Sony to discontinue 80GB PS3 – Backwards compatibility cries

Best Buy sent a notice to employees that the 80GB PS3 is being discontinued and that the only model offered from here on out will be the more economical 40GB version. This is kind of a bummer because it’s points to a total discontinuation of backwards compatibility support for PS2 and PSOne titles on the PlayStation 3 unless you’re willing to wait for and purchase the titles over PSN. This image was yanked from a Best Buy bulletin (click to enlarge):

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Remember that it was Best Buy that first mentioned the discontinuation of the 20GB and 60GB models, so this is pretty conclusive evidence. As a 60GB owner, I’m really hoping that my console never has an issue because I love the BC aspect of the console. If you were holding off on getting a PS3, maybe it’s time to take the plunge if you value PS2/PSOne game support (via discs). In my opinion this is a terrible move, but whatever. Sony is trying to push the PS3 as a good value, but the hardcore Sony fans can’t be too happy.

UPDATE: Super cheap preorders at Wal-Mart.com

Update: The pricing has been changed back to regular MSRP. No word yet on whether or not Wal-Mart will honor the orders already placed.
This might be a pricing error, but many preorders at Wal-Mart.com are worth checking out. The most notable games are:

Wii – Super Smash Bros.: Brawl – $20:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ…30411815755716

Xbox 360 – Devil May Cry 4 – $40:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ…14903098620702

PlayStation 3 – Haze – $30:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ…uct_id=6527031

Xbox 360 – Burnout Paradise – $40:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ…uct_id=7080024

Xbox 360 – Turok – $30
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5651618

Xbox 360 – Condemned 2: Bloodshot – $20
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=8217142

There are more games that are priced way below normal retail price. If it’s a mistake, there’s a chance that Wal-Mart will honor all orders that are placed before it gets corrected, and you could always cancel your order if they don’t honor the price. Who knows how long the prices will be active if it is an error…so be quick!

The Orange Box has issues on the PS3

For those that haven’t picked up The Orange Box yet (shame on you!), IGN’s review of the PS3 version has come out and, while scoring well, seems to be a bit of a disappointment when compared to the PC or Xbox 360 versions of the game. It’s no secret that Gabe Newell has had his complaints regarding the PS3 architecture, but it’s not clear whether or not the performance issues are developer related or technology related. To quote IGN:

[…] Unfortunately, our complaints don’t stop there. The remainder of our criticisms are to blame for the discrepancy in scores between the PlayStation 3 version of the game and the 360 version (the PS3 version, after all, wasn’t handled entirely by Valve). The PlayStation 3 Orange Box performs far worse, and this fact just isn’t up for debate. While framerate issues aren’t as problematic in Half-Life 2 and Episode One, Episode Two suffers a great deal, especially during the episode’s larger battles. We regret to say that some sections border on being unplayable because of the stutters, which often cause your aim to be thrown off and timing shots to be very difficult. The problem isn’t persistent throughout, but when it hits, it hits hard.

More troubling still is the difference in load times. Almost all the PS3 load times are at least five seconds more than the 360, but loading a saved game/loading after death is particularly awful. These clock in at about two to three times as long as the 360 version, which slows down the gameplay considerably. Even though the PS3 Orange Box sports a quicksave feature, any benefit of this option is lost considering the overall abundance of loading.

Even in Portal, a short title that often requires a little trial and error, this problem is massive. The 360 version takes about three seconds to load your last checkpoint if you die. The PS3 version takes seventeen. It hurts.

We must also mention that during all of our Team Fortress 2 play sessions, there was a very startling delay when using explosive weapons like the Soldier’s rocket launcher or the Demoman’s grenade launcher. When you pull the trigger to fire, there’s a very brief but noticeable delay between the recoil of the weapon and the actual delivery of the explosive. This can seriously screw up your timing when trying to lead a rocket shot, or similar attacks. […]

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To be fair to Valve, it seems that portions of The Orange Box on PS3 was farmed out to another developer. It’s entirely possible that this little buddy that Valve used just doesn’t have enough experience with the Source engine and the PS3 in general to achieve optimal results. It truly is a shame, especially when you consider just how amazing the package is. Still, if you don’t have a capable PC (Source runs great on most setups), and you don’t have a 360, I’d still recommend picking the game up for the PS3. Just know that you’re probably going to run into some hiccups along the way.

Amazon’s top ten games of the year

Amazon.com released their top ten list today for games, and here is how it breaks down. Sorry if the formatting is a little funny, but I tried pulling this straight in from Amazon to try something out.

1. Super Mario Galaxy by Nintendo
Amazon Game Room says:
“Our one word review for the new Mario: Wow! The new standard in platformers, the best game on the Wii hands down, and maybe the best Nintendo game of all time. If you don’t own a Wii yet, this is the reason to buy one.”
 

