Game Junkie talks with the Radio Wammo Breakfast: PSN breach

This morning I got up really, really early to speak with Glenn “Wammo” Williams about the PlayStation Network breach and what it means for gamers and Sony.

I’d normally speak to Wammo on a Tuesday but being on holiday I was going to have a week off. Wammo’s powers of persuasion convinced me to have a chat with him this morning about the Sony PSN situation. It was a good call on his part.

Sony: credit card details may have been compromised

Here’s an update on the PlayStation Network intrusion, for those readers who can’t read it on Stuff when using their mobile devices.

Sony has brought in an outside security company to do a a “full and complete” investigation following the breach of its PlayStation Network.

Sony’s blog has a Question and Answer update on the PlayStation Network outage that has phone numbers to ring if you have concerns over compromised personal details. You can find it here. The number to call in New Zealand is (09) 415 2447.

VG247 reports that Sony, after learning of the intrusion, began to “enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by rebuilding our system” in order to provide consumers with “greater protection,” of personal information.

The firm’s investigation indicated that all PlayStation Network and Qriocity accounts “may have been affected” by the security breach and there is the “possibility” that all users’ information could have been compromised. In order to inform customers of said breach, it is sending out emails to all registered PSN users.

On its blog, Sony said: “We believe that an unauthorised person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state/province, zip or postal code), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password, login, password security answers, and handle/PSN online ID.”

VG247 says that so far Sony has not received any reports of customers’ personal information being used in a nefarious manner but advises users to monitor their credit card billing activity closely.

The only credit card details I had used on the PSN was a work-issue credit card when I played DC Universe Online, but I cancelled the account about three weeks ago. I’ll be keeping a close eye on events, though, but plan on changing my account password and other crucial details today, just to be safe.

Has anyone made steps to change their PSN account details on learning of the situation or contacted their bank over their credit card?

PlayStation Network outage

Here’s the post from today’s Game Junkie blog on Stuff, just in case you have trouble viewing the original on a mobile device (as one dear reader informed me).

Update:  Sony have released another statement about the breach and said that personal information such your identity, date of birth and credit card information may indeed be compromised, and you should be on the look out for any form of identity theft. You can read the full release here (thanks to VG247)

PlayStation Network compromised

Anyone trying to connect to the PlayStation Network over the Easter break would have had a bit of trouble. It’s been offline for the past five days due to an “external intrusion”.

Just in time for the Easter long weekend, the PlayStation Network struck problems late last week, and on April 21, Patrick Seybold, Sony’s senior director of corporate communications and social media, announced on its official blog that “While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running. Thank you very much for your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Please stay tuned to this space for more details, and we’ll update you again as soon as we can.”

Sony decided to take the network offline and rebuild it rather than compromise its security. PlayStation users trying to log in to the network were confronted with a 80710A06 error. Games were still able to update if necessary, though.

Personally, I can see where they are coming from given that credit card details and the like are stored on the network’s servers. This morning, Ars Technica reported that Satoshi Fukuoka, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo, spoke with PCWorld and claimed the company “has not yet determined if the personal information or credit card numbers of users have been compromised, but that Sony would promptly inform users if it found that was the case.”

At 9.15 last night, when I tried to log on, I got a “PlayStation Network is undergoing maintenance” message. I haven’t tried this morning but clearly this is a major problem for Sony.

For you PlayStation 3 owners out there, has the length of the network outage dented your faith in the robustness of the Japanese gaming company’s PlayStation Network or do you think Sony has done the right thing by shutting down the network and rebuilding it from the ground up?

In other news, Nintendo has announced that its new console, codenamed Project Cafe, will be playable at this year’s E3 convention in Los Angeles in June, and be released in 2012. VG247 reports that one of the rumours doing the rounds is that the controller will have a touch screen.

Now that it has been confirmed, what are your thoughts – especially if there is a screen in the controller (if so, it’ll end the fight over the TV – just turn on the console and use the screen on the controller!).

Down and out? Sony's PlayStation Network has been out of action since late last week.

Portal 2: it pays to work together

Probably because I don’t have Portal 2 yet, I’m replaying Portal on my PC. I loved the original Portal when it came out in Valve’s Orange Box collection a few years ago. Until I buy a copy of Portal 2, I’m going to have to make do with the the original.

