Nintendo 3DS Black Cover for Mature Games

Black Banner Template for 3DS
Black Banner Template for 3DS

Nintendo, first seen using this method for differentiating game ratings with mature video games for the Wii (in Japan, anyway), will place a black banner, instead of a white one, for Nintendo 3DS games when applicable.

On the Wii, the black box art template was used for all games that were a teen rating or above. The first game seen with the black banner on the 3DS is Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell 3D.

Although this information may seem arbitrary to some of you gamers, this is actually a smart move by Nintendo. Many parents complain about their children uying adult games, and then going on to claim that they did not know, in spite of the large rating in the corner of the cases. Now, there is a large indicator of the rating level of a video game, all thanks to the upcoming black banner. This will make it easier to not only spot games for the hardcore gamers, but it will allow parents to monitor their children’s library much easier.

Source: Nintendo Also Packages “Mature” 3DS Games in Black Boxes Too [Silconera]

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops

A lot of Modern Warfare 2 owners are wondering whether or not they should make the transfer to Call of Duty: Black Ops. There is a bad taste left in the mouths of many gamers from Treyarch’s last title, Call of Duty: World at War. So how does COD: BO compare to MW2?

First, take a look at what Modern Warfare 2 has to offer. They took out the gold styling of weapons altogether in favor for the “Fall” camo. This made many gamers upset because a Gold tint is a way to both show off and show off how much work you put into your weapon. Besides that, MW2 still has a lot to offer. They added the riot shield, which adds a whole new element of strategy into the mix. Many times, you may run into a player who will throw a smoke grenade down, run into it, plant a claymore and crouch there, guarding. It is a perfect way to bait unsuspecting gamers and it diversifies the gaming experience altogether.

Infinity Ward added many new killstreaks to work for in the game, which ultimately lead to extreme camping. The most controversial kill streak is definitely the nuke, which requires 25 kills for this game ending explosion. You will most likely find a person in a corner with scavenger and heartbeat sensor, calmly and patiently waiting for a victim to walk by.  In all, Infinity Ward managed to upgrade the experience from Call of Duty 4 and offer great gameplay. Every aspect of the game was upgraded and one of the only complaints was the rampant camping going on throughout the game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is Treyarch’s chance at redeeming themselves. Call of Duty: World at War was nothing short of disappointing in its delivery. It was a basic copy and paste of Infinity Ward’s last game, and that is what they praised it as. However, this game is said to actually be better than MW2 in many ways.

Black Ops offers the gamer a wealth of options when it comes to customization. Instead of running into players that look exactly like you, you are able to customize your appearance to make yourself pop out. You can change the model of your character, the color of the camo your character wears, the camo of your gun, the red dot sight of your gun, place an emblem on your gun and more. This is all made possible through the game’s currency system.

The currency system can be a bit disappointing at times. In example, you have to unlock pro-perks by completing a series of pre-requisite challenges. Even after unlocking the pro-perk, you will still have to dish out a pretty penny before you can actually use it. You basically have to pay for virtually anything you want in game, which can be a bit annoying. This was meant to give players even more options when leveling and improving their character, although it can become troublesome to people who feel paying for something they earned is unfair.

Although it is still the first week of Black Ops’ launch, camping is at bare minimum. The perks offered to you in the game, especially the pro-perks, allow for very smooth gameplay and little camping to encounter. You will still encounter camping, but there are numerous ways around it that you can avoid. If anything, you will definitely see less of a camping problem than is in Modern Warfare 2, which is a definite plus.

Between Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, I would have to recommend Black Ops. Keep in mind, this was only a brief look into the multiplayer aspect of the game. The single player is so crappy in writing, it is almost embarrassing. I would definitely recommend avoiding the single player if you are actually looking for a good story. It was clever at some parts, but most of the time I caught myself face-palming at the stupidity at some times. The lack of suspense can also be disappointing.

PlayStation Network Improvement Impressions

Playstation Network

Sony has been making numerous additions and improvements to the PlayStation Network service. It comes as no surprise that one may need to re-evaluate just how good the PSN really is, in comparison to Xbox Live.

How good is the PlayStation Plus service?

To start off, let’s take a look at the PlayStation Plus membership. This higher-leveled tier is a way for players to become a part of an elite group of subscribers. Subscribers to the PlayStation Plus service receive numerous benefits, such as full-game demos, exclusive themes, four free games a month, free QORE subscription, sweepstake entries, beta invites, and more. All of these incentives alone are enough to push someone to become a member, but they also went and offered discounts in the PlayStation Store to those who are members. As of now, the price for subscription closely rivals that of Xbox Live, before the price hike. This has caused many PS3 owners to look for a PSN Generator, but that is for another topic.

Best of all, while Microsoft only allows Gold members to play online, Sony continues to allow the free-gamers to play their games over the internet. This is a solid subscription model that draws in many gamers who do not think paying for multiplayer is justified. I have many friends who refuse to purchase an Xbox 360 simply because they cannot afford or refuse to pay monthly just to play a multiplayer game.

What about the PlayStation Rewards Program?

Sony recently revealed that they are working on an incentives program that rewards the most active gamers. Gamers, on their PlayStation profile, will have an activity bar. When the bar fills up to the top, you enter the next tier and receive added benefits. There are three tiers in total, each requiring a certain amount of activity to reach. Activity, according to Sony, is considered the time you spend playing games, purchases you make in the PlayStation Store, trophies you unlock, and more to come.

