my face. I guess turnabout is fair play for the fairer sex, but still, I am glad that the developers toned it down a little after the first couple of episodes.

On Blu-ray some of the scenes such as “… have your way with the girl’s ass a bit while I watch …” are nice, if not a little bit excessive. I could never get my wife to watch this with me; not because of the gratuitous sex. The blood and gore is so over the top that at times I find myself turning my head or at least cringing in a “I really didn’t want to see that” sort of way.

Good stuff. Picked up the Season 1 Blu-ray in the low $30s from Amazon; hopefully the rest of the shows are equally as appealing.

Now Reading
Bloom County Volume 3. Sometimes I have to have some light reading before heading off to la-la land.

Yesterday, Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal (I love Amazon Prime two-day shipping) showed up on my front porch. I decided to order immediately after see Ms. McGonigal on Attack of the Show earlier this week. I am looking forward to a book that actually advocates gaming. What a great tag line – Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Seriously; hope this one is as good as the tag line.


PSN 11 for 2011 Sale – Update

A mentioned in my comments yesterday about the 11 for 2011 Sale, I did pick up Tumble, but was on the fence with several other potential purchases. Final decisions?

Costume Quest looks like a lot of fun, but everything I have read said that it is only about 6 hours of fun. It is tempting to go after some cheap and easy Trophies, but I think I will pass for now. I bet the game is on sale again (maybe even cheaper) this October.

I also decided to hold off on Hoard for now. While the price seems to be a good deal, after doing a little research I am not sure that the game has an active online community base (probably just a dedicated few gamers). This is a classic chicken and egg situation; even if the game on sale, if no one picks it up due to a dead online community, the online community will never grow. For now I am going to take my chances that the price will drop again or Sony will offer it up as part of a Plus free game (or heavily discounted), which would in turn build up the online community (at least for a little while).

I almost held off on Space Invaders Infinity Gene; almost. The under $5 price point was too good to pass up. I missed out on the predecessor to this Space Invaders next generation reboot, so I am kind of going into this one blind, but from all the positive feedback Infinity Gene has received, I have a feeling that this one was a good buy. Besides, one can never have too many shooters!

Two solid games for under $10; color me pleased!


PSN 11 for 2011 Sale

Sony is offering a number of 50% off games on PSN this week. This is old news since it was published last Monday, but as we are heading into the last few hours of the sale, I thought I would get in a few closing comments.

Comet Crash – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)
Costume Quest – Sale (PS3)(now $7.49, original price $14.99)
Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue – Sale (PS3) (now $7.49, original price $14.99)
Hoard – Sale (PS3) (now $7.49, original price $14.99)
Motorstorm 3D Rfit – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)
Peggle – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)
Shatter – Sale (PS3) (now $3.99, original price $7.99)
Soldner-X-2: The Final Prototype – Sale (PS3) (now $6.49, original price $12.99)
Space Invaders Infinity Gene – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)
Swords and Soldiers – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)
Tumble – Sale (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $9.99)

Because Sony does not do a good job of offering up a quarterly upcoming PlayStation Plus publishing schedule, it is impossible to know if any of these 11 for 2011 games are going to show up as discounted or free items for Plus subscribers in the immediate future. I already have Shatter as part of my Plus subscription, and I picked up Soldner-X-2 as part of a Plus bundle discount. What about the others? Only time will tell …

Overall this is a good sale, from a variety offered and discounted dollars standpoint. The only confirmed pickup for me is Tumble; I played the demo a while back and while I liked the game, I figured I would wait until the inevitable sale. I think Tumble at 50% off makes for a great pickup; it is interesting to see the wide range of metacritic scores.

No go …
While I may have had some interests in Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue in the future, for now I’ll pass until this one is further discounted. I am on the fence with Costume Quest, which looks like a really fun game, but once again, the price is not that appealing. “A little bit lower please …”

Right now my gaming Jones is not moving me in the direction of RTS or tower defense type games, which rules out Swords and Solders and Comet Crash respectively. Probably my loss since the price is right on each at under $5, and they both received positive feedback.

