GRID 2: Pushing The Envelope For Racing Games!

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Category : Featured, Game On, PC, PS3, Steam, Xbox

Courtesy of Codemasters

Courtesy of Codemasters

The long anticipated wait for GRID 2 is almost over! With its release date rapidly approaching (May 31st) fans of the GRID series of racing games are in for a well-deserved treat. Game development has built upon the original American themed GRID and now game play expands through 40 years of motor sport heritage and across three continents: North America, Europe, and Asia. Of course, the objective of GRID 2 is to develop your driving skills and become one of the top-ranked drivers in the world. There are also many new features, vehicles, and courses added that will allow game-play to be sensational for the PS3, XBOX 360 and PC platforms.

GRID 2 offers a multitude of vehicles, all separated by tier levels. Tier 1 being the introductory – the place where your race career begins. Vehicles in this tier include boosted Japanese sports cars, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, American hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus ST, or classic European tuners, like the BMW 1 series. As game-play goes along, the 2nd Tier vehicles improve in quality. These vehicles include the Mercedes C63 AMG and Ford Mustang Boss 302. The final and most exotic stage of vehicles, Tier 3, includes dream-like machines of the highest class. The vehicles in this group include the McLaren MP4-12C, Subaru BRZ and the Super Touring Class Volvo S60.

Along with the vehicles, styles and locations of game-play have been upgraded for GRID 2. Certain game modes include time attack, world-series racing, and elimination to test your mettle as a driver. The most exciting attribute to these modes are the venues selected by developers for racing. Tracks include the beaches of Miami, the skyline of Chicago, the nightlife of Los Angeles, a run around the Eiffel Tower in the streets of Paris and, of course, the beautiful Cote d’Azur in the advanced levels of game-play. Other European circuits include Brands Hatch and the Red Bull Ring raceway. Many more tracks and road courses throughout the world with great scenery and attention to detail show how GRID 2 pushes the envelope for racing platform games.

The updates to innovations in the game set GRID 2 apart from the competition. The amount and degree of damage a car experiences has been intensified with realistic effects if you decide to trade paint with your opponents. Artificial Intelligence is no longer a standard push over; it marginally increases its level of difficulty according to how well you perform in your races, thus always allowing you to develop properly as a racer. A feature that is becoming more popular in racing games, the flashback and rewind feature, has been added to game-play in GRID 2. This feature allows you to correct any major mistake and focus on what is most important: driving at the limit. One final feature that was an interesting add to game-play was the True Feel Handling System, which offers real-life physics application to simulate the realistic drive ability of any vehicle, making game-play approachable, yet challenging to master overnight.

Sebastian is an amateur blogger, car affectionado and casual gamer. Driving and racing simulations have always been his go-to games after a hard days work.

 

Good To Be A Gamer Podcast – Week of 09/30/2012

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Category : Featured, Game On, Good To Be A Gamer, Nintendo, PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox

Recorded 10/4/2012

Good To Be A Gamer is Available on iTunes! http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/good-to-be-a-gamer/id476489256
Good To Be A Gamer RSS Feed! http://goodtobeagamer.libsyn.com/rss

2012 Podcast Awards! http://www.podcastawards.com

NEWS
No Federal charges for 38 studios, but state charges pending. [GameSpot]
http://www.gamespot.com/news/no-federal-charges-for-38-studios-6397454

Cliff Bleszinski Departs Epic Games [Epic Games]
http://epicgames.com/community/2012/10/cliff-bleszinski-departs-epic/

2012 Presidential Coverage Goes Live with Xbox [Xbox Live’s Major Nelson’s Blog]
http://majornelson.com/2012/10/02/xbox-invites-you-to-be-a-part-of-the-first-ever-live-interactive-tv-presidential-debate/

Medal of Honor: Warfighter Open Beta Starts 10/5 [IGN]
http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/10/03/medal-of-honor-beta-details-revealed

Assassin’s Creed 3 Reveals First DLC, “Tyranny of King Washington” [Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed]
http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/ac3/en-US/news/news_detail.aspx?c=tcm:19-66233&ct=tcm:6-231-32

Able Gamers Foundation Opens First Permanent Accessability Arcade [Joytiq]
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/10/03/ablegamers-foundation-to-open-first-permanent-accessibility-arc/

PSN is having a sale! [PlayStation Blog]
http://blog.us.playstation.com/2012/10/01/big-savings-buy-100-on-psn-in-october-get-20-psn-credit/

First Free-to-play Xbox 360 Game Releases [Games Industry]
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-10-04-xbox-live-gets-first-free-to-play-game

NBA Live 13 canceled just 6 days before planned release. [GameSpot]
http://www.gamespot.com/news/nba-live-13-canceled-six-days-before-planned-release-6397616

 

ITEMS OF INTEREST
Kickstarters must now disclose risk, amongst other new restrictions [GameSpot]
http://www.gamespot.com/news/kickstarter-projects-must-now-disclose-risks-6396976

Game Industry Legends: Ron Pardo [Games Industry]
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-10-02-game-industry-legends-rob-pardo

Jake Solomon, Lead Designer of XCOM: Enemy Unknown goes Undercover to Sell his own game [2K Games YouTube Channel]
http://youtu.be/T1pyJxcETmc

Watch League of Legends World Championship Online [Twitch TV]
http://www.twitch.tv/

 

EVENTS
Game Developers Conference 2012
Austin, TX
October 9-11, 2012
http://www.gdconline.com/

New York Comic Con
New York, NY
October 11-14, 2012
http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/

The GeekMoms Podcast, Episode #31: Is Cosplay Normal?
http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2012/09/geekmoms-podcast-cosplay/

Follow NicoleWakelin on Twitter @NicoleWakelin
Follow Andrea Letamendi on Twitter @ArkhamAsylumDoc

Geek Girls Network
http://www.geekgirlsnetwork.com

Extra Life – Gaming for Charity
October 20, 2012
http://www.extra-life.org/

Dave’s Extra Life Profile – http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=32173
Dave’s TwitchTV Feed – http://www.twitch.tv/rainedrop184
Jessa’s Extra Life Profile – http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=37907
Andrew’s Extra Life Profile – http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=32996

 

CONTACT
Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment on the podcast entry at http://www.goodtobeageek.com, or email us at gamer@goodtobeageek.com. You can also email David at dlucier[at]goodtobeageek.com, email Jessa at jphillips[at]goodtobeageek.com.