Sony designed the program with the intention of allowing gamers of all kinds, both paid and free, to earn rewards. This rewards program will work greatly with the PlayStation Plus membership. You will be receiving benefits from both your subscription and this program.

How does PlayStation Network stack up against Xbox Live?

Sadly, Xbox Live is still trumping PlayStation Network in terms of raw content. Microsoft has pumped a lot of money into purchasing and developing exclusives. Video Chat has been added to Xbox Live, via Kinect and Skype, which is certain to appeal to the more casual gamers such as myself who sometimes get on solely for the social aspect. ESPN Live Streaming has been added which appeals to the rabid sports fan that are on Xbox Live. They can watch a game while in a party, talking to masses of people as they watch the game unfold. Twitter and FaceBook integration is pretty much perfect and in working order. Netflix was originally placed on this system, I believe, which is another plus.

PlayStation Network has a bit of catching up to do. The main thing that Sony has going for it, with the PlayStation Network, is that it is free. Free automatically makes it appeal to masses of people who do not want to pay for online access. It seems, however, that offering the service for free hinders it’s progress, a bit.

Ultimately, the success of the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live falls upon you, the consumer. So which do you think is better? PSN or Xbox Live? Discuss.

Mafia II Demo Impressions

Mafia II by 2K Czech
Mafia II by 2K Czech

2K Czech recently released their Mafia II demo onto the Xbox Live market place. This game is quite possibly the best looking game on the Xbox 360, and has a compelling story to match.

Mafia II is the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, and one of 2k Games latest high quality endeavors. In this demo, you start out in your house as Vito, the main character, a World War II war veteran. At this point, I was already drawn in by the astonishing graphics and technology that this game makes use of. Immediately, you see how crisp the textures are and how amazing the lighting effects are. The animation is very fluid and the audio technology is definitely well done. As your phone rings, the sound will become dulled as you look away or leave the room, and will become louder and more focused as you near it. I actually was unable to locate the phone until I began walking in the direction where the phone was at its loudest. I immediately knew that it was clear that this Mafia II demo will be one of the best demos I have played in a long time. If you cannot tell, there may be spoilers in this if you have never played the demo yet.

Another minute or two into this demo, you enter a building in which the firefights will begin. The aiming system and

Mafia II Graphics
Mafia II In-Game Graphics

gun-play handles a lot like that of Grand Theft Auto IV, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on your opinion of the game. The aiming is very accurate and the pain and death animations are very well made. In some games, when you shoot an enemy, they simply shake or cringe in pain, but when you shoot an enemy in Mafia II, they show some serious damage, especially with the shot gun. They will often fall down and writhe in pain or depict an epic blow back with blood splatter on the wall. At one point of the demo, one of your comrades will actually go up to a dead enemy and begin spraying bullets into the corpse.

The voice acting works well with the stunning visuals and amazing animation to depict a movie-esque feeling. There are points in this game where I am less interested in just going lone-wolf like I do in most games. This game paints such a complex and intricate picture that I am influenced to actually role play and go throughout the game as if I were actually this man, trying to avoid getting hit as much as possible. At that point of the demo when Vito’s ally goes and shoots bullets into a corpse, laughing insanely, you really see how well and how much effort has been poured into Mafia II. The dingy lighting and ominous look of the level really puts you on edge when turning a corner or facing your enemies.

Mafia II seems to be more realistic with its policing system, in comparison to the Grand Theft Auto series, that is. When I hit a civilians car, the police put a warrant out for me for hit and run. Usually, in a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, the police will only trouble you if you come into contact with their car. One thing I have not experienced during the Mafia II demo, but have been hearing from multiple sources, is that the police A.I is unexpectedly bad. You can often out run them with little to no effort.

Mafia II ScreenShot
Mafia II Action

The hand to hand combat system seems to be catered towards newer players. All you have to do is hold one button and you dodge all incoming attacks. This takes an element of timing and skill out of hand to hand combat now, and can allow the player to simply button mash their way out of trouble, which is a bit disappointing. You also will not be arrested for fist fighting, you will only be stopped and receive a slap on the hand from a police officer.

All in all, the Mafia II demo is something that I would actually replay again and again, simply for the cinematic and enticing experience that it has to offer. If you have not played the Mafia II demo yet, I urge you to play it, and if you have played the demo, I urge you to buy the game. Mafia II will most likely take home an award for its well presented story.

Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Slated For October Release Date

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
Enslaved; Odyssey to the West

Namco Bandai has released a plethora of new screenshots for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West by Ninja Theory, the creators of Heavenly Sword.

The game has been slated for release this upcoming October. However, this game is not receiving the publicity that it should. It looks visually stunning and the gameplay looks up to par to boot. Being from the same developers that worked on Heavenly Sword, you can expect an action packed game like no other. Although the story line may be a bit recycled and unoriginal, many action games to this date do not rely one bit on their storyline, but rather on what they offer in terms of experience and gameplay.

Ninja Theory has outdone themselves on creating a lush and colorful post apocalyptic world. Enslaved takes place more than 100 years into the future where the world has become a wasteland populated by war-based robots and few humans. Monkey, the brains of the team, and Trip, the female tech savvy partner, form an alliance when they are taken on a ship that is rumored to take prisoners to the West where they will never be seen again.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West will surely end up being one of the must have action-adventure games to grace the video game industry. It is slated for release on October 5th for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.