Why Don’t People Understand Chain Letters are PSN Spam?

I’m not sure why people don’t get that chain letters are spam. The latest one going around the PSN network is one where it asks everyone to pass it along to 35 of their friends and a supposedly “legit” Kevin from Sony, would credit your account with $37USD. Which is plain stupidity.

I mean seriously, have you seriously thought about the implications of your actions before you pass on that stupid chain letter? No, Sony is not going to give you $37USD. Why $37USD? Hell if I know. But let’s just do some very basic simple math here.

The PlayStation Network is comprised of over forty million users. Let’s just assume that they would give $10USD to 10% of the user base that actually falls for these hoax network emails. That’s 400,000 users which means that would be a marketing budget of four million USD. Sorry to disappoint, but while the marketing budget of Sony’s is huge, their four million type budgets are probably used on their television commercials and not on stupid email tracking lameness.

So why is it that people actually fall for it? I have a feeling that most of them are young kids. Maybe some just don’t think it out and have the mentality of kids. Who the hell knows. Actually, I take that back since it makes kids look stupid, and I actually know some very bright youth. No, it just makes whomever passes it on, stupid. Just because you play video games, at least stop to think about what you’re doing though and give the rest of us a break and stop the chain. Because it’s really stupid, and it truly makes me think that your IQ is lower than it should be.

April 12th, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games, Virtual Life 1 Comment »

Subtitle or Voice Over?

One thing that I absolutely despise is voice overs, or otherwise known as dubs. It’s not so bad in video games these days, but they used to be the worst in many anime and import games. In fact even in the latest hit, Heavy Rain, I have to admit that some of the voice acting just bugged me every time I heard it (listen for the word “Origami” said as “ori-gam-ee” instead of “ori-gom-ee”).

However, the voice actors in recent years have improved a lot in English games and it’s been better and better. I personally still prefer original sound tracks with subtitles for movies and video games, but these days with many of the best voice acting talents based in Canada, it’s not so bad anymore. I wonder if that’s why they can’t say “Origami.” But I digress.

I believe that in the US, most gamers would still prefer dubs over subtitles although those that are fans of RPGs tend to also be die-hard anime fans. Die-hard otakus are very much into the entire subtitle culture which is where fansubs were first scene. If you figure that the majority of your gamers in the United States tend to play FPS and sports games though, then it makes sense why a percentage would be higher for dubs in the United States compared to the recent study in Japan that placed the preference in subtitles at 49%.

Regardless of which you prefer, I think the ultimate goal is to have the choice of it on each game. After all, you are putting down sixty hard earned greenbacks for those games. To include the original soundtrack isn’t too difficult, and subtitling really just requires gathering up some fans to translate anyways. Then everyone would have the choice of which selection and it would be the best of both worlds.

March 8th, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games 2 Comments »

PSN is Still Down After Thirteen Hours

So the Playstation Network has been down for over thirteen hours and it seems that anyone that owns the older PS3s will have had their dates corrupted and changed to 12/31/1999. Unfortunately, while Sony has acknowledged the issue, there is no fix yet.

There is an update about how the newer PS3 slims are not effected but it is definitely troubling that there is something that is pushed across the network that could corrupt your system settings without your knowledge since it touches the time and such. And through being logged in? It was working fine over the weekend until Sunday so obviously there was some sort of maintenance done that has failed and they’re scrambling to probably back-out and perhaps see what they can do to patch the effected systems.

Currently, there hasn’t been any word by Sony since finding out about the problem and those of us that have the older PS3s are going through withdrawals of both Heavy Rain and multiplayer Bioshock.

March 1st, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games 2 Comments »

PSP Go Not Doing So Well?

So got the typical newsletter type thing from the Playstation Network. Apparently they were giving away Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines if you bought a PSP Go. And I thought… wait a second here…

Was the PSP Go not doing so well? I’m all for promotions, but this was the first time that there was a giveaway that I can remember with this portable system. Not that it’s a huge deal or anything, but for the price, you do have to wonder. I myself have not purchased one yet since my older PSPs seem to do just fine and I have yet to encounter many downloads on the PSN store itself that I want to buy for my PSP. The minis just don’t have enough movement and they don’t seem to release them fast enough to make it worthwhile. In fact, I’m disappointed with both Nintendo’s and Sony’s shift in these stores since they seem to release them very slowly instead of cranking it up and allowing user-created content to push to the top.

Either way, it was surprising enough that I figured it was worth mentioning.

February 24th, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games 1 Comment »

Review: Ni Hao, Kai-Lan Rings in the New Year

It’s tough being a little kid, let alone growing up with different cultures. So when you actually look at this preschool title of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: New Year’s Celebration for the Nintendo DSi, you have to smile. And guess what: the Year of the Tiger is only a couple days away.

