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Friday, 25 April 2008
MGO beta back online; official word from Konami
Here's the latest from Konami Europe on the MGO beta:
We would first like to offer our most sincere apologies to all participants of the "METAL GEAR ONLINE PREMIERE BETA" test for all inconveniences caused thus far. At the same time, we would like to inform you details of the possible causes of the problem along with the actions we have taken in order to resolve them.
Initial problems were caused by the extraordinary numbers of customers trying to login to the site in order to create a KONAMI ID in order to take part in the beta test. In response, we have increased server capacity as well as creating a separate KONAMI ID registration site specifically for customer wanting to take part in the "METAL GEAR ONLINE PREMIERE BETA" test.
METAL GEAR ONLINE PREMIERE BETA test
In order to reduce the load on our server, we have implemented a queing system where the number of players that can login to the server is kept at a certain level over a period of time. Added to this, the client has been updated so that the time out settings when logging in have been relaxed. This may though, lead to a longer wait when trying to login.
At peak times, you may be placed in a queue for places in our server. In such a case, we would like to recommend that you try to login after a period of time.
It was also discovered that connecting to the server on creating and registering your character was very difficult. This again, was due to very high levels of traffic. We have increased server capacity and have also improved both the system performance and the server program in response .
We will be carrying out further improvements between 00:00 on 04/26/2008 with the start of the beta test as the game is scheduled to enter full service on 06/12/2008. We would like to apologize once again for all inconveniences caused.
It is the second week since the PS Store got it's shiny new look and we're treated to our third update already. Both the 'launch day' bonus items and the regular weekly update brought Europe a good amount of new stuff to get our teeth into - so what about this week?
The big news is the CoD4 Variety Pack has arrived. The pack, which brings us four new multiplayer maps - Broadcast, Creek, Chinatown and Killhouse - appeared on the store (after a short delay - it wasn't there initially). Speaking of CoD4, don't forget that this weekend is 'Double XP' weekend in CoD4, and Friday is 'play with the devs' day between 19:00 to 22:00 UK time and from 01:00 to 04:00 UK time on Saturday morning.
There is also a CoD4 v1.30 patch that is available now when you launch the game. The patch adds two new game modes that take advantage of the Variety Pack maps.
Here's what is included in the update:
Bishi Bashi Special (PS1 game for PS3/PSP) (£3.49) Command & Conquer (PS1 game for PS3/PSP) (£3.49) Flow (PSP version) (£4.99)
Call of Duty 4 Variety Pack (£6.99)
Demos (all free)
Rocketmen: Axis of Evil - PS3 Demo God of War: Chains of Olympus - PSP Demo
MGS4 Sneak Out wallpaper Dark Sector wallpaper Motorstorm wallpapers (7 images)
The release of two new PS1 games will appeal to some gamers who like their fix 'retro-style'. The Rocketmen demo is the same as the one we played from the US Store a little while back, and you may remember our review of the game.
It is nice to see a full game and a demo for the PSP appear, further showing the improving bond between the PS3 and its little brother.
As far as the Variety Pack in concerned, some may argue that £6.99 is a lot to pay for four new maps. The Xbox 360 version of the Variety Pack was 800 MS points I believe, which equates to about $10. $10 in local money is £5.10, so £6.99 does appear slightly inflated.
Having said that, you can't buy a coffee for you and your mates in London for less than that, let alone a few beers. We still think it's reasonable value, but it would have been nice to see some price parity.
After all the excitement of learning what is coming in the Burnout Paradise 'Cagney' and 'Davis' updates, revealed in our Burnout news premiere yesterday, we're pleased to say that Criterion have released 'Bogart' as planned today on the PS3.
Effectively v1.20 of Burnout Paradise, Bogart fixes a number of issues in the game.
The Top 10 problems reported by users have been fixed, these are:
PS3 game can crash when a player is taken down and the player that has performed the Takedown leaves the game.
