Amplitude is Almost Here and I Can’t Wait

AmplitudeHarmonix Games’ revival of their famed Amplitude franchise is looking spectacular, thanks to a new trailer that was released today.

Put into production after a successful 18 day Kickstarter campaign, the PlayStation exclusive rhythm action game revives the cult classic series that Harmonix claimed fame for prior to their work on Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Players are challenged to create music tracks by successfully activating sections of a song. Each song segment (bass, rhythm, highs, vocals, etc.) are activated by rhythmic combinations of three button presses, similar to successfully activating a section in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. After a segment is successfully activated, it stays running for a limited time and a different segment can be jumped to (typically with the shoulder buttons) with the goal of adding more segments.

New to the series is the addition of a cooperative multiplayer mode where multiple players can stay on dedicated segments to create more complex tracks. It is a natural evolution for a company that saw incredible success in its work in cooperative rhythm games.

Newcomers to the franchise might notice many similarities between Amplitude and the colorful Rock Band Blitz. Blitz shared many of the concepts that made Amplitude and Frequency popular, with Blitz having a focus on Rock music thanks to the vast Rock Band library.

Amplitude is set to release this Summer for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Harmonix will be showing the game off for the first time to the public at this weekend’s PAX East convention.

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Dragon Quest Heroes is Coming West After All

Dragon Quest HeroesDragon Quest Heroes will be releasing in North America and Europe later this year according to an announcement made by Square Enix today. The game has been confirmed for launch on PlayStation 4 and will carry a price tag of $59.99 in the United States.

The action/RPG mash-up draws heavily from developer Omega Force’s history of making their long running hack and slash Dynasty Warriors / Musou games. The Tecmo Koei studio is no stranger to collaborations, having already teamed up with Nintendo last year to develop the very successful Zelda themed Hyrule Warriors on top of other themed Musou style games including titles based on One Piece, Gundam and Fist of the North Star.

The game just launched in their domestic market of Japan for PS4 and PS3 (February 26, because it’s the future there) so early sales numbers are not yet available. But given the typically staggering popularity of Dragon Quest, on top of the loyal following Omega Force developed Musou games carry, it should be a safe bet that Dragon Quest Heroes does well. Dragon Quest Heroes does, after all, have one of the best advertisements in recent memory.

There is no official confirmation on whether the PlayStation 3 version of the game will make its way west, but I expect to see it released as a possible digital download, depending on the activity of PS3 users. Also unconfirmed are bubble wrap themed advertisements.

Polygon – Dragon Quest Heroes is headed west to PS4 this year

Gran Turismo 7 in 2014?

Gran Turismo 6

Sony Polyphony Digital president Kazunori Yamauchi believes that Gran Turismo 7 could be just around the corner, despite the fact that Gran Turismo 6 won’t be released until next week.

“We don’t want to take too long on Gran Turismo 7,” Yamauchi told the UK’s Top Gear. “Best case scenario? Next year.”

For a series known for taking its sweet time due to Yamauchi’s obsessively detail oriented direction, I sincerely doubt we’ll even get a sniff of GT7 by next year. GT5 was largely viewed as a disappointment, even by stalwart regulars of the series. I personally see the game as miles behind Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport, which has always felt vibrant and engaging where Gran Turismo, while certainly a collector’s dream, is an incredibly sterile experience.

But if Polyphony can get GT7 onto the PS4 by next year, it would be an impressive achievement. The PS4 could certainly use an exclusive racer, with DriveClub delayed until spring, Sony must be pushing Polyphony to release something in the immediate future. Sony has long held Gran Turismo as one of its key franchises dating back to the original PlayStation. With the tenuous life Gran Turismo had on the PS3 (GT HD Concept, GT Prologue, GT5, GT5 XL, GT6), a more focused effort is certainly in order for the franchise’s success on the PS4.

Top Gear – Gran Turismo 7 is coming in 2014

Twitch & Sony Need to Rethink Their Livestreams

One of the neat features of the new consoles is the built in ability to livestream gameplay through services like Twitch.tv. The typically gaming related livestream service has spiked in usage thanks to the popularity of competitive gaming, Let’s Play video series and video game talk shows, ala YouTube.

Playroom

But when combined with the generally harmless Sony Playroom, all sorts of shenanigans occurred. An unsuspecting bonus application, Playroom works with augmented reality with the PlayStation Camera by displaying dozens of spawnable robots by visually tracking the controller (with the remnants of PS Move technology). Unfortunately, when given a camera, humans have a tendency to misbehave. Naked.

What was supposed to be a way to share experiences with other communities, devolved to the point where users were stripping naked and even having sex on camera. While I’m not one to discourage another’s interests, whatever they may be, such profane acts are clearly not what Twitch or Sony had in mind, not to mention clearly against the Terms of Service.

I Don't Know What I Expected

But it’s not the first time this has happened. YouTube has certainly had its share of videos expunged for inappropriate content, there have been numerous livestreamers caught exposing themselves and there’s the ever dangerous chat roulette. Even Microsoft had to deal with a bit of banning nude gamers using the Xbox Camera to show their junk during games of Uno.

Twitch has stated they will only allow gaming related content on their service and that any Playroom based feeds must stay on the topic of games. I’m sure they’ll still have to ban a few dicks (figuratively and literally) sometime down the road.

