Category Archives: PS2

Community Question – What Do You Think of PlayStation Now?

PlayStation Now will allow you to stream previously released PlayStation hits, up to and including games from the PS3 era like The Last of Us, on devices such as the PlayStation 4, Vita, and even your smartphone. What do you all think of this newly announced service?

Crazy Taxi Review

Crazy Taxi ReviewCrazy Taxi (Available on Dreamcast, GameCube, and PlayStation 2)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Arcade Racing
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA-AM3
Dreamcast Release Date: January 24th, 2000\
PlayStation 2 Release Date: May 14th, 2001
GameCube Release Date: November 18th, 2001

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Crazy Taxi T for teen because of animated violence and strong language. Honestly I’d let my kids play this one if only because it’s so cartoony and over the top. You have nothing to fear here.

Plays Like: Select your driver, pick-up a fare and get them to their destination as quickly as possible. Swerve in and out of on-coming traffic, drive underwater, do whatever it takes to save as much time as possible and you just might rake up enough points to become a CT legend.

Review Basis: While I used to play Crazy Taxi for hours on end back in 2000, for this retro review I simply played it for a few hours to remember all the key features. Sadly I didn’t have the time to invest in order to really highlight the advanced features for the video review.

Crazy Tax is the perfect example to show why SEGA was such a groundbreaking arcade maker. They were always able to take a relatively simple idea, in this case driving, and run wild with it. This is why there are legions of House of the Dead fans, why Virtua Fighter 2 was the top selling Saturn game of all time, and why every single Dreamcast owner should have a copy of Crazy Taxi in their collection. This game was not only one of the smash hits that helped define the Dreamcast itself, but SEGA as a whole.

The Great:

Here’s the concept, you drive around an open city picking up fares, once you have one your objective is to drive them to their destination as quickly as possible. That’s it, that’s all. Sounds simple does it? Well, it is. It’s also some of the most fun you can possibly have with a modern videogame. There’s no story, there’s no long open-ended adventure. No, this is about pure arcade action. You see you can get your fares to their destinations any way you want, be it driving under water, through oncoming traffic, anything you can think of. In fact the more daring you are, and the quicker you get your clients to their desired location, the more money you earn and the greater your time bonus is. This is arcade driving at its absolute best.

Crazy Taxi1The Good:

+ Not only do you have your standard arcade-style gameplay mode, which forces you to constantly pick up new fares in order to keep time on your clock, but there are three, five, and ten minute alternatives which offer a somewhat more relaxed experience.

+ One of my favorite additions to this home version is the Dreamcast City, an entirely new city added for players to experience on top of the Arcade City. While not as refined as the Arcade City, it offers players something new, and remains a blast to play through.

+ Crazy Box mode allows players to learn the ropes, and master some of the more advanced techniques such as drifting. Think of this mode as a mission-based objective mode. It starts off easy enough, but increases in difficulty rather quickly.

+ While it features a simple concept, mastering the game takes dozens upon dozens of hours. You can perform a Crazy Dash, Drift, Back Dash, Back Drift, Stop, and much, much more. This is all done through the simple manipulation of the gas, brake, drive and reverse gear. It still boggles my mind just how complex you can get with Crazy Taxi if you invest enough time with it.

+ Outside of gameplay, the graphics hold up quite well. While the Arcade City is much more refined than the Dreamcast City, both look very nice and detailed. Sure everything might appear just a tad boxy by today’s standards, but they do the job just the same. There is some framerate drops every now and then, but for the most part the game is silky smooth rocking out 60 frames-per-second. Pop-in isn’t usually a problem, except for one major location in the new Dreamcast City.

+ The soundtrack features such excellent alternative rock artists such as Bad Religion and The Offspring, and for whatever reason fits the tone of the game perfectly.

Crazy Taxi2The Bad:

– While the soundtrack rocks, the same can’t be said for the voice acting. Most pedestrians say the same few lines over and over again. It gets old fast, but thankfully the music is blaring so loudly that you can barely hear what anyone is saying.

– The on-screen directional arrow, which highlights where you should be heading takes a little getting used to. In the Arcade City it tells you which direction you should head, as in should you make a left or right turn to get to your destination, but in the Dreamcast City it only points to your overall objective. This means you can’t follow the arrow the same between the two cities and that can be extremely jarring.

Crazy Taxi3The Lowdown:

SEGA might not be dead, but they’re no longer the same company in my eyes. Crazy Taxi shows them at their absolute best. They took such a ridiculously simple concept and created something so addictive and fun that 13 years after its release you can still lose yourself to it. That’s a true gaming classic, and while there are have been countless ports to other platforms, its original home is on the Dreamcast. You absolutely must buy this game if you own a Dreamcast, and if you don’t, buy it for whatever console you do have. It’s almost illegal how much fun Crazy Taxi is.

Final Score: 9/10

Getting the Best Picture Quality from the SEGA Saturn

If any of you are into the retro scene, this is a video you’re going to want to check out.  Not only do I show you how to get the best picture quality from the SEGA Saturn, but this also works for…

Atari Jaguar
Atari Jaguar CD
Super NES (Super Famicom) [original model only]
SEGA Master System
SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive
SEGA CD/Mega CD
SEGA 32X
SEGA Saturn
PlayStation (Original model, not PSOne)
Neo Geo AES/CMVS
Neo Geo CD

It’s pretty amazing just how bright and vivid the colors are.  I was so impressed by the Saturn, that I plan to test the SNES next.  This is something every retro gamer should know about.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica Review

RE CVResident Evil: Code Veronica (Available on Dreamcast, GameCube, and PlayStation 2)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Dreamcast Version Release Date: February 29th, 2000
PlayStation 2 Version Release Date: August 21st, 2001
GameCube Version Release Date: December 3rd, 2003

ESRB Rating: The ESRB rates Resident Evil: Code Veronica M for mature because of animated violence and blood and gore. As per every entry in the RE series, you can expect tons of zombies, lots of blood, and some truly disturbing scenes. Keep young players very far away from this one.

Plays Like: Code Veronica plays exactly like the Resident Evil trilogy on the original PlayStation. The infamous tank controls are here in their full glory, as are all the classic gameplay mechanics you either love or hate.

Review Basis: For this retro-review I played the original Dreamcast version. If you’re curious how the PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions hold up, they’re more or less exactly the same except they feature additional bonus content.

Capcom and SEGA had a great thing going back in the mid-to-late 90s. The SEGA Saturn was a huge success in Japan, and Capcom was making a mint off their arcade-perfect ports of classic titles like X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and Street Fighter Zero 3. It wasn’t too surprising that Capcom announced a brand new and ‘exclusive’ Resident Evil game for SEGA’s upcoming at-the-time Dreamcast hardware. Industry analysts considered this a huge coup for SEGA and it was marketed as the next evolution of the Resident Evil series. Sadly we all know how this story ends. SEGA would exit the hardware business, Code Veronica would be ported to the PS2 where it would go on to sell well over two million units, whereas the Dreamcast original sold just over a million. Eventually there would even be a GameCube port, and just recently Capcom released an HD re-release for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This review is going to look at the version that started it all.

The Great:

The atmosphere still shines through. Code Veronica was the first entry in the Resident Evil series to go “full 3D”. Instead of using pre-rendered backgrounds, everything here is textured polygons, and remarkably the game still looks impressive some 13 years after its original release. It’s a little known fact that SEGA actually helped Capcom make the game a reality on the Dreamcast by aiding in the technical side of development. Resident Evil: Code Veronica remains a moody, atmospheric and chilling videogame that everyone should experience at least once.

From the fog and fire effects, to the intricate details in the buildings and environments, everything feels much more alive than the original RE trilogy on the PS1. Character animations and zombie designs also look superb for such an old game. Coming off the original PlayStation, this was an incredible sight to see, and even today the visual presentation holds up perfectly.

RE CV1The Good:

+ Cheap scares never get old. Having not played Code Veronica in a decade I was surprised just how many times the game made me jump. Sure the scares are all reactive, this isn’t a game that gets in your head and terrorizes you, but the fact I genuinely jumped proves the age-old mechanic continues to work well.

+ The introduction of somewhat logical puzzles. While emblems remains, there are a lot of puzzles that actually make some sort of sense like the obstacle-based puzzles, where you need to move blocks or use a crane to move objects out of the way so you can access a new area. Compared to what came before, this was leagues better.

+ Core gameplay remains exactly the same as the original trilogy. Players solve puzzles, battle the undead, all while trying to escape from a research facility on some remote island. A wide array of weapons are available for players to use, weapon boxes that magically transport your gear to other locations are back, as are the first-aid spray and medical herbs. This is the RE you know and love, but slightly evolved thanks to the power of the Dreamcast.

+ The outstanding audio the series is known for returns. From classical pieces of music to the eery sounds of footsteps somewhere off in the distance, Code Veronica was masterfully crafted and it shows. It does a superb job of creating tension or building players nerves up when they have to traverse a dark and foggy area.

+ This game features one of the more interesting tales in the Resident Evil series, and while it’s goofy, and illogical most of the time, it’s remains enjoyable throughout. Claire Redfield is looking for her brother Chris, and along the way she gets incarcerated, finds out about the history of the T-virus, and eventually her big brother storms in to the rescue.

RE CV2The So-So:

+/- Love ’em or hate ’em Code Veronica uses the infamous tank controls. This means that at no point in the game do you ever feel like you’re 100% in control. I started with the original RE and worked my way through the series, so for me I have no problems with them at all, but I’m sure more of you will despise the controls than like them.

+/- Much more freedom has been offered to the camera system thanks to the removal of pre-rendered backgrounds. The camera as a whole is much more dynamic than ever before. That said, fixed camera angles are still the name of the game here, and as such often times it can be hard to see exactly what is attacking you depending on where you happen to be standing at the time.

The Bad:

– Laughably bad voice acting. Steve in particular sounds complete uninspired. Even as a character he never did anything but annoy me.

