Champions Online Reinstates Lifetime Subscriptions Deal; Players Are Not SOL

Update

As of August 26, 2009, 10pm PDT: Cryptic and Atari have reinstated the discounted subscriptions.

Original Entry

Cryptic Studios, the developers of the upcoming superhero-based MMORPG, Champions Online, announced yesterday that all of the discounted Lifetime Subscriptions and 6-month Subscriptions were sold out and they would not be permitting any further purchases.  This came after a post on their website that there were only 1,000 Lifetime Subscriptions left and 500 6-month Subscriptions before they would be sold out.  Their previous announced deadline was September 1st, but also included the line about supplies being limited, though neither Cryptic nor Atari (the producing studio) has admitted what the total numbers were for the sale.  This announcement subsequently enraged those players who were waiting until payday or for reasons unknown to the last minute to pull the trigger.

For posterity, the different subscriptions offered the following perquisites:

6-Month Discounted Subscriptions:

  • Price: $59.99 USD, $65.99 CAN, €44.99 EUR, and £35.99 GBP
  • Saves $29.95 USD (33% off!) over regular monthly subscription!
  • Retro Future costume set
  • Access to the Star Trek Online Closed Beta, beginning later this year!

Lifetime Subscriptions:

  • Price: $199.99 USD, $219.99 CAN, €147.99 EUR, and £119.99 GBP
  • Access to the Star Trek Online Closed Beta, beginning later this year!
  • Exclusive Art Deco costume set, available only to lifetime subscribers
  • Retro Future costume set
  • Unique Mirror Universe outfit for Star Trek Online, available at the game’s release
  • Exclusive in-game Foxbat action figure, available only to lifetime subscribers
  • Eight additional character slots!

Having been a fan of the MMORPG genre since the early days of MUDs and joining the GUI-based games in 1999 with EverQuest, I’m no stranger to the wild and craziness of pay-for-play online games.  I’ve carved a path from EQ to Anarchy Online to Dark Age of Camelot to the late, great Earth & Beyond to World of Warcraft to City of Heroes and beyond.  I’ve actually dropped all of my subscriptions except CoH/CoV and have been really looking forward to Champion Online so much so that I’ve been playing the Open Beta event after a lengthy 2GB+ download from FileFront.com.  After playing the Open Beta for an hour, I pulled the trigger on a Lifetime Sub immediately.  As a lifelong Trekker who’s been dying for Star Trek Online since 2006 during the Perpetual Entertainment debacle, it was a no brainer to suck it up and nab it ASAP.  Offering the STO Beta was pure genius, but I’m guessing that they were counting on the rabid Trek fanbase (carrying their massive disposable income with them) to eat up every subscription in short order.

Obviously I had some disposable income to play around with, but not everyone did.  But now all I’m reading on the forums is a long list of players who’re swearing up and down to cancel their pre-orders (impossible if they used the beta code that came with it).  So much so, that the Cryptic online community moderators are passing up a suggestion from many of those raging players to at least offer the discounts to those who pre-ordered, without the STO Beta offer.

My opinion on this is pretty simple: As with everything else, you snooze, you lose.  I’m not indifferent to the notion of not having the money, but if a car dealership offers a sweet deal on a ride you want so bad it hurts and every model of that car sells out in the first day of the sale before you get to the lot with your money in hand… do you blame the dealership or do you just taste the bitter regret in the back of your throat that you didn’t camp that bitch the night before?  How bad do you want it?!  The early bird always gets the worm.  And if you can’t afford it, then you’re probably better off just paying for the monthly or maybe the not-so-discounted 6-month offer at 17 dollars more.

By the way, if you’re looking for a review of Champions Online?  In one word: Awesome.

