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The Honour List 09

January24

I played a lot more than 5 games last year, unfortunately some great games were on the cut list so here we’re going to have lots of mentions. I also want to take the time to mention other titles that I played that weren’t bed either as well as the titles that I disliked for one reason or another. So lets kick off this list with the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:
Red Faction: Guerrilla [2009]A little bit of shooting and a little bit of destruction, what more could you ask for?
Braid (PSN) [2009]The manipulation of time to create fun, yet challenging puzzles, this game is really something else.
Trine (PSN) [2009]There are many unique elements in this game, and there is no one way to complete this game.
Shatter (PSN) [2009]Breakout on steroids, the concept isn’t new but Sidhe was definitely onto a winner here.

Mentions:
Assassin’s Creed [2007]This game had so much potential but unfortunately they missed the ball with the repetitive missions.
Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction [2007]The welcomed entry into the next-generation, finally bringing Ratchet in High Definition.
Resident Evil 5 [2009]Not normally a fan of these games, but the co-op story was a winner for me.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune [2007]The story was interesting, but unfortunately there was too much gun battle for my liking.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom [2007]Enjoyed the series on the PSP, unfortunately the PS3 version just doesn’t feel right.
Flower (PSN) [2009]I don’t know if you could really classify this as a game, it’s more of a relaxation exercise.
Uno (PSN) [2009]Uno is probably one of my favourite family games, if only there were more people online to play it.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Bionic Commando [2009]Controls seemed really janky, made the game unnecessarily frustrating.
LittleBigPlanet [2008]This game builds itself around creating content, something which I don’t have a knack for.
Ratchet & Clank: A Quest for Booty [2008]It’s a shame Insomniac were forced to make this, worst title out of all the series.
Resistance: Fall of Man [2007]I just don’t like FPS’, and I’m not that great at them either.
Tony Hawk’s Project 8 [2007]First time the series is HD, doesn’t make the game any better though.
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground [2007]This game series is becoming stale, each game since Underground 2 is progressively worse than the last.
Noby Noby Boy (PSN) [2009]There is no objective to this game, you just eat everything and then poop it out.
Pain (PSN) [2008]This game is so repetitive it gets boring, and they charge you extra for extras.
Rag Doll Kung Foo (PSN) [2009]This game is really basic, it also doesn’t help that I don’t care for the genre.

I know there may be some people that disagree with where I’ve placed some of the titles, but remember that this is my opinion and it reflects what I look for and what I enjoy in video games. If you haven’t already, you should at least rent some of the titles I have high on the list, they are well worth checking out.

Top 5 PS3 Games Of 2009

January23

It’s been nearly a year since I got my PS3. I bought a lot of games, some I loved, some I enjoyed and some I regret purchasing. While the rest of the internet have already published their top 2009 game lists, I have decided to do the same, although with a few differences. My list is the top games I played in 2009, not necessarily released last year. Here goes my top 5 PS3 games played in 2009.

Burnout Paradise [2008]
Before last year, if you asked me what my favourite game of all time is, I would have told you Burnout 3. This game takes the Burnout series to the next level with an open world game. That idea can be daunting for a Burnout fan but after playing it for a while, it’s the best next step the series could have taken. Online is this game is great along with a solid single player experience. Not only is there competitive play, the main focus is on co-operative challenges. One thing that I have come to appreciate from this game are no in-game loading screens. I also can’t forget to mention the amazing DLC that came along for this game, increasing the gameplay by an extra 30+ hours each. This cocktail has awarded this game as my favourite of all time (until something comes to knock it off, that is.)

Assassin’s Creed 2 [2009]
When I saw the videos for the original Assassin’s Creed, the game looks stunning. It was a game I was excited about being able to play one day. Unfortunately, everything but the actual gameplay was great, which is a big problem for a game. Thankfully Ubisoft took note of the criticisms of their first title and released this sequel. This is exactly what I wanted from the Assassin’s Creed series. With an immersive story and a wider variety of mission types, this game makes me feel like an assassin, which is it’s primary goal.

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time [2009]
I’ve been a huge fan of this game series right from the beginning, when it was on the PS2. While keeping the main gameplay formula the same, they also added some new interesting and enjoyable aspects to the game, such as the space travel, planet side missions and Clank puzzles. I couldn’t have asked for more, for what could be the final game in this series. Well they have been doing this for over 7 years so I would expect them to perfect the system, and they did just that.

