NGP unveiling – my thoughts…

After the unveiling of the Sony NGP I can safely say that is a gamer’s wet dream come true. Sony has responded to fans’ requests to provide a portable console with touch screen, dual analog sticks and motion control.

After the unveiling of the Sony NGP I can safely say that is a gamer’s wet dream come true. Sony has responded to fans’ requests to provide a portable console with touch screen, dual analog sticks and motion control. Also, added are two cameras, gyro sensor, touch back panel with a larger screen.

One question remains for me will the NGP support Android OS?

The hardware under the hood certainly suggests the NGP is more than capable of running Android OS. Although, I doubt this will be the main framework that the NGP is built around. The 4 cell processor similar to the PS3’s 8 cell processor leaves a mouth watering prospect of playing some huge blockbuster games translated straight from the PS3’s library. Couple this with re-releases of key first gen PSP titles that a lot of consumers may have missed only adds to the excitement. The only thing missing is 3D – but I can see why this hasn’t been the focus. All Playstation consoles start off as power house monsters and adding 3D would have severely increased costs and would have a detrimental effect on the graphical capability. However, Nintendo on the other hand tend to couple their hardware with key software in mind.

I would assume that this console will initially retail around £250 in line with the current 3DS console although over time it will eventually reduce in price and replace the original PSP as their main portable platform. My only concern is how this will be marketed and compete with the various devices that the original PSP didn’t have to contend with.

PS3 Move in all its glory

The PS3 Move has now been released.  I have been an advocate of this tech when it was shown at E3 2009.  The potential for the motion controller seemed high.  Strategically it was geared up as high definition version of the Wii Remote and would have really appealed to an audience who were looking for the next generation of gaming.

In the PS3 Move bundle you get the Wand controller, PS3 Eye and a starter disc.  You have to purchase a sub controller separately at additional cost or use a Dual Shock 3 controller using one hand (good luck with that).  The setup is slightly pain free which will get you up and running in no time at all using the starter disc.  However, if you have lighting issues i.e. too brighter an environment the PS3 Eye will have trouble in detecting the Wand controller.

Where I think the trouble begins with the Move is its integration with the XMB (cross media browser) menu system.  Trying to navigate with the Wand controller is night on impossible and Sony really need to update this to be a more integrated solution.  The problem arises with the sensitivity of the device and scrolling up or down, left or right through the menus is either too fast or too slow.  I also, found that there is slight lag in picking up the controller.  The Wand controller needs to mimic a mouse controller rather than a dual shock controller and this is where it will be most effective when using the PS3’s web browser for their PS store and also the BBC Iplayer, 4OD and ITV player services.  But this will entail a complete rebuild of the XMB which I don’t Sony will commit to.

However, playing some of the demos available on the start up disc such as Table tennis and Tiger Woods golf proves how effective the controller can be.  It is super accurate in picking up your movements and it is truly 1:1 detection.  The potential for future games such as Killzone 3 having Move support seems to be a mouth watering proposition and will appeal to the hardcore. The PS3 Move has now been released.  I have been an advocate of this tech when it was shown at E3 2009.  The potential for the motion controller seemed high.  Strategically it was geared up as high definition version of the Wii Remote and would have really appealed to an audience who were looking for the next generation of gaming.

In the PS3 Move bundle you get the Wand controller, PS3 Eye and a starter disc.  You have to purchase a sub controller separately at additional cost or use a Dual Shock 3 controller using one hand (good luck with that).  The setup is slightly pain free which will get you up and running in no time at all using the starter disc.  However, if you have lighting issues i.e. too brighter an environment the PS3 Eye will have trouble in detecting the Wand controller.

Where I think the trouble begins with the Move is its integration with the XMB (cross media browser) menu system.  Trying to navigate with the Wand controller is night on impossible and Sony really need to update this to be a more integrated solution.  The problem arises with the sensitivity of the device and scrolling up or down, left or right through the menus is either too fast or too slow.  I also, found that there is slight lag in picking up the controller.  The Wand controller needs to mimic a mouse controller rather than a dual shock controller and this is where it will be most effective when using the PS3’s web browser for their PS store and also the BBC Iplayer, 4OD and ITV player services.  But this will entail a complete rebuild of the XMB which I don’t Sony will commit to.

However, playing some of the demos available on the start up disc such as Table tennis proves how effective the controller can be.  It is super accurate in picking up your movements and it is truly 1:1 detection.  The potential for future games such as Killzone 3 having Move support seems to be a mouth watering proposition.  However, the controls need to be spot on for this to work.  Most of the launch software seems tripe though and like with all console related peripherals this can only be as successful as the software launched for it.  There needs to be a game changer for the casual crowd to start buying into the PS3 Move.  At the moment, it doesn’t seem like Sony are fully behind the Move whilst Microsoft on the other hand have heavily invested in advertising campaigns and released a decent amount of good quality software for the Kinect.