Special thanks to Sterling for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Magnatune profile page (http://magnatune.com/artists/sterling) to learn more about him and discover more of his music.

Good To Be A Gamer is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Opinions expressed on Good To Be A Gamer are those of the hosts and/or guests and do not necessarily represent those of Good To Be A Geek. Good To Be A Geek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

E3 2012 – EA Keynote Highlights

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Category : Conventions, E-vents, E3, Featured, Game On, iOS, PC, PS3, Xbox

Graphic courtesy of Electronic Arts Electronic Arts (EA) takes the opportunity at their E3 2012 Keynote to highlight a few of their biggest hits. The publisher also reveals some of their goals for gaming development, including extended the gaming experience through more closely knit social interaction, more intuitive gameplay and digital downloads.

EA and Visceral Entertainment present Dead Space 3. This horror, action-adventure game is back and more thrilling than ever! It features, for the first time in the franchise, co-op gameplay. Rife with new environments, new characters and bigger baddies, Dead Space 3 promises more heart-pounding action, coming in February 2013.

For the sports fans, Madden NFL 13 looks to enhance the franchise with more authentic gameplay. The improved Infinity physics engine creates more realistic play by taking into account physicality, action and balance. The Connected Careers function allows for a more immersive experience with an engaging story mode that creates a whole world, even a virtual Twitter feed to provide fan reactions. Step onto the field August 28, 2012.

Just when your Sim was getting a little bored, EA announces a new Sim City for PC. With even more interactivity and larger global challenges, the world-building game is bigger than ever before. Scheduled for release in 2013.

To date, Battlefield 3 has 50 million players worldwide. EA is out to prove they are a premier digital entertainment company and DICE is on hand to assist in reaching that goal. Battlefield 3 Premium is a new rewards program exclusive to Battlefield 3 players. The program offers new skins, dog tags, weapons, server priority and more! The biggest benefit is access to 5 massive digital expansion packs, each focusing on different warfare tactics. Premier membership is available now $49.99 and members will receive early access to the first DLC pack, “Close Quarters.”

BioWare is celebrating the huge success of Star Wars: The Old Republic. They are not resting on their laurels, though. Adding more PvP action, nightmare difficulty mode, more companion characters, new level caps and abilities, and a new planet with a new storyline, BioWare is serious about expanding the game so many love and bringing in new players. In July 2012, Star Wars: The Old Republic will go free-to-play up to level 15 for new players!

Medal of Honor: Warfighter goes global with their story and ties the game to real world events. Now, players will be able to choose to become one of the 12 different Tier 1 operators from 10 different countries. Serve your country October 23, 2012.

Another big focus for EA this year is to connect every game you play across every platform you play it on. Nowhere is the push towards this goal greater than in the EA Sports franchises, with FIFA 13 and Madden NFL 13 offering more interconnectivity than previously seen. I shared a bit about Madden NFL 13 earlier, so let us take a look at FIFA 13.

FIFA’s Football Social Network connects millions of fans to the sport, their friends and their clubs. To date, 11 million people make up the FIFA club. All returning 2012 players will carry their XP to FIFA 13 and will receive a special bonus in club. In 2012, iPAD, iPhone & Android users will be connected to club. The iPhone App will be re-tooled to provide greater functionality. Gameplay innovation unlike previous years. Leonard Messi is the cover player for FIFA 13 and a huge inspiration to gameplay with his dynamic dribble moves and attacking possibilities. Players can expect gameplay innovation unlike previous years, with a smarter AI system, player impact engine and greater control.

It is no doubt EA’s commitment to sports fans that prompted the mult-year partnership with UFC. UFC has a large, rabid fan base. The ink is still wet on this deal, so there is no news about a new game, but UFC fans can rest assured there will be a future for their sports on consoles.

Perhaps you are a racing fan. Not to worry, EA has not forgotten you. 2012 sees the next iteration in the hugely popular Need for Speed franchise, with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The team at Criterion Games put their heads together to craft a game to allow the player to feel the rush of a driver on the run. This year, Need for Speed gets more competitive by making everything a challenge worth XP. Sexier cars, faster chases and more social connectivity. Get ready to put your skills to the test October 30, 2012.

Bringing back their award-winning development talent, Crytek pushes the boundaries of shooter sandbox gaming with the return of Crysis. Crysis 3 promises new tech, more powerful weapons and engaging story-telling to rival the 2 previous games. Don your nanosuit and prepare to take back the city February 2013.

EA is one of the biggest video game publishers in the world. The games featured at their EA keynote represent only a small number of their blockbuster titles. The publisher has many more upcoming titles, so stay tuned for updates.

Leave us a comment below to tell us what titles you cannot wait to play!

At the Con Podcast: PAX East 2012

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Category : Conventions, E-vents, Featured, Game On, Good To Be A Gamer, Guest Appearances, iOS, Mac, Nintendo, PAX East, PC, Product Announcements, PS3, Wii, Xbox

Recorded 04/08/2012

 

 

Jessa Phillips and David Lucier are together at last! Recording in the same room for this epic podcast episode, they are joined by special guest, Kat Lucier to talk about all the video games, cosplay, panels and more from on-site at PAX East 2012.

This episode is particularly lengthy and jam packed with goodness. For the ease and convenience of our listeners, we have included time stamps below for the topics we discussed.

