LittleBigPlanet Karting – yet another kart racer

When I first heard of LittleBigPlanet Karting, I thought “Wait, why is this necessary, PS3’s already got ModNation Racers…” Furthermore, it’s developed by United Front Games, the same guys who did ModNation Racers. So there’d be even less reason to own both. Still, given the LittleBigPlanet brand and the unique things associated with it, I thought that maybe the game could still bring something fresh to the table. I quite like Sackboy and the things his franchise added to gaming. Although, despite the initial announcement being one of the things that have excited me the most in recent gaming history, and LBP being the very first PS3 game I bought (though it must be said that the store where I got my PS3 simply didn’t have Metal Gear Solid 4 in stock…), I haven’t played LittleBigPlanet all that much – it just wasn’t as exciting for someone not willing to invest a lot of time into creating stages. Anyway, I tried the LittleBigPlanet Karting demo. Unfortunately, what I saw in it didn’t convince me that this game was worth my time or money.

LittleBigPlanet Karting Front

Game: LittleBigPlanet Karting
Developer:  United Front Games
Platforms: PlayStation Network
Original release: 2012
Territories: All
Price: $39.99

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Sony’s PS4 Conference

In an extremely anticipated event on February 20th, Sony finally revealed the PlayStation 4 to the public, along with some upcoming games for the system. The system is coming out for the 2013 holiday season, and sports impressive technical specifications and a modified DualShock 4 controller with extra features like a touchpad and a built-in speaker.

PS4 Logo

As I did for last year’s E3 conferences, I have prepared a comfortable bullet-point summary of the major announcements during the conference, in order of appearance.

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

The first Uncharted was pretty cool, and the second one was even better. I expected the third game to be as good as its predecessor, but I also knew that there really wasn’t that much room for improvement for the series. Uncharted 2 had pretty much reached a peak, which would be a tremendous challenge for Uncharted 3 to overcome. But credit must go to Naughty Dog – they tried. The third game introduces some new and exciting details that make it seem more polished. It comes even closer to the blockbuster movie feel. But there were also several aspects where it couldn’t live up to the high standard set by Uncharted 2.

Uncharted 3 Cover

Game: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2011
Territories: All

Uncharted 3 is a fun game, definitely a pleasure for the player. There is pretty much never a dull moment, even more so than in the first two. There are exciting new environments like a London pub, a shipyard, a cruise ship, a desert…, further showcasing Naughty Dog’s talent in the graphics department. The relationship between Drake and Sully is further developed, with some most curious episodes. The villain is, unfortunately, rather lame (like in the first game), but Drake’s group of friends gets a pretty cool new member in Charlie Cutter. The story, as a whole, is nothing special, and the lack of a strong villain presence makes it less impressive than the second game that at least had that. Overall, however, the game will impress you with its numerous breathtaking moments.

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Video Game Music of the Week – 20-26.08.2012

This time, I’ve decided to post a song from a much more popular PS2 game – Fumito Ueda’s Shadow of the Colossus. You can also consider it a little way to celebrate the fact that The Last Guardian is actually not cancelled and that it’s still coming to PS3 sooner or later… A lot has been said about Shadow of the Colossus and I won’t make a long speech here, I won’t surprise anybody when I say that I really enjoyed the game and I wish there were more in its spirit. I do enjoy its predecessor, Ico, even more, but the same cannot be said about their respective soundtracks – Ko Otani’s work on the Shadow of the Colossus one is just incredible. These two gems are also available as a remastered-for-HD collection for the PS3, so do give them a shot if you haven’t played them yet.

Composer: Ko Otani
Game: Shadow of the Colossus
Song:  The Farthest Land

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

After beating the first Uncharted, I immediately jumped on the second one. It’s the one widely considered the best in the series, with the highest scores from both fans and critics and all, so my expectations were higher than the ones I had from the first game. Suffice to say, Uncharted 2 delivered. It improves on the first game in many ways, the most obvious one being graphics, while keeping the tight adventure gameplay which, if a bit linear, keeps you on your toes pretty much constantly. Drake’s second adventure is a memorable experience, adding some much appreciated polish to what we saw in the first game.

Uncharted 2 Cover

Game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2009
Territories: All

Uncharted 2 is a marvellous game, and this is a case where this adjective is used in its full meaning, rather than just thrown in for good measure and in attempt to appear more literary. The PS3’s graphical capabilities are pushed to their limits (even though I’m yet to play Uncharted 3, so who knows…), Naughty Dog proving themselves to be masters in this department once again. There are some clear improvements over the first game, such as an increased amount of different environments and the introduction of stealth attacking. Of course, there are also some things from the first game that are not present in the second, such as aiming grenades or balancing with the Sixaxis, and the brutal combo, which was “replaced” by the dubious counterattacking. There are also no jet ski stages, quite likely a case of fans’ complaints getting through. 🙂 But these are just details – at the end, the overall package is very satisfying.

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

When it comes to gaming, I’m usually behind the times a bit (as you may have already noticed). My backlog is just quite massive and there are few contemporary games that interest me as much as older gems I haven’t played yet. Nevertheless, I recently decided to finally play through Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series – the biggest franchise born on my favourite current-generation console, the PlayStation 3. I went in expecting a fun adventure game with a simple, movie-like story and entertaining gameplay. Something like Tomb Raider (a franchise where I’m actually yet to beat a single game, but that’s another story). The first game largely met my expectations.

Uncharted Cover

Game: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PlayStation 3
Original release: 2007
Territories: All

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of the early PS3 games, and a huge reason to get one already back then, at the startling launch or near-launch price. I can see why it made the purchase worth it for many people. The game is very cinematic and the graphics are really beautiful, which is particularly impressive, considering it came out so early in the console’s life cycle. Even though they are obviously surpassed by the latter two entries in the franchise, I am sure many people were captivated by them in 2007. Add to that the nice beginning, showing the protagonist Nathan Drake on a boat with the pretty Elena, and the action starting immediately, in the middle of a short conversation between them, and you’ll be able to see why Uncharted was a huge system seller.

The game’s premise is intriguing enough – you are (or at least claim to be) a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, and, after finding an important clue left by your ancestor himself, you set off in search for El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. It’s really a lot like an adventure movie – those influences are easy to see and are spoken of by the developers themselves in the “Behind the Scenes” videos included on the disc (Tomb Raider is never mentioned, of course :)). The story never pretends to offer any more or less than uncovering the mystery of El Dorado. The gameplay follows suit – it doesn’t try anything complex (mostly 3D platforming and third-person shooting), but does quite well at what it strives to do. An interesting thing to note is that there are no boss fights. Overall, the game is entertaining, it’s standard length for the genre (12-15 hours), and it offers nice challenge without ever becoming too frustrating.

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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Territories: All

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.

Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.

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PS4 “Orbis” rumours – no used games or backwards compatibility

A rumour has recently surfaced regarding the next PlayStation console, codenamed “Orbis.” The most important points being:

  • Is called, or at least carries the working codename, “Orbis”
  • Is scheduled for a Holiday 2013 release
  • Won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games
  • Will lock new games to a PSN account as an anti-used games measure
  • New games can be bought either on Blu-Ray or downloaded
  • Current specs are an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU

Source: http://kotaku.com/5896996/the-next-playstation-is-called-orbis-sources-say-here-are-the-details

With the rest of the points being either details or expected (such as the release date), the two in bold are the ones I’d like to comment on.

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