Late Night Consoling

It's a big one tonight!
  • PlayStation Network launched in North America


    Earlier today in our Unpacking the PS3 feature, we reported that while Sony's PlayStation Network and PlayStation Store had already been active in Japan, they had not yet gone live in North America. Now, just hours later, we can report that both services are up and running in other parts of the world. If you reside in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, or Taiwan, and you are one of the few to currently own a PS3, you may now register a PlayStation Network account. This will allow you to play online games as well as make downloads and purchases from the PlayStation Store. Subscription to the service is free.

    Currently, the PlayStation Store is stocked with the following items:

    Demos (free):
    - Blast Factor
    - Formula One Championship Edition
    - NBA 07
    - Resistance: Fall of Man
    - MotorStorm
    - Cash Guns Chaos
    Downloadable games (prices current for United States):
    - Blast Factor ($7.99)
    - Cash Guns Chaos ($9.99)

    There are also numerous trailers for games such as David Jaffe's upcoming title Calling All Cars (PS3), Incognito's Warhawk (PS3), Factor 5's Lair (PS3), and others, as well as several trailers for films available on Blu-ray Disc.

    Unlike Microsoft's Microsoft Points system for Xbox Live Marketplace and Nintendo's upcoming Wii Points system for its Virtual Console, Sony's online store simply represents purchases in terms of local currency. Money used to buy games can be added to a virtual wallet at any time, including right at the time of purchase.

    There are currently no sections of the store dedicated to microtransactions or any type of downloadable in-game content, but those are sure to come in the near future.

  • Halo 3 multiplayer beta in '07, new Halo 2 maps coming

    [xbox] [xbox360]

    Undoubtedly living up to any expectations fans may have had after being promised new Halo 3 news this week, developer Bungie Studios and parent company Microsoft announced today that an open beta of the upcoming Xbox 360 shooter will be released in spring 2007.

    For the many gamers still playing Halo 2 via Xbox Live, there will also be new multiplayer maps available for download in spring 2007. These maps will be available only to those playing Halo 2 with the backwards compatibility feature of the Xbox 360.

    Fans of both football and Halo can look forward to December 4, as during ESPN's Monday Night Football on that date a CG Halo 3 ad featuring "a unique and compelling look at Master Chief" will be broadcast. Today's announcement notes that the ad will run "one time only" (read: will be on YouTube within minutes) but will also be downloadable through the Xbox Live Marketplace. On its own official site, Bungie has posted an explanation regarding the decision to go with a CG ad rather than one featuring gameplay footage. "We all agreed that a cooler thing to do would be to move as far away from gameplay-style footage as possible, and make something more movie-like," reads the post. "Let our fans see what the Halo universe looks like in a photo-realistic fashion."

    Microsoft also released a single screenshot from Halo 3 (prior Halo 3 screenshots can be found here) containing an in-game image of Master Chief.

  • PlayStation 3 lacks upscaler for 1080i


    With numerous display standards falling under the high definition umbrella--mainly 720p, 1080i, and 1080p--many gamers have expressed confusion as to which is the most appropriate for their games. Now, it seems that with certain HD PS3 games on certain HD television sets, there might not be the option for HD at all. Earlier today, posters at the NeoGAF forums, among other internet gaming hangouts, realized that PlayStation 3 does not seem to have an internal mechanism for upscaling 720p to 1080i. Meanwhile, many 1080i-capable HDTVs also lack such an upscaler. This means that a 720p-only PS3 game simply will not sync with a non-upscaling 1080i HDTV, forcing users to play the game in 480p enhanced definition or 480i standard definition.

    For reference, all PS3 games support 720p, while support for 1080i and 1080p is optional. In the NeoGAF thread, a developer from Insomniac Games, which produced the 720p-only Resistance: Fall of Man, stated that the problem is "not a software issue," implying that it is the hardware that lacks an upscaler. By contrast, Microsoft's Xbox 360 will upscale 720p games to 1080i for TVs that require it.

    For users with a standard or enhanced definition television, PS3 games should pose no problem, even if they will not be displayed in full resolution. Though apparently lacking an upscaler, the machine does have a functional downscaler.

