October 23, 2009

Sony Holiday Preview 2009

This year the Sony Holiday Preview took place in a beautiful loft in the Burroughes Building in Toronto, Ontario. The loft was set up perfectly to entice eager gamers to try out the games being showcased with leather couches, big screen TV’s and plenty of space to relax while we wetted our gaming appetites. Here is a brief rundown of some of the games I got a chance to play on various PS3’s that really stood out in my mind:

Assassins Creed 2

As I walked away checking out the games, one game instantly drew my attention and I plopped myself down to eagerly play Assassin’s Creed 2 for the first time.

Assassin’s Creed (AC2) has improved on its previous instalment in every way imaginable. The graphics are exquisite and Italy is the perfect venue to showcase the high quality graphics that this game exhibits. As Enzio walks through the streets of Venice I spotted a flower petal floating through the air while the moon shined down into the waters throughout the city. Gondolas move slowly through the canals and the citizens litter the streets creating an amazing atmosphere for the story of AC2 to unfold.

The mission I played through was broken down into a few different parts. The first part of the mission had me eliminating five archers surrounding a building. The local thieves’ guild is working in tandem with Enzio to assassinate a templar that will work in favour of both Enzio's thirst for vengeance and as well as the thieves’ guild purposes. I made my way through the streets towards the intended targets and easily climbed to the rooftop where the archers were perched. Guided by the representative from Ubisoft I was set up so that I could try one of the new assassination moves on an archer standing close to the edge of the roof. I scaled along the building using the edge to shimmy over to the archer and when I got close enough I grabbed him by the ankles throwing him off the building to his untimely demise. With one archer dispatched I moved on to the others using throwing knives, disarming one archer of his sword and finishing him off with his very own weapon, and I also used the twin blades tucked up Enzio’s sleeves to finish off the others. With this portion of the mission complete I met up with the thieves guild to learn that the archers were replaced by members of the guild and the bodies were disposed off to complete the task.

The final part of the mission had me infiltrate the building that the archers were guarding and assassinate my target. There were quite a few options at my disposal. I could have sneaked in using my cunning and skill or hired courtesans to distract the guards; however I decided to hire some thieves to distract the guards and lure them away from the gates so I could simply walk in the front door. After entering the gates I climbed to the top of the building and started to remove the guards on the rooftops, unfortunately the main target was warned of my incoming assassination attempt and he started to flee. I made short work of the last guard and dived down to the main level of the building where I was greeted by several guards. Instead of taking the time to dispose of the welcoming committee I decided that time was of the essence and I ran after the fleeing target and plunged my blades into his back.

After the assassination I was expecting to run for my life and flee the scene of the crime, however the thieves guild quickly swooped into the building and took care of any lingering guards; solving the problem of running for dear life that took place a lot in the first Assassins Creed.

Suffice to say I was quite impressed with the changes that took place in AC2 and look forward to playing out the full story and experiencing the other changes that will be discovered through a more thorough play through.

Lego Rock Band

Yes, Traveller’s Tales and Harmonix have teamed up to create Lego Rockband which combines the amazing music experience of Rockband and the Lego style of games like Lego Batman, Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Star Wars. Lego Rockband musically plays exactly like the Rockband series however it comes with a Super Easy setting created for younger gamers that will be easily attracted to this title.

As you complete songs and rock challenges you win Lego Studs, unlock more content and collect vehicles which the band uses to get to their gigs. Lego Rockband features “Build a Band and Rock the Universe” where gamers can personalize their characters, bands, instruments and even your entourage. Gamers can also decorate and accessorize their own personal Lego Rock Den with their own style. The tracks for Rock Band Lego are family friendly and will have something that every member of the family will enjoy. Below is a peak of what songs you will be able to rock out to this holiday season.

• The Automatic - “Monster”
• Blink 182 - “Aliens Exist”
• Blur - “Song 2”
• Bon Jovi - “ You Give Love a Bad Name”
• Carl Douglas - “Kung Fu Fighting”
• Counting Crows - “Accidentally in Love”
• Europe - “The Final Countdown”
• Foo Fighters - “Breakout”
• Good Charlotte - “Boys and Girls”
• The Hives - “Tick Tick Boom!”
• Jackson 5 - “I Want You Back”
• Kaiser Chiefs - “Ruby”
• Pink - “So What”
• Ray Parker Jr. - “Ghostbusters”
• Sum 41 - “ In Too Deep”
• Tom Petty - “Free Fallin’’
• Vampire Weekend - “A-Punk”

Where The Wild Things Are

As a child I remember reading this book over and over again and when I found out I was going to be a father for the first time “Where The Wild Things Are” was one of the first books I bought to read to my son.

Before I got my chance to play this title I watched it a bit and was instantly blown away at the high quality graphics for a title that is geared towards a younger audience. The monsters were detailed, vivid, and scary all at the same time. The lush environments on the island are so full of life with gigantic trees, unique plants and gigantic insects.

Taking on the role of Max, a boy who fashions himself as a monster, you team up with the monsters that are native to the island. Throughout the game you will solve action puzzles, play through obstacles, and solve the mystery that has taken hold of the island. In essence the game is a large variety of mini-games that you play through while unlocking a whole new story that is not included in the motion picture slated to come out October 16th, 2009.

The game plays well with Max using his sceptre to battle creatures and he also teams up with the various monsters on the island to solve the puzzles, navigate the environment and search for more than 400 collectibles that unlocks special rewards in the Wild Things village.

All in all this title was quite impressive for what I consider a children’s title. The graphics are amazing and the gameplay is a lot of fun. The title stands alone without having to watch the movie or read the book which will bode well for some children.