Truth be told both the Kinect and PS Move were released to extend the life of the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively however, as the tech is not an integral part of the way the consoles work compared to a traditional controllers I expect interest in the devices to drop early next year.  This will allow Nintendo’s next home console to start building momentum.

spider the secret of Bryce manor review

I had this sitting around on my IPhone for a while and only recently started playing it on my IPAD.

The aim of the game is simple, collect enough bugs with your Spider and an exit will open up.  In order to capture the bugs you have to use your silk supply by creating cobwebs.  If you create too many cobwebs you will see the game over screen.  Efficiency is the name of the game here where you have to find the perfect balance of getting around the level and creating larger cobwebs to capture as many insects as possible.

The game is controlled using gesture controls and the screen real estate afforded by the IPAD allows for easier control of your character.  Swipe left or right to move your avatar and press down on the screen to start creating cobwebs.

The game has around 28 levels and proves very good value for money.  There is a reliability factor in collecting items and hidden bugs in order to obtain a perfect score.  I love the art direction and a lot of time has spent creating the atmosphere of the Manor.

This is a classic Iphone/IPAD game which is not to be missed which uses the potential of touch screen controls to its fullest.  Download!!!

5/5

My all time top 20

I thought it would be a good idea to list my all time top 20.  It was hard but I have decided to list them in no particular order as that would take me twice as long!!

Super Mario World – The pinnacle of 2D platforming.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Would have been SMG1 but this beats it in every single area.

Fire Emblem GBA – Awesome game the ultimate portable fun.  The game to last you your entire holiday.

Metroid Prime – One of gamecube’s finest first person action games.

Zelda Four Swords – Amazing multiplayer Zelda, expensive setup but well worth it for the experience.

Rez HD – Synethesia, the future of rhythm based games.  Bring on Child of Eden!!

Shadow of the Colossus – Meeting the first Colossi was breathtaking and then taking it down was even more so.

Ico – Serene, isolation, panic, tense.  Gaming for adults.

Bayonetta – The greatest action brawler ever and yes, better than Devil May Cry and God of War.

Zelda A Link to the Past – 2D Action RPG played through multiple times.

Zelda Wind Waker – Graphics still look amazing even now.

Advance Wars GBA – Same type of game as Fire Emblem but this formula works.

Half Life 2 – Would have been the first one but this improves on it in every single way and remains timeless for now.

Street Fighter 4 – Just buy yourself a madcatz fight stick and enjoy one of the best fighting games of all time if not the best.

Shenmue 2 – Brilliant for its time, technically adept but not without its flaws, you become so engrossed in the story and the Virtua Fighter style battles are awesome.

Resident Evil 4 – The greatest survival horror game ever made.

Gran Turismo – The first true driving simulator for consoles before this you had the choice of 8 cars and 8 tracks.  This changed all that forever giving you 10 times more content packed on to 2 CD’s.

Grand Theft Auto 3 – The first true 3D open world game and one of the moments you sit up and notice that gaming will be forever redefined.

Uncharted 2 – Even after 2 playthrough’s the game never fails to disappoint and leaves you awe struck.

Mass Effect 2 – This is the future of RPG’s.  RIP levelling up and grinding through random battles.

Game saves – save anywhere is the future

I trade in my old XBOX 360 for a new slim model ensuring that I have copied all of my game saves and content to an external drive.  Copy version seems ok with all game saves intact.  I copy the content and game saves to my new XBOX 360 slim.  I fire up Forza 3.  I look for my game save.  No game save available.  Dissapointment sets in…

I am not a happy bunny after spending around 15 hours Forza 3 prior to this and losing my game save is not on.  I will not be touching Forza 3 anytime soon.  A similar thing happened with my PS3 where I was unable to copy over my Uncharted 2 content.  Why do hardware manufacturers make it so difficult to retrieve your game saves?

This brings me to cloud gaming profiles.  Imagine a world where you play a game and the saved game is automatically uploaded as part of your profile.  Wherever you are you can access your game save and profile.  It is a simple idea and in this hi-tech day and age I am surprised it hasn’t been thought of already?

Granted we are not going to see Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo hold hands and share user profiles.  However, all three should be able to implement a cloud game save solution.  The amount of hours I have poured into various games over the years only to find that I can no longer revive my scores or game states.

We are stepping in the right direction with Apple and it’s Game Center where your game saves are backed up as part of the App to re-sync later.  However, this is locally via PC and your Iphone/Ipod Touch.  As gamers we need a better solution.  Please Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo listen!!!

Out of action…

So my intention was to feed this blog with regular content.  However, after being off ill for a few months I haven’t been able to fulfil this.  During this time I have had minimal gaming time and due to being off work as well I haven’t missed gaming so much.

Gaming, in my opinion, is a form of escapism and with nothing to escape from i.e. as I have not had to deal with the everyday pressures and deadlines of work I didn’t feel the need to play as much.  I haven’t picked up my Nintendo DSI or PSP in a few months and I still have a few games to get through on those systems i.e. Fire Emblem, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, The World Ends with You among others.  As for my PS3 it has mainly been used to watch TV series, films and Iplayer on.  I am not complaining and I hope once I am back to work I shall be enjoying gaming once again.

