Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

So THAT’S where old dashboards go…

Sony today announced (well, confirmed what everyone knew already) its new iteration of the Sony PS3. It’s supposedly slimmer than the original black monolith, so they went with the name ‘PS3 Slim’. Original.

A Side-by-Side comparison. Courtesy of Engadget

A Side-by-Side comparison. Courtesy of Engadget

My thoughts? Well to put it into a single word: Fugly. I don’t like the matt plastic, there’s no longer any chrome trim, and the touch-sensitive buttons on the front look like stickers. It all looks really childish.

It also reminds me of the plastic you find on the dashboards of old cars – are Sony stripping our old cars of all their plastic trim before they get scrapped? It would appear so!

The price drop is equally uninteresting – The Sony PS3 now has a whopping price reduction of… £50! Yes, it’s no longer £300, RRP has been cut to £250 (presumably because the Slim costs them no money to make, because they’re recycling old car dashboards). If you actually looked around, you could have already gotten an 80GB PS3 for £250, which is why I was wondering why news coverage was talking about long-awaited price cuts…

What annoys me the most about this development is that it will be extremely difficult for me to get a good price for my 80GB PS3 (which I bought, brand new, for £220 last October), so I’ll just have to set it up in the living room as a Media Centre before I leave home in Autumn.

Feel free to leave your comments, do you like the new styling of the PS3 or do you prefer the “Fat” version, like me? Do you even care?


How Xbox LIVE Games on Demand can improve

I’m here to offer some constructive criticism on how I think the Games on Demand service can improve itself. A new Dashboard update was rolled out to the public yesterday (August 11) and, among some other trivial tweaks, Microsoft introduced a new ‘Games on Demand’ service, where you can download full Xbox 360 games right to your HDD without the need for physical media.


There’s a few issues with the service though. I’m going to address a few of these, and offer my suggestions as to what they can do to improve them.

Firstly, they need to do something about the pricing structure. Games such as Assassin’s Creed are on the Marketplace for £19.99. In fact, all Xbox 360 games on the Marketplace are this price. Even worse, the US prices are $19.99, meaning they’re paying roughly £12, which is STILL more expensive than a physical copy of the game! (game deal provided by Frugal Gaming)

I’m happy that they haven’t gone with the ridiculous points system for the games, as they do on the Arcade, Add-On and Avatar marketplaces because I don’t have to pay more than I have to, and then have a silly amount of points that I can’t get anything with — but they really need to think about the pricing structure. Nobody’s going to pay double the price for a DRM copy of a game that you can’t sell or trade in once you’re done with it. Want to take it round to your friend’s house to show him what he’s missing? Sorry, you’re either going to have to take your 360 along for the ride or he’s going to have to buy it. (well, he could come visit you too I suppose…) What I’m trying to get to is: variable pricing structure – it’s ridiculous to think that a flat-level price is a good idea.

My next issue is with the size of these games. These games are on DVD, output in 720p/1080i HD. I tried installing Halo 3 onto my HDD to make my 360 run a little bit quieter (most of the noise comes from the disc drive spinning). I can’t really say that I was surprised when I discovered it would take up 6.3GB – needless to say, my 20GB HDD just didn’t have enough space on it. I assume that all the other game downloads are of equivalent size, which means that unless you have the 120GB HDD that made its début with the Elite, you’re going to run out of free space very quickly. Considering most games have add-ons, map packs, etc. and can take up around 2GB without even being installed on the HDD makes this even worse.

Microsoft require you to use proprietary storage mediums on their system – to store game data and the like you need to have either an HDD or a Memory Unit (akin to the PlayStation’s memory cards)


The largest HDD you can get is the aforementioned 120GB model. The Xbox 360’s main (and only) ‘rival’ in this generation, the PlayStation 3, uses standard 2.5″ SATA HDD. So theoretically you can get as much storage as is available at the time – 500GB onwards if you so desire. The prices for Microsoft’s proprietary HDD are also atrocious — for less than the price of a 120GB Microsoft HDD, you could have 500GB in your PS3. Until they allow us to use external data storage, I can’t see their Games on Demand service being a big hit – because at this moment in time, all you’re doing by purchasing content from it is crippling both your wallet and your 360. And that’s not good for anybody!

