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Peter Vrabel
Boston, MA -

Pete earned his blogging wings on PSP and PS3 Fanboy during the earlier summer months, now helping out as a weekend warrior. Finally, a healthy outlet for all that extensive gaming...or so he thought. He loves his music, his iPod, his music on his iPod, his ipod filled with music, long walks on the beach, intense RPG's, chocolate cake, dogs, (not cake made of dogs), energy drinks and all things Sony. Insanely addicted to Blu-Ray movies and at times, a certain MMORPG set in the world of Azeroth...

Unreal Engine issues cause Midway's PS3 delays; prompt release dates for '08 promised

Underneath the depths of a crater-sized hole left from their earlier Unreal Tournament 3 PS3 delay, Midway CEO David Zucker also made a rather bold statement about Midway's future Unreal Engine-based PS3 releases. Citing "technical issues of the Unreal Engine 3.0" as the main culprit for the PS3 delays of Stranglehold, Area 51: Blacksite and of course, Unreal Tournament 3, the conference call also included the assurances these technical issues have since been worked out, barring PS3 delays for future multiplatform releases in 2008 and beyond.

Hmmm ... color PS3 fans bemused and slightly suspicious. After all, we're still left with a lingering sting from the triple whammy PS3 backhand they've dished out. If anything is certain, it's that death, taxes and occasional game delays are all but inevitable but we just hope Midway can stick to their guns to make one of those things, a thing of the past. Imagine ... no taxes! [Insert lolz here.]

SCEA teams up with ESPN for X Games 13

For the upcoming X Games 13 event in Los Angeles in August, SCEA announced its "renewed sponsorship" for the global action sport competition. Lets hope the competitors aren't superstitious, eh? Like the last 8 years of Sony's sponsorship, this year's event will be highlighted with the presence of Sony, but this time in a new truck-like package. The gargantuan PlayStation Experience truck will allow players to get an up-close and personal hands-on with the latest software for the PS3, PS2 and PSP. A 52-inch LCD HDTV will be displaying your hands-on skills in games like Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, Folklore, MotorStorm, Singstar Pop and even Parappa the Rapper. Leather chairs will ensure style and comfort while players game away.

The absence of heavier and more violent content is a purposeful move to merge the event (oddly enough) with Sony's softer, more kid-friendly side. "As the X Games and PlayStation appeal to the younger audiences, we couldn't be happier with this partnership and look forward to future events with them," says Rick Alessandri, Managing Director of the X Games franchise. The X Games 13 event will take place August 2-5 at both The Home Depot Center and the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Sony president says no more PS3 price cuts for the US

In a recent Reuters interview, Sony president Ryoji Chubachi said, "we've announced the price cut in the US and have no additional plans beyond that at this time." Um, okay. They DID just announce the PS3 price cut two weeks ago. Dropping the price again so soon would be quite silly (at least, from a business standpoint).

Or, and this is just a crazy theory of ours, maybe he is pre-announcing another price cut, by way of saying there isn't one, when it's already planned, right around the upcoming holiday season. Stranger things have happened, but looking back at all the price cut denials before the announcement of the $100 price cut before E3 certainly makes it seem all the more plausible.

[Via GamesDigest]

No exclusive content for PS3 GTA IV, says Rockstar

In the "news that blows" category, a Rockstar spokesperson confirmed the absence of any exclusive content for the PS3 edition of GTA IV. In speaking with Games Radar, Rockstar spokesperson Hosi Simon claimed that if gamers want the "complete experience with the episodes" that they would be best served by the Xbox 360 version, because the PS3 edition will not have any exclusive content to call their own. We're betting Sony's Phil Harrison was on the cusp of telling fans something quite tasty awhile back, so we shouldn't be surprised if a reverse announcement comes out down the road. Seriously, in light of past exclusives falling by the wayside, it would be hard to believe anything is sacred in one camp alone.

[Via Pro-G]

Target will sell standalone Blu-ray player, but not HD-DVD

Beginning in October, savvy Target shoppers looking to jump onto the Blu-ray bandwagon can join the party with a standalone Blu-ray player. The Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray player will be offered in addition to the PS3, providing consumers with a decision for their Blu-Ray movie watching. With another "tug" in the HD tug-of-war, Blu-ray gets a bonus as being alone on the shelving space for standalone players. Target has yet to announce plans to begin offering HD-DVD standalone players (not counting the already offered Xbox 360 add-on drive). As far as retail space for HD discs, Target has still confirmed they will continue to sell both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs, alongside the standard DVD movies.

[Via Engadget]

EMotion FX 3.5 character animation SDK now available for PS3

It looks like programming for complex real-time character animations just got a little easier, thanks to Mystic Game Development's EMotion FX 3.5 SDK release for the PS3. MysticGD's website shows a laundry list of current clients using EMotion FX, such as Sigil Games Online, Mythic and Piranha Bytes. The specs on the newest release are quite technical but a few highlights include "tight integration with 3D Studio Max and Maya," with "high quality automatic lip-sync generation" and "multiprocessor and multicore support." John van der Burg, Development Director at MysticGD says clients have been, "wanting next-generation performance, memory efficiency and cross-platform support, as well as clear focus on reducing the artist effort required to deliver high-quality next-gen character content in their games." New toolsets are certainly a welcome addition for PS3 programmers. Anything that makes their job easier and allows us full-on visual eye candy is a good thing, right? Lets hope this leads to exciting breakthroughs for those sometimes complicated port jobs.

