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Hands-on: Ratchet & Clank's online multiplayer

I competed against various members of SCEA, High Impact Games, and other members of the press today in Rachet & Clank: Size Matters' Infrastructure multiplayer mode. Having become comfortable with the controls in single-player certainly helped the experience quite a bit, as I was raking up the kills, quickly becoming number one in the leaderboard (that position was unfortunately lost over time). The online interface is easy enough, and seems unchanged from the multiplayer beta that I participated in months ago. However, there were a few glitches in the process: some games were simply impossible to join, unless it was through the game's Quick Game option. Also, typing messages in the chat room is quite a troublesome burden, simply because of the game's reliance on the PSP's default on-screen keyboard. I found it quite easy to accidentally disconnect from a room while chatting, so I opted out altogether.

The actual online gameplay was smooth, and surprisingly responsive. There wasn't any noticeable lag, and the graphics were on par with the impressive single-player graphics. The weapons are varied, as they are in the story mode, and can be upgraded through secret power-ups scattered throughout the level. However, the variety in weapons reveals that the game might not be too well-balanced, as certain weapons easily outclass others. One game ended in quite a bit of frustration, due to a camping sniper. While these kind of problems are common with online multiplayer games, it was surprising, and somewhat distressing to see.

Also, each game is limited to four players. After an hour of play time, I have to admit that this simply isn't enough to enjoy the multiplayer potential. Levels seem slightly too large for only four players, especially in objective-based modes, where you will only have one partner. Personally, I found the objectives of Iron Lombax mode to be unclear. It would've been helpful to have more guidance to the next objective, a la Unreal Tournament.

Ratchet & Clank's online multiplayer is not going to redefine online gaming. However, it is still an impressive effort, especially for a portable system. It's nice to see the developers include such a solid, but imperfect, experience ... and have it playable worldwide via Infrastructure. You'll be able to log-in and fight when the game ships next week. Expect a complete PSP Fanboy review soon. And don't forget to read past the cut to see all the multiplayer modes available in the game.

Continue reading Hands-on: Ratchet & Clank's online multiplayer

Galaxy's End: help make this RTS a reality

An avid PSP Fanboy reader, Joe, sent us in a great tip about this upcoming PSP RTS. It's called Galaxy's End, and will support not only Ad-Hoc multiplayer, but Infrastructure as well. The graphics look to impress, and the gameplay looks fast and fun. So what's the problem?

There's no publisher for this game. It comes from a new dev team called Tiki Games, and it seems publishers are wary of supporting an original IP from an untested team. However, this game looks like it has some awesome potential. Check out the trailer, after the cut, to see for yourself. What do you think, PSP Fanboy readers? Are you interested in this game?

Continue reading Galaxy's End: help make this RTS a reality

Homebrew Pong plays via the interwebs

This newly released homebrew program is both ambitious and underwhelming at the same time. It's Pong ... I'm sure you're familiar with it: you hit a ball with a paddle, and it goes back and forth. This decades-old game certainly isn't newsworthy. However, what is newsworthy is that it's online. Yes, Blackshark has somehow made an Infrastructure-enabled homebrew game. While Pong may not be the coolest game to play online, it's amazing to see such a development in the homebrew scene.

Of course, I haven't been able to get it to work online on my 3.03 OE-B PSP. Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

[Via DCEmu]

Test Drive Unlimited is un-limited on PSP

"God knows how they've done it, but they've done it. Melbourne House, that sage studio of Australian game development, has crammed just about all of the features of the Xbox 360 version onto Sony's handheld. What's more, while the graphics engine lacks the sophistication of the full-sized version, it still captures the lush palm forests, beach fronts and rolling hills of Oahu. The roads, all 1000-plus kilometres of them, are populated by plenty of traffic and the draw distance is mind-boggling. Truly, this is a faithful representation of the Unlimited world. Insane."