RE CV3The Lowdown:

Resident Evil: Code Veronica was a big deal back in 2000, and it remains a really fun survival horror game in 2013. Sure the tank controls might grate on your nerves, and the cheap scares will be old once you’ve experienced them for the first time, but it’s the type of game that you’ll want to return to in years to come just to re-experience everything all over again. I was extremely impressed by just how much fun I had with the game, and it sort of made me sad to think how far off the beaten path Capcom has taken the series today. If you’re looking for something frighting to play this Halloween, Resident Evil: Code Veronica is certainly a game worth digging out your Dreamcast for.

Final Score: 8.5/10

The Sky: Art of Final Fantasy – Unboxing & Showcase

It had a very limited print run in the past, but now it’s back. Dark Horse recently republished this beautiful collection of artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, representing the Final Fantasy series from I to X. Allow me to unbox and showcase these art books for you, reminiscing the past as we flip through the pages.

Why Persona 5 is My Most Anticipated RPG

I won’t lie. I easily sunk in 120+ hours into Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES for the PlayStation 2. It was, and still is, an amazing role-playing game and one of my personal favorite games. Persona 4, surprisingly, managed to be even better and has completely captivated me. Moreso than many other RPGs this generation, the Persona series has remained a close favorite of mine. After playing both games on the PlayStation 2, I can say with complete certainty that Persona 5 is my most anticipated role-playing game for this generation.

That’s right. Forget Mass Effect 3. Give me Persona 5.

Persona may have had far more humble origins than other juggernaut franchises out there today, but it has a certain charm that cannot be topped. Here are the reasons why I am so in love with the series and so incredibly impressed with the development team at ATLUS.

Unlike other JRPG characters, you actually HAVE to go to school. Knowledge is power!

1)      The modern day setting. The Persona series has one very special element going for it: the present day story and setting. Although it is based around fantasy elements, with a tinge of horror for good measure, the modern day setting gives it a story angle most other RPG developers fail to grasp. The vast majority of role-playing games try to immerse the player in either a swords-and-sorcery Tolkien-esque fantasy world or in a Star Wars-like science fiction world. There may be some discrepancies here and there, but for the most part, developers seem to ignore a modern day setting (Earthbound/MOTHER series notwithstanding).

The modern day setting challenges so many of the conventions inherent of the genre, which makes the Persona series both refreshing and engaging. Characters that exist in a present day setting are far more believable and attractive to us, because we can connect with them. Their challenges and concerns closely parallel ours. The characters in Persona 3 and 4 are engrossed in a fantasy story, but they also have to deal with their families, friends, school work, job, and so on. They speak and interact in a manner that makes them easy to engage with. Characters in more medieval or sci-fi settings tend to throw around a lot of inherent fantasy jargon or techno-babble, which creates a rift with the audience. Also, characters that exist in these other fantasy worlds are not as easily relatable, for a variety of reasons.

Consider a character in the Mass Effect universe. Technology in this universe has advanced to the point where interstellar travel, cloning technology, and medical applications are no longer the stuff of dreams. Even death isn’t truly permanent. It’s difficult to care about and truly connect with characters in this kind of world; why should we mourn the death of anyone if someone can simply say “Oh, we have this amazing new device to reconstruct him, so it’s ok!” In the Persona series, there is an element of fantasy, but the characters are firmly rooted in the realm of the everyday. They are not superhuman. They are susceptible to death. They are also susceptible to the problems of human emotions and everyday living.

You need to balance time for friends, dating, school....and fighting horrible monsters, of course.

2)      The social RPG. Think about how you typically progress in a role-playing game. Do you immediately think of performing a series of quests? Or do you think about fighting enemies in a dungeon in the hopes of preparing to engage a giant boss? Or do you think about simulation-style gameplay, like Harvest Moon?

The Persona series brilliantly combines all of the examples above. This not only keeps the game interesting and varied, but it also perfectly ties into the theme and setting. The developers recognized that using the modern day setting would carry a set of implications. Among those, we can assume that a character would have a lot of social obligations, regardless of age. In the Persona series, you play as a high school student, so you have a lengthy list of items to consider. Not only do you have to attend school, but you also have to worry about preparing for exams, hanging out with friends, joining school clubs (band, drama club, soccer, basketball), maintaining a part-time job, keeping ties with your uncle and cousin, and engaging in a variety of extracurricular activities.

The developers recognized that gamers like to be rewarded frequently, but they also enjoy activities that have both substance and relevance. By measuring relationships with the “Social Link” meter, gamers can treat them all as specific quests. Not only do these relationships yield well-done, often emotionally-charged scenes, but they also endow the player with additional powers and rewards. Maintaining and pursuing Social Links grants the player the ability to make “Personas” related to that specific Social Link. Players can then use those Personas during fight sequences. However, what makes these scenes so successful is that they actually encourage the player to pursue them. The characters are endearing, so the game purposefully tries to make you care about what these characters go through.

Of course, Persona is more than just a social simulator. These elements work in conjunction with the “investigation” part of the game, which fit at the core of the narrative. In Persona 4, your team is a part of an elusive murder mystery that only you and your allies can understand. It’s not just a matter of going in and defeating enemies though; you actually need to pursue the story and resume your life. Your character can’t simply disappear from society, especially since you have all of these obligations to maintain AND the police (and your uncle) are competing with you to catch the killer. This goes into the next point.

What other RPG series makes you actively plan out a schedule?

3)      The scheduled RPG. Persona operates on a day-today schedule that lasts for several months. It creates an air of believability that many other games don’t carry. Think about it. How much “time” passed during the events of, say, Final Fantasy VII? Chances are, you’ll measure that time with in-game hours—the time that you, the player, spent playing the adventure. There isn’t a viable measure of time in the actual context of the game’s narrative. The characters in the game all have to maintain their lives, because regardless of whatever strange occurrences going on, it’s impossible to just abandon everything. The level of connectivity that modern society has, and the amount of social and family obligations we have, are simply too great to ignore—and if we did, people would obviously notice.

In Persona, you actually have to stick to a schedule. You have a limited amount of time to work with each day; this means you can’t just go out and decide to tackle every single objective at once. You have to plan out your activities, because they actually take “time.” Do you want to spend the day exploring and fighting monsters in the TV world after school? Or would you rather attend band practice so you can upgrade your Social Link? Or would you rather hang out with your friend Yosuke, since you feel bad that you declined his offer the other day? Or do you want to take that part-time job at the hospital to take in some extra cash so you can afford new items? Time management makes the game more interesting to play for a wider audience. Even if two players choose all of the same kinds of events and characters to engage with, it’s highly unlikely that they will do them in the same exact order. Being able to maintain and change your schedule at your own discretion makes the game experience more personal and vivid. YOU are in charge of how the game progresses. This perfectly fits with the game’s setting and theme. It doesn’t just happen to be a role-playing game set in modern day, everything is planned out with this theme in mind.

Of course, you have to set aside a lot of time for keeping your home safe.

4)      Something classic, something simple, something challenging. Look at any of the battles in Persona 3 or 4. Compare them to other JRPGs or other Western RPGs. Most gamers may first respond with “A turn-based RPG? Haven’t I seen that a million times before?”

Well, yeah. That’s the point.

The battle system is classic and easy to understand. For many gamers today, the words “turn based” are synonymous with slow and dull. Remember though, whether or not a game is turn based, real time, or even shooter based, what truly matters is how well the elements are designed and integrated. A turn based game can be excellent. There are many of them out there. Turn based RPGs hardly deserve a bad reputation, as long as the game puts that system to use in an effective manner. The gameplay system in Persona is both refined and simple, no matter how you approach it.

In battle sequences, the options are fairly standard. Basic attacks, special attacks, items, and so on are all recognizable and the system should be familiar for anyone who has played an RPG since the 80s. What makes Persona fun is how it is balanced. By using a wide variety of different Personas, you are given a wealth of different abilities to use both in and out of battle. By using the right attacks, you can knock enemies down and gain an extra turn. Knocking down every enemy means you can rush in for a massive, all-out attack. This makes battles go much more quickly—if you know how to defeat an enemy, they won’t even get a chance to act.

This concept works the other way around too, though. Enemies can easily exploit your weakness, making an otherwise “slow” system into something far more tense and exciting. Rushing into battle unprepared can spell certain doom, especially if an enemy has the right attack to exploit your weakness. Because each Persona has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, you need to constantly think about what best fits the situation. Even boss enemies are susceptible to certain attacks, so the game has a unified “feel.” It’s all a matter of playing it smart.

Luckily, Persona manages to avoid the negative JRPG battle traits as well. This means no “random” encounters. All enemies are plainly visible and can actually be engaged differently depending on how the player approaches them. By striking an enemy first, the player can gain an extra attack, similar to the Mario RPG series.

Did I mention there are tons of Personas?

5)      Creating Persona and collecting Arcana cards. Persona also incorporates what makes the Poke’mon series so popular.  “Collecting” is in the game’s theme as plain as day. Throughout the adventure, you are encouraged to engage in social events. Doing this strengthens Social Links, which represent specific “Arcana” types, which in turn govern classes of Persona. By strengthening these bonds, the player can create Persona of these types, gain experience boosts, and more. The player cannot create a Persona greater than his or her level either, which means the player has to balance social events, fighting enemies, and advancing the story. Going too far in one means sacrificing the other.

Creating Personas and advancing social ties gives the player more options in battle, gives your teammates more support abilities, and opens up the possibility for rewards after battles. Once you begin to strengthen certain social ties, their respective Arcana cards can show up after battles. They can either appear in an upright position (for a positive effect) or upside down (for a negative effect), for potentially dramatic effects. For example, one Arcana card can either restore your health completely or drain it to the point of near-death. Support abilities are also varied. Teammates can gain the ability to perform a follow-up attack if you knock over an enemy, for example. The developers cleverly slipped in a variety of rewards.

