PlayStation Now Unveiled at CES, PS4 Firmware Update v1.60 released, Native PlayStation 1+2 Emulation rumors swirling admist new PS4 firmware updates, “The Last of Us” Single-Player DLC “Left Behind” officially gone gold and oodles of schmoodles info on new game releases [UPDATED 2/15/2014]

PlayStation Now officially unveiled at CES 2014, coming to your local PlayStation H/W in Summer of 2014

 

PlayStation Now Gaikai-based streaming service being revealed at CES 2014

PlayStation Now Gaikai-based streaming service being revealed at Sony’s keynote address during CES 2014

 

Sony promised PS3 backwards compatibility for the PS4 via it’s cloud based-streaming service, Gaikai (acquired by Sony in 2012 for a cool $380 million) and it appears to be finally taking shape. Announced on January 7th at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony demoed the “PlayStation Now” internet-streaming service on a variety of Sony hardware (which in the future may negate the need for proprietary hardware, ie the PlayStation 4 console, to enjoy and play Sony exclusive titles). Amongst the veritable goldmine of broad Sony exclusives shown running on PlayStation Now, CES goers were treated to streaming versions of 1st-party hits such as “The Last of Us“, “Puppeteer“, “God of War: Ascension” and “Beyond: Two Souls“; all graphically-intense titles that have been released over the past year and a half. The games were playable on PlayStation Vita’s and more interestingly, 2014 Bravia TV’s, and a select few smartphones/tablets using just a DualShock 3 Controller and a connection to the PlayStation Now service. Sony has stated that the service will allow it’s subscribers (yes, it is a paid-for service although at this point I don’t know if it’s part of the PS Plus subscription package or a separate entity) to play PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 classics along with strong support of Sony’s PS3 exclusives. This could be a boon for Sony, as they have an absurdly deep back catalog for both the PS1 and PS2 (the latter selling over 150 million units worldwide making it the best selling console ever) allowing the Sony faithful and even more imperative, gamers new to the extensive retro titles of the PS One and PS2, to enjoy hard-to-find titles that until now, were confined and orphaned on physical disc to specialty game shops. I’ve always been one to enjoy the tangible vs. the digitally intangible software but with classic and hard to find PS1/2 game prices skyrocketing, even I admit this is a fantastic alternative to play all my old Sony favorites akin to Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U (WipeOut XL, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy 7/8/Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Clock Tower, Einhander, Elemental Gearbolt, Shadow Tower, Kings Field I/II, Silent Hill, Megan Man Legends, Suikoden, Xenogears, RayStorm, Resident Evil 1/2/3 etc etc.)

PlayStation Now has begun closed-beta testing as of Jan 28th, and the service is expected to expand across several western and eastern markets as soon as the second and third quarter of 2014, with a full roll out to be completed by end of the year. For optimal performance with minimal gameplay and visual sacrifice, Sony recommends that you are using an wired internet connection with at least 5 MBps or more when gaming on PlayStation Now. A YouTube video was released just recently that showed a complete demonstration of PlayStation Now’s UI and streaming potential while the person played Killzone 3, unfortunately the video has since been taken down due to “copyright violations” by SCEA. The leaked video shows that PS Now is booted from the PSN tab on the XMB, then opens a new app resembling the PlayStation Store to begin the streaming service. Sony also says that in the near future, PlayStation 4 titles are in the works to be streamed across the service. This is certainly a great way for Sony to expand the PlayStation brand for consumers who may not be interested in dropping $300-$400 on new hardware and tap into the lucrative “casual gamer” market that the Wii captured back in 2007 and lost to the current trend of smartphones and tablets. If Sony can reclaim that audience, it certainly could be a dominating force in the casual gaming and console market. To watch the CES preview of the PlayStation Now service, watch the video below to catch a glimpse of the UI and the potential of the PS3 streaming service (video courtesy of Quentyn Kennemer via http://phandroid.com/2014/01/14/sony-playstation-now-demo/):

 

PlayStation 4 gets fancy-schmancy new update, version 1.60 which offers much-needed improved headset support amongst other stability fixes and enhancements

The new official Sony "Pulse" Gold headset works on the PS4 and supports 7.1 virtual surround sound - SWEET ASS SWEET!

The new official Sony “Pulse” Gold headset works on the PS4 and supports 7.1 virtual surround sound – SWEET ASS SWEET!

