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Happy New Year from the Contrast Team

When a small team of seven -- five guys and two pretty amazing gals -- set up to create Contrast in a small solarium a few years ago, we didn't think we'd be launching on a brand new console, across several continents, or get as much attention as we did. 2013 was as exhausting as it was rewarding.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

Happy New Year from the Puppeteer Team

Season's greetings from Japan. 2013 has been a very busy year for Japan Studio. We launched four titles this year, including my own Puppeteer. So we're all looking forward to a few well-deserved days off. Although you might be surprised to hear that, here in Japan, we don't get Christmas off. The 25th of December is just a normal working day.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

PlayStation Plus: Urban Trial Freestyle Free on Vita for Members

Let’s face it, you probably have some time to kill before New Year’s Eve. Starting tomorrow Urban Trial Freestyle is free for PlayStation Plus members, so download it on your PS Vita before heading out to celebrate. If you find yourself in a boring conversation, excuse yourself to the restroom and mess around with some bike trials where you’ll attempt to pull off tricks like backflips, ollies and 360s. For those with a more competitive streak, you can challenge other riders with Ghost Mode. As addictive as Urban Trial Freestyle is, try not to spend the entire party in the bathroom. That can give the wrong impression.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

The Year in Review: PlayStation Devs Look Back at 2013

As perhaps you can imagine, it’s been an incredibly busy year here at PlayStation. Duly, just before everyone signed off for a few days of well-earned festive respite, I spoke to a number of key figures from SCEE, Sony Worldwide Studios and our partners in the indie world, to find out what their highlights of the past 12 months were, and what they have planned for 2014.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

Assessment: ‘All That Is still’ is a sturdy begin

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY 6:03 a.m. EST December 29, 2013

The Walking Dead photo 1

Fight for your life as the young Clementine in Season Two of "The Walking Dead" game series.(Photo: Telltale Inc.)

Story Highlights

  • 'Remains' is first in 5-part 'The Walking Dead' series
  • Play as Clementine, an orphan trying to escape from zombies
  • Available for Windows PC and Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Apple iOS
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After earning many "Game of the Year" nods in 2012, Telltale Games is back with The Walking Dead: Season Two, a five-part interactive adventure set in the world penned by Robert Kirkman's best-selling comic book (and popular television show) of the same name.

If the first downloadable episode, All That Remains, is any indication, this multiplatform game — for Windows PC and Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Apple iOS devices — could repeat the first season's critical and commercial success.

Officially titled The Walking Dead: Season Two — A Telltale Games Series, the first episode begins with a summary of the first season. For the uninitiated, the story follows groups of people trying to survive a world crawling with flesh-eating "walkers" (think zombies) and deadly scavengers. You'll start the second season playing as Clementine, an orphaned girl now a couple of years older, wiser and stronger than when she was found at age 6 hiding in a treehouse at the start of last year's story. If you've played previous episodes, your save game file can be imported — so all the key decisions you made will carry over. While you won't be as emotionally invested in the story, it's OK if you haven't played any of the previous episodes; the game will randomly generate the choices for you leading into the second season.

Spoiler alert: A few minutes into All That Remains, "Clem" finds herself alone for the first time and must find a way to survive in the wilderness. Without giving much away, she soon encounters a small band of survivors, some of whom distrust her. Played from a third-person perspective, Clem will walk around her environment, talk with characters, collect items for her inventory and use them to solve puzzles. In one scene, Clem must find a needle, fishing wire, bandages and hydrogen peroxide to clean and stitch up a nasty wound on her forearm.

The puzzles could be a little more challenging, but are enjoyable nonetheless. Also, I wish you could walk where you want in the game — exploring a forest or cabin, say — instead of hitting an invisible wall.

Keep in mind, the game also has some action elements, where the player must follow on-screen prompts to perform actions ("quick time events"), such as pressing one of the four arrows quickly (in the PC version played for this review), rapidly tapping the Q key, and so on. Note: This game isn't a zombie shooter. It relies more on puzzle solving and dialogue decisions, but there are some "twitch" elements. If you die, you can repeat the sequence again.

As previously hinted, many of the player's actions and choices will affect how the story plays out across the entire series. Helping one character survive over another will significantly alter the story, for example. Or, someone will remember if you broke their trust. Because you can change how the story plays out, this makes The Walking Dead more unique, and engrossing, than most other video games.

The Walking Dead photo 2

A screenshot from "All That Remains"(Photo: Telltale Inc.)

Even though the game is presented in cartoon-like "cel-shaded" graphics, take heed of its "Mature" age rating. It is not recommended for players under 17 because of the game's intense violence, blood and gore, and strong profanity.

Each $5 episode takes about two hours to complete, and new episodes will be released every couple of months — finishing sometime in 2014, says Telltale Games.

All That Remains is a solid start to the second season of The Walking Dead: Season Two — A Telltale Games Series. Regardless of what platform you play it on, mature gamers who enjoy memorable characters and a strong story should enjoy these bite-sized episodic adventures.

The Walking Dead: Season Two – A Telltale Games Series: All That Remains

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Mac, Apple iOS

Genre: Adventure

Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Web site: telltalegames.com

Price: Season Pass (five episodes) for $24.99.

Rating: "Mature"

Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)

Contact Saltzman at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

Gaming equipment prolong your playtime

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY 4:12 p.m. EST December 29, 2013

MOGA

MOGA controllers(Photo: © 2013 Bensussen Deutsch and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Story Highlights

  • MOGA controller works with iPhone games
  • Gunnar Eyewear combats eye fatigue from computer, TV screens
  • Blade gaming laptop comes with 14-inch display
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Did you score a new console, computer or mobile device over the holidays?

Hundreds of hardware add-ons exist for each of the main video game consoles – including the new PlayStation 4 ($399) and Xbox One ($499) – as well as Windows PCs and mobile devices.