As mentioned earlier, I am on the fence with Costume Quest, but only because I may wait until it is under $5. The only other games on this list that I am uncertain about are Hoard, which looks like a fun concept, and the Space Invaders, but I do not really need another shooter.

Final Results
Before the weekend is out, I may end up with four games (Tumble, Costume Quest, Hoard, and Space Invaders) for $25, which is not bad for about $6 a pop. Most likely I will just end up with Tumble, but I always like a good sale, and the Trophy whore in me could use a few new diversions.


LittleBigPlanet – Love is in the air.

I am not sure how I previously missed out on all the LittleBigPlanet fun, but stranger things have happened. I remember when the game was announced; the build-up until release was really exciting. Somewhere along the way I decided that I had better things to do, and I figured I would get sucked into the create mode way more than necessary.

So LittleBigPlanet passed me by. Circumstances dictated that my PS3 would die a painful death last summer, although my successfully YLoD repair project is an entirely different story that has already been documented for your viewing pleasure.

When I replaced my original 60GB PS3 “Fat” with a new (and debatable not so improved) PS3 “Slim” model, the bundle I purchased allowed for two Greatest Hits titles. One of the titles I selected was the LittleBigPlanet Game of the Year Edition.

And, for everyone looking for a great value, the GOTY edition includes 7 packs from the PlayStation Store. These packs feature tons of costumes, stickers, objects, [18] new levels and the “Paintinator” to amplify the fun you’ll have. Once more, these are on the disc FREE (that’s nearly a $30 value)

Content Packs include:
Metal Gear Solid Level Pack – featuring the “Paintinator” paintball gun
Metal Gear Solid Costumes
Monsters Costumes
Monsters Pack
History Costumes
History Pack
Animals Costumes

The game sat unopened in my PS3 box for the better part of 6+ months, before I finally decided to give it a go and see what the fuss was all about. That and on a whim I decided to preorder the Little Big Planet 2 Collector’s Edition; yes, it is a sickness.

So here I am to profess (or is that confess) my love for all things LittleBigPlanet. While I have yet to really tackle the create mode in either version of the game, I can say that I really love the ingenuity offered up by the LittleBigPlanet fan base.

While this is almost random and irrelevant to my newfound love for LittleBigPlanet, I will close out with a quick link to an article from the Examiner that outlines some of the details from the various LittleBigPlanet 2 DLC costume packs.

Those who purchased the collector’s edition of LittleBigPlanet 2 received all of the pre-order DLC costumes mentioned above in addition to the exclusive Jak, Daxter and The Great Gonzo (from The Muppets) outfits. As expected, the 11 costumes voucher code ended up being the most demanded of the bunch with the bids topping at $31.00.

I think it is interesting to see what “virtual” items are worth, or at least the perceived value of said items. If you consider that the standard edition of the game is $59.99, the LBP2 Collector’s Edition was a great deal: Sackboy + bookends + DLC.


PlayStation NGP – First Comments

Now that Sony has unveiled the first info on the successor to the PSP, the various mega sites have beaten the NGP to death with their coverage, predictions, options, etc.

To keep things short and simple, I will offer up a few comments of some items that caught my attention.

The NGP will contain 3 motion sensors, including six-axis motion support. It will be interesting to see how well this capability is implemented in games; hopefully it will not just be a cheap gimmick.

The NGP is set to have front and rear cameras, which should be perfect for practical applications such as video conferencing. Gaming should also benefit – basically a built in PlayStation Eye Camera (or two).

The NGP will have touch screen technology. This one is pretty obvious, but when there was a lot of speculation around the PSP Go, a touch screen was in demand.

GPS will be built into every NGP. There should be plenty of apps in the work for instructions to the nearest bar or cheapest place to buy some new NGP game.

The NGP will support Wi-Fi. Let’s just hope this works if you are off the 3G network, either by physical location or lack of funds to support your mobile phone needs.

And oh by the way, the NGP is obviously a phone. I thought I would save that one for last and make a clever joke, but in retrospect, the implementation and execution were poor.

