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Gamakarmica Blog

The Dreaded FIFA 12 Hack, Love/Hate Dungeon Defenders and How To Spend 3200 MSP

If any of you haven't heard about this hack, which is likely you haven't since no games websites are actually covering this, what happens is someone breaks into your account via FIFA 12 and uses your points on hand and your credit card/debit card to purchase Ultimate Team packs for its Ultimate Team mode.

Well, last month, I was one of those lucky accounts. And after about 38 days of my account being held from Microsoft to prove if it indeed has been broken into, they finally refunded my points, cash and given me free Gold membership to boot.

With that comes a really strange dilemma: I had about 4400 MP and already used 1200 MP to buy NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. The question for me is: What next? I waited to see if any Black Friday deals would be worth a shot and, surprise, none of them were. I've created a list of games I've been curious about and I'm asking for you guys to give me a hand in choosing some titles. Here are a few I thought of:

Renegade Ops
Orcs Must Die!
Mercury Hg
Burnout Crash!
Burgertime: World Tour
Bejeweled 3
Fusion: Genesis
Xotic
Backbreaker: Vengeance
Skydrift

or if there are any others you can think of, I'd love to hear it.

When the whole intrusion happened, a game called Dungeon Defenders was released and, ironically enough, I was going to use my points to get it. However, after waiting a whole week and getting impatient, I decided to get it on PS3. And so far, I've enjoyed it a lot.

However, there are some problems with this game that I can't help but feel it completely missed the mark.

The lack of customization of your characters is just unfortunate, because the compulsive need to improve in this game is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game and its hampered by it's lack of visual feedback.

The other is the multiplayer looting/mana distribution, In a word: horrible. There is no way to need/greed on any items in this game nor to evenly distribute mana or loot to people on the map, which is such a grave oversight.

I love to play more of this game, but I think I'll end up playing multiplayer with people I know now, not with strangers. Any of you care to jump in?

Passing Judgment: Why Blocking Key Features Via Online Pass is Admitting Failure

Every gaming year that passes, certain types of things happen that end up being themes that define the time at large. Last year, the main themes were "Will anything be better than Mass Effect 2?" "Nintendo does it again with the 3DS!" and "Stories in games that rival cinema (i.e. Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain)".

It's almost funny that after such a positive year last year, the industry seems to takenmore downtrotten themes this year: "Yikes, what happened to the 3DS?" "It seems like everything is going free-to-play..." and "What the hell? Another game with an online pass?!"

Mind you, Online Access Passes have been going on for a couple of years now, starting with the "Project Ten Dollar" strategy by EA with their sports titles. However, little by little, other companies have implimented their own versions of Project Ten Dollar, whether by locking certain content away (online access to multiplayer or in the case of Batman: Arkham City, a whole section of the single-player campaign) or by giving access and means to enhance the users experience by DLC at a discount (Forza Motorsport 4; Gears of War 3) or given a completely new game to download (Alice: Madness Returns). Some, recently, used DLC as a means just to release a cheaper retail title and supplement the game with DLC sales (MX vs. ATV: Alive).

Originally, the Online Pass was used to "recoup costs by maintainingservers for the online portion of the game' and thus were justified in a way of doing so. Now, it's become a full blown business model that at first was intended to battle used sales markets, but are now just a means to increase revenue.

Yet, even with this access pass, something seems amiss. Why are certain games simply giving the option of DLC (Gears of War 3) for keepingconsumers with the game, while others (Homefront) are capping their online access without a pass or outright blocking it (Resistance 3)?

The simpliest answer: Because the game companies releasing those games known they will not get the sales needed to recoup the costs of their investment.

Certain games have been blocking key features from consumers who don't pay new simply because they know they what people will want to play and what people will ignore. Case in point: Resistance 3. Resistancein the past has been a very good seller for the Sony Playstation brand. Yet, the game series and it's company, Insomniac games, have been taking some hard credibility hits due to its highly disappointing Resistance 2, which sold relatively well at first, but then dropped off quickly due to a less than strong online community and a lackluster single player campaign.

Knowing this, Sony had to make a few insurable decisions: First was to guarantee that the amount of money spent maintaining servers will be comparable to the amount of people who will play the game thus not overspending on those servers so they can utilize the sales in other areas and not hemmorage them for online services.