IGN's preview of Test Drive Unlimited on PSP is more than glowing. To think that the game's free-roaming, Infrastructure-enabled, racing game would work on the PSP is mind-blowing. Although IGN notes that the framerate suffers when there's a lot of cars, this is an impressive feat, and I can't wait to see more. Test Drive Unlimited races to the PSP on February 20th.

Test Drive Unlimited's Infrastructure multiplayer excites

Publishers have been slow to embrace Infrastructure multiplayer on the PSP. However, recent releases like Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Medal of Honor: Heroes have opened up the portable to truly exciting online worlds. Atari's upcoming Test Drive Unlimited will attempt to bring the console's massive open internet world over to the portable. IGN's Developer Diary (please take with a giant grain of salt) explains the team's ambitions: "You can race around the entire island in a single session without seeing a loading screen... Once you go online you'll be seeing other PSP players immediately in free-ride, no need to set up complicated sessions or looking for servers, we look after that for you."

If the development team can deliver on such an incredible premise, Test Drive Unlimited may be worth a look. The game will hit PSP in February.

MGS:PO interview confirms game's awesomeness

The fine folks at IGN have interviewed Ryan Payton, Associate Producer at Kojima Productions, to kick off their week-long hype-fest on the soon-to-be-released Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Just in case you weren't excited enough for this project, Mr. Payton reveals a few nice tidbits that will surely please any PSP owner.
  • "Single and multiplayer modes are totally integrated, thus prolonging the life of the campaign mode. Online is accessible from the campaign mode for good reason -- players bring one of their 1P Sneaking Units to the online arena."
  • "We have a number of Wi-Fi-enabled modes. First off is Game Sharing, allowing you to play MPO multiplayer with friends who don't own a copy of MPO." (Yes!!!)
  • "The official soundtrack is coming to Japan. It's a forty-four track, beast of a soundtrack. Norihiko Hibino, best known for his composition of the Snake Eater theme, is back with some really cool tracks for MPO."
Oh, and two more things:

IGN: Are there plans to port Portable Ops to the PS2, in the event that the game receives poor sales on the PSP?
Ryan: Absolutely not.

IGN: Will there be sequels if this proves to be the PSP's killer app?
Ryan: Absolutely. If the response to MPO is as good as we're expecting, you can look forward to new chapters in the Big Boss legacy on PSP. We still have many stories to tell about the early years of Metal Gear Solid -- I hope we can continue to do that on PSP.

::jaw drops::

Tell Capcom the obvious: add Infrastructure support to Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter Freedom is based on the PlayStation 2 game, Monster Hunter. The two share a great deal of similarities, like fantasy environments and dungeon hacking. But the PSP version of this Capcom adventure game is missing one key feature of the PlayStation 2 version: online play. Capcom has a survey available on their site, and it asks players the incredibly obvious: "What are your feelings regarding the inclusion or exclusion of true online multiplayer support for the next Monster Hunter Freedom?"

Hmm... do I want Infrastructure in my games? Hmm... I wonder... What says you?

[Via 1UP Boards]

PSP Fanboy hands-on: Ratchet & Clank

Did you successfully get into the Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters beta test? The packages have been going out to the lucky GAP members that were fast enough to get into this very exclusive group (only 2000 people were allowed to sign up!). I've been playing a few rounds online, and it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience so far. The graphics are smooth, and the controls are pretty solid. It's been very easy to jump into a game, and the network connection has been fantastic, with lag not noticeable at all.

Continue reading PSP Fanboy hands-on: Ratchet & Clank

PaRappa to feature downloadable music, but no new levels

PaRappa is one of those games PSP owners would love if the developers put just a little bit more effort into it. Many have questioned Sony's decision to simply make an updated port and put it on UMD, when a game like PaRappa would be an ideal candidate for PSone emulation. Siliconera reports that the game will offer something new for PSP owners: the ability to download new songs through Infrastructure mode. Strangely, the new songs will not affect the gameplay in any way: the levels and corresponding button presses will not change when you download these songs. Gyuh? Sounds strange. Hopefully, Sony's been hiding something from us. The game hits Japan on December 7th.

