Inside Pulse 12

Playstation Network/Firmware Update Wrap-Up for June 29th, 2010

Last week seems like it was so long ago.

Way back then, I was simultaneously bitching and praising the fact that the PSN update for that week sucked. There was just nothing of note at all, to the point where I actually broke out The Brave Little Toaster to express how bad it sucked. I figured this week would be better, just by default.

Boy, was that an understatement. We have a LOT to report, including the debut of Sony’s paid membership programme, Playstation Plus.

The first thing anyone’s going to have to do before logging into the PSN this week is load up a new firmware update, this one to 1.40. It’s 100% mandatory, but at least heavy PS3 users will get something out of this. For me, personally, the biggest deal is the ability to upload videos to hosting sites like Youtube… or it WOULD be, if the system wasn’t so bloody finicky about it. The first restriction is that anything grabbed before the 3.40 firmware update can’t be used with this system. That knocks out all of my previous videos from MLB ’10 The Show, but even after making a new one for testing purposes, I couldn’t upload it, ostensibly because it was copyrighted content. Therefore, I really can’t use this “new” feature for anything worth anything. That’s fine, because it still leaves me with plan B: transfer any videos I want to upload to a thumb drive and upload them to Youtube through any of my computers. There are too many restrictions for this to work well.

There’s also heavier Facebook and Picasa integration for those that care about that kind of thing. Photos that you have on your PS3 can be uploaded to any of those two sites. I was able to test it with a couple of snapshots I took while working on my review of 3D Dot Game Heroes, and it worked surprisingly well; logging in is quick (so long as you’re using a USB keyboard, at least), and the upload process was painless. It created a new album for me at my request, who’s evidence is viewable in this screenshot. There’s also an option to import photos, probably through either a camera via the data cable or via a USB drive (I don’t own a digital camera that can test this with; my “camera” is my iPhone, and they’re too cool to allow people to load their photos from their phones painlessly. Also, their camera sucks, but that’s here nor there). This works well, though I question how many people this is going to work well for; most people that would upload photos have easier systems via their computers. This would be great for me if every game allowed you to take screenshots the way 3D Dot Game Heroes does. If I could find out a way to just take a screenshot of whatever’s on my TV without having to buy expensive hardware (ie, a TV Capture Card for my desktop), I would never be beholden to PR assets ever again.

One more minor change is that they now allow you to compare, via friends lists, trophies that you or your friends have. It’s very similar to how the 360’s gamerscore system works; call up their trophy list, and after a sync operation, it compares your level to theirs as well as showing how you stack up. It’s minor, but it’s good for trophy whores. There’s a more detailed list of what this update carries at IGN, though Greg Miller wrote his piece more like a creepy Sony evangelist than an actual journalist. Don’t worry, I’m not done with IGN yet.

This brings us to Playstation Plus. On the surface, it’s a great subscription, more for what it doesn’t do (force you to subscribe in order to play games online, something I’ve been extremely critical of Microsoft on) than for what it does. I don’t know if this is just Sony trying to wow us onto the service during the first week, but there’s a lot to like. For one, it allows free game downloads, including of games like WipeOut HD (normally $20, this time free) and PS one game Rally Cross (normally $6.99), as well as other freebies such as avatars and themes, and discounts on other games as well. As I’m about to get into, there’s a LONG list of games that are discounted for Playstation Plus subscribers, as well as a 60 minute trial of InFAMOUS that lets you pick up where you left off once the trial’s done. Also, for $50 for the year, you get three extra months, and in addition, there’s still Sony’s regular price reductions and sales to think about (though I figure the quality of those will dissipate over time now). As I’ve said, on the surface, it looks like a great deal.

However, there’s one thing that I had to find buried in an old post on Sony’s blog, and couldn’t find on the main page for the service on Sony’s website: any free game you download isn’t yours. It’s essentially a rental. Let’s say you buy the service for three months, download WipeOut HD, and everything is grand. Three months later, you decide it was fun, but you’re not going to re-up the service. Guess what: WipeOut HD is no longer available to play; you either have to sign up for Plus again, or buy the game. Hope you didn’t buy the $10 Fury DLC pack, because if you did, it’s now useless.

Sony needs to stop calling these “free” games. They’re rentals, and it gives me worries that it’s going to lock customers into the service to “keep” their games. It’s somewhat similar to Gametap when Gametap didn’t suck, but the language needs to be made clearer, both when purchasing the service and in Sony’s documents. As it is, this is disingenuous at best.