On the business side, this was probably a good idea: Resistance 3 only sold 180,000 on its initial release, which barring a minor Christmas miracle, will only drop as the weeks go on this busy season. That being said, Sony has already recouped the money of those shipped units via the retailers buying those units in bulk.

Odds are, however, both Insomniac and Sony aren't making money with the initial sales of the game. 180K in units adds up to just about $10.8M in sales that retailers have recouped.

Let's say retailers in total have purchased in bulk 500K in units in September. That basically means Sony has already made roughly $30M with the sale of those units. However, if those retailers don't sell those units, what are the odds of them reordering more? Pretty slim, unless Sony agrees to sell those items bulk at a steeper discount, which could cut in the profit margins of Sony.

If Sony was anticipating this, then they have already allotted that budget for server maintenance in tandem with units sold. Thus, the online pass is needed in case of Online sales. Here's a strange factor no one puts into the debate of used sales: distributors do save money due to the use of used sales and, thanks to the online pass structure, actually PROFIT from used sales.

This is due to the lessening costs of disc pressing and unit management. And you also can bet that game companies do anticipate used game sales on their docket when they forecast their sales.

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So, why is the use of an online pass system where blocking content is an admission to failure? Mainly because the company producing the game is anticipating lackluster sales or the off-chance that the sales they are producing WILL NOT cover the costs of its development. With the rumors that the Resistance series will no longer be continuing after 3, anticipation with this game hasn't been exactly high and pre-orders weren't filling up either as a barometer of potential sales growth.

Thus, another sickening albeit sobering fact: Pre-order sales may actually have an effect on whether a studio may implement an Online Pass structure and exactly how it will be implemented. Gears of War 3 is providing an optional "Season Pass" to get discounts on DLC in order to incentivize you to keep your game and we all know that GoW3 had an outstanding amount of pre-orders prior to its launch.

On the opposite end, let's look at Bulletstorm. Word of mouth buzz was okay, but it was a new IP that was affectionately being called "Ouch My Balls: The Game". So, as you can pretty much guess, pre-orders weren't exactly coming through and as such, a month and a half to two months before launch, an online pass structure was announced that blocked the multiplayer portion of the game. After projecting that sales for Bulletstorm could break 4.5M, Epic then recended and said they saw no profit from the game after initial sales only made 300K.

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This is by no means saying that games who have restrictive online passes won't be successful. Battlefield 3 seems to be primed to getting good sales this year and Batman: Arkham City seems to be poised to making a lot of cash as well (although calling the pass restrictive is a little inaccurate, since you can still complete the entirety of the game). But, if you really take a look at the reasoning why some games have the pass and why some don't, it is simply a matter of dollars that they were anticipating to lose, not dollars they are neglecting to make.

The More Things Change...The More They Hit the Same?

You know...I try to remain optimistic withsports games when it comes to a new edition of a franchise. Sure, 99% of the time they make incremental changes with very little difference from the previous year except for roster changes, but I still look forward to some gems, since sports games have the great capibility to be the most technically sound and addictive games on the market.

And with that, we go to the recent release of MLB 11: The Show. The Show, in its core, is a technically sound game of baseball with very little wrong with the overall product. That being said, nothing really has changed with the game since MLB 08 and since then it's grown a tad stale in my eyes.

MLB 11 comes with a few refinements and changes to the overall control scheme. MLB 11 introduces to the series Analog Pitching, Hitting and Fielding. MLB 2K has toyed with this type of control for the past few iterations, with mixed results, but The Show seems to relatively get it right on its first try.

Basically, in order to pitch, you have to pull the right stick back to set the power, while pushing it forward in a specific direction to dictate placement. With hitting, simply swing the stick back and forth in a fluid motion to swing the bat. Last, with fielding, simply move the stick to the direction you want to throw it in, hold it in for power and accuracy then let go at the right time.

Now, again, all of these controls work very well. The only problem, which is a big one: It still feels like the same game. When FIFA introduced new controls and features, it changed the way the game is played. As did NBA 2K and the NHL series from EA. The Show, however, doesn't feel like a new game at all. In fact, you can revert it back to the old controls and it plays and feels exactly the same.

The only new feature that deserves minor props is the Home Run Derby, which features Playstation Move support. Unfortunately, there is very little feedback to how you are actually swinging, so it's a party novelty at best.

All in all, if you really like The Show, get it and you'll enjoy it all the same. It's just that...the same.