 

As of Feb 4th, Sony has officially released v1.60 firmware update for the PlayStation 4. One of the PS4’s many new improvements is that it automatically connects to Sony’s servers, then downloads and installs the update in the background while the system is in standby mode. Or you can do it the old fashioned the way and download the firmware update from Sony’s official website to a USB Flash drive and do a local installation. Reportedly, the update weighs in around 300 MB. Here are a list of the new features, fixes and improvements:

  1. Wireless stereo headsets (CECHYA-0080 / CECHYA-0083 / CECHYA-0086) and a stereo headset (CECHYA-0088) are now supported.
  2. You can now mute the microphone for PlayStation®Camera.

Also included in this update are general stability fixes. But the added support for Sony’s premium headsets is a definitive BONUS! For more information or to download the firmware update and install it to your PS4, head over to Sony’s official PlayStation Support Page at http://us.playstation.com/support/systemupdates/ps4/index.htm.

Native PS2 and PS1 Emulation rumored to be coming to PlayStation 4 via future firmware update

 

 

Sony reigned supreme with the release of the PS2. Selling over 150 consoles worldwide, the PlayStation 2 dominated the 6th generation of gaming systems.

Sony reigned supreme with the release of the PS2. Selling over 150 consoles worldwide, the PlayStation 2 dominated the 6th generation of gaming systems.

Yeah so this is a big deal to me and anyone else who grew up during the 80’s and 90’s, with their ‘rents buying us NES’s or SEGA Genesis’s. We are the first group of gamers to grow older as each iterative console cycle manifested, and therefore we are the first to see the myriad of gaming systems released over the past 25+ years. As such, I feel some kind of ownership towards the current and past gaming ecosystems, with every new generation establishing a solid hierarchy.  In the case of PlayStation, I remember trading my SNES and my 40+ games into EB Games (before GameStop took over EVERYTHING) just to acquire a brand new PlayStation One with Destruction Derby, Resident Evil, Warhawk and WipeOut (franchises that are still prominent today). So the fact that Sony is now rumored to be working on a future update for the PS4 that will allow for native PS1 and PS2 backwards compatibility truly means a great deal to me. If this does come to fruition, it would make the PlayStation 4 the ultimate console in Sony hardware and amongst it’s contemporaries, being able to play PS One, PS2 and thanks to PlayStation Now, PS3 games.

A console that is fully backwards compatible would be an amazing feat, as it seems that most (not all) console manufacturers have remained adamant that deterrent factors such as cost or incompatible hardware is the reason for non-compliance. But with such a ridiculous back catalog of games for both the PS1 and PS2, it would seem almost absurd and shameful that Sony would not take advantage of such a opportunity via emulation if their current PS4 H/W allows it (and it seems more then powerful enough to do so). I still have a small library of PS One games, most of them rarities that I’ve managed to hold onto over the years because well…. their just not that easy to find anymore and aren’t available digitally via PSN yet. Sony has everything to gain and nothing to lose by providing PS One/PS2 emulation natively (whether it be via original disc or download; hopefully we get BOTH) since their are still sooo many titles that have yet to been repackaged from both the PS One and PS2 era. PS4 Backwards-compatible emulation would also allow HD upscaling in a less arbitrary nature that was implemented for the PlayStation 3, presenting an aesthetically pleasing experience while maintaining that great classic gameplay we’ve all come to expect from Sony’s top tier exclusives from the bygone console eras. While all this is just pure speculation, Digital Foundry did have a very interesting and competent report on what could be via future firmware updates regarding PS1/PS2 software emulation.

Hopefully, like the early models of the PS3 that Sony manufactured that actually contained the original PlayStation 2 hardware under the hood, Sony will allow playback of physical discs that people already have in their PS One and PS2 collections. And while Sony eventually removed the PS2 backwards compatibility from those earlier models since each PS3 unit was selling at a tremendous loss, it in fact probably saved the PlayStation brand that is now beginning to thrive again today. Sony has advocated a good amount of pro-consumer idealism thanks to their E3 presentation by simply branding the PlayStation 4 as a true gamers console- no extra fanfare, no forced flagrant takeover of your TV set and unwarranted motion-tracking; Sony was pitching the PS4 as a fundamental gamers machine, not an extravagant all-in-one box that was designed to be the centerpiece of your living room. And while some may prefer the latter, core gamers care about one thing and one thing only: how well does the machine play games and will it provide the gaming experience that a Sony console should offer? The answer is a resounding yes, as the PS4 has already sold well over 4 million units in just a short span of 3 months. It’s clear that Sony is focusing it’s efforts to attract the legions of ardent Sony fans while reaching for a larger audience. In short, Sony knows it’s user base and if these backward compatibility rumors prove true, is doing everything it can to retain previous PlayStation users and attract new gamers that want to do want a console does best: play videogames.

