Real Boxing Punches Its Way Onto PlayStation’s Handheld

Developer Vivid Games are bringing their iOS and Android prize fighter – Real Boxing – to PlayStation Vita, it has been announced.

The boxing simulator, which allows you to create a player and train them from amateur to professional standard, will include ranked multiplayer and online tournaments, as well as a single player mode, when it hits the PlayStation Store on August 28th, costing £7.99.

The inclusion of a Rocky-esque training montage featuring 80’s pop-rock is currently unknown.

Real Boxing Punches Its Way Onto PlayStation’s Handheld

GAME & Insert Coin Team Up For Assassins Creed 4 Launch Day Booty

Customers who pre-order and then purchase Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed release – Black Flag – at selected GAME stores are to receive a rather special freebie.

The high street retailer are teaming up with the creative chaps over at Insert Coin clothing to offer up an exclusive AC4 branded hoodie to day-one swashbucklers.

Insert Coin – who recently provided GAME staff nationwide with swanky new uniforms – already sell a wide range of video game related merchandise, including an extremely desirable selection of Assassin’s Creed related garments, such as hooded tops and dressing gowns.

It appears a visit to one of eight GAME & Ubisoft “lock in” events is the only way to get your hands on their latest design though, and numbers are likely to be strictly limited.

On Thursday, August 1st, Ubisoft reps will be in store at the Bolton, Walsall, Camden and St Austell branches of GAME, and on Friday 2nd, it’ll be the turn of gamers in Liverpool, Northfield, Norwich and Portsmouth.

The events are not only showcasing Assassin’s Creed either – those in attendance will also get to play the stunning Watch_Dogs, and it’s been confirmed both games will be playable “using a PS4 controller”.

For full details about the offer, please contact your GAME store of choice.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is due out on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U this coming November 1st, with PC and next-generation releases to follow accordingly.

GAME & Insert Coin Team Up For Assassins Creed 4 Launch Day Booty

Review: Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time (PS3, Vita)

Last generation, before kids only played the latest Call Of Duty & FIFA releases, Sony were riding high with a host of well-loved, child friendly characters & mascots to their name – remember the loud and proud Crash Bandicoot or pre-Skylanders Spyro The Dragon?

What about this guy, Sly Cooper?

Sneaking his way onto PlayStation 3 and Vita some 10 years after his original PS2 adventure, the crafty raccoon is back for a fourth instalment – Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time.

The pages of the Cooper Clan’s ancient manuscript – the Thievius Raccoonus – have begun to mysteriously disappear, and it’s up to Sly to save his family legacy from being destroyed forever – all with a little help from lifelong friends and series stalwarts Bentley & Murray of course.

(For the uninformed, Bentley and Murray are a Turtle, and a Hippopotamus… obviously.)

The time-traveling adventure, which sees our heroes explore regions in time ranging from classical Japan to the American Wild West, is, like its predecessors, a predominantly third person title – set apart with some quirky new and unusual gameplay features.

On the most part these are short mini-games – such as bypassing computer security with gadget guru Bentley, or even dressing up muscle clad Murray as a Geisha girl.

The change in gameplay mechanics every so often can act as a fun little distraction to break up the monotony of Sly’s otherwise point-to-point platforming, but unfortunately, these are few-and-far-between. Fans of the series may disagree, but in my opinion, the game’s pacing can suffer somewhat because of this, with certain stages feeling stale and unexciting – seemingly drawn out far beyond their need.

It’s worth pointing out at this stage, however, that if – like me – you’re a fan of Bentley’s hacks, you can grab the standalone PSN title “Bentley’s Hack Pack” from the PlayStation Store for a further 300 challenges. The title is only £1.59 and – like Thieves In Time – is cross-buy, meaning one purchase will unlock both the PS3 and PlayStation Vita versions.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vita port of Thieves In Time, whilst included free, is, unfortunately, lacking: Fiddly touch screen implementation replacing the DualShock 3’s trigger buttons, and a reduced frame rate making combat a chore, mean the home console version the smart choice.
Still, it’s a nice bonus for gamers with both PlayStation platforms, should you really need to continue your latest heist whilst on the tube of a morning, and there’s a few neat AR features using the handheld’s camera, if that’s your thing.