All of this is great stuff, but what about the price? Predictions range from $249-349 according to analysts quoted on PlayStation LifeStyle. The PSP has notoriously poor battery life, so Sony better be able to muster 15+ hrs for a full charge.

Of course for a portable gaming device, games matter. Sony is starting off with a solid library of PSOne Classics to play on the go, Minis, and whatever else is in their current PSP PSN stable of games. Will that be enough? I still hate the fact that not all UMD based games are available in digital format on the PSN. At this point in the PSP lifecycle, I believe that is unlikely to change, and I think there is almost zero chance that Sony will offer some sort of conversion utility.


PS3 Gets Inferior Angry Birds Minis

I am not sure why I care. It’s not as if I have posted anything in the last few days, or have purchased the Angry Birds Minis. Sometimes something just catches my attention, amuses me, and for shits and giggles I have to post.

Take this PC Magazine review of PlayStation Minis Angry Birds as an example. It is an entertaining review (I have quoted the review summary) because it points out so many of the flaws with the current PlayStation Minis program.

Faithful port of the iPhone/Android versions.

Jerky on the PSP. Blocky on the PS3. Analog stick/disc control isn’t as satisfying as touch screen. Not as many levels as smartphone versions.

Bottom Line
Though it’s still just pocket change to play, the PlayStation Mini version of Angry Birds is more expensive and less enjoyable than the iPhone/Android versions.

PlayStation gamers are straddled^ with a port that is flawed on the PSP with graphics issues, slowdown, etc, and apparently the game looks like shit on the PS3. I can only imagine how bad things must be on a good quality high-def TV.

For those of you keeping score at home, the PlayStation Minis version cost more ($3.99) than versions for other portable devices; it only includes 63 levels (vs. the 180+ levels available on other portable devices), and the port is flawed.

Good grief. I hope Sony addresses these types of issues with their publishing partners in the future. At a minimum, when the NGP is released, Sony has to address Minis pricing.


^ = Edit.  Upon further review, in this context, this does not make sense, but I like the way it sounds/flows.  Besides, it is my blog, so it stays.


Return of Reviews That Don’t Suck

It has been a while since I praised a review, so why not get in a quickie before the close of 2010. I have been interested in Spelunker HD since I read about the game a few weeks ago in some random blog and forum posts. Of course there seems to never be enough time to play all the games I own, so why lust after yet another title? Come on, why not!

This little gem of a game has only managed a meagerly 63 metacritic score (based on 9 critic reviews), but what does this gamer from gamecritics see that others have yet to explore?

This fastidious adherence to its own rules is paired with a welcome dose of player-friendly wisdom. As strict as the game may be, it veers broadly around the pitfall of spitefulness. The denizens of the caves can all be evaded with some careful footwork; snakes can be leapt over, and bats periodically pause their bombardment to allow safe passage. Even so, bombs and flares—which can be used to drive these creatures into hiding—can be found before their every occurrence without exception. Spelunker HD takes no joy in needless frustration.

I may not pick up Spelunker HD anytime soon, but at least the gamecritics review keeps this one on my radar. I tip my hat to this reviewer, unlike many; this reviewer writes reviews that don’t suck.


Gaming News and Notes

Over the last three weeks, starting right before the Thanksgiving break, I have been on a torrid (for me) gaming rampage. I think I have logged more hours on my PS3 (and even a few on the oft forgotten PSP – Ghost of Sparta) than I did in total January through October.

I have to say it has been fun. Almost like a kid in a candy store. Gaming nirvana if you please. I have found this latest zone has helped me decompress and even get in some quality time with the kids. These days I don’t question how long this ride will last; I just keep on plugging, enjoying it until I put down the controllers.

Crazy Taxi
After pickup up my PS3 Slim for Father’s Day, I flipped Crazy Taxi on eBay. Not because I no longer enjoyed the game; I consider it one of the ultimate pick and play titles. It is just a damn good arcade gaming experience, which blends the perfect elements of short bursts of gaming excitement and the pursuit of high scores.