Coming up in reviews will be Homefront, Full House Poker and Torchlight. Sorry for the short blog!

Fisting de Blob

This may be a venom fueled post, so be wary if you don't like hearing overly negative criticisms spewing out.

Let's just start with a positive first:

I played de Blob 2 on the PS3. The PS3 version comes with Playstation Move compatability, and since my girlfriend was nice enough to get me a Move controller when it came out, I definitely whipped it out to have some fun with the game that was actually decent on the Wii.

Almost immediately I had a problem with the Move support: no motion control. It was literally unnecessary (as it was with the Wii version, which has you shaking the Wiimote to jump) since the jump button was the Move button and only the buttons on the Move controller.

Now, I only played the game single player, so odds are that a second Move controller will activate what will be called by the mysogynstic community as "girlfriend" mode, where you apparently shoot paint as a second player. I'm sorry, but to ask my girlfriend, who could kick my ass in a game of Left 4 Dead quite handily, to play as the "girlfriend" in de Blob 2, I can only see her going for it if I was "the girlfriend".

Not saying that as the bad thing, but I don't ask people to do things unless I'm willing to do so myself. Take that as some handy advice guys.

OK, so back to de Blob 2. From what I played of it, which was exactly one level to its completion, I have to say it was fun and very enjoyable. The fact that the visuals have been greatly enhanced to make the colors more punchy and vibrant makes coloring the environment alot more enjoyable. Something that 3D platformers don't do a good job in, which is making exploration seem rewarding, is done very well in de Blob 2 just for the coloring aspect.

The gameplay aspects of de Blob 2, which is the coloring, exploring, collecting and controls of the game, feel just right. There is just no challenge as of right now. I had to return this game before I can continue further, but it's definitely a game I want to get another try at. I'd say give the game a shot if you like platformers.

Now, to the savage beatdown of the blog...Fight Night Champion.

I mean...what the hell happened?!

First off, you create a mode that literally does nothing but point out specific flaws with your game (Champion Mode). Next, this story mode is completely contrived and filled with cliche after cliche.

But the one thing this mode does well is point out how EA broke the Fight Night control scheme. Instead of doing specific motions to perform certain punches, which worked very well in the other Fight Nights, all you now have to do is push the right stick in a certain direction.

Now, on paper it sounds great, you make certain punches easier to perform and concentrate on defensive manuevering, posturing and body placement. The problem with this, which then breaks the fighting entirely, is the fact that you need to be super precise with where you place the stick.

For example, to do a right cross, you have to move the stick up and to the right. However, if you move the stick slightly either during the motion or centering the stick, it registers other punches as well. So that right cross you just attempted has now made your fighter to a right jab, then a right cross, then a right jab, because you weren't super precise with the movement.

The selection in punches is robust, which becomes a huge detriment to the fighting, since they mapped nearly 8 different punches on each side, totalling 16 different punches on one stick.

And for those who've played Fight Night, you know this is a huge problem because the more punches your guy makes, the more oppurtunities for the blocking and then counterpunching or (which sometimes is worse) gassing your fighter.

Back to Champion Mode, the game requires you to win in specific ways to advance in the story. The first fighter you end up going against in your pro career is a character who's a little faster than your guy, who is overly defensive. So while this fighter is turtling, you are constantly running around the ring trying to hit him. Which, of course, can gas your fighter do to the amount he's running around and how much you "auto-flurry" when you go for a single jab to the gut.

When I was formulating my review for this game, I was going to call it "The Crackdown 2 of this year", but in retrospect, that would mean that I could still derive from fun from a game that still had some solid controls and some decent gameplay.

No, I'm sorry to say that Fight Night Champion is an unmitigated disappointment and may very well be my biggest disappointment so far this year.

Next, me and CC are both renting MLB 11: The Show, she's renting Dragon Age II and I will stand by the statement that there is nothing hotter than an incredibly attractive woman who willingly wants to play sports games.

It's okay, I know you agree.

Matching 3 Until My &!(% Falls Off

Been mainly playing two games this week. First is last week's XBLA new release Bejeweled Blitz Live. Review for the game is posted here:

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/puzzle/bejeweledblitzlive/player_review.html?id=756935&tag=player-reviews%3Bcontinue%3B1

Feel free to comment about the review on this blog and give thumbs up or down.

The short and skinny: Blitz Live is kind of a rip off. You get half of the game you got in Bejeweled 2, on top of some tacked on leaderboards and multiplayer options.