In the interest of full disclosure, this episode contains adult language.

00:23 – Introductions
01:39 – General Impressions

GAMES
10:40 – Lollipop Chainsaw
12:04 – Aliens: Colonial Marines
13:44 – Jack Lumber (Indie)
16:25 – Go Home Dinosaurs (Indie)
17:56 – Retrograde (Indie)
22:06 – Theatrythm: Final Fantasy
24:39 – Spelltower (Indie)
29:59 – Snapshot (Indie)
32:45 – Primal Carnage (Indie)
36:31 – Super Time Force (Indie)
40:06 – Vessel (Indie)
41:08 – Game Minder App
43:38 – Could Summer Become the Season for Indie Games?
48:34 – Kickstarter
49:01 – Miskatonic School for Girls
51:18 – Scallops
52:56 – Cards Against Humanity
53:53 – Win, Lose or Banana
54:21 – The Secret World
57:39 – Mark of the Ninja
1:01:10 – Firefall
1:07:14 – Far Cry 3
1:09:29 – Miniature Paint n’ Take

PROMO
1:13:55 – The Entertainment Consumers’ Association (ECA)

1:15:08 – Cosplay
Portal 2 Atlas & P-Body [Kotaku]

 

PANELS
1:19:16 – Selecting Save on the Games We Make
1:21:11 – How to Make an Arcade Stick
1:21:22 – XY: Transgender Issues in Gaming
1:21:45 – Chris Avellone of Obsidian talks Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
1:24:50 – Balancing Gameplay & Plot
1:28:36 – Future of Dungeons & Dragons
1:31:51 – Stuff Your Criticism, I Want a Review
1:42:30 – Education & Gaming
1:46:00 – Future of Online Gaming
1:54:19 – DLC: Continuing the Story
1:56:48 – Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker
1:58:09 – Epic Games
1:58:58 – Legal Issues in Gaming
2:01:44 – Omegathon: Just Dance 2

2:05:02 – Final Thoughts

Spend Your Summer Vacation With Steam – Summer Camp Sale Starts Today!

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Category : Game On, Mac, PC, Product Announcements, PS3

How will you spend your summer vacation? Steam is hoping you will spend it gaming with them. Today, the gaming network launched its Summer Camp Sale.

Photo Credit: Steam

Steam has become known for its epic sales – sucking gamers into the simple “click and buy” motion with prices they simply cannot resist. What makes these sales so irressitable? The games. After all, just because a game is 60% off does not mean gamers will suddenly want to buy it. Gamers want to play the games they enjoy. Steam understands this.

Even on day one the Steam Summer Camp Sale boasts some fantastic deals, including Medal of Honor and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for 66% off, or Borderlands for 75% off the regular purchase price. How about Portal 2 or Left for Dead 2 for 35% off? Let’s say you are loyal to a particular publisher like Capcom. Steam has you covered. Today’s Summer Camp Sale deals include 33% off select Capcom titles, like Lost Planet 2, Dead Rising 2 and other fan favorites. If none of the sale offerings excite your inner gamer. No worries, every day through July 10th 2011, Steam is featuring different games and publisher offerings in their daily deals.

Photo Credit: Steam

 Cheap games not enough for you? How about free stuff? All you have to do is play. Playing games earns you Summer Camp Steam Achievements. Each achievement earns gamers a prize ticket that can be redeemed for great in-game content such as playable characters, gear and maps. Prize tickets must be redeemed during the Summer Camp Sale to get your free goodies. But wait, there’s more! Each prize ticket earns gamers a chance at the Grand Prize. 100 lucky gamers will be selected to receive the top 10 games on their wishlist!

Sign in to your Steam account on Mac, PC, or PSN today to take advantage of these great deals, giveaways and gaming. If you do not have a Steam account, head over to http://www.steampowered.com to register and install for free.

New Game in Town – Redbox Offers Video Game Rentals

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Category : Bytes, Game On, News, Nintendo, PS3, Xbox

You recognize the big red box outside your local grocery and drug stores or the McDonald’s in town. While you are running errands, you can arrange a quick, convenient night in for $1-$2, by stopping at a self-service dvd rental kiosk. Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, a subsidiary of Coinstar, Inc. has quickly become a powerhouse in the movie rental marketplace since their launch in 2002. Last year, Redbox celebrated 1 billion movie rentals with more than 27,000 redbox locations. Now, Redbox is looking to take a bite out of the video game retail space by offering game rentals at many of their locations.

Video game rentals have been available at a select 5,000 Redbox locations as part of a pilot program. Despite the limited availability, video games exceeded one million rentals in less than two years. As of June 17, 2011, Redbox began offering the game rental option to a wider audience, expanding the rentals to 21,000 more Redbox locations. Redbox kiosks offer a variety of game titles, including new releases and family kids titles, across all console platforms.

Courtesy of Redbox Automated Retail, LLC

 Whether you play on Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii or Sony Playstation 3, the newest game release can quickly be rented online, via mobile app or on-site at a convenient Redbox location. Game titles will be available to rent for $2 per night with no required return date. As long as you keep the game, Redbox will continue to charge the daily rental fee plus tax. If the game is retained for more than 25 days, renters will be charged a one-time $50 fee and will own the game – no return needed.

Redbox has a few advantages over the competition:

The foremost advantage is convenience. One could argue that GameFly, the video game rental delivery service, also offers convenience. This is true. However, the idea consumers can act on on a spontaneous decision to play a game definitely works to Redbox’s advantage. Add accessibility via internet and app access and it does not get any easier.

Product placement is key. In this regard, Redbox is exceedingly intelligent. Placing kiosks in everyday locations such as McDonald’s locations and grocery stores is a huge positive, keeping the brand directly in front of consumers and presenting a quick, easy experience.

The option to try before you buy is also a big plus for Redbox. With popular new titles costing $39.99 to $59.99 or more, the ability to play the game before opening your wallet could itself bolster the appeal of Redbox game rentals.