2. The Orange Box by Electronic Arts
Amazon Game Room says:
“The Orange Box is loaded with phenomenal games – Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal – and each game by itself is amazing. Portal itself is one of the most innovative games in years.”


3. BioShock by 2K Games
Amazon Game Room says:
“A tremendous first person shooter experience with a great storyline, amazing graphics, creepy little girls, and one of the best baddies – “Big Daddy” – in years.”


4. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass by Nintendo
Amazon Game Room says:
“The best game to date on the Nintendo DS, Phantom Hourglass makes great use of the stylus, has a terrific storyline, and provides action/adventure everyone should enjoy.”
 


5. Rock Band Special Edition by MTV Games
Amazon Game Room says:
“The comparisons to Guitar Hero are natural, but the guitar and game play have a smoother feel in Rock Band. Plus, the song list is extra strong thanks to MTV’s involvement. But most of all: DRUMS!”
 


6. God of War 2 by Sony Computer Entertainment
Amazon Game Room says:
“2007 was a year of many great games and lots of focus on next generation consoles. Somehow along the way, GOW2 got a bit overlooked. It’s an amazing game that builds upon and goes beyond the original. A must for gamers who can tolerate heavy violence, it’s one of best PS2 games of all time.”
 


7. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare by Activision
Amazon Game Room says:
“The fourth installment of COD is simply amazing and by far the best game of the series. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is near-perfect for a first person shooter.”
 

8. Crysis by Electronic Arts
Amazon Game Room says:
“This game is a powerhouse. Graphically, this is simply the best game on earth. A great game for those who have the PC power to run it.”
 


9. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction by Sony Computer Entertainment
Amazon Game Room says:
“It’s like playing through a Pixar movie. The graphics are amazing and the game play is a blast. For PS3 owners this is a must own game.”

10. Halo 3 by Microsoft
Amazon Game Room says:
“Certainly no game received more press during the year…and deservedly so. The third installment continues the Halo tradition of providing gamers a great first person shooter experience. If you’re an online junkie, Halo 3 is a no brainer buy.”

Rock Band strikes back…a new king ready to be crowned?

Yesterday Guitar Hero III saw some new tracks made available for download. We were a bit excited because it came so early, but today some of the DLC for Rock Band was leaked. Well, let me be the first to say that this shames anything Activision has ever offered for download to support either GHII or GHIII thus far. Here’s what we know is coming up soon for Rock Band (in addition to the already announced full album downloads from Nirvana, The Grateful Dead, and The Who):

The Police pack:

  • “Roxanne”
  • “Synchronicity II”
  • “Can’t Stand Losing You”

Queens of the Stone Age pack:

  • “3s and 7s”
  • “Sick Sick Sick”
  • “Little Sister”

Metallica pack:

  • Three or six songs, none announced yet

Black Sabbath pack:

  • “N.I.B.” (cover)
  • “Sweet Leaf” (cover)
  • “War Pigs” (cover)

David Bowie pack:

  • “Moonage Dream”
  • “Heroes”
  • “Queen Bitch”

Punk pack:

  • “Ever Fallen in Love” by Buzzcocks (cover)
  • “I Fought the Law” by The Clash
  • “Rockaway Beach” by The Ramones

Single Songs:

  • “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival
  • “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner
  • “My Sharona” by The Knack
  • “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
  • “Bang a Gong” by T-Rex
  • “Joker and the Thief” by Wolfmother
  • “Brass in a Pocket” by Pretenders
  • “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead
  • “Buddy Holly” by Weezer

Yeah, you guys read that right…SINGLE SONGS! Activision could learn from this and start offering single songs as well. I hate the packs, personally, because usually you don’t want all three. I’m super stoked for My Iron Lung and some of the other tracks listed above. It sure would be nice if a DLC war could get started between the two franchises…

Rock Band Final Track Listing

In a recently released PR, the Rock Band final track listing (not including bonus tracks or DLC tracks) has been unveiled. They fine PR folks did us a service by breaking them down by decade. Here’s the list:

1960s

  • Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

1970s

  • Aerosmith “Train Kept a Rollin'”*
  • The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
  • Boston “Foreplay/Long Time”
  • Mountain “Mississippi Queen” (cover)
  • The Police “Next to You”
  • David Bowie “Suffragette City”
  • Black Sabbath “Paranoid” (cover)
  • Blue Oyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
  • The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop”
  • Deep Purple “Highway Star”
  • KISS “Detroit Rock City”
  • Molly Hatchet “Flirtin’ With Disaster”
  • The Outlaws “Green Grass & High Tides” (cover)
  • Sweet “Ballroom Blitz” (cover)

