Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nintendo's 3DS Possibly Damaging to Young Children's Eyes

If you were thinking about buying your preschooler a Nintendo 3DS, the latest information about the gaming device may cause you to want to wait a few years. Nintendo has posted a warning before its Nintendo World 2011 demo that suggests that children under the age of six should not use the device with its 3D functions.

"Vision of children under the age of six has been said [to be in the] developmental stage," stated a note that was posted to Nintendo's Japanese site. It continued saying that 3D content, including the 3DS, "delivers 3D images with different left and right eye images, [which] has a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes."

Nintendo is now recommending that parents use the parental controls on the device that only allow their younger users to play on the 3DS in its 2D mode. Nintendo says that the device offers “enough for everyone to enjoy.”

Nintendo is also recommending that 3DS users of all ages should take a break from the 3D content that the device provides every 30 minutes or if users are feeling sick at all. Usually, Nintendo advised gamers to take a break from their hand-held devices every hour, but since 3D causes eye fatigue much more quickly than 2D game play, they decided that the 30 minute intervals were more appropriate for the 3DS.

Nintendo came right out and said, "If your physical condition worsens or you become ill, please stop playing at once."

Kotaku does point out the fact that Nintendo had previously warned parents against letting their younger children use the 3D function on the 3DS, but I guess they felt the need to reiterate their warning before revealing and demonstrating the 3DS at Nintendo World 2011. The event is taking place in Japan from January 8-10. Nintendo will be showing off the 3DS to the public for the very first time. According to Escapist, children under the age of six will not be allowed to use the 3DS at the event due to the warnings about its 3D features.

Right now, the game lineup for the Nintendo 3DS includes: Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D: The Naked Sample, Winning Eleven 3DSoccer, Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Resident Evil Ribereshonzu, and more.

If you’re looking at getting the Nintendo 3DS, you may want to head to your local GameStop store to reserve your device. According to a GameStop manager, the gaming retailer is now accepting pre-orders across the nation. Unfortunately, the GameStop manager was not exactly sure how much the device will cost or when specifically it will be released.

Nintendo initially stated that they would be releasing the portable 3DS gaming device in March. The company claimed that the device would “succeed [the] Nintendo DS series.”

Since that initial statement, Nintendo has announced that they will only be releasing the 3DS in the United States and Europe in March. They also revealed earlier in the year that the device would be selling for $300 in Japan, but they have not yet announced the specific price that the device will cost in the U.S. and Europe.

The Nintendo 3DS is a highly-anticipated portable gaming device. My twelve year old brother can’t seem to shut up about the 3D capabilities of the device. I think that the concept is intriguing, but I can’t really picture how the device will really work. It will be great to see what the 3DS is really all about in March. Until then, we will all have to wait patiently for Nintendo to release the ground-breaking technology that will be featured in the gaming device.

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Pre-orders Now Available for the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DSNintendo completely revolutionized the handheld gaming industry when they released their DS back in 2004. Well, here we are six years later and the company is about to rock the handheld gaming market again with their release of their newest device the 3DS. The 3DS is a handheld gaming device that is said to deliver 3D images without the need of 3D glasses. Another unique feature about the device is that instead of projecting 3D images towards the viewer it concaves images away from the viewer giving a 3D effect.

The device is one of the most talked about gaming platforms this year and is one of the boldest projects to come out of Nintendo since the Wii. According to reports that hit the internet earlier today, people who cannot wait to get their hands on the device can throw down a pre-order for the 3DS at any GameStop location, who are now accepting pre-orders according to an inside source.

According to the source, "Yes, we have started taking reservations, though we do not know what the price will be, what colors will be available or when it will release." That seems to be the gist of all the information on the 3DS. Nobody seems to know when it will release or how much it will cost when it does release. In fact, the only release date and pricing that are available is in Japan where the 3DS will retail for around $300 and will release on February 26th, 2011.

There are a few other things available for pre-order at GameStop including Sims 3, Lovely Lisa, Cartoon Network Super-Toon Rumble and Madden NFL Football. No information has been released about when other retailers, like Amazon or Best Buy, will get pre-order availability, but it is speculated that the 3DS will launch in March 2011. I guess we will just have to wait until Nintendo's press event scheduled to take place on January 19, 2011.

