Archive for April, 2012

PlayStation news: Weekend Essentials 123

Leap into a terrifying fight in PROTOTYPE 2 and survive the zombie apocalypse in The Walking Dead this weekend on PS3.

A fight to the finish

It’s a deadly battle between mutations in PROTOTYPE 2 on PlayStation 3 this weekend. The ruined land of New York Zero is the site for an epic confrontation between original PROTOTYPE anti-hero Alex Mercer and the newly infected James Heller. Are you ready for an Earth-shattering action adventure that will leave only one of them standing?

When zombies attack 

Find yourself in a ravaged land overrun by zombies in The Walking Dead on PS3. Taking place in the world of Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series, this first episode sets the scene as you try to survive shocking and gruesome encounters with the undead. Download it from PlayStation Store now and go weak at the knees this weekend.

Create history in EA SPORTS UEFA EURO 2012

The football tournament of 2012 that everyone is talking about kicks off early with EA SPORTS UEFA EURO 2012 on PS3. Downloadable from PlayStation Store, EA SPORTS UEFA EURO 2012 requires EA SPORTS FIFA 12 to play. Choose your favourite squad from all 53 UEFA member national teams, play in the eight official stadiums of the tournament and relive dramatic moments from the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign.

Breaking the sound barrier

The super Sonic adventure isn’t over yet – get up to speed with the platform antics of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4 Episode 2 on PS3. The battle to defeat the evil Dr Eggman continues – are you fast enough to keep up? Find out by downloading this frantic fun from PlayStation Store now.

The complete golfing experience

Make your friends green with envy – download Everybody’s Golf: World Tour Complete Edition from PlayStation Store and enjoy the ultimate version of the PS3 golfing classic. This high value package includes the full game and all the additional content released for it, so extra courses, characters, items, costumes and online avatars can be yours in one shot.

It’s the one that you want

Summer Nights are coming to PlayStation Store with Grease on PS3. Grease fans can experience the ultimate musical performance – grab a PlayStation Move motion controller to sing and dance through Rydell High to iconic anthems such as You’re The One That I Want and Greased Lightning. Download this musical masterpiece from PlayStation Store and get your Grease groove on.

A jewel in the making

Only the brightest brains will master Bejeweled 3 on PS3. The colourful puzzle game features eight different game modes for some classic gem-matching fun to download from PlayStation Store. If that isn’t enough, you can also download puzzling classic Zuma and the hilarious arcade chomp ‘em up, Feeding Frenzy 2 Shipwreck Showdown.

A splash of paintball

Take aim and shoot for glory in Greg Hastings Paintball 2 – an exciting blast of the quick-fire sport on your PS3. Create an unstoppable team, load up on revolutionary new gear and brave the unpredictable elements in 62 massive fields based on real locations around the world. Download Greg Hastings Paintball 2 from PlayStation Store and get blasting.

Keep an eye on PlayStation.Blog at blog.eu.playstation.com for the latest PlayStation news.

Visit eu.playstation.com/competitions for your chance to win great prizes.

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/PlayStationEU.

Join in with a variety of activities on the Official PlayStation Facebook page at facebook.com/SonyPlayStation.

Have your say in the official PlayStation Forums at community.eu.playstation.com.

Sign up to Inside PS Vita at eu.playstation.com/psvita to be first with the news on the revolutionary handheld.

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Posted on April 29th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: Access TV Episode 31

Available to download now

Mosey on down to the PlayStation Store today and you can grab yourself some Access TV Episode 31, which you’ll definitely want to do seeing as how it’s got UEFA Euro 2012 as Game of the Week. This FIFA 12 add-on comes with all the balls and whistles (heh) you’d expect from an official tournament tie-in, plus it lets you win the cup with England. Fantasy football indeed.

Elsewhere the team jet off to Las Vegas for a glitz-riddled snoop at Namco Bandai’s upcoming line-up, which includes Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and series’ creator Katsuhiro Harada looking very dapper indeed. There’s also footage from Codemaster’s DiRT: Showdown and F1 2012 for the petrol heads among you, so be sure to check it out.

Bonus Level is pretty special this week too, featuring coverage from Julian Hill’s world record attempt at a 24-hour Singstar-a-thon. He wasn’t singing for the sake of it either – it was all to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Check the show for details on how to donate.

Access TV is available on the PlayStation Store every Wednesday, free to download for all UK PSN users.