The game indefinitely displays "Connecting to Paradise City Servers" if it's having problems communicating with the rebroadcast server.
Disconnecting the controller before a race begins can mean that race timings can be manipulated with players who didn't cross the line first being awarded the win.
Repeatedly joining and leaving a game with 8 players can cause the game to hang.
Hammering the X button after unlocking a car can cause the game to hang.
East Crawford and Watt St achievements cannot be achieved if the player goes online and sets road rules before attempting them.
Audio distortion when using 5.1 / DTS and looking back at the car.
Total time driven in player stats would stick at 145 hours.
VoIP connection problems with 8 player games.
The update also adds game experience enhancements and other high-priority fixes, details of which you will find at the Criterion website.
Following our 'almost live from Paradise' news yesterday, Criterion have now updated their website with details, high-resolution pictures and videos of many of the new features we premiered at PS3 Attitude.
You'll remember we announced NOVASTRIKE was on it's way back in early March, so it's good to hear some more about it already.
"And there are two weapon systems - the beam and electro-mine - that aren't directly forward-firing. The beam will lash out a short distance in any direction when used. The electro-mine always falls behind the player's ship and lashes enemy fighters that come within a set distance of the mine. When upgraded the beam will chain-link its attack across multiple enemies, and the electro-mine becomes invaluable at helping clear up swarming enemies."
Live from Paradise; Criterion announce motorbikes, community features and planes!
Today was always going to be an exciting day.
Criterion announced that their podcast, for the first time, was going to be broadcast live across the 'net. If that wasn't exciting enough, they were going to invite some PS3 owners to play Burnout Paradise live during the podcast.
So then imagine our joy when they asked little ol' PS3 Attitude to join in the game so we could write up how it felt to be part of their first live podcast!
We were ready and waiting at 15:00 UK time, but the podcast start-point came and went. And so did 10 past, quarter-past and half-past. No sign of the team online ready to bring us in to the game.
But it's OK - because today just became even more exciting than we had previously thought.
After starting the live podcast later than expected, the guys at Criterion had something much more important on their minds than a mere PS3 free-for-all, no matter how much fun that would have been.
With their 'Bogart' update only just over 17 hours away for the PS3, the Burnout team started to talk about the following upgrade - named 'Cagney' - and what it is going to include.
Firstly, there are a whole slew of changes to races to make them fairer, especially when they are ranked races:
Custom Routes are no longer featured in competition races - you can choose from 40 predefined Paradise Drives that Criterion have sanctioned, 7 of which came from fans.
Sanctioned Routes have their own Time Leaderboards - so you can all see who’s the fastest per route.
Traffic can no longer be switched off in competition races
No more ‘rounds’ in competition racing - many players disconnect, when they feel like there's no chance of winning, so they've got rid of the concept of rounds.
Cars can be grouped by Boost Rating - limiting to Boost Level 3 cars, for example, still gives you 10 massively varied cars but they'll all be pretty closely matched for great racing.
Car Select now appears after the Race Route has been selected - the host can't make sure they're the only one who knows the route, and now everyone gets a chance to choose an appropriate car.
The host can't kick other players any more
Grid position is based on player ranking
Full Boost Bars
Rank and Ranking Points are displayed in game
New map icons differentiate the Start and Finish points
All of this will be familiar to regular visitors to the Criterion website... so what else is coming along with Cagney?
Apart from some cosmetic changes to the start screens and logos, when you launch the game you'll see a new page with streaming player and game news, bringing all the great content from the Criterion website (and more) direct to the players. That new page shows the local time, Paradise City weather (plus real cities too), a calendar and all manner of hints/tips/news/info.
It moves Burnout Paradise up to a new level, giving you instant access to the world Criterion have created and offering a view of what has happened in Burnout in the last 24 hours. It's a real community-driven offering.
The calendar is more than just a useful reminder of what day it is.
From July, every weekend there will be a formal - and personal - Burnout Paradise event and some of these events will involve new cars. The team announced that some of these new cars will not have boost - it's all going to be about using your skill under standard conditions.
