The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 anything but typical. With nearly every major public event cancelled, it's no surprise that E3 would be among the casualties. Yet, despite there not being an actual Electronic Entertainment Expo this year, that didn't stop the big players from still making their obligatory mid-year gaming announcements. So, E3 or no, I've still got plenty of great information to round up for you.
Now that my Games of the Year list is behind me, I can start looking forward to this year. There are a lot of exciting new offerings on the horizon for 2020, some of which will begin releasing fairly soon. A few upcoming titles, however, have already been delayed and may, perhaps be delayed further. But regardless of when they all arrive, this should still certainly be a very entertaining year. As per my usual MO (in case you hadn't caught on yet), I've decided to lay out the top 12 highlights, along with the most current release information I have. Enjoy. Read more
Well, it's September 9th, 2019, which means its time for another 12/12 console anniversary. Yes, today makes 24 years since Sony's very first PlayStation console was first released in North America. Though Sega and Nintendo pretty much owned the home console landscape at the time they decided to enter the frey, a combination of smart business decisions and key partnerships, in addition to some pretty massive missteps by the competition helped Sony to quickly become the dominant force in the industry. A position they have continued to enjoy for the majority of their console-making career.
Sony first began their foray into game consoles in the late 1980s when they entered into a partnership with Nintendo to create a CD-ROM add-on called the Play Station for the upcoming Super Nintendo console. The partnership was rocky though, particularly when Nintendo went behind their back to form another partnership with Sony's competitor Philips. At one point Sony even approached Sega with a proposal to a similar partnership to the one they had with Nintendo, but Sega, unfortunately, declined. Eventually, Sony decided to abandon the project altogether in favor of creating their very own gaming system for the next console generation. This, of course, is what would go on to become the PlayStation.
After settling on engineering the console to specialize in handling three-dimensional polygonal graphics, Sony then had to figure out how to get games made for its system. For this, they mainly relied on securing hundreds of deals for third-party games, both exclusive and multi-platform. In addition, they also acquired the British video game company Psygnosis which, along with creating the fantastic wipEout series for them (one particularly excellent entry of which appears on our list below), also had the unintended benefit of resulting in a more economical, dedicated game development system for their new console.
Finally, Sony needed to figure out how to get a jump on the already long-established competition. They accomplished this in two ways. With Nintendo, they primarily did this simply by beating them to market, since their next generation Nintendo 64 console wasn't even ready for release until the following year. And with Sega, they simply found a way to capitalize on their blunders, particularly by undercutting them on pricing. By selling the PlayStation for $100 less than Sega's Saturn, they made it a lot more attractive to otherwise undecided console shoppers who couldn't quite see the additional cost benefit of Sega's offering.
Even with a leg up though, without the right games, the PlayStation brand wouldn't have lasted for very long. But great games are something that every PlayStation console has always had in spades. Read on for our list of 12 of the best ones the original PlayStation had to offer.
Well, it's another 12-year anniversary today and that means it's time once again for a retrospective of one of the great consoles of recent gaming history. This time around we have the distinct pleasure of taking a look back at the somewhat-remarkable run of Sony's PlayStation 3. Though news of its release came with lofty expectations, a series of unfortunate decisions over its lifetime (particularly at the start) did keep it from becoming the console titan it was meant to be. Despite this however, an extremely solid and varied library, along with a couple of strategically competitive moves allowed it to still finish out the generation neck and neck with the competition.
Coming off of the runaway successes that were the PS1 and PS2, it seemed as though Sony could do no wrong. Regrettably for them however, this was not the case. In the years and months leading up to the launch, Sony made a series of blunders that all contributed to a less-than-stellar start. For starters, they let Microsoft beat them to launch with the Xbox 360, a full year before the PlayStation 3 would be released. This gave the 360 plenty of time to carve out a decent foothold in the market and prove itself worthy of gamers hard-earned dollars. In addition, Sony selected the uniquely designed Cell processor for their system, which, while theoretically capable of delivering better graphics than the Xbox's more traditional Xenon processor, didn't really do so in practice. Making matters worse was the fact that the Cell's unorthodox design initially caused many third-party developers to struggle to deliver games that looked even as good as the 360 versions.
