Archive for February, 2013

Some Thoughts on the PS4

Posted in Deep Thought, Initial Impressions on February 21, 2013 by jerva

ps4 logoThe PlayStation 4 has finally been announced, and I for one am pretty excited by what I heard. Here are my thoughts on what was shown yesterday, nicely ordered and categorized! If you haven’t seen and/or read a transcript yet you can go do that… pretty much anywhere you’d like to, really. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

The Hardware

First off, I love that they all but admitted that the Cell processor was a misstep, and that making the PS3 a pain in the ass to program for/port to with proprietary technology hurt them. This time they seemed to be excessively developer-conscious, and the several interviews I saw after the show with people from Ubisoft, Bethesda, Epic, and other companies, it looks like developers are pretty excited by what they heard. The x86 architecture, the 8 gigs of GDDR5 RAM (sixteen times what the PS3 has, and fast GPU RAM at that!), the fact that the CPU and GPU are on the same chip providing 2 teraflops of power that can be freely set to graphics/simulation/whatever in any ratio the devs desire… the PS4 is a beast, but a very accessible, flexible beast.

dualshock 4The Controller

I’m really excited to hold a dualshock 4, find out how hefty it is, how tight the analog sticks are, and test out the touch pad. Sony once again went to the devs and asked around what it came to redesigning their signature controller, tightening up the analog sticks a little, and modifying the triggers and d-pad significantly. The touch pad looks like it would be awkward to use for in-game features, unless it’s relegated to minigames or menu navigation but I don’t really think this is a bad thing. It’s placed in such a way as to be innocuous, something a developer can utilize if they so desire but can easily be ignored. Where I think the touch pad will really shine is in system navigation outside of games, when using streaming services or web browsing. The light pad is an interesting idea, doing things such as colour coordinating your controller to your character in local multiplayer, flashing as you take damage, or changing colour to indicate when your health is critical. This is definitely a feature I’ll have to wait for a hands-on experience with to make a final judgement, but currently I’m leaning towards gimmick. It also has a built-in speaker and a headphone jack (and according to the press release every PS4 will ship with a headset), making it seem like the dualshock 4 is going to be the best of every other system’s controllers in one nice, slick package. I’ll get to the share button in a bit.

playstation 4 eyeThe New PlayStation Eye

This was completely glossed over in the presentation, but the PS4 has a brand new Eye, a two-camera four-microphone system that will allow for motion tracking, voice recognition, and even the ability to login to your PS4 automatically via facial recognition. It will also track the dualshock 4’s light pads, as well as allow for PlayStation Move integration into the PS4. Based on what we saw with Move, this sounds to me like a Kinect that works. It sounds like the Eye software is specifically designed to recognize the depth and volume of a room and figure out where sound originates from. To me this sounds like a perfect combination with the share button, as the PS4 will (and this is based on information from the press release and video shown at the conference, not on any official announcement) allow for extremely easy livestreaming of let’s plays or first impression videos by automatically inlaying a headshot of you as you play even if you move around the room and automatically picking up on your voice and broadcasting it alongside your gameplay. As long as you have a decent internet connection, one-button let’s plays look to be possible with the PS4, and that is something I think is really damn cool.

ps4 vitaThe Features

The stuff Dave Perry talked about, like the ability to stream the entire PlayStation library from all of their systems to the PS4 or even potentially other devices, is pretty cool but at the same time it’s where they’re hoping and planning to take the technology in the future, not necessarily features that will be available at launch, or even in the first year or two of the PS4’s life. Until we get closer to release and get a better idea of exactly what the system’s cloud capabilities will be at launch, I’m not going to go into it too much. The ability to stream (at least some of) your PS4 games to play on your Vita was actually demonstrated though, and that is pretty awesome. This is a big step in keeping the Vita relevant, as it has somewhat been steamrolled by the direction modern society has gone despite being a really great bit of tech. That’s next-gen transfarring, bitches! I also think that this feature and the ability to instantly put the system on standby mid-game and pick it up later could be really strong selling points for the system, especially with parents or people who have a shared common area and several roommates. These are smart ideas that really help to put you in control of exactly when and how you game, especially where single player is concerned.