This keeps the gameplay interesting at every stage of the game. Throughout every step of your adventure, you are always asked to consider your options: What Personas can I create? How many more are there? What Social Links should I pursue? Even when you chose to take a break from the game’s battle sections and story-heavy sequences, you still have a lot to think about.

The Persona series doesn't just show us what modern life is like--we get a glimpse of traditional heritage as well.

6)      A Japanese flavor. Even in other JRPGs, themes and settings tend to be more universal. They are based in fantastic worlds that try to convey common story themes. The Persona series rejects the notion of going for the common ground, and instead indulges in its heritage. It has a distinctly modern, urban, Japanese setting. Japan has had an enormous impact on how the video game industry has evolved and how video game culture has taken shape, yet there aren’t many games that give us a great glimpse of the Japanese culture. Except for the Persona series that is.

Most games try to weave a story that creates its own mythos, but Persona is unique in that it establishes its fantasy story into a more realistic world. The characters celebrate traditional Japanese holidays, like Golden Week. Even though dialog is translated into English, characters retain their original names and still hold on to use of honorifics (“san,” “kun,” etc). In Persona 4, players can visit a local shrine, reinforcing the idea of Japan’s Shinto and Buddhist heritage. Many of the Personas in the game are taken from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and Japan is definitely among them.

Granted, the game could just definitely be fun and engaging if it were made with another basis in mind. Nintendo’s Earthbound set you off in a small American town, for example. However, we have to admit that as far as pieces of gaming fiction go, there are only few instances when we get a legitimate view of an actual world culture. If it is done well, it can make a game experience feel legitimate, heartfelt, and maybe even enlightening. This helps contribute to why the series is so compelling. The developers can craft a more heartfelt adventure by using their culture, their experiences, and their ideas as a basis to tell the story.

 

What do you say? Are you as excited as I am? Or do you feel differently? Sound off with your comments!

A look back Finale: Sony fights back

This one is no easy task. As of writing this, I still have no clue which game will be number one in my top 5 PlayStation 2 games. I know which five made the list, yet it seems like each and everyone of them deserves to have the top spot. My heart is divided between three titles, all of them being RPG’s. I’m very tempted to make it a three way tie, but screw it, those are boring. Just know that the PlayStation 2‘s library is the most kick-ass one to ever grace our consoles. By far my favourite system I’ve ever owned.  You should know that depending on the time of year, the order of this top 5 could be reversible. Alright, let’s get this show on the road!

Honorable mentions:  Xenosaga, Radiata Stories, Gran Turismo 4, Resident Evil 4, Onimusha 3, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

5. God of War

I bought my PlayStation 2 when Gran Turismo 4 came out. After that came a truckload of AAA titles. God of War was one of those and what a game it was. It was pure non-censored action! The visuals were stunning also, leaving us with one of the most epic games to this day. The original will always be my favorite of the bunch, simply because it was something I hadn’t played. Sure, it borrowed heavily from the Devil May Cry series, but the greek mythology and the storyline added so much to the genre (Editor’s note: I can’t believe Steven said genre instead of ‘genra’). I was glued to the screen during every single cut-scene, each one revealing another cliffhanger. It’s one of the greatest betrayal tales I’ve seen.  I was a tiny bit disappointed by the sequel as it was just a bit too puzzle-heavy for my taste. However, I can’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd part. I’ve heard many great things about it.

4. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater

Metal Gear Solid is one of my favorite videogaming series. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is my favourite game out of the whole series. I even bought the spectacular remake (Subsistence) to master it again. To explain why this game is so awesome, I have to give my thoughts about the other games. The original is a classic, truly spectacular in every sense of the word. My only nitpicking is that a few codex scenes were too long. The second one I also really enjoyed. One of the few who actually liked Raiden. However, there are codex scenes which take up to 45 minutes of reading…. and the ending, well. Somehow, everybody double-crosses everyone in one scene, yet apparently, this was all a grand scheme by the first guy who got crossed who had planned that everybody would double-cross themselves. Confused yet? Yeah, no kidding. Metal Gear Solid 4 was a great looking game, yet my least favourite one in the series for two reasons. I hated the gameplay, thought it was un-metal gear-ish. The storyline was terrible, Snake was on his death bed a bazillion times only to be perfectly fine at the end and Raiden also died too many times to count. It was so anti-climatic that in the end, I didn’t care anymore. Still a great game though, and many consider it one of the best games of all time. I don’t.

Snake Eater however perfectly combines both gameplay and storyline into an epic masterpiece. The ending made me cry (Editor’s note: sissy!). This 20 hour adventure is worth playing just for that ending. The game itself is a blast to play. The jungle elements added so much to the stealth tactics. Changing your cameo to blend in was crucial and fun. Some might bitch about the surgeries you had to do to yourself after every injury. I found it refreshing. My only complaint is that the game doesn’t use the side-villains that well. They all have very cool MGS style gimmicks, but they could have been a bit more present in the game besides the boss fights. We have next to no back story on those. Still though, I never thought a cut-scene lasted too long nor did I find myself bored at a codex scene. If you haven’t yet, you might also want to check out the remake as it was the first MGS to be fully playable with a 3rd person camera. It actually changes a lot as you could imagine and is well worth playing. Bottom line, Snake Eater rocks!

3. Kingdom Hearts

Before I start, I have to mention two things. First, like I said in my first A look Back article, I used to be a huge Nintendo fanboy. Back in the day, Mal and I rented this game to try it out. As we played, I was ripping this game a new one. Everything about it I was dismissing. Today, I realize my errors and it makes me laugh when I see others around me do the same thing with games on other consoles. Anyhow, my second note is that I thought I would never enjoy a game with Disney characters in it. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. Believe me guys, you will love the characters, you won’t care that it has kiddy elements. It’s one of the most epic games out there. See it this way, it’s characters from your childhood (Disney) mixed with characters from your teens-early adult years (Final Fantasy) made by one of the best RPG company out there (Square). Stop being stubborn already and try this game out! (this goes to you Mal…. who I know is still convinced today that a game like this is not worth your time…. it is damm it!)

I knew this game was the real thing once I first entered Wonderland. I never really liked that movie when I was a kid it freaked me out. I realize today that that’s what was the beauty of Alice in Wonderland and playing that level got me to finally get the movie. I also always remember the epic fight against Cloud. It’s one of the toughest optional-bosses I’ve ever defeated. It took lots of grinding, and a bit of luck, but still is one of my favourite gaming moments of all time. Now since the original, the series has not been treated well.  Kingdom Hearts II was disappointing (even hard mode made a game like The Wind Waker look like Ninja Gaiden) and there’s been no mention of a Kingdom Hearts III yet. What are you waiting for Square? We’re tired of spin-offs.

2. Dragon Quest VIII

Man this is hard. This game deserves to be in the number one spot. It should be. Sometimes it is. As of right now, it ain’t, might feel differently next week, I know I’ll look at this list in a year or two and be like “wtf” was I thinking. Dragon Quest VIII is my favorite RPG of all time, yet my top PS2 pick is another RPG. It doesn’t even make any sense but that’s what my gut is telling me.

DQ VIII was the first Dragon Quest I really got into. This game completely adapted itself to the North American market. I’m sure if I would have played the import, I would have thought the game was crap. Square-Enix went to great lengths to insure North American gamers would enjoy this. And enjoy it they did. They added full voice-acting to the game, completely redid the menus so it doesn’t feel like a SNES game and added some new visuals to complete the formula. DQ VIII is an adventure….. like I said in my review, Dragon Quest VIII drops you into a world and lets you figure out everything by yourself. This is like a real adventure. From the get-go, you can head anywhere you want, anywhere. The problem is, monsters will kick your ass if you’re not careful and the game doesn’t apologize for it. I was completely immersed in this world. The fact that it’s one of the most beautiful games ever created helps too. You see with RPG’s back then, the dungeons would be kick-ass, yet the overworld would look like shit (think of FF VII). In DQ VIII, there is no difference. The overworld is as huge as any RPG, yet every single part is bombarded with details. It looks phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it when I played this back in the day. The game is hard as nails too, and like I said, doesn’t care if you die. It’s an adventure and it ain’t suppose to be easy. Damm it… why didn’t this crack the number one spot. Oh wait, this is why….

1. Shadow Hearts

Yeah that’s right. I don’t care what anyone else says. Shadow Hearts is fantastic! I think this was a PS2 launch game or close to it and it bombed (IGN gave it a 5.5 on 10). I have no clue why. This is the most kick-ass RPG I’ve ever played. The storyline rocks, the battle system is fun on its own, it has everything. Ok, I’ll give you one thing. It looks like crap. I don’t care. It felt nostalgic to me. I actually got into the series by watching Mal play the sequel: Shadow Hearts Covenant. The game was bad-ass and I knew I had to find myself a copy.

What followed was pure luck. Shadow Hearts: Covenant at the time was one of the rarest game out there. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I called stores after stores and none had it. I finally decided to check out a pawn shop near by and actually found the original for like 20 bucks. Decided to give it a try. No need to tell you I was not disappointed. I was hooked from the very beginning. To this day, I still don’t understand why the media loved the sequel so much, yet hated the original. The story was a lot darker (the first and only in the series with an M rating), but still had the humorous parts the sequel is famous for. The oh-so loved battle system from Covenant made it’s grand debut in the original. The only thing that gives is the graphics (it kinda looks like a PS1 game) but still, I’m calling a bluff here. I’m pretty sure most didn’t bother with the game and never gave it a fair chance. That’s why I’m here to resolve a great injustice! Shadow Hearts is my favourite PS2 title, and that’s saying a tremendous lot when you factor in the system’s library. Plus, if you ever want to check this game out, pick up Covenant too. The sequel is also one of the best RPG’s you’ll find out of last generation. The 3rd one (From the New World) wasn’t as good but is still well worth your time if you get addicted to the series like I did. When all is said and done, the Shadow Hearts series were sadly overlooked by gamers back in the day and seems to have been forgotten. Join me in this cause! Shadow Hearts deserves more praise. For crying out loud, this game has God as the final boss! Nuff’ said.

