GTTV Promo inadvertently confirms Starhawk for Friday’s show?

GTTV has been teasing a big reveal for a PS3 exclusive on this Friday’s edition, with a promise to show footage of both online and offline gameplay. This, coupled with Dylan Jobe, head of Lightbox Interactive, the developer of Warhawk, posting on Twitter that “The wait is over next Friday”, pretty much everyone in the gaming world is certain that it’s going to be Starhawk, the long awaited Warhawk sequel that will be demonstrated.

In their promo for this week’s show, Gametrailers were very careful to avoid ruining the surprise, going so far as to blurring out the face of someone interviewed about the mystery game. But it seems they weren’t careful enough. Here’s the blurred out face they showed:

And here’s Dylan Jobe, head of Lightbox Interactive:

There are a few things to suggest both pictures are of the same person. First there’s the trace of a beard on the blurred image, which Dylan Jobe definitely has. Then there’s the fact that the blurred image shows the edge of a pair of glasses, which Dylan Jobe also wears. Then there’s the clincher, the person in the blurred picture has a mole on the left side of his neck. In the above picture of Dylan Jobe you can also make out a mole on the left side of his neck.

It stands to reason that if it is Starhawk on GTTV then Mr Jobe would be the man to be interviewed, since he was the media go to source for information about Warhawk, often interviewed about the game and Lightbox Interactive would hardly send a lowly programmer to speak on GTTV, they’d send their founder.
Only one more day until we find out for certain.

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The NGP Beats the Constraints of Handheld Gaming.

When the PSP was released in 2005 it was a revolution. Graphically speaking, the games available looked almost as good as those released on the PS2. Cruising down the streets of Liberty City in a Banshee and shooting at prostitutes was as satisfying on the bus as it was in your living room.

However, the next year the PS3 was released and you couldn’t help but compare its games with those on the PSP. Since a lot of the more acclaimed games were spin-offs of console games (more than half of Metacritic’s top 30 PSP games are console spin-offs) comparing the more simplistic handheld games to their console counterparts was unavoidable.

From what we’ve already seen of the NGP’s graphics, the gap between handheld and console has decreased once again. From the footage we’ve glimpsed of NGP versions of console franchises, namely an as yet untitled Uncharted game and a port of Metal Gear Solid 4, the NGP comes pretty damn close to replicating the PS3’s graphics.

Uncharted on the NGP


While the PSP had roughly a year to showcase it’s impressive (at the time) graphics before the PS3 came out and blew it out the water, Sony has confirmed that there are no plans for a PS4 in the immediate future, which means that the graphics gap between the NGP and the current-gen consoles is going to remain relatively small for some time.

Some of you might be thinking that it’s unfair to compare console graphics to those of a handheld and while that’s certainly true, playing a franchise game on a handheld isn’t going to be as appealing when you could be playing a far more graphically advanced game from the same IP at home, in fact it’d be quite jarring. It’s fortunate then that Sony appear to have done a stellar job at putting some seriously powerful hardware in a pretty affordable (if the rumours are to be believed) gaming system and since there are already several console spinoffs confirmed for the NGP (Killzone, Call of Duty and Resistance to name but a few) it’s just as well that the comparisons will be favourable.

Killzone 3 – Multiplayer’s one major flaw.

The Killzone 3 Open Multiplayer Beta was released today, featuring the Frozen Dam level, playable with 3 different game modes.

Predictably, the visuals are crisp and richly detailed and the gameplay builds and improves upon that of its predecessors, but others have gone on about how brilliant the gameplay is so I don’t need to. However, based on the beta as well as footage of the other maps it seems there is one major flaw that’s been seldom mentioned. Putting it bluntly, the maps are too big and open ended.

Now there are generally two different styles of multiplayer first person shooter. There are the arcade frag-fests like Unreal Tournament or Wolfenstein or there’s the tactical team based shooter like Counter Strike, Socom, or the Battlefield series.

