PS3 Updates – It’s like watching paint dry.

March 23, 2011

Sorted the mail, did the laundry, walked the dog… checked to see if the latest update for the PS3 was done.  A little exaggerated I admit, but that’s the feeling I have at times when forced to download anything from the PS3 network.  It amazes me the length of time it takes to download a few MB and then the addition time you wait for it to actually install.  The one thing that escapes me is the PS3 is the best Netflix client I have and it streams full HD without a hiccup.  Anything that can do that shouldn’t have the download speed issues that we see during the update process.  The only explanation I can come up with is that Sony has some seriously slow servers.  The 360 on the other hand flies through updates with no issues.  Don’t get me wrong…  I like my PS3, but Sony needs to do some serious work on their network to improve this issue before long.

3DS – I don’t want to carry two systems around.

March 12, 2011

Well… for all the hype and excitement surrounding the 3DS it appears that backward compatibility was not something that the big N put a lot of thought into.  I have included a link at the bottom of the post with all the details but to sum it up the screen will either be very small or fuzzy.  Take your pick on that one.  I understand that with the leap forward in resolution it is difficult to maintain a perfect picture but I had hoped Nintendo would have found a better workaround.  In all the past the iterations from the original Game Boy to the DSi XL they have managed to maintain an almost perfect picture integrity when allowing backward compatible play.  In many cases the picture was better on the newer system than the old one.  The kicker here is that in order to play your DS games on a decent screen you will be forced to keep and at times carry two systems.  The DS and 3DS are not small devices so this can be pretty impractical.  Another negative aspect is that Nintendo has announced that the battery life for the 3DS may be as short as 3 hours per charge.  This is very surprising considering I don’t even know what the average charge for the DS Lite is since I rarely ever have to charge the thing.  In light of these recent updates along with the delay of all the core titles to June and August I’m starting to questions if I will hold my pre-order.  I will more than likely still pick it up just to experience 3D without glasses but at this point in time I’m considering waiting for the 3DS Lite.

Playing DS on a 3DS is less than ideal

Mass Effect 2 Thoughts – Better late than never

October 11, 2010

I can think of no other game that has pulled me into the experience as much as Mass Effect 2.  From the opening cinematic to the closing minutes it never let me go, never got boring and had me asking for more.  The improvements from the original were astounding.  I loved the original and considered it one of the best stories I had ever played next to the first Knights of the Old Republic.  After playing the fist I had my doubts that they could adequately follow it up but only hours into the second I knew they had done so and so much more.  Bioware has never ceased to amaze me with their storytelling.  Though the mechanics may not always be there the stories that they weave together are an amazing tapestry of grey instead of the standard black and white upping the ante by making you live with every decision you make.  Mass Effect 2 is hands down a must play for any gamer.  To miss this experience is to miss out on a piece of gaming history.  I would however strongly suggest that you play the first before starting the second.  A story is never complete without its beginning and you won’t want to come back to it after you’ve had a taste of the masterpiece that is Mass Effect 2.

The Old Republic

September 21, 2010

I was a late arrival to the MMO world be it from the fear of possible addiction or the dislike I have for playing games with people I don’t know.  I started WOW for the first time in 2007 and liked the game very much.  When I started I was playing with a few friends but then branched off and played it much like a single player game.  I actually played my now main from level one to sixty grouping only twice.  Though the game is designed to be played in groups I found it very satisfying playing from a “Loaner” aspect.  Though at times it took a great deal of strategy I found that I could complete most quests on my own.  This brings me to the Old Republic.  Being a Bioware fan this is now my most anticipated game.  If Bioware can deliver on the promises that have been made for TOR this project could re-define gaming as we know it.  What especially excites me is that the game is being designed from the ground up to be played as a single player experience if you choose to do so.  It is great to be in a digital world with the living I just don’t necessarily want to have to interact with them if I choose not to do so.  I think this aspect will pull in a much wider audience such as Action RPG, Bioware and KOTOR fans,  If I’ve seen anything that had the potential to compete with WOW this is it.  I’m still debating on giving Cataclysm a go, but I do plan to drop everything the minute TOR hits my hands.  I’m planning to roll an Alliance jedi and Empire bounty hunter and I honestly can’t wait.

