Yes it’s true the PlayStation Store came back online a few days ago, 1st June to be precise (In all markets except Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan). And also true is that Sony are now offering their widely covered and much talked about ‘Welcome Back ‘program but wait.

Before you deviate away from this post and onto the PS Store you may want to read our own troubles and tribulations with actually downloading our freebies. Firstly I turned on my Playstation 3, log in to the PlayStation Store and guess what……Error!!!!!

The choice of free games available on the 'Welcome Back' program

Which two do you choose?

It seems Sony has underestimated just how busy there store is going to be as on almost every click I get (After between three and ten attempts to actually enter the store) I get an error message. I mean did Sony actually think that they were going to give people freebies and for maybe ten or twenty people to take up the offer….. Well clearly, yes.

Once you get on though and actually find the freebies, it’s a pretty smooth ride (Or at least for my girlfriend it was). So within minutes she was downloading Ratchet and Clank, one of her favourites that were available and she was happy. However with me…

PlayStation Plus Service

Some of the games that are getting offered through PlayStation Plus seem tame when compared to previous weeks.

Well as documented I got on to the store (Eventually) I tried to download the @Welcome Back’ app that you, for some reason need before you can download anything, and it crashed. So I exited the store, and tried to re-download the app and it vanished.

Yes, that’s right, it vanished. So searching online for anyone else who has had this issue and thankfully I’m not the only person. So as always on GamingBytes we like to try and give you help so if you do face this error and don’t get to download your first game, here’s what Sony tell you to do.

1. On your PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable navigate to the PlayStation Network icon on the XMB

2. Log into your PlayStation Network account and choose Account Management > Transaction Management > Services List

3. Choose “PlayStation Network Promotions” from the list of services displayed

4. Select either “PS3 Free Games” or “PSP Free Games” and then choose “Select Content”

Source – http://blog.us.playstation.com/

Now I’d love to tell you this works, but my girlfriend is currently using my PS3, so I will update the blog, if and when I get the chance to try this, but it does seem a common problem.

So it all seems to be generally working very well, so (For now at least) bravo Sony and let’s hope that when I get the chance to I too will be able to enjoy some free games.

How is your ‘Welcome Back’ content going down? Are you too having problems? Have you had no problems what so ever? And have you had a chance to look at the rather poor and tame selection of PlayStation Plus freebies? Whatever your reaction to the ‘Welcome Back’ program drop us a comment and good luck, you may just need it

 

UPDATE: I have now checked, this problem of errors during download can be resolved by using the method stated above – happy downloading.

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Details are sketchy at best but Forza 4 is looking like it will go at the very top of my Christmas must have list. The game builds on the success of the Forza Motorsport franchise and reportedly adds lots more cars, lots more courses and appeals to hard-core drivers as well as the more casual gamer. But one has to ask the question if it isn’t broke, why are you trying to fix it?

Yes there were a few annoyances in Forza 3, but these small ‘annoyances’ were just that small. I mean honestly I didn’t hear many people complaining about the game, what I did hear were a lot of Sony fans complaining that GT5 had still not been released.  So if they are going to increase its popularity or release a ‘polished’ version of Forza they were going to have to pull something out of the bag.

Forza Motorsport 4 Cover Art

The cover car Ferrari 458 Italia is a slight change from the usual

As I said earlier, details are very sketchy, but a leaked internal only video has been on YouTube for us to all look at and analyse as much as possible. Firstly, it looks as though Microsoft are trying to entice those casual ‘Sunday drivers’ with the Kinect system. Basically it allows those who maybe don’t like to use the controller to control the car using just your hands (Ideal if your 12). That’s not all you can do with the Kinect though, this time you can actually look around the car, or even get in the car and look at the superb details that you’re obviously going to be noticing when you’re speeding through the desert doing 200MPH. Also when using the Kinect system and driving you can view your side mirrors to see who is behind you or to your right, useful, but really not going to appeal to the hard-core gamer.

So, if you are a hard-core gamer, what’s in it for you, well……. Not a lot. You can now play online with up to 16 mates in an all new online racing system, perfect so long as no-one hacks X-Box Live. More than 80 manufacturers are also going to be available in-game for you to tune and hone to your hearts content. There also appears to be more fully featured F1 support, although this may get overlooked as an addition that is not necessary, especially regarding the new-found love for the increasingly popular F1 yearly series of games. Other improvements are a supposedly new career mode, active aero on specific cars, and the exhaust pops when you decelerate quickly – amazing improvements!

