PS3 Attitude

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PS3 Attitude

Friday, 4 July 2008

Metal Gear Online continues to expand

We always knew Metal Gear Online (MGO) was going to get bigger over time, but we weren't expecting new game modes to appear quite so soon.

Our friends over at Ripten have discovered a new mode has gone live.

A new Metal Gear Online mode has made its way onto the game’s servers. Taking inspiration from the existing “Sneaking Mode”, which sees Snake use Octocamo to collect Dog-Tags from warring teams, this mode is a battle of two teams with different gear.

The mode consists of a Sneaking Team and a “Normal” Team going head to head. Like Snake, the Sneaking Team is stealth-equipped (thus virtually invisible) and to win must either eliminate all enemies or return KEROTAN or GA-KO to their goal. The defending team must defeat the sneaking team or keep KEROTAN or GA-KO safe to win.
Read the rest over at Ripten...

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Thursday, 3 July 2008

July Japes - PS3 Attitude Big Three

Sometimes I wish we hadn't called this feature the Big Three.

Every now and then, a month comes along that is so devoid of new games, finding three good titles to spend your hard-earned cash on is a difficult task. Thankfully, this month we can bolster the sadly lacking roster with the first ever hardware entry and first ever PSN entry into the Big Three.

In other words, we can't really recommend you spend money on either Ferrari Challenge or Wall-E.

So here's the rundown on what the Big Three for July. Remember, this is based on UK and European titles that will launch in July only...

1. Buzz! Quiz TV [pre-order with buzzers] [pre-order game only]

I'll admit - I love Buzz! games on the PS2. Of all the different party games available for the PS3's little brother, this is the one that we keep on playing even to this day.

And the PS3 version is like the original, only on steroids.

Firstly, I'll be upgrading to the new wireless buzzers. No more octopus wires strewn across the living room! Yay! Of course, you can use the old ones in the first two ports of your PS3 (assuming you have more than two ports) without issue.

Secondly, they have kept all the games we love and added in some new ones too. Cool!

Thirdly, there's more questions than ever before, and this time the lowest scoring player gets to choose what category comes next, which helps balance the gameplay and keep the questions fair for all players.

Now for the extra plus points. How about taking on families and groups from all over the world online? Or setting your own questions and challenging players across the globe on the subjects you know best? Yep - all of this and more are in the new, improved Buzz!

In fact, you can even head on over to the Buzz website and begin setting your own questions now, even before the game has launched.

Let's face it - if you don't love Buzz! Quiz TV, you don't love fun.

2. DualShock 3 controller [pre-order]

This will be the shortest ever Big Three review ever.

Go and buy this. Now. You'll love it.

I've had a DS3 for a while now, and I have to tell you it is more assured than the SixAxis, feels better to play with, has a longer battery life and - of course - it vibrates.

This is a no-brainer. Click and buy. 'Nuff said.

3. Bionic Commando: Rearmed

Assuming this doesn't get put back again, BC: R should hit the PS Store during July.

A re-imagining of the original Bionic Commando (that we all know and love - and if you don't there's always Wikipedia), the guys at Capcom have finally hit PSN gold with this game after the terrible Rocketmen.

The graphics are still 2D, but with a next-gen feel that pops right out of the screen. Everything has a sheen of gloss that shows real care and attention have been lovingly poured into the game.

BC aficionados will revel in the levels they know so well, whilst new weapons and features make the game a new challenge for even the most ardent fan. Newbies on the other hand will realise just how great 2D platformers can be.

The other reason to get Bionic Commando: Rearmed? The price. We believe it will ship for only $9.99 (between £4.95 and £6.95 after Brits-pay-more tax), which is frankly ridiculous value.

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Memorable? The Bourne Conspiracy review

I'm drinking a lot more tea than I used to.

Partly, this is due to the fact that more and more games require me to wait for ten minutes before I can begin playing them. The Bourne Conspiracy is one of those games.

During the ten minute initial install, you are not treated to any entertaining anecdotes, messages or smoking characters, so the only thing left to do is put the kettle on, and wait.

Of course, initial HD installs have become a standard on the PS3 because the HD is a fast way of accessing data compared to the speed of the Blu-ray disc. Games like Haze make great use of this fact with zero loading times throughout the entire campaign - creating a seamless experience for the player.

This means that when we endure the ten minute install, we are now expecting a payoff. Load times need to disappear at the very least. But let's focus on the game for a while before we come back to this point...

A third-person adventure/shooter game, The Bourne Conspiracy follows the story of Jason Bourne, a special agent that has lost his memory and is fighting to regain it. The game follows the Bourne books and movies in places, whilst still being an original telling of the story.