Continue reading EMotion FX 3.5 character animation SDK now available for PS3

Cross-platform support still up in the air for The Agency

While it hasn't been completely ruled out at this point, SOE hasn't made a decision on whether to make The Agency cross-platform compatible between the PS3 and it's distant cousin, the PC. Lead designer Hal Milton said, "we're evaluating cross-platform support" and then completely closed the topic with the declarative "we're not prepared to make a statement at this time." The Agency isn't the only game set to release on PS3 and PC without the confirmation of dual-platform support between the two. Seeing as how we're breaching a new frontier here, we are beginning to wonder if PS3 gamers can, or even want to live a happy co-existence with their PC brethren. Although critically flawed, Shadowrun seemed to offer a pleasurable cross-platform experience between the PC and the Xbox 360. What do you think? Can SOE pull it off with The Agency?

Gallery: The Agency

Stick-figures get their hero in Echochrome

Enter Echochrome, one of the most interesting and engaging new titles popping up at this year's E3. "Least graphics, most game play is their angle," said Sony's Phil Harrison, as he introduced Echochrome in the midst of Sony's E3 keynote. In addition to our earlier description as, "Jenga blocks, plus stick figure man plus acid," game play seemingly bears a distant resemblance to games like Crush (PSP) and the upcoming PC release Portal. Echochrome looks like it will have players assembling the game world to steer the stick-figure hero to his end goal. An orchestral score keeps an ambient atmosphere, which should help for those ultra-tricky sections that will be sure to induce cold sweats. Ah, the intense pleasures of a great puzzler. Echochrome certainly looks promising and the fact it will arrive on both UMD for the PSP and the PlayStation Store as one of the "more than 80 first-party games available" makes it all the more desirable.

Oblivion gets a Game of the Year release, this fall

Like all good things that sell over 1.7 million copies in one month, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is getting a "Game of the Year" edition. This one will hit the PC and all consoles (sans the Nintendo Wii) for a simultaneous release this fall. Just like the PS3 version you can buy in stores now, this "Game of the Year" edition will include the Knights of the Nine expansion. In addition, Bethesda's decided to now include the previously unavailable The Shivering Isles expansion. Thank goodness. We were beginning to wonder if Bethesda actually had any plans to make this one available over the PlayStation Network as previously suggested, being that recent news on that front had gone cold.

The PS3 release of Oblivion came a lot later than its Xbox 360 counterpart, but thankfully, stands as a testament to the PS3's capabilities with improved frame rate, faster loading times and greater draw distance. This version will also be compatible with previous game saves, allowing players to pop the "Game of the Year" disc in and continue their questing right where they left off. Pricing details haven't yet been released for this "Game of the Year" edition, but we speculate if the $59.99 price tag doesn't hold, $69.99 sounds about right. Time will tell. So in case you've been living in a cave with your PS3 and haven't yet experienced the gaming bliss of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion or any of its two expansion packs, you can't do any better than picking up the "Game of the Year" edition this fall.

PS3 European launch helped sell over 180,000 Blu-ray movies

The HD war over real estate in your living room just hit a new milestone with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's recent claim of just how successful the European launch of the PS3 was. Citing a 1000% increase in Blu-ray movie sales since the European launch of the PS3 in March, the boys (and girls) in the Sony camp are certainly smiling. Sony Pictures also mentioned sales of their movies account for 50% of all Blu-ray movies sold in Europe, thanks in large part to the permeation of their strongest release to date, Casino Royale.

Other top-selling HD discs include The Departed, which previously enjoyed the top-selling Blu-ray movie slot prior to Casino Royale's runaway truck-like sales growth, and the fantastic BBC documentary Planet Earth. Both highly recommended, no matter what side of the HD fence you happen to fall on.

Store managers detail PS3 failure rate at less than 1%

The inquisitive folks over at Ripten decided to do a little research on the failure rate of current next-gen consoles. Their conclusions should come as no surprise, with the PS3 resulting in a low failure rate. What is surprising however, is the failure rate for one console in particular appears to be higher than previously anticipated. An EB Games associate singled out the Xbox 360 console by advising "failure rates for all other consoles were not high enough for EB to consider revising their policies" further claiming the failure rate of the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii to be "less than one percent." An EB Games manager reiterated the low failure rates of the Nintendo Wii by exclaiming that "zero [consoles] have come back defective." A Best Buy manager then went on record saying "a quarter to a third" Xbox 360 consoles sold, come back defective, confirming the 33% failure rate percentage. The methods used to determine failure rates for these consoles appear to be too elementary to really prove anything concrete. Nevertheless, this story allows us to breathe a little bit easier, as it continues to prove our console of choice can still fold like a champ and have a longer lifespan than that of its direct competition.