 

PlayStation emulators have been commonplace on PC's for years, but Sony *MAY BE* taking a page out of these software emulators to run PS1 and PS2 titles natively on the PS4. ePSXe is one of the more popular PS emulators for the computer.

PlayStation emulators have been commonplace on PC’s for years, but Sony *MAY BE* taking a page out of these software emulators to run PS1 and PS2 titles natively on the PS4. ePSXe is one of the more popular PS emulators for the computer.

While PS3 compatibility will be relegated to Sony’s cloud-based streaming service PlayStation Now, previous generations of Sony H/w (PS1 and PS2 respectively) will be played via software emulation on the PlayStation 4. Even more interesting is that games played via emulation could contain HD upscaling and higher resolutions, something that is already possible on a mid-end PC running a PlayStation emulator such as ePSXe which can significantly alter the graphical fidelity of older PlayStation 1 and 2 titles. Using software emulation on the PS4, Sony may be implementing native HD resolutions instead of the blurry, artifact filled upscaled resolutions that the PlayStation 3 used when it runs PS One software or PS2 games (on earlier “fat” models of the PS3 that contained PS2 emulation via direct hardware or through software on later fat models). Again, while this is all speculation and rumors at this time, I sincerely hope Sony is hard at work on this project.

 

The Last of Us single-player DLC “Left Behind” released, download it now via the PlayStation Network Store

 

Ellie and her BFF Riley's story is told through this 3 hour campaign about how it sucks being a mischievous teenager in a post-pandemic North America.

Ellie and her BFF Riley’s story is told through this 3 hour DLC campaign about how it sucks being a mischievous teenager in a post-pandemic North America.

 

Probably the most anticipated downloadable content aside from Bioshock Infinte’s “Burial at Sea”, The Last of Us jas dished out a mini-prequel of sorts establishing Ellie’s backstory before she met crazy-like-a-fox Joel. The DLC chapter, entitled “Left Behind”, has been in development for quite some time and was officially released on the loneliest day of the year for fat, unkempty gamer-nerds the world over; AKA: Valentines DayPerhaps there was some amorous intent for releasing the 2-3 hour campaign on V-Day, reminding all of us dateless wonders that we still do have something to live for outside the mystique of the opposite gender. That our empathy can be redirected towards Ellie after enduring the grueling and abhorrent cross-country cordecyps road trip with her paternal ward, Joel. After all, The Last of Us intricately wove one of the most well-defined and tragic survivalist tales to grace the console market in a long, long time. True to form, instead of focusing on new gameplay elements, more updates/weapons and new skill-trees, Left Behind takes the player on Ellie’s own journey beginning with her time orphaned at a military-style school. Left Behind introduces a new character that was only mentioned briefly in passing during the main campaign: Ellie’s best friend Riley. If you played through the main campaign and enjoyed it, you would be a silly, inbred smelly fool not to purchase and playthru Left Behind. Now available via the PlayStation Store on PSN  for $15 or through the TLoU Season Pass (or eventually via the yet-to-be-announced retail GOTY edition on disc; wait and see I’m sure it will be hitting store shelves by the end of the year like every bestselling PS3 exclusive). To watch the Left Behind trailer, play the video below:


The Last of US DLC to be announced sometime in August, more new game purchases and pre-orders

Naughty Dog won’t rule out Joel and OR Ellie in a single-player story-based campaign DLC and also says that Multiplayer DLC will be announced in the near future as well

Joel and Ellie’s tumultuous journey across post-pandemic North America may be over, but developer Naughty Dog won’t rule out any future DLC packs that could include the characters in a side-story apart from the main single-player campaign. There are dozens of opportunities for interesting stories to be told here about the games many supporting characters such as:

  1. How did Joel and his brother Tommy survive those first several years during the outbreak that repulsed Tommy so much he needed to find refuge away from his brother and join the FireFly militia?
  2. The story of Ellie and her friend Riley becoming infected, only to have Ellie discover her immunity?
  3. What happened to Marlene after she parted ways with Joel, Tess and Ellie to the University and how she and the rest of the militia sacrificed so much to move to a new, safer Hospital location?
  4. How the hell did that weird, pedophilia cannibal David rise to power within the group of Hunters?
  5. The story regarding Ish and his return to the mainland after being at sea for so long, only to find civilization had completely collapsed. He used his own unique survivalist skills to build a new “family” like society in the tunnels by the sewer…. what happened during the final days when their safety was compromised so that Ish and several others had to abandon the only safe haven they had?
  6. The remnants of one of the fallen Quarantine Zones banding together to fight back at the Military to gain control because of the food shortages etc… Then there’s the other side of the story…..
  7. The few soldiers that survived the uprising against the Hunters/Bandits in one of the Quarantine Zones and the female soldier that vowed revenge against her fallen comrades. This idea would certainly make use of A LOT of stealth and perhaps you would even have some advanced weaponry at your disposal because this character was military.
  8. Henry and Sam, how they managed to get stuck in the city crawling with Hunters and what tactics they used to survive without being caught.