Graphics: The colors are pretty vibrant on my Nintendo DSi and it seems that Nickelodeon made an effort to make it into very distinct color schemes due to the fact that there are some color and shape mini-games in the story mode. No special cell-shading here, but let’s be honest now, it’s perfect for the target audience.

Sound: Not much to say here. Not like I play early childhood video games games as a habit, but I assume they used the same voice actors as the cartoon and had them do sound bytes. This was pretty cute, as an educational type game but I wouldn’t want to hear it over and over again as an adult. But the game is for pre-schoolers, and for them, it’s fantastic.

Dynamics: My favorite section of reviews: I thought the overall gameplay to be very linear — not a bad thing for younger minds. The mini-games go from one to the next and don’t really stop for anything. Also interesting is that neither the directional pad or A,B,X,Y keys work. And I’m pretty sure that this was by design; you figure that as a young child, you’ll probably be using the stylus more than anything, so all of the controls are built into the touchpad. From that perspective, I think that it was a brilliant move, although I’m curious as to what age group does actually start to tinker with the keys.

My one single black mark — only like a semi-gray one, really — is probably when Kai-Lan asks you to say something. At first I was trying to say the words but on a offhand thought, I decided to blow in the microphone instead. What’s strange is that it also worked and took it. Now, this isn’t necessarily something that 2K Play can control, but I don’t know how sensitive a DSi can detect actual word patterns. It’d be curious to do some testing in this fashion, but that’s for another day.

Overall: 2K Play is the division of 2K that creates games for this age group. So if you have a little one, love this game, and am looking for similar titles, go there first to find more information. Kai-Lan is a cute series that delves into the Chinese culture and I think that it’s great that we’re starting to see this beginning to pop up even in mainstream gaming.

February 11th, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games, Reviews No Comments »

February is Month of PS3 Love

It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about a month of Playstation 3 releases. But 2010 is going to be fantastic, especially in the month of love. I mean, take a look around. With Heavy Rain and Bioshock 2 leading it out in adventure thriller types and RPGs coming from Square and Level 5, you just can’t stop the love. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything here that I wouldn’t want to play. Even Dante’s Inferno which is supposedly very similar to God of War looks fantastic in the trailers and oozes excitement.

Maybe it’s just me, but overall, there’s just a level of tingle in the air. Too bad this month is going to be like the summer blockbusters for movies. They all release around the same time, and then the mediocre stuff fills in the voids in-between. Thankfully, GameStop.com has ya covered in that respect. And personally, I have some serious credits going on there so life is good when I need to bust out something else.

When a great month like this one is coming up with games that are being released left and right, just remember… video games actually one of the best bang for buck when it comes to entertainment value. When you think about how much you spend for movie tickets? It’s probably worth going and buying five sixty dollar games and spending hundreds of hours on them versus going to several movies at full price.

February 3rd, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games No Comments »

Review: Assassin’s Creed II End Only Semi-Sweet

I’m going to put in a **SPOILER** alert just in case people get all upset about knowing the ending of ACII. Will try not to give it away, but I have to say that this is at least worth throwing in my two cents since it’s been gnawing at the back of my head ever since finishing the game.

Now, admittedly, the entire historical aspect of the game is fascinating. The sequel to the hit Assassin’s Creed has amazing graphics, and it’s not as dreary as the first one with the right amount of things to do and sub-storylines that allow it to function altogether very well. Even the latest Battle at Forli DLC was worth more than the money you pay since it gives another chapter of the story arc and explains some more things that are going on.

So you’re kind of built up….. then it’s like… poof. Uhh. What?

The end boss is a cake walk. You don’t have to do anything pretty much to beat the historical version of the game which is strange since end of games are usually a lot more difficult. Not a huge deal although for those looking for a challenge, be sorely disappointed. The credits that roll that show you as the character Desmond, is a playable end which leaves the storyline open for another one. Great, ACIII coming soon to your PS3.

But here’s the kicker. The part where it connects Ezio’s life with Desmond’s? After beating the last guy to a pulp? You’re kind of left going, what the hell?!!? Total cheese factor. I mean, there are few games or television shows that can get away with this type of story arc and if you watch Stargate SG-1, you’ll understand what I’m saying if you get to the end, but it just wasn’t executed very well in my opinion. Almost like those movies where the end seems cut short because they ran out of money and had to end it quick. You’re just left hanging with… what’s going on? Why was it like that? And is that part of it going to be developed even further?

Overall, the game play was very smooth and I would have to say that the overall experience saved the game from a kind of bitter-sweet end. It was great to see the end of the game, but on the flip side, you just can’t help thinking back going…. what the hell were they thinking when they wrote that part in. Even the tie into Ubisoft’s new UPlay was pretty interesting since you could unlock more things and expand on a very good game. The entire concept was well thought out… except that one part and I have to say that this year’s going to be tough when it comes to action adventure games. There so far has been a high bar that’s set by last year’s GOTY and and ACII doesn’t quite get there although it was fantastic overall.