Source: G4TV, IGN
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Great Success with "Black Ops" Despite the Legal Issues Activision is Facing

Activision Blizzard, the video game producer of game franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” is looking to add Electronic Arts to the already ongoing lawsuit that was originally filed against two former Activision employees. According to Activision, EA tried to “destabilize, disrupt and destroy” their company.

The legal issues began back in March 2010 when Jason West and Vince Zampella, the founders of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” developer Infinity Ward (which was acquired by Activision in 2003), sued Activision. They filed the lawsuit against Activision for allegedly firing them so that the company could avoid paying royalties for the $1 billion game.

Activision claimed that the two men were fired on March 1, 2010 for reasons including “breach of contract” and “insubordination,” and the company even went as far as to have the two men escorted out of their offices during a work day by a security team.

In April the men formed yet another video game studio that they named Respawn. They then proceeded to sign a very exclusive publishing and distribution contract with Activision’s biggest rival, Electronic Arts. After word of the contract got out, Activision then decided to countersue for breach of contract and employee poaching.

According to the document that was filed with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 21, Activision is adding EA to its complaints and is suing for a total of $400 million.

An amended complaint that was posted by Kotaku claimed that Activision said that EA was allegedly funding some sort of way for West and Zampella to poach key talent from Activision.

"Unable to compete with Activision and Infinity Ward, and upon information and belief, enraged by the recent defection of two Electronic Arts executives to Activision (unlike West and Zampella, the executives who left Electronic Arts were not under employment contracts) Electronic Arts was determined to retaliate. Electronic Arts set out to destabilize, disrupt and to attempt to destroy Infinity Ward,” Activision wrote.

EA did not immediately respond to many different requests for comments, but finally spokesman Jeff Brown said, “This is a PR play filled with pettiness and deliberate misdirection. Activision wants to hide the fact that they have no credible response to the claim of two artists who were fired and now just want to get paid for their work."
On December 21, the same day that Activision filed their complaints with the California Superior Court about EA, the company also announced that its “Call of Duty: Black Ops” had shown no signs of slowing down and had brought in more than $1 billion in worldwide sales since the game's release in November.

"In all of entertainment, only 'Call of Duty' and 'Avatar' have ever achieved the billion dollar revenue milestone this quickly," Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said in a statement. "This is a tribute to the global appeal of the Call of Duty franchise, the exceptional talent at Treyarch and the hundreds of extraordinary people across our many Call of Duty studios, including Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer, that work tirelessly on the franchise."

As of Tuesday players of Black Ops have collectively logged in close to 600 million hours of gameplay. Most of the people who own the game log on more than once a day and usually play for more than an hour. Activision also said that more than half of that time is being spent playing against friends.

When the game was first released on November 9, Activision sold more than $650 million worth of games in the first five days. This exceeded the previous top earner “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” which sold about $100 million less than “Black Ops.” By the end of the month, Activision had sold 8.4 million units.

Activision is obviously having some problems with all of the lawsuits and counter lawsuits, but they are definitely continuing to do well concerning “Black Ops” and many of their other games. It will take some time for them to sort through all the legal mess, but in the meantime, they will continue to produce incredible games and further their company. They might even possibly address the rumored and highly debated release of Modern Warfare 3 soon. Until then, we will all have to sit back and wait to see what happens.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Dead Nation: Just Another Zombie Game?

The zombie craze continues. Housemarque released Dead Nation, yet another zombie killing game, on Tuesday, November 30. It was given the editor’s choice award at Just Push Start. “Dead Nation is a must buy hands down,” they said. “In a market where the zombie genre is slowly taking over, this game stands above most of them to provide a superior experience.”

Zombie games are definitely prominent in the gaming market. If the undead were ever to attempt to take over, gamers will know to grab their baseball bats, flamethrowers, and chainsaws to take them out. This year there has already been the release of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and Dead Rising 2, so Dead Nation was a perfect addition to the zombie-focused lineup. The game offers a co-op, multi-directional, twin-stick shooter adventure that is packed full of a variety of ghouls with different strengths and skill levels and plenty of entertaining ways to pick them off.

The premise of the game involves you moving around 10 different levels of streets, parks, and buildings in a fictional town which is overrun with zombies. On the most difficult level the campaign lasts around 8-10 hours. Your character, who can be either male or female, is controlled with the left analog stick. That leaves the right stick for aiming. Your character holds a torch beam that is very useful. It allows you to light some of the dark areas where zombies are often lurking in the shadows ready to pounce. While you’re out slaughtering zombies, you can also search cars for weapons, armor, and a variety of other types of loot.

