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Knack trailer photo
Knack trailer

Pairing is caring: Knack co-op trailer teaches teamwork


Also, how to punch stuff
Nov 07
// Brett Makedonski
Word on the streets is that Knack is deceptively hard. Everyone that gets their hands on it seems like they're dying way more than they expected. Maybe it's not kiddie's first game, after all. Luckily, you can summon a ...

Dying a decent amount in Knack

Oct 18 // Steven Hansen
[embed]263774:50983:0[/embed] Knack (PS4)Developer: SCE Japan StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: November 15, 2013 Knack has two audiences in mind: those nostalgic for "mascot" sort of action games, akin to the Crash Bandicoots and the Ratchet and Clanks, as well as those who might be playing their first console videogame. It does this largely by being much more action oriented than platform-oriented, though so many of associate the latter with some of our formative gaming experiences. Platform games are hard. They often feature instant death and become difficult to scale. In an action game, enemy attack animations can go more slowly. Damage taken can be lowered; damage dealt, raised. Knack is being designed so that its easy mode will be proper easy, but on normal it presents a fair challenge. If you slip up or let your guard down, you can die and die quickly. Certain attacks will unceremoniously remove precious chunks of your health bar. Devil May Cry it is not, but there is challenge, mitigated by forgiving checkpoints. Playing through a boss fight against a goblin leader felt decidedly old school. King goblin was positioned in front of me, lobbing projectiles from a mech suit, as I dodged and smashed through the debris that sat between us. When I made my way to him and slugged him a few times, he would speed off to the other side, adding some new missile or bomb to his repertoire. I died quite a few times getting a hang of the attacks. Patterns, animations. There were some helpers, like a slow motion effect when a devastating spike mine came barreling towards me and I was prompted to dodge, though earlier times I got hit straight through by such an attack without that kind warning, costing me 3/4 of a life bar.  Knack also has some Nintendo-style drop in, drop out co-op. Player two (or, younger siblings everywhere, I hope) plays as Robo Knack. He can attack enemies, but the camera remains focused on regular trash golem Knack. Robo Knack is a support role. Trash enemies to grow Robo Knack in size and he can donate parts to restore health to regular Knack. At one point in the demo, Knack says, "Hmm...wood" and punches a bundle of wood, adding its splintered shards to his Katamari golem body. He can even ignite it with fire to punch people better. During another segment, absorbing ice particles gives him a shield that will slowly melt in sunlight, bringing him back down to size. A decidedly different segment saw a giant Knack eclipsing buildings in a city, fighting goblin mechs and throwing cars at enemy dropships. It seems like there will be enough to do on this whimsical, colorful, somewhat rotund adventure. I'm not sure, then, what isn't exactly clicking for me (and what, seemingly, hasn't been clicking for a lot of people who have played it). It might just be that Knack is very much a family-oriented game in a way the colorful mascot titles of past PlayStation launches simply weren't, despite their anthropomorphic leads and vibrant colors. While it can be hard, it remains simple. It has charm, from a range of good voice acting to the clacking sound of Knack bonding new parts to his corporeal form. It's goodnatured, approachable, colorful, and a bit of fun. It doesn't try to be too much more. DreamWorks, rather than Pixar, maybe.
Knack preview photo
Knack has cool eyebrows
Sony threw a PlayStation 4 shindig this week and Knack was featured heavily. We were treated to a video, narrated live by PS4 architect and Knack director Mark Cerny, with a lot of the gameplay sliced out in order to focus on...

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TGS: This Puppeteer trailer will pull your heartstrings


Sep 19
// Allistair Pinsof
When Grasshopper Manufacture showed off its platformer-in-a-puppet-show Black Knight Sword at TGS last year, I thought, "Well, that sure is a neat idea." But then it never came out, and now here's a game that takes the same ...

