Archive for the ‘PSP’ Category

Grand Theft Auto, one of the biggest franchises in videogames, now rides shotgun on iPad. A port of the PlayStation Portable edition of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (which was in turn a port of a Nintendo DS game), the iPad version is a phenomenal play.

You are Huang Lee, the spoiled son of a Triad ganglord. After your father was murdered, you must deliver an ancient sword to your uncle so as to keep the empire in your family’s name. Ambushed at the Liberty City airport and left to die, you now find yourself drawn into the underworld with thoughts of vengeance. But what starts out as a simple revenge tale grows in scope, with a criminal world about to explode as gangs (and cops) square off for control. The Chinatown Wars narrative is strong, full of both humor and real drama, and benefits from excellent writing.

Instead of a 3D behind-the-shoulder view, Chinatown Wars returns to the top-down roots of the pre-PlayStation 2 GTA games. The art style is cartoonish and looks fantastic. The camera gives you a good view of the city around you, and unlike the iPhone version which allowed you to get too far ahead of yourself if you started going really fast, the iPad provides ample space around Lee. It’s great to see one of the few problems with the iPhone edition solved by making smart use of the benefits of the iPad.

Chinatown Wars uses a virtual stick for on-foot movement that is just about as good as you’ll find on the iDevices. Combat controls would benefit from some sort of targeting system, but I experienced few problems with digging into a violent crew and trading bullets or putting shoe prints on their faces. When driving, though, you default to a pair of arrows for turning left and right, which you use in conjunction with gas and brake pedal buttons. All of the virtual buttons (gas, shoot, kick, carjack) are also now just the right size. (They were too small on the iPhone.) However, until you get the hang of things, you often must look at the buttons to make sure you are hitting the right one. In the middle of a big fight or a high-speed pursuit, this is troublesome until you are 100-percent comfortable with the controls. The menus have also been cleaned up a little for the iPad.

The mission variety in Chinatown Wars is one of its strongest features. You are not just driving to a location, shooting somebody, and then returning to home base. You perform in a parade, hijack fuel tankers to turn into giant bombs, run interference during a race, and put out fires. And on top of the main story, there is a plethora of side jobs and races, including the extra content that was included with the PSP port. But most surprising is the drug dealing. I’m not just shocked that Apple was cool with heroin (other games have been rejected for drug- and alcohol-related content), but just how vital it is to the overall game. If you want to make money, you have to juggle this resource management game-within-a-game where you buy low, sell high, and watch out for busts.

Another Chinatown Wars high point: the GPS system. Tapping locations on a map to set a course is intuitive and makes finding your way around town easy. Of course, getting there isn’t necessarily a cakewalk, as you must watch for cops on the lookout for the new kid with the high wanted level. All of the touch screen elements from the DS original are pulled into the iPhone Chinatown Wars, too, such as kicking out the back window of a car in the water, interacting with computers, scratching lotto tickets, or hot wiring a car.

Finally, Chinatown Wars does not have the same kind of licensed music as other GTA games. Instead, it has a series of five stations that play genre instrumentals, like hip-hop and dance. I actually like this quite a bit; over time, I found the licensed music in the GTA games almost look-at-me distracting. You can also create a custom station with your own music, which is cool if you want to shoot up Chinatown while listening to Dean Martin.

I already mentioned that the raised camera and extra screen size of the iPad makes it easier to play Chinatown Wars on iPad. But I must also stress just how insanely good this HD edition looks, too. Rockstar refreshed almost everything for this port, cleaning things up so they look sharp on the large, higher-resolution screen. The attention to detail combined with the cel shaded-esque art direction makes Chinatown Wars one of the best-looking iPad games to date. (ign)

Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar Games
Genre: Third-Person Action
Release Date: US: September 9, 2010
Also Available On: PSP, iPhone,Nintendo DS, iPad
Also known as: GTA: Chinatown Wars

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UFC Undisputed 2010 (PSP)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Playstation 3, PSP, XBOX 360
Tags: , , ,

UFC Undisputed 2010 on PSP is going to be an interesting case study. Here, you have a portable port of a big budget PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 game. The fighters, modes, and options you’d expect from those versions have been carried over to the PSP, and from a broad perspective the transition went smoothly. Still, this version is four months old and missing the polish that made the console games shine. Plus, in reality, if you were the world’s biggest UFC fan, chances are that you’ve already played this game in one of its other incarnations.