Another noticeable addition is that of the Top Gear team, who along with aiding Microsoft in their development of the game have also seemingly given the rights to reproduce the Top Gear Test Track (Good Microsoft copy something else from Sony) and the Transfagarasan Road in Romania that was featured in the show.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

Okay admittedly that looks impressive - The game is due for release in Autumn of this year

However, all in all I don’t see any major upgrades for the hard-core driver/gamer. I loved Forza 3 because it had ground breaking graphics and was as good a driving simulator as you could get for the 360. And whilst I will be buying it (I love my racing games) it will only be bought because Forza 3 is getting old and I have practically finished Gran Turismo 5. But at first glance (Which is what this is) I am fairly un-impressed.

Check back after E3 when hopefully more details will come to light and hopefully I will have changed my mind. For those of you who want to see the leaked trailer it is available via this YouTube link. Remember, its low res and Microsoft have stated that ‘The video in question was not intended for public distribution and may not accurately reflect features and functionality that ship in Forza Motorsport 4.’

The game will be available late 2011 (In time for Chrimbo)

After months of saying “No, I’m not going to review Killzone because everyone is” I got handed a copy of the Killzone demo and hence this review.

Let me first say this, I have never played any of the Killzone games, I found them to be either juvenile or games that juveniles would play. And me not being a juvenile I thought that this game would not get a fair review, so I went into this review with the clear and indefinite thoughts that I would not enjoy it.

The last first person shooter I played was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and even when I played COD I never played it for too long because I found it fairly boring. I can safely say that Killzone doesn’t have this effect on me, yes you read right, doesn’t. “But you said you were going to hate Killzone 3” I said I was going to try to, but playing this game made me realise what I possibly have been missing in life.

Killzone 3 Screenshot

With graphics that are this good, it;s hard to wonder why I didn't review it before now

The gameplay was fantastic, took me a while to get used to it, but my god when I did get the hang of it, It was awesome. The graphics are absolutely amazing, graphics that, in my opinion would give LA: Noire a run for their money.  And whilst the in-game graphics rival anything in its field, the cut scene graphics are out of this world. I cannot actually give the graphics its comeuppance because they are just a delight to look at. The control system, whilst not easy to just pick up and learn along the way, has buttons for everything. I mean seriously there is probably a button to make my tea; I just haven’t found it yet. Some may be put off by the thought of too many buttons, but after playing it (And dying quite a bit I must admit) for fifteen minutes you understand how it all works.  It also has compatibility with the move controller, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to review that, but you can almost guarantee that it’ll be similar to every other shoot ‘em up game that uses the PS Move (There’s also a 3D version, but knowing my love for everything 3D why don’t we skip past that).  The game also comes with a co-op mode, which I’m quite sure may get people to stay in on a Saturday night and have a Killzone party. If I had friends I too would probably do that.

Killzone 3 Inlay / Cover Art

Killzone is available now on Playstation 3 Only

Obviously the game does have a rating of 18 which is understandable considering all the blood and gore that is complimentary in the game. Not to mention the fact that your killing….things with big guns and you actually get complimented on your shooting by your “Partner” (I can’t see many parents saying well done to their son or daughter for shooting someone in the head with a big machine gun can you).

If there was going to be a con it was that the control system, at first is very sensitive and has too many buttons and actions then are genuinely needed. That’s it, I can’t think of any other cons, this game is absolute genius, and I’m not a person who is known for playing games like this, that have “teh big guns”

So for what has to be the first time since starting to review games, I can fairly say that I was wrong to criticise this game. Whilst the storyline seems rather farfetched, the gameplay, and even to a certain extent the control system, more than make up for it. So if this game is criticised for being juvenile, then I too must be a juvenile. Just makes me sad that I haven’t played the first two, but I am happy in the knowledge that if I want too they are going for really cheap on the regular auction sites. This will be going on my shopping list, definitely.

Score: 9/10

Review done whilst riding a black swan by: parkergordon

Buy Killzone 3 – Move Compatible (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Killzone 3 in 3D with Dual Shock 3 (Jungle Green) Wireless Controller – Move Compatible (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Those who have read my two articles on DW6 and the preview on DW7 will by now know my opinion on the series; bit tedious at times, but still has a degree of enjoyment. While I enjoyed playing DW6, I felt it was starting to stagnate. Now I’ve played the 7th game, is it going to be the same deal this time around?