To sign up for future Access events or to hang out and chat with other members of the Access community, then visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/PlaystationAccess, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/PSAccess.

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Posted on April 27th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

news: ‘The Pinball Arcade’ Review PS3

Following hot on the heels of “Journey” and “I Am Alive” comes the next potential must-own downloadable title available on the PlayStation Network — “The Pinball Arcade.” From the developers who made the highly-acclaimed “The Williams Collection,” this simple but lovingly-created arcade recreation wants to compete with the beloved “Zen Pinball” and “Marvel Pinball” for fans of the flippers. Does it deliver the goods or does it tilt? Read on and find out.

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Posted on April 25th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Slim PS3 news: The 5 Most Anticipated PS3 Games of Summer 2012

Most of the highly-buzzed 2012 video game releases have been slated for the Fall (like “Bioshock Infinite” and “Assassin’s Creed III”), leaving PS3 gamers to wonder what the heck they’re going to play between screenings of “The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” There have be a few cool games worth playing, right? We can’t get all of our entertainment at the multiplex. Of course there are some games looking for your summer job earnings. And we’re here to highlight five of the ones that have us marking our calendars including two of the most anticipated sequels of the year — “Max Payne 3″ and “Darksiders II.” Come back for full reviews and coverage all season long and let us know which titles interest you the most for Summer 2012.

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Posted on April 25th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

ZX Spectrum: the legacy of a computer for the masses

How a strange little slab of plastic and rubber earned itself a considerable slice of the nascent home computing market

Celebrated today in a pitch-perfect Google Doodle, the 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum will have many veteran gamers swooning into a reverie of eighties nostalgia.

Released on this day in 1982, the machine typified the British approach to industrial design – utilitarian but also idiosyncratic and characterful. It should have been buried by its more powerful contemporary, the Commodore 64, but somehow this strange little slab of plastic and rubber earned itself a considerable slice of the nascent home computing market, especially in Britain.

Partly its success was about price. Since the launch of the ZX80 computer two years earlier, restless British inventor Clive Sinclair had been interested in computing for the masses.

Using cheap components and a minimalistic approach to design, he was able to manufacture machines at a lower cost than rivals such as Acorn, Apple and Tandy. The computer’s rubber keys, for example, were created from a single sheet, with a metal overlay to separate them – much less expensive than producing a conventional keyboard.

So while the BBC Micro started at £235 for the Model A option and the C64 hit the shelves at around £350, the Spectrum launched at just £125 for the 16k version or £175 for the mighty 48k.

At a time of deep recession, with unemployment at 3 million in the UK, this was a vital factor – especially as a lot of the interest in home computers was coming, not from businessmen who wanted to do spreadsheets at home, but from kids, excited by the possibility of writing and playing cool arcade games in their own living rooms.

“The key thing was price for us,” says Ste Pickford, who together with his brother John, started out writing computer games in the earlier eighties.

“We spent a full year with this massive jar in the house labelled ‘Spectrum savings fund’. We put every spare bit of pocket money we had into it. £175 was way more than what mum and dad would have been able to afford on a Christmas present, but we wanted it all year.

“We must have saved up £80, and our parents were just about able to put the rest in. So the price was everything. It was the only way a family like ours could have owned a computer.”

There was also a fundamental difference in philosophy – while his competitors were still producing hardware with serious computing interests in mind, Sinclair was targeting the mass market; he saw the wider consumer appeal of computers, not just as serious workhorses for home accounting, but as gadgets that could be as ubiquitous and easy to use as the TV or pocket calculator.

“Computers were quite scary at the time,” remembers Philip Oliver, co-founder of Blitz Games Studios and one half of the Oliver twins, who created the legendary Dizzy series of games on the Spectrum.

“Some people were actually worried they were going to take over the world, thanks to movies like WarGames, other people worried that computers were going to steal their jobs. What the Spectrum did was gave a friendly, fairly simple image to computing. There was nothing frightening about the Spectrum!”

Ironically, there were strengths too in the technical limitations of the hardware. The Commodore 64 was more powerful and capable – its multi-chip architecture had been designed to move coloured sprites around the screen as quickly as possible – but it also did some of the work for the coders.

“When we started at the development studio Binary Designs we noticed that, actually, a lot of the C64 programmers weren’t that good,” says Pickford, now running digital publisher Zee-3, responsible for the Bafta award-nominated puzzler Magnetic Billiards.