Be sure to also let me know how you think of the review form and system as well.

The other game I've been playing is Bulletstorm. When I heard of Bulletstorm, the game reminded me of Duke Nukem 3D mashing together with Kagero: Deception II. With less on the **** and torture and more on the combo kills, Bulletstorm is a strange beast of a first person shooter.

And, so far, I don't really know what to think. I'm currently on Act 2, 2nd part and it doesn't feel like everything has been unlocked for me to toy around with, but I'm starting to enjoy the game less and more wish it was a different type of game entirely.

The reason for this is that the game's mechanics in regards to skill shots seem to be a tad dodgy when it comes to detecting them. Either that or the timing is split-second and I'm not fast enough to earn them.

Also, the skillshots, while funny and add more to the game than being just another shooter, aren't that creative and not that fun.

Again, I'm only a little bit in the game and it could get a lot better, but this is a game that could have greatly benefited from a combo based system in regards to its skill shots. Review on that may be coming soon.

Anyways, Beyond Good and Evil HD comes out this week, as does Fight Night Champion and I'm particularly eyeing de Blob 2 for 360 or PS3.

And on a side note: Microsoft is pissing me off lately. My girlfriend just got her Xbox 360 Slim back from Microsoft after having video problems and syncing issues with her controllers. We got the console back and nothing got fixed. So now she's going to have to send it a second time in hopes that they wil fix it. God damn...

The Obligatory "What I'm Playing" Blog Post: PSP, I didn't know thee

The past few weeks have been quite different compared to others. I've felt more compelled to pick up a portable system than to play on my console. What makes this even more jarring is the fact that it's a PSP, which may have more to do with the recent sales on Playstation Network than anything else.

So, let's get on with the post:

- First, the console games. My girlfriend SassyCC got me for Valentine's Day "Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds" for Xbox 360. Before it was released, my excitement level for the game was on a medium scale, mainly due to the fact that the game got popular when it was on Dreamcast and I only got one of those about 2 years ago. So, I never had those ultra competitive great time memories that most seem to have in fondness with the game.

So, I put in MvC3 and the first thing that stands out for meis the way the game looks. The inky comic book aesthetic is put into great use to give the characters a certain pop that sticks out in contrast to the usually busy backgrounds.

The next thing I notice is how obscenely powerful Dante is in this game. I mean &^$# REALLY?! Go against one person who can perform his Super move 3 times in a row without stopping and you'll scream and curse at the screen to no end.

Also, why is Phoenix so incredibly weak? Yes, yes, I know about the whole "If you have 5 super bars, you can be Dark Phoenix!" But even then she is still completely underpowered. It's kinda like someone at Capcom forgot about the "Dan" character, but accidentally put his profile on the Phoenix.

Which brings about another question that just dawned on me...no "Dan"?! No joke characters? No self references to obscure Capcom games? Marvel's side is way more interesting that Capcom, which isn't saying much either since the "interesting" characters is M.O.D.O.K. and some kinda neat costume changes. My gut feeling is DLC will flesh out some more of the crazier characters, which honestly would suck.

Definitely will have a review up as soon as possible.

- Let's keep this next one quick, shall we? Test Drive Unlimited 2. The game feels relatively unchanged from the first Test Drive Unlimited, which isn't a bad thing...if the year was 2007. You see, for a game to still feel like an open world racing game from nearly half a decade ago, it just doesn't sound very appealing.

First off, the cars and character models look very plastic like and terribly artificial. Next, the driving and hit detection is quite bad, especially with a masterful open world racing game like Burnout Paradise out there available for just $20.

I could go on, but the short of it is to pretty much avoid this abhorrent racer. Seriously...do yourself a favor.

- Finally, there is You Don't Know Jack. The best news I can give anyone is that it is You Don't Know Jack. If that means nothing to you, don't like trivia games or don't like the series itself, then you already don't care.

$30 for this game is a steal, and if you have friends who love trivia games it's one of the best games to play.

Alrighty, so let's get to the main crux of what I've been playing: PSP games.

Let's get started with:

- Knights of the Nightmare: This game came out on DS last year and was released on PSP this year and was largely ignored. The game is a blend of shoot-em-up, strategy RPG and puzzle, which I could spend two whole blog posts explaining but I'd recommend that if you're a fan of strategy RPG's with a different kind of twist, you should definitely read up on Knights of the Nightmare to find out if you can grasp and enjoy this game.