As if those two shortcomings weren't bad enough, there were two arguably even bigger issues with Sony's system. At the time Sony announced the PS3 to the world, they were in the midst of a legal dispute over the vibration technology in their controllers. As a result, the PS3 ended up having to launch without it. At that point in time, vibration had already been an industry standard for nearly two generations and was utilized with both the PS1 and PS2. More importantly, the previous year's Xbox 360 had it (and even the upcoming Nintendo Wii was advertising it). Sony was eventually able to settle the dispute and release a vibration controller for their new system, but not until almost a year and a half after the PS3 had already been released.
Finally, the most egregious error Sony made was with the price. Whereas the 360 was competitively priced, the PlayStation 3 was anything but. Questionable design decisions, such as their risky gamble to go with their expensive new (and not yet industry standard at the time) proprietary Blu-ray disc format, as well as the inclusion of additional internal hardware to enable backward compatibility for PlayStation 2 games, drove production costs through the roof. This resulted in a significant price disparity between the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, to the tune of 125 to 200%, depending on which models you were comparing. This means that in some cases Sony was asking for twice as much money as the competition, for a system that, to many gamers, was an arguably inferior offering.
Thankfully, despite these regrettable decisions, Sony was eventually able to turn the system's fortunes around. Shortly before correcting their embarrassing lack of a basic vibration controller, Sony pursued an aggressive (and costly) campaign to ensure that their Blu-ray technology did in fact become the industry standard. Then, starting in 2007, Sony also began selling PS3s with revised hardware configurations (such as the lack of an ability to read PS2 discs) in order to bring costs down. All of these measures together, in addition to the ever-increasing strength of exclusives available for the console, managed to change the PlayStation 3's reputation from a largely unnecessary exercise in extravagance to a genuinely compelling and competitive entertainment machine.
That library, in particular, is what we're here to talk about. And while it was a bit difficult to limit this list to just these 12, it's hard to argue that they're not all fantastic titles. So without further ado, here are 12 of the very best reasons to have owned a PlayStation 3:Read more
We tally up the number of Quips in the Spider-Man films and compare them to the number of scene featuring a crying Peter Parker.
Well, today marks the 12th anniversary of the North American release of the PlayStation Portable. It's kind of hard to believe it's already been 12 years since Sony decided to enter the portable fray. In honor of the 12th anniversary, it only seems fitting to take a look back at the handheld console and talk about twelve of the greatest games to ever appear on it.
The PSP debuted in the US on March 24, 2005. The first real competitor to a Nintendo handheld since Sega's Game Gear (10 years earlier), the PlayStation Portable quickly positioned itself as a sleek and sexy alternative to the clunkier chunkier Nintendo DS. The PSP actually had a lot going for it: better graphics, a superior form factor, millions of ardent Sony fans, and a wealth of great games. It also had a few stumbles which were almost all hardware-related: screen issues on certain models, the decision to use prohibitively expensive proprietary memory cards, not to mention the incredibly unpopular PSP Go.
All in all though, the PSP was a pretty incredible little machine. Did I mention the great games? Let's delve into that further, shall we? Here are 12 shining examples of the best gaming experiences the PlayStation Portable had to offer:
It happens every year. Every year, without fail, at around this time, "real" news [and I use the word in inverted commas, because really - game releases and hints at game releases aren't really "news" at all. They're - at best - terrible product placement] drops right off the radar.
Why? Because some PR drone way up on high has decided that nothing can leak out prior to E3. And that results in what fans generally call "lots of slow news days." While that's a problem, E3 - and shows like it - have a far bigger issue that I want to tackle.
