Sony Trumps Nintendo 3DS with PlayStation Vita, the PSP Successor

PlayStation-VitaA short while back, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai officially announced Sony’s next generation handheld gaming device the PlayStation Vita. Vita, which was originally codenamed NGP (Next Generation Portable) will succeed the ageing PlayStation Portable, which was announced way back in 2004.

PlayStation-Vita-Front

The word Vita means Life, and Sony believes that Vita has the muscles to be able to blur the differences between entertainment and real life for the first time on a handheld console. The Vita has a 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a 200 MHz SGX543MP4+ GPU. In short, it blows away Nintendo’s 3DS and other handheld gaming devices like the Xperia Play. The powerful hardware will be well complemented by the 5 inch OLED capacitive multi-touch screen (with rear touch panel) that boasts of a resolution of 960 x 544. The combination of larger than average size with a mightily impressive resolution means that everything from games to HD Videos will look stunning on the Vita.


Vita Announcement Video

Besides the standard PlayStation buttons, the Vita has two analog sticks and a D-pad. The device also has front and rear facing cameras, stereo speakers, six-axis motion sensor, GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity.

PlayStation-Vita-Side

Sony has tied up with over 150 developers, and there should be an impressive number of titles available at launch. Games for the Vita will be distributed on NVG cards, which will be available in 2 GB and 4 GB sizes. Some of the games that have been announced include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The Vita will also be capable of playing existing PlayStation Portable (PSP) games.

Sony is pushing augmented reality and location-aware games along with social gaming on the Vita. A feature called “Party” will allow gamers in the same room to voice chat with each other. Another feature called “Near” will allow you to connect and play with other gamers around you.

Sony will release two editions of the Vita a Wi-Fi only version for $249, and a Wi-Fi+3G version for $299. In the US, Vita will be exclusive to AT&T. It will be launched during the holiday season this year.


Vita Trailer Video

Vita’s closest competitor is obviously the Nintendo 3DS, which impressed us in last year’s E3. The 3DS’ biggest selling point is obviously its ability to support glasses free 3D imagery. However, when it comes to raw power the Vita absolutely owns the 3DS. Once again, it appears that the Nintendo’s offering will appeal more to the casual gamers, while Sony’s VIta will appeal to enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. However, at $249, the 3DS might be too expensive for casual gamers, but the Vita might be perfectly priced for gaming enthusiasts.

Microsoft at the E3: Force Kinect Kinect Kinect And Oh Some More Kinect Into Everything

Do not get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of the Kinect peripheral from Microsoft. It is a revolutionary piece of hardware which will most likely pave the way for the extremely high-tech gesture-based input that we have seen in the realm Science Fiction (such as Minority Report, for example). Its use in video games for the Xbox 360 is fabulous in most cases, and is an instant party ice breaker, or a great way to relax (not really!) with friends and family. It’s the Wiimote all grown up. There have also been numerous modifications and excellent uses of this brilliant little peripheral in a lot of places.

Kinect_logo_print

Yes, the Kinect is a great peripheral. However, it is just that for now. The Xbox controller is still the controller for games. It worked for Nintendo when they launched the Wii. It was great it was fun and it was casual.

I would like you, Mr. Doubter-of-why-Kinect-should-not-be-in-everything to play a semi-serious game such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars using a Kinect. I had to stifle the biggest cringe of my life when the presenter jumped’ and said Lightsaber On!.

The Kinect works on some games admirably. Dance Central, for example is one of the prime reasons one should consider buying a Kinect (if one harbors a secret or open love for terpsichore). But, for some other games there is absolutely no need for it to even be there. How would you play Minecraft on an Xbox 360 with the Kinect, is my question. They way things work with Minecraft, your real arms will wear down sooner than the miner’s as you are mining for diamonds!

KinectSensor

Of course, I understand that there will always be takers for these games since they look cool, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, going for the development of rather horrendous Kinect titles while sacrificing the development of better titles is not how a company caters to its core customer. The Kinect on Fable is not immersive, but slightly dorky. The Kinect on Star Wars looks like what my imaginary younger brother would stick his tongue out at.