Well there you have it folks. Comment below with your very own list.

The REAL Top 5 PlayStation 2 Games EVAR!!!!

Whatever you do don’t listen to Steven.  Knowing him he’ll mention that RPG series no one ever played or even heard of before.  I haven’t looked at his post yet, but I know him too well to forget how he would go on and on about that series.  For the life of me I can’t remember what it was called.  If you don’t see an RPG on his list that sticks out then…forget what I said.  Oh and I’m not talking about Dragon Quest VIII, which better be on his list!

Before we begin I wanted to make mention that Gran Turismo 4, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are within my top ten PS2 games of all time, but each of the following either changed the face of gaming or really impressed me beyond what these titles did.  So don’t give me any hate mail just because they didn’t make the top five.  Got that!

Grand Theft Auto III

I am 99% sure Steven doesn’t have this game on his list, but come on, how can you not?  It introduced open-ended gameplay to the masses.  The fact that so many game companies turned Rockstar down when it came to help finance, speaks volumes to the position Sony was in at the time.  I will never forget how blown away I was when GTA III hit the scene.  It was so unlike anything else at the time.  Yes it wasn’t the best shooter, the best racer or even had good controls, but what it did do was change the face of gaming forever.  I think that deserves a nod or two, don’t you?  Obviously San Andreas is the best of the PS2 iterations, but I will always hold the original in a special place in my heart.

Kingdom Hearts

I’m not sure where Steven would place this one, but I know where William would, right at the top.  This was one of those games that seemed to come out of nowhere.  Who would have thought that Disney characters would fit so perfectly alongside Final Fantasy characters?  It featured a fantastic story, great gameplay and a certain charm Disney is known for.  If you haven’t played either of the original two Kingdom Hearts games, you should change that ASAP.   Here’s hoping Kingdom Hearts III gets announced sometime this year. *fingers crossed*

God of War

There’s a funny story behind this one and for once it has nothing to do with any other COE members.  While attending E3 I had the opportunity to play this game before anyone else in the public.  Want to know what I thought of it…I thought it was “alright…I suppose.”  Yup, I actually said that.  Now fast forward many years later and I consider it one of the very best videogames ever created.  It was original, brutal and featured boobies.  What’s not to like about that?  Honestly, Jaffe, you really outdid yourself.  Don’t ever let anyone else tell you differently.

Dragon Quest VIII

This is hands down the best RPG on the PlayStation 2.  I know Ahmed would say differently and so would a lot of you reading this.  I don’t care what you say though.  DQ is one of the best series around and it’s why I will import a Japanese Wii.  I’m addicted to this series and VIII was better than I imagined.  It actually made cel shading impressive for once.  The quest was massive, the story was great and the gameplay was pure traditional JRPG at a time where all of that was changing.  I put in well over 200 hours into it and still go back to play it from time to time.  I only wish DQ would hit the PS3 or Xbox 360 because Wii just hasn’t been my go-to system this generation.  Playing Dragon Quest X on that platform seems far from ideal, but we’ll see what happens I suppose.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Here we go, the very best PS2 game ever made.  I can’t believe some people don’t like it.  I vividly remember a discussion I had with Steven where he said I was defending the game against other media outlets.  You know what, I was and I will continue to do this time and time again.  I believe this is the crowning achievement of the system and Kojima-san.  The story is passionate, the gameplay is damn near perfect and the graphics were some of the most awe-inspiring of the generation.  Anyone remember that last battle against The Boss.  Yes, majestic, just like the rest of the game.  If you can only play one PS2 game, you owe it to yourself to make sure it’s this one, not the #1 Steven picked…unless he picked MGS3.

E3 2010 – Sony Press Release Compilation

Sony released a ton of news today at their E3 press conference.  We’re working on getting it up on YouTube and the site, but for now you can hear what we thought via our podcast, and by reading the following series of press releases.

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA DELIVERS GROUNDBREAKING 3D TECHNOLOGY, NEXT GENERATION MOTION CONTROL EXPERIENCES, AND AN UNRIVALED PLAYSTATION®3 GAME LINE UP AT E3 2010

SCEA Unleashes the Broadest and Deepest Entertainment Offerings for Families, Providing More Reasons to Gather in the Living Room

LOS ANGELES, Calif., June 15, 2010Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) held its annual press conference today at the E3 Media & Business Summit in Los Angeles, Calif., announcing groundbreaking new products and services that further establish PlayStation’s leadership and cutting edge position in home entertainment.  Since last Fall, the PlayStation® business has experienced unprecedented growth, fueling huge momentum into the new year. The company is poised once again to deliver consumers unrivaled entertainment options this year with the latest in 3D technology, introduction of PlayStation®Move games, and blockbuster games such as inFAMOUS 2, Twisted Metal®, Gran Turismo® 5, LittleBigPlanet™ 2, and Killzone® 3.

Stereoscopic 3D
SCEA announced on stage that some of the company’s biggest titles will be available to consumers this year in stereoscopic 3D, including MLB® 10 The Show, MotorStorm®: Apocalypse, Killzone® 3, The Sly Collection, and Gran Turismo®5. Beloved franchises from our publishing community will also make their way into consumer homes in stereoscopic 3D on the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system, such as Crysis 2 from Electronic Arts, Mortal Kombat™ from Warner Brothers, Ubisoft’s Shaun White Skateboarding and TOM CLANCY™’S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER™, as well as Disney Tron Evolution the Video Game, and 2K Sports’ NBA® 2K11. Unlike any other console on the market today, all 35.7 million PS3 units globally are capable of playing stereoscopic 3D games via a firmware update in April 2010. Four PS3 titles offering stereoscopic gaming experiences are currently available for download from the PlayStation®Network (PSN) including PAIN, MotorStorm® Pacific Rift, Super Stardust™ HD and WipEout® HD. The PS3 system will make 3D Blu-ray Disc movie support available later this year.

PlayStation® Move motion controller

SCEA also announced that on September 19, 2010 it will release a PlayStation Move bundle comprised of a PlayStation Move motion controller, PlayStation®Eye camera, Sports Champions Blu-ray disc game and PlayStation Move demo disc for $99.99 (RRP).  Additionally, a PlayStation 3 Sports Champion Move Bundle, which includes a PS3 system, PlayStation Move motion controller, PlayStation Eye camera, Sports Champions Blu-ray game and PlayStation Move game demo disc, will be available for $399.99 (RRP). Stand alone PlayStation Move motion controller for the PS3 system will also be sold at $49.99 (MSRP). The new PlayStation Move navigation controller, which can be used alongside the motion controller for intuitive navigation of in-game characters and objects, will also become available on the same day at $29.99 (MSRP). Standalone first party games for the PlayStation Move will be priced at $39.99 (MSRP). With more than 15 dedicated titles for use with the PlayStation Move motion controller available on the day of launch and 40 more slated to hit throughout the holiday season, both casual gamers and hardcore gamers will have plenty of reasons to clear their coffee tables and immerse themselves in the most precise and ultra sensory gaming experience ever made possible. PlayStation Move titles showcased at E3 include:

First Party Titles
Sports Champions™, September 2010
Eye Pet™, September 2010
Kung Fu Rider™, September 2010
Start the Party! ™, September 2010
echochrome™ 2 (PSN), September 2010
Tumble (PSN), September 2010
Hustle Kings, October 2010
PAIN (PSN), October 2010
TV Superstars™, October 2010
The Fight: Lights Out™, October 2010
The Shoot™, October 2010
High Velocity Bowling (PSN) October 2010
Heavy Rain®, October 2010
Sly Collection, November 2010
SingStar® Dance, November 2010
LittleBigPlanet™ 2, November 2010
Beat Sketcher (PSN), Fall 2010
SOCOM 4, Fall 2010
Sorcery™, 2011
Heroes on the Move, 2011
Killzone® 3, 2011

Publisher Titles
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 11 (Electronic Arts), September 2010
Toy Story 3: The Video Game (Disney Interactive Studios), September 2010
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest (WB Games Inc.), September 2010
Brunswick Pro Bowling (Crave), September 2010
Resident Evil®5 Gold Edition (Capcom), September 2010
Time Crisis: Razing Storm (Bandai Namco), September 2010
NBA® 2K11 (2K Sports), October 2010
John Daly’s ProStroke Golf (OG International), Fall 2010
Racquet Sports (Ubisoft), Fall 2010
R.U.S.E. (Ubisoft), September 2010
Kung Fu LIVE (Virtual Air Guitar Company), October 2010
Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos™ (Crave), November 2010
Disney Tron Evolution the Video Game (Disney Interactive Studios), November 2010

PlayStation 3 system
The PlayStation brand has set the stage for what great gaming experiences can be and what is possible when creative innovations are combined with powerful technology.  SCEA has raised the bar once again with bigger and more immersive experiences this fiscal year with our most highly anticipated line ups to date. The company continues to push the envelope on extending richer and deeper gaming experiences to consumers which include a range of blockbuster PS3 titles showcased at E3, such as:

First Party Titles
Twisted Metal
inFAMOUS2
Killzone 3
Gran Turismo 5
SOCOM 4: US Navy SEALS
LittleBigPlanet 2

Publisher Titles
Final Fantasy® XIV (Square Enix, Inc.)
MAFIA® II (2K Games)
Assassin’s Creed®: Brotherhood (Ubisoft)
Metal Gear Solid: Rising (Konami)
Mortal Kombat™ (Warner Brothers)
Disney Tron Evolution the Video Game (Disney Interactive Studios)
Shaun White Skateboarding (Ubisoft)
Call of Duty®: Black Ops™ (Activision)

PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system
With continued momentum and excitement behind the PSP platform, the company revealed two new PSP entertainment packs, the Invizmals PSP Entertainment Pack and the God of War®: Ghost of Sparta PSP Entertainment Pack, to offer even more value to portable gamers. Coming this October and priced at $199 (MSRP), the Invizimals PSP Entertainment Pack comes with a vibrant blue PSP-3000 system, Invizimals UMD® game, PSP camera and 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo™. Coming this Fall, the God of War: Ghost of Sparta PSP Entertainment Pack will come packed with a red and black two tone PSP-3000, God of War: Ghost of Sparta UMD game, PlayStation Network downloadable voucher for God of War: Chains of Olympus and a 2GB Memory Stick PRO Duo, also priced at $199 (MSRP). In addition, more than 70 titles across first party studios and publishing partners are expected to hit the PSP platform with tailored games designed specifically for PSP system, such as God of War®: Ghost of Sparta, Invizimals and beloved franchise favorites such as Patapon® 3, and EyePet™ PSP.

