Monthly Archives: April 2011

PSN meltdown – 70 million accounts affected?

via Geekosystem.com

We knew that it was a problem last week when Sony took pre-emptive steps to shore up security on PSN by closing down their network entirely, but the extent of the rumoured intrusion was confirmed earlier this week when Sony admitted that the personal data of some 77 million PSN users had been compromised and was now in the hands of hackers unknown.

Anecdotally, I know that I have one master PSN account and several sub-accounts which hold fake details – for access to Japanese and US stores, to get early access/any access at all to some of the free, region-locked content – but the scale of the problem is still pretty huge.

Destructoid sums it up nicely.

As a gamer whose DLC needs are mostly met by Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, I don’t see myself using PSN much in the very near future – when it does come back online, any thoughts that I might have entertained about purchasing content for my games are going to depend on the security of the new infrastructure that Sony presents us with.

Redeemable PSN cards are fine – but Sony’s offering has never been majorly compelling to me in the first place. It’s a great machine, no doubt, but Sony’s online service is only saved from utter failure by the fact that it’s not as shockingly ill-conceived as the embarassment of riches offered up by Nintendo on the Wii.

Do you suppose that this enforced downtime means that we might get a firmware upgrade which fixes the shonky, last-gen Web Browser and enforced title updates which don’t take forty minutes to download and install?

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“Transformers – Dark of the Moon”; A new trailer, a new hope?

See what I did there? Huh? Righteous!

Yes, there’s a new trailer for Michael Bay’s third “Transformers” film and you can find it over at Apple’s trailer hub.

Bay’s eye for huge spectacle is present and correct, as is the meme-worthy sight of Shia LeBeouf yelling his little lungs out for Optimus to come save his butt. Metropolitan property is destroyed with cavalier abandon, Peter Mullan has the best voice ever and, best of all, those dreaded ‘Twins’ are nowhere to be seen.

Michael Bay in the thick of it.

Though I hated “Revenge of the Fallen” with a passion (it’s one of only two movies that I’ve ever walked out of), something tells me that I will be seeing this film in a theatre, which is a serious recommendation. In this age of Blu-Ray and excellent home cinema presentation, it takes a film which demands to be seen on a big screen to motivate me to brave my local GooglyPlex – though the jury is still out on 3D presentation for me.

Intriguingly, Bay’s synonymous hyper-kinetic visual style has been anecdotally reigned in by the limitations of the 3D cameras that he worked with here – perhaps this might be the first Bay movie which doesn’t induce tension headaches in the audience and has some semblance of a downer ending.

To whet your proverbial whistle, Comic Book Movie have a YouTubed host of the trailer and some screengrabs for your perusal.

Doesn't look good for Chicago...

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Project Cafe – confirmed.

The past fortnight has seen renewed speculation about the debut of a new Nintendo console at this year’s E3 industry show in Los Angeles – rumours abounded about capacitive, HD touch screen controllers, a graphics processor capable of outgunning Microsoft’s 360 and approaching the upper end of Sony’s PS3 capabilities. Unconfirmed reports suggest that it can find your car keys, explain the ending of “Battlestar Galactica” and speed run FIVE “Mario” games simultaneously blind-folded and in the original Japanese.

That speculation was today confirmed by the big N themselves – Eurogamer has a story here, whereas NeoGaf’s detectives have speculation, context, rumour and all manner of back and forth in these two threads – one & two.

Ready to launch by October? Boasting the new “Zelda” game, “Skyward Sword” as a quarter-one title and support from the hardcore gamer-friendly likes of Activision, Ubisoft, Take Two and EA, this is arguably the machine they could have released around the time of the Wii’s debut – was it so tough to create a system which offered core gaming and expanded audience titles?

Still, I will certainly be watching this year’s Nintendo conference with barely suppressed eagerness as Nintendo honchos Reggie Fils-Aime and Iwata-san drag things out – more 3DS stuff I’m not interested in? Sure, whatever, fine! – until the inevitable debut of the new machine at the end of the press briefing.

June 7th can’t get here quickly enough…

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The New Statesman has a Games writer – crikey!