What would work well (and has been put to good use) is using the Kinect as a peripheral rather than a main game controller. Perhaps using the mic to issue voice orders (like it has been implemented in Mass Effect 3), or using gestures to give orders to your AI teammates while continuing to play with the controller.

It is quite sad that Microsoft is trying desperately to cash in on the interest of the Kinect. It will lose its charm frightfully soon if it is forced down our throats in every possible way.

Are you listening, Microsoft?

Ubisoft Shows Jaw Dropping Kinect Integration In Tom Clancy

At Microsoft’s E3 keynote, game publisher Ubisoft showed Kinect integration with the next iteration of Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Future Soldier. When the demo started I was shuffling between twitter and refreshing the WWDC live blogs while playing the video on a separate screen. Then I gasped, my jaw dropped and I stayed glued while Ubisoft demonstrated some exciting Kinect integration features. What Ubisoft showed cannot be described in words but can only be enjoyed in video:

Playing with no controllers might get tiring but being able to configure guns by gestures is simply nerdgasmic. Ubisoft promised that future Tom Clancy versions will all have Kinect integration. Ghost Recon Future Soldier is expected to come out in 2012.

Fy_Abbottabad, With Apologies To Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnoon sweaty, while I pandered Counter Strike wary,
Over many a quaint and curious servers begotten from a store,
While I play’d, clearly pwning, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my Steam chat door.
`’Tis some Scrim-er’ I muttered, `tapping at my Steam chat door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was the server of the IndiaGunner,
And each separate dying Terrorist wrought his spray upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished for de_dust2; – vainly I had sought to burrow
From my inventory surcease of sorrow – sorrow for that lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant Desert Eagle whom my CTs named Lenore –
Bullet-less here for evermore.

abbottabad

And the sudden and uncertain dingof each little chat curtain
Distracted me – filled me with terrible aiming that I could ne’er before;
So that now, to still the beating of my AWP-er heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some Scrim-er entreating entrance to his server door –
Some bored Scrim-er entreating entrance at his server door; –
For they have less than ten [players], and nothing more,’

Presently my skills grew weaker; hesitating then no longer,
`Dude’ said I, `or Guy, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was gaming, and so gently you came chatting,
And so engrossed I was with my laming, walling at the double door,
That I scarce was sure I read you’ – here I opened wide the chat door; –
A link there was, and nothing more.

2011-05-11_00001

Deep into that link peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But lo and behold it was a CS map, and the link gave no token,
And the only comment there spoken was the upvoted ment, `Awesome Ore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the comment, `Awesome Ore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the game turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a chat pingsomewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is a player from my server;
Let me see then, what the problem is (probably lack of $$$), and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment before I recharge the $$$ and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the starting money and nothing more!’

This is where I pause my plunder of Poe’s poem full of insanity, and get to the meaty part of my experience with fy_abbottabad, a map for the game Counter Strike: Source (as if you do not know this already).
This is the reviewof a map some random scrim friend posted on my chat box while I was playing de_dust2. He was very excited that the rumor mill of the internet had, for once, said something true that right when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death reached an ardent CS:S fan, he immediately shouted Counter Terrorists Winand gone ahead and made a map for the game based on this lavish estate of Osama’s.

The result is an extremely good virtual representation of the Abbottabad complex where Osama Bin Laden was allegedly shot dead by a US strike team. The terrorists spawn inside the main building, while the counter terrorists spawn right outside.

The difference between the complex in real life and in CS:S is that the Terrorists also have weapons. They also have a bias in this map since they have a great view of the CT entry points from higher ground (the balcony):-

entrance3balcony

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a silenced bullet’s splutter,
In the distance stepped a Terrorist of the violent days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of a fanciful sniper, AWP-ed me in front of the entrance door –
Perched upon a balcony just in front the entrance door –
Perched, and sniped, and nothing more.

Okay I’ll stop. But the point is as you can see from the screenie, it’s very easy for a sniper vs. sniper battle to go in the Terrorist’s favor at this balcony. Especially if some Terrorist decided to nade the tiny enclosure.

