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June 2011

May 2011

Rockstar Offers Prepay Plan For Extra L.A. Noire Cases (Or, "You Can Play The Complete L.A. Noire")

Cole PhelpsWhile I'm generally against the whole online pass system considering that more often than not, the passes get in the way of basic gaming actions such as renting titles and buying used copies, sometimes a company uses the online pass for good instead of for greed.  Consider how Rockstar is implementing its take on the idea with the $10 Rockstar Pass for L.A. Noire for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.  Rather than lock part of the game away behind a code, this pass is basically a prepayment plan for all of the upcoming downloadable content.  Buying ahead of time turns out to be cheaper in the end if you're planning to pick up the extra cases and add-ons (including all of the preorder incentive cases and items) that will be released between now and mid-July.  Joystiq has the details.

Rockstar has revealed a steady slate of L.A. Noire DLC, coming until late July, that includes four new cases for Cole Phelps to bring his seething congeniality to. (Yep, the previously Best Buy-exclusive Nicholson Electroplating arson case is on the list.) You could buy all the content piecemeal for $20, or you could pre-purchase all of it for $10 with the newly announced Rockstar Pass. After June 14, the price of the pass will increase to $12.

In even better news, two of the cases — The Naked City and A Slip of the Tongue — are available today, assuming you have the 360 version. Sadly, trying to access the PS Store on the PS3 version still causes the game to crash, but hopefully the store will be working soon.

Buying all of this DLC individually at full price as it releases would add up to a $20 charge in the end.  See, now this is the way to discourage used game sales with online passes.  Add more content at a discount rather than take expected included content away and put it behind a paywall.  I have no problem with a one-time charge for additional material for a game I enjoy if it's completed development after the base game's release (some of this stuff was previously featured as preorder incentives, so it was completed prior to the game's debut, but I prefer to look ahead to the upcoming stuff in that regard).  Let's just not get to the point where we see a monthly fee for L.A. Noire: Elite.

Weekly Poll: Premium Elites


There's an overall lack of interest in revisited remastered Sony PlayStation Portable games for the PlayStation 3.  I would be interested in replaying a few choice PSP games in high definition on the big screen (Capcom's two Mega Man titles, Konami's Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, etc.), but the big PSP exclusive titles that I'm sure will be targeted for this program such as Killzone and Resistance are so far off my radar that I can't see myself playing them in either form.   

Moving on to a more incendiary topic, Activision has announced that it's planning a monthly fee for an add-on service to its popular Call of Duty franchise.  It's not pay-to-play, mind you, but instead offers advanced statistical analysis and various DLC options among other things.  Will you be paying for Call of Duty: Elite?  Or is this completely not in your area of interest?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Activision Planning Monthly Fee For Call Of Duty Service

Call Of Duty: EliteIt's been rumored for a while, but Activision has announced that it's planning to introduce a monthly fee for its upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.  The game isn't going pay-to-play, thankfully, but instead the company wants to charge for advanced statistics tracking, contest opportunities, social networking, and other such premium add-ons.  Players who play basically nothing but Call of Duty will probably love it.  They call it Call of Duty: EliteKotaku sums it up:

Elite will be available in two tiers of service, one for paying and one for non-paying Call of Duty multiplayer fanatics. While all of the perks of membership are yet to be announced, that paying group may never have to pay for a Call of Duty map pack separately again.

At a glance, Elite resembles, the richly-detailed stat tracking service for that other mighty first-person-shooter series, Halo. But the top people behind the Elite project, including the heads of Beachhead Studios, an outfit dedicated exclusively to building and supporting Elite, promise that their service will prove to be the best of its kind, transcending expectations of websites for multiplayer video games.

The Elite service is, at its most basic, a very fancy website. It will primarily be accessed through users' web browsers, though Activision is planning to offer some sort of Elite app for iOS and Android devices.

There's lots more explanation at the above link, so be sure to check it out for all of the details.  I'm curious as to how successful this program will be, but I find myself rooting against it.  I don't play Call of Duty, so I won't be subscribing to Elite.  However, if Activision strikes gold with this, I know that other publishers will follow along with similar premium services for their own franchises, and sooner or later that's going to intersect with something I do enjoy.  I don't want a monthly Uncharted fee or a recurring Street Fighter charge.  Money is tight enough these days as it is with rising gas prices and other increasing costs, and I'm cutting back on the number of games and downloadable add-ons that I buy.  I'm not going to jump into another monthly charge while cuts are happening elsewhere in my budget.  This kind of service isn't for me.

However, with all of that said, I can see where the core Call of Duty players could get some value out of this.  Elite basically grafts an enhanced layer of social networking to the basic franchise experience, so those who play with friends in clans and makeshift leagues could go far with some sort of official Activision-backed organization.  Some of the statistic tracking will be free for all players, so everyone who plays will get some benefit out of Elite either directly or indirectly.  There's still a lot we don't know about the service, as the exact pricing and which aspects of Elite will be free have yet to be specified, so consider this announcement a first strike at the concept in a public forum.  Here's hoping that Activision listens to the comments from the community over the summer and into the beta period that's coming up prior to the November launch.  Introducing a monthly fee adds a whole new level of expectations from a new group of paying customers, so everyone involved with creating and running Elite should do right by the user base.  One way or another, this will be an interesting story to watch.