As you play through The Bourne Conspiracy - or TBC as we'll call it from now on to save precious key presses - you feel a number of different emotions. Elation. Surprise. Satisfaction. Frustration.

TBC does have some great ideas. As you play through the early levels, you are treated to a whole slew of set pieces. When you hear the 'cinematic sound effect', you know it is time to focus on the bottom of the screen to see which button you need to press in order to progress. Going through the game, these cinematic elements become more complicated and require quick reactions if you want to continue without restarting from the last checkpoint.

Whilst a lot of gamers don't like these 'Simon Says' elements, such as the many that littered Heavenly Sword or any God of War game, they do add variety to the gameplay. In TBC, the successful completion of these sequences results in a Hollywood-style payoff, some of which will make you say 'Wow' out loud - especially if you complete them first time.

Of course, everyone is out to get you in TBC. You have two ways to remove enemies from your path. Shoot, or fight.

Shooting is made easier through the addition of a first-person view, and headshots do exactly what you would expect them to. As per usual in games, the levels are embellished with exploding barrels and other incendiaries to help defeat troops and other, larger foes.

Finding useful objects and enemy positions is made easy with the Bourne Instinct, an option that shows where key locations, weapons and helpful additions exist. In the normal and hard modes using your Instinct costs some of your adrenaline - but more on that in a moment.

Fighting is initiated in one of two ways. Either you will be forced into a fight due to a pre-determined enemy appearing from around a corner, or as a boss, or you can run up to a shooting enemy to engage them in a bout of fisticuffs.

All the fighting is handled using three buttons. One blocks, the other two offer a quick or hard blow. Press for a punch, hold for a kick.

But this is no Tekken. Button-bashers won't find a lot of joy within TBC. The key to winning is pressing the right button at the right time, and blocking - lots of blocking. In the early levels, the fighting is over almost before it begins. Later on, you really have to hone your skills and timing if you want to progress.

In addition to these three buttons, you have one extra trick up your sleeve. When you have filled up your adrenaline bar, you can execute a finishing move that takes the enemy down instantly. Bourne will use whatever is close to him to achieve this. You literally can smash an enemy into everything and the kitchen sink!

The adrenaline bar has three levels. Fill up all three and you can engage and take down three enemies at the same time. Doing this initiates the cinematic element once more, and you are required to hit the right button at the right time to complete the triple takedown.

Other adrenaline-fueled options include the running takedown, which allows you to remove an enemy without stopping (useful when running away), and the shooting takedown, which give you the ability to sharp-shoot up to three enemies at once in quick succession.

On the plus side then, TBC delivers with varied gameplay options, great cinematic moments and a good storyline.

But as with Bourne's fractured memory, not everything in the game is right.

Some people will be upset at the lack of a multiplayer element. In a world where promising titles are being canned due to the lack of online play (yes Eight Days, we're looking at you), this may be one of the last PS3 titles that is single-player only.

There are several times throughout the game where it will pause, even in the thick of the action, to load the next checkpoint. Given that I already had an extra cup of tea whilst waiting for the initial install, it was a disappointment to see loading screens in-game.

The other issue with TBC is the difficulty level. After a few hours, the fight difficulty ramps up so fast that it becomes way too hard to progress without dozens of restarts. Fights become even harder as enemies start to pull out un-blockable knives.

This is the one area where TBC doesn't make sense. If I'm fighting a boss and they pull out a knife, why would I bother fighting them hand-to-hand any longer. Surely, I'd do an Indiana Jones and just shoot them with my gun!

The controls in TBC, whilst intuitive, don't lend themselves well to this level of difficulty. In a game such as Ninja Gaiden Sigma, at least you know you can combat the toughness of the game with well-timed combos and actions. The cinematic elements in TBC are fun, but because they pause the regular gameplay whilst they are played out, you occasionally find yourself initiating a combo before the game will register your button-press.

In fact, you don't even get to the driving element of the game until you've beaten two consecutive bosses, which is a shame as this is another fun addition to the TBC experience.

Driving sees you take control of a vehicle, racing through narrow streets and taking part in Stuntman-like sequences and movie-style set-pieces. It does seem a little 'bolted on', but it is well done and breaks up the gameplay.

But the real problem with TBC, the one that removes the enjoyment in the fighting and cinematic elements, is the camera. All too often the camera gets too close or repositions above Bourne so that you either disappear entirely or you have to coordinate your move in 'plan view'.

When the going gets tough, you really need to be able to see what is happening - Bourne's impromptu invisibility act really hampers your progress in places.