The biggest annoyance with the PS3 for me, and many others I’m sure, is updates. Sony has obviously realized what a huge pain in the ass downloading and updating is for people, because now we get a second chip that seems to specifically handle background downloads while you use your PS4, or even when it’s powered down! This combined with the ability to charge your controllers while the system is powered down pretty much guarantees that when you want to play all you need to do is turn the system on (maybe with your face) and get right to it. Now sure there are still a lot of questions, like exactly what the new system interface is and how you navigate it, how features such as PS Plus and friends lists work (they seemed to hint that it would be some combination of anonymous handles and social network integration), what kind of range you have when playing a PS4 game on Vita, et cetera… but as it stands I’m very excited, this truly feels like a next-gen system and unless there’s some big secret like the next Xbox will buy you weed or suck your dick or something, I doubt Microsoft will be able to top this.

I’m not going to go into the games right now (Watch Dogs ├╝ber alles!) but I did want to share this awesome meme pic I made, which I think sums things up nicely. Later, suckas!

-Jerva

blizzard ps4 announcement

 

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Do You Remember… Alien Resurrection for PS1?

Posted in Let's Play, Vlog on February 18, 2013 by Matt

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Do You Remember… Alien Trilogy for PS1?

Posted in Let's Play, Vlog on February 16, 2013 by Matt

Here’s a great Aliens game. Definitely worth adding to your library, if you love old school shooters, and want a challenging game.

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Do You Remember… Alien vs. Predator for Atari Jaguar ?

Posted in Let's Play, Vlog on February 12, 2013 by Matt

As a kid, I saw commercials for this game on TV a bit, and in magazines. Being a huge fan of the Aliens and Predator movies, it was hard for me when the game was nowhere to be found. I lived in a small town, and never once did we see an Atari Jaguar system or any games for it.

Decades later I picked up the console used, and found Alien vs. Predator on E-Bay. Just refer to the video above for how I really feel about the game.

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The First Fifteen [Ep 9] HackSlashLoot

Posted in Let's Play, Vlog on February 10, 2013 by Matt

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Review: Dead Space 3 (PS3)

Posted in Reviews on February 9, 2013 by Matt

Dead Space 3 is a game that a lot of people were worried about, due to the inclusion of co-op play, the introduction of human enemies and micro transactions. Don’t worry too much though. I didn’t use or feel like I had to use micro transactions and the game is still a Dead Space game, and it was a decent experience overall. This review will not be covering co-op at all, as I don’t generally play many multi-player games. I’ll just let you know that you don’t have another character with you the entire game like in Resident Evil 5 and 6. Without further delay, let’s get on with what is good and what is bad about the game (This review was played through on Hard difficulty and took roughly 20 hours, doing most optional side-missions).

    What did I like? What was done well?

Weapon Customization

In the other Dead Space games, there were tools and weapons, and you could upgrade them using power nodes on a grid that would increase power, reload speed, clip size and fire rate.

This time around, you have the ability to completely customize weapons. You have the frame for the tool/weapon, the engine or core, the end attachments and then some attachments for the upper and lower tool. Yes, a lot of weapons in Dead Space 3 have the option of having an over-under combination of weapons. It’s possible to have a standard assault rifle style weapon with a grenade launcher under it, or a plasma cutter with a flamethrower under it, and so on.

Each engine or core has a different end to it, so a plasma core can be a plasma cutter, a line gun, etc. with the right end attachments. Machine engines can be fitted with a rail system, turning them into a sniper rifle (and yes, you can add a scope), or another thing to it to turn it into a shotgun. You can even make a javelin gun that fires in bursts of three or that fires like a shotgun. These weapons can also have circuits added to them to increase power, reload speed, fire rate or clip size. There are a lot of options to play with. By the end, I was caring a fully automatic machine gun with a lighting gun mounted under it.

Graphics and Aesthetics
The game’s graphics are crisp and clean for the most part. The environments are detailed and the snow and weather are excellent. The views you can get when you space walk are sometimes breathtaking. They really did create something beautiful to look at, and it’s impressive considering it’s running on pretty old hardware.

Music and Sound
The music in the game is great for setting tone and sometimes it reminds me of the Alien films’ soundtracks. The music gets frantic when the monsters show up to get you, and gets the blood pumping in those tense moments. Sound is very important in games like these, and they put it to good use. Let’s say that you’re in a room filled with vents, and you hear some rustling in the ceiling. If you have a good pair of surround sound headphones or speakers, you’ll be able to tell which vent the monster will pop out of. Or if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll definitely know which vent they burst out of when they smash it open. Eventually the game makes you paranoid, and you’ll find yourself listening for the sounds of impending doom as you walk (or run) down hallways.