Resistance: Burning Skies is ready to set the Vita ablaze

Apr 23 // Abel Girmay
Resistance: Burning Skies (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Nihilistic SoftwarePublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: May 29, 2012 Burning Skies puts players in the boots of Tom Riley, a firefighter on a mission to protect his wife and daughter during the Chimeran invasion. Taking place between Fall of Man and Resistance 2, Burning Skies' story is set during the first three days of the Chimeran blitz. Although Europe has all but fallen, until the Chimera show up, America is still living in its Norman Rockwell ideal. Whereas past games in the series have always placed players in the thick of the conflict, Burning Skies aims to lead players through the transition of day-to-day 1950s America to the war-torn hell hole it becomes as the Chimera bum rush the Eastern seaboard. With their big push, the Chimera bring along a few new enemy types. There weren't a whole lot of new enemies shown in this demo, but there will be new breeds of Chimeran infantry and boss monsters mixed in with the series' mainstays. In my time with the game, I was reacquainted with old friends like the Executioner, LongLegs, and the good old Hybrid. Joining the series is the Impaler, a melee-focused enemy who loves to rush and, as the name implies, impale people. The dreary setup is in place, but Burning Skies couldn't be a Resistance game without some crazy weapons. All the tried-and-true classics are back such as the Auger, the Bullseye, and the Carbine, but a few new toys enter the fray. The standout new weapon I saw was a shotgun/crossbow hybrid called the Mule. A beast at close and medium range, this two-shot double-barrel weapon lays out any enemy like a good shotgun should. Its secondary function shoots explosive crossbow bolts over long and medium ranges. Apart from being incredibly fun to use, the Mule also shows off the design philosophy behind the new human weapons. [embed]226263:43480[/embed] Speaking with Nihilistic's Robert Huebner, the Mule and other weapons were "meant to have this home brew feel to them." Acquired early in the game, you get the Mule from a bartender who's just attached a crossbow to a shotgun so he could protect his home and business. It's these smaller details that go to sell the desperation of the people you encounter during the story. Not be outdone by the opposition, the Chimera bring some new guns as well. The one we got our hands on was the Sixeye, a burst-fire sniper rifle that shoots remote charges as its secondary function. Setting and detonating the charges both use the Vita's touch screen, as do all the secondary fires. To make up for the fewer buttons on the Vita versus a PS3 controller, Nihilistic has mapped a great deal of Burning Skies' controls to the touch screen and back pad. To put up an Auger shield, for instance, you place your thumbs on the center of the screen and swipe them away from each other. Or if you want to tag a target with the Bullseye, just tap on screen which target you want marked. Melee and grenades both have their own onscreen icons that you tap to use, and sprinting is done by tapping on the rear pad. As you can see, there is a ton of functionality tied to the touch controls. Thankfully, it all works well. While there is some initial awkwardness to overcome, once you get accustomed to the controls everything works incredibly smoothly. In fact, it's because there is so much touch functionality that it all works so well. Constantly having to use it for even the most basic mechanics makes it feel all the more normal. All told, the single-player looks to be in great shape, but what about the multiplayer? In a word, slim. Burning Skies will ship with a decent six maps, but will only come with three modes -- two of them being Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch -- with support for up to eight players over a Wi-Fi (no ad hoc support) connection. In our demo, we got a look at two of the game's six maps, playing Deathmatch and Survival mode. Deathmatch in Burning Skies is as straightforward as you would imagine. It's a free-for-all race to the top as you try to get the most kills before everyone else. Survival mode pits two Chimeran players against six human players to see how many members of the latter group can survive before time is up. Every kill that a Chimeran player gets infects the human and respawns them as another Chimera. It's a fun diversion, but like similar modes (such as Halo's Living Dead), it's over quickly. The meat of the multiplayer, then, is in its leveling system. It works pretty much how you would expect: you earn XP for completing challenges, getting kills, assists, ending another player's kill streak (which is even called buzz kill), etc. You unlock new weapons and upgrades (essentially perks) to improve your weapons until you hit the level cap of 40. One cool feature is Burning Skies' Infection system. As you play games, you can get get XP boosts, called infections, from other players. The way the boosts works is that you get a set multiplier for a predetermined amount of time. Values of infections range from getting 1.5x more XP for a few games, to getting a 10x boost for a whole weekend. It's a rather ingenious incentive to keep people playing. You can also pass infections to other players either in-game or with the Vita's Near functionality. Depending on how long the community lasts -- and with so many ways to spread them -- infections could travel far, like herpes. Unlike herpes, though, you can choose which infections to keep and which to throw away, ensuring you can discard lower-level infections in favor of higher ones. With about a month until release, Resistance: Burning Skies looks to be in good shape to set the Vita ablaze. The multiplayer can feel anemic, especially when it comes to modes, but what's been shown of the single-player has been simply awesome. Whether you love first-person shooters or not, Burning Skies is one title any Vita owner cannot afford to let slip under their radar.
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With a relatively thin PlayStation 3 launch line-up, Resistance: Fall of Man was a saving grace for early adopters. Almost six years later, the Resistance franchise has gone on to be a critical mainstay for Sony's systems. Wi...

