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PSN Error Update


Playstation Europe have released the following press release to provide an update on the errors many playstation users are currently experiencing:-

As you may be aware, some customers have been unable to connect to the PlayStation Network today. This problem affects the models other than the new slim PS3.

We believe we have identified that this problem is being caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system.

Errors include:

* The date of the PS3 system may be re-set to Jan 1, 2000.
* When the user tries to sign-in to the PlayStation Network, the following message appears on the screen; “An error has occurred. You have been signed out of PlayStation Network (8001050F)”.
* When the user tries to launch a game, the following error message appears on the screen and the trophy data may disappear; “Failed to install trophies. Please exit your game.”
* When the user tries to set the time and date of the system via the Internet, the following message appears on the screen; “The current date and time could not be obtained. (8001050F)”
* Users are not able to playback certain rental video downloaded from the PlayStation Store before the expiration date.

We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data.

As mentioned above, Please be advised that the new slim PS3 is not affected with this error. We are doing our best to resolve the issue and do apologise for any inconvenience caused.

For the latest status on this situation please check either PlayStation.Blog, Twitter or PlayStation.com.

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Heavy Rain Review

By Daniel Lipscombe

It’s wrong to call Heavy Rain a game, it isn’t really. Yes it requires inputs from your fingers to your controller, but beyond that, what you’re living is a cinematic experience like no other.  David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream have created an emotional work of art that connects with the player on a level never before realised. It’s hard to talk about Heavy Rain without really giving away any plot points or scenarios, but I will try to make this as free of spoilers as possible.

Playing Heavy Rain is akin to being the editor on a serial drama, it’s up to you to move through each section of the story and reach a satisfying climax. Do you save that person or did you dislike them enough to let them die and ultimately change the fate of the characters? Controlling the fate of the cast is rather daunting really; just one wrong move can see any of the four characters die, for good.

The interactions of the cast inspire real feelings within yourself, push your kid on a swing and you’ll smile as much as them, head into a near death situation and find yourself tense and twitchy. The beauty and simplicity of the control system really goes to highlight that too. When opening a door, just push the right stick in the direction on screen, if your character needs to control their breathing then slow movements of the stick are needed. After time you find yourself moving your thumb with as much caution as the situation needs.

Everything is instinctive and flows wonderfully, the only time you will find the button presses becoming more complex is when your character is struggling. They struggle, so you must struggle, holding down a combination of buttons that would usually cripple your hand. It would be easy to say that Heavy Rain features hundreds of Quick Time Events (QTE) but this the inputs here carry more weight, after all, if you miss that crucial button press, you could have your head smashed in.

This isn’t particularly a tough game and many people will easily stroll through each section, there are however times when you may be left scratching your head as to where to go next or who to talk to whilst trying to push the narrative along. Quick reactions are needed however for fight scenes and it’s worth nudging anyone in the room with you and hushing them whilst you concentrate.

Heavy Rain is so wonderfully engaging, there is a constant feeling of connection with the game world, and even the loading screens display the marvellous visuals of the main characters as they simply exist. And it’s these visuals that help create such a cohesive environment, being able to see a smirk or a furrowing of the brow helps to heighten the connection between player and character. This is let down occasionally by glitches in the graphics such as a strobing of a background character or screen tearing, as these moments remind you that you’re playing a game.

Some moments in Heavy Rain may cause some confusion, why should I need to make Madison go to the toilet? Why does Ethan need to be able to drink from the orange juice carton? Because it goes further in building a real world, adding your own quirks to these people. Does it make a difference to the story? Unlikely, but small increments /can/ change events, will you miss a scene because you didn’t look out of a window, will you find something your friends didn’t? The wonder of Heavy Rain is simply experiencing what it has to offer.

Heavy Rain is, at its core, a murder mystery. We have a killer on the loose – The Origami Killer who kidnaps children and drowns them in rain water. Each character has their own way of tackling this crime, Madison is a journalist who moves outside the law in her own way, Ethan is a father in distress and must test himself, Norman is an FBI agent with a mysterious past and the ability to find any clue and Scott, a private eye who has been hired by the families of the murdered to track down clues on the killer.

Everyone will inevitably have their own favourite character, but each of them shines regardless. The cast is well fleshed out and each twist and turn in the plot takes its toll on them as well as you. Not surprising as they will have to overcome some dreadful situations on their journey, fistfights are plentiful and enjoyable, obstacles are overcome with complex button presses and at times the atmosphere will become troubling and intense.