1980s

  • Rush “Tom Sawyer”*
  • Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive”
  • The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
  • Faith No More “Epic”
  • Pixies “Wave of Mutilation”
  • R.E.M. “Orange Crush”
  • Iron Maiden “Run to the Hills” (cover)

1990s

  • Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly”
  • Metallica “Enter Sandman”
  • Nirvana “In Bloom”
  • Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”
  • Weezer “Say It Ain’t So”
  • Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”
  • Radiohead “Creep”
  • Beastie Boys “Sabotage”
  • Hole “Celebrity Skin”
  • Garbage “I Think I’m Paranoid”
  • Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun”

2000s

  • The Hives “Main Offender”
  • Queens of the Stone Age “Go With the Flow”
  • The Strokes “Reptilia”
  • Jet “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
  • OK Go “Here It Goes Again”
  • Nine Inch Nails “The Hand That Feeds”
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”
  • Coheed & Cambria “Welcome Home”
  • Fallout Boy “Dead on Arrival”
  • The Killers “When You Were Young”
  • New Pornographers “Electric Version”

Unlockable Tracks

  • Bang Camaro “Pleasure (Pleasure)”
  • Twelve more yet to be revealed

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare gets a release date

Through an official PR release by Activision today, Call of Duty 4’s final release date was finally announced. CoD4: Modern Warfare brings the franchise out of World War II and into a modern-day setting. The game is developed by Infinity Ward, the same guys that did Call of Duty 1 and 2 (the good ones, remember?).

call-of-duty-4.jpg
Call of Duty 4 looks to be a winner in a packed Fall/Holiday release schedule.
The ongoing beta demo through Xbox Live has been received extremely well by those participating for an extremely solid multiplayer experience. To me, however, Call of Duty has always been about the intense single-player campaigns. While I’ve always had fun hopping online to fight other people, it’s the hectic feeling of war that the game manages to capture that made me such a fan of the series. This game is definitely on my must-have list.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Every year at this time the kids are hitting up JC Penny, Wal-Mart, and local malls to get their back to school shopping completed. As the kids, teens, and college goers storm the retail outlets to pick up new shoes, shirts, pants, and supplies, they pass by the store windows of game stores scattered in strategic locations. These windows are full of adverts for Madden (which usually hails the return of great games), sequels to the biggest franchises in gaming, and what is being touted as the next big thing in gaming.

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From now until the end of the year the release schedule is packed solid with AAA titles on each and every platform out there. It’s that time of year that each Saturday morning you have to make the touch choice: do I watch the early college football games before my team takes the field, or do I frag some baddies and delve deeper into my growing pile of games? It’s that time when your backlog replenishes itself and you scramble to finish off what remains from last year’s slew of releases. It’s that time when you justify dropping hundreds of dollars on game after game. So, what exactly do we have to look forward to this year? What’s going to drive Visa balances through to their limits?

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BioShock – Releasing tomorrow, BioShock is a revolutionary take on the FPS genre. Coming out for both the 360 and PC, BioShock provides amazing visuals, creepy motifs, gorgeous art, and action-packed gameplay that varies every time you spin the disc.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – The largest title to hit the Wii since Twilight Princess, Prime 3 is Retro’s first release on Nintendo’s landmark console. Adding a new control scheme to the legendary series is proving to fuel hype and anticipation for next week when the game launches.

Blue Dragon – Also hitting store shelves next week is the newest RPG to hit the 360. Blue Dragon is best described as one part Dragon Quest (gameplay) and one part Dragon Ball Z (art style). While not the most revolutionary title, Blue Dragon is helping to diversify the 360 lineup and show gamers that Microsoft is committed to bringing a well-rounded library to the console.

Warhawk – Incognito’s final game is going to be made available on both retail shelves on via download through Sony’s PlayStation Network. The game boasts huge multiplayer battles and a great range of weapons and vehicles. Warhawk is going to give the PS3 this year’s first big online hit.

Heavenly Sword – This stunning action title from Ninja Theory is a great showcase for the PS3’s power and versatility. The game is sure to be a hit with action fans that are craving a good beat ’em up experience.

Halo 3 – Not much needs to be said here. Halo 2 had the biggest first day ever in regards to revenue and Microsoft expects Halo 3 to surpass it. Either way, the game is going to be one of the most talked about games from the day it releases (late September) all the way through the holidays.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – Easily the most anticipated game on portables this year is Nintendo’s newest Zelda adventure. Phantom Hourglass is already raising eyebrows for its unique control scheme, stunning visuals, and depth of gameplay. It should be the perfect title to bring along during holiday travels.