PlayStation®Network
With more than 50 million registered accounts worldwide, PlayStation Network is today one of the largest networked entertainment platforms and continues to evolve with newly added content and services such as MLB.TV, Netflix and HBO content.  Today, the company also unveiled PlayStation®Plus, a new subscription service offering users even more options in how they consume content on PlayStation Network. PlayStation Plus will be available starting June 29 at a yearly fee of $49.99 and is designed to offer PlayStation Network’s power users added value, access and convenience, such as special features that include discounts on the PlayStation Store content, free and exclusive access to select games, full game trials, and much more.  Adding to its existing library of more than 670 downloadable games in North America, PlayStation Network will offer new exclusive games this year, including PixelJunk™ Shooter 2, PixelJunk Racers 2nd Lap, Dead Nation, Fat Princess 1.06 Patch, and echochrome ii.

REGISTERED ACCOUNTS ON PLAYSTATION®NETWORK EXCEED 50 MILLION WORLDWIDE

Remarkable Milestone Achieved in 3 Years and 8 Months Since Its Launch on November 11, 2006

Los Angeles, California, June 15, 2010 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced that the cumulative number of registered accounts on PlayStation®Network has exceeded 50 million worldwide as of June 14, 2010 (Japan Time).  Since its launch in November 2006*1, PlayStation Network has expanded its services to over 58 countries and regions around the globe.  The registered accounts on PlayStation Network reached 10 million in 1 year and 8 months from the service launch, 20 million in 2 years and 3 months, and exceeded 50 million in only 3 years and 8 months.  The continued growth of PlayStation Network has ensured the successful building of a robust network business platform.

PlayStation Network is a network service for PlayStation®3 (PS3®) computer entertainment system and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) handheld entertainment system.  Both platforms combined have sold more than 97 million units*2 around the world.  Directly accessible from PS3 and PSP or from PC via Media Go*3 software application, users are able to enjoy a broad range of on-line content and services, including on-line gaming, video chat and text messaging with other PS3 users on-line, as well as downloading games, video and comic content from PlayStation®Store.  Users are also able to download and enjoy exciting applications such as PlayStation®Home, Life with PlayStation®*4 and adhocParty for PSP® (PlayStation®Portable)*5.  By having a breadth of entertainment content in addition to free to use basic features and services, PlayStation Network continues to gain strong support from users around the world.  On top of these offerings, PlayStation®Plus, a new subscription service package on PlayStation Network, will start on June 29, 2010, to deliver PlayStation users with an enhanced entertainment experience. To offer more fun and excitement to users, PlayStation Network is continually enhancing the gaming experience through online game features such as online battle and team play, as well as adding more and more downloadable game items.  More than 960 titles incorporated with online features have been released for the PS3 system worldwide, including KILLZONE 2, MASSIVE ACTION GAME (MAG) and LittleBigPlanet™ from SCE Worldwide Studios.

PlayStation Store today offers more than 70,000 diverse digital content*6, ranging from exclusive on-line games, downloadable versions of disc based titles, game demos and add-ons, and titles from PS one® Archives (PS one Classics), through which legendary and popular titles from the original PlayStation are made playable on PS3 and PSP.  Also accessible on PlayStation Network is Video Delivery Service*7 has now expanded to 8 countries, as well as Digital Comic service*8, which can be accessed in 7 countries worldwide including Japan, the United States and Europe.  To date, more than 1 billion pieces of content*9 have been downloaded and the business scale is rapidly expanding.

PlayStation Home is a 3D on-line user community service for PS3 that launched in December 2008.  Within the ground-breaking 3D environment, users are able to meet, share gaming experiences, and enjoy communication with each other.  Since launching 1 year and 7 months ago, the number of users accessing Home has exceeded 14 million.  With collaborative initiatives with various game titles and franchises, PlayStation Home offers its users more than 300 spaces to experience, and over 11,000 virtual items to collect.  In addition to spaces dedicated to various game titles, new non-game spaces such as FevaArena, a virtual football stadium where users can enjoy new experience of football, offers users a new experience to meet and communicate with other users from around the world.

SCE, along with content providers and users will continue to further expand the entertainment experiences with PS3, PSP and PlayStation Network to create a new world of computer entertainment.

*1        Launched in Japan on November 11, 2006.
*2         PS3: 35.7 million units as of end March 2010, PSP: 61.5 million units as of end March 2010.
*3        Media Go enables content acquisition/management on PCs and content transfer to PSP. As a part of content acquisition, Media Go offers downloading game, video and comic contents to PCs and PlayStation Network user can purchase content.by accessing MediaGo,
*4        Life with PlayStation is a new lifestyle service that offers users a new visual and interactive way to use their PS3 to access news and information from around the world
*5        adhocParty for PSP enables PSP system owners to play online multiplayer games featuring ad-hoc mode over the Internet through the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system

*6        Includes free of charge content (downloadable demos and promotion videos).
*7        Launched in July 2008 in the United States.
*8        Launched in December 2009 in Japan, the United States and Europe.
*9        As of end March 2010.

PLAYSTATION®PLUS, THE NEW SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE PACKAGE ON PLAYSTATION®NETWORK. DELIVERS

A WHOLE NEW EXPERIENCE TO USERS

SCE Will Start Offering the New Service Package Along With Free Access PlayStation®Network Service On June 29, 2010 Worldwide

Los Angeles, California, June 15, 2010 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced that it will offer PlayStation®Plus, a new subscription service package on PlayStation®Network.  In addition to the current free to use existing features and services, PlayStation Plus brings value-added offerings including exclusive services and content on June 29, 2010, worldwide.  PlayStation Plus will further enhance PlayStation Network, which has recently achieved a cumulative number of registered accounts of over 50 million globally.

By accessing PlayStation®Store via PlayStation®3 (PS3®), PlayStation Network users will be able to purchase membership*1 to PlayStation Plus, providing members with new options to expand and enhance their gaming experience and enabling them to gain an exclusive set of features and content.  For users’ convenience, PlayStation Plus will be available in different subscription options of 30 days (Japan: 500 yen, Asia: HK$38), 90 days (North America: $17.99, Europe: €14.99) and 365 days (Japan: 5,000 yen, Asia: HK$233, North America: $49.99, Europe: €49.99).

PlayStation®Plus, New Subscription Service, Delivers a Whole New Experience to PlayStation®Network.

PlayStation Plus features include*2:

PlayStation®Plus, The New Subscription Service Package On PlayStation®Network, Delivers a Whole New Experience to Users.

Full game trial*3

Members will have access to full versions of designated PS3® and PlayStation Network titles including PS one® Archives (PS one® Classics).  The titles on offer will be available for download on PlayStation Store for a stated period and change every month.  Members will be able to play the full version of the game for a designated period and even after the trial period expires, users will be able to continue playing the game by purchasing the game on-line*4.

Games

Member will be able to play the full version of designated PS3 downloadable and PlayStation Network titles including PS one Archives (PS one Classics) and minis*5 with no limit of time as long as membership is effective.  These games will become available exclusively for PlayStation Plus members at no extra cost.

Special content

Content such as avatars and custom themes many of which are exclusive will become available for PlayStation Plus members at no extra cost.

Discounts

Members will have access to exclusive discounts on designated PS3 and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) titles.  Titles will vary every month on PlayStation Store.

Early access

Members will have early access to designated new game beta trials, game demos and video content prior to public distribution.

Automatic content downloads and updates

PS3 will automatically download and install designated game demos and game updates and also download the system software update data*6.  PS3 will automatically start up at a designated time to download content and will turn off after the download has completed.

Since its launch in November 2006, PlayStation Network continues to gain strong support from users around the world.   It offers a broad range of on-line content and services, including on-line gaming, video chat and text messaging with other PS3 users on-line, as well as access to many games, videos and comic content downloadable from PlayStation Store.  3-3-3-3         PlayStation®Plus, The New Subscription Service Package On PlayStation®Network, Delivers a Whole New Experience to Users.

Tailored to enhance the experience for PlayStation users, PlayStation Plus will further enrich the PlayStation Network gaming experience.

PlayStation®Plus, New Subscription Service, Delivers a Whole New Experience to PlayStation®Network.

SCE, with its strong lineup of entertainment content and services on PlayStation Network, will deploy various measures to provide entertainment experience to PlayStation users, and further expand PlayStation platforms.

*1         PlayStation users can purchase PlayStation Plus membership through PlayStation Store on PS3 only.  Users need to install PS3 system software version 3.40, which will be released on June 22nd, to enjoy PlayStation Plus.
*2        Content will vary by region.
*3        Expiration date will vary by content.
*4        Users will continue to enjoy games with previously saved data.  Any trophies earned during the trial will also be unlocked.
*5        “minis”  are not available in Japan.
*6        As the install requires users agreement, it will not be installed automatically.