Again looking at the big screen title – itself a bargain at only £24.99 – there’s no shortage of content either; Developer Sanzaru Games – who picked up the franchise after original creators Sucker Punch moved their focus onto the far more gritty Infamous series – have packed each of the beautifully styled comic-book-esque environments to the rafters with collectable treasures and trinkets to find should you wish to unlock all the game’s secrets.

Sly’s 10-15 hour main campaign (depending on your competency) is a by-the-books platformer which gamers young and old alike will be able to enjoy, and thankfully, with just so much to do, the game’s controls are easy to pick up, leading to both character and camera movement which, on the PS3 at least, is fluid and responsive, allowing you to roam the visually stunning open environments with ease.

Early on, there’s a fair amount of variety in these surroundings too, although by about half way through my playtest, there was an almost constant sense of deja vu – and whilst Sly will meet new ancestors and gain new abilities stage-by-stage, these can feel rather underutilised and do very little to significantly affect gameplay in the long run.

Another problem is the game’s difficulty, in particular with regards to enemy AI; As with the original trilogy, and many games of it’s time, the enemy will stick to a set routine, making working through levels a relative breeze. Good. Then you get to the “boss” stages. Bad. You see, I’d like to think i’m fairly good at video games, or at the very least, average, and yet Thieves In Time had me stumped on multiple occasions with uncharacteristically complicated areas.

Had I not been playing for review, these infuriating difficulty spikes would have seen Sly ending up on the shelf. In short, Sanzaru Games are certainly breaking no new ground, but Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time is a fantastic value title rooted in solid gameplay. If you’re after a lengthy, classical platforming adventure, with both age appropriate yet snappy humour and bright visuals matched only by Ubisoft’s recent Rayman outings, you shan’t go far wrong dropping it into your swag bag.

Review: Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time (PS3, Vita)

Cult Kids TV Show Knightmare To Return

A one-off special episode of the early 1990’s children’s favourite is being shown as part of YouTube’s upcoming Geek Week – a celebration of all things Geek, from comic books to video games.

The episode, produced by original series creator Tim Childs, is set to feature comedian Isy Suttie, and, perhaps most excitingly, will see Hugo Myatt return as the dungeon master himself, Treguard.

Joining them against the blue-screen backdrop will be a host of YouTube stars, including Dan Howell and Phil Lester.

YouTube’s Geek Week will run August 4-10th.

Cult Kids TV Show Knightmare To Return

Sony’s Big Giveaway: One Year With PlayStation’s Instant Game Collection

About a year ago, as Sony reimagined PlayStation Plus for its second anniversary, I wrote an article about the subscription model, and its monetary value. Twelve months on from the relaunch, I’ve decided once again to look at the service, round up the figures, and throw my two-penneth into the pot.

The evolution of PlayStation Plus from a somewhat niche product running alongside the PS3 – acting as little more, in my opinion, than a promotional tool – to what is now a fully-fledged PlayStation experience, has been more than welcome.

Of course, the arrival of what Sony calls its “Instant Game Collection” has been the biggest change, bringing top-rated AAA titles to the service and making PlayStation Plus now almost unrecognisable in terms of content from its humble beginnings. The other noticeable difference implemented this year, is the inclusion of PlayStation Vita titles, and the subsequent removal of minis and Classics, from the monthly updates.

At the time of writing, anyone with a Plus subscription can access 15 games completely free of charge, which at their current PlayStation Store retail prices would cost well in excess of £300.

There’s 10 games, amounting to £250.40 of content for PlayStation 3 gamers alone, and whilst we have to account for the PSN’s less than favourable pricing system against physical media, you’ve got to admit that’s a ridiculous amount of money. More than half a PlayStation 4 in fact.

Vita players get a modest 5 titles, totaling £81.95 worth of downloads, although again, this saving could net you another two years of PlayStation Plus (or one, and that Vita Memory card you’ll be requiring) making the service pay for itself instantly.

Sony advertise PlayStation Plus with the catchy strapline of “pay less, play more”, and looking at the figures above you’d be hard pressed to argue. £39.99 for a year of a service which provides top quality games such as Battlefield 3, Uncharted: Golden Abyss & Xcom: Enemy Unknown each month is certainly making me want to play more.