Review: MLB 11 The Show

Mar 17 // Samit Sarkar
MLB 11 The Show (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2) Developer: SCE San Diego Studio Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Released: March 8, 2011 MSRP: $59.99 (PS3) / $29.99 (PSP, PS2) Analog pitching is a tremendous addition to the series, a change that brings a newly challenging dimension to a long-stagnant element of the game. In previous iterations of The Show, once you mastered the meter pitching, it was far too easy to paint the corners with sub-par pitchers as well as number-one starters. Here, the analog controls mean that just like in real life, there’s a world of difference between Justin Verlander and Justin Duchscherer; because it’s much more difficult to be accurate with a scrub, you have to be much more conservative with aiming pitches -- since lower ratings mean increased location variability -- and that will likely lead to giving up more hits. MLB 11’s analog pitching setup requires the same general motion for every pitch -- pulling back on the right stick and then flicking up and left or right (depending on inside/outside location) -- and I find that consistency more satisfying than MLB 2K’s system of separate gestures for each pitch. In that light, the amount of variety and challenge that these controls offer is particularly impressive; the pressure is on you to execute every single pitch. I really enjoy the extra difficulty added by the shorter timing window while pitching out of the stretch, too, which heightens the intensity when runners on base raise the stakes. I also like the new analog hitting, which has you “preload” by pulling back on the right stick and swing by flicking upward. Because a check swing isn’t dependent on how hard you tap a pressure-sensitive face button, but is instead accomplished by pushing the right stick upward halfheartedly (or flicking upward and then quickly pulling back), it’s easier to pull off than in years past. It does seem strange that folks who might appreciate the additional challenge of having to move the plate coverage indicator with the left stick toward an incoming pitch can’t do that. You only choose where to swing by flicking up and to the right/left on the right analog stick; the left stick doesn’t move the PCI if analog hitting is enabled. Analog fielding/throwing is less successful. The power meter, which consists of concentric circles beneath a fielder, goes up too quickly for you to be able to fine-tune the “oomph” behind a throw, and even so, there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation between a throw’s power and the chance that it will go wide. I saw a number of errant throws that didn’t result from a maximum-power analog motion. In this case, I think an on-screen throwing meter similar to the one in MLB 2K would provide a better system. And while it’s possible to preload throws during fielding animations, just as with the old button controls, I often noticed a small hitch between the animations of scooping up a ball and firing it to first base -- which, of course, could be the difference between “safe” and “out.” That’s particularly unfortunate in a franchise that’s renowned for its animation fluidity. In addition, if you’ve been flicking up and down on the right stick to jump and dive, respectively, you’re going to have to get used to pressing R1 and R2 instead, since the right stick only controls throws now. Thankfully, you have the full variety of control schemes available for pitching, hitting, and fielding. So, for instance, if you like the analog hitting and pitching but want to use button throwing, that’s completely doable. Road to the Show (RTTS), arguably MLB The Show’s standout mode, has also been revamped -- and it’s much better for it. The previous games featured a nebulous goal-based scoring system, which gave you specific tasks that didn’t always correspond to a situation’s “baseball logic,” if you will. MLB 11 evaluates your performance on a per-at-bat basis, with pitch count as a general underpinning: as a pitcher, your job is to be economical -- get outs by throwing as few pitches as possible -- and as a hitter, you want to see as many pitches as you can. That’s the fundamental conflict at the heart of baseball’s pitcher/hitter battle. Sure, striking a guy out is nice, but it’s less so when he fouls off seven pitches before you can manage to do it (that will result in an “OK batter” grade, instead of a “good” or “great” one). And while striking out is never a desirable outcome for a batter, well, at least you made the hurler work for it (“OK” as opposed to “poor”). In MLB 11, RTTS finally rewards you for being a smart baseball player, not for conforming to a particular assigned task, and it’s the best improvement that the mode has seen in years. The other major game modes, Franchise and Season, have better simulated statistics than ever before, but roster management remains an issue. The AI in MLB 11 prizes high-potential youth (and their corresponding cheap contracts) over everything else. I simulated a few years in Season mode, and one of the first things that the Yankees did was trade Derek Jeter -- only the team captain and face of the franchise -- for 20-year-old Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (and other pieces). Of course, that’s something that the real-life Yankees would never do. I also saw some awards weirdness: somehow, the Cardinals’ light-hitting second baseman Skip Schumaker managed to win a Silver Slugger Award. MLB 11 also contains other nagging issues that have plagued the franchise for years. Even with another required five-gigabyte installation, the game suffers from dreadful load times across the board. While saving and loading a RTTS file, for example, the bar will quickly go to 100% -- and then it’ll sit there for the next 20 seconds or so. In addition, the game often hangs for a few seconds when transitioning between screens, and on the field, nearly nonexistent collision detection remains a problem. The replacement of Rex Hudler with Eric Karros doesn’t help the poor commentary. Karros’ lines were clearly recorded separately from Matt Vasgersian’s and Dave Campbell’s, and they’re flat-out wrong sometimes. He commented on my RTTS pitcher’s split-fingered fastball “falling through the zone,” but that pitch isn’t even in my repertoire! Online play has always been the lone black mark on The Show, and while Sony San Diego has improved it this year, it still doesn’t resemble the offline experience closely enough to be worth playing much. The immense lag in my first game made it essentially unplayable, but most of the games after that offered reasonably smooth experiences. But when lag presumably depends on the distance between players, it’s silly that regional lobby rooms no longer exist (at least there are finally “Guess Pitch off” lobbies). And it seems that you have to swing much later online than offline. That’s a boon for hitters, but it takes some getting used to. I’ve also found it damn near impossible to throw out base stealers. Being able to customize your camera angles is nice, but I still don’t want to play The Show online. Once again, Sony San Diego has delivered the best baseball game on the market. The new analog controls are largely an improvement over the button controls of yore, and Road to the Show has never been better. It’s somewhat disappointing that certain drawbacks persist, but at its best, MLB 11 provides a beautiful, unparalleled simulation of America’s pastime.
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Keeping annualized sports franchises fresh year after year is an unenviable task, especially within the constraint of a ten- or eleven-month development cycle. Generally, sports-game developers endeavor to bring a few importa...