PLAYSTATION®MOVE MOTION CONTROLLER

TO HIT WORLDWIDE MARKET STARTING THIS SEPTEMBER

Bundle Packs, Attractive Software Titles and Peripheral to Accompany the Launch,

Further Enhancing the PlayStation®Move Experience

Tokyo, June 16, 2010 – Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) today announced that it will release PlayStation®Move motion controller*1for the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system on September 15, 2010 in Europe/PAL territories and in Asian countries/regions*2 at a recommended retail price (RRP) of €39.99.   It will also become available in North America on September 19 at a RRP of $49.99 and in Japan on October 21 at a RRP of 3,980 yen (including tax).  PlayStation®Move navigation controller, one-handed controller to be used along with the motion controller for intuitive navigation of in-game characters and objects, will also become available on the same day in each region at a RRP of €29.99, US$29.99 and 2,980 yen (including tax),  respectively.

Sony Computer Entertainment America will release a PlayStation Move bundle comprised of a PlayStation Move motion controller, PlayStation®Eye camera, Sports Champions Blu-ray™ disc game and PlayStation Move demo disc for $99.99 (RRP).  Additionally, a PlayStation 3 Sports Champion Move Bundle, which includes a PS3 system, PlayStation Move motion controller, PlayStation Eye Camera, Sports Champions Blu-ray game and PlayStation Move game demo disc, will be available for $399.99 (RRP). The PlayStation Eye camera will also be sold separately for $39.99 (RRP).  PlayStation®Move Motion Controller to Hit Worldwide Market Starting This September

On the software front, SCE Worldwide Studios will release more than 20 titles that are either dedicated to or supported with the PlayStation Move platform in fiscal year 2010 ending March 2011.  Exciting and innovative software titles available in the launch window will include; Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition by CAPCOM Co., Ltd., Time Crises: Razing Storm by Bandai Namco Games Inc., Tiger Woos PGA® Tour 11 by Electronic Arts Ltd, Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest by WB Games Inc, EyePet, Sports Champions, Kung Fu Rider by SCE and many more*3.  SCE, with support from third party developers and publishers, will continue to further enhance the software title line-up to offer high-definition motion-based gaming experience only available on the PS3 platform.

Furthermore, SCE also announced today the release of two PlayStation Move controller peripherals, “PlayStation Move®Charging Station” and “PlayStation®Move shooting attachment,” that will help further enhancing the PlayStation Move experience.

PlayStation Move charging station

By utilizing the “charging station,” users will be able to charge up to two PlayStation Move controllers, motion controller or the navigation controller, at once without having to connect them to the PS3 system. The “charging station” will become available concurrently with the motion controller launch in each region at a RRP of €29.99, US$29.99 and 2,480 yen (including tax), respectively.

PlayStation Move shooting attachment

The “shooting attachment,” designed to place the PlayStation Move motion controller horizontally, will allow players to hold the motion controller as if they are holding a gun and to easily aim at an in-game target.  The trigger on the attachment is interlocked with the motion controller T button and will enable users to intuitively play the game, not only limited to shooting games but also on games that may require precise button input and control.  It will deliver immersive gameplay and will work perfectly with software titles like The Shoot!*3 by SCE and Time Crises: Razing Storm by Bandai Namco Games Inc. which is expected to support the attachment.  The “shooting attachment” will become available starting this fall in each region at a RRP of €14.99, US$19.99 and 1,480 yen (including tax), respectively.  PlayStation®Move Motion Controller to Hit Worldwide Market Starting This September

Through the introduction of PlayStation Move controllers, attractive software line-ups and peripherals, SCE will continue to further expand the PS3 platform and create a new world of computer entertainment that is only possible on PlayStation.

*1 Users will need to use the PlayStation Eye camera to enjoy PlayStation Move motion controller on PS3.
*2 Pricing of the motion controller in Asian countries/regions is equivalent to US$39.99.  Pricing of the navigation controller is equivalent to US$29.99.The pricing will vary by countries or regions.
*3 Title line-up and release date will differ by each region.  Please refer to the separately attached software line-up list for further details.

Product Outline

PlayStation®Move motion controller

Product name PlayStation®Move motion controller
Product code CECH-ZCM1
Release date Europe/PAL territories and Asian countries/regions: Sept. 15, 2010, North America: Sept. 19, 2010, Japan: Oct. 21, 2010
Recommended retail price €39.99, US$49.99, 3,980 yen (including tax)
Color Black
Mass Approx. 145 g
External dimension Approx. 200mm × 46mm (height × diameterj
Battery type Built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Voltage DC 3.7 V
Operating temperature 5℃`35℃
Included Strap

PlayStation®Move navigation controller

Product name PlayStation®Move navigation controller
Product code CECH-ZCS1
Release date Europe/PAL territories and Asian countries/regions: Sept. 15, 2010, North America: Sept. 19, 2010, Japan: Oct. 21, 2010
Recommended retail price €29.99, US$29.99, 2,980 yen (including tax)
Color Black
Mass Approx. 95 g
External dimension Approx. 138mm × 42mm (height × diameterj
Battery type Built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion batter
Voltage DC 3.7 V
Operating temperature 5℃`35℃

PlayStation®Move charging station

Product name PlayStation®Move charging station
Product code CECH-ZCC1
Release date Europe/PAL territories and Asian countries/regions: starting Sept. 15, 2010, North America: starting Sept. 19, 2010, Japan: Oct. 21, 2010
Recommended retail price €29.99, US$29.99, 2480 yen (including tax)
Mass Approx. 190 g
External dimension Approx. 160mm × 90mm × 34mm (width × height × lengthj
Included AC Adaptor × 1

AC Cable × 1

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES

SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM FOR THE PLAYSTATION®3 SYSTEM

HITTING WORLDWIDE MARKET IN FALL 2010

Rich Surround Sound Environment Delivered in All-in-one Speaker,

Offering a Whole New PlayStation® Experience to the Living Room

Tokyo, June 16, 2010 – Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) today announced that it will release a subwoofer built-in, all-in-one Surround Sound System for the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system in fall 2010 in Japan, North America, Europe/PAL territories, and Asian countries/regions at a recommended retail price of 19,800 yen (including tax), US$199, and €199  respectively.  Users will be able to enjoy immersive audio on the PlayStation®3 system, including upcoming games supporting PlayStation®Move motion controllers, Blu-ray movies, as well as stereoscopic 3D content by simply placing the speaker in front of the television and connecting it to the PS3 system with the optical digital cable.  Sony Computer Entertainment Announces Surround Sound System for PlayStation®3

The Surround Sound System utilizes cutting-edge technologies, including Sony’s S-Force PRO Front Surround Sound that generates rich realistic surround sound over one front speaker.  Delivering a dynamic sound environment with audio virtually coming from all directions, the Surround Sound System will immerse users into a cinema-like experience in the living room, making them feel like they are actually in the game or movie itself.  Bringing in SCE’s expertise in both entertainment and technology acquired from developing games, four sound fields of the speaker system have been designed with the help of SCE’s expert game sound designers, to optimize the cinematic experience of all forms of entertainment.

The Surround Sound System comes with two audio inputs − an optical audio input for connecting high-end entertainment systems including PS3, and an analog audio input for connecting portable devices like the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system to enjoy listening to music in the living room.  The form factor of the system features a sleek and casual design that matches perfectly with the PS3 system, and delivers dynamic sound without the physical space required by a traditional home theater system.        2-2-2-2 Sony Computer Entertainment Announces Surround Sound System for PlayStation®3

Through the introduction of new peripherals, SCE will continue to further expand the PS3 platform and create a new world of computer entertainment that is only possible on PlayStation.  Sony Computer Entertainment Announces Surround Sound System for PlayStation®3

Product Outline

Surround Sound System for PlayStation®3

Product name Surround Sound System
Product code CECH-ZVS1
Release date Fall 2010
Recommended retail price 19,800 yen  (including tax), US$199, €199
Power Output and Total Harmonic Distortion:

(FTC) for the U.S. model

L + R: With 6 ohms loads, both channels driven, from 200-20000 Hz ; rated 5 watts per channel minimum RMS power, with no more than 1 % total harmonic distortion from 250 milliwatts to rated output.
Amplifier section

U.S. models:

Power Output (reference)

L / R: 10 W (per channel at 6 ohms, 1 kHz)

Subwoofer: 15 W + 15 W (at 8 ohms, 100 Hz)

Speakers Front speaker unit:

Speaker system: Full range, Bass reflex, Speaker units: 50 mm × 90 mm (2 in × 3 5/8 in), Rated impedance: 6 ohms

Subwoofer unit:

Speaker system: Subwoofer system, passive radiator type, Speaker units: 65 mm × 2 (subwoofer) 65 mm × 4 (passive radiator), Rated impedance: 8 ohms

Inputs Analog × 1

Digital (Optical) × 1

Supported formats Dolby Digital, DTS, MPEG-2 AAC, Linear PCM (2 ch)*
Sound fields DYNAMIC: This mode provides a wide range of tones with low/high frequencies and dynamic sounds.

STEREO: This mode is suitable for any sound quality, optimized for video games implementing 2 ch stereo sound. (Multiple channels are down-mixed.)

VIVID: This mode provides a wide sound range and enhances the surround sound channels.

STD (standard): This mode reproduces the sound track with the kind of dynamic range that the recording engineer intended.

Other effects/functions NIGHT MODE: This function allows you to enjoy sound effects and hear the dialog clearly even at low volume levels.

DIALOG MODE: This function allows you to hear in-game speech and narration with greater clarity.

Auto Standby (A.STBY): The surround sound system enters standby mode automatically when there is no audio output for 30 minutes.