The story moves along at a frenzied pace to a satisfying conclusion, the playtime itself will run you around six or seven hours depending on how quickly you solve issues or find clues. With many endings possible there’s plenty of scope to replay the adventure, whilst this will still be fun it will of course lack the original spark as you will know the crux of the story. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the ending that I personally received left me all warm and fuzzy, but I was left wanting to see the many other outcomes.

For anyone interested in narratives for games moving forward or drama in general, you will revel in Heavy Rains storytelling and marvel at its characters. The latter is slightly hampered by weak voice acting at times, but this can be forgiven in respect of just how much emotion they are trying to deliver.

Never before have I been so moved by a game, by the conclusion of the game I desperately wanted these characters to survive and reach their end. I cared about them, not just because they might die, but because they were real to me. They cared, they got scared at the same time as me and we travelled the same ups and downs as a team. Despite a few minor flaws along the way, Quantic Dream has created a masterpiece of gaming and it’s something that anyone with even a passing interest in gaming should experience.

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MAG Review

By Daniel Lipscombe

256 is a big number, in fact in gaming terms, it’s a bloody big number, 256 different players running hither and thither with large guns across much larger maps. A first for console gaming, to see such a number going to war with each other, doubts have to creep into mind. Will the servers cope? Will there be any latency in the matches? Will there even be enough people online?

Approaching such a title with trepidation is understandable, it’s not every day we see an online only shooter released for consoles and if we do usually they fall into insignificance quickly. Team Fortress 2 is rather empty most of the time in its console outing and Shadowrun failed despite being a robust shooter. So why should MAG succeed where others have failed, perhaps it’s generic war shooter styling is a good thing, pulling people over from the Call of Duty’s and Battlefield’s.

Despite the aesthetics making me feel at ease when I first launched the game, my enthusiasm waned a little as I moved from the robust tutorials and into the real battlefield. Learning the basics is as simple as moving your way through an obstacle course and training how to use your weapons and equipment, but no matter how helpful you find it, you’ll still get your face blown off when you get online.

Now I’ll admit that the following only happened twice out of a week of playing off and on, but the connection can be a little flakey. Playing on an average 4meg broadband connection saw me experience swathes of bullet lag as I shot the opposing team for them to simply walk through the hail of lead and knife me and this was if I could even shoot. Another issue caused me to die but not bleedout or respawn simply lay there throwing grenades and shoot with no kills or harm coming to anyone.

This is a rare occurrence but needs to be kept in mind; if your connection is slightly unstable then you have no single player game to fall back on here. This is also a problem when learning the ropes. Whilst the actual pulling of triggers is enjoyable with each gun feeling weighty and satisfying, it is hard to really get to grips with each weapon as the learning curve is quite steep. With most shooters you can dabble in the single player while you learn which guns you like and what the arc is on the grenade throwing, this is tough when you have six snipers aiming at your cranium.

If you do find yourself getting fragged all the time then getting better will mean an endless assault on your foe trying to dodge headshots and grenade storms. If you do of course manage to hold your own then MAG is a very solid shooter. Starting with a robust character creation section, you can choose whose cause to fight for, SVER, Valor or Raven and then tinker around with your loadout selections too.  Once all of this is decided it’s then time to start ranking up and opening new games modes.

Starting with your basic team deathmatch, you can play until your level is high enough to unlock other traditional online modes, Capture the flag, territories and such. Experience is earned in the usual ways, killing people, assists, healing your squadmates and of course ranking up then means new weapons and quite importantly, being able to become a leader on the battlefield. The latter means that you can use abilities on your teammates and generally lead the team in battle.

This brings me to the most important aspect of the game and one that Zipper Interactive cannot really take fault for, teamwork. Currently when venturing into a firefight the warzone is a scatterbrained event with people running around like headless chickens. Squads with too many snipers and not enough cohesion between people, this is down to one of two things. Either people don’t have a headset in the first place or, and this isn’t meant as a jibe, but they may not speak your language. This is obviously a problem when playing a game so heavily based on teamwork, as running around like Stallone on a power trip will find you bleeding out and waiting for a team member to heal you, thus costing your team the win.

For all its efforts, MAG is a confident shooter, and when it works, it plays very well, when your team is working as a unit, you will win games, but be prepared to slog through countless deaths to get there and be prepared to run around in despair as your team all go their separate ways. If you’ve got a bunch of friends with the game, create a clan and have a blast but as a lone soldier, the battlefield could not feel more cold and lonely.