As for the game itself, I only played so much of this on PSP and thus far, it looks a lot better but plays a bit differently than the DS. Whether I prefer either depends on how far I get in the game, but I still think it's a game people should experience.

- Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip:The PS2 game was disappointing to say the least. But, Hot Shots has grown quite a fan base on the PSP with its easy to learn controls and tight, wonderful visuals. Thankfully, Get a Grip! doesn't disappoint when it comes to the mechanics. Only...without a friend to play, the game does get old quick. A quick Gamefly rental was all I needed to go through as much of the game I felt necessary and put it away for good.

- Persona 3 Portable: If you've played the PS2 one to death, you might as well skip, unless you're dying to play as a female. That said, this might be the best RPG on the system, even with a few things missing in the game. If you got it for $20, it's an absolute steal. If not, I might just say $40 for this quality of RPG is still well worth the price.

- Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together: Even with playing a little of the game as of right now, the quality of the SRPG is very much apparent. Can't wait to dive in more to this game to find more of the story and the depth of the game.

- Cladun: This is an RPG!: I took a chance and purchased this game for $20 on PSN and I have to say it was well worth the risk. For those who don't know what ClaDun is, and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't: ClaDun is a Classic Dungeon hack and slash game.

Although it is a simple hack and slash game, there is a ton of hidden depth when it comes to using Magic Circles and Abilities. In the game, you befriend and create different characters with different classes. You control the main character, who could be anyone from your party. However, to become stronger, you put the other characters in Sub circles in your Magic Circle, so you can level up your characters as well as your sub characters.

The Magic Circle concept is simple at first but once you start leveling up and getting different circles with different effects and changes, you'll be surprised by the depth in the game.

Like most Nippon Ichi games, there is a certain type of charm to the game that drenches itself in the title, so if you like a lot of self references and a story that doesn't take itself seriously, you'll definitely get a kick out of this game.

And that does it. Bulletstorm, Killzone 3 and MLB 11 will be on my list as well as Fight Night Champion.

I also strongly suggest anyone to take a chance on ClaDun if you haven't heard of it or if it sounds interesting, because it definitely was worth the risk to try it out.

Top Games of 2010

This being the first year in a long time that I stayed away from writing about games or movies, it feels almost weird to fashion this list of games for the year 2010. Yet, I feel compelled to share with you the games I enjoyed most this past year, starting with:

15. Monster Hunter Tri - The Monster Hunter series has been a type of game that has eluded me, due to the fact that it's popular on the PSP (and the controls on it are not comfortable). The Wii version, Monster Hunter Tri, takes all the deep and deliberate combat with the hundreds of customization options and turns it into one of the best Wii RPG's to come out for the system.

14. Battlefield Bad Company 2 - Even though it has one of the more mediocre single player campaigns (I HATE THAT SNOW LEVEL!), the multiplayer experience alone makes the purchase more than worth the price. Destructible environments, balanced team play along with a great leveling system makes BFBC2 an Xbox Live players best game.

13. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - The irony and quite possibly the insanity of the fact that a 2D Isometric version of a franchise that pioneered 3D platforming may be the best iteration of that franchise. Lara Croft features colorful environments that has excellent platforming, combat and puzzle mechanics. Easily one of the best platformers this year.

12. Monday Night Combat - The odd multiplayer third person shooter, team based objective, tower defense hybrid that's candy coated, filled with shotgun shells and wrapped in crisp bacon. MNC. to this day, has a healthy online contigency that still offers tight and fun matches.

11. skate 3 - skate 3 takes the tight, highly satisfying controls of the first game, then adds skate 2's additions and extras while trimming all of the fat and junk, while adding a much needed personality into the game. Level design is great to traverse in while the amount of things you can do outside of the main events gives the game the padding it needs, while not feeling like overkill.

10. Toy Story 3 - OK, so some of you are looking at this and saying, "What? Really? Toy Story 3 is one of the best games of 2010? What are you smoking?!" First, you have a short, yet satisfying story mode that has some fun moments. The best part, however, is the Woody's Round-Up mode, which gives you a free roaming world that you can customize, create and shape the way you want. This mode alone is a great addition to an already charming game.

9. Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing - A number of different racing games released this year, including Split/Second and Blur, but one of the best racing games when it came to pure fun was Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. In some ways besting even Mario Kart, All-Stars takes the kart racing game and adds many different types of missions and personality that makes it one of the more enjoyable racing games to come out in the past few years.