Monster designs
It’s a new game, and with it come some new horrors. I won’t ruin the surprise for you if you haven’t played it yet, but let’s just say that they made some really creepy creatures for this one, and made some variations on some of the older ones. Some of the monsters are kind of annoying at times, but that just makes it way more satisfying to dismember them and stomp the items out of them.

Optional Missions and Space Walks
This game encourages exploration by introducing optional missions that you can stumble upon just being wandering around. A lot of these optional missions were much better and more rewarding than the main storyline missions were, so I totally advise you seek them out. There is loot to be found and crazy sidestory/lore to be exposed!

The space walls you go on are worth mentioning. There’s something really relaxing and calm about coasting around in open space, with a gorgeous view of the world below looming in the background. It’s quite a thing and you’ll understand what I mean if you play the game.

    What did I dislike? What could be better?

Story and Characters
The Dead Space series has a pretty good storyline to it, and I was expecting that trend to continue. I put it up there as on par with the likes of the Alien movies (the first two) and it stands up on it’s own fairly well. It seems that this game, however, is the weakest of the three. Mind you, a lot is revealed, and it does wrap itself up fairly well, but the bickering that takes place between some of the characters can be described as petty, and shallow. It’s actually kind of annoying, and some of the dialogue and character choices are a bit hard to swallow sometimes. The new characters that are introduced are a tad under developed, and I found it hard to really care all that much. At least in the past two games, Isaac had his own struggles with being crazy and filled with the crazy marker knowledge, and a dead girlfriend that wouldn’t leave him alone. That was much more interesting than the stuff they threw at me in Dead Space 3.

With that said, a bit more background on the main antagonist might have been nice, as well as the Earth Gov soldiers Robert Norton and John Carver (Carver being the co-op character). (minor spoilers) Isaac and Ellie both have enough back story to them already, so all they really had to do was make the game a bit less romantic drama, and a bit more focus on the saving humanity stuff. People in the situation presented would likely not be bickering about relationship problems with the human race at stake.

Lack Of Crazy Visions
In the second game, Isaac seemed to have a lot more crazy visions, and they are often disturbing and awesome. I miss those, as there are very few in this game. Maybe three or four max.

Save System
The thing that frustrated me the most was the save system. I did not like the random checkpoints, and no actual save points. You could exit the game, and it would save your inventory (which you can exploit a lot, since item boxes respawn when you load your game), but sometimes you can’t remember where the last progress save was. I’d quit the game sometimes, only to load the game up and lose fifteen minutes, and have to redo certain things (sometimes tough fights). I miss the old save system.

Poor Cover Mechanics
The cover mechanics in this game are clunky and pretty much non-existent. Basically, they gave you the option to crouch, and when you aim, you will pop up to shoot. That is all. It’s a bit awkward sometimes, but thankfully you rarely have to use it.

Fighting Humans
The only real time you need to use cover is when you’re fighting these idiots. They don’t really use a lot of cover themselves, and they tend to always know exactly where to aim, but always have a long pause before they fire. They die quickly, but Isaac does not like bullets. Or rockets. The fights are never scary, nor are they all that fun. Kill them quickly and get on with your game as fast as you can.

Some Frustrating Parts
The game had some difficulty spikes here and there. I rarely yell or swear at a video game, but there were some spots where I’d die a dozen times and it was non-stop cursing. This was mostly due to my weapon being a little inadequate for the situation I was in, so this is kind of my fault, but still. It was not pleasant. Especially when monsters would grab me, and then their buddies would surround me. I fixed that by making a force weapon that would send out a shock wave in all directions and knock monsters back (or kill the ones that were giving me this particular problem).

Too Many Regenerators
In the first two games, these monsters were unstoppable, until you were in a specific room or area of the game which would allow you to freeze or incinerate them. In this game, that option isn’t a thing. Sometimes you’ll be running away from two or more of these things, and that is your only option. It’s even worse when it’s a room your stuck in with them and other monsters still coming in to attack you. I’ll admit, they are scary monsters, but it gets old after you run into them for the eighth time, or keep dying because you have no stasis left and keep getting killed over and over (label this as frustrating).

    Overall

Dead Space 3 is a fun and entertaining game. It’s still got some intense moments, jump scares, and has it’s share of decent atmosphere that still feels like a Dead Space game. With the exception of the weapon customization stuff, the rest of the stuff they added really didn’t do much to hinder or impact my experience, and wasn’t enough to ruin the game. At around 20 hours of playtime for my first play-through on Hard difficulty, I feel like I got my money’s worth.

TheBustedCouch Movie Night: ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ Review

Posted in Movies, Vlog on February 6, 2013 by Matt

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