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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Next Gen consoles

So I cancelled my preorders for Xbox One and PS4.

I preordered back in June, I think? Since that time, I waited months for Microsoft and Sony to show me something that would make it worth it for me to buy their consoles at launch... games, functionality, whatever. Something.

But it's now almost the eve of release, and not enough somethings came. Of course, I did just buy a PS3 last December 2012, almost one year ago. So I am only really diving into this gen of console gaming now. Maybe I will have enough to tide me over for awhile.

I think I can wait a couple years for the Xbox One and PS4 games libraries to mature. At this point there is only one killer-app must-buy game is Dice's Star Wars Battlefront. And that is only just starting to be developed, it could be a couple years before it even comes out. If/when it does, I *will* buy a system just for that game.

In the meantime, I *think* I can live without either system.... It was a 3-way tug of war of where to put my $400.00-$500.00 between the Xbox One, PS4, and Nexus 5 phone. And I tucked about $460.00 into the Nexus 5, so I guess I had to sit out on the consoles.


OK Google Now

I ordered a Nexus 5, just waiting for it to arrive, probably next week. In the meantime, I've been reading and watching many reviews of the phone and Android 4.4,which  prominently showcases Google Now voice search. 

So what is the point of Google Now, exactly? 

You can use Google Now to talk to your phone to set an alarm. OK, that's a little useful. But I never leave my phone on all night, I turn it off to charge the battery. I used to keep my Samsung Galaxy S Glide on all night while charging, and the battery became swollen and needed to be replaced. So I don't think I will be using the talk to schedule an alarm feature too often. 

You can use Google Now to ask what the weather is like [wherever]. OK... But I already  have a weather widget, and how often does one need to ask what the weather is like? Not nearly often enough to justify having a persistent search bar across the top of my phone. 

And... So what else does Google Now do that's real-world useful? 

None of the reviews have been able to show me. 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Shaw DCX3510-M PVR is pretty awful

My dad decided to buy the Shaw DCX3510-M PVR around Christmas 2012... I was a bit hesitant, to say the least... I just had a bad vibe about it from internet buzz I'd read online. But the features on paper sounded great.

Let's face it, the Shaw DCX3510-M is a broken device that should not be bought by anyone. The hardware itself is probably sound, it is made by Motorola, and users in the U.S. on other cable services don't have much problem. But the REAL PROBLEM is that Shaw is trying to program their own firmware onto it and are failing badly. Shaw is NOT a software company.

The reason they are trying to program their own firmware on it is so they can micro-manage the box from wherever their head office is... Calgary I assume. Remember the controversy over the Xbox One having to be connected to the internet? Shaw, through these boxes, is showing the worst-case-scenario that people were afraid of with the Xbox One. The Shaw DCX3510-M often messes up with "Offline Mode" where it stops being able to sense an online connection to head office and the TV guide and recording options become either not possible to severely limited. Just because the internet connection between the box and head office flutters or whatever. It happens a lot. This kind of micro-management, big-brother nightmare is pretty much what would have happened with the Xbox One had public outcry not forced them to change their mind. Unfortunately, not enough people seem to use the DCX3510-M to pressure Shaw to improve their service and dump the processes which stop their paying customers--like me-- from getting decent service.

The Shaw DCX3510-M often loses recorded programs. They will disappear from the list of recorded shows at random.

The Shaw DCX3510-M records shows but randomly messes them up, playing back only a black screen and the time stamp stuck. This often happens during the "Offline/Online Mode" messages.

The Shaw DCX3510-M randomly Locks Program due to Rating.. which means it won't play a show because it thinks there's a parental lock on it-- even though the show is rated G, and the box was NEVER programmed with a parental lock.

The Shaw DCX3510-M is a severely crippled device that provides sub-standard tv service. What's terrible is that it probably shouldn't be this bad at all, except their stubborn adherence to trying to write software/firmare for the hardware, and being so bloody awful at it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Binary Domain

I bought Binary Domain (PS3) a few weeks ago, and also just bought Borderlands 2... which is ok, I don't know how I feel about it, is it worth the $20.00 price to me? I dunno... but Binary Domain for $10.00 at Walmart-- even though it is very linear and by-the-numbers campaign, for what it is-- it's fairly fun.

Binary Domain is a third person shooter, where basically the enemies are all robots. But when you shoot them, they do cool things; shoot off their head and they will blind fire often hitting their team-mates, shoot off their limbs and they will switch shooting hands or crawl after you, Terminator-style. The game feels very Japanese, and while the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it is a very cool vibe that does ask some deep questions, like the nature of artificial life. For $10.00 it's a solid game.

What is very annoying are the quick-time elements.... *sigh*... I am seriously thinking of giving up on videogames altogether because of this awful quick-time context trendy bullshit in games. As per usual, it almost ruins the game, thankfully they are short little bits.

And the online is non-existent. There is multiplayer, 2 modes, versus and survival (which is called Invasion) and I have rarely ever found anyone online to join my match.


Monday, July 1, 2013

In the box

I've been thinking about consoles vs PC and mobile gaming, and add-on peripherals.