With that said, while it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be, Playstation Plus is definitely a preferable service than Xbox LIVE Gold. LIVE Gold isn’t a good service because of what it gives, it’s a necessary service for most because Silver actively takes things away; not only do you not get sales and other perks, but you can’t play online at all, which renders some purchases either crippled (like Snoopy’s Flying Ace, which heavily relies on competitive play) or flat-out useless (like those $15 Modern Warfare 2 maps everyone seems to love, and online-only games like Team Fortress 2). Though it’s a luxury, heavy Playstation users, so long as they read the Terms of Service and know what they’re getting into, can get into Plus and know they’re going to get their money’s worth. I would definitely avoid buying DLC for the free games, especially for those of you in Europe that got LittleBigPlanet.

Like with the 3.40 update, there’s an in-depth look over at IGN, but unlike that one, I don’t even consider it informative, because Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty have penned what is easily the worst piece of journalism I’ve seen outside of Dualshockers. Their piece isn’t a Q+A, it’s a bukkake session with these two numbnuts at the bottom of it. When I read that piece in my effort to actually learn something about Plus that I didn’t feel Sony was telling me, I seriously asked Alex if these were the same people that did All I Want for Xmas is a PSP. I expect this kind of thing at partisan websites or small Blogspot blogs, but to read this slobbery coming from IGN – by two people who are supposed to be professionals – is shameful and degrades us all. Furthermore, for all that money they seem to bring in, they can’t hire an editor? “I don’t have computer”? Really, Greg? Go to your fucking rooms, you two. Don’t come out until I get bored.

For the sake of space, I’m going to direct people interested in the Plus deals to scroll down to the bottom, below the cut. I’m going to spend the rest of this time talking about the other games available outside of the sevice.

The PS3 game available this week is a big one, in that it seems Sony’s going the way of Microsoft’s Games on Demand service: InFAMOUS, which recently achieved Greatest Hits status, is available for $30. Alex Lucard reviewed the game when it came out, and he liked it, which is impressive because he’s not normally a fan of sandbox games. I’d definitely say this is worth it, and the price is right around what Gamestop is charging, though anyone worried about space needs to be aware that the game is almost 7GB. Also, again, for Playstation Plus subscribers, bear in mind that there’s a free 60 minute trial of the game.

There’s one demo out, for Lego Harry Potter. I talked about this when it came out on the LIVE service in the beginning of the month, and admitted that though I didn’t really get anywhere, I wasn’t a Harry Potter fan and couldn’t really give the game a proper once-over because I didn’t really know what I was doing or looking at. Sure enough, Ars Technica loves the game, and who am I to argue? The demo is good to at least get a feel for the game before plunking down for a $50 purchase, and I’m sure fans of the license will have a better time than I did.

On the PSP, we have a whopping three new releases. The first one is Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip. The Hot Shots Golf series has always been spot-on in terms of quality, but the first Hot Shots Tennis was a pretty hit or miss affair on the PS2. Fans of Mario Tennis don’t really transfer over, and there were a lot of flaws. That said, early reviews have been positive so far, though I would take those sources with a large grain of salt. My gut feeling on this is to wait for a demo or some more reviews before biting the bullet on a purchase; the price is good, but I would need some guarantee that I’m going to be playing this more than a week.

Secondly, we have Midway Arcade Treasures Extended Play, a four year old compilation of Midway hits, the biggest of which are Mortal Kombat, Rampage and Sinistar, among others. Arcade compilations on the PSP sound like a good idea, but never execute well; my experiences with all of them have been that they run like shit, and this one’s no exception. You never want to hear “not 100% perfect” and “long loading times” when it comes to compliations, and this one hits both of those negative checkmarks. The game is $10, but I don’t think it’s worth it; get the PS2 compilation packs instead.

Last, it’s Bejewled 2 PSP for $10. Whoever hasn’t heard of Bejewled 2, raise your hand… OK, didn’t think so.

That’s it for what is an eventful week. New firmware, new service, new games… looks like my vacation is over. Until next time, this is Christopher Bowen, who is no longer allowed in the Video Game Journalists treehouse.

The full Playstation Store update is under the cut.