When you think about it, Portal was almost a “Thanks for buying our game collection so here’s this neat little extra to play around with” from Value but Portal has turned into one of Valve’s most loved games.

Here’s a trailer showing the co-operative mode in action – it’s funny and you’ll probably smile to yourself like I did.

I hope to get a review copy of the game soon but if I don’t will probably eventually buy the PlayStation 3 copy, as it not only comes with the PS3 version, naturally, but also a PC version that you can download off Valve’s Steam distribution service. Now that’s what I call value for money.

Oh, the trailers got a little bit of German in it: it’s the only decent one I could find on YouTube that was the full version and didn’t have lengthy advertising at the beginning. Enjoy.

Save game … What I’m playing right now

Crunch: the X-ray vision in Mortal Kombat in action.

Right, this is where I tell you what games I’m playing at the moment. I’ve got several sitting on my computer desk as I type this (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, Crysis 2, The Sims Medieval, Shift 2: Unleashed) but the two that have captured my attention for the past week are Mortal Kombat and the Gears of War 3 beta.

More on GOW3 beta later, but let’s talk about Mortal Kombat: up until now I’ve never had a love affair with Mortal Kombat. I’ve never played the series from the very beginning so don’t have any feelings invested in it. I can’t say “Oh, No. 3 in the series kicked the butt of the No. 4 easily” because, well, I didn’t play either No. 3 or No. 4.

But I’ve played the new Mortal Kombat – and I can sum it up in one word: Wow. I’m hooked.

Appealing to the inner animal in me

I’m slowly making my way through the Story Mode, where you start out as the cocky actor Johnny Cage, and while I’m still feeling my way around the controls (I can definitely see why an arcade stick would really benefit here), the action is smooth and the gameplay addictive. Mortal Kombat, it seems, appeals to the animal in me. The inner warrior – even when an opponent drives a blade through my left thigh and I see it in glorious X-ray vision. I shall be playing more Mortal Kombat this week.

News flash: I suck at Gears of War online

Right, let’s talk about the GOW3 beta which is now open for people who bought the Epic Edition of Bulletstorm. I had early access to the beta through the Friends and Family stage last week and while I hadn’t played an Gears for a good two years, one thing remained constant: I still suck at Gears of War multiplayer.

It took a round (and several deaths) to reacquaint myself with what each button on the controller did and how to make sure I got the chainsaw attached to my lancer working when up close to a Locust enemy. By about the third game, though, it all felt as familiar as waking up and having a homemade latte for breakfast.

The multiplayer beta has three main game types: Team Deathmatch (where you have to eliminate all members of the opposing team. Each team has limited respawns); Capture the Leader (where you have to capture and hold the opposing team’s leader while protecting your own); and King of the Hill (where you have to capture and hold objectives to score enough points to win the round). Weapons and character skins that you unlock during the beta testing will be available to use in the full version of Gears of War 3.

Four maps to get killed blown up in

The four maps in the beta offer both plenty of cover and multiple opportunities to ambush foes but you have to be on your toes so you don’t get flanked from the sides: Old Town is a small map with a medieval theme (chickens wander about) where tight confines, barrels and low walls provide perfect cover for snipers; Trenches takes place in the dusty Locust badlands, with swirling dust clouds that hamper your vision; Checkout takes place in the tight confines of a supermarket-themed environment dotted with dusty shelves and cash registers; and Thrashball is an American-football-themed map that has an electronic Jumbotron that can drop down on to the playing arena without warning, squashing anyone under it.

During the Friends and Family stage games were sparsely populated with “real” people so games were bolstered with ”bots” – computer-controlled characters – and it often took a while to find suitable games to join. In some matches, only two out of 10 players were ”real” given that there were only three people in our region playing the game.

Game stats slowly improving

After 13 matches, my game stats were slowly improving – as were my skills. At the time of writing, I’d made 101 kills (but been killed 143 times), made 26 executions (brutal finishing moves on a downed enemy), helped my teammates 124 times to despatch a foe, healed squad-mates several times and secured a Most Valuable Player accolade twice. While the AI (artificial intelligence) of the bots (both teammates and enemies) is pretty competent, every now and then it goes a little wonky: I’m sure one bot team mate spent the entirety of one round taking cover behind a sandbag barrier.