The Collector’s Edition

August 27, 2010

What is it about the shiny tin case, the art books, exclusive DLC items and other trinkets that clutter up our desk and shelves that make us shell out that extra $10 to $100 plus to pick up the collector’s edition of the latest game?  I will be the first to admit that I’m enticed by them and even have a few of them on my own shelf.  I have a Master Chief helmet, Dragon Age cloth map and Mass Effect 2 art book to name a few items from may latest collector’s editions purchases.

What caused me to sit back and evaluate the wisdom in it all is when I picked up the collector’s edition of Starcraft 2.  In the past I’ve only purchased the collector’s edition when it was a franchise I loved to play and I was going to start the game on release date.  In this case I picked it up just because it was “cool”.  I’ve never finished on RTS in my life and as for the original Starcraft I never got past the 6th or 7th mission of the Terran campaign.  I think more than anything collector’s editions awaken the geek collector in most of us who play games and developers know that.  As we progress I think they are going to become more prevalent and outlandish as development studios attempt to soak every last dollar they can out of us.  Night vision goggles or remote controlled camera car anyone?  How about a nice dagger or boomerang to go on that shelf?  I will most likely buy the collector’s edition of the next Mass Effect, Dragon Age and The Old Republic, but I think I will have to say no to Starcraft 2 and the rest of them.  Let me know what your opinion on the matter is.  All I can say is having a Thor pet in WOW would have been cool.

Black Dot on a White Canvas

July 21, 2010

During my junior year in high school my class took a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.  While walking through the halls one painting caught my eye.  It was a very large white canvas with a big black dot in the middle.  What made it even better was the name of the painting which you most likely guessed based on the title was “Black Dot on a White Canvas”.  Standing there I honestly couldn’t believe that this was hanging in a museum of art.  Looking at this thing all I could think was that a ten year old with a stencil could have created this painting and these guys were calling it fine art.

I had never thought about video games as art till Roger Ebert made his infamous statement that “Video games can never be art.”.  I honestly don’t know how this statement can be taken seriously when you look at some of the garbage that people consider to be art.  Art is so subjective that trying to classify what is and isn’t art is a pretty futile exercise.  As we have always heard “Art is in the eye of the beholder”, so how can one medium be labeled as art while another is so easily dismissed.  Mass Effect 2 stands as one of the best experiences I have ever had playing a game and was better than any movie I watched or book I read this year.  In my opinion video games stand shoulder to shoulder with books and movies and their popularity is growing everyday.  As it stands now the video game industry is bigger than Roger Ebert’s movie industry.  Overall I feel that as video games become more popular their acceptance by main stream sources will grow as well.  At the rate things are moving I doubt it will be long before video games are accepted as a true art medium.

3DS – 3D Without the glasses!

June 17, 2010

Since the recent re-emergence of 3D in the movie industry I have been very leery of how this would affect our beloved game industry.  With the success of Avatar we knew it was only a matter of time before 3D in gaming would become the new marketing battle cry.  I honestly would rather not have it if the experience mimicked the movies as Sony is looking to do.  The tint in the glasses darkens the screen and I have thought that overall image seems blurry as compared to a non 3D film.  Don’t ge me wrong, Avatar was an amazing visual experience and Monster vs. Aliens is by far my favorite 3D movie but I just don’t feel that experience lends itself well to gaming.  Wearing glasses for 2-3 hours for a movie is one thing.  Wearing them for a 50+ hour play through of Mass Effect 2 is another.  I have said that if they could do 3D without the glasses then I would be interested.