However, I can tell you that this game is good.

Sweep the leg!

If you’re just joining us, UFC Undisputed 2010 is THQ’s latest take on the sport that Dana White built. Pick up this UMD (there’s not a downloadable version at the moment) and you’re getting more than 100 fighters, a slew of stadiums, and a bunch of modes. You can square off in exhibition matches and even take on your friends via ad-hoc mode, guide a created fighter through a career, or relive/rewrite a classic UFC bout.

All of that’s great, but how does it play? You figure mixed martial arts is a complicated sport and UFC games have always packed a complicated control scheme to mimic that. The PSP version, of course, has to drop an analog stick and two shoulder buttons out of the console control scheme, and that could easily turn into a disaster. Luckily, it works. You strike and kick with the face buttons and modify those moves with the shoulder buttons while the analog nub clinches, grapples, and transitions you from one mount to another.

Of course, moving with the D-Pad and then having to drop your thumb to the analog nub for moves is a bit of a pain, but it doesn’t throw off the pacing of fights. The bouts seem balanced and I’ve actually been using the ground game and takedown system a lot more than I did in the console versions. This boiled down control scheme actually makes it easier to do more in the Octagon. I feel like I have a handle on the action — for the most part. I still find myself flicking the stick like a madman to try and get out of holds or regain control of the situation, but the game seems like it gives me a chance to figure everything out. It feels good.

Put in the work here so you don't get KO'd.

Once I got the hang of the controls, I started taking in the visuals of UFC Undisputed 2010 on the PSP. I was pleasantly surprised by the how good the game looks. UFC Undisputed 2010’s defining characteristic on the other platforms is how realistic it looks, and that visual love is carried over here as best it can be. Obviously, the PSP game isn’t as slick or detailed as the console counterparts, but the fighters do look good. They move realistically, bloody wounds will pop up, and you’ll have no trouble identifying your favorite fighter from a glance at the screen.

In motion, things can be a bit less impressive. Punches and grapples will occasionally clip through the opponent, and the presentation isn’t really up to snuff. The screen goes black and white when you’ve dazed a fighter, but the sound drops out and it becomes too quiet. The knockout post-round and post-match replays are super-quick flashes of ho-hum moments, and I’ve had matches end in flash KOs where the opponent didn’t fall down — I just hit him in the jaw and the bell rang.

What made the other versions of UFC rock was the TV-style presentation. Name bars and stats pop up on the PSP sporting the colors and fonts you know from the real show, but there’s no announcing and the fights feel a bit flat without Joe Rogan screaming in your ear. The crowd noise isn’t very reactive and it doesn’t sell the feel of the main event. On top of that, the loads are a bit long here. They’re not terrible, but hopping between matches and options screens will take some time — even with the optional install.

They look pretty good, right?

If you’re looking for features, you’re getting your fair share here inUFC Undisputed 2010 (they are all exactly the same as the stuff we saw in the other versions), but I find most of them too similar. Exhibition lets you pick a fighter and fight someone, ad-hoc lets you square off against a local friend, Title mode lets you chase a championship in a series of fights, and then Title Defense mode lets you defend the belt you just won. That’s all kind of the same, you know?

Shaking things up are Ultimate Fights Mode and Career Mode. Ultimate Fights gives you 15 classic bouts and asks you to relive them or rewrite them. You pick a competitor and get a series of objectives (recover from a knockdown, win by decision, etc.) that you need to complete in the upcoming fight. Pull them off and you get rewarded (there is plenty to unlock in this game in the way of clothes, trading cards, and so on); fail, and you get chastised by the sexy UFC Octagon girls. If you’re a fan, there’s some appeal to this mode, but if you don’t remember the matches it doesn’t bring much to the table.