Siege SOCOM's new maps

A month ago, we showed you the graphical improvements of the upcoming Fireteam Bravo 2 over the original. The two games share many maps, but Fireteam Bravo 2 expectedly adds a slew of new multiplayer maps to the mix. The game features twelve maps in total, and IGN has secured screenshots and details about every single one of them. Getaway and Siege (pictured above) are my favorites, as they appear to provide the most dramatic backdrop for killing.

IGN editors fight to the death in Medal of Honor

Those jerks at IGN think they're all fancy, being allowed to play the upcoming PSP-exclusive Medal of Honor's massive 32-player Infrastructure multiplayer mode. Here's what they had to say:
"It actually runs well with the maximum number of people playing. EA hosted a 32 player deathmatch event for members of the press recently to prove just that. The process of signing in and getting started is simple and relatively pain free."
Unfair. I wanted to be part of their party too! Well, it looks like us gamers have a lot to look forward to. According to IGN, the game featured a respectable framerate and very little lag, even with 30+ players in the match. The server did fail once during the test, so hopefully, EA will be able to work out all the kinks before the game ships in less than two weeks.

Ratchet & Clank online beta test

Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is one of the few titles from Sony that will future Infrastructure multiplayer in the future. Gamer Advisory Panel members just received an e-mail inviting them to a beta test, with registrations limited to the first 2000 entrants. (We're not allowed to link to the application form, sorry!) With a beta test happening in the coming weeks, Ratchet & Clank is probably pretty far along in development. The game's supposedly going to come out in March, but wouldn't it be awesome if it came out just a little bit earlier?

If any of our readers are GAP members and partake in the beta test, shoot us a comment. We'll try to make you famous.

Konami code hidden in upcoming online chess game

Online Chess Kingdoms is going to be unlike any chess game before it. For example, it's one of the only chess games I can think of that has a story mode. As Konami producer Jason Ray wrote in a recent interview with IGN, "There is no reason to have a story mode, but the game is far more interesting with it." Jason's right: chess doesn't need a story. Heck, it doesn't even need a GOOD story. Almost anything will beat staring at the Chessmaster's menacing face.

Besides a story mode, there are other things that should make this game appear on your radar. Firstly, it'll support Infrastructure multiplayer, so you can lay down the chess smackdown to people around the world (strangely, it doesn't feature Ad-Hoc multiplayer). Secondly, the game allows you to use the infamous Konami code. What will the code unlock? Wer'e not sure yet, but hopefully, it'll be good as the cheat from DDR Ultramix.

Medal of Honor hype on IGN

IGN has a huge blow-out on the upcoming PSP Medal of Honor Heroes. They have one written-by-a-marketing-team write-up that features profiles of the in-game characters: Generic McAmerican, Jimmy Paterson, William Holt and John Baker. Snore... The other is an interview with the game's producer, Peter Choi. It very similar to a previous interview, but it's great to know that he understands some of the things PSP fans are looking for from a game:
  • 32 player online (Infrastructure) multiplayer. I can't stress enough how awesome that sounds.
  • "The game is also optimized to have very short load times, which is hugely important for gamers on-the-go." (Yes!)
  • "User Hosted Server feature along with official EA Nation Server games, are both fully customizable and have very detailed leaderboards and stat tracking." (Yes!)
If all that hype wasn't enough for you, then you might want to check out the newest trailer for the game. It looks a lot like the previous videos, but with even sharper, prettier graphics.

Multiplayer footage from MGS: Portable Ops

GameTrailers has just posted a beautiful montage of scenes from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops' multiplayer mode. As expected, the graphics look sharp, and it appears the game will feature an abundance of gameplay modes and features. But, the video does show off some clunky gameplay; will controlling Snake via analog nub be as effective as I'm hoping it'll be? Portable Ops looks to hit our PSPs in December.

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