Cash is king. Most new releases for Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3 are priced at $59.99. Even with the one-time $50 charge (plus taxes) to keep the video game after 25 days of rental, you could save money.

Physical product. There is still something to be said for having the disc in your possession. Think of it as your gaming security blanket, or insurance against hard drive failure or a massive data breach. Sometimes it just feels good to know you have a disc.

Visit Redbox.com to find a game or your local Redbox location. You can also rent your movie or game on the website and mobile phone users can download the Redbox app for iPhone or Android.

Read the April 28, 2011 announcement from Redbox.

The First (and Most Important) Day of E3 is Over!

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Category : Conventions, E-vents, E3, Game On, Product Announcements, PS3, Xbox

E3 is my favorite time of year. I might like watching the press conferences from the three main platform holders more than I actually like playing video games. Today, as I toiled away at work, I missed the Microsoft press conference AND I missed Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. I missed EA’s press conference. Then, I came home, ate dinner, and was forced to choose between watching my beloved Bruins destroy the dastardly Canucks or watching the Sony presser, and I chose the hockey. Really, I missed everything, and E3 is the one thing that, year in and year out, I miss nothing. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to assume that I can’t be the only one who missed everything. You’re in luck, though, because I have parsed though everything after the fact and managed to pick out all of the highlights, and I am kind enough to present them to you here in a very manageable form. You’re welcome.

The Expected!

Kinect. Microsoft continues to push Kinect because a bunch of people bought it and nobody’s really sure why just yet. For example, in the upcoming sequel to breakout Kinect hit Dance Central, you’ll be able to dance-battle a second player, and dance battles are probably everybody’s favorite thing I guess. Also, lots of Kinect will be invading a new Fable title. Peter Molyneux wants you to wave at your television to cast spells. I wish Peter Molyneux wanted to do something that wasn’t making Fable games because I don’t and I never will like them.

Gears of War 3. Yeah, that’s a game we all knew about already, but this time they showed a single-player trailer and this got people all worked up. I can’t get into Gears of War, but people like it so I guess that’s a thing. It looked like Gears of War but better than the other ones.

Halo. We’re going to get a Halo 4, which should surprise nobody because Microsoft formed 343 studios for the express purpose of developing Halo titles. Halo 4 will be the first part of a new Halo trilogy, which I’m sure will be the second trilogy in a trilogy of trilogies. In addition to this, the rumors of an HD remake of the original Halo turned out to be true. So lots of Halo in Microsoft’s future, to be sure.

Xbox Dashboard. The dashboard is getting yet another pretty massive overhaul, including voice navigation, lots of IPTV stuff, and better support for Kinect. The new interface sort of looks like Sony’s Xross Media Bar made sex with Windows Phone 7. I’m sure they’ll still find a way to sell you Mntn Dew as soon as you turn on your XBox.

Mass Effect 3. It looks amazing, and why wouldn’t it?

Uncharted. It’s probably Sony’s marquee franchise right now, and they’re riding it about as hard as Microsoft is riding Halo. Each of the two games they showed (One for PS3, one for NGP) were previously announced, but it’s always nice to let us see them because they’re sort of a feast for the eyes.

NGP. Or, as it’s now officially known as, Playstation Vita. Vita is the official name of Sony’s new handheld system. This is something that everybody already knew, so there you go.

HD collections. Rereleasing SD games in HD for the PS3 is Sony’s big new thing, and they really really love doing it. The Sly Cooper collection and the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus collection should both be out in the fall, along with the PSP Remasters God of War collection.

Apologies. Sony’s giving ‘em out because we all deserve ‘em. They feel terrible about what happened with PSN and they want to make sure that we all know.

Resistance. That new one looks good. The second one looked good too though, and we all know how that turned out.

The Unexpected!

Minecraft. It’s coming exclusively to the XBox 360 and it will have Kinect support. I know that you have questions, but that’s okay because nobody has any answers for you.

Bioshock Infinite. Remember how Sony got Gabe Newell to come out and eat crow during their press conference last year? This year they kind of got Bioshock main superguy Ken Levine to do the same about the Move controller. Ken even went so far as to announce move compatibility for Bioshock Infinite. In fact, he loves the Move so much that there will be an exclusive Bioshock Infinite game for the Vita sometime in the future. I know, right? I can’t wait to see who they get to sell themselves on stage next year.

Vita. Arguably the best news of Day One of E3 never even came out in a press conference today. In a press release which came out during Sony’s press conference, they detailed release and pricing information for the Vita. We can pick one up this upcoming holiday season for the same price as a PSP-Go: $249. Well, that price is for the wifi only model. If you want 3g, it’ll cost an extra $50. Given the reaction to the PS3 price, Sony probably thought it wise not to make a big deal out of the price tag, but it was actually met pretty universally with pleasant surprise. Granted, $249 is not cheap, especially for a portable game system. Still, it doesn’t cost anymore than an 3DS does. You could even call this price “aggressive” if you wanted to. I don’t want to, but I don’t feel strongly enough to argue you with you if that’s what what you want to do. I like arguing too. Still, if you were like “This is an aggressive price point by Sony, blah blah blah poor 3DS sales blah blah they could win the portable war this generation” I’d be like “Yeah, you’re probably right” an then somebody else would be like “But smart phones herdy dur dur” and then I’d be like “People like buttons that doesn’t count bop bop bop” and then I’d be arguing, oh yeah.

Yes, more things happened today, I know. But I’m tired, and this is all the most important stuff. E3 wasn’t as exciting today as it maybe should have been, so we’ll have to wait until Nintendo blows our minds (rolls our eyes) for all the mind blowing (eye rolling) stuff.

uDraw Game Tablet Coming to Xbox 360 & PS3

2

Category : Game On, Product Announcements, PS3, Xbox

Courtesy of THQ, Inc.