My brother recently married with a baby boy has also, found that he is not finding time to play games he has other things to keep him occupied such as raising his kid, house chores and work.  I can only think back to my younger days when any free time was spent on gaming with not a second’s thought.  With my gaming experience and becoming older I have found that I have become less patient over time and bad game design just doesn’t cut it anymore.  I will happily stop playing a game because of this (Fallout 3 you have been named and shamed).  Furthermore, I cannot seem to muster playing games on a harder difficulty setting than normal and playing sections over and over again repeatedly is no fun.

I don’t think I can fall out gaming anytime soon as this has stuck with me for 27 years.  I regard it as more of a break in between I am sure at some stage I will find something other than FIFA 11 to engage me.

Digital vs Retail

Digital versus retail distribution is a hot debate over the past few years. Being an age old gamer I can see why there is a backlash towards digital distribution model by the gaming faithful.

There is nothing like opening a freshly purchased gaming. From unwrapping the selaphane to ogling the images on the game box. Then opening up the package to unveil that fresh game smell. Then having a quick peek through the manual while your game fires up.

With the physical disc it is a material possession which shows the value of your purchase. Also, you can trade in your game once completed which you can’t do via the digital model as yet. However, I would welcome a trade in or a second hand online sales market so that you can recoup some of the cost you initially paid for the game.

Buying games is a difficult task and reviews are always subjective. Even if it has received rave reviews it may not be to your liking. Demos sometimes do not show the full potential of a game i.e. Bayonetta. This is what makes the online purchase model all the more compelling. At some stage games will be purchased in chapters/levels which will require minimum of invest up front and whether you like the game you will invest more time and money into it.

With the beauty of the iPhone I can keep my saved games and the game itself in the same location and it is transferrable to an iPad or iPod touch. Plus the throwaway pricing of games shows that there is a new model for shorter, innovative experiences. Not to say that the traditional model won’t exist but the digital model offers a lot of plusses.

For now though I am looking forward to my limited edition super Mario all-stars on the wii in December.

Sony E3 2010

In my eyes Sony’s E3 2010 press conference came second after Nintendo. They showed a vast array of game titles covering all types of genres and appealing to all demographics. This has always been a strong point for Sony.

In my eyes Sony’s E3 2010 press conference came second after Nintendo. They showed a vast array of game titles covering all types of genres and appealing to all demographics. This has always been a strong point for Sony.

I think the change that we are seeing from Sony is that like Nintendo they too are moving towards producing more first party titles as evident from the below.

One thing you won’t get away from is 3D with glasses or without. I believe playing certain games such as Killzone 3D or Gran Turismo 5 3D will enhance the experience and immersing you even more in the environments. From the keynote I thought Killzone 3 is shaping up to be something special and judging by the last public demo of Gran Turismo 5 you can tell it is taking shape and I hope it is worth the wait as it is still my racer of choice.

I wasn’t too impressed with Infamous 2 and never enjoyed the first game. However, LittleBigPlanet 2 looks all the more important with its new level of creativity taken to the extreme and covering a wide variety of genres. This could become it’s own ‘mini APP’ outlet.

EA seemed to be in cahoots with Sony as of late and announced exclusive content only for PS3 such as Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor and Mafia 2. This is overall good news for Sony given that Activision have favoured the XBOX.

Sony also, showed off their Move controller. Seeing some of the demos such as Sorcery, Tiger Woods 11 and Socom confrontation I can see this working well on traditional games as well as the frivolous party games that will inevitably ensue.

Kevin Butler also made a grand speech claiming that all gamers were important and that the casual and hardcore games could co-exist which is the overall message that Sony is trying to portray.

The oddity of no new PSP is a puzzling one but I suspect Sony wanted to sit back and wait to see what Nintendo offered. They have falsely backed a dying 5 year old PSP console for the next 6 months. Although, the PSP is selling well in Japan I am sure that these sales will pan down with no new Monster Hunter or Metal Gear for the remaining 6 months. I am looking forward to Patapon 3 and God of War: Ghost of Sparta which is due to be a last hurrah for the current gen PSP.

Sony also, showed off the Playstation Plus a new subscription service which will give you exclusive demos, free games and other benefits. Package looks good so far and the fact they have taken a different route to XBOX Live bodes well to add a differentiator in the services offered to gamers overall.

All in all Sony made a stable and impressive showing.

Kinect = 32x pricing listed and it is not good

Shopto and Microsoft’s website have priced the Kinect at a staggering £120. If this is true it’s gonna sink. Anyone remember the 32x??

I am not sure what strategy is being employed but this can’t be priced at more than £50 for it to be adopted by current Xbox users as well as newcomers. This is heading towards epic fail status.w. Let’s wait and see I am a fiend for new tech and probably purchase on day of release only to have buyer’s remorse the next day before being hurriedly flung onto Ebay.