Career on the other hand brings a lot no matter your level of UFC knowledge. You’ll create a character (it’s basic but functional) and start off as an amateur fighter. Hone your skills, go pro, and soon you’ll accept an offer from Dana White and become part of the UFC. You’ll work your way up the ladder of success, but the real work is done in between bouts as you train (improving your strength, speed, and cardio), spar (improving your attributes), and accept camp invites (allowing you to learn new moves).

Stop! Stop! He's already dead.

The system’s complicated and deep — if you want a full breakdown, check out this 360 preview and imagine it’s on the PSP because it basically is — and it is cool to build a fighter from nothing to something that fits your specific play style. The trouble is, the mode is pretty repetitive. You’re going to get used to seeing those menu screens over and over again, and there isn’t much variation throughout the years of your career. You never look any older, you’re occasionally interrupted by new sponsors, and so on. (ign)

Published by: THQ
Developed by: Yuke’s Media Creations
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1-2
Release Date: US: September 7, 2010
MSRP: $39.99
T for Teen: Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Also known as: UFC 2010

Ace Combat: Joint Assault (PSP)

Posted: September 11, 2010 in PSP
Tags: , ,
There is a stretch of time during which every adolescent male is obsessed with posters. I have vivid memories of being dropped off at the mall with my friends, where we would scour the two or three stores with the best selections. We argued endlessly about which comic book characters, rock stars and supermodels were worth putting on our bedroom walls, but we all agreed on two things. First, the Lamborghini Countach was f**cking awesome, and anyone who didn’t have a poster of it was a total loser. Second, we all wanted to be military pilots. And we came to the conclusion that the easiest way to get started was to buy totally sweet posters of F-15s, F-16s and F/A-18s and stare at them while pretending to do our homework.Videogames like Ace Combat: Joint Assault exist because that sort of jet craziness never really goes away. If you think airplanes are just big hunks of boring metal, you’ll probably never change your mind. But if you think they’re cool as hell, you always will. The problem is, it’s tough to bring the excitement, complexity and drama of piloting military aircraft to the masses. Games that attempt to simulate the experience risk jettisoning the fun. Those that focus squarely on fun often lose the sense of realism that makes these planes interesting in the first place.

Bring a friend.

The Ace Combat series has always been more about exciting, accessible and sometimes over-the-top aerial action than strict realism, although the latest installment, Ace Combat: Joint Assault, tries to paint a coat of authenticity over its whimsy by using actual cities such as Tokyo, San Francisco and London as settings. It’s a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t add much to the typical Ace Combat experience. They serve mainly as backdrops and have no real ties to the individual missions. At one point I was assured London was burning, which, although tragic, sounded like a cool thing to see. Unfortunately, it just looked like a pile of brownish blocks that were not on fire.

“Real world” settings are one of the big selling points for Joint Assault, the follow-up to 2006’s Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. The others are an “enhanced combat” view that zooms in on your plane when you accelerate and a host of co-operative and competitive online multiplayer modes. For me, the latter is the only real reason to pick up Ace Combat: Joint Assault. The campaign missions are repetitive and rather dull, the voice acting is hilariously bad, and the storyline is nonsensical. If you can believe it, the main story revolves around insurance. That’s right, insurance. If there’s a more boring subject for a game about multi-million-dollar attack aircraft, please let me know in advance so I can bring a pillow.

This guy knows what I’m talking about.

The multiplayer is where Joint Assault comes to life. Gather a group of friends over via ad-hoc or infrastructure mode and choose to co-operate in the campaign missions (up to four players) or face off in the competitive mode (up to eight players). Joint Assault’s campaign missions have multiple branches that can be tackled simultaneously with other players. What’s more, in many missions, the outcome of one player’s objective will have an effect on another’s. Cool, right?

The multiplayer options in Joint Assault are plentiful. You can limit invitees by rank, share career data back and forth, set mission parameters and create teams in Vs. modes. If you get a solid group of friends together with multiple copies of Joint Assault, you’re in for some serious stick time.