God of War Collection [2009]
This shouldn’t really count since the two games that come in the God of War Collection are PS2 titles, but it was remastered for the PS3 and it was great to play these titles so it qualifies to be on this list. There is not much I can say about this series, because both God of War I & II are high on the list of top PS2 games ever released. I had a blast playing it the second time round on the PS3. I really think that the whole trilogy will be one that doesn’t age for a very long time, in ten years or so, you’ll still be able to play it without it feeling that dated.

inFamous [2009]
Sucker Punch is most well known for their Sly Cooper series, so it’s great for them to come out with a new IP. One aspect this game focuses on is good verses evil, there choices you make throughout the game determine how major parts of the story progress and how this effects you as a character. Unfortunately the game is very 2 railroads, throughout the game, you either pick the good actions, or you pick the bad, so you progress as one or the other. This requires you to play the game twice, which to me seems like a cheap way to increase longevity. Other than that, the story was great, and presented an a unique comic book style rather than cutscenes. The gameplay was good and the powers interesting, they did well to make you feel powerful in this city. I’m looking forward to improvements in a sequel.

So that was my top 5 games, in order, of 2009. This year brings a slew of new titles such as God of War III, Heavy Rain, Dante’s Inferno, ModNation Racers and White Knight Chronicles, and that’s just in the first quarter. There were also 2 big titles of 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2, that I never got round to. Hopefully I can this year and they may be on my top list for 2010.

E3′s Been

June7

This week was a big week for the video game industry as the biggest show, E3 was this week. This is where the big dogs showcase what’s to come over the next 12 months. Being someone with a big interest in video games, and someone who has invested into this generation if console games, this event is exciting for me. To be honest, the only Press Conferences that interested me were the Microsoft and Sony ones. I am so over Nintendo, not that I was really into them in the first place.

The first day of E3 was Microsoft. I watched their Press Conference and was really pleased with what they showcased. The whole 2 hours was pretty much about showing the games that are coming out. That kept me entertained the whole time. A few of the games looked interesting, but since I don’t have a Xbox 360, I didn’t care that much for them. That and the fact that the games aren’t in the genres I tend to stick to. Probably the most interesting thing from the conference was Project Natal, but more on that later.

The next day was Sony’s Press Conference. Unfortunately I found there show less entertaining.They talked about other things when really all I wanted to see was the games. They showed a few games off, most of which I wasn’t really interested in. They didn’t go deep into as many games as Microsoft did, but they did have a few cool montages with hundreds of titles coming out over the next months. The only problem is that they went too fast and didn’t tell me what games I was looking out, so it felt very uninformative. They also announced “E3′s worst kept secret,” the PSP Go. The most interesting parts of the conference were Assassins Creed in-game footage, the God of War 3 E3 Demo and the PlayStation Motion Controller.

Sony and Microsoft both announced quite different motion controller peripherals for their systems. Sony’s was a controller with a glowing ball on the top with a few buttons that was tracked by the EyeToy camera. Microsoft have something really amazing. Being able to use you as the controller by tracking your movements, and other stuff like voice and facial recognition. This is definitely the future of computer technology, not only in video games. You have to search for the videos of these to really see how amazing both of these technologies are. It’s not something you can get an idea about from words. You have to see it with your own eyes. To be honest, I feel that Microsoft’s take on it seems a bit gimmicky, much like the Wii motion controls. I can see how it can be used in a casual gaming sense, but I don’t think it is something that can be utilized by a traditional gamer. Sony on the other hand, I can see how this could be used by a traditional gamer and they showed it too, and it looked like a lot of fun. We won’t be seeing anything really till next year but I am excited to see how both technologies pan out.

Other than watching the two Press Conferences, I also kept up with E3 by watching the Co-op podcast. I think they did a great job covering E3. Heck, they do a great job covering video games in general. Definitely check them out, especially their E3 coverage. But this week has been a good week and there are definitely a few titles I am looking forward to, including Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Assassins Creed 2 and God of War 3. I can’t wait to get them in my hands. I wonder what will be the next big thing and what E3 2010 will bring for us next year.

PlayStation Portable Go

May31

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a PlayStation Portable owner since it launched here over here in 2005. For quite a while not the PSP scene has been very quite with one big title coming out every 6-12 months. Everyone had been waiting for a new PSP model. Rumors had been swirling for a while now about a possible PSP2. Well today, it was leaked. No, not a PSP2, but a PSP Go (aka PSP-4000.)