Hands-on: MotorStorm: Apocalypse

Feb 22 // Max Scoville
MotorStorm: Apocalypse (PlayStation 3)Developer: Evolution StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentTo be released: March 16, 2011 (EU) / April 12, 2011 (NA) The basic premise of MotorStorm: Apocalypse -- for those unfamiliar with the series -- is no-holds-barred racing that almost completely disregards the laws of physics, reality, and motor vehicles in general. You can choose from monster trucks, street racers, dirt bikes, and more. Of course, all of these vehicles have a turbo-boost. Or nitrous, or super-speed. I’m not sure what the official name is, but I really don’t care. It’s the shit that makes you go ridiculously fast, and it’s really fun. One of the things that initially made me fall in love with MotorStorm: Pacific Rift (the most recent entry in the series) was the fact that if you used your boost too much, your car would blow up. This is a game where you literally go so fast, you explode. On certain tracks, you can drive through water to cool down your engine, and use your boost longer. Conversely, on other tracks, there is molten lava and patches of ground that are arbitrarily on fire. Driving through them will make your car blow up faster, just like in real life. MotorStorm: Apocalypse keeps a lot of the fun stuff from Pacific Rift, but there are a number of new additions. You know, aside from being the first title in the series that doesn’t sound like a flavor of Mountain Dew. Arctic Burst, Thin Ice Freeze, Baja Blast, Arctic Edge: Which of these is actually a MotorStorm title? Apocalypse is also the first MotorStorm game that can run in 3D. I got to try that out, and it was okay. As far as 3D gaming goes, I’ve only played around with the 3DS. Last week was the first time I’ve seen a 3DTV in action, so I don’t really have a basis of comparison. It didn’t look terrible, but I didn’t have my mind blown or anything. Honestly, I just don’t care about 3D. It doesn’t do anything to improve the gameplay. And unless you’ve got plenty of extra glasses, any friends you have over will probably get a headache waiting for their turn to play. That being said, I’d prefer to play MotorStorm: Apocalypse in 2D, because as cool as they are, the 3D effects don’t make up for how ridiculous I feel when wearing the required glasses. If it wasn’t readily apparent, MotorStorm: Apocalypse takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The tracks are collapsed buildings, wrecked highways, and demolished suburbs. In addition to the standard hazards like cliffs and obstacles, there are also crazy people on the sides of the road shooting at you with rocket launchers and hurling molotovs. It’s straight out of The Road Warrior.  I’m a huge fan of Mad Max and Fallout, so I was excited about this premise. After playing, though, I was a little disappointed. It’s an ambitious game, really. Driving a rocket-powered monster truck over the rooftop of a half-exploded skyscraper while lunatics are hurling firebombs at you; that’s not something you do every day. The level designs are absolutely beautiful, but they weren't as fun to play as I'd expected. At one point, while playing one of the city tracks, I said, “It sorta feels like a Spider-Man game where Spider-Man’s lost most of his Spider-Powers, and also, he got transformed into a motorcycle.” Again, what sounds awesome in theory isn’t always as fun in practice. Another problem I had was the constant presence of crap all over the tracks. Broken-down cars, oil drums, rubble, crazy people. I get it: it’s the end of the world, and trash collection isn’t happening this week. It all looks really cool, but I felt that this many obstacles just impeded gameplay. Well, you know, with the exception of running people over, which is just hilarious. MotorStorm: Apocalypse features five new vehicle classes: supercar, superbike, muscle car, chopper and the hot hatch. New things are usually fun, but in the case of MotorStorm, the addition of new vehicles makes things really interesting. If you weren’t aware, all thirteen classes of vehicles race at once. Guess what happens when you run over a guy on an ATV with a monster truck: the ATV guy dies. It’s awesome. The monster truck