There are three main entry/exit paths (one of which is the balcony/tiny room) where the T stronghold meets the CT spawn point very alike de_dust2’s triple points. But there are a thousand ways in which I would get team-flashed, smoked and generally easily killed in this map (with the classic maps, it was simple you get flashed by your team rather than by your opponent wherever there’s a nice little tunnel). (Elucidated in screenies below)

entrance2

entrance1

 

This map is an excellent novelty item and something that I would play with a small bunch of CS:S players when I get bored of the normal maps. But the point is, I have probably played… four maps (?) from the stock so whenever I get spare time I ask for some exotic map like cs_italy or something.

winningterrorist

In summary, I am a terrible parody maker, fy_abbottabad is a fun novelty item and CS:S is still the bee’s knees on Steam.

(To view an unedited clump of the screenshots I took, please have a look here)

Download Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad Compound Counter-Strike Map

Abbottabad, Osama Bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan has been recreated as a map for Counter-Strike: Source

counter strike abbottabad map

The creator of the map, Fletch says

The map’s creator says it may be used as a base for a bomb or hostage map at a later stage.For now, it’s a general purpose multiplayer map based on the known dimensions of bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

The game has been rated 8.33 on a scale of 10. The map has been download 22,574 times since the time it was released for download. You can download the map from GameBanana here

Watch the Abbottabad Map – Gameplay

Screenshots of the map:

counter strike abbottabad map counter strike abbottabad map

counter strike abbottabad map counter strike abbottabad map

P.S. The map works only on a fully updated non-pirated version of Counter-Strike: Source.

The Witcher Promo On GOG.com

I have sufficiently managed to create a large amount of hatred (from my Twitter followers) for The Witcher 2 just by tweeting about it every single day. I cannot help it. The closer the game gets to release day, the more my intensity for the game grows. It is looking fantastic and promises to be the best role playing game this year (and I am making this statement knowing full well that Bethesda is developing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim).

witcherbox

There are quite a number of reasons why this sequel promises to be the best RPG this year. For one where other developers pushed into the limelight after a cracking introductory game try to make the sequel more presentable and less controversial, CD Projekt Red have made sure that there is no dilution to The Witcher. The world of The Witcher is still in many shades of gray with racism, sexism and controversial quests with no correctsolutions as well as strange characters who tread way beyond our moral upbringing (such as the King who has an incestuous relationship with his daughter, but is an extremely just and kind-hearted father otherwise). The main character himself gets laid way too many times throughout the original game (and perhaps this one as well).

Witcher

In celebration of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings‘ release on GOG.com (CD Projekt Red’s sister company), the site has launched a two-week sale of the original game for the mind-numbingly low price of $5. Pre-ordering The Witcher 2 costs $44.99, so both the games together cost about $50. Not bad, considering you will be getting to know about a real dark-fantasy world full of parallels to our own world.

In case you did not know both the prices are for the digital download version of the DRM-free games. Yes, even The Witcher 2 is available DRM-free only on GOG.com, and it releases on the 17th of May. Go buy!

DICE Helping Out Bioware With Mass Effect 3

Electronic Arts’ subsidiary studio Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (DICE) is helping out Bioware with the final installment of their epic space opera role playing game Mass Effect 3. DICE is the studio behind Battlefield 2, Mirror’s Edge, and the latest Medal of Honor. While they are frantically in pursuit of Need for Speed The Run‘s development schedule, they are also helping out Bioware with the audio realismof the guns and bombs in Mass Effect 3. While they are not actively working with Bioware, some ideas were apparently shared between the two studios on the upcoming action role playing shooter.

DICE

In other words: Oh my god, Mass Effect 3 is going to be so awesome not only will the story come to a great ending [we hope], it will also have great characters, an amazing soundtrack and, most importantly, realistic physics driven guns. What more could I possibly want?

Although I can assure you that it is the minority that will probably say What more could I possibly want?(especially since The Witcher 2 is looming large on the horizon) there will be quite a few notable representatives of our esteemed gaming community who will.

MassEffect3

However, DICE’s site has no such affirmation on the news and we could only find one citation on the Wikipedia page for DICE. Not that big an issue, am I right? It’s going to be awesome, right? Right?

First Portal 2 Downloadable Content Is Free!