But if you’re going to be playing solo, there’s just not that much to get excited about in Ace Combat: Joint Assault. Sure, you can unlock dozens of planes, emblems, weapons and paint jobs as you make your way through the missions. But most of the missions are uninspired and cheap. “Oh, no! The giant flying fortress that’s firing Electro Laser Cannons also has 12 anti-aircraft guns on it! Let’s take them all out! Awesome, we took them all out! Wait, why did they all come back again? Let’s destroy them again and hope they don’t come back! Shoot, they came back again!” You get the idea.

Aside from a few cool moments like unlocking the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber, and, oddly, flying a persnickety executive around in an unarmed jumbo jet, there was nothing about this pocket pilot game that got me all that excited about flying. Given the choice between buying Ace Combat: Joint Assault (to play alone) and an equally priced bundle of airplane posters, I’d probably choose the latter. (ign)

  • Published by: Namco Bandai
  • Developed by: Project Aces
  • Genre: Flight Action
  • Number of Players: 1-8
  • Release Date: US: August 31, 2010 , Japan: TBA 2010
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • T for Teen: Mild Language, Violence

If you’re like a lot of us in the IGN office, your commutes to work and free time in general are dominated by Valkyria Chronicles IIgameplay sessions, and even if the massive single-player/co-op campaign wasn’t enough to already keep you playing for months to come, SEGA’s sweetening the pot by giving you free content this week and batch of downloadable content this month.

News broke on the SEGA blog today that fans will be able to pick up a downloadable mission pack this month. A price and specific date weren’t announced, although it was revealed one of the missions will take place in Mellvere, home of the main character Avan.

“We’ve mentioned in the past that there was DLC planned here in the west, but today we’re happy to specify that DLC will actually be arriving this month,” the blog post reads. “All of it will be coming together in one huge pack, and we’ll have details on how many missions that pack will give you, as well as the cost next week!”

The post also gives away a free character and sticker for the game. By entering “37LRK5D214VQVFYH” in the in-game “Extras” section off of the main menu, players will unlock Isara Gunther and the “Isara’s Dream” sticker. (ign)

Published by: SEGA
Developed by: SEGA
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: US: August 31, 2010 , Japan: January 21, 2010
MSRP: $39.99
T for Teen: Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also known as: Valkyria Chronicles 2

Previewing games can be a funny business. You’re either under the watchful gaze of the developers themselves as they unveil their progeny for the very first time or part of a scrum of people keeping one eye on the game at hand and the other scoping out to see if the lady with the tray of tiny burgers is coming any nearer. In the best case we get to play in the office, although that’s with the constant interruptions of the phone and under the guilt of leaving an untended inbox.

It’s all a far cry from games’ natural habitat – a room full of friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon, everyone feet up and juggling slices of pizza, cans of beer and controllers – but that’s how we got to enjoy the near-final code of FIFA 11 this weekend.

Away from the din of developers reciting feature lists and the overpowering stench of excitement from a convention’s show-floor, it’s possible at last to really see how a game is shaping up and coming together. We’ve already been through what’s new, but this, at last, was a chance to see what really works.

FIFA 11’s not got the benefit of one big new feature to wow people with – there’s no game changer like the 360 degree dribbling that was introduced last year, nor the myriad headline improvements of 09 that helped establish FIFA as the premier football game series. What it does have is refinement and polish alongside countless little advances that do their very best to eradicate any of the faults of FIFA’s past.

There’s none of the dumb-headed positioning from your A.I partners, none of the moments of crass stupidity from your keeper as he lays the ball off into the path of the opposition and none of the frustrations from another cheap chipped goal. Instead, there’s a whole load of quality. Passes are now more technical, requiring a little more thought and a lot more care before spreading the ball around the field, and wide play is now more likely to be rewarded with a crisply met header than before. The result is a game that’s much more reliable than before, and one that steps even closer to aping the flow of the real thing.