is a lot slower, though, so it’s a toss-up. You like running people over, or going fast? I had a lot of fun with the “hot hatch,” which I kept referring to as “this ridiculous smartcar,” much to the annoyance of the game’s art director. It's one of the new classes, and it’s a souped-up hatchback. You're racing against monster trucks, muscle cars, and guys on choppers... with a tricked-out Geo Metro lookalike. I spoke with Apocalypse’s art director, Simon O’Brien, and asked him about the inspiration for the game’s tracks. A lot of them looked really familiar. This makes sense, because they were loosely based on the West Coast, with specific attention to the Bay Area. As far as specific landmarks go, nobody was trying to recreate any actual locations.  There’s a particular track set on a boardwalk that looked really familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Turns out, the inspiration was a mix of the Santa Monica Pier, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Having lived near all these places, I can vouch for its amalgamated authenticity. The online multiplayer for Apocalypse features a neat system for earning experience. Instead of giving players a bunch of boring stats to tweak, like speed or steering, there’s a slew of different perks that can be unlocked. For example, having your vehicle give you a longer “please stop using the turbo-boost!” warning before it explodes, or what about this: when your car does explode, it lets off a sonic boom that’ll knock other racers off-course. In addition to crazy explosion-related perks, you can also unlock new decals and stuff to stick on your car. I didn’t get to see it, but I was assured that all the vehicles could be customized extensively, so everyone on the Internet can know if you have a horrible sense of color coordination. Aside from online multiplayer (which supports up to sixteen players), I was happy to hear that four-player split-screen play is available. As much as I hate actually playing split-screen, it makes video games a social activity, so I'm happy to see it included. One element that I doubt anyone will hype much is the in-game camera. It’s a simple concept: If you do some super-badass shit, and wanna show it off, hit pause. Take some pictures. Seems corny, but with the amount of detail in MotorStorm’s vehicles and tracks, and the speed at which the game gets played, there’s a lot you might miss. The camera offers a great way to take a closer look. While there’s no option to take 3D pictures yet, Simon said it was a feature he’d like to see, possibly as DLC. And he’s the art director, so that’s a good sign. Overall, I think MotorStorm: Apocalypse is a fun game, and that the MotorStorm series is the spiritual successor to games like Road Rash and San Francisco Rush. If I had a copy of Apocalypse, I would probably play the crap out of it, but it didn’t immediately grab me the same way its predecessor did. While I want to applaud the imaginative post-apocalyptic look this new installment is taking, the new tracks looked better than they played, and the amount of rubble on the track hindered the game's fun. Given, it's still fun as hell; it's just not as fun as ultra-mega-turbo-hell.
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When I first saw MotorStorm: Pacific Rift a couple years ago, I rolled my eyes. At a glance, it looked like one of those super-fast racing-inspired games for loud children. While I wasn’t terribly wrong with that assess...

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MLB 11 'Yankee Killer' trailer has revisionist history


Feb 07
// Samit Sarkar
Sony has just released a new trailer for MLB 11 The Show, and this one features Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who is on the cover of the game for the second year in a row. I wasn't aware that Mauer's performance against...
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MLB 11 The Show has one-button controls for the disabled


Jan 28
// Samit Sarkar
Here's a story that will warm your heart. Thanks to its ongoing relationship with a disabled gamer, Sony San Diego has added a special difficulty level to this year's iteration of its annual baseball series, MLB 11 The Show. ...

