well, you know what they say about opinions

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

what to recommend

Yet again, it's been a long time since the last post but every now and again I feel re-invigorated to post some opinion or other about video games. Perhaps in years to come I'll look back at these posts and reflect on how accurate or close to the truth some were.

This time I think it's been prompted by the purchase of a PlayStation 3 a few months ago, and I just felt like expressing a few thoughts on it and how it's left me thinking about what to recommend to people this Christmas.

You see, I didn't really need a PS3 and at the time I didn't
really want one. I just kind of got one because it was the right time financially to pick one up. So having done that, I plugged it in and hooked it up to my telly via a HDMI cable and started using it.

You know, I was impressed... T
he PS3 is slick in the engineering department; it has no buttons, the disk is front loading, it's almost silent and the Blue Ray drive doesn't make a sound. The menu's are clean, minimal yet stylish, you can see all the little thumbnails animating in the menu's, it has a web browser, it makes little stylish beeps and clicks and it feels like a good bit of kit (a bit like most of Sony stuff lying around the house).

So, initially, thumbs up and in many ways it felt like a step up from my established next gen gaming system, the Xbox 360.

However, a few months on and I find myself asking which system do I think is the better system to recommend to others and this is where things start to get difficult.

Why..? Well it's because right now the 360 has it all when it comes to games; the graphics are (generally speaking) better than the PS3 (framerate, aliasing, pop-in etc.), the online part is much easier and reliable to use, the marketplace offers some great arcade titles and games are usually in shops sooner and cheaper than the PS3 versions. So, with an endorsement like this, the advice would seem to be clear: 'Buy a 360'. But it's not...

Whilst logically the 360 is the one to get I feel strangely compelled to recommend the PS3 because 'if' (and I mean a big'IF') Sony can just get a few things right... you know tidy up their sloppy PSN, lower the prices of their games a little, get some games to market quicker and improve the results on PS3 for cross platform development it will be the one to own. The hardware is reliable, it doesn't sound like a microwave in your front room, it can produce stella' visuals (we've already seen them) huge detailed games can fit on the Blue Ray, it has wireless networking, bluetooth and card readers and soon it will even record your TV!

If (and I mean a big IF) Sony succeed in tidying up the loose ends of a hugely ambitious project that is the PS3 it will be, without doubt, the one to own/recommend.

There's also all of the hardware issues that relate to the 360 to consider too. I think it's fair to say that almost all 360 owners expect their 360's to break within a year or two of purchase, either disk read problems or the dreaded Red Ring Of Death, and this surely goes in Sony's favour.

With this in mind, and without a proper 360 hardware revision this year, I'm left thinking of the saying "A candle that burns twice as bright, lasts half as long" and at the moment the 360 is definitely the one burning twice as bright.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

and so it begins

Just a quick one.

looks like Argos are starting the pre-order frenzy over here in the UK a little earlier than most for the Wii with their 'LIMITED STOCK' advert.

With PS3 postponed until sometime next year and the 360 appealing to a limited demographic I guess Wii could really make an impression over here this Christmas.

We shall wait and see.

BTW: Doesn't look like the Wii can be pre-ordered just yet online... [Link] however if you take a closer look at the picture above you'll find the CAT number so you can phone 'em up!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

back from the dead

It's been a while since I last updated this site and to be honest the question of how to re start the blog has been a bit of a sticking point.

So with over six months gone what's it goin' to be eh?

Well the question on my mind at the moment (and for some time) is whether or not we really are on the cusp of a significant change in the games industry. Yep you've guessed it… Wii. It has been the topic of discussion amongst friends over many a Pizza's and lunchtime ponderings and I hear 'everyone's' talking about it. For me it feels like this could be the return, the second coming, the biggest comeback of all time for Nintendo.

However, before I go any further I must warn you that this opinion may be skewed by the fact that I'm a huge Nintendo fan. My first and only true love of videogames was sparked by the imagination and pure playability of Shigeru Miyamoto's masterpieces on the NES and something from that era stuck. So where Wii is to most people simply a 'pretty cool idea' for me it's 'hope'. Hope that it will be a vehicle that drives the games industry into making games where the focus is on us doing interesting things again rather than just looking and sounding as realistic as possible whilst shooting some stagnant AI in the face.