The 'personal' element? The event might be based on your licence or how much you interact on the forums. If you have an Elite licence, you may get a chance to test drive a new car for 24 hours before anyone else sees it! The more you give to Criterion, the more you'll get back.
By getting involved when this new feature kicks in, you may gain cars that will never be offered again, so it's worth jumping on board as soon as Cagney launches.
As was already reported elsewhere, Cagney on the PS3 will bring custom soundtracks as well. In addition to this, the team are going to remix all the sounds and music, and even add sirens to the police cars!
The guys went on to announce that 70 new freeburn challenges are coming to extend the game in Cagney, but they will be adding new challenges throughout the year. And some of these new challenges are multi-part challenges. In addition there will be leaderboards for each challenge so you can see how quickly you completed it.
Cagney should be available at the end of June.
But all of these community functions, new cars, events, challenges and competition-racing rule changes aren't the most important item announced in today's live podcast.
Criterion announced yet another update in their list, named 'Betty Davis'. Davis is going to be available around the end of July.
Yes - motorbikes are coming to Paradise, for the first time in any Burnout title.
This will be one of the first 'paid for' packs. Up until now the other updates have been free of charge. Personally, we think that it's about time and completely fair for Criterion to start charging for some of this brilliant DLC.
What else is coming in Davis? You can now drive around Paradise at night. Watching the live podcast video you get a real sense of speed and control on the motorbikes, and Paradise City looks brilliant at night. There will even be less traffic at night, just like in real life.
There is still some work to do in terms of bringing car vs. bike racing to the game - you won't be able to do that in Davis - but Criterion are committed to improving all of these new features over time. Road Rash for the 21st Century? Possibly!
Finally, the guys showed something that is not in any of the updates yet. Planes! Criterion wanted to stress this may or may not make it into the game this year, but I'm excited about it. I remember a couple of great air race games on the Amiga, so it would be brilliant to see the Burnout team bring Red Bull Air Race style action to Paradise.
High quality images and video will be available over the next couple of days at the Criterion website.
Holy Baterangs! Interview with Jonathan Smith reveals more Lego Batman details...
PS3 Attitude got a chance to talk with Jonathan Smith of TT Games today about their Lego titles and, specifically, Lego Batman.
Before getting into the interview, here's what we already know about Lego Batman and TT Games.
Recently acknowledged as the leading UK developer in the Develop 100 report, TT Games was acquired last year by Warner Bros Interactive, a result we guess of their relationship with movie licences and tie-ins. They are certainly one of the most respected names in the UK development community and have two big Lego titles coming out this year; Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Lego Batman.
Lego Batman is based on an original story where all the lunatics have taken over Arkham Asylum and succeeded in escaping. It's your job to round them up, of course. The campaign to re-capture the likes of Catwoman, the Penguin, the Joker, Killer Croc, Scarecrow and others takes you across 18 Lego infested levels. But that is literally only half the story.
As you play through the 'hero' levels, you'll unlock another 18 levels where you play the game from the villain's point-of-view.
The success of the gameplay in the previous Lego titles is mirrored in Lego Batman with grappling hooks that are similar to those in Star Wars II, the chance to build new items out of Lego pieces and the usual mix of action and puzzle solving. However, in Lego Batman the emphasis will change somewhat - let's find out more from Jonathan Smith:
[PS3A] This is the first time you've developed a title outside of the Lucas arena...
[JS] I suppose it is. We just think of it as a natural progression of our work on Lego games. Obviously, the Lego company has been making play materials for a long time for a wide range of different properties including loads of characters from TV series and movies over the years. So we don't see it as a radical departure for us.
[PS3A] What has been different about working with the PS3 over the years?