Review: MLB 10 The Show

Mar 22 // Samit Sarkar
MLB 10 The Show (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2) Developer: SCE Studio San Diego Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Released: March 2, 2010 MSRP: $59.99 / $39.99 / $29.99 The MLB The Show games have always been some of the best-looking titles around -- not just for baseball videogames or even sports videogames, but across all console games. They offer the kind of graphics that can make you think -- if even for a second -- that you’re watching an actual game of baseball on television. This year, the game’s visuals remain unparalleled (aside from player faces, some of which are done better in 2K Sports’ MLB 2K10), and the broadcast-style look is aided by the new “real-time presentation.” Here, all camera cuts occur in real time, so each new angle you see flows directly into the next one. For example, if I hit a home run, the camera will follow the ball into the stands. Next, it might show some raucous fans celebrating, and then switch to a shot of the dejected pitcher who served up the long ball. Alex Rodriguez will probably be in the shot, since he’ll be rounding second base behind the pitcher. Finally, the camera might show the entire field, which is when the infielders can be seen shifting to the right side of the diamond in preparation for the next batter, Mark Teixeira. This is the kind of attention to detail that Sony San Diego is known and loved for -- it seems minor, but makes MLB 10 stand out. Other visual additions in MLB 10 include dynamic fans and off-field players: fans seated in the front row will reach over the railing to try and grab a foul ball, and players in the dugout will duck to avoid balls hit in their direction. You’ll even see pitchers warming up in real time after you put them in the bullpen. And the developers finally addressed a longtime gripe of mine -- collision detection. It’s still not perfect, but at least it’s not completely absent like in years past. Unfortunately, the audio side of the TV equation is less impressive. While the ambient ballpark noises are wonderful -- and if you’re not happy with them, you can augment them yourself in Sounds of the Show -- the commentary trio of Matt Vasgersian, Rex Hudler, and Dave Campbell remains the only unremarkable, mediocre aspect of the presentation. Hudler and Campbell, in particular, repeat lines too often -- and some of their tired old sayings haven’t changed in years. Of course, you can turn them off and focus on the game itself, which is still stellar. New features include a more granular throw meter and three different kinds of pickoffs, and although the pitcher/batter confrontation itself hasn’t changed, it would be silly to criticize Sony San Diego for opting not to tinker with something that works perfectly as-is. What’s so great about The Show is the way in which players behave: baserunners hop over ground balls, outfielders crash into the wall after catching deep fly balls on the run, and double-play-turning infielders tumble over runners sliding into them at second base. Thanks to better animation blending, the on-the-field action exhibits a fluidity that has to be seen to be believed. It’s a shame, then, that the most impressive aspects of MLB 10 simply evaporate when playing the game online. The Show has been continually held back from true greatness by its sub-par online play, and sadly, it’s no better this time around. I played ten or so games, most of which ended prematurely when the player on the other end quit due to pervasive, crippling lag. Perhaps it’s my wireless connection, but for what it’s worth, I haven’t had issues with any game besides The Show (both MLB 09 and MLB 10). Lag can ruin any online game, but it’s particularly disastrous in baseball, where a mere split second can mean the difference between a home run and a very long out. The terrible lag causes hitters to flail wildly at pitches whose journeys to home plate have gaps, and it makes it tremendously difficult to properly locate pitches because the pitching meter -- which is completely timing-based -- stutters. What’s more, the initial indication of your connection to your opponent, which shows up in the team select screen, doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the actual quality of a game. Every game I played online had an ostensibly “great” connection -- according to the team select banner -- but the in-game display was rarely green (“great”), instead fluctuating between yellow and red. In fact, the awful lag compromises the entire online play experience. Strange visual glitches -- which are nowhere to be seen in the offline game -- pop up online. I saw my first baseman fail to stick out his glove to catch a ball thrown to him, but he managed to catch it anyway before the hitter got to first -- which somehow ended up in a “safe” call at the bag. In addition, either the X button magically becomes much less responsive online, or check swings are just nearly impossible to pull off over the Internet. I’m also miffed that Sony San Diego hasn’t yet integrated the PlayStation Network friends list into the game; instead, you have to add your PSN friends to a separate in-game buddy list. Perhaps it’s an issue with the way the PSN itself is set up as opposed to something the developers have any control over. Again, MLB 10 offline is an experience that’s second to none. The addition of Catcher Mode in Road to the Show -- no doubt influenced by the cover athlete, Joe Mauer -- finally makes it worthwhile and rewarding to play as a catcher. Instead of merely throwing out runners and fielding balls in front of the plate, you get to call the pitches -- and in a nod to the dreams of catchers everywhere, your pitcher can’t shake you off. MLB 10 has shorter load times than MLB 09, but I’ve seen some strange loading issues where you won’t be able to press a button for a few seconds after it appears that the game has finished loading a new screen, as if the game is temporarily frozen. While MLB 10 The Show remains the best baseball videogame money can buy, it’s no longer light-years ahead of 2K Sports’ effort. Is it better than MLB 09? Definitely, but not by a wide margin. I’d certainly still easily recommend it to PS3 owners, since they have a choice between it and MLB 2K10, but if MLB 11 doesn’t vastly improve upon this year’s regrettable online offering, we may very well have a competition on our hands in 2011. Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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Simulation sports games have a doubly difficult job: not only are they tasked with delivering a realistic playable version of a particular sport, but they also must present an experience that looks and sounds like a televisio...