Tekken 6

One thing I can say about Tekken 6 is that the graphics are gorgeous and it looks amazing in HD. I remember playing Tekken in the arcade when I was younger and Tekken 6 has brought the series to a whole new level with the largest roster of characters ever. There are over 40 unique fighters with six brand new characters to play as well as franchise favourites such as Eddy, Jin, Kazuya and Heihachi.

I got beat pretty badly the few matches I did play in but I did have a good time getting my ass handed to me. I did learn pretty quickly that I could be punched through walls and kicked through the floors providing the ultimate insult. Tekken 6 also features an online VS mode, as well as an online co-op mode where you and your friends can battle AI controlled enemies. Tekken 6 also boasts a robust character creator where you can take your character online in VS and co-op modes.

Overall Tekken 6 is an upgrade to the series that boasts some new features that fans and newcomers to the series I am sure will enjoy.

The Saboteur

To be honest I have not heard much about this game, except that it had something to do with WW2. The story is about a man named Sean Devlin who is enraged with vengeance when his best friend is murdered by a Nazi. The mission I played takes place somewhere in Germany shortly after Sean’s friend is killed and he is working his way out of the building where they were held captive.

At first I had to sneak out of my room and silently take out one of the guards, which I horribly failed and alerted everyone that I was attempting an escape. This quickly put me in a position where I had to shoot my way out of the building, which required a lot of dodging, retreating and an insane about of luck. My luck was strong though and I made my way out of the building alive where I stole a truck and started my getaway towards the French border. It took a few seconds to get used to the controls before I started speeding through the streets of a German town splattering soldiers on the front of my wind shield and doing my best to avoid innocent bystanders, which in the end cost me my truck as I totalled it against a brick wall. Lucky for me there was a man with a motorcycle driving by and I quickly punched him, took his motorcycle, and sped off down the road. The motorcycle is much quicker than the truck, but what it made up in speed it lacked in protection. I was constantly wiping out or running into trees due to my inability to control the motorcycle so I decided to steal another truck which I used to finally escape Germany.

I really liked how the gameplay works for this title but I had a lot more fun with the driving then the regular gameplay, which I hope doesn’t deter other gamers from the story that unfolds throughout the game. This is a title that I would keep on the radar to watch out for more developments.

DJ Hero

DJ Hero has to be one of the coolest peripherals coming out this year and really looks really exciting to play. The DJ turntable is built with both left and right handed players in mind where you can switch the controls in the options and just turn the buttons to the side you wish them to be on. There are three buttons on the turn table, two that are for performing scratches, and the other for sound effects. On the left is your slider, sound effects knob and your Euphoria activation button. Also, if you have a guitar peripheral there is also several songs that you will be able to play along with the DJ for a great co-op experience.

It takes a bit of time to get used to the controls but in the end it works just like any other music game, in this case though you have a different controller to match up your notes on screen. The music makes this game what it is and the mixes that you get to play are pure gold, and YES you do have the option to just play them and listen to these great tracks. Here are just a few of the songs you will be able to play in DJ hero.

• "Feel Good Inc." (Gorillaz) vs "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye)
• "Jayou" (Jurassic 5) vs "Rockit" (Herbie Hancock)
• "Bustin' Loose" (Chuck Brown) vs "Time of the Season" (The Zombies, DJ Shadow Mix)
• "All Apologies" (Nirvana) vs "Give It to Me Baby" (Rick James, DJ Shadow Mix)
• "Let's Dance" (David Bowie) vs "Jack of Spades" (KRS One, DJ Shadow Mix)
• "Shout" (Tears for Fears) vs "Pjanoo" (Eric Prydz)

Tony Hawk: Ride

The new controller for Tony Hawk: Ride is going to change the way we perceive any other skateboard game that comes out from this day forward. The controller, which looks like a board without wheels, is actually really cool. To be honest I was a bit sceptical of how well this controller would work, if at all; however, I was really surprised after playing around with it for a bit at how well it worked and how sensitive the controller is. On the board itself are four motion sensors, two on the side and two on the end, all which will aid in getting the skateboard in motion and in performing tricks.

I got to play through a street course where I swung my foot to the left of the board to get myself moving and started rolling down the street. I had to lean forwards or backwards to move to the right and left respectively and if I wanted to jump I just had to tap the back of the board really quickly with my back foot to get airborne which would then allow me to do some spins or grind down some railings. The street mode I played through was set on easy so a lot of the tricks were automated and I just had to steer my board to the right place and perform the right motion to plant the trick.

The next mode I played through, and was the one I enjoyed the most, was the half-pipe. The trick to the half-pipe was to get my speed going to get a lot of air so that I could perform grabs (waving my hand across the motion sensor beams), spins (leaning the board forwards or backwards) and some crazy moves where I spun the board around trying to do a 360 motion which I am not sure what exactly it did, but it scored some awesome points. The board has been tested to hold up to 300 lbs and I learned the hard way that socks or some flexible footwear are the best options to play for optimal performance.

Overall Impressions

As you can tell the Sony Holiday Preview was quite exciting and so full of action that made it so I could only to get sneak peak some of the games available. There are plenty more titles coming out this season for the PS3, PSP and PSP go to wet any gamers appetite and I have to say that just by walking around the preview event I was amazed with how many quality games were available for all the Sony platforms out there. I would have to venture to say that this holiday season is going to be a great one for those loyal to the Sony brand of video gaming products and for those just finding out what the PlayStation brand has to offer.

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