8. Picross 3D - When a puzzle game clicks, it holds on to you until you want to solve every single puzzle it holds. Picross 3Dtakes the simple, addictive fun of Picross and adds depth and dimension to create a more challenging but rewarding experience.

7. Super Street Fighter IV - Making an already great game better is hard enough: making the already great game better AND different enough to give aging, grizzled veterans to sink their teeth into? Super Street Fighter IV adds more strategies, moves and combos to make this an even better fighter.

6. Mass Effect 2 - It's not the story that makes this game great, it's the characters. And having the best script to work from helps a ton as well. Mass Effect 2 takes Commander Shepard's tale into a deeper, more emotional well that gives you more of an emotional attachment to the proceedings of the series.

5. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinel of the Starry Skies - As great of an experience as Mass Effect 2 was, from a gameplay standpoint Dragon Quest IX was the best RPG of the year. A great traditional battle system melded with a myraid of customization options and a large amount of quests to partake in, Dragon Quest IX is easily the biggest and most satisfying RPG's to be put in either console or handhelds.

4. Halo: Reach - The Halo franchise, from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 3: ODST, has had a more iterative design rather than one that evolves. Halo: Reach, however, takes the core values of Halo and evolves it into a beast of a game that rewards you with whatever you feel like doing. By implimenting an experience system that rewards you with anything you do, along with daily and weekly challenges that incentivize players to try every facet of the game, Reach wants you to crack into every little polygon the game has to offer.Add to that the improved shooting and enemy AI, as well as some excellent set pieces in the campaign and some more creative multiplayer variants, Halo: Reach is quite possibly the best shooter to come out in a long time since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

3. Super Meat Boy - Easily one of the best platformers to come out in years. And also the most sadistic.A hilarious game that has some of the tightest controls and most rewarding levels in a platform game, Super Meat Boy is a platform game lovers dream.Hopefully you won't curse too much.

2. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Few thought it could be possible (including myself). Taking the crazy yet excellent reimagining of Pac-Man, reiterating on it once again to a fine sheen and adding more ways to enjoy the carnage; DX is a gamer's moonshine: 100% unfiltered gaming perfection. Simple, yet intoxicating.

1. NBA 2K11 - For years, I've wrestled with the notion of giving a sports game "Game of the Year" honors. What finally won me over with NBA 2K11 was that not only did it add more to Basketball Sports Simulations than any other game has in over a decade, it has done something that far few games have even attempted, let alone accomplished: it makes you not only a better gamer, but make you understand more about how basketball is played.

Few games reach a level so high that it sets a benchmark of how games are played, but NBA 2K11 does that and more.

Whether you are looking at the beautiful presentation or judging the game by it's use of statistics or its intelligence in not only player A.I., but Franchise A.I., NBA 2K11 makes you think and teaches you how to play affectively on all facets of professional basketball.

Yet, even with all of that, the one thing that shines through and through in the game is its near perfect gameplay. Each player has a distinct feel and personality: very few players feel like stock "big man" or spry "speedsters" without some kind of quirk or trait you have to exploit. Next, plays and strategies, while requiring some learning, are easy to execute and roll off the A.I. beautifully. Last, the mechanics, such as shooting, blocking, stealing and ball movement, are executed very well, leaving you the feeling that if you lose a game, you lost that game, not the computer.

NBA 2K11 sits up a very special type of mantle: like Ninja Gaiden and Virtua Fighter 4, NBA 2K11 surprises with its meticulous amount of depth, which helps me understand basketball and gaming in general in a whole different level.

So that is it. Again, stay tuned because some big developments are coming up with me and SassyCc involving a possible video or website project we're going to cook up, so keep it glued here.

The NGP Forecast: How A Simple Price Point Could Determine The Next Gen Consoles

As many, if not all, know by now, the successor of the PSP (Playstation Portable), codenamed the NGP (Next Generation Portable) was announced by Sony as the next line of PGH (Portable Gaming Hardware) for HCG (Hardcore Gamers), which could make the next few years very interesting for the VGI (Video Games Industry).

And yes, I'll stop with the acronyms now.