Last year, the Nintendo Wii got a new accessory, the uDraw Game Tablet. Now Xbox 360 & PS3 are getting new gear too! This week, Brian Farrell, President & CEO at THQ, announced the expansion of their revolutionary game tablet intended to unleash creativity.

“The uDraw offers amazing innovation and opens new doors of artistic possibility. There’s no console-based artistic tool like it.”

- Brian Farrell, THQ President & CEO

THQ is serious about capitalizing on the expansion and looks to make this move as successful as the uDraw was for Wii consoles, with 1.7 million uDraw units shipped to date for Wii consoles since the November 2010 launch. THQ updated the new hardware with a sleek contemporary design that promises to integrate console controls directly into the tablet.

Courtesy of THQ, Inc.

The new tablet also boasts enhanced features such as direct touch-screen interface including pinch-and-stretch, as well as rotation capabilities. A more sensitive stylus will allow for greater precision and detail. With integrated motion features and high-definition for art creation and gameplay, the uDraw Game Tablet is something to look forward to and you can expect to get a sneak peek at this week’s E3 Expo.

Showing their commitment to the uDraw Game Tablet, the new hardware for Xbox 360 and PS3 will ship with the updated uDraw Studio: Instant Artist. The software was developed to maximize the tablet’s core functionality. uDraw Studio comes packed with tutorials and basic art guides to help users more easily create and share their inspired art online. New users can join the thousands of current users who have already uploaded their creations to www.worldofudraw.com/art-spotlight.

THQ is also working with other developers to add interactive gameplay experiences and add to their growing number of tablet titles. In addition, THQ is already in production on a number of titles for the new HD-capable hardware, as well as new titles for the current Wii tablet, which are expected to be announce within the next six months.

The uDraw Game Tablet for Nintendo Wii consoles is available for purchase now. The uDraw Game Tablet for Xbox 360 and PS3 is expected for release in time for the 2011 holidays.

To learn more about the uDraw Game Tablet and upcoming titles, visit the official uDraw website.
To read the complete press release, click here.

Oh No PSN Store, Welcome YOU Back!

2

Category : Game On, PS3

So, the time is now upon us that Sony will officially acknowledge what we’ve already known: the Playstation Network is back, and they’re taking this opportunity to stand at the front door with arms wide open and bearing gifts. Now, we’re already in the house enjoying the hors d’oeurves, but it would be poor form not to let the host greet us, especially when it’s offering up to four free games just for saying hello. So let’s take a look at what Sony has to offer us to help soften the blow of it’s month-long absence.

By now we’re all familiar with the ratings scale: PASS, EH, and OKAY, YEAH.

PS3

LittleBigPlanet – In terms of how much content you’re actually going to get for free, LBP is far and away the leader in this category. Plus, it was a pretty awesome game, and to this day one of the very few PS3 titles I’ve been able to get my girlfriend to sit down and play with me without throwing the controller down in disgust immediately afterword because “it’s so stupid” and she “can’t even see why you’d ever want to play something like this that’s so dumb,” or anything like that. Still, that doesn’t make the game any less than three years old, and it also doesn’t erase the superior and recently released sequel. A great game, just a little dated. EH.

inFAMOUS – Another game that used to be available only on a blu-ray disc, but this one’s a little more fresh than LittleBigPlanet. The tradeoff here is that it wasn’t exactly a cutting edge, boundary pushing title when it came out. It holds up, though, because of how well it was designed. The sequel to this game is coming out in the very, very near future, so if you want to give yourself a little primer on what you may have missed out on the first time around, this is a great opportunity to do so. It’s worth overlooking the ridiculous capitalization. OKAY, YEAH.

Wipeout HD w/ Fury – I’m not a big racing game guy, but the original Wipeout games on Playstation are some of my favorite games of all time. I also loved the PSP Wipeout games. The promise of a Wipeout HD was one of the primary motivating factors behind me buying both a PS3 and an HDTV. This game is awesome to play and to look at, and it offers assists and such to make the game playable by people of all skill levels. It’s also arguably still the best looking game on the PS3, if slick Euro-furture environments and crazy flashing lights and colors (which actually caused this game to be delayed for a very significant period of time because it induced seizures) are your thing. If you dig presentation, are even a little interested in high speed racing games, and you don’t already own this package, getting Wipeout HD alone for free is worth it. Toss in the Fury add-on, though, and it is a MUST. OKAY, YEAH.

Dead Nation – Like twin-stick shooters? Not sick of shooting zombies yet? Like the idea of doing it with a friend? Dead Nation does a lot of things right, and in some ways it is the ultimate mashup of the twin-stick shooter and zombies. That said, there’s a lot of each of those games out there, and Dead Nation represents the best of neither of these genres. It runs out a lot of cool social and weapon upgrade features over some very well-trodden, safe territory. How much you’ll like Dead Nation depends greatly on how you feel about twin-stick shooters and/or zombies. EH.

Super Stardust HD – Before they made Dead Nation, Housemarque developed a remake of an old classic and, in so doing, created on of the finest titles the twin-stick shooter genre has to offer. Super Stardust HD puts its own twist on the genre by putting the player on a spherical planet as opposed to freely wandering through a screen-filling space, then giving the player and arsenal of three different weapons to utilize in order to destroy enemy rocks and metals. It felt fresh back in 2007 when this game was released, and it’s still unmatched in many ways four years later. A bit of an oldie, but a goodie. OKAY, YEAH.

PSP

I can’t even bring myself to break these titles down in any sort of detail, as this a pretty disappointing yield.

LittleBigPlanet – It’s good, and you should get it for your PSP if you don’t already have it. OKAY, YEAH.

Modnation Racers – Not as fun as its PS3 counterpart, but at least it doesn’t have the minute-plus load times to deal with. EH.