The great thing about Dead Nation is that you are given the ability to develop your character to suit your playing style. You can decide to focus on pouring the money you collect into upgrading your favorite weapons or maybe collecting the most protective armor.

One of the keys to succeeding with Dead Nation is developing a strategy. It is essential to know when to utilize your dash, melee, or attention grabbing items like a grenade if you have a chance of surviving in some of the later levels.

At the beginning of the game, it is easy for you to focus on collecting loot from car trunks and alleys, but as the game continues, the zombies and the gameplay gets much more difficult. There are tons of different zombies ready to peel the flesh from your bones. There are the more traditional zombies hiding in the shadows like policeman zombies with pistols, clown zombies, prisoner zombies, and a whole team of American football player zombies, but that’s not even close to covering all of the different zombies featured in the game. There are also screamers that call in zombie reinforcements, biological experiments that have knives for hands, zombies that leap off couches and pound the floor to knock you off your feet, and acid spitters that can really cause some problems. The variety of adversaries really keeps the game fresh.

At the end of each chapter, Dead Nation uploads your stats and lets you compare them to your friends. They are also grouped by country so that you can compare your results across the globe and see which nation is the best at taking out the undead monsters.

Playstation Lifestyle, who gave it their editor’s choice award and rated it a 10 out of 10, said, “With endless replay value, a Platinum trophy, and offline and online co-op, it puts together everything that gamers, not just shooter, zombie, or horror fans, will love.”

This is definitely a game that PlayStation 3 owners should check out. If you’re into zombie shooter games, then Dead Nation is right up your alley. Dead Nation is an engaging game that really is different than your average zombie game and is worth looking into.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mass Effect 3 Revealed

Mass Effect 3Every gaming developer has their niche. Rockstar has the whole open world thing and Bungie has Halo, but there is one company that really nails one of the most vital parts of a great game, storytelling, and that company is BioWare. From Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare has delivered some of the most cinematic game experiences to date.

The company has this unique ability to create a game that draws you in with its captivating story and intriguing characters that all build a relationship with you, the main character. Probably BioWare's biggest hit to date is definitely the Mass Effect series. When the first game dropped in 2007, audiences were blown away by the epic story and the amount your character could interact with the people and places around him. Forming relationships with your crew and companions added a sense of depth to the game that is often lacking in games today.

When Mass Effect 2 dropped in 2010, fans came scrambling back to take Commander Shepherd on another galaxy saving adventure. However, what really brought fans back was the ability to import a saved file from Mass Effect into Mass Effect 2, allowing you to continue your journey with your original character. All the choices you made in the first game came into play in Mass Effect 2. The companions you let live, the ones you let die and even the interactions you made with NPCs all had different repercussions in Mass Effect 2. This added a bond that the player could form with not only their character but the entire Mass Effect universe.

There has been no doubt as to whether or not BioWare was going to release a third installment in their Mass Effect series. The only question was when it would be releaseed and when are we going to find out. Well, both those answers have been given to us. Last Saturday on the Spike Video Game Awards, BioWare unveiled the first teaser trailer for Mass Effect 3. Previous screenshots from the trailer have been pieced together and all make sense now.

The story goes as follows: "Earth is burning. From beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepherd, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth and save the galaxy."


When we last left Commander Shepherd, he was trying to find out why human colonies all over the galaxy were disappearing without a trace. When he found the source, Shepherd found an ancient race of aliens known as The Collectors who are hell-bent on destroying the human race. It was your job to stop them and stop them you did. With help from the mysterious Pro-Human group known as Cerebus and its leader The Illusive Man, you were able to stop the reapers and save humanity......or so it seemed.

Mass Effect 3 takes players, for the first time, to Earth. From the trailer and other news we can gather that The Collectors (we think), being controlled by the Reapers, have attacked Earth in a plot to destroy it. With Earth overrun Shepherd must travel to planets all across the galaxy in order to rally the civilizations of Citadel Space, both human and alien, if there is any hope of saving Earth.

Details about gameplay have yet to be revealed though the trailer, as well as rumors, seems to allude to a new multiplayer element to the game. Personally, I pass on the option of multiplayer. One of the best things the Mass Effect series has going for it is its strong focus on single player development. The lack of multiplayer is hardly a negative aspect in my mind.