Besides, the PS3 Slim more or less forced my hand, since it is not PS2 backwards compatible. Of course in my back pocket I knew Crazy Taxi would be headed towards the PSN.

The PSN edition seems to be the same game, minus the licenses (Levi’s, KFC, music, etc), with slightly harder controls compared to the PS2 and Dreamcast versions. Crazy Taxi is still a fun arcade experience; one that the boys enjoy playing with dad. As an added bonus, the PSN version also provides the pleasure (or frustration – take your pick) of pursuing Trophies.

Shame on me for not playing this one more over the past year. FIFA 10 is a fantastic sports game, and the virtual pro feature being balls out fun. In my dotage, I have a hard time pulling off decent skill moves, so my pro still seems a little stiff and rough around the edges. As a striker, I am all offense, with almost no defensive skills. I think my rating is currently 72 and climbing.

Rumor has it Santa is bringing me FIFA 11 ($29.99 during one of the Thanksgiving deals), so I figured I better maximize my FIFA 10 experience before Christmas so I will not feel so guilty when I trade in or eBay FIFA 10. And maximize I have; in fact I have probably spent more time with FIFA 10 than any other game in this article. Fun and highly addicting!

Gran Turismo 5
After waiting an eternity (at least it seemed that way), we finally have a proper Gran Turismo on the PS3. I picked up the Gran Turismo 5 Collector’s Edition – I love the series, even if it is not the best pure “racing” experience around.

After starting off with one of the 25+ versions (or whatever) of a Toyota Corolla, I have been slowly making my way through the game. Due to so many other games in my rotation (or call it my gaming backlog) I have not started the long slow GT grind. I have picked up my B and A licenses, and while I could keep on trying to progress, I have been working on locking up all B and A license Gold trophies, which seems damn near impossible for some.  I actually find this pursuit more relaxing than frustrating; I get in a zone and keep plugging away, slowly decreasing my times until I strike Gold.

The only GT game that I managed to “complete” at 100% was the first release – Gran Turismo for the PSOne.  It has been a long time since those days!  I doubt I have that much spare time to really go after that mark with GT5; however I am sure I will maximize my value (gaming dollar).

I think the game has already been patched 3 times, so the developers did end up rushing the game, which is a bit of a surprise considering the long delay. Over ambitious? Probably.  At least the developers are supporting the game and trying to make things right by the fans.

Sports Champions
My family has discovered the joy of playing Bocce. At least we are enjoying Sports Champions version of Bocce, and we are having a blast learning the rules and associated skills.  My mother is giving my oldest son a Bocce set for the backyard. I love it when videogames cross pollinate real life!

I think my kids’ favorite is volley ball, closely followed by disc golf. My favorites are archery and disc golf, and I also find gladiator duel an interesting diversion. Ping pong is the favorite of my 3.11 year old, but I find it damn near impossible.

On a side note, I need to get two more Move controllers for some serious volley ball and archery dual Move head-to-head action. What would that investment be? Almost $325? I have already “invested” $100 camera + Move controller, $50 second move controller, $35 Navigation controller, $30 Move charge station. Ouch. Archery is a blast with two controllers, so I can only imagine how much fun it would be to have a two-player archery duel with 4 Move controllers!

On more side note. The Navigation controller seems poorly supported. I think the only Move game I have that takes advantage of it is Heavy Rain. Need to come back to Heavy Rain in a future article.

My Aquarium
Did I really buy this one? Just for the hell of it I downloaded My Aquarium. It is a great concept, with extremely poor execution. The graphics are not acceptable; in fact I was not even sure this was an HD title, but from what I have read, My Aquarium is in fact presented in HD … just without the normal eye popping graphical glory. It really is a damn shame that this virtual screensaver does not look nicer, and to make matters worse, the interface is unbelievable clunky, complete with unresponsive controls.

If a “game” begged for updated graphics with Move support, this is the one. To the good, Trophy whores will find a few almost freebies on offer; apparently you can cheat to get them quickly, however I am earning my Trophies the old fashion way. It will probably be a year before all the fish unlock, giving me a cheap Gold Trophy.