February 1st, 2010 • Darius Sartre • Games, Reviews No Comments »

See Jack Waze

waze Jack doesn’t just jump over the candlestick no more…

Oh no. Not when he can waze.

This game has been out for the iPhone for a while, but it’s just recently hit the Android scene in time for Christmas, and actually is fairly fun. Basically, the idea is that the community drives the mapping of areas and thus creates a user-driven map. Along the ways that you drive, you collect points and perhaps prizes depending on what you run over (not literally).

It integrates with your GPS so the more accurate it is, the better. And I can tell you for sure, that this app will drain your battery like nothing else mainly because you can’t help but collect points like Pac-Man.

What’s great about this is that not only can the community drive and update the maps, but they can report traffic, hazards, police traps, and all sorts of other things. I think the interface is a little clunky for now to actually do it easily while driving, but I can just imagine the possibilities. And as far as future revenue is concerned? I can totally see a GPS maker snap this company up, if not in a partnership… then by acquisition. I mean, what better way to reinforce your mapping division than by using the millions of users already using your device? It would be an entire sweetheart deal.

Waze represents the first batch of geolocation gaming along with Foursquare and others in the United States. It’s been years since I’ve first seen Japan come out with geolocation gaming and have been pushing for the US to get on board. Certain more old school people didn’t like the idea of geolocation gaming even though I was pushing hard for it in the telecom industry since I saw the trend coming down the pipe. Almost six years later, the small startups are popping up in Silicon Valley and elsewhere to take this role on. Don’t you love hindsight, Jack?

December 30th, 2009 • Darius Sartre • Games, Virtual Life No Comments »

Peacewalker Demo Rocks Your World

250px-Metal_Gear_Solid_PEACE_WALKER_logo_c Hideo Kojima does it again.

A teaser called Demo Ops came out and hit the PSP recently from the PSN network. And I have to say that this definitely looks like a hit seeing how it builds on MGS:PO easily although the storyline is before that time. The gameplay is smooth, and controls are easy to deal with especially with the two different types of control mechanisms that allow you to play like MGS4, or PO depending on your comfort level.

I did notice a little bit of difference in the directing as far as the overlays and such, but the cutscenes are just as awesome as the trailer from TGS09. I’m very excited for this to come out since it’ll probably hold any Snake fan over until MGS:Rising comes out.

SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!

December 19th, 2009 • Darius Sartre • Games No Comments »

First Look at Game of the Year: Uncharted 2

pa.152168.1 I must say that when this came out, I was definitely intrigued from all the hooplah that surrounded the game. So I went out and bought the first Uncharted to see what it was about.

And I was floored. A good adventure game that I didn’t play yet? Wait, what was that? So I had to take a look at the sequel. I mean, if everyone said it was as good as it was, then it had to be better than the first, right?

And boy was it.

Fortunately for me, I already was familiar with the controls since it throws you right into the game. And I can say that the first twenty minutes, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat wondering if you just got shot into an action thriller film. Things flying towards you, you’re not sure if you’re going to fall off, more things flying towards you, things breaking while flying towards you, … I think you get the picture.

Basically it’s death defying, looking down a ravine and thinking… “oh boy” while you’re trying to get a hold of the game itself. And while Nathan Drake is chasing after a lost city that Marco Polo apparently found, you as the player are immersed into the same gravity defying leaps and feats of upper body strength that would make Nagano from Ninja Warrior, proud. There are some differences as far as game play goes where the shooting is more zoomed in and actually blurs the vision some if you move and shoot, while grenade throwing is also a little bit different from the last one.

I haven’t had a chance to look up the voice cast yet, but it seems like this time around, they even got Claudia Black to play a role. Which is pretty interesting considering I don’t get a chance to hear her voice all that much these days on the real television set so finding it in games is pretty nice.

Not quite sure what to make of the entire Twitter thing yet. It’s neat that you can tie in your Twitter account to the game itself so that it’ll broadcast where you are, what trophies you’d got, and what sort of progress you’ve made. Not exactly the state of the art type of interaction, but definitely worthwhile for Naughty Dog as far as tracking their players.

Overall, I can say that I’m thoroughly impressed. Avatar in 3D? Pulease. If films could be done as well as games were, we wouldn’t be oohing and ahhing over a technique and instead going back to the basics of just creating fantastic acting and voices, and making it like a constrainted interactive set. Go figure. Like in Uncharted 2. Now THAT’S revolutionary.

December 17th, 2009 • Darius Sartre • Games No Comments »

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