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]
An honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately informative postmortem on the positively rated game Retro/Grade presented at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.
The cult 2010 video game Deadly Premonition gets a Director's Cut this week. The brainchild of a guy who calls himself SWERY, one could make a strong case for Deadly Premonition being the most entertainingly bizarre game ever made. It's undeniably influenced by Twin Peaks and more than a touch of Japanese horror, yet that doesn't begin to explain how unique, disturbing and hilarious the game is. The humor is intentionally unintentional. Everyone agrees there are significant gameplay problems, but the phrase "so bad it's good" does the game a terrible disservice. "Capable of swinging from zany to nasty, inspired to absurd within the course of a single sequence," and boasting an eccentric, often inappropriate soundtrack, Deadly Premonition is either a joke, a masterpiece or both. (Previously: It's like watching two clowns eat each other.)
"Designed to be understood easily, these training videos are meant for new players and for those who want to see what's new in Final Showdown." As part of their promotion for Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, released June 5/6 for PSN and XBLA, SEGA created surprisingly good tutorial videos to ease new players into the gameplay system of the latest iteration of AM2's Virtua Fighter series. [more inside]
"There is a mountain towering over us, the engulfing light at its peak drawing closer with each step. But this mountain need not be a spectre. It can instead be a warden — a lighthouse guiding us home, waiting patiently for our return. We soar up its slopes, our hearts glad. We are tiny, we are empty, we know nothing — and how very beautiful that ultimate truth is." Over the Precipice - an essay on Playstation 3 game Journey.
Machine Politics. George Hotz, Sony, and the Anonymous hacker wars.
Portal 2 has finally hit the streets, and despite a somewhat rocky start with their controversial promotional ARG (previously), it looks to be a huge success. Interestingly for such a critically-acclaimed blockbuster, the title's core ideas steam from a pair of concept projects from student design school DigiPen: the original portal system from Narbacular Drop (video - download - previously) and the sequel's physics-altering gels from Tag: The Power of Paint (video - download - previously - previouslier). Combine these innovative ideas with some Lost-meets-Life After People level design, excellent voice acting, and top-notch writing, and it's easy to see why so many people called in sick this past week. But playing the game is just the beginning -- look inside for a collection of easter eggs, story theories, videos, and other goodies from the post-mortem. [more inside]
At the behest of Sony, German police have raided the home of Linux developer graf_chokolo, a prominent member of the PS3 scene. In response, graf_chokolo has released what's being called the PS3 Hypervisor Bible. [more inside]
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]
It appears that Sony's PS3 is fatally and permanently hacked. fail0verflow, a team of European hackers demonstrated quite convincingly (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. [more inside]
Demon's Souls, an action-RPG from Atlus, is the most notoriously difficult videogame of this generation (previously). If the game was too brutal for you to finish, this should add insult to injury: someone's completed it in just 54 minutes. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. [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."
Retro gamers are rejoicing today as Sega revealed that its flagship character Sonic will finally be returning to his 2-D roots after languishing for years in GameStop cheapo bins everywhere. Following the releases of such new old-school titles as New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mega Man 9, A Boy and His Blob and Adventure Island, Sonic 4 will be a downloadable title for PS3/Wii/X-Box 360 this summer.
George Hotz started a blog chronicling his journey to a software-only PS3 crack. Despite tackling a platform that has held strong for three years, Hotz claimed to have gained read/write access to all system memory after five weeks. Although the PS3 actually ships with Linux support, these cracks circumvent the hypervisor that place strict restrictions on low-level hardware access. You may know Hotz as the geohot who released first hardware iPhone jailbreak, added a software-only jailbreak for all iPhones and iPod Touches, and won multiple awards (pdf) at ISEF 2007 for building a working holographic display system while a senior in high school.
"Demon's Souls, an Atlus-published action-RPG out this week on the PS3, is way too hard for you. We say this without knowing a thing about your skills and with no equivocation." Demon's Souls was released this week in North America, and its reviewers are coming to terms with its staggering difficulty level. [more inside]
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]
Reinier van der Ende, an x-ray technician at the largest hospital in the northern part of the Netherlands, decided to combine his work with one of his hobbies and proceeded to x-ray his collection of video game consoles, peripherals and game cartridges. Here are the fruits of his labour. [more inside]
Noby Noby Boy is out! What is Noby Noby Boy? The creator speaks: "At this stage, it's too early for me to sum up this game in one word." Why was it made? "Seriously, I don’t know. When I figure it out, I’ll share it on this blog." A bit more cogent explanation follows: [more inside]
HOME is out for the Playstation 3, and as Penny Arcade has observed, it really is "nothing more than a cumbersome menu, a rampart over which you must hoist yourself to accomplish the most basic tasks." But it's not a complete waste of time. Where else can you have the joy of observing someone being Quincyed? Here's a video of Quincying in action. Observe the quick change, the expedient retreat of the male suitors, the provocative pelvic motion. Here's how to master the art of the Quincy, should you be so inclined.
LittleBigPlanet, the highly anticipated create your own platformer game by Media Molecule, originally set to release next week, has been recalled. The reason? Apparently one of the music tracks used in the game, "Tapha Niang" by Grammy Award winner Toumani Diabate, contains verses from the Qur'an. As it's a no no to mix Islamic holy text with music, Sony has pulled the game after complaints. The problem has been fixed, but no new release date has been announced.
The LED Museum has long been the Internet's premier source of absolutely obsessive LED and Laser analysis. Going strong since 1999, Craig Johnson's amassed quite a range of test equipment. Recently, he acquired a Playstation 3 Blu-Ray Laser Module. Did he mod it? Oh yes he did. (Warning: NSFC64)
The Decline of the PS3 Grey Market: Purchases by eBay arbitrageurs were one of the primary drivers of the Playstation 3 release date frenzy. Predictably, the bubble has now burst.
Blu-ray discs, video games, and a cure for cancer... Too bad PS3 owners are a bunch of "know-not" idiots... More here and here.
Not only does the Playstation 3 play Blu-Ray discs, it also knocks out the fat!
With hundreds of die hard PS3 fans camped outside Metreon, site of the San Francisco Playstation store and home of the official US launch for the Playstation 3, PC Gamer magazine showed up and presented one die-hard PS3 fan with arguably the hardest choice he'll ever have to make; to give up the right to own (or be gifted) a Playstation 3 for the next three years in exchange for a free $7,500 custom-built Falcon PC and "a better gaming experience." Here's what happened and here's the signed contract.
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.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With just a week to launch, the PS3 and Wii are almost here and there is plenty of help out there if you want to try scoring one on launch day. For the Wii, read up on this guide, or try this one for the ps3. The Wiiseeker and PS3seeker will tell you exactly how many units your closest Target, Walmart, and Gamestop will have ready to sell. Ask MeFi also offers help: 1, 2, 3. And the latest MeFi Project helps those that are sticking it out at Console Camp.
The best E3 wrapup I've read this year. Also the only E3 wrapup I've read this year. But there are pictures! And amusing musings! It's also by Our Boy Mefite kevspace.
Supercomputer-on-a-chip microprocessor design revealed on heels of report that third generation DVDs may implement an holographic storage technique.
Future Development for Sony and the PSX2 and PSX3. Now that the Game Developers Conference is over what do you think of the plans for the PSX3? It may even have an IBM architecture underneath.
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