PSP2 Revealed! Codename “NGP”

The wait is over everyone…the long rumored PSP2 has been officially announced!  Codenamed “NGP”, Next-Generation Portable, it will rival the PS3 graphics, has dual analog sticks (not analog nubs like on the original PSP models), a front and rear camera, sixaxis functionality, 3G, WiFi, a 5 inch OLED touch screen and front and rear touch pads.  They’ve shown off a trailer that shows titles like Hot Shots Golf, WipeOut, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, KillZone and Uncharted!  As expected, pretty much all the publishers and developers are on-board to develop titles for the system.

Here it is, the NGP!

The big feature with the NGP is the new LiveArea UI.  Sony has decided to go away from their award winning XMB UI.  The new LiveArea will display your friends, message, games, PlayStation Store and apps all within a touch away from being accessed.  It will be running on a 3G network and will keep track of where you are as you play games.  So if you want to play with your friend from across the country, it will show you where they are playing from.  The new UI easily focused on community as well.  There’s access to message boards, right from the LiveArea.  There’s also an app called “Near” which tracks all the footsteps you make.  Picture a GPS basically, but it will also display all the other people in the area that have an NGP and what they are playing.  You can click on their “avatar” to find out the game they are playing and what they’re doing in it.

There was no price announced for the NGP nor an official release date for North America.  However, Japan is reported to get it this holiday season.

Front of the portable device...

Rear design of the portable device...notice the touch pad.

The new LiveArea UI

Here’s the tech specs…

CPU: ARM Corte-A9 core (4 core)

GPU: SGX543MP4+

External Dimensions:

Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)

Screen:

(Touch screen) 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED

Multi touch screen (capacitive type)

Rear touch pad

Multi touch pad (capacitive type)

Cameras:

Front camera, Rear camera

Sound:

Built-in stereo speakers

Built-in microphone

Sensors:

Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass

Location

Built-in GPS

Wi-Fi location service support

Keys/Switches:

PS button

Power button

Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)

Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)

Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)

Right stick, Left stick

START button, SELECT button

Volume buttons (+/-)

Wireless communications:

Mobile network connectivity (3G)

IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)

Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

Vanquish Review (PS3/360)

Do you like cover-based 3rd person shooters?  Do you like extremely fast-paced games that just never let up from the second it starts until the second the credits roll?  Do you like having a sweet suit that lets you powerslide your way across the battlefield while shooting enemies in slow motion?  If you answered “yes” to at least one of those questions, hands down you should be playing Vanquish.

Vanquish takes place in the future where the Russians are threatening to launch nuclear warfare at the United States.  The President of the United States issues an attack on their Space Colony to prevent any other attack from happening.  Besides hiring the military, a special unit known as DARPA are tasked to aid in the attack.  While that’s not the most original concept for a storyline, it does the job of letting the player know there is a story going on beyond all the action taking place.  You play as Sam Gideon, a DARPA agent utilizing the ARS suit.  The suit gives Sam accelerated movement speed and enhanced strength that allows him to have a chance to take on the “challenge” of completing his mission.

Now I mention “challenge” for a good reason.  This is by no means an easy game.  It’s not impossible, but just know that coming from the same director/creator of Resident Evil 4, the game will be a challenge.  Sam might have an accelerated suit (not to be confused with the Accelerator suits from the awful G.I. Joe movie), but he can still endure damage quite quickly on the Normal difficulty setting.  Checkpoints are given at appropriate sections throughout the levels so frustration will rarely endure.

Gameplay wise, it’s kind of what you would expect from a well-developed 3rd person cover shooter.  I say “kind of” because the powersliding feature your suit can do, radically differentiates itself from other 3rd person shooters out there.  You have a power meter at the bottom right of your HUD that regenerates anytime you aren’t using the powersliding or slow-motion effects.  If the meter runs out, the suit overheats and you will have to wait until it cools down before you use it again.  When the suit is overheated, Sam’s evasive roll is much slower as well, not to mention you can’t powerslide your way out of trouble so using that meter strategically is a must if you want to survive.  You’ll notice that the suit will have green lights at the start of the game, take damage and it’ll turn yellow, too much damage will turn it to red (think Dead Space in terms of how your health is displayed).  Another great feature is that if you’re taking too much damage and are close to dying, the game will automatically go into slow motion (if you have anything left in your power meter at that moment).  This will allow you to hopefully get to cover in time to regenerate health, which is determined by the color on Sam’s suit.  Bottom line, the game is far from unforgiving.