TBC reminds me a lot of Stranglehold. It has enough unique elements to make it fun and interesting for a while, but some poor design choices (the camera especially) stop it from being a really great title. The sheer difficulty also detracts from what is clearly a title that has had a lot of loving care and attention pure on it from the team at High Moon Studios. If they continue developing titles like this in the future, and sharpen up the gameplay along the way, they are going to produce something pretty special for the PS3 before long.

Gripes aside, TBC is good fun and the differing gameplay elements do stop it from being as overly repetitive as Stranglehold was. We particularly remember the reaction of the gamers at Live when they saw TBC for the first time, and it was certainly one of surprise at how good the game had turned out. You couldn't drag some people away from the demo...

Some people may be put off by the stop-start nature of the cinematic sections, but they do give the game it's unique Identity. It someone put us on the spot and gave us an Ultimatum, we would concur that whilst TBC isn't slated for gaming Supremacy, it is certainly a title you'll want to play through at least once (Ed: see what we did there?).

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2.4 firmware removed, for now

Sony have taken the 2.4 update off their servers for now.

Due to the high demand for the update, many people had issues downloading the firmware when it launched yesterday.

Following the deluge of activity, a few users who did manage to update their PS3s had other issues.

Some complained the PS3 was freezing. Others have had issues within certain game titles.

Sony have told us that these problems are only being experienced by a few, but that in the meantime they have pulled the firmware from circulation whilst things are fixed.

We don't think it will be long before 2.4 is back and available again - just in time for everyone to break the download servers a second time!

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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Firmware 2.40 hidden features summary

So, firmware 2.40 is with us already. In addition to the much publicised in-game XMB and Trophy features, what else is included in the package? The following lists some of the official, and unmentioned, updates in 2.40.

  • 2.40 comes with a new version of the PS Store that caches and loads thumbnails quicker, meaning you don't have to hang around for so long waiting for the latest updates to appear.
  • Just like the recent PSP update, you can now search Google directly from the XMB.
  • You can now have a clock on screen (finally) showing the date and time.
  • You can now turn the PS3 off from the XMB, instead of having to press the PS button.
  • As well as the new mini-controller for music, the PS3 can now play files encoded in MP3 Surround format.
  • Video playback from the hard drive is improved with Frame and Block noise reduction options. In addition, you can now upscale content from the hard drive, and Blu-ray upscaling has been added.
  • You can change the way photos are sorted when grouped by 'time'.
So - a lot to enjoy. If you find another feature, let us know in the comments.

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Firmware 2.40 now available

In case you hadn't already heard from the droves of websites writing exactly this news, Firmware 2.40 is now available for download.

With support for in-game XMB, the new Trophy system and a whole host of other, more subtle changes, this is probably the biggest firmware update ever.

We can now all get ready for the inevitable 'here's what is also in 2.40 but Sony didn't document' news!

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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Sunday is our birthday

Just a quick reminder.

Sunday 6th July is the first anniversary of PS3 Attitude.

Starting on Sunday, we'll celebrate one year of daily news, interviews and reviews with some special articles and a few announcements.

So make sure you've subscribed to our email summary and our RSS feed using the buttons in the left sidebar.

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Monday, 30 June 2008

Firmware 2.4 this Wednesday, 2nd July

Official confirmation has arrived; Firmware 2.4 will hit your PS3 this Wednesday - 2nd July.

The new firmware brings those items we've all been asking for, such as In-game XMB and Custom soundtracks.

What I'm most excited about though is the new Trophy system. SCEE have confirmed the following titles will be amongst the first to support the new Trophies:

  • Super Stardust HD
  • BUZZ! Quiz TV
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • MotorStorm Pacific Rift
  • NBA 09 - PS3
  • PAIN
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • Resistance 2
  • SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation
  • Warhawk

Super Stardust HD, PAIN and Warhawk will gain Trophy support via a game update. SSHD will be the first title to provide Trophy support, so we assume that the updates for PAIN and Warhawk will follow shortly after the firmware update, whereas the SSHD update may be available on the 2nd.

So, to get you warmed up for Trophy support, here's the second part of Eric Lempel's 2.4 walkthrough.

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DualShock 3 finally arrives in Europe

It's been a long time coming, but the Dual Shock 3 is arriving in Europe this week.

SCEE have announced the official release date as 4th July, which is only four days away.

The UK is price is confirmed at £39.99.

As a long-time Dual Shock 3 user, I can tell you I prefer it for every game I play, regardless of whether the title supports vibration or not. It has a slightly heavier but more assured feel to it, and the battery life seems better than any of my original SixAxis controllers.

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First official 2.4 video released

Eric Lempel has been busy again, this time delivering the first official Firmware 2.4 video for our viewing pleasure.

Another video is due to arrive soon that will explain more about the new Trophy system, but for now, feast your eyes on what 2.4 has to offer...

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