These are just some of the ideas that have been rattling around across internet forums and some of my own personal ideas. Of course, with what I’ve come to understand so far there will be only ONE single-player DLC addition, the rest will be multiplayer. I have no objection to this as I love the multiplayer component to “The Last of Us” and some new maps, new game modes etc. would be a welcome addition! Also, as for the multiplayer DLC how about giving players new maps that cater to you fighting another squad smack dab in the middle of an area with infected? Having not only to worry about human opponents but a clicker or bloater bursting through the doors would make for some tense moments, yes? Or a new mode where  your team must survive against the infected while scavenging for parts for you clan (kind of like a horde mode, but with less emphasis on the horde and more emphasis on obtaining food and parts for your clan to thrive and survive). Anyways, are you listening Naughty Dog? I hope you’re taking notes!

It’s my Birthday and I’ll cry if I want to, CRY IF I WANT TO…. but instead I purchased Tales of Graces F and finalized my preorders for Tales of Xillia Limited Edition and Dragon’s Crown

So anyways, my Birfday is tomorrow and my dad took me out on a $100 game shopping spree. HOORAH FOR SHOPPING SPREES! Seeing how I had already put my preorders in for “Dragon’s Crown” and “Tales of Xillia Limited Edition“, I decided to pay for the rest of both games and pick up Tales of Graces F to familiarize myself with the series mechanics and gameplay style (because not EVERY JRPG is exactly the same). I was able to purchase “Tales of Graces F” for approximately $27 used with a “20 Percent Off Any Pre-Owned Game” coupon that GameStop sent out to me via an automated Happy Birthday email. Who says being a used game and physical disc whore doesn’t come with fringe benefits?

Purchased this weekend for my Birthday: "Tales of Graces F" is part of the "Tales..." series going all the way back to the PlayStation One era of RPGS. These games have become somewhat of an institution for modern-day RPGS because the "Tales" series has had so many console iterations. One of the few RPGS that can compare to the longevity of the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Breath of Fire RPG's (although I'm still waiting for a PS3 version of a new Breath of Fire).

Purchased this weekend for my Birthday: “Tales of Graces F” is part of the “Tales…” series going all the way back to the PlayStation One era of RPGS. These games have become somewhat of an institution for modern-day RPGS because the “Tales” series has had so many console iterations. One of the few RPGS that can compare to the longevity of the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Breath of Fire RPG’s (although I’m still waiting for a PS3 version of a new Breath of Fire).

Coming August 6th to both the PS3 and PS Vita exclusively, Dragon's Crown has already garnered critical acclaim to it's throwback style of 2D fantasy brawlers from the 16-bit and arcade era. Similar to Golden Axe in it's gameplay mechanics but with much more depth due to it's deep leveling system and stat management, Dragon's Crown is a rare gem developed by Vanillaware as a love letter to button-mashing, beat-em-ups from the 90's. With local 4-player and Network multiplay, this game will be a blast to brawl through. And the gorgeous 2D hand-drawn characters make this a must-buy for any retro gaming fan.

Coming August 6th to both the PS3 and PS Vita exclusively, Dragon’s Crown has already garnered critical acclaim thanks to it’s throwback style of 2D fantasy brawlers from the 16-bit console and arcade era. Similar to Golden Axe in it’s gameplay mechanics but with much more depth due to it’s deep leveling system and stat management, Dragon’s Crown is a rare gem developed by Vanillaware as a love letter to button-mashing, beat-em-ups from the 90’s. With local 4-player and Network multiplay, this game will be a blast to brawl through. And the gorgeous 2D hand-drawn characters make this a must-buy for any retro gaming fan.

Pictured Above: The voluptuous and ridiculously proportioned "Sorceress" character class. The beautiful hand-drawn visuals make this game a rarity amongst today's AAA blockbusters that focus on pushing polygon counts, facial realism and bigger explosions with better particle effects.

Pictured Above: The voluptuous and ridiculously proportioned “Sorceress” character class. The beautiful hand-drawn visuals make this game a rare stand-out title amongst today’s AAA blockbusters that focus on pushing polygon counts for realistic facial expressions, bigger explosions and better particle effects.