Power requirements 18 V DC (2.6 A) (100 V – 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz using the supplied AC power cord)
Mass Main unit: (approx.) 2.4 kg, AC adaptor: (approx.) 240 g
Dimensions Main unit: (approx.) 720 mm × 85 mm × 87 mm, AC adaptor: (approx.) 121 mm × 53 mm × 33 mm  (w × h × d)
Included • Remote control  × 1

• Optical digital cable (2.5 m) × 1

• AC adaptor × 1

• AC power cord  × 1

* Linear PCM accepts sampling frequencies of no more than 48 kHz.4-4-4-4 PlayStation®Move Motion Controller Delivers a Whole New Entertainment Experience to PlayStation®3

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love Review

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (Available on Wii, and PlayStation 2)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Dating Sim
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: RED/Idea Factory
Release Date: March 30th, 2010

Parent Talk: At its heart, Sakura Wars is a dating sim.  If you’re uncomfortable with that, then don’t let your children or teenagers play the game.  The ESRB has rated SW T for Teen, and that might be appropriate depending on your child’s maturity.  The suggestive themes are very mild.  There’s no sex or anything even remotely close to it.  I think if you have a mature enough 12 year old, he or she can play without problem.  Technologically, there’s nothing to talk about, the game supports a basic audio/visual experience.  You can use the Wii’s EDTV mode, and it supports Pro Logic II, but that’s as much as you get.

It’s odd that Sakura Wars is just now making its presence known in North America.  The series is 14 years old, yet we’re just receiving the first iteration now.  Talk about times changing.  The truth is that Sega never wanted to bring it here because of the high risk involved.  This is a niche Japanese property, and localizations have only recently been extremely accurate.  We thought SW would forever be Japan-exclusive.  Given the state of the economy, developers are trying to recoup their costs any way possible.  Thanks to NIS America’s efforts, we can finally play Sakura Wars in English.

The Great: It’s here!  The very idea that this great series is in North America is amazing, and by far the best circumstance. I can’t leave it there though; what else makes this series a cut above the rest?  Sakura Taisen, as it’s known in Japan, features a ton of endings thanks to the way characters interact, develop relationships, etc.  Upon finishing, you can start a new file, be someone completely different, and enjoy a completely different experience.  There are hours upon hours of dialogue between all the various personas.  The conversations build each character up into a unique and interesting personality.  Doesn’t that sound great to you?

The Good:

+The free-moving, turn-based battle system.  When you’re not conversing, you’re up to your eyeballs in mech battles, which occur at the end of chapters.  These are extremely fun, but long.   Sakura Wars was developed by the same internal SEGA team known for Skies of Arcadia and Valkyria Chronicles.  That should tell you everything, so I won’t bore with details…unless you really want me to.  What’s unique about this series is how battle directly connects to the relationship system.  If you form strong bonds with the other characters, you become increasingly powerful.  You don’t grind; you flirt.  How awesome is that?  If this were the case in real life, I’d be about 4,000 pounds of muscle, but I digress.

+Relationships.  Gee, I wonder why this is here…  I really love how many characters you interact with as things move.  It sure beats the pants off grinding.  Just be aware that ribbing too many people results in a lack of assistance on the battlefield.  Only five seconds are allotted to answer a given question.  Let me make this crystal clear: you can drastically change the game answering incorrectly.  Well, incorrectly isn’t exactly the right word since you can’t be right or wrong.  I should say to make sure you answer exactly according to who you wish to befriend.  Entire relationships can be lost with too much insensitivity, or turning the other cheek when asked for help.  Your choices directly impact characters’ perception of you.

+Style.  I have to hand it to the visual team; the art style is fantastic.  While the influences won’t appeal to everyone, there’s no denying that love and care went into the creation of this game.

+Translation.  Props to NIS America for surely knowing know how to please the hardcore fans.  Instead of renaming the characters some fluffy American names like James, John or Sue, the original Japanese tags are kept and literally translated to English.  When you meet Gemini Sunrise, don’t be surprised.  I love this, as it shows NIS America’s wicked sense of humor.

+Heavy Japanese influence.  If you love anime, you’d to adore Sakura Wars.  Everything you love is featured: ridiculous characters, wild storylines, and bizarre twists and turns.  This can also be a negative though…

The Bad:

– The concept.  Unfortunately, 14 years is just way too long to have waited for this to come to NA.  Gamers have changed.  The classic nerdo style has been replaced with Halo t-shirt wearing “studs.”  These mainstream gamers aren’t enticed to date scantily-clad anime babes; they’re out for blood.  Storylines are also far more mature now.  We’re used to heavy sexual themes and encounters handled with finesse, a la Mass Effect.  14 years ago, this series would have had a much better shot at success.  Ironic, given SEGA never brought it over.  We’re thankful for NIS taking a chance here, but they’ll be lucky if I’m wrong and everyone actually is open-minded to give the game the same treatment.

– Heavy Japanese influence.  Wait, how can this be a negative?  Well if you were paying attention, I said so when discussing your unrelenting love of anime.  What if you dislike that culture?  If that’s the case, stay clear of this game.  Despite the addictive nature and great fun, there’s no way around the Japanese-centric result.  If this just isn’t your cup of tea, have a Coke instead.

The Ugly:

Some of the anime characters are…woof!

The Lowdown:

After all these years it’s great to finally review Sakura Wars.  While some elements are off-putting, you can easily play this a hundred times.  If you enjoy Japanese anime, prepare for an absolute blast.  Just make sure you don’t try to date the feisty redhead; they’re never what they appear to be.


MLB 10: The Show Review

MLB 10: The Show (Available on PS3, PSP, and PS2)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: (PS3: 2, PSP: 2, PS2: 1)
Genre: Sports
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCE San Diego
Release Date: March 2, 2010
PlayStation Network: Online multiplayer, DLC

Parent Talk: MLB 10: The Show features no violence.  The ESRB rates all versions of the franchise the same, E for everyone, and I stand by that recommendation.  Even the music won’t fill your ears with profanity.  These are baseball games after all; you know what they’re about.  If children can grasp the sometimes complex nature of the series, by all means pick any of these three games up for them.  For technical purposes, the PS3 version is the only concern, as it supports Trophies, custom soundtracks, voice chatting via any USB or Bluetooth headset, DualShock 3, and game invites.  Up to two can play the game, which requires a modest 5MB hard drive space in order to save data.  The game runs natively in 480p or 720p, but upscales to 1080p should you have a proper HDTV.  For sound, MLB 10: The Show supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1…so if you own a surround sound system, you’d really enjoy the game.

MLB 10: The Show is the latest in a long-running baseball gaming franchise.  Regardless of what Sony platform(s) you own, it’s always proven reliable for those looking to kick back and enjoy some virtual diamond derbies.  This year proves much the same.  All three versions offer more or less the same experience, albeit slightly modified.  My focus is on the PS3 platform, unless I specify otherwise.  Is MLB 10 worthy of a purchase, or should you hold off until next year?

The Great: The improved Road to the Show mode.  You create a player and battle to enter the big leagues.  The system is completely refined for this year’s outing.  The biggest addition is the option to call a game as a catcher, which I love.  Instead of controlling the pitching, you simply tell the pitcher what to do.  This sounds easy, but it’s critical to learn the ins and outs of your players.  This adds an entirely brilliant, new dynamic to the gameplay.  Regardless of what position you decide to master though, you’re never discouraged from experimenting, and rewarded accordingly.  This separates a good sports game from a great one, and truly stands out amongst the three versions.

The Good:

+The graphics.  This almost made “The Great.”  The visuals are so subtly beautiful that I was able to pinpoint just about every player I know.  On top of that, players kick up dirt while running towards a base, high-five after a successful steal, and so much more.  They seem alive…to a certain degree.  They even joke in the dugout.  It’s very clear to me that SCE San Diego truly loves baseball, because I haven’t seen this much love put into a franchise game like this in a while.  Everything from the facial features, animations, to the lighting are top-notch.  There is occasional slowdown whenever the ball is thrown from the outfield, but the rest of the package makes that forgivable.

+The audio…sort of.  I’m not referring to the commentary, oh no.  That’s later ;)  This is about the crowd, and how it comes to life to feel part of the experience.  Ask any sports fan: the crowd is what makes or breaks a good team.  Who wants to sit and watch an amazing baseball team from a silent crowd?  Not me.  That’s like watching a few American hockey teams.  Yes, I just went there.  In fact, you can record taunts.  Say you want the crowd to start chanting “You SUCK!”…well do just that and add the track.  Simply hook in a USB microphone and you’re all said.  You can record taunts and cheers, and you’ll never listen to the game the same again.

+ If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  That’s the motto for SCE San Diego’s gameplay development.  MLB 09 and 10 play almost identically.  That’s not a bad though, as 09 refined the system to an art.  That means pick up the controller, start a contest, and enjoy.  MLB 10 also features one of the best tutorials I’ve seen assembled in a sports game.

+Excellent franchise mode.  Without going detail-crazy, you experience all 30 teams, a wonderful stat-tracking service and much more.  Remember the great gameplay, which is a big complement here.  Ideally you want to spend several years with a team and witness the players cooperate and evolve with each other.  There’s one glaring problem that prevents this mode from realizing its true potential, but I’ll save that for “The Ugly.”

+Take it online!  You can now create Season Leagues, which completely rock.  Truth be told, this is about as close as you can be to actually playing in the big leagues.  You enjoy control of a 40-player team, and stats accumulate throughout the seasons.  It’s absolutely a blast.  The improved net code also makes last year’s lag a thing of the past.

The Bad:

-The audio…hey now, wasn’t this also in “The Good?”  Yes, but for a completely different reason.  While the crowd is joyfully interactive, the commentary is dreadfully dull.  Perhaps I’m just not a fan of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, and Rex Hudler.  They’re repetitive, sound bored, and don’t seem to be passionate.  If I could record commentary, that would’ve been something else entirely.

-Trades.  Given all MLB 10 does well, it’s bizarre that trades haven’t been perfected.  Why are there only two per season?  Without the patch, the choices the AI makes are dumbfounding.  Sony has released a patch to balance things, but it’s worth the mention just the same.

The Ugly:

The A.I.  I’m bound to be hated for this, but I think the AI is completely unbalanced.  There isn’t one significant flaw, but a series that pop up over time.  Add them together, and the AI clearly needs looked at.  Examples include aggressive base-runners, pitchers that stay in a game too long, etc.  Even the great Road to the Show has these issues, which can make your progression much more difficult.