I've had time to sit on this for a week or so. but I couldn't shake this rather odd, somewhat uneasy feeling. It's not an issue with the hardware, since it is by far one of the most impressive pieces of gaming tech in terms of graphical power and in the sheer amount of creative power it could incite, with its numerous touch capabilities and its ability to touch the very soul of those who come across it.

Nor is it a software issue. Despite a number of issues the PSP had when it came to have a robust library, there are a number of games that came out on the system that could easily be better on the NGP. The announcements of previous PSP games being remade for NGP also seems like a great idea, since some popular games on PSP are considered devisive due to the systems lack of a second analog stick.

Not only do remade versions of Monster Hunter and Metal Gear games sound like a win, but the numerous popular brands that didn't find success in the PSP (Call of Duty) or altogether skipped that system can find a new home and possibly a new avenue to distribute their merch.

Yes, my friends, the problem seems to be with the one variable that we can't account for at this very moment: Price.

And trust me, I've read through numerous news posts, blogs and stories how the price can be anywhere between $200 - $500 because of x, y and z. I've also listened to the "special" podcasts that cover this breaking news and their opinions on such.

And honestly, the eventual price, whether it is $200 or $500 or anything in between, doesn't entirely bother me either.

No, what gets me is that no one is asking the question that only people seem to ask around E3 time: What does this mean for the new next generation consoles?

Confused? OK, so let's explain a few things.

Before the announcement of the NGP, The 3DS made a huge splash in E3 and made the announcement of the price and release date of the system itself: $250; coming late March.

At this point, Sony has lost tons of money in not only its console but in its portable by lack of sales, cost of system and with piracy.

With Nintendo making money on day one with both the Wii and the DS, Nintendo is taking a risk with the 3DS since it's reportedly operating on a loss with its first run of 3DS'. Sony could do what Nintendo did this generation and create a portable that is cheap, cost-effective and add the one thing everyone was asking for (Dual Analog Sticks) and would have been fine with near iPhone/iPad graphics.

As you can tell, Sony didn't do that. Sony decided to, instead, be that pathetic friend that everyone knows who did something wrong to somebody and just bombard them with gifts. You know the guy: "Oh, you want Roses? Sure! And have Chocolate! And have Jewelry! And have this car! Why? Cuz I need you back so badly!!"

What's with Sony and giving us everything and the kitchen sink, yet again? It's quite simple, really: It's the rope-in effect. Sony won the past two generations by giving us superfulous additions into a gaming console to get our attention, come up with one game that could make our eyes melt and our mouths salivate and then make several games like that one game until we all realize...well, it's the same damn thing I've been playing since that game that got me in this system in the first place.

(And yes, I was saying Final Fantasy VII)

The NGP is your PS3, Xbox 360, iPod Touch and possibly iPad all rolled into one with the "POWER OF THE PLAYSTATION BRAND!!!!"

...which honestly, hasn't had that much "power" since the PS1 era. (Go ahead and say PS2, but we all know if Grand Theft Auto III didn't become the blow-up, drag down hit it was, the GameCube would have kicked so much ass, right?!)

(...right?) [Edit Note: The Gamecube comment was sarcastic...jeez people]

Which leads back to the price. What is so significant about the price of this system? The price, in essence, could signify the beginning or the estimated time table of the next generation of consoles. How so?

If the price hits the $200 - $300 range, Sony is taking a definite price hit for this system and may need to recoup on this investment fast. Barring that the system doesn't have a multi billion dollar seller that takes Monster Hunter and Call of Duty and turns it into a sports game that is fun for the whole family and has crazy animals running into brick walls, Sony may be considering this to be a stopgap for an inevitable bigger launch, to recoup those costs.

If the system hits between $200 and $300, as soon as E3 will we hear about the new generation platform and by early next year will it be released. Sony needs to then release asystem that is "Wii-like" but has hardcore gaming ties for the first two years in order to recoup the initial investment, then come up with some kind of marketing strategy to get more software push and a bigger install base.

Of course, this is a huge image shift."It Only Does Everything" is thrown out the window and Sony needs to come up with something ingenious to rope as many people in as possible.

if the price hits $400, it reaches the price point not of a gaming handheld but of a multi-use device, such as an iPod Touch or Tablet. This price could also be used just to make the system feel much more elite in the eyes of hardcore gamers, which would up the demand significantly while Sony makes limited quantities of the system itself. They would eseentially pull a "high demand/low supply" run, while they wait an additional year to research and develop a new console.