This model is not a PSP2, it’s not even a replacement for the current PSP-3000, it is just a new model to be sold along side the current PSP. This is Sony’s answer to the DSi. This model has had a significant redesign, where the button are behind the 3.8 inch screen and can be accessed by sliding the front up. Gone is the UMD drive and has been replaced by 16GB of internal flash memory which means the unit is completely for digitally downloaded content. There are some other small features but nothing really significant.

They are moving forward with this model, it seems to me like a halfway point between the PSP1 and whatever is coming for the PSP2. The new version of the PSP will include all the new stuff we’ve seen today plus hardware updates as well as the hugely demanded second analog stick. Since this is NOT the PSP2, this is why they haven’t included the second analog stick because that would cut people with earlier models off from newer games or give them a less satisfying experience with alternative controls. Hey, they need to leave something out to get your money again next time.

If you already have a PSP and have build up a large library of games, this probably won’t appeal to you much because there is no way to play you collection without paying again for the digital copies of the game. If there was a way to convert the games, that would be great, but I doubt there is a foolproof way of doing that without leaving it open to exploit. But if you prefer to have a physical copy of a game, they will be sold alongside the digital copy. One thing that would be nice to see though is every UMD copy of the game coming with a code that you can enter onto your PSP account which will entitle you to a digital copy from backwards compatibility when the PSP2 does come out, because I am positive it will not come with any physical media.

So what do I think? To be honest I don’t care much. This is not the PSP2, buying this PSP would be a waste since I wouldn’t be able to carry around or play my current library on this device. For a new PSP owner, this is the one to get. Maybe I’ll care a bit more when it gets hacked to allow me to play ISO’s from my old UMD games. When that happens, maybe more of these things will be flying off shelves into current owners hands. 16GB of games internally plus another 16GB via Memory Stick Micro, that is a lot of room for pirated games.

Picking A Console

April11

Not too long ago, the only current generation console in the house was a Wii. It rarely got touched until I gave it some extra life by hacking it to play homebrew and game backups. Still, the experience wasn’t as enjoyable as playing the PS1 and PS2 years ago. I had some money in my pocket and decided one Friday night to look into what console to buy to fill that empty space in my life and under the television.

After about 30 minutes, I was over the fence in the Xbox 360 camp. It was cheap, $300 for an arcade system with a couple of games. Another $100 for a game that I sorta wanted to play brings it up to half the price of its competitor, a PS3. This was going to be a “get something until the PS3 gets cheaper and I can actually justify getting one for the price.” When looking at the list of 360 exclusives, there was really nothing on the list that appealed to me that much. Nothing out that I MUST HAVE and nothing coming out in the future either. Still, $400 is pocket change so why not?

It wasn’t till half way through the night till I woke up all of a sudden and realized that getting a 360 would have been a big regret for my later on. Why wouldn’t I get a PS3. It’s only twice the price, there are well over a dozen games I was excited for. I looked up to see I could get a PS3 console and 3 games for just under $800. The initial investment is higher than the others but I felt that I would get so much more out of it and paying $800 for a console you really want is nothing against a $400 console that you couldn’t care less about.

If you want a “full Xbox 360 experience,” the price difference between the two becomes lesser and lesser. Xbox Live subscription for online play, hard drive attachment for storage of downloadable content and wifi adapter for that cable free connectivity, after all that, the choice is pretty clear. To be honest, price isn’t a main factor when deciding what console to get, the thing that sells the console is the exclusive game titles. Anything else such as price, features etc. become secondary and may help persuade a fence sitter into what one to get.

For me, it was the exclusive titles that are out, and the ones coming in the next 12 month, that made me decide to go with the PS3. I didn’t buy the console because if all the features it had in the box although they were good bonuses, and I  didn’t not buy the other console because of what it was lacking. For most people, it’s software that sells a system, things like price point (one of the PS3′s biggest downfalls according to most people) just delay a future PS3 owner from getting one now. Maybe if I was into Halo and Gears of War, I would have went with the 360 instead. Saying that, I can always make room for a third console under the television, maybe in a year or two… :D

Dust Off The PSP And Update To M33

March1

With the announcement last week of a few big titles coming to the PlayStation Portable over the next 12 month, including Little Big Planet, Motorstorm, Assassins Creed and Rock Band, it will soon be time to dust off the old PSP living at the bottom of your closet. If it’s been there for a while, the firmware may be out of date. Like most PSP owners I know, you’re probably running custom firmware like Dark_AleX’s OE or M33 firmwares. Here is a short tutorial on updating your PSP to the most recent custom firmware release.