Mass Effect – BioWare’s epic sci-fi action/RPG title features branching storylines, great graphics, and some of the most realistic AI interactions ever seen in a game. Ever since its first showing at E3 last year, Mass Effect has been on just about every 360 owner’s wish list.

Super Mario Galaxy – My personal favorite in the avalanche of holiday hits is none other than Super Mario Galaxy. Every screen, video, or bit of info just oozes with style and charm. If you can’t get excited for this game, you need to re-evaluate why you play games in the first place.

Rock Band – Threatening to talk away Guitar Hero’s title as king of the music genre is EA’s Rock Band. The game is playable by up to 4 people at one time (a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and lead singer). Also, EA is promising to support the game with weekly downloadable content.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl – This game will probably end up being the Wii’s biggest title of the year, and it’s no mystery as to why. The Smash Bros. series has been a fan favorite for years, and Brawl is riding one of the biggest hype waves a Nintendo game has seen in quite some time.

Honorable Mentions – Lair, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Eternal Sonata, Sonic Rush Adventure, Lost Odyssey, Beautiful Katamari, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations, Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, Virtua Fighter 5, Guitar Hero III, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn, Assassin’s Creed, Army of Two, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

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I’m sure I missed a few titles, so feel free to let me know what else you might be looking for. Obviously it’s going to be a financial impossibility to buy all of these games, so getting picky is going to be a necessity. If a major drought should ever hit gaming, however, there’s enough here to revisit for countless hours of gaming.

GTA IV Delayed

According to a report from GTAIV.net, Grand Theft Auto IV is being pushed back from its current release date until April 2008. The delay will be used to continue to polish the game and ensure that both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases are as good as they can possibly be.

Source: GTAIV.net

I’m not a GTA fan at all, so this doesn’t really do anything for me one way or the other, but I have to think that 360 owners are just a little relieved that their wallets will suffer just a tad less this Fall/Winter. The sheer amount of huge games coming soon is just nuts and GTA IV was just one more fighting for position.

David Jaffe’s New Studio Announced

Here’s a recent press release issued by SCEA that gives the full details:

FOSTER CITY, Calif., July 27 — Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. (SCEA) today announced an exclusive game development deal with Eat, Sleep, Play(TM), a new software development company formed by legendary game creators David Jaffe and Scott Campbell. Under the agreement, Eat, Sleep, Play is signed on for a multi-year, multi-title deal to create titles for the PlayStation family of products, with the first slated for release in 2008.

Based in Utah, Eat, Sleep, Play is a newly formed company founded by David Jaffe, a former creative director for SCEA’s Santa Monica Studios; and Scott Campbell, the founder of Incognito Entertainment, a dedicated development studio also under the SCEA Santa Monica Studios banner. Jaffe is perhaps best known as the co-creator and game director behind the multi-million PlayStation(R) platform franchises Twisted Metal(R) on PS one(R) & PlayStation(R)2 and God of War(R) on PlayStation 2. Campbell, a long-time collaborator with Jaffe and co-creator of the Twisted Metal titles, is currently receiving industry praise for Incognito’s PLAYSTATION(R)3 (PS3(TM))-exclusive online air and ground combat game Warhawk(TM). Additionally, Jaffe and Campbell recently collaborated efforts on Calling All Cars(TM), a popular exclusive downloadable title for PLAYSTATION(R)Network.

In addition to the multi-year, multi-title deal to create titles for the PlayStation family of products, the company will also be creating Twisted Metal(R): Head On for PlayStation 2, which is scheduled to be released this winter. Twisted Metal: Head On will feature lost levels from the never released Twisted Metal: Black(R) Part II and a documentary on the series.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with David and Scott and supporting them in their new endeavor,” said Shuhei Yoshida, senior vice president, product development, SCEA. “Through hit after hit, they have established themselves as two of the most talented individuals this industry has ever seen, and I look forward to seeing what kind of further gaming innovation they can bring to the PlayStation brand through our new development deal.”

In conjunction with today’s news, SCEA confirmed that the core members of the Incognito team responsible for Warhawk will remain within the SCEA Santa Monica Studios fold, headed up by Dylan Jobe, and will continue to produce content for this highly-anticipated title. Jobe, game director for Warhawk, is known for his work on the popular hit titles War of the Monsters(TM) and Twisted Metal: Black(R) for PlayStation 2. 

The PR definitely makes the story sound all nice and cheery, but I know from some inside sources that the move is giving many Incog formers the axe. In recent months a lot of Incog team could see this coming and have bailed to join up with other studios in the area. The new studio, however, is going to be great. I think you’ll see titles coming from the new team that are very near to what Incognito has been known for over the years. I don’t have details on how many members from Incog will be staying on, but based on what former employees have told me, it’s not a lot.