[JS] Traveller's Tales (the developers) are experts in working with the PlayStation 3. Obviously they were strong on all Sony platforms from PlayStation 1 through to the PS2 and PSP. They have a lot of expertise in those areas that they've brought to the PS3 when they first starting developing for it a few years ago. With Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and Lego Indiana Jones on the PS3, and with other PlayStation 3 titles already in development, it is really a platform that everyone is extremely comfortable with and enjoys working on.
[PS3A] What is your approach to producing multi-platform titles?
[JS] Traveller's Tales has been brought up over the last 17 years or so as a specialist in multi-platform development and right from the start their culture and technology has been built up around that. They have proven over the years to be extremely effective and being able to share assets, models, animations, sounds and elements of design between platforms with a common engine at heart but with different modules that allow the advantages of each platform to come to the fore. It is a technology and approach that has served them in good stead over the years.
[PS3A] Batman is an interesting choice because of the different incarnations of the character. There's the mildly camp TV series, the sometimes grittier films, the animated series, the original comic books and the graphic novels. As far as Lego Batman is concerned, which style of Batman are we going to see?
[JS] Lego Batman is really both its own version of Batman, and all the other versions of Batman as well. It is a sort of distillation of many of the common elements that have appeared in the different in carnations over the decades. Elements of it will seem familiar from the comic books in particular but also from your memory of the different things that Batman and the other Gotham City characters have got up to or meant to you across all the other versions. But the game does have its own distinct look in terms of style, the colours we use, vehicles and costumes. They're unique, but I suppose it is best to say they are compatible; compatible with all the other different versions of Batman.
[PS3A] With previous Lego titles there are areas that you can't access until you have played the game through. Once completed, you can access other areas when playing as 'the bad guys'. Is this feature in Lego Batman?
[JS] You're right, but we're taking it to a whole new level. You're right to say that in our previous games we've had the concept of 'story mode' and 'free play', and in 'free play' you can go back and access areas with all the characters you've unlocked, including the bad guys. We still have that, but what we have done that takes this to a new level is 'villain mode'. In 'villain mode' you won't just be able to go back and look at new levels, we're creating an entirely new and separate campaign that tells the whole story of the game from the villain's point-of-view.
[PS3A] Is 'villain mode' unlocked when you finish the hero campaign?
[JS] No - it is actually unlocked as you progress through the game.
[PS3A] What new game mechanics can we expect from your Lego Batman title?
[JS] In Lego Batman it is all about the gadgets and technology that Batman has researched, or have been researched for him. We have the concept of different suits he and Robin can wear that give unique and distinct abilities in order to progress through a level.
[PS3A] I guess that's why Robin is wearing scuba gear in the trailer!
[JS] Exactly, Robin's scuba suit is one of them and both characters have a range of very cool suits that give them special abilities.
[PS3A] What else is new to the series?
[JS] On top of that, people that play the Lego series of games will find plenty of other fundamentally new approaches to the gameplay that suit the action of Batman including a greater emphasis on cool hand-to-hand combat and fighting. In terms of weapons, whereas in Indy we have lots of different firearms, Batman is not a character that needs to use guns to deal with the bad guys, so as well as the cool hand-to-hand combat he has baterangs as well.
[PS3A] How do they work?
[JS] Baterangs work in a very cool way in Lego Batman that you won't have seen in the series before where you can manually target a sequence of different objects with a baterang, then send it off and destroy a group of objects and enemies from a distance.
[PS3A] On the PS3, will that be controlled using the SixAxis or with the analogue sticks?
[JS] The targeting system is stick-based.
[PS3A] You don't have to comment, but that's probably a good move! So what's next for you and the Lego series?
[JS] I'm going to have to be coy about specifics, but the thing about Lego is it can become anyone and do anything. So it's just down to your imagination really. We spend a good deal of time imagining cool directions for the series and all I can say is that we're sure fans won't be disappointed with what comes next. Traveller's Tales are working on another game that will be out this year, and we're very excited about our Guinness Game of World Records. Based on the famous Book of World Records, the idea is that all the most amazing feats of human achievement you've previously read about you can now undertake yourself - in a game, with your friends, you can break those records and become a real record breaker.