Gears of War 3’s multiplayer is brutal, bloody (with spurting blood and squashed heads) and fast-paced – everything that fans of the series will love. Played with friends it’s a helluva lot of fun. The chainsaw bayonet finishing move is as bloody as I remember it and the retro lancer’s finishing move – where you charge your opponent and hoist them into the air – has to be seen to be believed.

On April 26, people who pre-ordered Gears of War 3 from EB Games (why restrict participation to just those who plan to get the game from one game store?) will be able to join the beta, which runs until May 15.

If you’re playing you might see me online sometime this week (My Gamertag is Game junkieNZ)

Gotcha: two female Gears take down a Locust on the Trenches map of the Gears of War 3 beta.

Battlefield 3: Fault line game play footage

EA has released 12 minutes of game play for the upcoming game, Battlefield 3.

I haven’t timed it precisely, so I’m assuming it is, indeed, 12-minutes long, and I think the information at the beginning says it was pre-alpha footage. EA says the footage reveals never been seen before content. I guess you’ll have to watch it to see if it does. There’s also some bad words near the beginning, so cover your kids’ ears if they’re nearby unless you want them expanding their vocabulary.

Battlefield 3 is due out later this year sometime and, while not directly related to Battlefield 3, I really enjoyed Battlefield Bad Company 2.  I thought you’d like to know that somehow.

Radio Wammo segment: Crysis 2 review

Here’s the latest Radio Wammo segment where I talk about Crysis 2 on the console with Glen “Wammo” Williams. I quite like the game – it’s very pretty to look at – but it just becomes a little too formulaic and by the number for my liking (I’d played more since this review was recorded so have changed my view point a little. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, huh?) . The sound is a little nasally for my liking – but that’s probably due to my, well, very nasally voice when it’s recorded (and not Wammo’s professional sound equipment)  and the fact that I’m talking into a headset mic. Hope it doesn’t distract you too much.

Blast from the past: part deux

Here’s the second video I was talking with Guerrilla’s Herman Hulst talking about Killzone 3 at last year’s E3 conference. It was filmed during a special presentation at the Sony Europe room upstairs in the LA Convention Centre. I quite like Killzone 3 and although it didn’t invent the wheel as far as first-person shooters it was an improvement on Killzone 2 and is easily one of the best shooters on PS3.

Blast from the Past: E3 2010 videos

It’s a wet day at home today so I’ve been trawling through some of the video stored on my home PC and found some clips from last year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles that I thought I’d share with you all. The first one here is at the Microsoft Xbox Kinect party held in downtown LA during the week of E3. Here you can see my having a go with Kinect Sports. It was taken using a Flip Mino HD camera and it turned out pretty well. I’ll post another video soon of Guerilla’s Herman Hulst talking about Killzone 3, during a presentation at Sony’s upstairs booth at the LA Convention Centre.

Welcome to GamejunkieNZ 2.0

Hi there. Thanks for visiting. If you’ve come here after reading my articles on Fairfax NZ’s, welcome back. If you’re a new comer, welcome. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a hot drink and stay a while.

This blog, while in its infancy at the moment, is designed to work separately to my GamejunkieNZ blog on Stuff: it’s for all the topics, articles and content that I don’t have space for in our hardcopy publication or my other blog. I also want it to be edgier than my Stuff blog.

It’s an outlet for my opinions, thoughts and ramblings on the state of the game industry and the people working in it. It will change and evolve over time. It’s a work in progress.
You’ll see there are no images or even articles at the moment: they will appear over the coming days. So, come back and see what’s happening.

At the moment (obviously not right at this precise moment) I’m taking part in the “Family and Friends” beta period for Gears of War 3.

It’s fun – and that’s coming from a gamer who hasn’t played Gears for two years – but frustrating at the same time: very few people are on the servers at the moment. There were only two real, live people in my region playing this morning. Only something like 1000 worldwide, so most of the games – when you finally connect to the servers – are populated by bots.

However, things will no doubt change dramatically when owners of the Epic Edition of Bulletstorm come on board on April 18 and then people who have pre-ordered GOW3 are able to join in on April 25. Hopefully matches won’t be so hard to find then.

Anyone else playing the beta at the moment or planning on it? What are your thoughts so far: are Epic onto a winner or is it more of the same in your eyes?
Happy gaming.