I dismissed this one out of hand when it was previously released, however I did pick it up on sale for $0.99. It is OK at best … I mean it is Uno. I have played a few games online, but I disappointed that a couple of disconnects in the “lobby” counted as game discounts. That or someone figured out a way to hack a couple of wins against me; I am not enough of a junkie at this game to try to follow my statistics to see why the game thinks I have abandon a couple of gaming sessions.

I think you have to really love Uno in order to pick this one up. Not bad for $0.99, but not worth a whole lot more than a single ducket. Then again, this could be a nice diversion if someone wants to get their wife into videogames.

Hustle Kings!
Plus continues to deliver interesting content and discounts. I picked up Hustle Kings! a couple of weeks ago when it was discounted to just under $6. I have only played a few times, but the game seems to offer a really nice pool experience. The bar locations have great aesthetics – music, presentation, and graphics.

I’ll comment more on this one in the future. I picked it up mainly because I suck at pool in real life, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that playing a virtual game will actually help me in real life. To a certain degree it already has, at least when it comes to adding some backspin on pocket shots. In real life I would scratch, following the ball into the pocket, but I am getting the hang of how to avoid this mistake. Hope it carries over!

Hustle Kings! also supports the Move. I am not sure how it compares to playing with a DS controller because I have only used the Move. The game appears to do a good job of supporting the Move, however I have to admit that my poor old fingers and hand gets a little cramped trying to line up fine precession shots. As I said, more on this one later.

Did I just do that? Good grief; that is a lot of gaming playing!

Happy Sunday!


Black Friday Gaming

I am not a huge shopper, except for the stay at home and click on Amazon kind of shopping. This year (at least so far today) I did not see a whole lot of deals that I just had to get.

The tally today is FIFA 11 (DS) and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) for the kids, while dear old dad took advantage of a couple of Lightning Deals for God of War Collection (PS3) for a mere $10 and God of War 3 (PS3) for a click under $35. Thanks to the PSP and God of War: Chains of Olympus, I have become somewhat of a Kratos fan. Good stuff.

I am thinking about taking advantage of some of the PSN titles on sale. Joe Danger looks better than decent. I am pretty sure I am going to pull the trigger on Destruction Derby (PSOne); long time readers will remember that seeing the demo of this game made me fall in love with the PlayStation. I have not picked up very many of the 15th Anniversary sale items, but this is one that I will not pass up. Then again … backlog list of games is growing deep. To the good, Destruction Derby will get some use on the PSP.

Gaming today has mostly consisted of Sports Champions, which is a great family title, and of course some Gran Turismo 5 action.

Happy gaming weekend to everyone!


Wednesday: The Mid-Week Gaming Update Returns

First of all I just got another 100% complete, which is pretty rare for me. Linger In Shadows – this was a free Qore download 12-18 months ago that I looked at once and dismissed. Just for shits and giggles I decided to give it a go over the weekend. Linger In Shadows is a technical demo that is a “different” sort of way of playing a game; artistic-stylistic gaming? Trophies are easy; feel sorry for anyone that actually pays for this one because it should be more or less a free offering as a technical demo.

As part of my Plus subscriptions I picked up Soldner-X: Himmelstrummer & Soldner-X2: Final Prototype (Bundle PlayStation Plus price $10.79, regular price $17.99). I did not look before I leaped into this one, but after a few minutes with each game, I think this combo-pack will offer decent shmups fun.

Monsters Gone Mad
Survival Horror meets hunting action? I have never been a fan of either genera, but I have increasingly been interested in a decent hunting game.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts could be fun with Move support, but why offer a whole new setup, complete with a Wii like sensor bar? Ridiculous. I am sure it is meant as a cheap alternative to the Move, but why bother on the PS3 if Sony is trying to push the Move? I understand that third party publishers cannot be forced into move support, but shipping the game with Move support sans Top Shot Elite gun would probably earn the publisher more sales.

The controller itself is incredibly fun to play with. For the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, which were the ones I got to play on, you get a sensor bar to stick to the bottom of the screen (kind of like the Wii’s sensor bar). Only it’s sleek and black and sexy-looking.