PS3 Attitude would like to thank Jonathan Smith for his time and we look forward to catching up with him in person later this year at GameCity 3. Check back soon for more Lego Batman details, and watch the trailer below for some sneak preview action.
Lego Batman is currently planned for release in September this year. Lego Indy is being released on the 6th June, which you can pre-order now.
7 days to GTA: IV; analyst sales figures and other news
As you can see from our countdown timer above, there are now officially less than 7 days to go until GTA: IV hits shelves in the UK and Europe. Or are there?
Our wrap-up will explain some of the more important GTA: IV news that has hit the 'net over the last two weeks, including details of a possible early release.
We also do some maths for you and tell you just how big this release is going to be, based on working through a set of over 10 analysts' predictions.
1. Release dates
Scheduled for release on the 29th April, a story about Tesco in the UK breaking the release date emerged recently. Tesco were apparently going to launch GTA: IV on the 25th April instead.
Tesco's website has since been changed to state that the game will arrive on the 29th. But the news prompted Take2 to have retailers sign agreements that stop them from shipping early. The agreement allows the retailers to send out customers' copies on the 28th so they will arrive on the 29th.
2. Missing feature
GTA: IV has been one of the most highly reported titles ever, and that means we already know as much as we can about the game and its features. One of these gameplay elements was going to allow you the ability to listen to music any time using your in-game mobile phone (that's a cellphone, for all our US readers).
With GTA: IV confirmed as going 'gold' only five days ago, we discovered that his had actually been dropped from the game entirely. Of course, this is nothing but standard practice. Features get cut from games all the time. It's just that you don't normally get to hear about it, as the hype-machine isn't as ramped up for other titles.
3. Supply issues
For some time now, most UK retailers have been unable to guarantee the arrival of the standard version of the game due to lack of stock. The special edition is still available, but they're running out fast as people buy up the stock and take the hit on the price in order to get the game first time around.
France is apparently running out of stock fast and there won't be enough for launch day. And it is a similar story all across Europe.
4. Rockstar Social Club
The Rockstar Social Club is a portal that will bring players of various Rockstar games together, and the first major title supported is GTA: IV. You can now go a pre-register at the club which will start up properly on - you guessed it - April 29th.
Anyone who signs up before next Tuesday will be entered into a competition to win a portrait of themselves drawn in the now iconic GTA cartoon style.
The integration with the game will be interesting too. When listening to a song in Liberty City, you'll be able to pull up your phone and dial ZIT-555-0100 to 'tag' it. The song will then be waiting for you at the club where you can buy it from Amazon.
5. Biggest game launch ever?
We've been watching all the analyst predictions regarding the launch of GTA: IV and we have distilled all their best guesses into the official PS3 Attitude answer to the question of whether this will be the biggest game launch ever:
We've done the work for you. PS3 Attitude have averaged out over 10 analyst* 'best guess' figures and according to the results, GTA: IV will sell the following numbers over the life of the game:
PS3 - 7.4 million units Xbox 360 - 11.5 million units Total sales - 18.9 million units
Week One sales will make up an astonishing 25% of those totals, leading us to expect a combined 4.75 million units will hit the streets next week. That's more than £190m in revenue ($375m /€236m), based on the standard version's street price alone.
Halo 3 sold 3.3 million units in comparison during Week One, generating £150m ($300m / €189m). Putting that into perspective against the movie industry, the number one grossing film this year is Horton Hears a Who, which has managed just £72m ($144m / €90m) thus far since being released five and a half weeks ago.
*Sources include estimates from Wedbush Morgan, Hudson Square and aggregated results from The simExchange...
So get yourselves ready for a hugely competitive online multi-player experience. We don't think you'll be hanging around trying to find someone to play with!
Don't forget you can win over 2Kg of swag in our April Competition - click the link or the big red button in the sidebar to find out more.