They're pageants. Read more
This year my goal was to finish Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Halo 5, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and finally Grim Fandango. I am sad to report, I failed, and miserably. I had a 50% completion rate in no small part due to the release of several games including the time sink of Xcom 2 (reviewed on our site here by Scroo). What this exercise really hammered home is the dilemma of the modern gamer, prioritization.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate:
First to touch on the games I played, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was a solid experience, the game finally delivered on the promise of the franchise that has been missing in the last three entries. While I love Black Flag’s sailing mechanic the story missed out on a lot of elements and made me feel uncomfortable with the protagonist but not nearly as much as I outright disliked the leads of both Rogue and Unity. Simplification was the key, the use of the Frye twins (which was very hard to not make Futurama jokes about) kept the narrative fresh by switching between the two depending on the type of mission and preserving stylistic integrity of the character preventing ludonarrative dissonance from being a problem. This is one of the few times I’ve actually gone for completionism, the side quests were all solid fun and while they were plentiful they were never overwhelming like in Unity (which I basically just walked away from saying “screw this” when I couldn’t see my objectives for all the clutter of side quests). This title is well worth playing.
Halo 5: Guardians
Having bought this at the same time as Syndicate and not touched it I was actually able to finish the game rather quickly. Splitting the narrative between Blue Team with its succulently voiced Master Chief and Osiris led by Spartan Locke (or the Master Chief Grouch) the game was solid enough. There were some changes, Locke originally portrayed by Mike Colter (who is busy now being Luke Cage) didn’t return and was replaced by sound alike actor Ikè Amadi. Honestly, unless I was told, I wouldn’t have heard a difference. Amadi does his best with a bad script. I went into the game relishing the opportunity to spend time with Buck (aka my Mancrush Nathan “Captain Mal Reynolds” Fillion) to find very little actual interplay between the team members. There’s some random background chatter and the lush and beautifully rendered cut scenes which would actually make for a great movie/tv series on their own but beyond that there was no real difference who you were playing with.
Regardless if you were the Chief or Locke your companions were pretty brain dead AIs. Playing on Heroic the game never felt too tough, I was able to make it through the game with some strategy but the AIs of your companions are downright stupid often ignoring pleas for help or just running blindly into fire. Your enemies on the other hand would often coordinate attacks and make use of flanking and cover very effictively. If only my squad were so smart! The squad level commands were Spartan (forgive the pun) at best. You essentially had resurrect me, go here, use this vehicle and attack that. You don’t want to be worrying about issuing a ton of commands in a combat heavy game, understood, but some more strategy and differing play styles by your AI companions would be nice. Even the ability to set behaviour like in Mass Effect would have been cool (like get Buck to use heavy weapons or Fred to focus on sniping).
The story itself is the framing device to the next arc of the Halo universe. It feels like we may finally be done with the Flood/Covenant/Precursor story and introducing something entirely new. Allies become enemies and new alliances are forged but in the end the story felt annoying because of some of the reversals that just felt silly and the fact that much of this could have been resolved with a simple call back to base or a 5 minute conversation. That being said, the same could be said about 90% of action movies out there so there’s that.
Multiplayer is tight with none of the Halo Master Chief Collector’s Edition issues and due to its design even joining in months later thanks to a lack of a class system I didn’t feel overpowered by my opponents. The arena material was classic halo and the addition of mobility powers and clambering change the dynamic enough to make it feel fresh. The best part though is the addition of Warzone. This adds large scale team vs. team vs. environment play and is a sort of capture and hold based game play with points being accrued for destroying Precursor and Covenant who drop into the field of play. This is the most fun and revolutionary addition that could be a game on its own. One little possible concern is the addition of card packs but having played the multiplayer it’s easy enough to earn these requisition packs which unlock gear in Warzone matches as well as cosmetic material. That said, all of this can be earned simply by playing the game and I’ve not once had to buy any in game or even been compelled to consider it.
In short, if you like Halo and the universe Bungie created you’ll enjoy where 343 Industries are taking it. If you don’t you may not really enjoy the gameplay which can be at times frustrating due to working with team AIs that feel like they have brain damage. However, given the ability to play co-op, this could change the feel of the game especially with friends you can to something more enjoyable. Really with a 16 mission campaign that depending on play style can be run in 5 to 6 hours unless you are a fan of the universe or the multiplayer I’d suggest waiting for a sale.