PlayStation Plus

inFAMOUS Full Game Trial (Free and Exclusive to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 6.88 GB

WipEout HD (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)

File size: 977 MB

Rally Cross (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 103 MB

Age of Zombies (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 21 MB

Warhawk Fallen Star Pack (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 66 MB

Collision Theme (Free and Exclusive to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 3.6 MB

Fat Princess: Pink Princess Avatar (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 100 KB

Fat Princess: Blue Princess Avatar (Free to PlayStation Plus subscribers)
File size: 100 KB

Fat Princess: Fat Roles Expansion Pack (PlayStation Plus price $3.99, original price $4.99)

Midway PlayStation Plus Sale
Gauntlet II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
Mortal Kombat II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
Rampage (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
Rampart (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)

TikGames/Creat Studios PlayStation Plus Sale
Cuboid (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
Cuboid Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)

Cuboid Bundle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
Cuboid Level Editor (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $3.99)
Hamsterball (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
Magic Orbz (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
Magic Orbz Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
Magic Orbz Jungle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
Magic Orbz Winter Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)

Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
Smash Cars (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99)
Smash Cars: Virus Run (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
Wakeboarding HD (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99)

Updates

FIFA Soccer 10: FIFA Ultimate Team – Sale (now $2.49, original price $4.99)
LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival – Permanent Price Change (now $7.49, original price $14.99)

Don’t Let Me Down (Slowly) by The Main Drag – Permanent Price Change (now $0.99, original price $1.99)
Super Stacker – Permanent Price Change (now $6.99, original price $9.99)
Trine – Permanent Price Change (now $9.99, original price $14.99)
Section 8 – Sale (now $14.99, original price $29.99)
LittleBigPlanet Saktue of Liberty Costume – Free (1 MB) **Limited Time Only

Downloadable Games

inFAMOUS ($29.99)

A massive explosion rips through six square blocks of Empire City, leveling everything and killing everyone in its path… everyone, except you! Feel what it’s like to be granted incredible powers… how you use them is up to you. The consequences of your actions will affect you, the citizens, and the city around you. You’ll develop and grow your powers, and eventually uncover the purpose of it all.
ESRB Rated T
File size: 6.9 GB

Game Demos (free)

Lego Harry Potter Demo
Connect the bricks from Privet Drive to the Triwizard Tournament and experience the magic and adventure of Harry Potter and his friends through the first four movies and books – LEGO style! Explore Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learn spells, brew potions, and relive the adventures of the beloved series mixed with the humor and customization unique to LEGO games!
ESRB Rated E10+
File size: 743 MB

Add-on Game Content

Fat Princess: Fat Roles ($4.99)
Ninjas, Pirates and Giants! OH MY!! Now you can add three new classes to Fat Princess and gain the upper hand against your enemy! Download the Fat Princess: Fat Roles Expansion pack today to add the new classes and expand your battle royale experience!
File size: 100 KB

PAIN: Sergeant Jay Character ($0.99)
Load up your PAIN launcher with some serious authority using the Sergeant Jay downloadable character! Jay finished his training at the top of his class back in the day, and he is always looking to enforce the full extent of the law on anyone who misbehaves. His old school outfit and hat show off an imposing stature, capable of withstanding plenty of PAIN. Download Sergeant Jay today and start putting others back in line!

File size: 100 KB

DJ Hero: Dance Party Mix Pack ($7.99)
Get ready for some of the hottest singles to ever hit the dance floor, remixed to really set your turntables on fire: “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga vs “Girls On Film” by Duran Duran, “Buttons” by Pussycat Dolls and “S.O.S.” by Rihanna. For all song credits please visit www.djhero.com.
File size: 41 MB

Super Street Fighter IV: Super Classic Costume Pack ($3.99)
Download the seventh pack of alternate costumes for Super Street Fighter IV! New costumes for Guile, Blanka, Dhalsim, Gen and Fei Long are included. Show everyone that legends never die, and never go out of fashion! Only available for use with Super Street Fighter IV.
File size: 100 KB

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11: Waialae CC ($9.99)

Take on Waialae’s beautiful championship course that is nestled between Hawaii’s spectacular Koolau mountain range and the stunning blue Pacific Ocean. Test your skills on this top rated course design that features a unique layout.
File size: 185 MB

Trinity Universe – Healing Idol Pack ($0.99)
“I want to give you a thank you gift for always cheering us on!
10 Life Pieces, 10 Blessing Nuts, and 10 Silver Ore!
Plus! I’ll even add 3 Anchors and 100,000G to that!
Please keep supporting me until I really become a super idol!
100,000 G, Life Piece x10, Blessing Nut x10, Silver Ore x10, Anchor x3

File size: 100 KB

Trinity Universe – Kanata’s Adventure Pack (free)
“Oh! 10 Cure Grass and 10 Relief Grass!
And this is… an EMT Set?!
That’s why I can’t stop going on adventures!
Cure Grass x10, Relief Grass x10, EMT Set x5
File size: 100 KB

Trinity Universe – Monsters Souls Pack (free)

“Beep… beep… beep!
I took these home after I mega-crushed some monsters!
300 Monster Souls and 300 Small Souls. I also got 100 Beast, Orc, Bird, Undead and Fairy Souls.
Isn’t Macaroon so awesome?!”
File size: 100 KB

Trinity Universe – Their Voices Pack ($1.99)
“All of our secret battle voices (including mine) will be unlocked!
Hm-hahahahaha! Grow intrigued by my heroic voice! Yes, I am the Dark Hero Luci…Gyahh!