Home open beta not arriving until Autumn; needs more tuning
Sony announced today that it will be expanding the currently closed beta of Home in Summer to include a larger number of testers, and that an open beta will not now arrive until the Autumn.
Previously, Sony had announced that an open beta was on it's way soon. The decision to delay the open beta is due to Home needing more tuning and testing in a manageable environment before it is released to a wider audience.
With the various issues Konami have had supporting an open beta for Metal Gear Online, we personally feel that although it is disappointing not to get our hands on Home earlier, we'd prefer to wait for something that will work when we try it.
“We understand that we are asking PS3 and prospective PS3 users to wait a bit longer, but we have come to the conclusion that we need more time to refine the service to ensure a more focused gaming entertainment experience than what it is today. Our overarching objective is to provide users with new gaming experiences that are available only on PLAYSTATION Home. Spending more time on the development and on the Closed Beta testing reaffirms our commitment to bringing a quality service, maintaining the PlayStation® tradition.” - Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Details of the expanded closed beta will be made available soon.
Today, via the guys at Strategy Informer, we hear of Boll asking another game developer if he can buy the licence to turn it into a movie. And we were very pleased to hear the answer that was given.
Yes - when Boll asked Blizzard for the rights to make a World of Warcraft movie, the apparent response from Paul Sams was "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you... especially not to you"!
Boll has told MTV News that "I got in contact with Paul Sams of Blizzard, and he said, 'We will not sell the movie rights'. Because it's such a big online game success, maybe a bad movie would destroy that ongoing income, what the company has with it."
Yes - you heard him. Boll said that he would make a 'bad movie'.
Watch out people - he's actually becoming self-aware. Being 'Consciously Incompetent' is the second stage of human awareness. A fully aware Uwe Boll could be dangerous.
Konami have today announced the offical name of the next Silent Hill game. The title of the first ever PS3 version of the survival-horror franchise will in fact be called Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Konami had this to say about the game:
"The story follows Alex Shepherd, returning to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen to investigate the sudden disappearance of his brother. From Shepherd’s Glen to Silent Hill, Alex must face the darkest of horrors in order to find his brother. Struggling with his own grip on reality, Alex must unravel the mystery behind his nightmares, discover the truth behind his brother’s disappearance, and confront the evil lurks in the seemingly empty streets of Silent Hill."
We've always been closet Silent Hill fans here at PS3 Attitude, so look out for more news on the game which will be released around September.
The Metal Gear Online Beta debacle continues with an official statement from Konami on the difficulties everyone has had setting up the various Konami and Game IDs:
IMPORTANT NOTICE for all METAL GEAR ONLINE PREMIERE BETA players
We would like to thank all players for their keen interest in taking part in the beta test. However, we regret to inform you that due to extraordinary levels of traffic from all around the globe, we have been unable to run the service to the level we expected. As a temporary measure, we will be deferring the start of the US public beta test until we are able to stabilize our server.
We would like to apologize for all inconveniences as well as confusion caused. We would like to add that due to the above reasons, we will be making the following changes to the schedule:
1) Starting date: TBA. We will be making another announcement on 22/4/2008 23:00(PDT) 2) Beta Test closure: This will now be on 11/05/2008 at 24:00(PDT) rather than 06/05/2008 at 24:00(PDT)
IMPORTANT: Please note that your voucher code will only be valid up until 05/06/2008, so please make sure to register them by then.
Quite where this leaves UK and Europe-based players is unsure, since Konami only mention the US. It would also appear from other reports that Japan is unaffected and is going ahead with the beta as planned, so Konami seem to have delayed the rest of the world whilst they upgrade their servers.
I wonder if somewhere in a Japanese boardroom an executive is looking at a capital expenditure request for a bunch of new servers and is pondering whether they should have used the PSN ID like everyone else!
[UPDATE] The Konami ID servers finally let us create the various IDs we need to get involved. In trying to launch the game, it simply sends an error message stating it cannot conect to a server. It would appear that Europe has been switched off too for now.