Podcast: The Last of Us

TheLastofUsI recorded this podcast where I talk about Naughty Dog’s latest game The Last of Us. It’s pretty rad. Spoilers!

Maybe I’ll do some more of these …

Music intro – “The Last of Us” – Gustavo Santaolalla (Spotify, SoundCloudAmazon)

Direct download (Right-click “save link as …”)

Stream: [audio https://ia801806.us.archive.org/20/items/TheLastofUsPodcast/TheLastofUsMP3.mp3]

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Sony Confirms the UMD Passport Program Won’t Be Available in North America

Sony’s answer to the PlayStation Vita’s lack of backwards compatibility with PSP games the UMD Passport Program, will not be available in North America, according to a statement to Kotaku.

Already available in Japan since last December, the UMD Passport program allows users to download their library of UMDs after scanning them in the slot of a PSP – for a price determined by the publisher – onto the Vita.

Without it, North American Vita owners have no way to play their UMDs on the Vita. Games downloaded digitally through PSN will be playable however.

The announcement comes just less than two weeks before the U.S. launch of the Vita on February 22.

Source: Kotaku

Fit to Print: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review

What, you’ve already read this before? Well, first of all, thank you, and second, yeah, I know. I’m going back through my previous work and sprucing it up, making it a little more legible. It’s probably more self-indulgent than it is appealing to you, but I need to get better at editing, and I thought, hey, I have all this (sometimes embarrassing) work to use! Enjoy it or skip it, I won’t be offended!

This weekend I played a theatrical movie, and its name is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Moments in, you’ll feel the plethora of cinematic qualities tucked inside the game that are unlike thousands of others before it. Almost instantaneously after pressing the tradional “start” button you’re left in control of the most enjoyable fortune-hunter I’ve ever seen.

Nathan Drake has been betrayed, and now he sits in a derailed train car with a bloody wound above his hip. Unbeknownst to him, the abandoned car is a few feet away from sliding off a cliff somewhere in the Himalayas. When Drake quickly becomes aware of his imminent doom, he begins to assess his options. This is one of the many moments where the game flawlessly converts from cutscene to gameplay. Immediately the train lurches even further off of the cliff and causes Drake to descend closer to his ominous fall. Luckily, Drake still has enough in him to grab onto the door jutting out from the back of the car. From there you must lead him further up to the top of the cliff, and eventually make the final, life-saving jump. Once you arrive on safe ground, I guarantee you will breath a sigh of relief simultaneously with the game’s protagonist.

Events like these are scattered throughout Uncharted 2, making the game thrilling and very intense at times. From dodging a pursuing helicopter in a office building that is exploding with you’re inside it, to nearly escaping death from a hulking tank following you through a village; Uncharted 2 doesn’t let you go until the very end. Naughty Dog implemented unique actions depending on Drake’s current situation that create a sense of realism that I have yet to see in a video game. The firefights make for visceral events etched into the game’s masterful tale. While the weapons are the general variety, each firearm felt distinct while running from cover-to-cover, trying to flank the oncoming swarm of enemies.

With that in mind, the game hurts itself in smaller areas. I found myself constantly sticking to a wall for cover while an oncoming RPG was hurdling my way. Trying to jump frantically off of a cliff caused some deaths because Drake felt the need to hold onto the ledge often too long. Even battling in train cars cause some unnecessary deaths due to the imaginary glue on the walls. Ocassional frustrating scenarios like these were annoying, but they couldn’t ruin a game of this value.

The men and women who contributed their voice talents for the game (notably: Nolan North) should be honored. Each cutscene was presented in the most amazing in-game graphics to date, along with superb voice-acting. Not o mention the story feels like it was stolen from a multi-million dollar movie script. It’s clear in the narrative, Naughty Dog developed the gameplay directly alongside it. You constantly feel as if you are the actor in a magnificent tale.

A video game cannot offer more that what is delivered in Uncharted 2. Every aspect of it left me astonished. Before purchasing a PlayStation 3 Uncharted 2 was one of the games I was looking forward to. All I can say is buy this game. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

What did I change? You can read the original review here.

The Last of Us can work

SideQuesting allowed me to publish this article there, so if you want to see it look a little more professional go check it out!

The problem with zombie games is there are no humans. Only archetypes and singular goaled beings exist among the undead in the games we play and therefore the argument can be made that the opposition is not unlike each other. Survival is not the most interesting tale to tell without careful character growth and if one developer could pull it off, it would be Naughty Dog.

Granted, a trailer is not the meatiest bone to pick off of, but The Last of Us shows more promise that it should have. Maybe it was because the zombies weren’t zombies in the same sense that 28 Day Later’s zombies weren’t zombies. It’s the difference between brainless fodder and intelligent predators, The Last of Us’ breed look like the latter. The hope here is that the environment will weigh down the characters with constant pressure, allowing room for the state of the world and the survivors to provide the narrative.