“We realised that machines like the C64 had a lot of clever hardware; they did a lot of the hard things – like scrolling and sprites – for you. You could get most of the way to having a game running without knowing that much.

“The Spectrum had nothing. Architecturally, it was a really simple machine for a programmer – it was just a load of Ram and a processor; and the screen itself was just dealt with as part of the ram. You had to do everything the hard way, but it meant that if you managed to get a sprite moving around on the screen, you’d done a lot of really clever stuff.

“Years later, when that generation of coders grew up, Britain was really punching above its weight in the PlayStation era, when you had the start of games like Grand Theft Auto. The Spectrum bred a generation of really smart programmers.”

This blank slate design also meant that developers weren’t steered toward creating conversions of established arcade titles – they were free to improvise. Hence, the surreal Python-esque platform puzzlers Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, created by eccentric lone coder Matthew Smith; hence, the beautiful and challenging arcade adventure, Head over Heels, by Jon Ritman who introduced the concept of controlling two different characters.

There were also bizarre experiments like Mel Croucher’s Deus Ex Machina, an adventure about life emerging from a computer, which came with an audio tape featuring Ian Dury and Doctor Who star Jon Pertwee.

The ZX Spectrum held its own in the format wars until the late eighties, and developers were pushing the tech to the very end.

For example, the initial inability to properly colour sprites without bleeding out into surrounding space (thanks to the way the Spectrum handled colours as 8×8 pixel cells), was defeated in games like Trap Door and Dizzy through the use of thick character outlines and large sprites.

But the machine didn’t prosper outside of the UK, and with the arrival of 16bit behemoths like the Commodore Amiga, as well as specialist consoles like the Nintendo NES and Sega Master System, Sinclair found itself unable to compete.

But for those thrilling years between 1982 and 1988, against other machines designed to push objects around screens, the Spectrum symbolised and amplified a peculiarly British approach to technology; it was about lone mavericks, doing their own thing, figuring stuff out, inventing their own conventions.

Certainly, the Commodore 64 produced plenty of genius coders, artists and game musicians, but the Spectrum arguably fostered something else – something that the Raspberry Pi initiative is now attempting to re-capture – an approach to computer hardware that is more about exploiting the machine, testing the architecture, probing at the metal and silicon innards, rather than trusting to high-level languages and application-programmer interfaces.

Writing for the ZX Spectrum was more about invention than design. It was a blank slate on to which a large section of the British game development industry drew itself.

Computing

Programming

Games

Keith Stuart

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Posted on April 24th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: Warner Bros. Announces ‘Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition’

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment made it official this morning by announcing that a “Game of the Year Edition” of their massive critical and commercial hit “Batman: Arkham City” will be released on May 29, 2012 for the Sony PlayStation 3. The game will not only include all previously available DLC releases but a downloadable version of the animated movie “Batman: Year One” along with brand new story missions. So, yes, hardcore “Arkham” fans, even if you have the original game and all of the DLC, you may still want to pick this up (although the new missions will be available as a download on the PlayStation Network). The newest extension is called “Harley Quinn’s Revenge” and it adds over two hours of gameplay. Previously-available DLC include “Catwoman Pack,” “Nightwing Bundle Pack,” “Robin Bundle Pack,” “Challenge Map Pack,” and “Arkham City Skins Pack.”

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Posted on April 24th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

ZX Spectrum: the five best games

The 30th anniversary of the ZX Spectrum will have many veteran gamers swooning into a reverie of eighties nostalgia – here are five of the best Spectrum games

It is, of course, an impossible task to root through the many hundreds of ZX Spectrum titles to deliver a definitive Top Five. But we’ve had a bash anyway. I’ve concentrated on titles that appeared originally on Spectrum, so no arcade conversions (goodbye R-Type) and no translations from Apple II, BBC or Vic-20 titles (so long Elite). For some reason, I also neglected Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. And Chuckie Egg. And Chaos.

For a more comprehensive round-up, you should head immediately to the Your Sinclair Official Top 100 Spectrum Games of All Time, which was persuasively and entertainingly written by Stuart Campbell. He put the motorbike-riding-through-forest thriller Deathchase at number one.