Killzone Liberation – A third person shooter which is actually pretty good if you can get past controlling the camera with the face buttons. I cannot, but then again you may want to grab this game and hold onto it if you’re planning on picking up a (alleged) PSVita because Sony has promised the ability to control the camera with its right stick in the future. I’m not sure that the promise that someday a game will be playable is enough of a reason to get a game, though. EH.

Pursuit Force – I don’t know what Pursuit Force is, and nobody else does either. PASS.

The PSN Store is Back! Buyers Guide! Pt. 1

Category : Game On, PS3

And with today’s PSN Store restoration comes a bunch of games that probably would have been released a month ago had nefarious hackers not conspired to destroy the lives of those who eat and breathe Sony’s Playstation brand. Because of this, not all of this stuff is new, as a couple of titles I’m about to discuss have already been released on XBox Live Arcade. Maybe you don’t have an XBox though. Hey, then these little bits are absolutely relevant to you. It’s okay if they’re not, though. You don’t have to read them. Still, you should, because what I have to say is very important, even if it is mostly speculative and based on things I’ve seen or read or played in a purely demonstrative sense because who has the time to play everything anyway? I don’t, and you don’t either. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this, so stop looking at me like that. We’re supposed to be in this together.

*Games will be rated on a scale of PASS, EH, or OKAY, YEAH.

THE OLD!

Star Raiders (Atari) $9.99 – Star Raiders is one of aforementioned games that has already been released on XBLA, and if the prospect of a game where you fly through space in a transforming spaceship gets you all worked up, then I apologize for throwing this glass of cold water on your face. Star Raiders is a modern 3D reworking of a game from 1979 featuring some nice looking visuals, ship transformations, laser beams, missiles, robots, robots that help you fly a spaceship that transforms itself (note: the ship does not transform into a robot), and a lot of space to shoot lasers and missiles in. It just doesn’t stay fun for very long and it doesn’t control particularly well. Each of the three ship transformations has its own control scheme as well, making it even harder to get a feel for what should be pretty awesome 3D space combat that you thought about all the time when you were a kid and even last night before you fell asleep probably. There’s a demo, and if you’re still interested in this game then you should probably play that first. PASS.

Sega Rally Online Arcade (Sega) $9.99 – Again, maybe you already played this on XBLA. Maybe you already played most of this content in an arcade in 2008 as well. Maybe not, though, because that assumes that there was actually an arcade somewhere in 2008. The point is that there’s really nothing new in this title besides online play. That said, Sega did a good job with their arcade rally racing games, and this game represents the best of their work in this field. I question the legs of a game like this, as I have no idea how well an arcade rally racing game would hold up today. I think it’s fun, but I probably wouldn’t play it for more than a couple of days, and I’m probably not the only person who thinks that way. You’d be paying $10 for an online racing game that will likely only have a significant population for a week or two, but then I suppose that might be better than paying $60 for a game like Blur which couldn’t boast much better than that. Maybe that game was only $40, but you get it. If you’re only looking to relive your arcade glory days for a week or so, you can do worse. EH.

THE REALLY OLD!

Alien Crush, Bonk’s Adventure, Bomberman ’94 (Hudson) $5.99 each – You remember Turbo Grafx, right? That’s where these games all came from! And, personally? I’m not interested in any of them! Alien Crush is widely considered to be the greatest video pinball game of all time, but the problem with that honor is that Alien Crush is still a video pinball game. PASS. Bonk’s Adventure was designed to be the killer app for the Turbo Grafx. Bonk was to be their Mario, their Sonic. Instead, hardly anyone bought a Turbo Grafx and I have a feeling that a large part of that was because Bonk’s Adventure wasn’t a very good game. PASS. Bomberman ’94 is a relic from a time when Hudson paid very close attention to what EA was doing with its sports games and decided to annually update their prized Bomberman franchise with roster updates, expanded playbooks, and upgraded graphics and opponent AI. They finally decided to nix this process right before implementing detailed player creation, scouting combines and a draft system. I’m not a Bomberman guy, but even if I was I know I’d probably be sick of him by now. PASS.

Dragon’s Lair 2 (Digital Leisure) $9.99 – Hey, remember laser disc games? I wish I didn’t! PASS.

THE NEW!

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (XSEED) $14.99 – The Wizardry franchise is OG RPG, and it’s carved out a niche for itself by riding decidedly against the current of the genre it helped to create. This latest entry in the series is no different, as Labyrinth of Lost Souls is exactly the punishingly difficult 3D grid-based dungeon crawler you might expect. This is absolutely NOT a game for everyone, and it’s actually a little bit too much for me. Still, it’s a quality game and it’s nice to see hand drawn 2D sprites still have a place in modern RPGs, even if they aren’t especially modern in design. Again, a demo is out there. EH.

Red Johnson Chronicles (Lexis Numerique) $12.99 – I doubt it’s much of a coincidence that a gritty point-and-click adventure story is released on the heels of Rockstar’s LA Noire. Red Johnson Chronicles has a really, really nice look about it, it has a time-constrained dialogue element, and the puzzles are being widely met with approval. Plus, you can knock around $3 off the price with your upcoming free month of PS+ service (part of the Welcome Back package). Dig point and click adventures? Finished LA Noire, and looking for maybe something a little different but also a little similar? Maybe just curious and drawn in by the artwork and/or atmosphere? OKAY, YEAH.

Under Siege (Seed) $19.99 – I am NOT an RTS guy, and I haven’t been in a very long time. They’re too complicated, too grand, and they never ever ever work on a console. That said, I cannot tell you why I am so intrigued by this game. I guess I like that it’s got a medieval setting because of how much I like swords and how much easier it is to understand something when a sword is involved. I also like the gameplay is more focused on small skirmishes as opposed to larger battle and that the game was specifically designed to be played with a Dual Shock controller (or a Move, you motion gamers you). I also like that the game really packs on the content and also features online multiplayer and a map editor which is, by all accounts, robust. I can also tell you that I’m way into the fact that the $19.99 price point will be cut to an even $10 when my free month of PS+ kicks in, making taking a shot at a genre that’s burned me so many times in the past much more palatable. OKAY, YEAH.