Kotaku – Twitch Taking a Harder Look at PS4’s Playroom After Livestream Mayhem

Sony ‘Gives’ Reviewers Engraved PS4s, Internet Outraged As Usual

GameOverGreggy

When word got out that accredited game reviewers would be receiving their PS4s from Sony, nobody really made a sound because there wasn’t much news about it. But when Sony gave game reviewers their PS4s at a special pre-launch event with piles of swag that included their newly and personally engraved PS4, the internet exploded.

Cries against reviewers for letting their ethics be compromised because by accepting these gifts they were essentially selling their opinion for a custom engraving.

But let’s think about this for longer than it takes to pound out three poorly written sentences with an abundance of obscenities and exclamation points (!!!!!).

To me, the outrage is less about the integrity of video game journalism, or in this case, opinionated editorial, and more about the fact that a select group of gaming writers were invited to a media only event, given some free swag and given their (media designated) PlayStation 4 console. In essence, the public is angry that game reviewers received their shiny new (and custom engraved) PS4s free and early.

But did they really receive these units for free? How much actual work goes in to writing a review? Truth is, a lot.

I was news and editorials editor for my college’s newspaper, which was not a volunteer position, it was paid. Not only are you drafting, editing and retooling your own work, often you still have other tasks to oversee including story meetings, features development, video production and in my case, working on simultaneously churning out articles for print (where length of article is critical) and developing for web. Add in the time needed to properly play and review a game, notes in hand and reviewing takes a significant amount of work (and lost sleep).

Believe me, after years of climbing the ladders of their respective publications, these writers and reviewers have certainly paid for their consoles. Maybe not in money, but in absolute hard work. Because as much fun and challenges journalism brings, it has never been a lucrative career. And gaming is an expensive hobby.

Unfortunately, what sparked the initial discussion is that many of these reviewers took to social media or their own blogs at the publications and shared pictures of their new engraved PS4s, the stack of games and a pile of swag. They should have known better than to put themselves at the disadvantage of having their ethics challenged, their biases shifted and their audience questioning any positive review of a Sony product for the lifespan of the PS4. It certainly doesn’t help having editorial staff snap a picture of themselves bedding a console.

Greg Miller Scott Lowe

I understand where they are coming from however. At the end of the day, they’re like you and I. They are gamers who are in the fortunate position to be doing what they love, with all the perks. It is certainly an advantageous and enviable position to be in.

Ethics and media is something I’ve always followed very closely. Sure I’ve attended my share of early screenings for films which I would immediately turn out a review for. Hell, my office even received copies of the sixth Harry Potter movie for review, which we all watched in our office one night prior to publication day. But at the end of the day, these are tools that are necessary for the job that we did. Likewise, if game reviewers did not have a PS4, they would not be able to review any games. Games that Sony wants to have reviewed

At the end of the day, I believe a good reviewer is able to filter though the BS, and review a product accordingly. Because if they don’t, the audience will find a way to call you out on it.

They are not gifts. They are not handouts. They have been earned. Everything except a little engraving (which is admittedly cool).

The Escapist – Integrity, Journalism, and Free PS4s

Metal Gear!? Classic Snake a PS3/PS4 Exclusive

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain which takes place somewhere in the middle of the Metal Gear timeline, is getting some really clever PS4 exclusive DLC. Announced at last night’s PlayStation 4 launch event in New York City, “Déjà Vu” will put players in the polygonal shoes of a classic Solid Snake, ripped straight from the black CDs of the original PlayStation. While the game is releasing across both the PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360/Xbox One, “Déjà Vu” will be exclusive to Sony consoles.

Just seeing that Solid Snake again, in all his PSX glory, gets me excited. I’m curious to see how or if Konami will intertwine the stories of Big Boss and Solid Snake. Hopefully it will be more than just a costume. Hell, I’d love it if they brought David Hayter back, just so he can exclaim “Metal Gear!?” one last time.

Konami throwing exclusive Metal Gear content in Sony’s direction should be no surprise especially with the amount of success the series has received on Sony consoles. But missing additional content from major releases, even in a delayed fashion has got to hurt Microsoft’s odds. Already Xbox is missing out the exclusive Aveline DLC to Assassin’s Creed IV, is set to have a lengthy six month delay on Watch_Dogs DLC and even Bungie’s Destiny will have their beta on Sony consoles first. I know the exclusive extra content is swaying my developing opinion away from Microsoft, despite my past support of the Xbox.

Destructoid – Play as Classic Snake in Metal Gear Solid V on PS4

It’s a Boy! inFamous: Second Son Due March 21, 2014

inFamous: Second Son

Launches are a tricky thing, Sony might be learning that first hand after the slew of poor reviews for their supposed system sellers Killzone: Shadowfall and Knack. Lucky for them, help is around the corner. The Sucker Punch developed inFamous: Second Son will be launching for the PlayStation 4 on March 21, 2014.

The third game in the inFamous series has had fans chomping at the bit to know when the new entry (and first to not feature original protagonist Cole McGrath) would be due, since it wasn’t ready for launch day. Early rumors of a February release date have since been squashed but a nifty bundle of a new PS4 system and a copy of inFamous: Second Son has surfaced on varying online storefronts.

I’m still playing through the original inFamous, but I believe it might be Sony’s most underrated and a critical franchise to develop for their PS4. It’s slick combination of stylized mechanics and comic inspired storytelling are like no other franchise and Sony would be wise to push it with Microsoft’s Titanfall breathing down their neck.

Polygon – inFamous: Second Son to launch on March 21, 2014