It’s got a lot more character than before too. Part of that’s from the new suite of animations as players stumble and falter in their pursuit of the ball, and part of it’s from the improved likenesses across the board. “But Phil Neville looks grotesque” protested a friend. Yes. Yes he does.

The way the personality of each player is reflected in how they play is the most impressive thing, however. On the squad selection screen players have symbols by their names signifying their special attributes; Torres, for example, is both a Speedster and an Acrobat, meaning he’s more likely to perform the spectacular in the box and can sprint with gusto. Gerrard, meanwhile, is a Crosser, Playmaker and Engine among other things, a complete midfielder who can perform at his best for almost the entire 90 minutes. Learn a team well enough and you’ll soon know who can do what and tailor your play accordingly. It’s all the more gratifying when you know the team from what’s just happened on Saturday afternoon.

There’s some more surprising ways that the personality plays out on the pitch. Different referees now officiate the action, each one with their own character; some will reach for their top pocket if you so much as glare at an opposition player, while others will happily let everyone kick seven shades out of each other before so much as awarding a free kick.

Some additions aren’t as welcome though. For the first time handballs are introduced, and it’s unsurprisingly infuriating especially given the frequency with which it occurs. Penalties are often given against you through no fault of your own, and if we weren’t so placid (or, more truthfully, sedated by the blend of warm beer and mounds of melted cheese we’d just imbibed) we’d have destroyed a controller or two. Thankfully it’s optional and defaulted off. We’d recommend you leave it that way.

Otherwise it’s looking like another exceptional outing for FIFA. There’s a lot more to discuss – we’ve yet to scratch the surface of either the new career modes or put a serious spell between the sticks – but all that will come in the full review in the next few weeks. (ign)

  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Developed by: EA Canada
  • Genre: Sports
  • Release Date:
    US: September 28, 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox 360, iPhone, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3
  • Also known as: FIFA 11

Sony's PSP Go post-mortem continues, Kaz Hirai concedes 'pricing is perhaps an issue'We’re still perplexed by the PSP Go‘s failure. Who doesn’t want to pay more for a device that lacks the hardware to play UMD games, only compatible with downloadable versions that release days or weeks later and then cost more to boot? Sony’s Andrew House stepped up in June to put a positive spin on the situation, saying the PSP Go helped them “learn more about what the consumer wanted” — something they obviously didn’t do before shipping the thing. Now Sony Computer Entertainment President Kaz Hirai is giving a similar angle in an interview with MCV, addressing concerns of both price and content availability:

…we did get a lot of feedback, both good and bad. I think we need to make sure we have as many titles available to download as possible, to make the experience as easy as possible. But also pricing is perhaps an issue.

If nothing else the PSP Go has certainly generated a lot of consumer feedback, and encouragingly it seems like Sony is actually listening. (engadget)

This Week on PSN (09.07.10)

Posted: September 8, 2010 in Playstation 3, PSP
Tags: ,
Every Tuesday, Sony drops a bunch of new stuff onto the PlayStation Network. Those with a PlayStation 3 or PSP can download this new goodness, which ranges from retail and PSN games to movies, themes and more. While the Official PlayStation Blog outlines these updates in full each week, we thought we’d help truncate the good news into something more digestible.
This week on PlayStation Network, we have both a standard store update as well as an addition to current PlayStation Plus benefits. Let’s start with what’s new for all PlayStation Store customers. The only new game coming out this week is TerRover, which you can purchase for $14.99 (we’ll have a review for you all soon). If you’re not sure about TerRover, you can also download a free demo that will allow you to mess around with the game a bit.
Speaking of demos, all PSN users can also download demos for Sengoku BASARA: Samurai Heroes, Quantum Theory, andLegend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gashouse (not to be confused, of course, with the much-anticipated The Last Guardian). Plenty of DLC is also available this week, for Buzz!,Dragon Age: OriginsMafia IITransformers: War for CybertronClash of the Titans and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. As is usually the case, there are also plenty of new tracks to download for both Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
If you own a PSP and need something to keep you busy, Ace Combat Joint Assault can now be purchased for $39.99. A much cheaper game, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda SBK Superbike World Championship (phew!) is available for a much more meager $9.99. There are no new PSP demos this week, unfortunately, but there is a lone new PlayStation Mini — Ace Armstrong vs. The Alien Scumbags, which runs a little expensive as far as Minis go, selling for $6.99.
And now, finally, we’ve come to the new PlayStation Plus perks as of this week. This update doesn’t give us in the States any new free PSN games, but there are plenty of other interesting goodies and discounts worth noting. The biggest PlayStation Plus perk this week is no doubt early and exclusive access to a demo for the upcoming PSP game God of War: Ghost of Sparta. A demo for an older game, Warhawk, is also now available exclusively for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Free Warhawk DLC as well as new free Mini in the form of Blast Off can also be taken advantage of this week by PlayStation Plus subscribers.
If you’re looking for some PlayStation Plus-exclusive discounts, then look no further than this week’s update. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and Resident Evil 5 now have discounted DLC for download, while Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 and the PlayStation Mini Hero of Sparta can also be purchased at a discount. (ign)