Boss battles are standouts as well.  Each boss will really test your skills as you progress, ensuring that you’ll just barely make it out of each fight with your heart racing.  The bosses will range from enemies your own size (but they’ll prove to be formidable enemies despite their size) to those that are the size of the Sears Tower.

Another standout is the graphical presentation throughout the game.  Platinum Games has developed their own engine and its easily one of the nicest looking games this generation.  Sam’s ARS suit looking incredibly detailed as do the NPCs.  You’ll notice that the suit animates when using the powerslide and when you exit the powerslide which is a cool touch.  The animations are incredibly fluid making the game more of an experience.  The level design is quite impressive as well.  The whole game changes environment each act and no area ever looks the same.  The art direction is very well done with quite the sense of scale throughout the campaign.  It’s definitely one of those games that despite being ludicrously fast-paced, deserves a view of the environments as you play.

Vanquish’s sound design is nothing short of stunning.  All the guns have appropriate and effective sound effects that give them the impact they need.  The suit’s sound effects for powersliding, cooling down the suit if overheated, and initiating slow-motion add to that extra immersion as well.  The music is perfectly suited for the game with it’s upbeat techno/electronica score.  Even when the game goes in slo-mo, the music will slow down but you’ll still hear the heavy beats hitting, which is a neat touch.  Voice acting is pretty good for the most part, except for the whole military grunt style voices the main characters have.  I can understand if Burns (one of the characters on your team) has that type of voice but Sam’s voice just felt a little too “Solid Snake” like.  Either way, it gets the job done and doesn’t really detract from the experience.

Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10

Overall, Vanquish is one of those rare gems that any action fan should play.  It’s a fast-paced, well balanced game that is exciting from beginning to end.  Hopefully the game picks up sales because it’s a shame when game’s like this are missed due to everyone being hooked into other blockbuster titles.

Pros:

+ Fast-paced relentless action

+ Tight controls

+ Loading times are minimal

+ Excellent graphics

+ Great soundtrack and sound effects

+ Missions can be replayed via “mission select”

+Challenge Mode increases the longevity of the game after the campaign is done

Cons:

-Short Campaign

-Story is kind of there just to carry the action

 

 

R17’s Holiday Wish List

Hey Guys, R17 here just wanted to give you guys my upcoming games that I am personally looking forward to next month and also for January 2011.

First up, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood just released this week.  It is a favorite franchise of mine and even though I don’t own it as of yet, it is without a doubt a must buy for fans of the series.

Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii is another game that I personally am excited for mainly because of its throw back to the old school days of SNES DK series.  This game is combining 3D Character graphics with 2D Backgrounds making a fresh new look to a classic.

Next up is the Super Mario Collection for the Wii, due out December 12th in America.  It is already picking up notoriety for its limited quantity at sale and supposedly will not stay long on shelves.  My advise for any Mario fans out there is to pick it up in the first week if not day one.   For $29.99 you are getting a great value of all the original Mario games from the Nintendo days also a rare art booklet and history.

And lastly, on January 25th 2011, I will shut off the outside world as I become engrossed in one of my favorite games and franchises, Dead Space 2.  I will not go into any synopsis or description of the game at this point because I plan on doing a full article and page on my favorite franchises of all time.  Please feel free to comment, message, disagree, agree…whatever you guys want.   Until then R17 Here saying peace out guys.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Patched for PSN

After a roughly 2 month delay, the online function is now patched into the PS3 version of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.  Why it wasn’t ready when the game was released is still odd but it’s finally here.  Those who waited to buy the game but waited for the online patch, now’s the time.  Perfect timing for Thanksgiving break!

Marvel vs Capcom 3’s Release Date and Collector’s Edition Details

The long awaited fighting game, Marvel vs Capcom 3, has been confirmed by Capcom that the game is complete.  It has been sent out to the ESRB to get a rating and will release on February 15th, 2010.  There will be two edition, a standard edition for $59.99 and a collector’s edition for $69.99.

 

The collector’s edition includes the following:

-Steelbook case containing exclusive art work.

-Comic/Art book which is a 12-page prequel to the game, written by Frank Tieri, plus campaign art and a curated selection of fan art.

-1-month Subscription to Marvel Digital Comics, providing unlimited online access to Marvel content.

-2 Playable DLC characters – Jill Valentine and Shuma Gorath (these characters will be released 4 weeks after launch so it’s not exclusive).