Killzone 3 falls into the latter category because of its variety of classes and skills that are unique to each, favouring team play rather than a free for all attempt to get the best score. Also, the small amount of health you have is in line with this tactical style of multiplayer gameplay.

But since the maps are too open ended and sprawling, allowing the enemy to attack you from literally any direction, any hope of playing it strategically is destroyed. The Frozen Dam map on the beta is a perfect example of this problem, one that was also present in Killzone 2. The maps are chaotic with no clear direction. Now this sort of map is fine for a game like Unreal Tournament, but when you’re meant to be acting as a team, laying down defences and working towards an objective a bit of linearity goes a long way.

Take Counter Strike for example. The best maps on this game, like Office, Dust or Aztec always limit the routes you can take and usually there are only really two broad paths you can take in a level and because of this, team are forced to stick together. Killzone 2 and 3’s maps feature winding passages, vertical gameplay and multiple paths meaning the team is broken up pretty quickly. This sort of map but might be a bit better on a PC shooter where, generally, more players can join a server, but for a console game where players are limited to 16 or 32 the maps are pretty huge.

After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than two teams fighting for dominance over one corridor, relying on each other’s skills and tactics to push forward but unfortunately this just isn’t possibly on Killzone’s maps. It’s a shame because Guerrilla Games have nailed everything else. The shooting mechanics are spot on and the classes each add something different to the game. I’m just hoping some of the other maps are a bit more linear.

 

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Crysis 2 – What does the lack of PS3 footage mean?

Crysis 2 is less than 2 months away from release and so far, only footage and screenshots from the Xbox 360 version has been released.

So what could this mean? If you cast your minds back to Red Dead Redemption you’ll remember that up until its release, the Xbox 360 version was the one chosen for display and when the comparisons inevitably happened once it hit the shelves, the PS3 version was shown to be slightly inferior, graphically speaking.

I think it’s a given that the PC version will blow the console versions away. I know it’s incredibly tiresome to praise the original Crysis’ graphics but it’s true, however it’s also unfair to compare the PC to a console. It’d be like comparing an iPad to a Kindle….

However it doesn’t seem likely that the PS3 version is inferior. In April last year Crytek admitted that it was “getting slightly more performance from PS3 compared to 360”. Similarly, in an interview with Gamastutra in June 2009, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli claimed that they had almost maxed out the PS3.

While no PS3 screenshots or footage have been released, footage of the Cryengine 3 has been displayed running on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC conveniently at the same time.

Here’s a screenshot from the demonstration, PC is the screen on the top, PS3 on the left and Xbox 360 on the right.

 

 

The PS3 version clearly shows superior lighting and slightly more detailed textures, particularly on the bricks, seemingly in line with the argument of the PS3 version being slightly superior.

If this is the case, and it’s entirely possible that by the time they’re released both versions look identical, then why would Crytek choose to demo the slightly (I can’t stress ‘slightly’ enough) inferior looking version? It’s the opposite of what game developers normally do. It could be out of loyalty to Microsoft, after all, the original Crysis did sell extremely well on PC.

I guess we’ll have to wait until late March to know for certain.

Crysis 2 in released March 22 in North America and March 25 in the EU

Uncharted 3 Gameplay Looks Amazing, Gunplay Less So…

So today eurogamer.it posted a new and unseen gameplay demo of the Chateau level, part of which was previously demonstrated on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The footage, seen below, is a lot better quality than any footage seen to date and does a good job of showing the stunning graphics and smooth, flowing animations.

In fact, with another 10 months until release it’s looking pretty darn good, all aside from the shooting aspect.

The gunplay has always been the weakest part of the Uncharted series and that’s not to say it’s bad, just that the guns never seemed to feel like they had the power of the firearms in other games that have mastered this aspect such as Killzone 2 or Counter Strike.

The power of a gun in a video game is conveyed by two things, the sound of the weapon and the reactions of those being shot. Now since the game is still almost a year away from release it seems unfair to nitpick on these aspects but what the hell.