Learning with the PooYoos Episode One (Lexis Numerique) $8.99 – You can read, right? PASS.

Back in Black

Category : Game On, PS3

For the last month or so, I’ve been more or less a ghost. Nobody has seen me, and yet they’ve all heard my cries echoing through their halls at night. They were soft, blubbering sobs; filled with with laments of my inability to play Portal 2 co-op, regrets of an Xbox Live Gold membership lapsed into a Silver membership and a pride which would not allow me to renew, but most importantly overflowing with a sorrowful mourning for the untimely passing of my beloved PSN store. I would think about the games that I could have, that should have been mine, and I would become incapacitated by the shackles of my dreadful sorrow.

Desperate to transfer games from an online storefront onto an internal storage solution, I purchased several small but forgettable titles on Steam, and I even went so far as to fix my broken Xbox. Still, no amount of money transferred from my debit card in exchange for virtual goods could fill the void left by the familiar beeps and restless periods of unresponsiveness as you attempt to purchase something on the PSN store. I fired off a scornful missive, and then retreated to my chambers until the light would once again shine upon me. Friends, that day has come, as today the PSN store makes it triumphant return to North American territories!

This wonderful news does not come without its own concerns, however. Naturally, we all set aside a weekly stipend to spend on PSN titles, and we continued to do so in the store’s absence. In fact, it’s so obvious that we all would have exhibited this exact behavior that I needn’t have even mentioned it, and so I apologize for wasting your time and mine. We all have plenty of money to spend on absolutely anything that so much as catches our eye as the floodgates open and Sony deploys several weeks worth of PSN releases in an accelerated period. What we do lack, however, is the time it takes to get properly acquainted with these titles. Now, I am aware that many of us have around two weeks of vacation time stored up at this point, and of course I am taking that into consideration because one would have to be a fool to pass up on this amazing vacation opportunity. Still, that will likely only take you through the week one releases, and then what will you do come week two?

That is why I’ve returned from the ashes like the mighty phoenix PSN store to break down the releases and help ensure that you don’t miss out on a real gem of a game because you spent all your time playing Learning With the PooYoos Volume One (released today). I haven’t even gotten to the Welcome Back program yet, where you will be forced to pick two games out of five and then to watch the other three get dragged out into the front lawn to be cut down as an example to those who would defy the emperor. There’s a lot going on here, and I understand that it can be a little overwhelming. It’s okay, I’m here for you.

Later today, I will post a buyers guide to Day One of Return of the King PSN Store, and together we can get through this.

Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone

Category : Game On, PS3

We are now mere hours away from what will be Day 7 of PSNocolypse 2011: This Time It’s Personal, and I wanted to take this moment to express a few different things that I’m feeling at this moment.

- I still haven’t played Portal 2′s co-op campaign. The PSN outage occurred as I was finishing the single player campaign, and so a very large component of what is already my favorite game of 2011 sits untouched. Yes, I could play the game with a friend on Steam, I know. Trouble is that I’m waiting for one friend in particular, and this friend cannot play with me over Steam.

- I feel awful for all the people who opted for the new Mortal Kombat on the PS3 lured by the prospect of rending foes limb from limb with Sony’s fan-favorite protagonist Kratos of God Of War fame. Even if the game’s King of the Hill mode is all sorts of broken for 360 owners, at least they get to play the game against real people.

- Even though, I don’t care about MK, I do care very deeply about fighting games, and I was going to pick up Aksys Games’ Arcana Heart 3 this week. It was released exclusively as a PSN download for a very fair $30 price point which alleviates some of the embarrassment gleaned from purchasing a game in which the characters are exclusively cute anime girls even though the game itself has the chops to earn the respect of the hardcore fighting game crowd. I can’t buy that game because PSN is down. Not only am I not playing it, but I’m also not able to help support Aksys Games, a company I feel very much deserves support. Horrible timing for them, as I am certain that they are depending very heavily on this release. Side note, throw them a bone and pick up 999 on the DS if you haven’t already. It is an AMAZING game and it took serious balls on the part of Aksys to pick it up and localize it in the west.

- Pained by my unfulfilled desire for Arcana Heart 3, I’m left to stare longingly at Super Street Fighter IV, yet another game I cannot play against real people right now.

- I feel awful for the people who have been waiting for SOCOM 4. SOCOM players are incredibly hardcore people who have already paid their dues by having to tolerate online play on the PS2, which is no small feat. Since the release of the PS3, they’ve already had to suffer though a sub-par SOCOM experience which was not made by the people who are supposed to make SOCOM. This was supposed to be their day in the sun, but the darkness fell before their eyes could even adjust to the light.

- As far as I can tell, this is how this whole thing has gone down: One day, there was a guy who circumvented the copy protection on the PS3. He told everyone his name, he showed everyone his face, and then released his nefarious work to the public. Sony, having already had one console killed in the west thanks to rampant piracy, needed to do something, anything, to show third parties that they were serious about preventing piracy on their systems and thus protecting the investments of publishers and developers who take a chances by releasing their games on Sony’s consoles. Naturally, they took the shameless hacker to court over the mess he had made. Meanwhile, an anonymous hacker group called Anonymous decided that Sony shouldn’t try to protect their business relationships and declared a hacker war on Sony. The people at the head of this hacker organization, however, quickly realized that their hacker war on Sony was going to piss off regular people more than it was going to piss off Sony, and because they so desperately want to seem like a populist organization, they called off their attacks. They did so publicly, at any rate, because soon afterward a hacker attack on PSN caused Sony to shut it down indefinitely in order to protect the integrity of their network and the privacy of their customers. The anonymous hacker group (Anonymous) publicly stated that they had nothing to do with it, but also through in the caveat that it was entirely possible that anonymous members of the anonymous hacker group (Anonymous) could have been (probably definitely were) responsible. Now, because hackers are jerks, I can’t play video games and I will likely have to get a new credit card and change many of my passwords.