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MLB 10 The Show classic stadiums are pre-order bonus DLC


Jan 26
// Samit Sarkar
In my December preview of MLB 10 The Show, I mentioned that the game will include a number of classic stadiums that are new to the MLB The Show franchise, such as the Polo Grounds and Forbes Field. The fact sheet for the game...
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Building towns and beat-downs in White Knight Chronicles


Jan 15
// Ben Perlee
I don't know if you guys have heard about this game. It's called White Knight Chronicles. Ring a bell? It does?! No way! I'm just, you know, surprised that you would even remember this thing. When was it announced? Like 2005?...
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Joe Mauer cover for MLB 10 The Show unveiled, out March 2


Jan 07
// Samit Sarkar
Sony has released the final box art for MLB 10 The Show, and it’s ... very blue. You can check out the full cover image, featuring AL MVP Joe Mauer, in the gallery below. While it’s nice to see a cover design that...
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Back of MLB 10 The Show box confirms what we told you


Dec 19
// Samit Sarkar
Earlier this week, I gave you a first-look, hands-on preview of MLB 10 The Show. In it, I discussed some of the improvements and additions that Sony San Diego is bringing to the game, including the new Catcher Mode, a better ...
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AL MVP Joe Mauer is the MLB 10 The Show cover athlete


Dec 17
// Samit Sarkar
Sony’s finally taking the MLB The Show cover out of the Northeast. Joe Mauer, the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player, will grace the cover of MLB 10 The Show, the next iteration in Sony San Diego’s acclaime...