Dynasty Warriors 7

For the first time in the history of the game Dynasty Warriors now has a Story Mode

The plot is the same as all the other Dynasty Warriors games, which is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms; you watch the unfolding story of the three kingdoms of Chinaas they wage war for complete control. The new addition to the new game is the inclusion of the 4th kingdom; Jin. These are formed during the downfall or Wei, Wu and Shu, and strive to unite the land. I always wanted to see how the story progressed after the final battle of Shu and Wei, as I felt the games ended rather abruptly.

In DW7, they’ve thrown out the two usual modes that have been present throughout the whole series; Musou and Free Mode. These two were basically the same thing, though Musou mode did try to tell the story of the Three Kingdoms. Unfortunately, it wasn’t told very well. Now, in the new game, they’ve included two new modes to play; Story mode and Conquest mode.

Story mode is the replacement to Musou mode, and a good replacement too. In Musou mode, you played as each individual character, playing pretty much the same battles over and over again. Now, in Story mode, you play as the kingdom, following their campaign to ruleChina. Instead of playing as one character throughout the story, you control a different character at the beginning of each act, or battle. On some occasions, you switch characters in the middle of a battle. I like this new change, as it means playing the story doesn’t feel repetitive.  The cut scenes play out really well, and do very well to convey the character’s emotions, and what’s happening at that moment in time. There’s a scene where Dian Wei sacrificed himself to save his lord Cao Cao. I was shocked to see him riddled with arrows and collapsing to the floor. That’s never happened before. Previously the cut scenes just felt shoe horned in, and just got in the way of the actual game. In previous games, when you were in the middle of a battle, you be treated to a sudden blackout followed by a pretty pointless cut scene, before resuming your march. These used to get in the way of playing, but that’s changed in the new DW. Cut scenes and game play flow fluently between each other, and feel integral to the whole experience.

The second mode included is Conquest mode. This is like a campaign acrossChina, completing different missions in different battlegrounds. These missions include escorting the commander to the escape point, storming a stronghold, and helping with an army’s defence. Each mission can vary in length, but they do not feel drawn out. It’s not like you have to sit for hours completing conquest mode; you can play a few battles in bursts and take a break. There are also legendary battles thrown into the mix. These let you take control of each character and take part in different scenarios. These can either be historical battles they took part in or what-if situations. For example, Zhang He, the ‘fabulous’ warrior of Wei has two legendary battles; one is defeating Cao Cao, and the other is convincing other generals to join his dance troupe. Yes… a dance troupe. These battles are quite varied and fun as well. These two modes are a huge improvement to the previous games, as they make the experience much more enjoyable.

Each battle plays out in a similar fashion; defending the main camp, while pushing the opposition back. You are usually given a particular task to complete, in order to carry out the army’s strategy. Previously, these felt tiresome, and I felt obligated to complete them, just because I didn’t want to lose the battle, and start over again. But this time it feels different. I felt motivated to carry out the missions. My reasoning is that the cut scenes and the story were presented so admirably, they gave me a reason to progress further, and achieve victory.

The controls have gone back to the classic layout, and abandoning the Renbu system. The classic controls involved the use of a light attack button and a strong attack button. Both can be use to deliver different combos, such as light-light-heavy. I liked the idea behind the Renbu system, but you were basically pressing one button for hours, which just felt tiresome. Visually it’s pleasing, but that’s about it. The classic system works a little better visually and doesn’t feel as tiresome. The Musou attack still hangs around, and of course that’s been given the old nip/tuck. Instead of the characters just swinging their weapon around, they have an over the top technique that can obliterate a huge crowd of soldiers. Huang Zhong launches his enemies in the air to deliver a barrage of arrows, Jia Xu releases a vortex of fire, and Sima Yi engulfs his victims in web, before blowing them up, to name a few. It always brings a feeling of satisfaction to see hundreds of soldiers fly around after one little button press, which is one of the reasons I love this series.

Special mention should be given to the weapons on offer, since there’s a new feature; the weapon switch. You now equip two weapons to take with you, and can switch between them at will. It now brings more opportunities to slap some goons around. You have your regular, run of the mill weapons to choose from; swords, spears, axes, pike, arm cannons, bows… wait… arm cannon? Never knewChinawas that advanced to have a hand held cannon. And somehow they invented a lance that doubles as a drill. It’s classic ancient weaponry, with that usual Tecmo Koei over-the-top style. Even a harp can be used as a weapon. Who knew?