What I would like is more weapons and a revamped mining system. BioWare took out the slew of weapon choices from the first game and replaced it with an upgrade system, and they also added planet mining, an essential part to game completion. The combat can stay the same. I found the upgraded combat system a much welcome change from the first game.

Like the previous two games, players will be able to import a saved game file into Mass Effect 3, allowing you to finish the epic story with the very first character you started off as. There has been no word on what characters will return, though it does depend on which ones lived for you in your outcome. It is likely that Garrus will return, seeing how he was a major character in both previous games. I would love to see the return of Urdnot Wrex as well as Thane Krios, two of my personal favorites.

Gamers have a lot to look forward to and, sadly, a lot of time to do it as Mass Effect 3 is slated for a Holiday 2011 release date. The game should be coming out on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC simultaneously (or at least close together). If BioWare does it right, this could be one of the biggest and most epic games to ever be released.

Check out the first teaser trailer for Mass Effect 3.

Video courtesy of Machinima.com

Source: IGN.com

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" Announced by Sony and Naughty Dog

uncharted 3
A little over a year after the release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Sony and Uncharted game developer Naughty Dog have officially announced the third installment of the Uncharted series and have launched an official website for the game. The third adventure of Nathan Drake has been dubbed Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and although the game will not be released until December 1, 2011, you can already go ahead and pre-order the game.

As the previous Uncharted games have been, Uncharted 3 will only be available for the PlayStation 3. Drake will embark on a dangerous journey across the Arabian Desert in search of a lost city. Sony said that Uncharted 3 will feature new and evolved ways of playing the game that include "hand-to-hand combat with multiple opponents, contextual melee attacks, and new stealth options" and "expanded and diverse traversal moves with deeper gunplay."

"'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception' continues to evolve the core principles we laid out for the Uncharted franchise, most important of which is creating an unmatched and extremely compelling interactive cinematic experience," PlayStation said in a blog post. "In addition to having a compelling story and authentic characters that all of our fans can relate to as key facets to creating this type of experience, we push ourselves and the capability of the PlayStation hardware through constantly redefined gameplay mechanics and technology innovation."

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was a great success after its release over a year ago. It featured incredible graphics, a fantastic new style of gameplay, and the newly added multiplayer mode. According to Entertainment Weekly, the magazine that broke the story about Uncharted 3 on Friday, December 10, reported that more than 3.8 million copies of Uncharted 2 were sold worldwide to date.

“We want to take on the big boys of the multi-player genre," the co-president of Naughty Dog Evan Wells told EW. "It has become something here at Naughty Dog that will become an important part of all our games."

Some more details were leaked about the game, including the fact that the game will be available in Stereoscopic high-resolution 3D, but Sony and Naughty Dog are keeping very “hush hush” about these details. However, Naughty Dog director Amy Hennig did give EW some information about the reasoning behind the setting of Uncharted 3. She said that Uncharted 3 took Drake and his mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan into the desert partially because of the technical and artistic challenge that it would present to Naughty Dog to create a realistic desert environment. I guess they were looking for a real challenge.

Excitingly enough, not only is there going to be a new game added to the Uncharted series but Uncharted is going mainstream. A Nathan Drake novel will be hitting the shelves around the same time as the release of Uncharted 3, and Columbia Pictures is producing a feature film that, according to EW, will star Mark Wahlberg.

All of these latest developments are definitely something to look forward to. Uncharted games are absolutely incredible. The graphics, the story, and the gameplay are all phenomenal, and a book and movie are just the icing on the cake. I can’t wait for all of these new Uncharted-focused products to be released. Unfortunately, it means waiting for about another year, but I will definitely be waiting with great anticipation.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Could There Be a Better First-Person Shooter Game Than the Call of Duty Series?

replacement call of duty
The Call of Duty series is arguably one of the best-selling game series to date. The last title Call of Duty: Black Ops, broke gaming records with its sales numbers. Well, the CEO of Electronic Arts (EA) John Riccitiello claims that he has the recipe to beat the Call of Duty franchise and put a new first-person shooter game ahead of the ever so popular series. Unfortunately for EA, Riccitiello said that it will take several years for him to accomplish his goal.

In a recent interview conducted by the video game blog Kotaku, Riccitiello said that the main factor in beating Call of Duty is to simply “make a better game.” Once a better game is produced, Riccitiello said that his company will need to “make a better game again.”