[Via digg]

PS3 Fanboy review: Rainbow Six: Vegas

After much delay, PS3 owners are finally able to taste the dish Ubisoft first baked for Xbox 360 owners back in mid-November. Has the extra six months in the Ubi incubator, provided PS3 gamers with a far superior version? Does the PS3 version blow its Xbox cousin out of the water? Does the PS3 rendition give you superhuman powers?

Rainbow Six: Vegas weaves an interesting-enough plotline, centering around southern boy Logan Keller, a recent rising star amongst the ranks of the Rainbow team and whose face you'll become intimately familiar with as you duck him behind crates or crane his neck around doorways to spot and eliminate bad guys. One of our hero's first missions starts the Rainbow team off in Mexico, where you're being sent to eliminate a terrorist threat led by international terrorist Irena Morales. The game's plot is riddled with conspiracy-a-plenty, taking twists and turns while leading the Rainbow team to locales like Mexico, Vegas (of course) and later, an expansive hydroelectric dam.

Continue reading PS3 Fanboy review: Rainbow Six: Vegas

Scans of early-build Fallout 3 show much promise

Finnish magazines get all the love. Well, at least when it comes to recent press on Fallout 3. Finnish magazine Pelaaja grabbed a few scans of the game in progress and we must say, it seems to be coming in line nicely, following details already laid out by Bethesda. These scans look great, even if they are a little blurry (likely due to the fact they are scans and not pure screen shots of the game in progress). The character models appear to be fleshed out with texture-a-plenty and we'll bet the lighting will hold similar Oblivion-like bloom effects upon the game's release.

The Fallout franchise certainly has its fair share of rabid fans, so it was extremely important that Bethesda carry the torch with gloved hands, as to not disrupt or crack the foundation already set in place. Without a preview of the game, it's far too early to tell if the plot will hold firm on the foundation set by former developer Black Isle, but the scans show mighty promise. The colors are fairly drab and muted, kept to a palette rich in silver and brown (perfect for a post-apocolyptic setting such as this). Also, the scans confirm Bethesda's previous confirmation of using a modified Oblivion engine and keeping the 1st and 3rd person perspective for RPG narrative. We've put all four scans into a gallery and will be updating with more scans and screen shots as they come in. Fallout 3 is quite a ways off, scheduled for release in Fall of 2008.

Continue reading Scans of early-build Fallout 3 show much promise

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution is coming to PS3 [Update]

2K Games, courtesy of Take-Two Interactive, dropped a Civ bomb today, announcing their publishing deal for Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution for both PS3 and Xbox 360. As of yet, no announced plans for a PC release. That's because consoles rule and PC's drool. (/Humor) In all seriousness, this endeavor should pose quite a challenge, as the console audience is vastly different in control and appeal (especially considering the plethora of trigger-happy preteens from FPS overload).

This marks the first time Sid Meier actually has a hand in producing a Civilization console release, which we hope will bear significance on its quality and polish. Sixteen civilizations will be available for player control with real-time interaction with leaders and advisors, packed with "extensive multiplayer capabilities" featuring "integrated video and voice chat." No screenshots as of yet, but that should change as the sands of time bear down on us.

According to Sid Meier, "Civilization Revolution is the game I've always wanted to make! We are excited to take advantage of the power of next generation consoles and the ingenuity of handhelds, to create a great and unique strategy game for newcomers to the series, as well as the millions of fans around the world who enjoy Civilization on the PC." We guess he wasn't kidding when he professed his love for Sony. Welcome to the party, Sid. Glad you came aboard.

[Via Joystiq]

[Update: Added the newly-released trailer, embedded for your enjoyment.]

Continue reading Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution is coming to PS3 [Update]

Where is Rainbow Six: Vegas?

Online retailers are either still showing the release date as June 26th, which was previously expected, or delayed until Thursday, Friday or even Saturday.

According to Gamestop's website, the game "usually ships within 24 hours," which generally points to the game being in stock at many stores. However, our local Gamestop in central New York says Rainbow Six: Vegas for PS3 won't be in stores until June 30th, at the earliest. Message boards across this crazy worldwide web are lighting up with tales of Gamestop employees reiterating similar tales, that the shipping date shows June 29th with expected in-store availability for June 30th.

How about other retailers? Best Buy online shows the game coming in tomorrow (June 27th). As is par for the course, their in-store clerks can only confirm its current absence in store shelves, without any further idea as to when the game will come in. Mega-retailer Amazon doesn't fare much better, showing its release date as June 26th with an 11-13 day shipping time frame. Yeesh. Sans an Ubisoft developer connection, it doesn't appear likely that gamers will be able to experience the PS3 reiteration of Rainbow Six: Vegas until later this week. Weekend releases are practically unheard of, but we at least hope this one proves true. Waiting another full week for some hot online Rainbow action? Too much. Now where's that copy of The Darkness ...

Thanks to all who sent this in.

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