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Heavy Rain Origami Murder Bird

You know that cool origami bird on the cover of Heavy Rain?

Well here is how to make it:-

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Hustle Kings Review

By Daniel Lipscombe

Everyone loves Billiards, yes you do, don’t try denying it. We’ve all professed at being terrible at pool before swallowing a few jugs of ale and picking up the cue, chalking the tip whilst lining up the simplest shot, muttering something about how John Virgo is a noob. The same principle goes for videogame pool too, everyone loves a pool game and Hustle Kings has come along to fill a long empty void on PSN for a decent pool game.

Quite an easy one to figure out, but Hustle Kings is all about billiards games, 8 Ball, 9 Ball, trick shots, tournaments, everything is included here and this game is bubbling over with things to do. Starting with a career mode that sees you taking on various opponents in different games for HKC (Hustle Kings Credits). One person may challenge you to a game of 8 Ball and the next may set up a trick shot for you to master before you can claim your lovely money.

It’s a pretty simple affair that is boosted by being able to purchase different types of balls, cues and even chalks. In fact you can actually buy chalks that help you play your shots, with real life money, that’s right 20 pence will buy a chalk to help you make longer shots or many other things. You can use your HKC in this way if you choose or you can place wagers on your matches and try to build vast piles of cash to help buy those top upgrades. This cash is needed for your online domination too; this is ‘Hustle’ Kings after all.

It’s in the online integration that the concept of the game really takes hold, by entering the ‘rooms’ and placing your cash on the line against real life players. Bet too much and it may be seen as showing your experience, meaning you can’t ‘hustle’ anybody, bet too little and never be taken seriously. A very rewarding system that gives you the thrill of winning and gets your adrenaline surging, if you’re any good of course.

Hustle Kings seems to have the whole package, the visuals are crisp and the light plays off of the balls and cloth well giving the whole game a sense of atmosphere. The actual game mechanics are intuitive too, moving your cue around and taking your shot is simple and easy to pick, adding backspin is as simple as moving a thumbstick, similarly to adding curves or jumping balls.

There are a few hiccups along the way however. Personally I am someone who always plays in the top down view, which is not the default here. You can easily change it with the press of a button; however it would have been nice for an option to make it the default, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who plays this way. Another issue for me is the music, which is a horrendous drone of Nu-Jazz stylings, after a short period it’s enough to make you tear your hair out, luckily there is an option of listening to your own music on your hard drive.

These are the only stumbling blocks in what is a genuinely great pool game, something that was sorely needed on the PS3. With an extensive single player mode, great online modes, even youtube integration meaning you can instantly upload your best shots to the internet; Hustle Kings is a complete pool hall package. The only thing missing is the smell of stale beer and the choking smoke.

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Trine PS3

By Guest Writer Dan Lipscombe

I’ve seen Trine before, a long time ago; it was a very similar game in its premise, a game that also featured three characters that must be interchanged in order to progress further through the levels. The game I’m referring to, a classic from 1994 doesn’t feature a Knight, a Thief or a Wizard, the characters and the game itself ran on a 16-bit engine and featured none of the physics based interactions of Trine. Why do I mention this? To highlight that despite the above additions, Trine isn’t all that original, no, it was done by The Animaniacs on the Mega Drive over 15 years ago. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I’m sure there aren’t many people who played the 94 classic, but the comparison is worth noting.

Trine is a beautiful game both in looks and in concept, the former gives way to lush environments that range from forest areas where the plants vibrantly glow to underground caves where torchlight dances from pillar to post. The latter, the concept, is incredibly clever. Our three heroes, the aforementioned Knight, Thief and Wizard have been merged into one body by the mystical Trine and must make their way through levels to find answers to this new problem.

Each of our heroes has an ability to solve situations along the way, the thief can fire a bow and arrows and can also use her grappling hook to swing and traverse areas. The knight is the brawn of the group, he can throw large objects and use his sword and shield to fend off the undead and the wizard can use magic to move certain objects with his mind, he can also create new objects from thin air, like a box or a platform, proper magic then.