Gran Turismo 5’s Release Date

So after numerous delays for the game that’s been in development for 5 years, Gran Turismo 5 has finally locked down a release date.  Everyone mark your calendar for November 24th 2010!  Releasing the game before Black Friday will definitely drive the sales for holiday season (no pun intended).

GoldenEye 007 Review (Wii)

In 1997, FPS’s were revolutionized in a way that would pave the genre in a whole new path.  Granted there was Wolfenstein 3D and Doom that started the FPS genre, but GoldenEye 007 for the N64 perfected it.  By adding an objective element, players didn’t have to only run across the level to complete it.  They had to fulfill specific goals and utilize certain gadgets that Bond used in the movies.  Add in a 4-player multiplayer mode which allowed for tons of options to customize each game, play as characters from the Bond universe and use weapons from the Bond movies.  It was one of the most talked about games of its time…and still is.

Fast forward 13 years…

After numerous attempts to release an HD version of GoldenEye, it would never happen due to licensing issues.  However, instead of releasing an HD version of the game, Activision has listened to the demand.  Since they currently have to rights to Bond games, they left it to the hands of the developers at Eurocom to, not make an HD version but rather, a re-envisioning.  Eurocom is no stranger to developing a Bond title either.  They developed “The World is Not Enough” for the N64, as well as “007 Agent Under Fire” and “007 Nightfire” for the PS2, GC, and Xbox.

When debuted at E3 this year, I think it was safe to say that most people were cheering that GoldenEye was coming back.  It was announced that the multiplayer was returning but with one notable feature, 8-player online play.  The main question you’re asking yourself though is: does this re-envisioning live up to the original?  It’s kind of tough to decide…

I won’t lie, I enjoyed playing GoldenEye 007 for the Wii.  The campaign was roughly 5-6 hours long (on the easiest difficulty setting).  It was a more cinematic experience than the 64 version but that’s also because games have evolved into interactive movies.  Unlike the 64 version, you can now sprint and use melee attacks (which are more of finishing moves rather than quick jabs with the gun).  Level design is entirely different from the 64 version as well.  Only certain segments of the game will remind you of the original, otherwise everything else is, once again, a re-envisioning.

Graphically, the game looks really good for a Wii game.  The frame-rate chugs at times depending on how intense the action gets but nothing unplayable by any means.  Character models look pretty good but since it’s a re-envisioning, none of the characters look like their movie counterparts.  Audio wise, the game sounds excellent.  The sound effects for the weapons sound powerful.  All the voice-actors sound believable with Daniel Craig (007) and Judi Dench (M) lending their voices to the game.  Even the AI soldiers carry conversations amongst each other giving it a cinematic feel.  The music works very well with the game incorporating an orchestra/techno vibe (in particular the Archives level sounded really cool).

Throughout the campaign, you’ll notice that there as several quick-time button sequences.  These usually take place during boss fights but they work really well.  There’s also times where you’ll breach a room and it will go in slow-motion so that you can take out all the guards or rescue hostages, just like in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  Also, since Daniel Craig is portraying as Bond in this game (as opposed to Pierce Brosnan), gadgets are limited to only a smartphone.  The smartphone is used to hack into objects such as turrets (which when hacked will shoot the enemies as opposed to you) or doors to be opened.

The multiplayer is as robust as it can get for the Wii.  While there’s no voice chat (oddly since Wii Speak is available), the features in the multiplayer nothing short of impressive.  There’s multiple game modes for players to choose from, there’s a party system so that you can invite your friends on the wii to join you, you can customize loadouts for matches (choose your weapons and gadgets) and you can vote for which map to play for the next match.  I have to say that every match I’ve played online was lag-free and played smoothly with the occasional frame-rate drop here and there.  Also, a nice touch Eurocom did, that most developers don’t do, is play music for the entire online match.  I can’t stress how much I dislike when a multiplayer game has no music what-so-ever.  It’s just not intense when it’s too silent.

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10

If you’re expecting to play an exact version of the N64 game, with enhanced graphics, enhanced controls and online multiplayer, you will be severely disappointed.  But if you’re going into the game KNOWING that it’s a brand new game, it’s one of the best Wii titles available.  The campaign has a lot of sweet segments and the multiplayer works very well having already gained quite a community.

PROs:

+ Great graphics

+ Cinematic feel throughout the campaign

+ Multiple control schemes, including complete customization

+ Very good multiplayer

CONs:

-Very different from the N64 classic

-Multiplayer doesn’t match the “greatness” of the N64 classic