That brings us to my shameful failures, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and Grim Fandango, to be honest I barely touched them. I did get a bit more time in with Homeworld but I found the lack of ability to issue commands in formation or line up where my units sat on the 3D environment frustrating and over the month of February, I had several betas pop up that were limited time, a couple of “Seasonal events” roll around in a few games I regularly play and the release of several new titles.
When I started gaming in the late 70s there were literally a handful of games a year. Many of them rehashes of existing games with just different plastic sheets you'd tape to your TV.
During the 80s and 90s it picked up but it still wasn’t the same kind of frantic pace you have today. You could get away with buying “all the games you want” because even at its peak during the "Holiday Season" it was still only a few dozen games at most which means you wont be overwhelmed.
But now we have new games showing up on a weekly basis. This doesn't count Betas, DLC, season events and so on. All of this makes it a challenge to just focus. I have access to Steam, PlayStation and Xbox and these libraries are littered with titles I’ve not finished. Many of these games are great - as long as I'm playing them - but I never really seem to make any headway through my backlog because of the sheer constant barrage of New Hotness that might be floating around in the gaming world. Thankfully, those games in those libraries aren’t going anywhere and I can always return to them, but as time marches forward it feels harder and hard to return to these abandoned games.
It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be better if game companies cut development in half and focused on titles making really amazing experiences versus the constant iterations on old titles, re-releases, HD Upgrades, and the crazy release schedule we deal with now. In the end, no one forces me to buy these games and I’m lucky enough to have disposable income enough that I can live easily with my poor impulse control, but if I was a kid who didn’t have a lot of cash it would have been frustrating. I guess I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a time where 5 of my friends could split the cost of a game and share it using floppy disks to copy the game. Man, how the times have changed.
I am generally the kind of gamer who savours the experience (savour being code for I take forever to finish a game). I'm still toiling away on games from years ago all the while my collection builds up to the point where it becomes slightly daunting to think about what to play next (seriously, I'll get around to finishing Dragon Age: Inquisition one of these days but having seen the Bull sexy time scene I think I've seen all the best parts).
For my #4iF list I decided to go with a mix of new and old as well as a variety of gameplay types. First off I'm going to start with a little old school RTS revivalism by finishing the campaign of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. Designed by Blackbird Interactive, a team made up of the designers of the original Homeworld and published by Gearbox Software who acquired the rights during the sundering of THQ the game was originally intended as a "spiritual successor" to the Homeworld series and started under the name of Shipbreakers.
When Gearbox picked up the rights they heard about this project and invited the team back to help not only build the re-release of the original Homeworld games but fold Shipbreakers into the Homeworld universe. The premise was already very familiar with only a slight twist to the story it was able to slot in as a prequel rather nicely. I look forward to exploring the world of Kharak before the Mothership helped the people retake the stars.
To liven things up a bit I'm going to swing from RTS into action-adventure, I'm going to work on putting Assassin's Creed Syndicate to bed. I've been working on that since release and what's dragged it out so much is that it has been so fun! The game world is rich and interesting and just chock-full of interesting gameplay. In a lot of ways it's felt like a final return on the promise of the series for the first time in years. We have strong and interesting protagonists with a believable relationship, the bad guys are not so cartoonish and the story makes more sense than the last few. Can't wait to polish this off!
Next is a bit twitchier, when Halo 5 dropped so did Assassin's Creed Syndicate and it's been a challenge to find time to spend with it. Destiny has taken up most of my shooting schedule and I've just not felt the need even with Microsoft's really interesting podcast and cross promotion.
That changes this February, the saga of Master Chief is just a vague excuse for me to spend time with my very own virtual Nathan Fillion. I mean it's not hanging out with Mal and zipping around the 'verse misbehaving but it's still something. Damn that man, he does have the rugged good looks of an action hero!