Probably the niftiest feature of the Top Shot Elite is the infrared scope that you can use to track animal prints or blood trails. Combined with the fact that you have to physically reload the gun, it feels a lot more realistic than some shooters. I’d love to see this used with other games like Call of Duty, as it has a lot of potential for really improving how people play first-person shooters.

Move Navigation Disassemble
Interesting picture of a disassembled Move Navigation Controller.

I am still not 100% sold on the initial Move offerings, but I am of the opinion that it is significantly better than the Wii.

Did I really just do that?
Yes I did. I just order Atelier Rorona: The Alchemists Of Arland? Sure I have plenty of games to play, and this one is probably the last one on my list, but WTF? Why not go after a game with sexual innuendo for a main character that looks all of 12? I am just kidding on that last one, but I am always a up for something a little different, and I have never tried a game in this series.

Time to clean out my gaming library again because the backlog is in full effect!


Midweek Gaming Update

No sign of F1 2010 from Amazon, which currently shows the game as out of stock. While my copy has not shipped, Amazon shows an estimated arrival date of September 24; I preordered back on July 10. As much as Amazon gets it right with release day shipping, and their super cheap Prime service, when they get it wrong, they really screw the pooch. I find this sort of service unacceptable …

I have not written too much about Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, but I have been reasonably happy with the games I have gotten for free – WipEout HD and Critter Crunch have received a lot of play time. The discounts have been nice, especially on Magic Orbz, with free DLC. This month is the first time the free PSN game on offer was something already in my library – Zen Pinball, which in my opinion is worth the $9.99 price of admission, so of course making it “free” to Plus subscribers is a nice deal.

The main issues with Plus, in no particular order, have been lack of communication from the Plus team, an every changing list of what Plus subscribers will (or should) receive with each update, and a lack of follow through on the original commitment. The last one is a real kick in the nuts. Plus subscribers were told (although not exactly promised) that they would receive monthly releases of PSN and PSOne titles, avatars, dynamic themes, and an assortment of other fun stuff including discounts. And oh BTW Plus subscribers were promised an opportunity to get in limited early access beta demos.

You can imagine the outrage from the Plus community as Sony has moved from weekly releases to twice a month releases, few if any dynamic themes, a PSN orPSOne title, and officially confirming that getting beta invites are not exactly a guarantee for Plus subscribers.

At this point I am taking a wait and see approach.

Move: HVB
Speaking of Plus, subscribers received an early Move patch for HVB. I gave it a quick try last night and was not exactly impressed. I am not sure if I was just dog tired after a long day, or if the controls are just not intuitive. To be fair, I did not play around with it too much last night, so maybe the new control setup just did not “click” for me, but my initial HVB Move impressions is that Move support was certainly not as intuitive as some of the Sports Champions titles.

Move: Heavy Rain
I think Heavy Rain is due to receive it’s Move patch today. I have been waiting to start over (save file did not transfer from my original PS3 to my PS3 Slim). Hopefully the added Move support adds an extra immersive element to the overall game experience.


I Moved. Initial Move Impressions.

All my Move paraphernalia arrived safely from Amazon yesterday. Move Starter Bundle (Move Controller, PlayStation Eye Camera, Sports Champions, and Demo Disk), Move Navigation Controller, extra Move Controller, and Move Charging Station. The immediate ask for a while will be if the $209 Move expense was worth the price. Obviously it is way too soon to tell; we’ll touch on this more as we head into the “Holiday Buying Season” (i.e. secular replacement of Christmas).

After opening all the sorted bits and parts (I hate those plastic blister wrap containers), I setup the PlayStation Eye on top of the Sony Bravia. The USB cable is not very long; probably 5-6 feet, which is barely enough to go from the front of the PS3 Slim, wrap around towards the back of the entertainment cabinet, and then up the back of the TV before reaching the top of the Bravia. Little to no slack may send the PlayStation Eye crashing down if I forget to unplug the PlayStation Eye before moving the Slim.