Dynasty Warriors 7 Case Artwork

Dynasty Warriors 7 is available now on the PS3 and the X-Box 360

If I had to mark it down for something, it would have to be the skill point feature they’ve implemented. You level up your character by defeating enemy generals, and gaining skill points to spend on new abilities; from an extra attack, to a new musou attack. Now it’s a good idea, but the points are only given to the character that killed the generals. Any characters you don’t use don’t gain skill points. This can lead to difficulties later on. For example, if you haven’t used a warrior until you play their legendary battle (maybe because you haven’t unlocked them until then), then they will be pretty weak, and only able to perform basic attacks. This means they will be susceptible to getting wiped out with a few hits, which can get frustrating. My opinion would be to have a ‘pool’ of skill points to use on all the characters.

Secondly, with all the new characters, you never really get to use them in story mode. I would like to see the origins of some characters, like Ma Dai of Shu, and Cai Wenji of Wei. If you’re going to include new additions, an origin story would be nice. But these two little flaws don’t really get in the way of the game.

I was thoroughly impressed with Dynasty Warriors 7. It feels like an actual sequel, with noticeable upgrades, and a better playing experience. DW6 was good, but number 7 is much better. This is the sequel I was waiting for, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Score: 9/10

Review written with the help of Sun Tzu by: Satchel

Buy Dynasty Warriors 7 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

In a time of great struggle it’s nice to know that both Sony and Microsoft have had mixed weeks, with mixed problems, and mixed results.

Gaming Bytes has been very Playstation orientated lately, so what about the Xbox? How is that console doing at the moment?

Microsoft Xbox 360 Logo

A free X-Box 360 S? I think so

Well as we all know the firmware on consoles gets updated quite a bit and even more so at the moment because of what has happened to Sony. With the latest firmware update on the Xbox 360 some Xbox’s are being damaged! Yes you read correctly Microsoft is damaging some consoles with this new firmware update!

Only a small number of consoles have been affected but you can recognise this problem by the messages of ‘disc unreadable’ or ‘disc unsupported’ error on the screen, so if this is happening to you then don’t worry as there is a silver lining to this cloud.

If you are one of the people whose Xbox is incompatible with this new update then Microsoft will replace your broken console with a new one for free! Microsoft are currently getting in contact with people who have Xbox’s affected by this, and they have said that they “are also able to detect this issue over Xbox Live and are proactively reaching out to customers that may be impacted to replace their console.”

So don’t worry if you are experiencing this problem as it just means you will be getting a brand new shiny 250GB slim Xbox 360! (And a 12 month Gold membership once you return your console) Anyone wishing to take up this offer only needs to turn on their X-Box 360 on and connect it to X-Box live. The console will then ‘call the mothership’ (a.k.a X-Box servers) and if your console is registered as one that might be affected, you will receive a message soon after.

Anybody else hoping that theirs will be affected so they can get a new upgrade for free?

Playstation 3 Logo

Will gamers patience run thin with all the hacks and exploits that are still troubling Sony?

On the Sony side, a recent password reset exploit meant that people could access your details and change your password if they knew your email address and date of birth. Sony took down the website that allowed this behaviour only moments later, but once again it leaves Sony gamers feeling even more vulnerable than ever. That coupled with the fact that the PSN only went back online just over a week ago many will be wondering if all exploits/hacks/leaks are actually fixed or not.

On a side note Sony has issued a statement (To internal game developers) which states that the Playstation Store should resume functionality from Tuesday 24th May in all territories. This should allow gamers to access the Playstation ‘Welcome Back’ program (Which features are stated here).

Now seeing what both companies are doing, both with trouble and difficult time both at present and in the future, a lot of gamers may feel cheated by Sony’s offers and ‘Welcome back’ program. What are your views? Are you happy with what’s being offered by both Sony and Microsoft? Are you very annoyed by both Sony and Microsoft messing with their loyal fan base? Or are you a Nintendo Wii fan and laughing at both companies? Let us know how you feel.

Having spent a fair amount of time enjoying the delights of Virtua Tennis 4 I thought it would behove me to review the other additional tennis simulations that are going to be available and for that I had to really review its competitor which is Topspin 4.

Anyone who remembers my review (Insert review post here) will remember that I greatly appreciated the rather simple and casual gaming style of Virtua Tennis 4. And if I had to give these games a real life comparison Virtua Tennis would be Rodger Federer and Topspin 4 would be Andy Murray. Why you all gasp? The reason is simple, Virtua Tennis is (And for me always will be) a tennis great, it’s intuitive, easy to pick up and play, enjoyable, and is always going to do well. Topspin 4 is also intuitive (Maybe too much so) not as easy to pick up and play as Virtua Tennis, doesn’t go into too much details during it’s “World Tour” mode and will only surprise you actually follow tennis. Now that we have that analogy over with it’s time to properly review the game.