Being the massive geek I am, I’ve looked at all the games made available for free to subscribers during the first year of PlayStation Plus’ Instant Game Collection, and found some simply mind boggling results.

Why I’m giving you these figures and not Sony is beyond me.

For clarity: To the best of my knowledge, the following quoted figures include all PS3, PlayStation Vita & native PSN releases within the UK, but exclude PSP, PSOne Classics, PS2 Classics, Minis & PS Mobile titles. Also excluded are any other items, such as themes, avatars and DLC. Cross Buy titles are counted once, and all prices are correct as of July 10th, 2013.)

Currently, the PlayStation 3 is where Plus subscribers will find the biggest savings: the platform’s large games back catalogue and install base of some 70 million (shipped units, 2011) make the home console a brilliant pedestal for Sony’s service. More recently the push to get their handheld – the PlayStation Vita – into the hearts and minds of this generation’s mobile gamers has been a priority.

In the last 12 months, Vita owners have been able to enjoy 21 releases, with a PSN retail price of £260.09.

To put that into perspective – the amount you’ve saved on games in the first twelve months of its lifecycle has paid for the console itself.
On launch day, I hurried down to my local, ill-fated GameStation and spent £270 on a PlayStation Vita 3G. As with most new consoles, my Vita had no games out of the box, resulting in a further £40 being spent on the rather exquisite Golden Abyss & Rayman Origins. A solid investment, I thought. That £40 would have given me these two games, and 20 more over the year, had I bought a Plus subscription. Crikey.

More astonishing still, however, are the figures related to PlayStation 3 games, with 74 releases worth a staggering £1,121.16. Seventy-four marvelous PS3 titles for the price of one new release. And, even if you only play half of them you’ve paid little more than a pound per game.
Even LoveFilm can’t rent you titles for that price.
Of course, there’re a number of PlayStation Plus subscribers with both Sony platforms at their disposal. These guys have, potentially, paid a mere 41 pence each for their 96 games.

Over both platforms, an average PSN retail price of just over £14 shows these freebies aren’t just filler either, with a good mix of big-budget titles such as those I mentioned earlier, right down to the already stupidly cheap indie gems such as Thomas Was Alone and Velocity Ultra.
All in all, my ridiculous spreadsheet of games and their prices tells me that there have been been gratis downloads to the value of £1,347.29 since last July. At £39.99, that’s the cost for another 33 years of PlayStation Plus.

Moving into next-gen, and looking towards the PlayStation 4, Sony have already reported that whilst maintaining all the current benefits across PlayStation 3 and Vita, PS4 titles are to be included within the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection catalogue, and a PS+ special edition of Evolution Studios’ social racer #DriveClub will be available at launch, joined by one new title on rotation each month.

It has also been announced that much like Microsoft’s long standing Xbox Live service, a PlayStation Plus subscription will be essential to unlock some of the new console’s core features, such as online multiplayer.

As a former nay-sayer, I still have my doubts. Instant Game Collection is undoubtedly a triumph for both PlayStation and consumers but digital distribution isn’t without its drawbacks, and my personal preference for physical media plays a part, but again, there’s absolutely no denying those numbers.

I don’t even know where to start with regards to the plethora of discounts Plus affords each annum, but I think I’ll go “£80 down, £3,000 up” for my first two years of PlayStation 4.

What about you?

Sony’s Big Giveaway: One Year With PlayStation’s Instant Game Collection

US Chain Best Buy Reaches Xbox One Pre-Order Allocation

Following yesterday’s news that GameStop US have seemingly reached their day one allocation for the PlayStation 4, the retail giant Best Buy have now stopped their pre-orders – for Microsoft’s Xbox One.

Whilst Best Buy are still able to take orders on Sony’s system, and GameStop those for the next Xbox, this move clearly shows that allocation levels for both machines are running low.

So, with lots of eager gamers pre-ordering both machines early, others are undoubtedly going to be disappointed this Christmas.

US Chain Best Buy Reaches Xbox One Pre-Order Allocation