I was befuddled trying to get my PS3 Slim to recognize my two new Move controllers. My boys watched patiently; probably waiting to see if daddy was going to expand their vocabulary.

For this gamer, the end result was on display; not being able to setup the Move without a quick sneak peek at the Move Controller instruction manual shows that my better gaming days may be behind me. That really sucks; no more mad gaming skillz.

Of course this morning over coffee (and bitching about the Devil returning to GA – see previous post) I realized that the Move Starter Bundle contained a Move Quick Start guide. For those that are not inclined to guess where this story takes us, you have to connect the Move Controller to the PS3 via a USB cable to “pair” the Move Controller to the PS3.

In a move (no pun intended) to control costs, Sony went from four USB ports in the original PS3 models to two USB ports on the current production Slim models. This could quickly become an issue. I normally keep a USB cable plugged in for Dual Shock charging, and the other USB port is used by my external HDD for backups and other media. Now that the PlayStation Eye takes up a slot, I will have three devices vying for two USB ports. Planning ahead was the primary reason I decided to pick up the AC powered Move Charging Station; need more cowbell.

So before we even get started on the games, the PlayStation Eye Camera cable has little room for maneuvering, the PS3 Slim is limited by two USB ports, you have to remember to “pair” your Move Controllers to your PS3 via a USB cable, and just to kick you in the nuts, Sony does not include a USB cable. Thanks for that.

Disc Golf
My boys and I quickly jumped into a free play round of Disc Golf. For some strange reason, if you are playing with four players, you have to share a single Move Controller. I would have expected that Player 1 and 2 could use one Move Controller, while Player 3 and 4 used the other. Or some other combination; no such luck. Everyone quickly got the hang of things, but my three year-old son needed a lot of help getting the timing down for the release of the trigger button.

First impressions? Wii with HD graphics, which may not be a horrible thing to some gamers. This is not really fair comparison, and I am really just going in that direction because many gamers will dismiss the Move as nothing more than a pretty version of casual Wii gaming. At first glance I think the Move Controller is way more precise than a Wii controller. You can control the angle that you hold the disc, the angle that you release the disc, and ultimately the speed and power of the disk.

We only played the first six holes, which contained an assorted array of hazards such as water, trees, and boulders. Attempting to curve your disc around an obstacle is pretty much just like real life frisbee throwing. I hope that Sony offers some DLC courses, because my only concern with the Disc Golf is that everyone will quickly bore of the same course.

I think Disc Golf has the possibility of reinvigorating real life Disc Golf. One of our local parks just got a small course setup. After last night’s Sports Champions Disc Golf session, my two oldest boys were asking to go play a round of real life Disc Golf.

Gladiator Dual
Jumped into a quick Gladiator game. It looks like this one will/may excel with two Move Controllers, which means you have to pony up some serious coin for solid two player action ($99 Start Bundle + $150 for an additional three Move Controllers). Using two Move Controllers allows you to use a weapon with one hand while the second Move Controller allows you full control over your off-hand shield. Single player mode (at least on the easy Bronze level is remarkable straightforward).

Table Tennis
Jumped into a quick solo game of Table Tennis. I struggled with this one. Goes back to my lost skillz I guess.

I spent a good amount of time with the various Archery modes. I think this one really demands two Move Controllers to get full enjoyment out of the game. One hand (Move Controller) holds the bow, while your other hand via the second Move Controller reaches over your shoulder to grab and arrow, notch it, pull back, and of course release the arrow. There are plenty of videos to get a better idea of the play mechanics.

Archery was good clean fun. I was able to quickly grab, notch, and fire arrows. Aiming was fairly straight forward, but I still need to work on my pull to get consistent power. An Archery mode or similar hunting expansion pack would be a blast; Cabela’s North American Adventures 2011 demands Move support.

Demo Disk
I have not looked at the Demo Disk; I focused on Sports Champions last night. In fact, I actually forgot that a Demo Disk was supposed to be included in the Move Starter Bundle. I remember it this morning and had to dig the disk out of the box. It is my understanding that all the demos have to be installed on the PS3 HDD, which is a head scratcher. For those of you that already have an Eye Toy, and just picked up a Move Controller, I believe that all the demos are going to be made available on PSN.