Top Spin 4 Screenshot

Top Spin 4 does indeed look good, but is that important in comparison to gameplay?

First thing to mention is that the control system is fairly easy to us (Although it has a lot more shot options then I would ever need to use) and even tells you if you have hit the ball early or late and, obviously as would be expected, this alters the movement of your shot. This control system however seems to nurse you too much, and whilst you can turn it off, it’s still there as a back though that the creators 2K Czech need to implement this into the game. I mean it is a good thing, if you’re playing a practice match or training this is a must have, but when playing in a competition it’s not really necessary.

Secondly the control system seems a little slow, there doesn’t seem to be any real power in the shots, and since this is trying to simulate real life, they should have given the game a little more oomph. Even the character I was playing as (Federer) seemed to hopelessly flap at the ball when if he’d of actually tried to hit it he could have. The game really seems unpolished, which after three years of waiting for a sequel, is very much unexpected.

Maybe I’m being too harsh as I am a real lover of the new Virtua Tennis series, but this game does have its good points.

Top Spin 4 Cover Art

Top Spin 4 available now on Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and Nintendo Wii

It has several different difficulty settings, so someone like me can easily start off on medium and the die-hard tennis fan can get into the nitty gritty expert level straight away. It has advanced control systems for serve and all of its other shots, but if you’re feeling a little tired you can let the computer automate your shots and serve as well. It has amazing graphics, probably on par with Virtua Tennis 4 and its new player animations are very realistic and well presented. It has an all new TV broadcast quality, which although is seen in other tennis sims, is very well replicated and maybe even better then Virtua Tennis. But these are all novel, and very cosmetic plus points and in no way can compete with its nemesis Virtua Tennis 4.

So to summarise what I summarised at the beginning this game really is the Andy Murray of the tennis video games. It may be a very good game for those who played Topspin 3 as it keeps some of the glory of that game and takes away all that was bad and terrible about it. But with a very dull world tour mode, (No side quests like meeting fans, signing autographs etc.) very slow and seemingly powerless shots, and did I mention the lack of depth in the “create a superstar” mode this really is Andy Murrays Wimbledon…… unwinnable.

Score: 6.5/10

Reviewed by the IRS before submitting by: parkergordon

Buy Top Spin 4 (PS3) from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Top Spin 4 (Xbox 360) from Amazon.co.uk

Since the rebirth of the Playstation Network Sony have released details of its “Welcome Back” program which offers quite a bit in way of a compensation package for disgruntled gamers.

Playstation Network Welcome Back Program

The Playstation Network Welcome Back program offers lots of free stuff to its patient customers

Firstly it is offering a choice of any two games from a set of five. The five games differ slightly between the UK and the USA but include games such as Dead Nation, InFamous, Little Big Planet, Wipeout HD + Fury. (The USA also has the choice of Super Stardust HD whilst the UK gets the choice of Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty) If you’re a PSP customer you get the choice of Little Big Planet PSP, Modnation Racers, Pursuit Force and Killzone Liberation for your troubles. All this free content is available to keep for free forever, is available for any registered member of the PSN who registered before the 20 April 2011 (When the network went down) and all games must be downloaded within the first 30 days once the Playstation Store is back online.

Secondly, both the USA and the UK will get 30 days of free usage of the Sony Playstation Plus service, which for those who don’t know, gives you the chance to try demos before everyone else, download classic PSOne games, watch video demos of upcoming releases and much more. Those who already are a member of the Playstation Plus service will get an additional 60 days service added to their account.

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty Screenshot

Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty is just one of the choice of five free downloadable games

If you are a member of the “Music Unlimited” service you will be happy to know that you will get an extra 30 days, plus time lost of the service as way of an apology for not being able to use it during this downtime.

And as if that’s not enough, American users can also enjoy a free set of 100 virtual items in Playstation’s Home service. The UK may also get this offered as a freebie, but at the time of writing Sony hasn’t issued anything to say that this is the case.

That’s it for the UK (Or at least at this time of writing it is) but in the USA you get more. American customers get what is being called an “On Us” service where PSN users will be able to rent a choice of online movies for free, over one weekend, when video streaming services are re-enabled.

That’s quite an apology, and quite a compensation package, but does that make up for all the uncertainty over personal identity theft? Give us your thoughts. Are you happy with the so called “Compensation package”? Is the choice of games a good choice? Tell us what you think.