A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Machine Politics. George Hotz, Sony, and the Anonymous hacker wars.
In late December 2010, fail0verflow, a team of European hackers, demonstrated that the Playstation 3's security was fundamentally flawed and managed to obtain the encryption key used by the device (see previous discussion). Utilizing the techniques developed by the fail0verflow team, iPhone hacker George Hotz released the encryption key publically, which enables the execution of arbitrary code on the console. Now Sony is suing both George Hotz and members of the fail0verflow team. [more inside]
Citing security concerns, Sony has decided to release a firmware update that will disable the "OtherOS" feature on its older (non-slim) PlayStation 3 systems. This is almost certainly a response to the system finally being hacked two months ago by George "GeoHot" Hotz. To counter Sony's disabling of the feature, Hotz, who previously stated that he would not be releasing custom firmware for the PS3, now plans to do so: "The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."
Drive a race car, beat someone up, and try on a dress - all from your living room and without any controllers. Microsoft's new "Natal". [video] [more inside]
Not only does the Playstation 3 play Blu-Ray discs, it also knocks out the fat!
On the Eve of the Big Release Just in case you haven't drowned in the flood of stories about the new consoles, Businessweek is offering a few more. For the PS3, we have a summary article giving information on Sony's current situation, along with a 4 (out of 5) star review. In the Wii's corner, we have an interview with two of Nintendo's developers, who discuss the rationale behind the controller redesign, pricing, and keeping their gamers happy. Call it a little light reading before you hit the lines tonight.
Playstation 3 chip to be designed by IBM. The three companies (Sony, IBM, and Toshiba) aim to design a "super-computer on a chip" with a wide variety of consumer applications, they said in a joint statement.
"The result will be consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue super-computer, operate at low power and access the broadband internet at ultra-high speeds," the statement added