I recently bought a PS3/PC racing wheel for a steal ($10.00 clearance from The Source)

I borrowed Test Drive Unlimited 2 from the library... It's an Ok game, but not optimized for racing wheels. There are parts of the game which switch to on-foot first person view (!)  that can only be controlled using a Dualshock 3... Or at least it is VERY DIFFICULT to control using the wheel.

Anyway, the point is I am wondering how many console  racing games are TRULY made for racing wheels?  The answer is probably few to none. Why? Because what game company wants to make a game that needs a controller that is not included "in the box"? That the consumer needs to not only buy the game but also another controller to properly play it?

If a game does that it is automatically limiting its own market. Not every PS3 gamer will buy a PS3 game, but then if the game requires a certain kind of add-on, like Move, not only will not every PS3 gamer buy that game, but not every Move owner may buy it. It makes a smaller pool of customers.

That is definitely why stuff like the Wii Balance Board failed. But what about the Wii itself? Motion controls are" in the box" for every Wii.

But because ONLY the Wii had those controls, companies wouldn't develop for it. That's why I am a bit worried about Xbox One's kinnect "in the box". Yes, that is a smart move so every Xbox One has Kinnect, but I think because both or all consoles don't have a "Kinnect"  type of controller included, that third parties will still shy away from developing for it. Most companies want to be able to quickly port their game to both Xbox and Playstation.

"In the box" is really important, but what is more important is "in every box". Unfortunately, only the dual analogue stick controller is central to every console now, so that is the control that will be used for most games. Makes it almost impossible for anyone to innovate.

There is a notable exception to this idea: the Guitar Hero/Rockband series of games. Clearly the initial popularity of those games flies in the face of this idea, people bought the controllers in droves and for awhile these were some of the best selling games. But that fad has passed, and it is now back to normal, where companies don't want to take any chances.

It is such a shame, because we are at the point now where there are tons of gaming choices, Android/Apple phones/tablets, consoles, handhelds with both physical and touch interfaces, and of course the ever versatile PC. We can use bluetooth to wirelessly attach a controller to a phone or tablet... but there will be almost NO great games that take advantage of these options because bluetooth controllers are not "in every box" of phones/tablets.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

I bought Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon a couple weeks ago when it was on sale at Future Shop for $29.99.

It's a slow-paced puzzle adventure with incredibly poor, clunky controls. But the graphics and production values are fairly good.

What kills this game is when you need to suck up the ghosts, the controls are not good, but the worst is that when you activate the vacuum or flashlight, you can only point it in one direction. If you want to move your beam you need to turn it off and change the way you're facing and turn it on again... It's not very responsive because Luigi is way more sluggish than the ghosts he has to defeat. So it makes combat a real chore... in fact the controls are quite awful and wreck what could have been a better game.

The pacing is slow, because it's like a point and click... only you don't have a mouse control so you have to walk up to everything and suck/shine your blacklight on it, or press X. It makes for some pretty tedious gameplay when it should be fun.

Originally this game was going to be called Luigi's Mansion 2, and it references the first Gamecube game quite a bit. As soon as you're dropped into the story it expects you've played the Gamecube game... WTF?? That might have been ok if they made the GC game available on Wii/Wii U as a download, but most people can't find it or if they only have a Wii U or Wii Mini, can't even play Gamecube games.

Unfortunately like the Mario games, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon looks good, but I don't know if it is actually much fun to play.

The sluggish controls ruin this game. Nintendo and developer Next Level Games, you should be ashamed for putting out such a sub-standard product.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Console conundrums

So I've placed pre-orders for both Xbox One and PS4... but I don't know if  I will actually purchase either of them at this point, really.

Xbox One has many issues, most notable being the need to be connected to the Internet at least once every 24 hours. But  I have other concerns that I haven't seen addressed anywhere. It ships with a 500 GB hard drive, yet all disc games must be installed to the system. Say a game averages 30-40 GB and considering that 500 GB is not *really* how much user available space there is, let's say 400 GB is around what's available... then we can only have about 10 games installed on our Xbox Ones? I heard we can add our own external hard drive to the console (presumably USB connected)  but I wonder how well an external hard drive would run the games off it? No hiccups? There are often problems with external storage with the Wii U for example.

Not to mention that Xbox One seems to be marketed as an all-around media device, so aside from games, the 500 GB hard drive will be filled up with videos and other media which will crowd out the space for games.

I can understand why it would be good to have a game stored to the hard drive, but I wish it was more a choice rather than all games must be stored on it.

Then there's the PS4. It's a box that plays games. Well, I have a bunch of boxes that do that, but the most notable example is my PS3. What does the PS4 *really* offer that the PS3 doesn't? A little better graphics, and a few differences in interface (touch pad, move light on the controller) but what *REALLY* sets it apart from the PS3? Why pay $400.00 + tax for it now?

In both cases, I have to look at the launch games, is there anything that blows me away, to the point that I Must buy one or both of these systems to play that game? Only one game was teased at E3 2013 that fits that description: Star Wars Battlefront. Yes, I have been waiting years for a new Battlefront game. But it was only a teaser, development has only just begun on it. Who knows when it will be released? A year? 2 years from now? I can say that for that game I *WOULD* buy a console just to play it.

But since it is not coming anytime soon, maybe I should just wait?