Sunday, 8 May 2011

As promised...

Like I said I would write a full post for the weekend so here it is...

Suppose I had better get it out the way and talk about the elephant in the room. I am of course talking about the Sony PSN hack. 

On April 20th the Sony PSN was taken offline due to an unauthorized intrusion, at this point 77 million users cannot play games online, access their accounts or purchase from the online store. Sony hired a number of computer security and forensic teams to delve through 130 servers and 50 programmes to try and gain information on what caused the intrusion and what information may have been taken. 

April 26th, nearly a week after the PSN went down, Sony released a public notice stating that over 75 million users account information had been stolen, including names, addresses, passwords, email addresses and possibly credit card information. 

Obviously there was a huge public outcry. How could the information be stolen? Why was it not encrypted? Why did it take Sony 6 days to let the public know that their information was lost? All these questions have yet to be answered but Sony are doing their best to rectify the situation. A number of security firms have been brought onto the case and Sony are working with local law enforcement agencies to try and get to the bottom of this issue. 

They have also offered free credit insurance for US citizens with the rest of the world soon to follow. If that wasn’t enough once the network is back up Sony will be handing out free games as compensation to the loyal users of the Playstation brand. However some people still feel this isn’t enough with class action lawsuits being filed in the States, one in particular claiming $1 billion in damages (Come on dude really!?). 

Recent findings lead Sony to believe it was the work of hacktivist group Anonymous, possibly in retaliation to the Geohotz case not only that but also messages and calling cards have been found within servers leading them to this assumption. Anonymous have denied these accusations but due to the groups decentralized organisation it is difficult to claim. Could it have been a tear away group of Anon’s out for revenge on Sony? Who knows?

What we do now is that Sony is working round the clock to get their service back online. On April 30th Kaz Hirai stated that parts of the PSN would be back within the week, this would include online play and account management. However that time frame has now passed and we are still left waiting. 

Personally I feel bad for Sony. This situation could have happened to any company and it is unfortunate all of the flak that Sony is taking for it. Fanboys will be fanboys.  Bear in mind also that Japan is still trying to recover from the horrendous tsunami incident this hack could not have come at a worse time. 

Looking forward...
So what does this mean for Sony going forward?

Public thoughts of Sony are at an all time low so I would hope that this kick starts something at the headquarters. Once the service is brought back online I would like to see a reshuffle to make the PSN more user friendly. There is no denying that the Xbox Live service trounces the PSN in its ease of use. Also to gain back support I would expect Sony to announce something big at E3, possibly an exclusive that Sony has had hidden away just waiting for the right time to reveal.

Of course this is all speculation and all we can really do is sit on our hands and wait it out. I for one wish Sony all the best in getting things back up and running a restoring the brand to its former glory.

That’s your lot for this week folks. If you have anything to add to the discussion please don’t hesitate to post comments or message me.

See y’all next time.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Same old story....

It seems like all I ever write on here is.... “I’m back” 

Yes don’t worry fellow readers (all 2 of you) I am still very much alive and very very busy. From my last post, almost 4 months ago now, I have landed a job at one of the industries great studios Codemasters.

Obviously I can’t talk about the work here but it is all go in the testing areas and that is partly the reason I have not been able to get a post up. All of my free time has gone into catching up on games I have missed and playing new ones that were released in the first quarter of the year. 

So far I have worked my way through Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Limbo, Mortal Kombat, Portal 2, Back to the Future and ventured back to Beyond Good and Evil as I missed it the first time around. 

All great games worthy of their own reviews which I unfortunately do not have the time for at the moment. If I had to pick one of the bunch it would be Portal 2, at the moment my stand out game of the year for 2011. If Valve doesn’t win a writing award this year then I have no faith left in humanity.

Anyway I just wanted to give you all a quick update on how things are going and hopefully I will get some more posts up soon, as there is a lot to talk about, especially what has been going on in the gaming world recently. I’m looking your way Sony *shakes head*

Will get a new post up soon... I promise!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Guess who's back..........New post for a new year!

Before you say anything I know it has been nearly a month from my last post and I have been a bit lax in getting some writing done, but in my defence there hasn’t been all that much to write about at the start of the year and I have been job hunting, so you know.....priorities.  =)

Anyway all that changed yesterday when the hotly anticipated Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 Multiplayer demos were released. All I can say is WOW!