The guns sound just flat-out weak. Maybe they’re placeholder sound effects but when firing a weapon just sounds like someone dropping a baking tray instead of a 140 decibel mini explosion. This isn’t something new to the series either, the previous two games had exactly the same problem but now is the time to sort it out.

Here’s what firing a Colt 45 Defender actually sounds like:

Similarly, judging by the gameplay footage, enemies react as if they were shot with a BB gun until their health runs out and they just drop to the floor. You need spatters of blood and dynamic enemy physics to make their reactions either plausible or just flat-out cinematic, something Killzone 2 perfected, as seen below:

With a tentative release date of November 2011 exclusively for Playstation 3, there’s still plenty of time to iron this stuff out but despite this Uncharted 3 is already looking fantastic.

One in Ten UK prisoners have a games console in their cell

Want to commit a murder but don’t want to miss the next Call of Duty game? Well if you’re in the UK you needn’t worry as according to a one-off survey carried out by the Ministry of Justice in 2008, 11,200 prisoners had a games console in their possession.

To put this in perspective, according to according to a Ministry of Justice report, the population in custody as of August 31 2010 was 85,600; meaning that more than 1 in 10 prisoners can continue gaming from behind bars.

Prisoners are allowed games consoles as part of the Earned Privileges Scheme which rewards prisoners for good behaviour and cooperation for sustained periods of time. According to the MoJ “the scheme has three levels; enhanced, standard or basic level, only prisoners on the enhanced level of the IEP scheme will be entitled to the privilege of having games consoles in their possession.”

Between 2005 and 2008 the prison service spent £221,726 on providing games consoles but as of July 23 2008 the purchase of video games and consoles with public funds was prohibited, meaning if you get locked up you’ll need to buy your own games so if you’re going to go on a killing spree, best go on a shopping spree first.

Click here to view the Ministry of Defense report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.

Gran Turismo 5 Nitpicking Exceeds Expectations

Despite being released to a metascore of 86 and selling 1.8 million copies worldwide in just two days (to put that in perspective, Halo Reach still hasn’t sold that much in EMEAA countries), Gran Turismo 5 has suffered a barrage of bitch slaps by fanboys since its release.

Here are just a few examples of articles that currently litter N4G’s news feed:

Gran Turismo 5: Flying Karts and Texture Loading Problems from the Final Build in Action

Gran Turismo 5 Graphical Review

Gran Turismo 5 Installed vs. non Installed

GT5: Can this be true? Incredibly ugly standard cars

Gran Turismo 5: Online mode is full of problems

GT5 is full of bugs

Gran Turismo 5: Non Premium Cars Look Awful

While its certainly true that many of the scores given out by reviews are incredibly minor disappointments as most gamers were expecting hordes of 90%+ ratings, a metascore of 86% is very good, as are the early sales indications and general feedback from the gaming community who are after all, the ones who really matter.

Where Gran Turismo 5 is unparalleled is in the nitpicking from the rest of the community. When Halo: Reach. Forza 3 and various other Xbox exclusives were released N4G was spared the cavalcade of articles comparing various in-game models and angrily complaining that “they look less like real life and more like a videogame”. No shit.

That’s not to say that it’s the Xbox community who are largely to blame for the reaction GT5 has been getting; the PS3 community demonstrated extraordinary hubris and even started the in-game model comparisons, frequently comparing screenshots to Forza 3 and declaring it “a game-changer” and “better than real life” way before the first actual gameplay footage had been released.

GT5 seems to have set a precedent of nitpicking, and one that could possibly be applied to every hyped console exclusive from now on.

The fact of the matter is that Gran Turismo 5 is nowhere near a flop. If VGChartz is to be believed (and to be honest, it probably isn’t), it sold more in the first two days than Mass Effect 2 did in ten weeks. From this it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a financial success and with positive reviews across the board this is bolstered even more. Granted, it’s not as perfect as we’d have liked it to be but a majority of the big issues that reviewers had with the game can be sorted out with future game updates and patches. Knowing Yamauchi’s dedication to the game this is a near certainty.