Heavy Rain dev interview: "special presentation"

Just in case you missed it, this video was released on the Japanese Playstation Network in October of 2009. At the time I really didn’t care that much, but the more I hear about Heavy Rain, the more interested I get. I’m actually getting very excited to get my hands on this game, and this video really helped boost the interest level. They talk about the sheer amount of time spent in motion capture, they show a good deal of game play footage, without being too ‘spoilery’ (though if you’d prefer to play the entire game knowing as little as possible, you may not want to watch).

It’s been about 2 months since this video was originally released, but it’s release was not entirely wide-spread, and, again, the closer we get to the launch of Heavy Rain, I figure more people might be looking for things of this nature. Enjoy!

[zdvideo]http://NuAngel.net/video/HEAVY%20RAIN%20special%20presentation.flv[/zdvideo]

Xbox Live vs. PSN: you get what you pay for!

My head just hurts, sometimes. Whether it was this weekend’s Belicheck’s Bad Decision, or problems in the video games industry, I just want to lock my doors and hide sometimes. Infinity Ward Community Manager Robert Bowling says that the Playstation Network collapsed under too many players in Modern Warfare 2. He explained in multiple Tweets that they had to bring more servers online, supporting 20,000 users at a time. Even Glenn & Mark over at PS Nation Podcast spent more than a couple of minutes venting about the problems. My biggest complaint is that the folks at Sony clearly had no idea this was coming.

Even Sony is so used to their attachment rate being so low that the glorified BluRay player stigma has even reached into the depths of their PlayStation Network operations center.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s people were on hand and watching the numbers climb, they were prepared, and they set the record of 2 million concurrent users on Xbox Live. Two million people using one unified service at one time. Meanwhile, the PlayStation network experienced so many problems that they had to start enabling extra servers. Go green as much as you want, but you didn’t think that maybe you should have had those servers online in preparation for such an event, then toned down the extras later?

Sony just proves, time and time again, that they are racing to play catch up with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. Just weeks after announcing the Netflix Disc, Sony has confirmed that t heir next Firmware update will include a standalone Facebook program. Great, they get to mimic one of Xbox 360’s least demanded features, good for them. Oh, I’m sorry, when was the feature demanded since the 2007 launch, cross-game chat, coming to the PS3? Oh, right, it’s still not. It is even to a point where, even as a PlayStation 3 owner, I’m genuinely disgusted with their service. I don’t care how tired this argument is, I’m going to state the simple fact again. If it would make it better, CHARGE ME FOR IT! People are ready to take that hit, it’s obvious.

Sony passes up a gigantic revenue stream in favor of trying to look like Mr. Nice Guy. While Xbox Live costs $50 annually, and games like World of Warcraft end up costing their players a minimum of $150 each year, Sony insists that they should remain free, but it is obvious that this budget minded plan is only hurting them, and if they want to be taken seriously as anything more than my BluRay player, Sony is undoubtedly going to have to step things up in 2010, or pack in the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Network and start laying all new groundwork to make the PlayStation 4 regain the pride the the Sony PlayStation name once carried.

The Backorder: Killzone (PS2)

I’ve got some kind of OCD when it comes to series. If it’s music, I prefer to collect entire discographies and rare albums. When I was in to trading cards, I had several complete series in my collections. If it’s a movie, I’ll buy the boxed set! Games are rarely different. I want to know about a game, it’s history, it’s characters, it’s story. I had no idea that picking up the original Killzone for PS2 was going to be such a terrible decision.

I won’t waste any time with a long “review” of this game, since not many people are going to care. Graphically, the game could have larned a lot from Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. The game used very low resolution textures that were very grainy, some characters looked down right polka-dotted in an attempt to optomize graphical memory. The most visually impressive thing in the game was how many people were displayedon the screen at one time. When the Helghast began storming you, true, they would come in waves of 4-8, but for the time it was a technical feat! Unreal Engine 3 might allow hundreds to thousands of characters on screen at one time, but I was admittedly impressed with this feature.

That’s where it ends, though. The sound effects were terrible, the voice acting was a joke. Even the banter in-game got old in the first mission. I hoped that in later levels, the game would pull from other sound libraries, but it’s more annoying than Left For Dead players anouncing that they’re reloading… again.

The story hasn’t been bad, so far, but the volume of levels is something I never thought I would complain about in my life. I love single plaer campaigns. But this game feels so much like torture, it’s hard to go on. I have not completed the game, and I don’t know that I will. The level design is the most painful thing about the game. The checkpoints are in odd, distant places. If you die, you could end up replaying a 20 minute chunk of the game. Characters repeatedly say “we should go that way” – but the AI never takes point, and the Heads Up Display in the game has absoluely no navigational markers. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out where to go, before giving up on the game for the night. The next day, I realized I was trying to go the correct way all along, but some disc error had prevented me from continuing through the level!

Killzone 2 is an award winning title, and when I get my hands on it, it had better not let me down. I had heard it was a mediocre sequel to a mediocre shooter. But in m experience with Killzone on the PS2, even mediocre will be a step in the right direction!

Netflix Disc on the Playstation 3

Netflix recently announced they would be releasing a disc that let you play Netflix Instant Que movies directly on your PS3. All you had to do was sign up and get a free disc. The discs have already shipped and I’ve had a little bit of time to play around with it.