Power Button - Episode 51: The Road To E3 2011

Power ButtonWe're just a week away from the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, so it's only fitting that Joey Davidson and I pause for an hour to discuss how we each plan to cover the event, which games we're especially looking forward to seeing, and how this year's E3 is different from our past expos.  This year I'll be covering E3 under my own Press The Buttons banner (so expect plenty of coverage here on PTB) and teaming up with my pals over at the Games Are Evil EvilCast for more crossover podcasting.  Joey's attending as part of Crave Online's two-man team, so you can find his coverage over there at Crave's E3 microsite.  If there's anything special you want to hear about something at the show, let us know and we'll do our best to check it out for you.  Neither of us writes these articles with an aim to send them out into the void, y'know.  We write this stuff for you.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via  and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons,@aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 51: The Road To E3 2011

Doc Brown Explains The Legend Of Zelda Timeline

The timeline running through Nintendo's many The Legend of Zelda titles is a bit... shall we say... convoluted.  It's very difficult to tell which games precede the other games in the series.  Ocarina of Time seems to be the first in the storyline, which follows into Twilight Princess, or possibly Wind Waker because there seem to be separate timelines in play.  Then there's the question of where A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Oracle of Ages, Minish Cap, Four Sword Adventures, and the rest fit.  Who can possibly explain it all?  We need an expert in time travel.  Enter Doctor Emmett Brown of Hill Valley to sort it all out in this parody fan film, Link to the Future.  Great Scott!

Jonathan Coulton Performs "Want You Gone" Live

The new song at the end of Valve's Portal 2 for the PC, Mac, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360 has drawn some criticism for, well, not being the "Still Alive" song from the end of the original Portal, but "Want You Gone" is a catchy little tune.  While the in-game performance is a digital composition sung by GLaDOS herself, here we have songwriter Jonathan Coulton performing it in public acoustically for the first time.  If you're more of a "Still Alive" fan, stick around afterward for a live performance of that Portal tune.  Coulton's no GLaDOS, but he has a knack for music.

(via Reddit)

Sony Admits To Working On PlayStation 4

InterocitorThe clock starts now for verifiable chatter about Sony's inevitably upcoming PlayStation 4, as the company has officially admitted that it's working on the PlayStation 3's successor.  Eurogamer has a quote from Sony's executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato regarding increased research and development costs made during an investor conference call.  It's a nebulous statement and offers no information about what we can expect from the PS4, but it is confirmation that the next PlayStation is on the way.

"For the home equipment the PS3 still has a product life," he said, "but this is a platform business, so for the future platform - when we'll be introducing what product I cannot discuss that - but our development work is already under way, so the costs are incurred there."

My only general hope for the PS4 is for Sony to take what made the PS3 so much fun and make it better.  Oh, and maybe doing away with the whole identity theft thing, too.  But seriously, there's plenty of directions for the company to take its next home console.  It'd be nice to see native 1080i visuals across all games (or even 1080p as long as I'm dreaming), larger hard drive space, larger in-game worlds exploding with extra detail. and better implementations of the web browser, video editor, and other widgets that seem a bit half-assed at the moment.  Progress marches on.

Raptr Launches Personalized News Feed

RaptrVideo game community Raptr has a large foothold when it comes to video game players who swap and compare statistics, but now the site is moving deeper into the realm of news and social networking with the launch of its new personalized news feed.  Similar to a N4G, Reddit, or Digg-type site with a bit of Facebook thrown in, the new design allows users to submit favorite links for the community to see on a mass scale.  Those links are then voted up or down, and of course one can leave comments.  The interesting thing here is that users can follow certain topics (game titles, publishers, hardware, etc.) to call up a news listing that's tuned to one's own particular taste. 

Raptr now intelligently delivers the most relevant content based on the games and platforms you own, your recent gameplay, and what your friends are sharing. Raptr also helps players discover additional content by determining your gaming preferences, such as gaming genres, developers, and publishers that interest you. Users can submit and share a mix of content including news, videos, screenshots, status updates, and reviews.

Today, Raptr’s full feature set includes:
  • Personalized news feed
  • Community-curated content
  • Expanded topics to include all things related to gaming
  • Suggestion engine to help you discover new games
  • Automatic gameplay and achievements tracker on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3
  • Centralized buddy list and friend tracker
  • In-game chat and web browsing for PC games 

Press The Buttons is a launch partner for the new initiative and I've been mucking around in the closed beta for a bit, but this morning Raptr has turned on the new functionality for all of its users for the open beta.  Get on over to Raptr, check it out, and feel free to submit your favorite PTB links into the pool.

Ocarina Of Time 3D Trailer Shows Improved Adventure

Nintendo has definitely put a fresh coat of paint on its classic 1998 release The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS revival.  This Japanese launch trailer hit the Internet today which shows off many familiar locations and beloved characters in addition to upgrades to character models and the overall visual style.  The game launches next month, and goodness that seems ever so far away.  I'm looking forward to replaying it (last time I explored this iteration of Hyrule was 2003), but I certainly hope that the opening sequences pick up the pace this time around.  The largest obstacle I had to overcome when replaying last time was my boredom at having to tread lightly through tutorial hoops up to the reveal of the dungeon inside the Great Deku Tree.  Sometimes I miss the purity of the original Legend of Zelda titles; just give me a sword and a shield so I can get to Triforcing already!