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  1. Last week, Sony announced the web video series PlayStation Evolution to help promote their upcoming announcement. The all-but-confirmed announcement of the next Sony system has been hotly anticipated by many and is now only a day away. As such, Sony has uploaded brief retrospective videos for all their systems. First, it was the original PlayStation (which, no, is not actually called "PSX"). Then they gave a rousing, if slightly inaccurate, . They still claimed it to be the highest selling system of all time when the DS series has since bested it. Slight snafus aside, they then went on to talk . With the home consoles out of the way they then made their way through both . A video detailing was also uploaded. Fans of the PlayStation brand owe it to themselves to give these a watch. They're great little history lessons as well as ways to make you feel like you're suddenly old. They should also get you in the mood for accepting their rapidly approaching announcement.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Vita Holiday Bundle Includes Year of PS Plus

    Did you miss your chance at obtaining a PS Vita during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday rush? Sony's here to help in this case by releasing a brand new bundle. Sure, they've also released a smattering of other bundles recently with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Black Ops: Declassified, but there's always room for more choice. For example, what if you don't want the measly month to PS Plus subscriptions that come with those? What if you want an entire year? Then this is your bundle. Their latest bundle comes with a 3G Vita (the more expensive of the two models), a 4GB memory card, one year membership to PS Plus, and a voucher for the game Unit 13. It is being sold for $300, which is of course cheaper than it would be to buy all these things new and separately. What if you already have a subscription to PS Plus? The time included with this bundle can simply be added onto your existing membership. Also prominently displayed on the bundle's box are the Instant Game Collection titles currently available on Vita. Of course, with only the included 4GB card you won't be able to download them all. Just Uncharted: Golden Abyss will take the card to near capacity. Either way, it is a nice start for those wanting a Vita. If you're interested in the bundle just make sure to buy your own memory card if you wish to make full use of PS Plus.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Silent Hill: Book of Memories

    Developer: WayFoward Technologies Publisher: Konami Platform: Vita Release Date: October 16, 2012 ESRB: M for Mature When Silent Hill: Book of Memories was announced as being a multiplayer-focused dungeon crawler, fans couldn“t handle it. Many longtime lovers of the Silent Hill series complained that the choices put into the Vita title would ruin any shot at the game being a part of the series. Some of this opposition even got into the minds of non-fans, who then were less excited to give it a shot. All of this was said long before anyone was playing the game though. Now that Book of Memories is finally out, everyone can finally form an opinion on it. Were fans“ worries on the mark or were they taking this spin-off too seriously? First off, one must go into this game knowing that it is a huge departure from the more established world of Silent Hill on consoles. It is obviously a spin-off, but it is so far from the series that it could almost be considered a new game. There are ways that it is brought back to the town of Silent Hill, but for the most part you will see little of that franchise in how the game controls. In regards to looks though, there are many similarities. These things do not cause any issue for the game as they work well together. When starting up the game you“ll be greeted with a slightly hammy story about a young adult who is visited by a mailman. This mailman (straight out of Silent Hill: Downpour) brings you a book, says a few odd remarks, then leaves. Your character, which is designed with simple customization tools, looks through the tome and discovers that their entire life has been detailed in it. For no real reason other than curiosity, they then decide to edit the book and change fate. With that, every time they sleep they enter a horrific dream world where gameplay takes place. Once in these randomly-generated dungeon worlds you are on your own (well, in single player). Silent Hill 3“s Valtiel greets you and assigns a task. Although finishing his quests are not required, they will cause him to reward you. Unless you“re in a huge rush, though, you will often achieve the goal by simply wandering around. Each dungeon has a few standby features such as special challenge rooms, one save, shop, locked doors, and a puzzle at the end. It might already be sounding somewhat Silent Hill-like, but what really seals the deal is the visuals. Main enemies in the game are drawn straight from throughout the series. Nurses are among the first you encounter, but so too are gaggles of other enemy types. If fans aren“t pushed away by the cross pollution of characters, then they may in fact enjoy seeing them all together. The dungeons themselves are also designed with distinct Silent Hill flair. Backdrops are often dark, grated, rusty, and all around depressing. No one would confuse Book of Memories with a Diablo or Torchlight game. Beyond the visuals, the game takes on a very new identity. Gameplay is just like one would expect from a dungeon crawler. From your isometric perspective you wander from room to