The disc does not recognize as a PS3 game as I had expected, but instead of a movie disc. BluRay’s BD-Live features enables a lot of new abilities for physical media, so I believe this makes up the backbone of the disc. However, I did place this in a Blu-Ray capable PC. It loaded up as a standard BluRay movie, displayed the Netflix logo splash screen, then froze the software. I may continue down this path just to see what else the disc offers.

As far as using the disc on the Playstation 3, it will prompt you to visit the Netflix website and enter a hardware identification code that thge PS3 displays on your TV, once you do this, it will log you in to the Netflix system. Your queued movies will be available, along with several lists of new releases ande popular movies.

The interface is very similar to the web-based interface that Netflix offers, with horizontal sliding tiles. Unfortunately, I found it to be very slow and clunky. This process could have been made much more fluid, and scrolling through large lists seems to take it’s precious time. Netflix passes on key information about videos watched, or if you were part way through watching a movie, it will even offer you the ability to resume the movie from where you were on another device (Xbox or web-baed player).

The video controls the output resolution of the playstation, and while I have not checked on any high definition video content, it seemed to work well for widescreen and completely standard definition (4:3) videos that I have watched.

Friday, while tinkering, I had run in to an interesting problem. I tried to watch a movie on my Xbox 360 – for some reason, no matter how many times I stopped and rebuffered the, the audio never came through. When I tried on the PS3 Netflix disc, the video played, but there was a few seconds of delay in the audio. I did not proceed to check the video on the web-based player.

Pressing the triangle button during movie playback will bring up the familiar DVD/Video controls of the PS3, but pressing the wrong button will take you back to the Playstation’s XMB, not just back to the Netflix Menu.

While I think the Netflix disc is a good start, the better decision would have probably been to make it more of a PS3 game disc, rather than a BD-Live disc. This way, patches and title updates could have easily been applied to the disc – I do not know if BD-Live affords them the same options. A new discmay have to be manufactured every time they want to change the format, it seems as though it could become very costly. All in all, I want a little more experience with it, but it’s a decent little addition to my netflix playing abilities (my 360, my PC, and my PS3 all hooked up to the same TV!). I was glad to check it out, but I don’t expect to get up and pop in my disc every time I want to watch a movie that’s supposed to be “On Demand.” I’ll most likely stick with the Xbox 360 client.

The Backorder Bonus: Need for Speed… Shift (PS3/360)

This first Backorder Bonus is a bit of a lie. I have recently been digging in to my stash of games and playing Need for Speed Undercover. But since I also recently just upgraded from my old 20GB Xbox 360 Pro console to an Elite console, I figured I would combine the occasion in to one big blowout and give away the NFS Shift Elite Series codes I have! Skip ahead if all you want is the contest details!

First, the game. Need for Speed Undercover is the culmination of the “Underground” saga. Rather than a continuation of the Need for Speed Most Wanted and Carbon stories, it seems, so far, to be a spin off into a world of double crossing racers, crooked cops, and personal vendetta. It plays much like the Underground series, more like a racing action game, and not a racing simulator. Need for Speed Prostreet and Shift, it’s sequels, are more like the latter. These games aren’t my style, I love the consequence free ability to crash in to a wall, smash in to an opponent, and take out water towers.

With the familiar “escape” game modes and a few new outrun modes, the game has more to offer than the transition from Most Wanted to Carbon did. Though it seems to encourage less “free roam” than it’s predecessors, continually prompting you to “press down on the d-pad” to skip to the next campaign related race.

The acting is among the same quality we’re getting used to seeing in the Need For Speed saga, but much like the other games in the series, I’m forced to feel like people are talking AT me and not TO me. You have no personal connection to the character you’re playing, so even when a potential love interest looks into the camera with her puppy dog eyes and feelings of betrayal, I don’t feel like the guy who turned on her… if that’s even what just happened!?

Graphics and sound of course what you’ve come to expect from Need For Speed, but this game does leave a little wanting – the environments just seemed to stale, and all of the day time racing made me wonder who really likes the color brown? Over all I’m enjoying it, but so far, I’ve stayed offline and stuck to the campaign, as I’m sure there are people who have been playing it every day since it’s release still waiting online to leave me in the dust.

BACK ORDER BONUS: This one’s easy, folks. To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread. That’s it. I’m not even going to be a jerk and force you to register on the site… not yet! I have a whopping TWELVE codes to give away. The first 6 people to leave a PROPER comment (your PSNID or Gamertag, and/or your Twitter ID. Follow @NuAngel so that I can DM you the code if you’re a winner), will be contacted with a code. After that, the remaining 6 codes will be given away at random, with the remaining winners being decided NO EARLIER than Tuesday, November 10th, 2009. The contest runs until I’m out of codes, even if it takes longer. If you only see 11 comments and it’s January, be number 12!

What you’ll win: Need for Speed Elite Series Unlock Code. The code is entered IN-GAME. Simply go to the main menu, then the options menu, then select Redeem Code. Once entered, go to Career, then International Events – the first career race must be completed before this will show. Elite Series gives you access to FIVE special races with pre-tuned cars, available nowhere else in the game. This was a preorder exclusive offered to Gamecrazy and Amazon.com customers.

PROPER COMMENTS: All you need to do is tell me how to reach you! Leave your Gamertag / PSN ID / Twitter ID, and I can DM you the message or leave it in your inbox on any of the gaming platforms.