Are we seeing the return of Horse Armour?

The date is April 3, 2006; Bethesda have released some new Xbox 360 Downloadable Content for their latest best-selling title in the Elder Scrolls series: Oblivion. Only it’s not as exciting as you may think – the content in question? A now infamous little “mod” called Horse Armour.

“What does it add?” I hear you asking in wonder.

In 8 words, It’s a couple of new textures. For your horse.


“Oh, that’s alright, I suppose. I’m guessing it’s free then?”

Well, see for yourself!


200 Microsoft Points (roughly £1.50, although you can’t really tell because of Microsoft’s stupid Points system), for a couple of textures that have no other effect in-game other than aesthetically. That screengrab has just been taken, so Bethesda haven’t even bothered to make this DLC gratis, even after 3 years! There’s not been many debacles like this on the Marketplace since, and that can only be a good thing, right?

Well, I’m a pretty big fan of the RPG genre, I’m not stuck to liking JRPG but I consider them to be one of my favourites (Final Fantasy X, in my opinion, is one of the five greatest games ever made)

Over a week ago I ordered Tales of Vesperia (despite it taking just over a week to actually get to my house – cheers, Tesco!). It’s a solid title in its own right, but I was wondering if it had followed the same vein as (another Bethesda title) Fallout 3, drip-feeding DLC expansions for players who wanted something fresh to do in the game. So I decided to take a look on the Marketplace, where I promptly had my retinas burned in bewilderment:


There are 35 of such DLC, all of which contain this handy message in the “More Details” tab:


Oh, well thanks for that. I could spend (I have worked out) 6,000 Microsoft Points (roughly £51.00! ) on items for my game, or I could just, y’know, fucking play the game and earn them that way, for free.

I truly don’t feel sorry for anyone who had the stupidity to throw away money on these pointless downloads.

Going Postal

Here’s my scenario. I ordered a new Xbox 360 Wireless Controller from GAME’s website around this time yesterday, after discovering that they were currently selling them for £19.98. I selected free delivery, meaning it should get sent at least 2 days after ordering and no later than 7.

Imagine then, if you would, my surprise when I got home and discovered that I’d already recieved it? I hadn’t even chosen next day delivery!

Now I’ll get to my point – on Saturday I ordered an R4 Adaptor for my Nintendo DS and paid for first class postage. As of now I still haven’t recieved it, making it nearly 7 days since the order, and 5 days since it was posted. Sometimes I don’t understand how they can be so inconsistent – I know it’s not really their fault, but logic would suggest that something you ordered a week ago would arrive before something you ordered 24 hours ago (remember, I didn’t pay for next day delivery).

Pixel Perfect.

If you offered me Crysis today, I’d most definitely have to turn you down.

Why? Because having a game that I have no chance of playing on would annoy me solidly for however long it took for me to get a new PC. I’ve had this computer gracing this room with its rather loud fan and sporadic clunking noises for about six years now, it’s too old to run Oblivion but for some odd reason Morrowind won’t even work with it anymore.

More frustratingly, however, is that it’s too ‘new’ to play all the old classics.

Such classics would be games such as Monkey Island, Broken Sword, and the Indiana Jones adventure/puzzle games. You could not seriously consider yourself a gamer until you’d completed any one of these games without any form of assistance (mainly because they’re not THAT difficult). In a surge of nostalgia I decided that I wanted to play The Secret of Monkey Island one more time, just for kicks. But egad!! DOS commands? Floppy Disks? Such technology comfounded my computer and left it clunking more than usual. Naturally I felt disappointed that I would no longer be able to see the early exploits of Guybrush Threepwood and Co.

But then I discovered Scumm VM. Now I’ve installed all of my old games, and I’m as giddy as a five year old while I’m solving puzzles the old-fashioned way, verbal context menus and point-and-click.

So, Mr. Alienware, you can keep your crysis. I’ve got some grog to drink and a date with a giant monkey head.