Publisher: Cryptic Studios/Atari
Platform: PC and 360
Release Date: 9/1/09 (US-PC), 9/10/09 (AUS-PC), TBA (360)
Price: $49.99 box plus 30-days free, $14.99 per month thereafter.
http://www.champions-online.com

Playstation 3 Slim Announced for September Launch

After much speculation that Sony would have a major announcement regarding the Playstation 3, they finally dropped the bomb at Gamescom earlier today. The Playstation 3 Slim is now confirmed and even more is set to launch the first week of September.  It will have the same features and functionality of the current generation Playstation 3 and will come packaged with a 120GB HD. It’s 36% smaller and lighter.
What is probably more important is the price point will be $100 cheaper than the current MSRP on the 80GB Playstation 3. It will launch at $299. With the redesign of the system and the price now matching the MSRP of an Xbox 360 Pro, it should help nudge people who have been sitting on the fence. Sony seems to be arming up for the Holiday season, we’ll see if Microsoft has anything to fight back with.
PS3 Fat and PS3 Slim comparison.
PS3 Fat and PS3 Slim comparison.

After much speculation that Sony would be launching a slimmer version of their Playstation 3, they finally dropped the bomb at Gamescom earlier today. The Playstation 3 Slim is now confirmed and even more is set to launch the first week of September.  It will have the same features and functionality of the current generation Playstation 3 and will come packaged with a 120GB HD. It’s 36% smaller and lighter.

What will appeal to many people however is the price point will be $100 cheaper than the current MSRP on the 80GB Playstation 3. It will launch at $299 in the US. With the redesign of the system and the price now matching the MSRP of an Xbox 360 Pro, it should help nudge people who have been sitting on the fence. Sony seems to be arming up for the Holiday season, we’ll see if Microsoft has anything to fight back with.

Source

Kotaku.com

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

“Don’t cross the streams.” “There is no Dana, there is only Zuul” “Are you a god?” “We’re ready to believe you!” If these quotes mean nothing to you, then you can probably skip over the rest of this review as there is a bit of basic Ghostbusters knowledge you’ll need to fully understand this. In what can be described as pure fan service, Ghostbusters: The Video Game does everything it can to give you what is basically the third Ghostbusters movie. From the entire principal cast returning to do voice work, to Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis lending their help to the script, multiple references to the first and second Ghostbuster movies and even using many of the original film’s music, you really feel the immersion into the Ghostbusters’ universe.

One of the many cameos from the first two Ghostbuster films.
One of the many cameos from the first two Ghostbuster films.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game takes place in 1991, two years after the events of Ghostbusters II. You play the role of a new recruit who the other Ghostbusters only refer to as Rookie. The game starts off with paranormal activity that centers on the Gozer exhibit at the museum. A shockwave is sent out, which attracts the attention of Ray and Egon, and which also frees resident ghost mascot Slimer in the process. The team chases Slimer to the Sedgewick Hotel where he is eventually captured, destroying a familiar looking hotel reception room in the process. No sooner had they wrapped up this incident, than they were greeted by a familiar Gozer destructor form. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is wreaking havoc in Times Square and once again the team is called into action to defeat him. What unravels after these events is a plot which, of course, will bring about the destruction of the human world.

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If you cross the streams, expect to get an earful from your teammates.

Gameplay is mainly comprised of third-person shooting. You start the game off with the iconic proton pack which weakens ghosts until the point where they can be captured and sent into a trap. Since there is no ammo in the game, you can continue firing your weapon until it overheats. If it overheats you temporarily cannot use your weapon, you can stop this by manually cooling it down. However if this were the only weapon in the game, the gameplay would get really stale really quickly. Luckily, being the new guy, Ray gives you all the new equipment to test. While some of these new weapons give you the feeling they were just thrown in without much thought, they are all distinctly different so it just doesn’t feel like a slightly different proton pack. You also earn money for every ghost you defeat that you can use to upgrade your weapons. The upgrades are minor and you can upgrade them all fairly quickly, but it’s a nice touch to have them.

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First person mode with the PKE meter.

Similarly, there are different types of defeating enemies to vary things up. While the stronger ghosts are captured, some of the lesser ones you just destroy by depleting their energy. Some are distinctly unique like the gargoyles which you must capture and slam into the ground to break them. There are also first person elements as well when using the PKE Meter. In the game, you use the PKE Meter to scan enemies for their weaknesses, reveal ghosts you normally couldn’t see, find passageways to the next area and search for hidden bonus items you can collect. There is no HUD that displays health, instead like many shooter heroes, your health regenerates when you aren’t getting attacked. If you happen to fall in battle, as long as there is another team member near you, they can revive you.

Egon's character model looks eerily spot on to Harold Ramis.
Egon's character model looks eerily spot on to Harold Ramis.