room, collecting weapons, ammo, or notes, and try to find the end. Along the way you will come across enemies in most rooms as well as stronger enemies scattered throughout. Fighting is accomplished by simply swinging or firing a weapon and doing best to not get hit back. Players can either dodge or block to lessen damage, but this becomes tough to do if enemies corner you. Weapons themselves sometimes fall from enemies or are found in drawers and the environment. Gameplay is very challenging. It takes a little bit to get a feel for how to best fight enemy types, but even after that you“ll still see that it is hard to proceed quickly. This is because characters are also required to level up their skills (and weapons). Fighting enemies loitering in rooms is often cumbersome, but it is the only way to rise up the ranks. If you aren“t properly leveled, you won“t be able to proceed too many stages ahead. Although you aren“t required to grind, it often becomes the best tactic for continued smooth progress throughout the game. Grinding in and of itself is no issue but becomes a chore after a while. This is true of many other titles as well, but especially so here when rooms are so tiny and weapons break. Although breakable weapons are certainly a modern feature of Silent Hill games, it is an especially unhelpful addition here. At the start, and even after leveling up your backpack, there are only a few spaces to store items. There are a fair amount of weapons to find from level to level, but often you“re going to want to keep stronger things with you. Thankfully, there is an item which repairs weapons but you can only carry so many of these at a time as well (upgrades when backpack is upgraded). It is tough to fight through hordes of enemies while keeping a grip on your favorite weapons without them breaking. If there were a few more slots opened up early on then it would be less of a problem. Another feature that causes grinding to be a bit rough is Karma. All throughout play, there is a Karma meter at the top of the screen which shows if you are aligning toward a dark or light path. It doesn“t make much sense, as you can get either path by killing enemies, but it does serve a purpose. When enemies die, they will have a pool of blood where they once stood. This blood is either red or white, and when you run over it, you collect it. In this way, you can choose to collect only red or white to boost your Karma in either direction. Doing so will affect notes that are scattered around as well as push towards one of the game“s multiple endings. What are these notes I“ve mentioned a few times? They are a part of the game that seem to harken back best to the world of Silent Hill. Each level has its own series of notes scattered around the world which tell little interpersonal stories between people. They aren“t very important to the gameplay at hand, but give you glimpses into troubles others are facing. When notes are red, it means that they are showing off a darker side of the story, while white provides more peaceful resolutions. There was no need to have this addition in the game but the fact that it is shows that WayForward was looking for some way to please fans. It“s a nice attempt, as is how the Karma will change up a few things. At the end of every dungeon is a puzzle. In order to operate the puzzles, though, you must go through and find all the parts necessary for it. As you will be tending to clear out dungeons for leveling, finding these objects is rarely a challenge. That doesn“t mean they are perfect puzzles either. The main issue with the end of level puzzles is that they are all highly similar. You may find a puzzle clue in the level earlier, but they all will say a handful of hints, depending on the puzzle. Obviously this is done because there are many levels possible and randomizing puzzles means you can only offer so many hints and puzzle types. Fans will balk at these puzzles because they are incredibly easy once you understand what each hint means. On that same note, other players may find it annoying because they can“t understand what a more obscure clue means. Either way, once a puzzle is solved, they may proceed onward. Every few levels there will be a boss fight. These certainly aren“t unknown to the franchise and bring a bit more creativity to the game. At these points, you'll be forced to fight against wholly new creatures which are pretty big and tough. Once they have been defeated, you“ll get a strong (and pricey) weapon as well as a note. Sometimes, after grabbing a note you“ll be unable to grab the weapon, so make sure to always grab the item first. Grinding through levels with a boss at the end are a good idea as you are able to sell off the strong weapons for a lot of money afterward. However, much of the game seems entirely lonely and cumbersome in single player. Taking the game online for a 2-4 player co-op session really is the preferred way to play Book of Memories. Once in a game with another player, you are free to do whatever, but for the most fun it is best to explore together rather than running off separately. You may collaborate with other members by using in-game voice prompts or simply speak into the Vita speaker for others to hear. In the case of a game like this, the microphone feature is integral so it“s great to see it used. Once working together, teams can blaze through levels much easier. One issue with multiplayer is that objects do not remain for both players. That means you“ll probably have many teammates who, upon entering a room, will dash off to open all drawers to loot them. This leaves little weaponry, health, and the like for others. The same can be