So thanks, hackers, for being jerks and doing jerky stuff. Thanks a bunch.

First Impression: Steam on PS3

Category : Game On, PS3, Reviews

So yesterday was Portal 2sday, which we all know to be very, very important. Truly, it is, and I will have more on that in the very very near future. However, the other important thing about yesterday was the debut of Valve’s Steam service on its third platform, That Triple. As much as I have looked forward to Portal 2, I’ve almost been more excited about this Steam thing and what it could possibly mean in the future.

I probably should have tempered my expectations a bit. Steam on the PS3 is exactly what Valve told us it would be, which isn’t a bad thing. Actually, it really highlights some of the flaws of PSN in ways that I’m sure Sony had hoped it wouldn’t. Pressing the select button during Portal 2 gameplay brings you right to the Steam overlay, letting you quickly chat with anybody on your Steam friends list much more quickly than sending them a PSN message, and it lets you view your own and your friends’ Steam achievements before the XMB could even finish the obscenely long trophy sync operation. Even in this limited implementation, I think it would be great if other publishers were able to take advantage Steam integration. It remains to be seen how things such as updates will work, but I’m optimistic and feel that overall this is a step in the right direction.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is science to be done and then I can tell you all about how much I love Portal 2 because I love it quite a bit.

Episode 02 – At the Con: TempleCon

1

Category : Conventions, Game On, Guest Appearances, PC, PS3, TempleCon, Xbox

At the Con: TempleCon (Ep 02)

On the show, I go to TempleCon. EA is in hot water, Playstation has been busy and Undead Labs is having a very good week.

NEED TO KNOW
**News**
Sony PSP2: Sony announced technical specification for their next generation portable. Dubbed the PSP2, it comes packed with features, including a 5” multi-touch OLED sreen, WiFi & 3G connectivity, dual analog sticks and a rear touchpad, front and rear cameras and built-in GPS. Sony is looking to bridge the gap between console & portable gaming.
Read the Sony Computer Entertainment press release: http://www.scei.co.jp/corporate/release/110127a_e.html

Playstation Phone: A norwegian site, DroidNYTT, got their hands on a leaked commercial which seems to confirm the Playstation Phone is real and it has a name. The latest leak reveals the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, expected to officially be announced at the Mobile World Congress, taking play February 14-17, 2011. The commercial suggests the phone will run on the Android platform.
Watch the commercial on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MV09PRsAU2Y

Undead Labs teams up with Microsoft Games to bring their open-world zombie survival game to XBLA. Code named “Class 3,” this first look at their big picture asks gamers to put their survival skills to the test in the zombie apocolypse. Incorporating a “choose your own adventure” aspect, the content is influenced by the decisions and actions of the players as they determine where to find shelter, how to obtain resources and how to face off against the zombie hordes. The most interesting part of this game development is that Class 3 is the first part of what will become a bigger game, code-named “Class 4.” The development team is so committed to creating a fully functioning and immersive game, they are trying something new by focusing on the game-play aspects to really nail them down, before moving on to expand the world and the multitude of options that will be available in the completed “Class 4.”
Read more at Undead Labs: http://undeadlabs.com/2011/02/news/undead-labs-and-microsoft-game-studios-to-create-zombie-survival-franchise-on-xbox-360/

Common Sense Media seeks sanctions against EA: At the heart of the Dead Space 2 marketing campaign is a commercial boasting “Your mom hates Dead Space 2,” showing reactions from a group of mothers being shown graphic footage from the new game. The shock advertising is meant to appeal to rebellious young gamers. Dead Space 2 has been rated for players age 17 and up. The accusation here is not the campaign itself is offensive, rather that the campaign works too well, enticing gamers under 17 to play. The ESRB has already denied the request, reminding Common Sense Media it cannot be proved the commercial targets gamers of a specific age. Further, the ESRB was consulted and approved the commercial prior to its airing.
Read more from the LA Times coverage: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/02/your-mom-hates-dead-space-2-advert-stirring-controversy.html

**Games released last week include:
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops (PC)
Earthrise (PC)

**Games being released this week include:
Mario Sports Mix (Wii)
Sniper: Ghost Warrior (PS3)
Hyperdimension Neptunia (PS3)
Trinity: Sould of Zill O’ll Zero (PS3)
Dungeons (PC)
Fate of The World (PC)
Two Worlds II (PC)
EverQuest II: Destiny of Velious (PC)
Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble (Nintendo DS)
Test Drive Unlimited 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
You Don’t Know Jack (Nintendo DS, PS3, Xbox 360)
Body & Brain Connection (Xbox 360 w/Kinect)

**On the Calendar, check out these Upcoming Events:

Total Confusion
February 24-27, 2011
Holiday Inn in Mansfield, MA
Website: http://www.totalcon.com

PAX East
March 11-130, 2011
BCEC in Boston, MA
Website: http://east.paxsite .com

GET IN THE GAME
On this episode I am at the con, covering TempleCon 2011. Check back at Good To Be A Gamer later this week for more coverage.

TempleCon (Board, Card, LARP, Miniatures, Video Gaming & Steampunk)
February 2-4, 2011
Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI
Website: http://www.templecon.org

Temple Games
167 Columbus Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02860
Phone: (401) 305-0836
http://www.thetemplegames.com

Thanks to Sterling for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Magnatune profile page to learn more about him and discover more of his music. http://magnatune.com/artists/sterling

Good To Be A Gamer is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Opinions expressed on Good To Be A Gamer are those of the host and/or guests and do not necessarily represent those of Good To Be A Geek.

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