Quick Summary
Move setup is easy as long as you are not an old fart without a clue.

The Move Controller calibration process is simple; three quick actions and button presses (shoulder, side, and belt). I could play games sitting down or standing up. Precision seems very well implemented.

Sports Champions looks pretty with several different games that showed immediate gameplay potential (really enjoyed Disc Golf and Archery). I did not try Volley Ball or Bocce, and I did not give Table Tennis a fair go. It was getting late, so I will have to come back to these today.


Move Me

Tomorrow I should receive a new bundle of joy, hope, and expense from Amazon (via Prime Release Day Delivery). Yes, I decided to Move. I picked up the Move Starter Bundle (Move controller, Eye Toy, Sports Champion), Move Navigation controller, an extra Move controller, and a Sony branded Charging Station.

Will this be worth the money? No idea, but I figured just for shits and giggles I would give the Move a go and see where things land.

I decided not to pick up any additional games for now. Something like NBA 2K11 or even Tiger Woods, just to see how this puppy will handle a “serious” sports game, may be worth a flyer in the future. I wonder how that John Daly game is going to end up; garbage quick cash in, or actually decent?

I would love to try something like Cabela’s North American Adventures 2011 with the Move, but for some inexplicable reason, it does not look like the Move is supported. In fact, reviews, info, opinions, or anything else for that matter are hard to come by on the newest Cabela release. I guess it is just “shoot the animals; you know the drill, but this time in HD.”

I know that Heavy Rain will get an update; same for HVB, which should invigorate this PSN classic. I am not sure if any of my other titles will receive Move patches, but MLB 10: The Show would make for interesting Move support.

I will try to post a few updates over the weekend.


Catching the Move

I have not written much about the PlayStation Move. Mostly because I have been somewhat indifferent, and I am not really sure that I want to invest a sizable chunk of coin into a new system (really accessory) ad-on that may or may not be well supported over the next 18-24 months.

As we move closer to September 17 I am becoming anxious.  Am I going to miss out on something?  Do I need to get my Day 1 Jones going?  Should I Move?

Do I really want to spend $100 for the Move/Eye/Sports Champion bundle, another $50 for a second Move controller (for those games that require two moves and to allow for multi-player games with my kids), and another $30 for the Move Navigation accessory? $180 is a serious investment when gaming dollars are at an all time premium. Not sure about you, but unless I am getting a great bargain, I have become fairly selective in my gaming purchases.  The economy and three growing boys sometimes put a check on my past carefree spending ways.

It will be interesting to see how well the Move is supported in upcoming games. Hopefully we will see a lot of meaningful patches that will allow for somewhat unique experiences over typical PS3 games. The real question for me – does the Move provide for a better experience over the Wii? All signs point to HD gaming with more precision than the Wii. Is the Move worth $100-180 to see if gaming progresses past the typical casual Wii experience? Will the Move be more than a HD Wii?

Lots of questions and hardly any answers for this jaded gamer. If I decide to go with a Move, in addition to Sports Champion, I should have a couple of Move compatible games: Heavy Rain and High Velocity Bowling (HVB).

I haven’t touched Heavy Rain since I switched to my PS3 Slim in June. The Heavy Rain save file was not transferable; and to be perfectly honest I haven’t been in the mood to start over. Every time I think of picking it back up, I think that I should probably hold out until I make a decision on the Move because I could see Heavy Rain’s controls really benefiting from the Move.

HVB should get a nice boost of new reply value with Move support. In my opinion HVB is really an underrated game, but even with the addition of Move support, it would be difficult to call a Move compatible HVB a reason to invest in the Move.

Two supported games for $180 is a little steep for my tastes. Of course getting Sports Champions in the Move bundle would bring my supported library to a grand total of three games. That helps a little on the value front, but very little in the way of ammunition towards convincing my wife that this is money well spent.

So all I am doing is writing about reasons why I should not get a Move, but we all know that I will probably say “f-it” and do it anyway, right? That’s just how I roll.