said for notes, which disappear after being read by one person. Puzzles can also only be solved by one person at a time but that“s a good thing since otherwise it would be chaotic. Also of note, only the player hosting an online game will have progress registered upon completing new levels. However, everyone will retain their leveled up stats and weapons once heading offline. Still, multiplayer is the place to be if you can find a game to join. The key word in that statement is “if”. There were a handful of online games during the week of release, but since then they have leveled off quite a bit. The likelihood now of stumbling into a game is much tougher. I routinely checked daily and found that no one was around. This doesn“t mean that no one is playing online though. There are small groups that have formed to play together, but good luck getting into them now. The hope is that after a while more people will have the game and therefore there will be more chances at playing online with others. At the very least, if you have a friend with the game, you know they will be around for some online dungeon crawling. Finally, there must be some discussion of the game“s other Vita functions. One of the best implementations comes in use with special attacks. Players can use these once they have enough good or bad Karma and they are triggered with the rear touch pad. It“s easy to do because it is out of the way and your fingers are there anyway. More troubling is the use of the front touch pad. In order to use items in your inventory or pick up weapons, the front touch screen must be used. This wouldn“t be so bad if it weren“t for the fact that you often won“t have the time to carefully plan out your touch. During battles with lots of enemies, you may want to quickly use some health. However, many times it will end up that your touch slightly misses the health. Fearing death, players might hammer around with their thumbs a bit more, using two or three health in rapid succession instead. The touch area is small and it“s not intuitive enough to force players to use. When it comes right down to it, Silent Hill: Book of Memories is mostly an average, forgettable experience in single player. It may have all the dressings of a Silent Hill game, but that in no way makes the game more compelling. The best the game has to offer is a multiplayer mode that becomes fun due to difficulty being more manageable. Good multiplayer games also foster a kinship between the other players who are willing to share items and protect each other. Without such a mode, though, it feels like the game is missing something over a very long experience. Your best bet is to pick this game up if you love dungeon crawlers and have a buddy or two who are willing to explore by your side. Pros: + Multiplayer with a helpful team is quite enjoyable + Enemies pulled from the series are fun to see all together + Strong weapons to be found to destroy everything in your path Cons: - Limited inventory + breakable weapons is not a fun combo - “Silent Hill” connection is mostly aesthetic - Gameplay is not varied, nor are level puzzles Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Despite initial fears, Silent Hill: Book of Memories is at its most fun when exploring dungeons with others.
  4. Did you realize that both Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed III: Liberation are only a couple weeks away from launch? It's been a long road from the initial reveal of Liberation until now, but soon we'll get to see how the game handles on Vita. Until then, we can only look up trailers to whet appetites. Thankfully, Ubisoft has just published a new one which looks into Aveline's history and why she has become an assassin. In it, she details her youth as well as seeing how the world around her was changing for the worse when soldiers invade. Instead of sitting idly by, she decided to take matters into her own hands to bring about justice. The trailer showcases some of Aveline's methods of being stealth in plain sight, such as dressing up "in the guise of a lady", or as a slave. They sound interesting in concept and hopefully will be neat to make use of in game once it launches on October 30th. If you're curious to learn a bit more about Aveline and her world then check out the trailer below: Are you interested in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation?
  5. Earlier in the day, MonkeyPaw shared the first games they'd have playable on the 1.80 Vita firmware. It was a fairly nice, if small, selection of games and after that Vita owners were wondering what else would be available come tomorrow. Sony has posted a blog about the newest update which includes a list of the first PSone games that will work on the handheld. Here's the Sony-confirmed games: Arc the Lad Cool Boarders 2 Final Fantasy VII Hot Shots Golf 2 Jet Moto Syphon Filter Tomb Raider Twisted Metal 2 Wild Arms All things considered it's a decent, if tiny, list. One odd thing is that Sony mentions Arc the Lad but not other MonkeyPaw properties such as Tomba!. Regardless, MonkeyPaw have assured us that their games are a part of the firmware launch and will go live with the rest. If you think this is a wonderfully solid list then don't check out Europe's confirmed PSone games for the update. It includes over 100 titles which will be ready to go right away. Some highlights include all the main Final Fantasy titles, Metal Gear Solid, and Silent Hill. There's probably some legal reasons behind this but it's a shame that the US couldn't also get the games that Europe has (at least ones that are on both marketplaces). Are there any PS games you'd want to play on Vita?