The Lowdown:

Baseball fans, this is one of the best game adaptations ever designed.  It’s much better than the past few, so I recommend you buy this.  That said, given this is a yearly franchise, you have to determine whether the additions are worth your mighty dollar.  A few past issues linger, but the improvements far outweigh them.  If you’re not a fan of the sport, why are you reading this review?


Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Review

jak&daxterJak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (Available on the PSP and PS2)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: High Impact Games
Release Date: November 3rd, 2009

After what felt like an eternity, Jak and Daxter are back!  Naughty Dog is busy with the phenomenal Uncharted series on the PS3, and Ready at Dawn has moved onto other pastures, but the dynamic duo has returned to action.  This time J&D hit the PS2 and the PSP on the same day!  Who saw this coming?  Right now, you can head to your favorite game shop and decide upon a version.  The PS2’s features slightly better graphics and easier controls, but the PSP’s is portable.  Content-wise, the games offer an identical experience.  This review accounts for both.  We put the two side by side and determined it was safe to write a combined piece.

Lost Frontier picks up after the events in Jak 3.  For some reason, the world’s Eco has gone missing, and only Jak, Daxter and Keira can find out why.  If you don’t remember, Eco is the life-force of special abilities.  Harnessing Eco allows ships to fly, force fields to generate and much more.  Because of these troubling times, Jak can no longer transform into Dark Jak, his destructive alter-ego from the last two J&D games.  There’s not enough Dark Eco left, what a shame.  That’s not the only difference.  For starters, LF has more in common with The Precursor Legacy thanks to all the platforming.  Everything else: gun fire, vehicle driving, comes after.   Let’s finish off the story though.  It doesn’t have the scope or epic feeling the second and third games had.  In fact, the story is all over the place.  I couldn’t tell if Jak and Keira are still an item.  I didn’t care why pirates and the gang were working together, and important characters were brushed aside until the end.  The bottom line: the story gets you from point A to B.  I always remember the original trilogy having a more impactful storyline, but perhaps that was my younger mind playing tricks.

jak&daxter1

With Dark Jak now absent, High Impact Games mixed things up so Jak could have new powers.  Right at the onset, there’s a clear focus on platforming, as mentioned before.  Weapons are present, but they take a backseat.  Make note of that; it’s extremely important.  If you’re a big fan of Jak II and 3, you may not be into Lost Frontier.  That’s both a blessing and curse.  On the PS2, you realize just how fun games like this are, even today.  Controlling the camera with ease brought back many great memories of Precursor Legacy.  You know, before Jak completely flipped out.  On the PSP, things aren’t quite so pristine.  Without a second stick, camera shifting never feels fluid.  The view can be moved around Jack, but it never feels like you’re in total control.  This is obvious in respect to the shooting portions.  Platforming is the meat of the meal, but there are still countless enemies to take out.  Without lock-on or strafing, running and gunning is a real chore.  Combat is much better on the PS2 thanks to the second analog stick, but even then it’s not quite as cohesive.

One new element is piloting your very own fighter jet.  You dog fight in the Hellcat at the beginning, and it’s extremely slow and sluggish.  Before too long, customization options open up, and the aerial combat completely changes.  Each plane you acquire bears several weapon and ability slots.  Say your ship runs slow.  Increase its speed in one of the ability slots, and away you go.  Want homing missiles?  No problem, they’re available.  Best of all, every upgrade can be removed and installed on another plane.  Thanks to this, you’re likely to try new setups not attempted before.  There are no penalties, so every upgrade you buy is a worthwhile investment because it can be used on any plane you own.

jak&daxter2

All this comes together to form a unique J&D adventure.  Unfortunately not all is great in the Eco-barren world.  For one, the pace is way off.  The story is the same, but you have to repeat gameplay sections incessantly.  I won’t spoil anything, but this applies even to the final boss fight.  We’re accustomed to playing one sequence a few times over.  When three or four times are necessary for completion, the experience turns ugly.  It’s almost as if High Impact Games didn’t know when good enough was just that.  Think of a boss fights the same way across four different forms.  That’s what I’m talking about, except with entire gameplay sections having that problem.  They quickly grow tiring and repetitive.

Another big question mark is the Dark Daxter segments.  At a certain point, Daxter is laced with Dark Eco and suddenly becomes an eight foot monster.  These portions simply don’t mix with the rest of the game.  Sure you can throw Dark Eco balls at enemies, use brute strength to destroy everything, but it just doesn’t feel like J&D.  I found these sections to be plain boring.  It would have been far better to feature Dark Jak with all his wicked powers than a somewhat generic Dark Daxter saying ridiculous things while in his Hulk-ish monster mode.  Sorry, but it didn’t work.

jak&daxter3

Even without Dark Jak, Eco plays a significant role.  Every defeated enemy drops Eco orbs, which can be taken to Keira.  Collecting enough allows you to unlock all kinds of special powers across four distinct categories.  After finishing the first time, which amounts to ten hours or so, those categories won’t be filled.  This was done for a reason: Hero mode, which presents the opportunity to play again on a tougher difficulty and all your items and power-ups brought over.  It works something like Ratchet & Clank’s Challenge mode.

Finally we have side-quests, the best of the past two entries.  In Lost Frontier, expect about every other person you meet ask for help.  Side missions aren’t as varied as before, but they provide a nice break from the regular missions.  I enjoyed helping a DJ eliminate an incoming caravan of ships, but as I pointed out above, doing it four or five times is ridiculous.  Still, it was entertaining to visit a new city help its citizens.  More variety would have gone a long way though in cutting that nagging feeling I kept having of too much of a good thing.

jak&daxter4

There’s no question visually that the PS2 build sports sharper textures and an overall less muddy look.  However, the smaller PSP screen allows that version to appear more detailed in some sections.  Regardless of your choice, most of the cities appear barren compared to the last two Jak & Daxters.  Citizens are there, they just lack life.  The environments are also extremely basic.  Thankfully the level and art design are top-notch.  There’s quality use of color throughout the game, but the dark and gritty feeling of the last installment is long gone.  That’s a shame because I loved Jak 3.  Jak doesn’t look like a natural part of this new world.  In Jak 3, he really was a result of his surroundings.

The audio is also a bit bland compared to past games.  Voice acting is solid, though nothing special due to overused one-liners.  For the first time in a long time, I even found Daxter to be a little annoying.  Perhaps Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time spoiled me.  The PS2 version has far cleaner audio, but that could be thanks in part to the surround sound speakers I have.  Effects are well-rounded and fit perfectly.

jak&daxter5

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier was a long time coming, and while I appreciate the PS2 port for ease of play and better visuals, the bulk of my time was spent with the PSP version.  The option to take a J&D game wherever I go is enticing.  For those with a PSPgo, the game can be downloaded from the PlayStation Network Store.  Whichever pick up, know this; Lost Frontier is a throwback to the long-lost days of platforming, mixed with a healthy dose of modern gameplay.  Had a few more elements: locking onto targets, strafing, Dark Daxter’s removal, been taken care of, LF could have really been a reboot for the series.  As it stands, those already familiar with the franchise would likely walk away a little disappointed, where as newcomers might expect more.

Scoreboard:

Story: 5/10

Gameplay: 7.5/10

Controls: 7/10 (PSP) 8/10 (PS2)

Graphics: 7/10 (PSP) 7.5/10 (PS2)

Sound: 7/10 (PSP) 7.5/10 (PS2)

Value: 7/10

Overall (Not an average): 7.5/10

MotorStorm: Arctic Edge Review (PS2)

motorstorm_arcticMotorStorm: Arctic Edge [Available on PlayStation 2 and PSP]
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Virtuos Games/bigBIG Studios
Release Date: October 22nd, 2009

I recently reviewed MotorStorm on the PlayStation Portable and found it to be quite fun. You can read about it here. This PS2 port is essentially the same.  It feels bizarre to write that given the series was conceived on the PS3, only to be moved to PSP, and finally ported to the PlayStation 2.  This must be some sort of industry first.  While this version is watered down compared to its PSP counterpart, Arctic Edge is still a fun game that may be worth your attention if your PS2 remains within arm’s length.

Just like the PSP release, Arctic Edge is virtually identical to the first two PS3 offerings in that you race through a series of events to unlock new ones.  New parts can be added to your vehicles, badges are rewarded for performing well, etc.  There isn’t much to explain that I haven’t already in the above-linked review. The biggest difference is the removal of online. Sony has abandoned the PS2 when it comes to online multiplayer. In fact, AE doesn’t even support the multi-tap. The photo mode and custom soundtracks are also nowhere to be found.  We can’t really penalize the game for that though; PS2 developers are working with extremely dated technology.

Thankfully everything else about this port is in line with its PSP counterpart. The AI is strong, the races are challenging and the vehicles are a blast to mess around with.  The void of multiplayer is what hurts the overall package.  What’s the point of decaling your car if you can’t share it with anyone online?  Things like this hurt the experience more so than the core single player game, which is solid.

The only enhancement extends to the visuals.  Ice reflections are impressive, given the PS2’s age, and the vehicles enjoy a higher polygon count.  Unfortunately the fresh coat of paint comes at a cost.  The framerate suffers with several vehicles on-screen, typically at the starting line and when you encounter a mix-up with larger vehicles.  The audio sounds almost exactly as it did on the PSP, with the exception of greater clarity because it was coming out of my surround sound system.

I didn’t feel like copying and pasting my entire previous review, but if you want a more in-depth look at the game, you’re free to check it out. This port may be ten dollars cheaper than the PSP version, but the lack of multiplayer (online or offline) isn’t really worth the extra couple dollars. That said, the very fact that Sony is continuing PS2 support in its extreme old age is a testament to their ten year life-cycle. It makes you wonder if they will treat the PS3 with the same respect in the future.

Scoreboard:

Story: **/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Controls: 7.5/10
Graphics: 7.5/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 4/10

Overall (Not an average): 7/10