Hey, Valkyrie! Don’t kick me during my explanation! “
File size: 100 KB

Trinity Universe – Universal Beauty Pack ($1.99)
“Hmhmhm. Hmhmhmhm.
I’ll give you “Friendship Power,” “Magic Protection,” “Mind’s Eye Lock,” “Luck Disabler,” “Vitality Surge,” “Fairy Supporter,” “Black Satellite,” and “Big Bang Nova”…I prepared a great collection of Meteorites, one unit per color. If you buy this, you will be the hero of this game.
Friendship Power, Magic Protection, Mind’s Eye Lock, Luck Disabler, Vitality Surge, Fairy Supporter, Black Satellite, Big Bang Nova”
File size: 100 KB

Guitar Hero
For all song credits please visit www.guitarhero.com.

  • “Fireflies” – Owl City ($1.99)
  • “Just Dance” – Lady Gaga ($1.99)
  • “This Love” – Maroon 5 ($1.99)
  • Pop Track Pack 01 ($5.49) – Downloadable Track Pack featuring “Fireflies” by Owl City, “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga, and “This Love” by Maroon 5. Please Note: Many songs are available both as singles and as part of a Track Pack, so please carefully consider your purchases before downloading.

File size: 37 – 42 MB (singles), 116 MB (track pack)

Rock Band
Build your Rock Band library by purchasing these song game tracks. For song credits, visit www.RockBand.com.

  • “Burn It To The Ground” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • “Figured You Out” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • “Never Again” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • “Photograph” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • “Rockstar” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • “This Afternoon” – Nickelback ($1.99)
  • Nickelback Pack 01 ($9.99) – Build your Rock Band library by purchasing this song game track pack: Nickelback Pack 01. This pack includes “Burn It To The Ground”, “Figured You Out”, “Never Again”, “Photograph”, “Rockstar”, and “This Afternoon” by Nickelback.

Rock Band Network

  • “American Dream” by Silverstein ($1.99)
  • “Battle Royale” by The Word Alive ($0.99)
  • “Kick Some Ass “Ëœ09″³ by Stroke 9 ($1.99)
  • “Sick” by Bif Naked ($1.99)
  • “Undone” by All That Remains ($1.99)

File size: 24 – 37 MB (singles), 196 MB (track pack)

PlayStation Home Add-Ons

PlayStation Home Starter Pack ($4.99)
The PlayStation Home Starter Pack has everything you need to get started in Home. Take advantage of this great value now!
File size: N/A

Avatars

Final Fight: Double Impact Poison Avatar ($0.49)
File size: 110 KB

Mega Man 10 Avatar ($0.49)
File size: 100 KB

Super Street Fighter IV Avatars (x5) ($0.49)
File size: 109 – 122 KB

Game Videos (free)

Backbreaker Trailer
File size: 19 MB (SD), 24 MB (HD)

Singularity: Cause And Affect Trailer
File size: 72 MB (HD), 126 MB (1080)

Voodoo Dice – Launch Trailer
File size: 49 MB (HD)

MAG Interdiction Mission Pack Trailer

File size: 53 MB (HD), 91 MB (1080)

ModNation Racers PSP Launch Trailer
File size: 69 MB (HD), 115 MB (1080)

PS3 Themes

Percy Jackson Theme (US Only) ($1.99)
File size: 5.63 MB

Trinity Universe – Theme 01: Kanata ($1.99)

File size: 4.18 MB

Trinity Universe – Theme 02: Tsubaki ($1.99)
File size: 6.35 MB

Trinity Universe – Theme 03: Rizelea ($1.99)
File size: 6.51 MB

Trinity Universe – Theme 04: Lucius ($1.99)
File size: 6.6 MB

ModNation Racers Dynamic Theme ($2.99)
File size: 3.11 MB

Terran Marines Premium Theme ($1.99)
File size: 8.41 MB

Terran 3020 Premium Theme ($1.99)
File size: 8.35 MB

Wallpapers (free)