    Shacknews cannot confirm these reports firsthand, lacking a 1080i-only TV with which to test a 720p claim, but multiple firsthand accounts along with the suggestive developer comment point to this one being true. Hopefully the company issues a software update remedying the situation.

    Sony Computer Entertainment America had not reponded to requests for comments at time of publishing.

  • Sid Meier's Pirates! comes to PSP (insert pirate joke here)


    In 2004, Sid Meier's studio Firaxis released Sid Meier's Pirates! for PC, reimagining the classic PC title Sid Meier's Pirates! first designed by gaming legend Sid Meier in 1987. This was followed up by Sid Meier's Pirates! for Xbox, a port of the 2004 version of Sid Meier's Pirates! for PC. Now, Firaxis and publisher 2K Games have announced their intention to take Sid Meier's Pirates! to yet another platform with Sid Meier's Pirates! for PSP. "Sid Meier’s Pirates! is already a proven success," said 2K president Christoph Hartmann. "The universal appeal and compelling gameplay in [Sid Meier's] Pirates! makes it a perfect match for the PSP system." Sid Meier's Pirates! designer Sid Meier added, "[Sid Meier's] Pirates! for the PSP system allows players to shape the heroic life of a pirate while embracing the pirate’s way of life – always on the go!"

    2K plans to release Firaxis' Sid Meier's Pirates! for PSP in January 2007.

  • Capcom delves into alternate reality for Lost Planet


    Following Halo 2's incredibly well publicized "I Love Bees" promotion, so-called "alternate reality games" became all the rage in video game marketing. The craze has died down a bit since then, but new ARGs still pop up from time to time. Case in point: this seemingly innocuous corporate website for a company called NeoVenus Construction, which purports to deal in space travel and extraterrestrial colonization and terraforming. A poster on the NeoGAF found the site by following a URL flashed for just a couple of frames in a trailer for Capcom's upcoming Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (X360). A Whois search on the domain confirms that it is owned by Capcom.

    The site undoubtedly goes deeper than its easily accessible product and services description pages and job postings, as some pages contain fields for a username and password. Internet detectives, go for it.

    Capcom plans to release Lost Planet in January 2007.

  • The Wii component cable saga continues


    It is anyone's guess as to why component cables have always been such an elusive item when it comes to Nintendo home consoles, but it looks like the Big N is finally starting to understand that gamers just plain prefer sending their moving pictures through cables that separate a video signal into one luminance channel and two chrominance channels. Also, they enable progressive scan, which is a plus.

    Anyway, if you feel the completely understandable need to have component video all ready for when you pick up your system this Sunday, Nintendo is currently offering them for sale via its online store or by phone, with the option for one-day shipping. The store states that the cables are already backordered, but Shacker mikefr24, who placed an order earlier today, was told by a Nintendo representative that the website is out of sync with actual inventory and that Nintendo has enough stock "to cover ever Wii on launch day." Of course, if you plan on ordering them yourself, it wouldn't hurt to call and confirm.

  • Superman leaps to Xbox Live


    A demo of the Xbox 360 version of EA Tiburon's Superman Returns: The Videogame was released today via Xbox Live Marketplace. The free download weighs in at 905MB and has a sample of the single-player game, which ships next week. Interestingly, only paid Xbox Live Gold members currently have access to the demo, while Xbox Live Silver members will have to wait until November 22, after the game has been released.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Pick up an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive? UNEASYsilence shows you how you can get it working with your PC.

Misc. Media/Previews


We delved into the PS3 hardware and interface in Unpacking the PS3.

Screenshots: Tales of Destiny (PS2, also PS1).


Screenshots: Halo 3 (X360) Master Chief shot.


Artwork: Red Steel concept artwork.

Screenshots: Red Steel (Wii).

Movies: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (Wii, also NDS) launch trailer.


Screenshots: Gyukaten Saiban (aka Phoenix Wright) 4 (NDS). Tales of the Tempest (NDS).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop for the Atari Lynx. "Well animated 2D side-scroller where you bust bums, breakdancers, well-endowed black women and hippies who set themselves on fire. Eventually you confront the crime lord "Mr. Big." Sadly, I couldn't make this up even if I tried..." (submitted by volitionism)

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