  1. Turn on your PSP and navigate to Settings >System Settings > System Information.
  2. If your System Software is 3.52 M33-3 or higher, skip to step 13.
  3. First you have to update your firmware to 3.52 M33. This will allow you to update to any of the later M33 releases.
  4. Download the 1.50 Official Firmware, 3.52 Official Firmware and 3.52 M33.
  5. Rename the 1.50 and 3.52 Official Firmwares to 150.pbp and 3.52.pbp if they aren’t already.
  6. Copy the M33CREATOR directory from the 3.52 M33 zip to the PSP/GAME directory of your Memory Stick.
  7. Put the 2 Official Firmware files onto the M33CREATOR directory on the Memory Stick.
  8. On your PSP navigate to Game > Memory Stick and launch 3.52 M33 CREATOR.
  9. Accept any prompts that appear. Once the program is finished, it will return to the XMB.
  10. Navigate to Game > Memory Stick and launch 3.52 M33 UPDATE.
  11. Accept any prompts that appear. Once the program is finished, it will prompt you to press ‘x’ to shut down PSP.
  12. Start up your PSP.
  13. Download the 3.52 M33-3 update.
  14. Copy the M33Update3 directory from the m33-333.zip to the PSP/GAME directory of your Memory Stick.
  15. On your PSP navigate to Game > Memory Stick and launch 3.52 M33-3 UPDATE.
  16. Go to dark-alex.org and download the latest M33 release. Also download the associated Official Firmware. (As of writing this, the most current M33 release is 5.00 M33-6 so download that along with 5.00 Official Firmware.)
  17. Rename the Official Firmware to <versionnumber>.pbp (eg. 500.pbp) if they aren’t already.
  18. Copy the M33CREATOR directory from the M33 zip to the PSP/GAME directory of your Memory Stick.
  19. Put the Official Firmware file onto the M33CREATOR directory on the Memory Stick.
  20. On your PSP navigate to Game > Memory Stick and launch M33 CREATOR.
  21. Accept any prompts that appear. Once the program is finished, it will return to the XMB.
  22. Navigate to Game > Memory Stick and launch M33 UPDATE.
  23. Accept any prompts that appear. Once the program is finished, it will prompt you to press ‘x’ to shut down PSP.
  24. Start up your PSP.

Now you will have a fully updated, custom firmware PlayStation Portable. Luckily, they have made the updating process in the most recent M33 custom firmware much simpler and can be done from the Network Update menu under Settings so you should have no issues keeping up with new custom firmware now and have no trouble installing it. I hope this helps all my PSP friends with outdated systems who cannot wait for some Little Big Planet PSP action. This is especially for you!

The PSP Display

January19

This morning when i was digging through the internet, I found a link on Digg to a Lifehacker post. The post was about there being a way to turn your PlayStation Portable into a monitor for your Windows PC. They also had a video of this in action. Not only can it mirror your computer onto the PSP, it can also use your computer as a display for your PSP in mirror mode. You may wonder why would would want to do this. Because we can. This was fun to play with but I personally wouldn’t use it on a regular basis but its nice to know I can do it and it gave me something to play with.

The requirements for PSPdisp are a PSP with Custom Firmware which allows it to run homebrew, and a Windows PC. To get this going, you first download an installer from the website. It is very small weighing in at about 700kb. Then it’s as simple as clicking the installer and letting it install all the software and drivers or this. You will also be prompted to plug in your PSP so it can transfer a program which allows you to view the screen. After it’s done, you’re all ready to go. Down in the notification taskbar will be the program icon. This allows you to access the setting for the PSP display.

To launch it, you navigate to the Memory Stick icon under game and launch PSPdisp. You will be greeted with a screen asking you if you want to do it over USB or Wifi. I would recommend USB. If this is the first time launching it, it will install the right drivers but after that it will work pretty much straight away. You will see part of your monitor on the PSP screen. By default the quality is medium but you can adjust it to a higher quality, but this will result in a little bit of lag, but its not too bad. You can also change how much of the screen is viewed, fit to screen will show the whole computer screen on the PSP and 2 follow mouse modes which show the resolution up to 4 times that of the PSP’s native resolution.

I haven’t played with any of the other things and I probably won’t. It is a cool thing to play around with for an hour or so. I had it working in on Windows XP in VMware Fusion and on Windows 7 Beta. Both worked perfectly fine as a monitor. I myself couldn’t think of a useful application to use this in but if you wanted it to be static on a stats screen or something in a game, I could see where this would be useful there. If you have a PSP, you should definitely check this out. It’s really cool.

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