Created by the studio ‘People Can Fly’, the makers of cult hit title ‘Painkiller’, and in collaboration with ‘Epic Studios’, Bulletstorm has you taking the role of Grayson Hunt an elite mercenary from the group known as Dead Echo. Stranded on a planet after betraying your former squad commander you must do anything and everything to escape in one piece. 

In terms of narrative Bulletstorm isn’t going to be winning any awards, however the fast, frantic gameplay is where this title truly shines. At its core it is a simple first person shooter with an extremely morbid twist. The point of the game is to utilize the ‘skillshot’ system, this rates players on the creative ways in which they dispatch their enemies. To give you an example, simply shooting an enemy in the face may net you a cool 100 points, however if you boot the enemy into the air then headshot them you will gain a score multiplier. Each ‘skillshot’ has a crude name attached to it, which I will admit can at times be funny, for example shooting an enemy in the neck is called ‘Gag Reflex’. 

All of this is what makes Bulletstorm so much fun, coming up with creative ways to decapitate, mutilate and explode your enemies. You are not short on tools either with an array of weapons all of which have secondary firing options, environmental hazards such as iron spikes, pit falls and man eating plants also the ability to leash enemies and pull them in close or bounce them into the air for added mayhem. 

It is no surprise that due to its crass language, gruesome deaths and sinister humour, Bulletstorm has earned itself an 18 certificate. That’s not to say it is a bad game or doesn’t deserve a place in the market, but we should be aware that the game was created simply for entertainment and nothing more. There is no moral message behind it, no underlying sentiments that should affect people, it is simply mindless fun. In the same sense of a summer action blockbuster like ‘Rambo’ it is meant to be enjoyed for the big explosions on screen and the fantastical sense of it all.  Obviously with the way the industry is and the way we are perceived in the media I can see this game causing a huge ruckus, with moms everywhere screaming ‘please won’t somebody think of the children’. 

From working in retail for so long I know exactly who is to blame for this problem which the industry faces and trust me when I say it isn’t the developers. I’m looking at you parents. Anyway this is a whole other discussion which I hope to write about at a later date. Maybe once Bulletstorm has been launched and the media shit storm begins.

Whatever your views are on this type of game there is no denying that it is fun. With its great ‘skillshot’ system which is so over the top it is almost satire and beautifully rendered planet I for one cannot wait to get my hands on Bulletstorm on 25th February UK.

Crysis 2 Multiplayer Beta
Crysis 2 is the follow up to the massively successful Crysis from Crytek, damn that’s a lot of Cry. It was hailed by PC gamers as one of the best looking games in recent years and is still a benchmark for graphics cards capabilities. Again a first person shooter at its core but the twist this time is players are able to control the ‘Nanosuit’. A futuristic looking wet suit which imbues it’s wearer with super human abilities such as strength, speed and the capacity to become completely invisible for a limited time.  

As this is only a multiplayer beta I am unable to comment on the narrative on the sequel, however if the gameplay is anything to go by we are in for an amazing experience. In the demo each player takes control of a soldier in the new and improved ‘Nanosuit 2.0’ you then compete in the standard 6v6 team deathmatch which we have come to know and love. 

Tweaks have been made to the control system in its port over to the consoles. No longer do players use the radial wheel to access the suits powers. Now instead powers are hot keyed to bumper buttons or automatically activate when needed. I.E Sprint boost activates as soon as you sprint. All the powers are controlled by your energy meter which depletes while a power is active and refills when they are not.  You are able to use multiple powers at the same time such as armour and sprint however this will cause the energy meter to drop quicker.  

Adding these simple changes creates a whole new tactical element for the first person shooter model, as players can switch their play style on the fly going from a stealthy attacker picking enemies off as they pass by, to an armour clad tank using the ground slam manoeuvre to get right into the fight. If that isn’t enough to change up how each match will play out, Crytek have also borrowed from the Call of Duty franchise and added perks and weapon attachments which each player can customise to their specific needs.

On the graphics front Crysis 2 looks stunningly beautiful on consoles, maybe not as good as its PC counterpart but it can certainly hold its own. To me it feels like a mix between Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Killzone 2, with its amazing lighting and smoke systems mixed with a bright and vivid colour palette. 

I have been playing this demo nonstop since its release and it will most defiantly be a day one purchase when its launch date rolls round on the 25th March UK. 

That’s all for this week, I urge you to go and download both these demos now you won’t regret it. 

Hope you enjoyed the read.

See y’all next time.