Jet Set Willy (1984)

This early flip-screen platforming adventure featured surreal locations and bizarre enemies, burning itself onto the minds of impressionable gamers who had, until this point, possibly only controlled spaceships and racing cars. Creator Matthew Smith became a bedroom coding enigma when he disappeared in the mid-eighties, spending several years in a Dutch commune before returning to the UK.

Lords of Midnight (1984)

This prototype role-playing game allowed players to explore a vast kingdom as they gathered armies to fight the evil witchking, Doomdark. Designer Mike Singleton managed to provide the look and feel of a 3D world by creating thousands of still images, which could be viewed from multiple perspectives.

Knight Lore (1984)

Created by prolific UK developer Ultimate: Play The Game, this was the first title to use the studio’s filmation engine, resulting in lush isometric visuals. It was created by Tim and Chris Stamper, who would go on to found Rare – still one of the biggest development studios in the world, and most recently responsible for Kinect Sports.

Tau Ceti (1985)

Pete Cooke’s revolutionary 3D space adventure pitted the player against a malfunctioning mainframe computer and its robot killers on the abandoned colony world of Tau Ceti III. Respected for its deep varied gameplay as well as visual innovations such as a functioning day/night cycle.

Skool Daze (1985)

One of the first games to actually attempt a replication of real-life experience, Skool Daze had players rampaging around a school building, scrawling on blackboards and trying to locate the combination for the headmaster’s safe. Later spawning a superior sequel, Back to Skool, it was like an interactive Grange Hill – with the added bonus of letting you change all the teacher and pupil names. Rude word hilarity ensued.

Games

Computing

Software

Programming

Keith Stuart

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Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: ‘The Pinball Arcade’ Review PS3

Latest news:
Following hot on the heels of “Journey” and “I Am Alive” comes the next potential must-own downloadable title available on the PlayStation Network — “The Pinball Arcade.” From the developers who made the highly-acclaimed “The Williams Collection,” this simple but lovingly-created arcade recreation wants to compete with the beloved “Zen Pinball” and “Marvel Pinball” for fans of the flippers. Does it deliver the goods or does it tilt? Read on and find out.

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Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Draw Something gets undo, sharing – and now you can play us!




Draw Something, the smash hit game for smart phone scribbling, has been updated. You can now undo your last squiggle and share your touchscreen tour de force on Facebook and Twitter — and now you can even unleash your touchscreen Turner or multi-touch Monet on the CNET team.

To play against me and the rest of the CNET UK gang, just look for the username ‘cnetuk’ and challenge us to a game. Be warned: we did a couple of modules of finger-painting in primary school, so as the picture above shows, we’re pretty quick on the draw.




The game, developed by OMGPop, sees you take turns with friends to guess a word from their phone-based doodling. Once you’ve guessed the word, choose your own easy, medium or difficult word and doodle your picture. Then send it to your friend for them to guess the word.



It’s a simple pleasure — falling squarely into the it’s-so-simple-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-dammit-I-could-be-a-millionaire-by-now category — but it’s the little details that make it so addictive.

For example, in between turns your drawing process is played back so you can watch your opponent trying to guess what it is, allowing you to see at which point they grasped the full breadth of your artistic vision — or you can watch them floundering in confusion at your bizarre and puzzling pictograms.




Today’s update allows you to undo your last step, saving you from having to employ the eraser or scrap your whole drawing. And when you’ve created a masterpiece, you can share it to Facebook and Twitter or save it for posterity.




You can now also chat to your opponents in between rounds, to award kudos for their artistic endeavours or mock them mercilessly for their ham-fisted doodlings.

Draw Something is available now for the iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets.



Would you like to join the CNET team in a round of drawing things on Draw Something? Just sign up for a game against the username ‘cnetuk’ — happy sketching! We’ll share the best pictures — and the worst — on our Facebook page.

Download Draw Something for Android or iPhone

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Posted on April 22nd, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: Sony Announces ‘God of War: Ascension’

Rejoice Kratos fans, there will be another “God of War” game. After the massive, worldwide success of the “God of War” trilogy (the first two games released for the PS2 and the third an award-winner for the PS3 in 2010), Sony announced today that there will be another title — “God of War: Ascension,” releasing a logo and promising more details soon. We don’ t know much at this point (although it seems safe to expect a 2013 release date given today’s timing) but we will bring you further developments as they’re announced.

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Posted on April 21st, 2012 by  |  No Comments »