However, right out of the gate, Sony needs to show that its much more than just a game system, which it could very well do. This is still problematic because it could show the weakness of the NGP right out of the gate, that it can't exactly be an iPad or iPhone.

If it's $500+, then Sony is trying to do as much of a recoup on all systems that come out as possible and trying to distinguish the NGP as not an add-on ora suppliment of their games division, but as a wholly owned system filled with unique features.

The PSP had one big problem: This overall feeling that, in the U.S., it was a rather superfulous system. Nearly all games that came out on the PSP could have easily been made on all consoles, which to some was a strength but to others a major weakness.

Sure, the system can still be this and be priced at much less, but if Sony is getting more money out of the system in its initial run and investment, the more they will want to put more R&D into creating games that utilize its system and its features.

The NGP looks like a very impressive system to have in your hands...but honestly, why would you spend $300 on a little portable PS3 when you can have the PS3 lock, stock and barrel for the same price? And wouldn't spending more on the same thing be absolute overkill?

In the next 12 months, Sony could land some impressive properties that will make it less like a PS3 mini and more like a bona-fide piece of hardware, but if the price ends up being more than a 3DS, it is a tough sell, especially with it being released with limiited software support (unless you bought your games digitally on the PSP, which if you did I have two things to say to you: "I'm sorry" and "Why did you buy a PSPgo?")

But there is this uneasy feeling I have and it's simply this: The NGP may just be the start of a new generation...whether we are ready or not.

Feel free to comment on the bottom, I will respond to everyone's comments. Also, if I feel it should be spotlighted, I'll edit this post and add your comments to the top.

***1st EDIT***

A lot of you have commented on the fact that the PS2 had more system sellers than GTA3 and I'm more than inclined to agree with all of you. But, as great as Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and all of the great games the PS2 had, they didn't have the pull or the attention that brought the massive amount of sales that Grand Theft Auto 3 had.

If it wasn't for Grand Theft Auto 3, we'd have a strong debate on whether the Xbox and the PS2 was the best system of that generation...actually, we'd probably be ending that generation around last year if that was the case.

**2nd EDIT**

I'm actually surprised about all the comments being biased since I haven't said one word about a system being awesome or failing lol.

Anyway, since it seems that a lot of people are taking the Gamecube comment seriously, I thought I'd clarify that it was actually supposed to be a humorous dig at the Gamecube. Apparently, I was the only who got the joke.

I guess writing humor and sarcasm is harder than I thought lol.

Playing This Week - 1/31

Here's some impressions on some of the games I've sampled recently.

- CC rented Dead Space 2 from GameFly and I went ahead and tried the multiplayer portion of the game.

To sum it up, 3rd Person Left 4 Dead with a Counter-Strike twist is what it is...and it really isn't all that exciting. It's competent and fun for the time I played, but it's nothing too exciting.

There are some annoyances: First, when you spawn as a Necromorph, there are too many instances where the camera puts your line of vision at a supreme disadvantage. I've had too many times where I'd spawn, and because the way the camera is angled, I'd have no idea where the enemies are until they shoot me a couple of times and I die.

Also, it seems like the game is supremely uneven, where the odds are severely stacked against the humans on most of the maps. The feeling of being on an uphill battle from the very start doesn't make the game that much fun.

I haven't played the single player mode, mainly because I haven't played the first game and I would like CC to try it first before I try, but if you're in it for multiplayer...well, I just hope you're not.

- Next, I played roughly an hour of LittleBigPlanet 2 and I have to say...it's LittleBigPlanet 2. It's kind of hard to gauge if it's worth buying or not because all I have to go on what's great about the game is its single player mode, which may not last too long, or it's online creation system, which takes a few months to get going. All I can really say is if you loved the first, you'll love the second.

Otherwise, wait a little bit before you make a purchase.

- Some 11 for 11 PSN purchses.

Bought Hoard, Swords and Soldiers and TV Show King.

First, haven't played TV Show King, but did watch CC play it and...it seems like a trivia game.

Next, Swords and Soldiers is a game I actually played and beat on WiiWare sometime ago and I have been dying to play it again since CC got me the Move. If you want a good Move game, that's the best one you can download at this time.

Lastly, there's Hoard. After 2-3 hours playing this game, I can safely say that this game is a ton of fun with a lot of replayability. However, $15 was way too steep of a price for this game, as fun as it is.

I'll probably rustle some more reviews out of these games, hopefully soon.