As mentioned earlier, this game does not try to hide the blatant Ghostbusters’ fan service. This is great for fans of the movies, but also limits the audience of who will enjoy this game who might not understand why a giant painting of Vigo the Carpathian constantly taunts you at Ghostbusters headquarters. But even for hardcore fans it may give you the feeling that it falls a little short of being a total revival for the franchise. At times it feels like it relies too heavily on past movie references. The storyline makes it feel like Ghostbusters 1.5 rather than a true third movie. Some of the performances feel a bit subdued as well, primarily Bill Murray as Peter Venkman. You get the feeling that he isn’t quite putting his all into the role. That being said the performances by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis feel spot on and there have been more than once instance where I found myself laughing at the writing. Ultimately that is what’s going to keep you playing the campaign mode. The gameplay, while unique, doesn’t exactly carry single player. Since storyline quality can be a subjective thing, if it doesn’t draw you in, you may not find much to keep you playing.

Imagine this hulking beast times 3. That's a good idea of what multiplayer throws at you.
Imagine this hulking beast times 3. That's a good idea of what multiplayer throws at you.

It won’t take long to complete the campaign and it does not offer much replay value, but there is a surprisingly robust multiplayer mode that is available. All multiplayer modes are co-op up to 4 players and they all vary in mission types. For example one mode is a survival type mode, where you capture ghosts until your team is defeated. Another mode however has you protecting 4 relics from being taken away by ghosts until time runs out. Another mode has you destroying ghost spawn points. You can play these multiplayer missions on their own or you can play a campaign which has you playing 3 different missions one after the other. I was very skeptical of the multiplayer mode, but after playing it I found myself really enjoying it. It really does give the game a breath of fresh air after you’ve completed the campaign mode and it gives you a chance to check out other player’s crazy ghost capturing techniques. If you feel the storyline doesn’t carry the campaign mode for you, you can probably find a breath of fresh air playing with other people in smaller gameplay bursts.

One more thing I have to mention. The game does a great job at giving you a creepy atmosphere that you normally don’t find out of games like Residen Evil  and Silent Hill. While you won’t find any pyramid heads doing questionable activities with mannequins, you will find yourself at the receiving end of some cheap scares. It took me by surprise, because the movie, while having to do with ghosts, was never really scary.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game definitely does one thing right. It completely caters to the Ghostbusters fanboy crowd. With anything involving fandom, many hardcore fans may be able to ignore the shortcomings of the game, but those who don’t quote Ghostbusters in every day life may find it hard to ignore them. Take away all the big name actors and the story and you have what feels like a fresh third person shooter with new mechanics, but eventually falls into a repetitious trap. For most people I would say this game is a solid rental. You’ll enjoy the experience and you’ll also enjoy that you didn’t pay full retail price for it.

The Night Before the Grand Opening

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, for the longest time you may have heard about a building specifically to promote Japanese pop culture in San Francisco’s Japantown. After nearly three years, New People, the new J-Pop and anime center that Viz Media invest their hard earned manga sales, will be open today at noon. To celebrate the grand opening, Viz in conjunction with the Japantown Merchants Association and the Center for Asian American Media, held a free screening of Kamikaze Girls, outdoors at the Japantown Peace Plaza. I was there to take a few pictures of the screening and Japantown in general. We’ll have more photos of the grand opening of New People later today, so stay tuned!

Masochism Now Available as DLC

If you’ve ever thought, “Boy, this game just isn’t frustrating enough. There aren’t enough cheap deaths and controller throwing moments for me.”, then I have some good news for you!  Capcom has just released new DLC that will make Megaman 9 harder. “Superhero Mode” is available for only 80 Microsoft points ($1) and perhaps a bit of your sanity too. This DLC will make it so you will encounter more enemies.

I can’t imagine the kind of person this would appeal to as Megmaan 9 is already one of the most frustrating platformers I have played to date. More importantly, I can’t imagine why you would want to pay for this either. Granted it’s only $1, but really if you wanted to pay money to make your life more stressful you can just give it to me and I’ll come to your work and periodically tase you throughout the day. The DLC is available for the Xbox 360 version only and will include no new achievements or leaderboard functionality.

Source

IGN