Dissidia Final Fantasy Sequel Announced

Posted: September 8, 2010 in PSP
Tags:

Square Enix is bringing back its ultimate crossover fighter for another round on PSP. This week’s Weekly Shounen Jump confirms a Dissidia Final Fantasy sequel, which uses some expected unconventional Tetsuya Nomura naming: Dissidia Duodecim: Final Fantasy.

The magazine shows playable Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII and Kain from Final Fantasy IV. We couldn’t see any further details beyond this.

The wait for more info shouldn’t be long. In a Tweet earlier today, series director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed that one of his secret unannounced games would be playable at next week’s Tokyo Game Show. It’s likely that Dissidia is that very game.

Dissidia Duodecim is scheduled for Japanese PSP release in 2011. (ign)

Jpcsp SVN r1752

Posted: September 5, 2010 in Emulator, PSP
Tags: , ,

EmuCR:JPcspJpcsp SVN r1752 is released. JPCSP is a PlayStation Portable(PSP) emulator which is written in JAVA. JPCSP is the first PSP emulator that is written in JAVA. Most people think java is too slow. But Shadow and his team has proven us wrong. The newest Java versions are almost as fast as C which makes it very interesting for emu dev’s. Shadow and his team are working day and night with pleasure on the emu, many coders have dedicated to the project. Because it’s written in java many young devs find it interesting to learn how the emulator works. 

Jpcsp SVN changelog:
r1752
Several performance improvements:
– implemented reading of all PSP native vertex types in shader. Reading of vertex in Java is no longer required when shaders are enabled.
– implemented GU_SPRITES (for 2D) primitive in a geometry shader (this option has to be activated in the settings “Use geometry shader”).
– improved performance of BBOX/BJUMP by computing some trivial cases in software (without OpenGL Query)
– small performance improvement for matrix loading in VideoEngine
– sceDisplay: do no longer use glReadPixels (poorer performance on current graphic cards).
– deleted obsolete settings “Disable GE”

DownloadJpcsp SVN r1752
Source:Here

(emuCR)

Eyepet (PS3)

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Playstation 3, PSP
Tags: , ,

Tickle-tickle.I love animals. I’ve had pets of some sort my entire life, and I’ve been a big fan of the whole pet simulation genre of gaming. There’s just something about caring for an animal (even if it’s not real) that really strikes my fancy. That’s why EyePet was the most exciting Move game to me, and for the most part it delivers a more satisfying experience than any of the pet games I’ve played to date.

This is mostly due to EyePet’s augmented reality approach. Rather than interacting with a virtual pet in a detached way, you actually see yourself on screen with the EyePet, and while it still involves a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief, I felt more connected to this pet than I have with any of my other virtual pets. However, that element of realism comes with a bit of a cost in set-up time.