Preview: MLB 10 The Show

Dec 17 // Samit Sarkar
MLB 10 The Show (PS3, PS2, PSP) Developer: SCE Studio San Diego Publisher: SCEA To be released: March 2010 The first thing I saw was the Home Run Derby, which is available this year as part of the greatly expanded All-Star Break. You can play a Derby by itself, but it’ll also show up during the Franchise or Season modes before the All-Star Game itself. New to the MLB The Show series is the All-Star Futures Game, an exhibition game between minor league prospects from America and the rest of the world; it will take place just before the Home Run Derby. If you’re taking part in a Home Run Derby contest outside of a season, you can choose from legendary players (like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig) and historic stadiums (such as Shibe Park and the Polo Grounds). The game will offer a total of eleven new ballparks, including five new minor league fields. After I sent a few balls into Yankee Stadium’s short porch with Ryan Howard, Levine and I started up an exhibition game. He chose to play during the day in order to show off MLB 10’s daytime transitional lighting system. This year’s game had a dusk-to-darkness shift, but now, you’ll see the late afternoon shadows growing long and the sun getting lower in the sky -- in real time. It’s a subtle but impressive effect that’ll likely take you by surprise the first time you notice it. Weather effects are new to the series, too; our game was played in bright sunshine, but Levine told me that fog will envelop some games. And as you can see in the shot of Alex Rodriguez below, Sony has also given the game’s statistical overlays a face-lift, forgoing blue for black in the color scheme. I’ve been an unabashed fan of The Show for some time now, but one gripe I’ve had with the games is their utter lack of collision detection on the field. At times, you could fool yourself into thinking you were watching a game on TV -- at least until a baserunner literally slid through the guy covering second. It was a jarring thing to see, and it completely ruined the immersive atmosphere that the developers had clearly worked so hard to create. But Levine told me that this was high on Sony San Diego’s list of fixes to implement in MLB 10, and he assured me that players won’t ghost through each other anymore. That was heartening -- the absence of collision detection was the only major visual issue I had with MLB 09. Since Road to the Show -- The Show’s RPG-like single-player mode -- was pretty much the only thing I played in MLB 09, I was eager to hear about how it’s being improved for next year. Joining MLB 09’s hitting and baserunning practice modes will be pitching and fielding drills. A major addition to RTTS is Catcher Mode. As a catcher, you’ll play a vital role this time: you’ll actually be calling the pitches! This seems like it’ll make playing as a catcher just as rewarding, and fun, as playing as a pitcher. In MLB 09, you could record a video from the instant replay function and save it as an MP4 file on your PS3’s hard drive. That has been expanded into a feature called Movie Maker, which will allow you to edit together up to ten replays -- with all kinds of different camera angles -- in a highlight reel that you can then save to your PS3 or upload to the Internet. It’s not clear at this juncture whether you’ll be able to upload the videos directly to the Web through the game, like you can in certain EA Sports titles, but either way, I’m excited to try my hand at creating a video. My game with Levine was a tense affair; we could each muster only a run through eight innings, and I ended up winning 2-1 on a walk-off single. Nothing has changed in the pitcher/batter interface or fundamental gameplay, and I shouldn’t have to stress that that’s fine -- The Show is so good already that messing with important mechanics like the pitch meter has the potential to screw things up. I did catch some noticeable bugs, but Levine explained that the build we were playing wasn’t very far along in development. And anyway, the kind of stuff I saw -- catchers not picking up dropped balls right away, pickoff throws not being allowed all the time -- will surely be eradicated by the time MLB 10 ships in March. Man, the winter months between now and then are going to be interminable!
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Thanks to two straight stellar games, the MLB The Show series has cemented itself as the best baseball simulation available by far. MLB 09 The Show managed to sell 305,000 copies in March 2009 on the PS3, coming in at #6 on t...

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Winners of LittleBigPlanet Art Game Jam Session announced


Nov 14
// Ben Perlee
Earlier this week, Sony made an announcement that they would be holding another LittleBigPlanet Art Game Jam Session, this time for the PSP. Five teams of students from the School of Game Design from the Academy of Art Instit...
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24 hours of LittleBigPlanet PSP can only end one way ...


Nov 10
// Jordan Devore
With an obscene amount of creativity poured into equally creative LittleBigPlanet PSP levels. Similar to the Game Jam Session for LittleBigPlanet on PlayStation 3, SCEA is holding another 24-hour festival in hopes of having A...
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MLB The Show dev painstakingly recreates in-game stadiums


Oct 18
// Samit Sarkar
The New York Yankees eliminated the Minnesota Twins in Game 3 of their 2009 American League Division Series matchup last week, and that baseball game is the last one that will ever be played in Minneapolis’ Hubert H. Hu...
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SCEA might want to spy on your emotions while you game


Aug 14
// Jordan Devore
As spotted by Siliconera, Sony has filed a patent for software that aims to detect a range of human emotions with laughter being primarily emphasized. As you can see in the creepy sketch above, this data would be tracked thro...
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Sony says God of War III will be the 'last installment' in series


Dec 15
// Nick Chester
[video]114713:875[/video]God of War III is coming out on the PlayStation 3 next year, and that's no surprise. And after seeing the trailer that premiered at last night's Spike VGAs, the game doesn't look surprising, either .....
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Second trailer for The Life in NBA 09 The Inside tells a basketball-centric tale


Sep 19
// Samit Sarkar
[video]103695:363[/video] After watching the above video, part two of the trailer series for Sony’s NBA 09 The Inside, I may have to eat my harsh words about the title. I’ve been hating on it because of its graphi...
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Gritty trailer for The Life in NBA 09 The Inside brings the streets to you


Sep 05
// Samit Sarkar
[video]102619:314[/video] The last time we told you about NBA 09 The Inside on PS3 was, coincidentally, the first time we told you about NBA 09 The Inside on PS3. Funny how that works, eh? Anyway, in that original post, I me...
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Enjoy six times as much fun with the six-man NBA 09 The Inside cover


Aug 16
// Samit Sarkar
I thought “Think Different” was Apple’s old advertising slogan. Well, it seems SCEA has taken a page out of Apple’s book with the box art for their upcoming basketball game, NBA 09 The Inside. That&rsq...

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