While these accessories don't all do the same thing, they're all designed to add some extra functionality to compliment the interactive entertainment experience.

The following are a few recommended picks to start the year off with a bang.

TAKE CONTROL

Available for Android and Apple iOS devices, MOGA products (short for "mobile gaming") let you use a console-like controller to play hundreds of compatible smartphone and tablet games. Simply secure your mobile device into the grip and take advantage of comfortable buttons, triggers, analog sticks and a d-pad. While a couple of Android-based MOGA controllers are available ($29.99 to $79.99), the new MOGA ACE POWER ($99.99; mogaanywhere.com) works with for iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, and latest iPod touch – via the Lightning connector – and also charges up the iOS device with its built-in 1800 mAh battery.

Gunnars

Gunnar Intercept Eyewear(Photo: © Gunnar Optiks, Inc.)

EYE FOR AN EYE

If you spend a lot of time gaming in front of a television or computer monitor, consider donning Gunnar Intercept Eyewear ($59.99; gunnars.com), a pair of gaming glasses engineered to help combat eye fatigue – often accelerated by screen glare and artificial light – while increasing contrast and clarity. The wide-format lenses also offer a panoramic view of your games for sharper visual efficiency – especially ideal in fast-paced, white-knuckle military shooters. Text is also crisper and thus easier to read without straining. Gunnars are available in five colors: Cobalt, Fire, Kryptonite, Ghost and Ink.

KontrolFreek

KontrolFreek controller(Photo: © Copyright 2013 KontrolFreek, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

FREAK OUT

Do your thumbs ever slip off your console controller's analog sticks, causing you to miss that important target in Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4? KontrolFreek (from $9.99; kontrolfreek.com) snaps directly onto your controller's analog sticks for improved performance, accuracy and comfort. To ensure they fit snugly, simply choose your platform of choice – including support for the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – and what genre you prefer, including first-person shooter, sports, racing or casual arcade games. Along with adding some height to your analog sticks, KontrolFreek claims they increase range of motion by 40 percent and help add speed and precision.

Stinkyboard

Stinkyboard(Photo: Stinkyboard)

PLAYING FOOTSIES

While most game controllers are designed for your hands, Stinkyboard ($119.99; stinkyboard.com) is for your feet. Designed for first-person shooters, real-time strategy games and massively-multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing games, this Kickstarter-funded peripheral sits under your desk and lets you make quick in-game movements without having to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse. Bundled software lets you assign your own commands to each of the footboard's four buttons. The Stinkyboard is constructed of reinforced steel, aluminum and heavy plastics.

Razer Blade

The Razer Blade laptop(Photo: Copyright © 2013 Razer Inc. All rights reserved.)

POWER PLAY

PC gamers itching for a portable gaming machine might opt for the Razer Blade (from $1,799; razerzone.com/blade). Nominated for "Best Hardware" by the Game Critics Awards at the E3 Expo in June, the Blade is the thinnest 14-inch gaming laptop available (at just 0.66-inches thick) yet it packs a ton of processing power thanks to its 4th-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M graphics processor and starting with 128GB of SSD storage (up to 512GB). Other features include a programmable backlit keyboard, many high-speed USB 3.0 ports and a sharp high-definition (1600 x 900 resolution) LED display.

SOUND OFF

While you can find gaming headsets for under $10, those who want — and can afford — a top-of-the-line model should consider Turtle Beach's Ear Force XP Seven ($279.95; turtlebeach.com), a premium headset with microphone for Xbox 360/One, PlayStation 3/4, PC and Mac, and mobile devices. As the official headset of Major League Gaming (MLG), the XP Seven features Dolby Surround Sound and a fully programmable digital signal processor (DSP) for clear, loud and well-balanced audio. If you're not in the mood to chat, you can remove the mic boom or change up the speaker plates for different look, if desired.

Contact Saltzman at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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Gaming Technology, Latest Technology, Reviews

PlayStation Plus: January Preview

It’s almost time for the New Year, and we’re ready to kick-off 2014 in a big way. January’s Instant Game Collection will offer PlayStation Plus members loads of amazing titles, starting off with a new PlayStation 4 title — Don’t Starve. A wilderness survival game wrapped in a cute art style, you’ll take control of a Gentleman Scientist trying to make his way home from a mysterious place.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

XSEED Games: A Year in Review

2013 has been a year worth celebrating for the gaming industry, and for us at XSEED as well. A mere two weeks in, we got our year started less with a bang and more with a meaty squish as Corpse Party: Book of Shadows scared its way onto the North American PlayStation Store.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

Season’s Greetings from Aksys Games

With 2014 fast approaching and the holidays in full swing, we, the humble dudes and dudettes that make up Aksys Games, would like to wish everyone a happy holidays and safe new year. 2013 has been a great year for us, and we have our ardent fans to thank. It's because of you, who are willing to go the extra mile and experience new styles of gaming, that we continue to thrive. So, a big Aksys Games thanks across the Aksys Nation who have supported our endeavors and allowed us to buy the occasional "pat-on-the-back" office donuts. As we head into 2014, let's take a look at what's been going on, as well as what's to come.
Gaming Technology, Latest Technology

Square Enix: A Year in Review

Unless you live in a dungeon, it's probably been impossible to miss all the awesome Square Enix Japan titles we've enjoyed talking to you guys about here on PlayStation.Blog. As the new year is almost upon us, who's up for a quick stroll down the 2013 memory lane? Earlier this year, we brought you Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, which was in and of itself a walk down memory lane as you relived the story of Sora and his friends. Our launch event drew some incredibly passionate fans to Anaheim, California, to check out the new HD look, take pictures holding the official keyblade, and get the game in their hands for the first time.