Fat Princess Fat Roles Wallpaper
File size: 385 KB (HD)

PlayStation Store for PSP

Downloadable Games (also available from PS3 Storefront)

Midway Arcade Treasures Extended Play ($9.99)
Arcade Action Anywhere! Now you can play Midway’s classic arcade games anywhere. anytime.
ESRB Rated M

File size: 448 MB

Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip ($19.99)
“Take the fun and excitement of Tennis anywhere in a whole new Hot Shots Tennis adventure for your PSP system. Ace, volley and smash your way
through a brand new cast of Hot Shots characters. Travel around the globe unlocking exotic venues, courts and crazy Hot Shots equipment! Do you have the skills to take on the challenge?”
ESRB Rated E
File size: 1.05 GB

Bejeweled 2 PSP ($9.99)

For gem-matching fun on the run, play the best-selling Bejeweled 2 now available on your PSP (PlayStation Portable) system! Match sparkling gems three at a time to make them burst in showers of color and points. Match four or more to create flashy power gems that boost your score and your mood with brilliant cascades and combos. Every match is high-carat fun!
ESRB Rated E
File size: 57 MB

PSP Minis (also available from PS3 Storefront)

Mahjonng Solitaire – Minis ($2.99)
ESRB Rated E
File size: 8.84 MB

Arcade Darts – Minis ($3.99)

ESRB Rated E
File size: 23 MB

Stellar Attack – Minis ($4.49)
ESRB Rated E
File size: 34 MB

Egypt Engineering An Empire – Minis ($3.99)
ESRB Rated E

File size: 21 MB

Hello Flowerz! – Minis ($4.99)
ESRB Rated E
File size: 14 MB

Add-on Game Content (also available from PS3 Storefront)

LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival – Official Strategy Guide ($1.99)
Check out the official strategy guide for LocoRoco Midnight Carnival! Explore full detailed maps of all levels AND replay movies! Zoom-in on details and information! All pages include in-game music for your viewing pleasure! Refresh your memory on basic controls, as well as tips and techniques!

File size: 328 MB

LittleBigPlanet PSP – Fantasy Level Kit (free)
Help yourself to a luxuriant free background. With elegant icy mountains and a shimmering river you can add a fantastic fantasy feel to your level. NOTE: Manual Update required
File size: 1.13 MB

Bundles

LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival Bundle ($9.99)
Experience the newest LocoRoco adventure to it’s fullest in this incredible bundle that includes the full game of LocoRocoTM Midnight Carnival , additional levels with the Midnight Carnival BuiBui Level Pack, and a special Midnight Carnival Strategy Guide!

File size: 531 MB

Game Videos (free)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable Walkthrough Video #2
File size: 15 MB

ModNation Racers PSP Launch Trailer
File size: 11 MB

Tags:

  • AFN

    I would like to point out that while the games from Plus aren’t yours forever, the DLC is in fact yours to keep.

    COnsidering I got all the Cuboid, and Magic Orb DLC, I have already gone a long way to making back my investment.

    Also, Wipeout wont hold my interest that long anyway.

  • Yes, but my point was, what good is the DLC if the game that the DLC is for is no longer playable?

  • AFN

    Which I wasn’t addressing, I was informing fine folks that the DLC you get to keep if you own the game before hand.

  • Adam

    The free LBP for Euro users is yours to keep forever, so go crazy on the DLC!

  • Just talked with Sony. You actually don’t get to keep anything once you leave Playstation +. The only exception are the add-ons, but only as long as you keep the game on your hard drive. If you delete that, or switch PS3’s or even switch hard drives after you leave, it becomes null and void.

  • It should be noted that that doesn’t cover discounted games that were purchased with the Plus discount; those are yours to keep. It’s the free games that don’t count.

    So yeah, buy the half-price Gauntlet. But you won’t get to keep WipeOut, and that means the $10 you might spend on the Fury DLC is down the shitter. Also, any free DLC you pick up is also down the shitter, rendering Cuboid half a product.

    Lucard’s coming out with a feature on the service soon. From talking to him, it will not be a pretty write-up.

  • Adam

    Alex-The Euro PS3 blog states that premium content (eg the Killzone 2 DLc we got in Europe) is yours to keep forever: http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2010/06/23/playstation-plus-explained/

  • Adam – That’s Europe. That’s not North America, which we are discussing. Ours is all rental over here. Different region, different fine print, different legality, and different games. SCEA says “all rental.”

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