File this under ‘ Unexpected things you find on the internet on a Sunday morning’ – via Twitter retweets, I’ve discovered that the New Statesman’s website has a fine Gaming blog written by Helen Lewis Hasteley.

This is a thought-inducing piece on bad writing in games and how failings in this crucial area can cripple the experience – you can, after all, fight through crappy mechanics and overlook an aesthetic choice which is irritating or not to your taste.

If a game forces you to make illogical choices which irritate so much as to cognitively eject you from the game world’s construct, that’s something of an issue – a game breaker as opposed to a deal breaker. Overly linear directives yelled by NPCs which so telegraph the preferred ‘choice’ of the game designer, unintuitive dialogue trees which don’t allow for ,moderate narrative digression – oh, the stuff that can break the illusory spell of a game.

I don’t mind linearity and the careful hand of a guided experience – I bloody loved “Enslaved” last Autumn, and with the best will in the world, that game had a bunch of issues which I was prepared to overlook because the macro, overaching result was a joy to behold.

Linearity, after all, is what we’re stuck with in this gen and beyond – there’s not much sign of a Singularity yet, and no AI equivalent of Miyamoto or Molyneux to guide our gaming experiences.

Digression – you know it.

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Meanwhile, back in explosion town

All asses kicked, no waiting - next!

An interesting piece from the Guardian’s Games blog by Keith Stuart, on the subtext which lies beneath the all-shooting, rooting-tooting facia of recent FPS games, which naturally takes Epic/People Can Fly’s splendid nut-busting actioner “Bulletstorm” as it’s focus.

As intriguing an idea as this is, I think that Phillip Noyce’s 1990 adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel “Patriot Games” did this kind of thing a little better – remember the scene in Pentagon command with Clancy’s CIA analyst hero Jack Ryan watching a Spec Ops attack on a terrorist training camp via satellite link? As good a commentary on the disconnected ways that wars are waged as can be imagined, and all the better for not spelling everything out in the way such movies usually do – not for nothing has the later Infinity Ward/Treyarch entries in the “Call of Duty” series borrowed the visuals from this scene for specific levels in their games.

Grayson Hunt image via the splendid “Bulletstorm” wiki

Subtext and nuance are always welcome in the FPS sphere – if it’s done well, the DudeBro demo are too busy preening and twunting around in Ed Hardy muscle Tees to notice it and chin-stroking Edge readers like me can congratulate themselves on finding the hidden commentary on gender politics and urban poverty secreted amidst the ‘shoot dude in the nuts for score multiplier’ shenanigans of the single player campaign.

Cheers, GamesRadar types!

A fine game by the way, even without the carrot offered by entry into the “Gears of War 3” beta – part Epic Games actioner, part-score attack retro joy, all silly and self-knowing SF joy: Happiness is a remote-guided sniper bullet right into some pesky, camping NPC’s nutsack.

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It’s been a while…

What a difference six months or so makes.

This year's COD

Image via IGN.com

The latest “Call of Duty” game, “Black Ops” something in the region of 18 million copies worldwide, despite gamer reaction to 2010’s iteration in the market-leading FPS franchise being as mixed as ever. For a game which so many fans purport to hate with a passion, it routinely sells multi-millions in the first week of release, tops the the Xbox Live and PSN multiplayer charts and the map pack DLC coins it in with metronomic regularity.

And I’ve not played it, I must confess. I tried the demo, didn’t really connect with it (more of a “Gears”/”Uncharted” player in the 3rd person style) and moved on. But people love it, so what do I know?

Kinect? Biggest consumer electronics launch ever. Far from the bomba-bomb, gadget curiosity that I initially felt it was going to be (still no games worth the name for it, mind you, and “Child of Eden” has slipped towards an Autumn release).

The black box which keeps giving...

As insecure as a Californian trust fund teen...

The PS3 was hacked comprehensively in January of 2011, with the vapour trail of that massive corporate security blunder resonating to the weekend in April that I’m writing this post, where PSN has been taken offline for two days due to what appears to be an external security breach which threatens the personal security data of anybody with a PSN account.

“It only does everything”, eh Sony? Including handing off your credit card info to any script kiddie with time on their hands. Happy days.

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