With that being said Nintendo’s showing at E3 has me very excited for a 3D experience.  When I frist heard about the 3DS I was afraid it would be just a gimmick, but based on all the review I have read Nintendo has pulled off 3D without the glasses!  I think this innovation will once again place Nintendo nicely at the top of the handheld industry keeping the iPhone at close second.  I’ve honestly never seen the PSP as a true competitor in this market but that’s for another post.  I’m now looking froward to the 3DS release and will be first in line to place my pre-order.  The inital first party game library looks absolutely amazing and with the 3rd party lineup that Nintendo showed off it looks like the 3DS will have very bright future.

Wii Motion Plus – Round 2?

May 24, 2010

I have to admit I was late to the game when it comes to Wii Motion plus.  It looked interesting enough and I’m always up for some Mii inspired mini-games but with early support for only Wii Sports Resort and Tiger Woods 10 it didn’t seem worth the money.  I recently purchased a new Wii for my daughter and it came packed in with Wii Sports Resort and the Wii motion plus attachment.  The attachment does make the controller much more responsive and Wii Sports Resort is a lot of fun but is that it?  Looking at the list of games that currently support the Motion Plus the only other notable game on the list is Red Steel 2.  With more than 16 million units sold adoption has been high so I doubt developers are worried about users not having the device to support a game.  Now that we see Nintendo providing the attachment bundled with the console along with retailers creating bundles and discounts for the attachment one has to wonder if there are more supported games on the way.  After using the device I really hope that Nintendo and third-parties begin to use the attachment.  With Natal and Move about to launch Nintendo needs to get on the ball with a second round of promoting this new technology.  Wii Motion Plus is great tech but if developers fail to leverage it soon I fear the Wii may find itself playing catch-up.

PAC-MAN turns 30

May 21, 2010

There are few games that I played more in the arcade and on the Atari than PAC-MAN.  PAC-MAN is also one of the few games where the main man reached iconic status rivaled only by Mario.  The game play was simple yet addictive and was one of the few early games that was fun to play for hours.  Google is honoring PAC-MAN today with one of the best logos I think they have done to date.  Check out the link below and enjoy the old school goodness that is PAC-MAN.

Google PAC-MAN logo

Where do Wii go from here?

May 12, 2010

The past 25 years have been a true rollercoaster ride for Nintendo.  They dominated the industry with the NES and SNES and then slid into second and third with the N64 and Game Cube.  Now they find themselves once again comfortably back on top with the Wii which at times seems like a money printing machine.  Nintendo has always impressed me in that it is what I consider to be the only true video game company.  Unlike Microsoft and Sony Nintendo relies solely on the success of its consoles and games to succeed.  It has no fortune 5o0 company piggy bank backing it up and has survived effectively in the cut throat world of the console wars.

Nintendo has also consistently revolutionized the industry by giving us the first D-pad with the NES, expanding our world into multiple dimensions with Mario 64 and the current revolution that is motion control.  It is comical at times to see the same people who bashed motion control now promoting variations of it on their own consoles.

The one major complaint that I have always had with Nintendo is the lack of top-tier third-party titles.  Since the release of the N64 Nintendo hasn’t come close to the competition with third-party support.  Nintendo’s salvation comes from its innovation and its iconic first party franchises which make up some of the best games in video game history.  As we speak games like Mari Kart Wii, Wii Fit and Super Mario Bros. Wii continue to top the sales charts for months on end.  Nintendo does needs to invest in better hardware as well as increase their support of third-party titles.  It also wouldn’t hurt them to do a complete overhaul of their online strategy.  Super Mario Bros Wii is a great game but it would be that much better if the co-op\multiplayer could be done easily online.

Nintendo has rarely ceased to impress and does so at times going completely against conventional wisdom.  I have thought for a long time that the Wii has been test run for what is to come much in the same way the DS Phat was for the handheld market.  I think at minimum some form of the Wii HD is on the horizon if not something that will kick off the next revolution in gaming.  I can’t wait to see what Nintendo has to offer next.  I’m sure it will be amazing.  I just hope that the next time around they will work on some of the issues that have been plaguing them as well as work on bringing in more external developers along for the ride.