Riccitiello, who cited Metacritic, said that by next year he really wanted to see a first-person shooter game released by EA that would score higher on the site than Activision’s 2011 Call of Duty release.

"If I had to pick the story I'd like to play out next year, we [would] ship a [game with] a 90 [score on Metacritic] and [Activision] ship[s] an 85," Riccitiello told Kotaku. He continued saying that "the way you unseat a market leader is you make a better game a couple of times in a row."

Of course for all of this to occur, EA needs to find just the right game that will lead to their success. Riccitiello said that he felt that Bullestorm and Crysis 2 were both going to be strong first-person shooter game releases from EA next year, but that he felt “incredibly good” about Battlefield 3. The company released Battlefield Bad Company 2 earlier this year, and Riccitiello proudly pointed out that the game received “the same Metacritic score as Black Ops.”

Bad Company 2 is definitely a high quality first-person shooter game, but it simply could not match the commercial success of the highly anticipated Black Ops.
As I mentioned previously, Call of Duty: Black Ops broke many game sales records. They had the best launch day sales and the best entertainment launch in history. According to Activision’s estimates, the game made $360 million in revenues on the very first day that it was available. During the first five days of its release, Black Ops made more than $650 million, which beat out the first five day sales record that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had previously held (making more than $550 million in revenue).

A new year means new opportunities for both of the companies. Call of Duty will definitely have the advantage going into the new year, but if EA could provide a superior title, they could easily steal away the title of number one first-person shooter game from Activision. Riccitiello seems confident that Call of Duty will not dominate the shooter game category forever. “Over time we can take the lead,” he said.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

2.5 Million Kinects Sell in the First 25 Days

xbox kinect
In the beginning, I can definitely say that I had my doubts about the new motion-based controllers that Microsoft and Sony were releasing for their game systems, but it is now obvious that I was completely wrong about these products. I thought that anyone that was interested in motion-based gameplay would have already purchased Nintendo’s Wii. I also believed that the Xbox 360 and PS3 attracted a crowd that wouldn’t really care about motion-based gameplay, but these assumptions were definitely off-track.

Xbox Kinect is in direct competition with Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s recently released Playstation Move. Although on Tuesday, November 30th Sony announced that they had shipped out 4.1 million Playstation Moves worldwide in the first two months of the Move’s release. Unfortunately for Sony, Microsoft announced on Monday, November 29th that 2.5 million Kinects were sold…in the first 25 days of its release.

"We are thrilled about the consumer response to Kinect and are working hard with our retail and manufacturing partners to expedite production and shipments of Kinect to restock shelves as fast as possible to keep up with demand," President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Don Mattrick said in a statement. "With sales already exceeding two and a half million units in just 25 days, we are on pace to reach our forecast of 5 million units sold to consumers this holiday."

The Kinect and the Move both feature electronic motion sensing technology, but with the Move you need a wand-like controller to be able to direct the game. With the Kinect, as the commercial says about one of the dance games for the Xbox 360, you can “shake everything…except a controller.”

Microsoft reported that it was recording its Kinect sales figures by looking at the sales through consumers, while Sony said that its sales figures represented the number of Moves sold to retailers. They also said that they counted a Move controller as a sale if it was either by itself or if it was sold as a part of the two different Playstation Move bundle packages that the company shipped.

According to analyst Michael Pachter, Microsoft has sold 325,000 Xbox 360s and Sony has sold 250,000 Playstation 3s in October. It is unclear so far as to whether or not these numbers have been influenced by the release of the motion-based controllers.

Microsoft said that Black Friday really helped to kick off the holiday sales of Xbox Kinect. Vice president of merchandising at Target Nik Nayar said that the Kinect was a “top performer” at Target stores during the Black Friday weekend. "We expect Kinect will be a must-have gift this holiday season, so Target will continue to receive consistent shipments of Kinect throughout December," he said.

Although I definitely had my doubts about the Xbox Kinect, I have been proved wrong. Microsoft has a hit on its hands with its controller-free Kinect system. Selling 2.5 million Kinects within the first twenty-five days is quite an accomplishment and not exactly what I expected. I feel that Microsoft’s Kinect will definitely do better than the Move. I believe this because of the new technology that Microsoft has to offer. The ability to be able to control a game without needing any sort of a controller is extremely alluring. Microsoft is sure to do well with this product, and I’m sure that the holiday season will only cause Microsoft’s Kinect sales figures to spike even higher.

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