Lastly a classic that I never completed, this is a sin especially for an old school gamer like myself. I feel incomplete having never finished this but now I will right wrongs by completing the saga of Manny in Grim Fandango. The quirky and unique adventure game from the great minds of Doublefine Studio for LucasArts.
Thankfully under Disney's leadership Doublefine have started loosening the choke hold they have on older properties and letting some of them get licensed or even re-released. With Grim Fandango Doublefine made a concerted effort to update without altering the game leaving the obtuse and at times cryptic gameplay intact (I mean not as insane as Gabriel Knight's method of obtaining a fake moustache). This is an interesting historical piece of software as it shows how gameplay, even within a fairly niche genre like adventure games, has evolved over the years. A game that at one time used mechanics considered normal could now be considered quaint, dated or just downright cryptic!
So that's my February in a nutshell. Now to step up to the challenge! (Also, have to find some time to fit XCOM 2 in there now that's going to be a challenge!)
We‘ve recently seen what Sony has in store for us in 2016 during their Paris Games Week conference. The obvious big hitters were of course No Man’s Sky, Horizon and GT Sport (which btw. is not GT7, despite sneaking the 7 into the trailer several times, you bastard!), but we also finally saw a bit more about Dreams, the new Media Molecule game. Still not 100% sure on what it actually is, but it looks a bit like Project Spark meets 3D sculpting, which is amazing in theory, but will most likely be over everyone’s skill set when it reaches the consumer. Won’t stop me from sharing some ideas I already had with you (feel free to do the same in the comments below)
1: You play as a penis with erectile dysfunction, sliding down a huge tube. On your way to the goal you can collect Viagra pills to boost your score and grow stiffer. The catch: if you collect too many, you will suffer a heart attack and lose a life.
2: You play as multiple penii at the same time and fight against evil vaginas by pissing and spunking on them. Watch out though: if two or more penii touch each other, they decide to become homosexuals and try to convert the rest of your penii.
3: A Doodle Jump style platformer where you play as a penis. Your goal is to jump from giant bouncy boob to giant bouncy boob while avoiding condoms and hanging breasts.
4: A remake of Super Mario Bros. 1-1
While I think of more great level ideas, what is everyone playing over the weekend?
- Andrew (Twitter): Ghostbusters and Costume Quest 2 on Saturday. Then, once Halloween is overL I may just subject myself to another kind of horror entirely, Halo 2 on Games For Windows Live.
- Dante: Scream Fortress is live! There may not be a new event this year, but they added enough to make it fun again. That's what I'll be doing until it's over.
- Greywolfe (Twitter, YouTube): police quest three. i'm just about at the half-way point of the game. hearthstone's tavern brawl. if i ever get in to be able to play it, because this week seemed to be a mess for me. [but hopefully that'll be better over the weekend.] - inca [yeah. i still haven't finished it. :P] - and the tail end of rex, where i finish up exploring the abandoned city and get myself off the crazy planet. i've finished up banjo kazooie and have started up the original spyro the dragon. there's bits of it i hate. i dunno if i'll finish it. :(
- Scrooloose: Going to be getting started on Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, so excited about that. Original Sin was such a pleasure to play, still really really high on my list of top RPGs. I can't wait to see the changes in the enhanced edition. Still playing Volgarr the Viking, that's been super tough and a lot of fun. I basically play it until I can't stand failing anymore then go on to something else for a while. And of course I'll still be playing my fair share of Rocket League because I can't stop myself from loving that game.
- Steve: Destiny and Battleborn closed technical test for the most part. Also looking at phones and realizing how much Canadians get shafted by our 2 big telecoms.
- Thomas (Twitter): Maybe I’ll finally finish Halo 4 and AC: Unity. If not, I will probably return to the Witcher 3, because it’s been a while and I could use a good AAA RPG right now, since I will miss the Fallout launch.
- Trish (Twitch): Spending the weekend browsing mobile games on google plays market since ive gotten my new phone, also playing some destiny.
- Yoda0VGs (Twitter): More Vermintide for the Review!