Our intrepid adventurers will need to use their abilities in what, on paper, must have seemed like cunning puzzles, but are in reality, inspired to start and dull after time. Tasking you with how to move from one side of a level to the other, there are often several solutions, but usually the easiest or silliest will work. An example of this would be a section where I had to get from one platform to a ledge where I could move on, between them a gaping hole with an acid like substance below. I’m sure there was a very intelligent way of solving this quandary; however I decided that by drawing a box in the bottom and then leaning a platform on the wall from the top of the box and jumping on the end of it to safety was best. It seemed awfully stupid but it worked.

And that feeling continues throughout the game, the feeling of stumbling through the game with blind luck or stupidity. While each puzzle is likely designed with a technical answer, practically all of them can be solved by putting your hand into a box of random thoughts and pulling out the answer. That isn’t to say that this is a terrible thing as you are still solving the puzzles, it just would have been nice for some of them to only have one specific solution and really get you thinking.

This feeling of so close yet so far can also be applied to the combat. Selecting the knight results in your regular hack and slash affair which is accompanied by aiming his shield by using the right analogue stick, this is initially quite fiddly but after time is no problem at all. Although each swing of the sword lands with a satisfying thump, it’s in the enemies that the combat falls short. As the, at times, seemingly endless spawning skeletons march at you they are incredibly easy to dispatch, allowing them to hit your shield and then lowering it to slash them three time and kill them.

The problem is that each skeleton runs the same AI pattern, so for large portions of combat you’ll often find yourself rooted in one spot until the horde finally quits and lets you carry on with moving through the level. Hold shield, swing sword, hold shield, swing sword, seemingly ad infinitum.

As with most of the game, everything seems fantastic in concept but perhaps doesn’t deliver fully, leaving you wanting more. Even the RPG element left me feeling a little empty, when moving through the levels you will find experience potions that eventually level you up and give you skill points to spend, while an interesting dynamic it seems a little pointless when this gradual power increase could have been achieved by using the story or something similar.

Under all of this negativity on my part, this is a game that can be entertaining. The dynamics between the three characters is often fun and the story is entertaining throughout. When playing through the levels, there are moments where you may stop in your tracks after doing something particularly impressive or maybe even to admire the scenery. Trine, like the artefact in the game, is a conundrum, on one hand it has terrific visuals, hypnotising sound and genuinely great ideas but on the other, the ideas become tiresome and the action is a little repetitive.

Trine has something for everyone, it can appeal to all levels of gamers and is overall, a good platformer, it would have been nice to see some of the ideas a little more fleshed out and see a lot less repetition in the core of the title but overall if you can look past these flaws, Trine is a fun experience, much like Yakko, Wakko and Dot’s from 1994.

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The Game – PS3

By Neil McCormick

I received the press release below. Seems interesting, at this moment I have not explored what its all about. I intend to in the next day or so.

If you have already had a look, feel free to leave some comments.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has unleashed “The Game” – an open-ended, online challenge that’s set to get everyone talking about PlayStation®3 (PS3™). The idea is simple: two Teams, thousands of players, endless entertainment. Players prove their skill and knowledge through a series of challenges made up of ready-made mini-games and quizzes, and then create challenges of their own to pass on to others. More people join, more challenges are set, more mini-games are played, more points are earned, more rivalry sets in, and more people join in… The Game just gets bigger and bigger.

The Game begins at http://www.PS3-TheGame.com. The full game must be accessed via PC, but you can also keep track of what’s going via your PlayStation 3 browser. Enter your email, choose a log-in name and choose your Team. You’re either Team A or Team B. It doesn’t matter which; it only matters that when The Game ends your Team has more points. You can also use The Game’s functionality to recruit social networking friends to your team and get them playing. There’s a wealth of quiz questions and mini-games – pool simulators, target games, and tests of speed and skill – to sample and enjoy before packaging some together to create your own challenges. Send them to your friends via email and wait and see how well they do. The endless possibilities for combining games and quiz questions mean that no two challenges need be the same – with players taking control of the experience and sharing their creations with others.
Lasting for a whole year, The Game is split up into four themed stages that reflect different aspects of the PS3 experience.

“Like PS3, which inspired it, The Game is easy to understand, to play and to share with friends,” says Mark Bowles, European Product Manager for PS3 at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “It’s giving people a taste of the world of PS3 – an ever-changing world that’s open to everybody – a world shaped by players’ passions and where the game is just the start.”

The Game is open to everyone from dedicated PS3 fans to complete novices, wherever they are. To let The Game begin for you, visit http://www.PS3-TheGame.com.

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