Ben's Week In Review: November 23
It has been an interesting week, and I'll start with the obvious. :)
PlayStation Home finally comes to North America
Well, I saw my invite before I actually saw the news, but nevertheless: invites for the closed Home beta have officially gone out to North American gamers, and it seems Sony has sent quite a few. I know there are several PSXE readers that got into the beta, and after taking some time today to wander around and get accustomed to this innovative service, I believe I was right in my initial analysis. It's really all about the foundation; the launching pad for the future. I'll issue a full hands-on preview this week, but for now, I can say the visuals are stunning, the integration of a central communication hub, and the ability to travel to any given location at a moment's notice are bonuses. Of course, some people have complained of the loading time between areas, but I didn't find that too problematic, and it was quite entertaining to visit the Mall and check out my default Harbour apartment. Obviously, when Home arrives, you'll be able to select your own space and then buy various accessories, decorations, and other accoutrement's, but for now, it's relatively bare.
You can't purchase anything for your character or your Home space in the beta, which means you're left with a pretty bare-bones presentation at first. However, the potential is quite clear, and I liked being able to go into the Theater and play simple arcade games at the Bowling Alley. It's mostly a matter of fleshing out the entire world over the coming months and years, and while I won't be able to spend too much time in Home, I'll be excited to see where it goes.
Splinter Cell: Conviction for the PS3? Yes, please!
I'm well aware we probably don't have many SC fans amongst our regular readership, just because Sam Fisher's adventures began on the original Xbox and have typically been best played on a Microsoft console. The last one - Double Agent - came out for the 360 but it was too early to be made for the PS3 as well, so if Conviction does come, it'll be a first for the PS3. The latest set of OPM rumors includes the very real possibility that Ubisoft will bring the game to Sony's machine, and I'm liking the idea. It may still be best played on the 360, but at least it will acquaint PS3 fans with one of the better franchises out there. I know everyone wants to compare it with Konami's MGS series, but that's really not fair. I know they're both stealth, but while one emphasizes a fantastic storyline, the other emphasizes a more realistic approach to the gameplay. And until MGS4, I found SC's controls to be more fluid and less cumbersome.
The stories haven't been bad in the SC games, per se, but it really is more about the gameplay, and I've played every SC title. SC and MGS were always two very different experiences, but I wouldn't pass up either. I have high expectations for Conviction, and if you like stealth games but have ignored Sam Fisher and Co. because of its closer affiliation to Microsoft consoles, I suggest trying one. I thought Chaos Theory was the best, but the 360 may not support it with backwards compatibility. Double Agent was plenty good enough, though.
Personal gaming update
Well, I finished Mirror's Edge and had plenty of fun with that. The trial-and-error gameplay got to me a little after a while, and I didn't particularly like how helpless Faith felt towards the end of the game, but I still had a blast. And now that I know how to get everywhere and do everything, I'd love to play it through again. But for the time being, I'm working my way through Dead Space, which is just as good as reported. This is the way survival/horror should be done, and now it's very clear that Capcom has their work cut out for them with Resident Evil 5. Who would've thought that EA could release something so polished and refined? I'm through the first three chapters and very much enjoying the fourth so far; the game is dark, gory, and always entertaining; I know it's short, but I still consider it to be one of those must-play games. Afterwards, I really will go play ME again, or I'll have to spring for something else. I may just take a break from new games, though, because I still have plenty of stuff I need to review, and hey...Christmas isn't that far off. ;)
I was thinking about picking up CoD4, actually, just because I never got a chance to play it last year. I just wish it had fallen more in price over the past year; it still costs $40, and I really won't have time to go online with it. Hmm...maybe I should just wait for Prince of Persia on December 9. It remains one of my most anticipated titles of the year...
11/22/2008 Ben Dutka