Still with me? If not… try here… [Link]

Now Nintendo have already got the boat on the way to some degree by introducing us all to the DS and despite the ridicule by the likes of IGN in the early days it has become a true success story and in my opinion proves that games can be just that… 'games'. The DS doesn't have uber graphics, 7.1 surround sound, movie player, mp3 player, picture viewer, mobile phone, GPS receiver, HD display, 35 firmware updates and a web browser… do we care… exactly, because anyone reading this who already owns a DS knows exactly why it's enjoyable to switch on from time to time.

So back to the question… will the Wii do the job?

I think so.

Why? Well three things really…

Firstly and most importantly it needs to be popular and I think there's a good chance of that happening. It looks like something Apple would make (i.e. nice), it's not that expensive, it's different, it looks easy to use, it has a blue light on it and the marketing features a wide spectrum of people using the damn thing. This combined with a pack-in game, which just about anyone can play, and a killer launch title such as Zelda and you've pretty much covered the entire demographic.

Secondly, it is not a multi core multi threaded system with a GPU that can grill steaks, no it is a system that takes away the emphasis from clock speeds to: throwing, aiming, waving, balancing… you know… doing stuff. Like the DS, graphics aren't there to compete with the next game's box shot. Graphics on the Wii are there to look 'good enough' and to facilitate the gameplay. For this reason I believe a lower spec is actually strength of the system and combined with popularity; it will shift publishers focus towards more imaginative development studios/projects and put something interesting to do on the shelves.

Last but not least, I think we need a change. Things are getting stale. I've done PS1/2, Xbox / 360, Game Cube to death and you know what… it's all the same… I play the same old stuff over and over and every new Game Demo I download on Xbox Live is just another reminder of the fact that we haven't moved on at all really.

Don't get me wrong, I still love playing them all but I'm not excited by much these days.

You must feel it too, right?

If you do then you know what to do.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ps3 in november (in europe too - yeah right)

The Sony announcement is out now and you can read all about it over on IGN but to sum it up:
  • Global launch in November
  • Console will be better than everything else
  • Online Service will be better than everything else
  • Supports telly's the size of Cinema screens at 1000 frames a second
  • Will act as a media server for the whole house
  • Oh and it grills steaks and has an 'easy to clean' removable fat tray

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

gone over to the dark side

Well, I haven't posted for a couple of days because I've been a bit busy....


NO! I hear you cry!

Yup, I did the deed on Saturday and got my self a Premium pack from the local independent game shop along with a couple of games. This is all, of course, in preparation for the launch of Oblivion, which is going to own me for a few months I'm sure.

I'll post what I think about the system later in the week, once I've played around with it for a while, but in the meantime I have to say that I'm quite impressed with it (more than I thought I'd be to be honest).

Friday, March 10, 2006

now i *am* crying

Well I'm resigned to the fact that it's probably going to take a while before I can experience the DS Lite for myself but in the meantime I continue to torture myself.

Here's another video, by the same guy who did the last one, showing us a bit more DS Lite. The video covers things like how to hold it and what it looks like with a GBA cart sticking out of it.

I like the way he presents the video, a bit of a Geoff Goldblum approach...


Thursday, March 09, 2006

busy day - thursday roundup

Well today has been a bit of a busy day, so I've decided to just do the one post on various bits and bobs...

Ok, so what have we got... ah yes...

The Origami is now out in the open and for everyone to see, and as we all suspected it's big, slightly clunky and the battery life is terrible... oh and it runs Windows XP, great! (or maybe not)


Shigeru Miyamoto will be appearing on allowing fans to ask him questions about the new Mario game, due to appear on the DS soon. The webchat will be available to download at 8pm (GMT) on the 17th of March from here...


Perhaps I should ask him how likley am I to get an imported DS Light this month?

Couple of things over on Eurogamer. The TV section has some more footage of the Metroid game coming to the DS. This game looks like a cracking shooter but I'm starting to get the feeling that I'll be disappointed with this game. After 3 years of playing 'shoot me in the face' over XBox Live I don't think I could face another mindless FPS. I really hope Nintendo haven't neglected the single player game.


Also they've done a pretty hefty review of EA's Fight Night game for the 360 and according to them it actually looks as good as the demo's EA were showing at E3 last year! But wait for this right... the game is damn good too, which is even more surprising, especially after the rather disappointing FIFA and Tiger Woods EA launched with the 360.


IGN have an editorial on the Nintendo Revolution, it's a good read and I always enjoy an editorial.


And last but not least, it looks like we'll get to hear something about the PS3 next week even thought it's probably just an announcement to tell everyone that it won't be ready for April.