Portal 2 as we all know has stolen our collective hearts (not mine, because I have sadly not played it yet) and is fast becoming the greatest game Valve has ever released (what was that? Oh yes, Half Life and Counter Strike are definitely up there, but we shall not follow that course of conversation for it inevitably leads to one of us giving the other a virtual punch on the nose) and is still racking up about 18,000 players on Steam these days. (Of course Counter Strike is still at the top. I shall politely refrain from saying anything further)

portal2

Of course, since it is one of Valve’s newer games, it needs Downloadable Content (DLC) to stay afloat (unlike some other Valve games) and Valve has announced that there is a new Downloadable Content Pack that is in the works for Portal 2. This content pack will contain new test chambers for players, leaderboards, challenge mode for single and multiplayer modes, and more, and will be completely and utterly free on all platforms!

Again Portal 2 is going to have a free DLC pack in the near future for all platforms and will   make sure that Portal 2 stays on top of Steam’s gaming stats.

(Addendum: This post was written in a strange kind of anti-Valve’s-new-games point of view. I assure you that it was humorous, and not cynical in any way. Counter Strike Portal 2 is the pinnacle of modern first person games.)

Sony Public Relations Posts Grim Update On PSN Situation.

HUGE ALERT TO ALL THOSE READING THIS: If you use one password on all services online then stop reading this post and go change ALL of those passwords. Done? Okay, good. Read on.

PSNup

Here is the bad news: your Credit Card information has probably been stolen. Here is the extremely bad news: the hackers also know where you live and your phone number, as well as the password that you use on most of your services (if you are the one password is enough for a bajillion accounts I am very secure!kind of person). Here’s the gist:-

What they have stolen:-

  • Name
  • Address
  • Country
  • Birthday
  • Email Addresses
  • PSN ID/Password
  • Probably Your Trophies As Well

What they might have stolen:-

  • Purchase History
  • Credit Card numbers used for purchase
  • Security question on your PSN account (which is usually the same across many platforms, so change this one too)

What Sony officially advises you to do:-

If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, to be on the safe side we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant to review your account statements and to monitor your credit or similar types of reports.

How did the hackers obtain your password in the first place?

Why, it was in plaintext, my good man!

<user2>  creditCard.paymentMethodId=VISA&creditCard.holderName=Max&
creditCard.cardNumber=**********&creditCard.expireYear=****&creditCard.
expireMonth=*&creditCard.securityCode=***&creditCard.address.address1=
example street%2024%20&creditCard.address.city=city1%20&creditCard.
address.province=abc%20&creditCard.address.postalCode=12345%20

<user2>  sent as plaintext

<user3>  uh

<user3>  did you censor that card?

<user2>  ya its fake

<user3>  good

<user1>  wow, plaintext :S

<user5>  plaintext wow

<user3>  im never putting in my details like that

<user2>  ya is all fake lol

<user2>  i never used cc on ps3

<user2>  normally you ATLEAST enccrypt the securtity code, even if its ssl

PSNDRM

As the entire chat log of the hackers while they were penetrating the PlayStation Network shows at one point of time, I really cannot believe that a network that puts so much Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection on every game manages to store passwords without any kind of encryption. Thoroughly unbelievable. It is going to take a lot of coaxing from them for me to get back to the network. Thoroughly disgusting and outrageous.

Minecraft Mods Get Finalized

The community behind hit indie game Minecraft is what makes it so great. While some players of Minecraft are drawn to the incredible easy yet deep gameplay, others are also drawn in by how easy it is to edit the game’s code and create new and extremely cool things for the game. These are called Mods short for Modifications. Throughout its life, Minecraft has had countless mods made for its source and some of them have been integrated into the original game, with Mojang paying a royalty to the mod-maker.

minecraftwall

However, the current model of mods did not have any kind of protection against malicious code. In effect, layperson players who do not understand code will be at a loss if they implemented a mod and found that it was malicious especially since the game needs an internet connection to verify your credentials.

For the longest time, there was this mod situationthat Notch had to rectify. A day ago he posted an entire proposal on his tumbr, with a plan for a small feefor signing up as a mod developer (which guarantees a certificate of authenticity from Mojang). However the Great Connected Hivemind (also known in various other cultures as the Internet) convinced him to remove the fee for signing up as a mod developer. While we personally think that Notch should not bow to the internet’s wishes so easily we also understand that it was the community that made him what he is today. Either way, it’s good to see great approvedmods coming the Minecraft way!