In order to get the optimum results from EyePet you have to position the PlayStation Eye at a specific height and angle, otherwise your pet will appear to be floating in the air. It took a few adjustments before I was able to get it just right. The game suggests that the camera should be placed at knee height, but I actually found a bit lower than that produced the best results. In addition, you’re supposed to clear out anything in front of the television so you have a large piece of empty floor on which to play. Needless to say, this can be a bit challenging if you live in a small apartment.

EyePet: Your Virtual Pet ScreenshotThe extra effort turns out to be worth it once you actually get into the game. You begin by getting an egg from the EyePet Institute. A professor from the institute serves as your guide in getting started. While I completely understand that this game is aimed at families and kids, the professor character was still a bit too juvenile. Everything he said was delivered in a fake, condescending tone that made me think he had failed his audition for “Barney.” Luckily, once you get the gist of playing with your pet, he doesn’t show up that much.

And then there’s the pet himself. Male or female, young or old, if your heart doesn’t melt a little bit when you see this guy, then you really need to check your pulse. After finessing the egg by tapping it in various places, the top will crack, and your pet will show his face for the first time. After that, you’ll be walked through the basics of caring for him and playing with him.

The EyePet needs frequent feeding, bathing, physical and mental exercise, and affection to keep him healthy and happy. You can quickly get a sense of his condition by using a scanner on his various organs to get a status update. After scanning, you can also send a report to the institute. Good marks on these reports are rewarded the following day with toys or clothes.

EyePet: Your Virtual Pet ScreenshotThe other way to unlock toys and clothes is to complete the Pet Program challenges. There are a total of 60 challenges, broken into sets of four over 15 days. The challenges range from getting your pet to perform tricks, like catching food in the air or jumping through a hoop, to dressing him up in a specific outfit and taking a picture, to more action-oriented games like flying on a plane to pop balloons or driving a car through a series of gates. Some of these tasks had a fair amount of challenge to them, and they all feature three tiers of scoring (bronze, silver, and gold) with you needing to get the gold medal in order to unlock all of the prizes for that challenge.

Throughout all of these activities, the Move controller worked perfectly. I never found myself struggling to get the various tools and toys to respond the way I wanted. But the Move controller isn’t the only way to interact with the EyePet. You can also use your hands, feet, or anything else in the environment to get his attention. This type of interaction worked well most of the time, but there were some times I found myself wiggling my fingers or tapping on the ground to no avail. It’s difficult to say whether this is a fault of the game, or the EyePet simply acting like a real pet and choosing to ignore you every once in awhile if he’s preoccupied with something else.

EyePet: Your Virtual Pet Screenshot

However, when these interactions worked, the payoff was great. Seeing the EyePet jump out of the way as some my co-workers attempted to kick him, or watching his head follow a spinning office chair in a circle were very cool moments. Another nice touch happened after soothing the EyePet to sleep. If you can get him to sleep long enough, he’ll start dreaming about your previous experiences together. Another time, he started joyfully singing while I was petting him.

On top of this, you can dress your pet in any of the clothes, hats, or costumes you’ve unlocked, as well as customize the color, pattern, shape, and length of his hair. The customization options are vast, meaning no one should have trouble creating their perfect-looking pet.

Even with all of these features, it’s difficult to tell how long the game would remain interesting after all of the challenges are complete and all prizes are unlocked. The game will slow your progress through the challenges, but you can do more than one day’s worth on any given day, and if you’re willing to change your PS3’s internal clock, you could theoretically do all of them at once. Sony also plans to offer DLC for the game, though they haven’t disclosed the details of that yet.

It’s also important to note that during my playthrough of the game, I encountered two crashes and a challenge that was simply broken. I was playing a debug build labeled for review on a test kit and not a final retail copy, so it’s possible the issue arose from these circumstances. Sony tried to replicate the problems I had, but was unable to, so these issues have not been factored into the score. (ign)

Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: SCE Studios LondonPlaylogic
Genre: Virtual Pet
Release Date: US: September 2010 , Japan: TBA 2010
MSRP: $39.99
E for Everyone
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, PSP
Also known as: EyePet