Naughty Dog has the talent to create characters that leave behind the obligatory, Nathan Drake won’t tell himself, “I need to use this gun in my hand to shoot the lock open.” In an emergent situation like man and the young woman are forced into during the trailer, they don’t have time to explain, it’s about instinct. And instinct is the very thing that drives the scripted moments in Uncharted, it’s also the trait in us that breaks it.

If the chance to demand two things from Naughty Dog when developing The Last of Us  is allowed, it would be to explore player agency and to be devoted to scarcity; guns should be used sparingly if not ever. Stop punishing the player for making the wrong move, give them branching options of varying danger. And it’s a post-apocalyptic world, don’t look at Fallout, look at Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for enemy encounters; in other words: drop the “combat”. While we’re at it, take a cue from Richard Matheson, give us a story about the characters’ motivations, not the zombies, or whatever you’d like to call them. The Last of Us has potential if Naughty Dog will let it.

Sorry, it’s the PlayStation Vita now

We’ve dealt with very … odd names before; Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and the DSi to name a few. Let’s face it, video games can be rather weird, and if only the names are responsible we’re getting somewhere. For today, we have to try to understand the reasoning behind Sony officially naming its PSP successor, the PlayStation Vita (formerly known as the NGP).

First of all what is “vita”? “Vita” means life in Latin and Italian. Knowing that, we must speculate on what this has to do with Sony’s handheld itself. Will it breath new life into handheld gaming? Does it produce life-like graphics? Has it become sentient? For the time being, no answers are given. We’re going to have to wait until next week when they will officially announce this puzzling moniker to the gaming populace.

This all began when Games Pundit released an article revealing the existence of Sony’s upcoming announcement. They claimed the news was to be taken with a grain of salt considering only one anonymous source was responsible for the leak. A blurry photo of the finalized Vita on an ad was included, supposedly from another blog, Mega Rock (that has since been taken down).

Here is where things get real juicy. At this very moment if you visit Sony’s developer portal over at http://scedev.net/, but include the “vita” prefix (http://vita.scedev.net/), it totally works. When you use “ngp” instead, it will work as well. The only one that will cause an error is “psp2”, and honestly, I’m glad. To add a tad more gasoline, Playstationvita.com and psvita.com were registered on April 19, way before any of these rumors were circling.

Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek chimed in with some investigating of his own:

I’ve talked to several developer sources, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, as E3 is so close. But each confirmed Vita was definitely the codename for the project when Sony was first showing the hardware to developers. One developer said his company has stopped referring to the machine as Vita, preferring NGP or PSP2, but was unclear if Vita had been dropped.

Judging from all of this evidence, the PlayStation Vita is looking to be legitimate. Now we have to wait for Sony to explain this perplexing  handheld’s title on June 6th. Another photo is tucked in after the break.

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Polygonal Grasscast 5-24-11

Caution: slight LA Noire spoilers ahead! (if you want to avoid them skip to 42:00)

Tyler talks way too much about the latest Rockstar joint, and presents his E3 2011 predictions. Also, wow, this is a loooong podcast.

Listen to it now!

Subscribe to the show on iTunes:

Via Store: Subscribe and rate!

Via RSS:

Open iTunes – Click the Advanced tab – Click Subscribe to Podcast… – Paste in this URL: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8093366/grasscastfeed.xml

Host: Tyler Colp (@tylercolp)

Producer: Tyler Colp

Music by: Kevin MacLeod, Malfunction[1] by Tyler Colp

Email: polygonalgrasscast@gmail.com

SOE brought down, 24.6 million accounts compromised

As soon as the nightmare was seemingly over, Sony has found another intrusion on their online services. Sony Online Entertainment, their separate development and publishing division, also fell victim to the unknown assailants. SOE has been responsible for many MMO’s, and currently runs DC Universe Online on both the PlayStation 3 and PC.

“We have had to take the SOE service down temporarily.” read the brief statement by SOE on the morning of May 2nd. “In the course of our investigation into the intrusion into our systems we have discovered an issue that warrants enough concern for us to take the service down effective immediately.”

Less than ten hours later, they released a statement revealing the reason the service was brought down: “personal information from approximately 24.6 million SOE accounts may have been stolen, as well as certain information from an outdated database from 2007.” “The information from the outdated database that may have been stolen includes approximately 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes), and about 10,700 direct debit records of certain customers in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.” Ouch. While it’s not directly putting more U.S. users into danger, it definitely isn’t good news for the thousands of others.

Sony insists that is undoubtedly related to the PlayStation Network attack, but also reminds us that the two networks are not connected.

The plot thickens.