  6. If you're a Vita owner who's been ready and waiting to play your PSOne Classic games on the system then your patience is finally being rewarded. Well, a little bit at least. Although Sony themselves have not provided a full list of games which will be playable with the newest firmware update, they at least shared it was coming. For those who actually want some specific game titles then MonkeyPaw has you covered. Today they sent out a press release which stated exactly which games of their growing PSOne catalog would be playable on Vita tomorrow. Not just the games they want to be on the system, as the hope is eventually all of them will be, but which will be launched with the added Vita feature. Here's the five games: Alundra Arc the Lad Arc the Lad II Tomba! Vanguard Bandits These are only MonkeyPaw's initial offerings but they're a great start. Hopefully news as to the complete list of games running on Vita will be shared with us shortly. Until then, we can only guess that Sony is probably going to choose their most popular, or easiest to port, games for the beginning. Would you play any of these games on your Vita?
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Ragnarok Odyssey Mercenary Edition

    From the album: Ragnarok Odyssey

  8. If you've been waiting for the real time action RPG Ragnarok Odyssey on Vita then this news is sure to please. Today XSEED Games sent out a press release which announced the brand new "Mercenary Edition" of the game. It's not just a fancy name for a pack in soundtrack sampler either, as it gives a fair bit of content for the price. For $50, Ragnarok Odyssey Mercenary Edition will come packed with the expected soundtrack CD but also the Mercenary Guide which is a physical book comprised of game strategies and artwork. It also includes a pack of 10 random trading cards based on some of the 50 monsters from the game. If all 50 are available that'll create some real tension for collectors who want the whole set. The standard version of the game will cost $40, so the Mercenary Edition is just ten bucks more. If you're curious about Ragnarok Odyssey then it's worth noting that the game was developed by Grandia and Lunar series vets. It also happens to be based off the popular Ragnarok Online. Both versions of the game will be shipping out to retailers this October, although no specific date has been given yet. Here's a little trailer which was also released alongside the news: http://youtu.be/C3ttkwfTVkw
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Vita Price Cut Not Happening Just Yet

    A lot of people have been pinning their hopes on a possible Vita price cut this holiday season, but that's not a plan Sony has on the table. Eurogamer managed to snag an interview with Sony Worldwide Studios CEO Shuhei Yoshida today which dampened the spirits of price cut hopefuls. Even though the handheld has seen slow sales, it's just not feasible to lower prices this year. Yoshida suggested that consumers will find the upcoming Vita bundles a worthy purchase for now: "At a certain point in the future we would like to address the pricing issue for some of the people who are waiting. But this year we are trying to add value by creating different types of bundles. We announced we will provide LittleBigPlanet PS Vita bundle pack. That's affordable for people who are looking for a good deal." One upcoming bundle is also the Assassin's Creed III: Liberation set. These packages are helpful in getting consumers a game with their shiny new handheld, but the price of entry is still on the high side. Regardless, he said it's "too early" for any actual system price drops. However, manufacturers are definitely working to lower the price of Vita components. He also spoke about Sony's thoughts on the system versus consumer's opinions: "The reaction to the hardware platform itself has been very strong. We are very pleased with the response we got. It's up to our expectations in terms of what we were hoping for in bringing PS Vita to the market. But the actual sales of PS Vita, obviously we would like to see more uptake. We see lots of feedback from consumers saying they would like to see more content, they would like to see their favourite franchises coming to the PS Vita. From our perspective, we were very pleased to launch with many titles. Many people said we had the strongest launch line-up for a PlayStation platform. But it's amazing how much more people want and how much content they consume." For now, Sony is looking to add more games and content that everyone is hungry for. It's obvious that no matter what the higher-ups think of the system, there still needs to be more done to make it appealing enough to warrant purchases. There will certainly be a price cut at some point too, but not this year. What price do you think the Vita needs to be to see more sales?