Things are alright at work - it's wound pretty far down, as one would imagine, given the time of year. I have been out since last Thursday night (it's Tuesday now) and another week to go until I return, I suppose... Anyway, things over there are moving along at an appreciable pace. It will be interesting to see what is the lay of the land once we get back to business as usual - but in the meantime, it's nice to be out of that element for a breather.
So the fine bosses over at the Big O hooked us up with our choice on next-gen (new-gen? current gen.. um.. y'know) at work for the holiday. Um.. excluding El Senor Wii for obvious reasons. Anyway as I've recently acquired a 360 by my own hand, I signed on for a PS3 - it arrived last Thursday. I got the 80GB system, extra controller (no rumble yet), and a Media Remote - um - whatever you wanna call it. It also comes with Motorstorm (motocross racing game) and of course the free online service. I brought the sucker home and squeezed it into my Uber-Massively Overbloated Media Congolomeration Entertainment Extravaganza Super-Deluxx Especiale System Grapevine Cheeseburger with Extra Cheese and Pickles. For those curious, here's how my home theater debacle looks at the moment (with Pickles):
Test PS2 (plays Japan/Burned games)
Modded Xbox (mame)
Turbografx-16 (with busted CD-Rom - cards work though)
and my girlfriend's Wii is hooked up there as well. "What no NES?" I am pretty satisfied how the DC handles NES actually. Also I have a Sega Genesis boxed up in the closet as well, I suppose it will come out at some point. Not that there's really any room left for it.. So, yeah, it's a pretty crowded, potential firehazard I have set up there. What else is new.
Anyway, back to PS3. Since I am a relative n00b to the whole online console experience, and having recently got my feet wet with Xbox Live, it's very interesting to see what they've cooked up over at the PS3 camp - and granted it's a year in for them as well, so I know it must be hugely improved over the likely-lacking experience that must have previously been the case. Anyway, all tings considered, Playstation Network looks and runs fairly well. It's going for a more straightforward, adult look (that is, neutral colors, less "friendly") than Live. Also a litle less "user friendly," as Live will always prompt you to "go there" when you need to go to a different area to install something, run a completed download, perform a test, etc. It's a little niggling, but certainly things like that are the grease that makes the whole thing less of a pain to navigate. You can hop online fairly easily, and though it's a little clunky (for a moment), the browser-on-TV actually does work fairly well. I am sure you can plug a standard issue keyboard/mouse into the USB ports of the system and go right to town with it - I don't think I will get much use of it in the long run (why would I, when a PC is right beside it?) but it's nice to have.. also if you are gonna watch something on Youtube or whatever, I suppose.
As for online content, it looks fairly similar to how Live is setup, what with the demos and downloadable games and all of that. Live still kills it all over the place in this regard, between how it's setup, navigability, and just overall legibility.. but it's usable, and it is getting there. Just very sloppy still. You can tell they want to ripoff Live without being terribly direct about it, anyway. It's nice to think that they have downloadable PS1 titles on there (not that I have yet perused, really) and it's worth mentioning that I have not seen any "movie download service" akin to Live's, yet. Whichever of the two consoles figures that out, for REAL, will be a big contender for me. Also worth mentioning, is the Playstation "Wallet" system - you link up your credit card, etc. to deal with downloading non-demo titles at the store. I like this over anyting else (N or M$) in that instead of the Points BS, you're dealing with everything as actual for-real US Dollars, up front. No confusion or "perceived value.." that certainly endears me to them quite a bit. For whatever that is worth.
What have I downloaded? As usual, I try to load up my HD with demos of anything remotely interesting. DLing on my DSL account is slow as hell (???) but I set it up to go all night, then head out for the evening, so no matter (hey I have got other stuff to do, alright!) Here's a quick rundown, just to cover the bases:
Uncharted:Drake's Fortune (demo) - big xmas Naughty Dog exclusive for the system, and one of the most anticipated. I was trying to get a position working on this, actually - Anyway, we got the disc in at the office a few weeks ago, watching them play the early parts left me kind of uninterested. Regardless I DL'd the demo (I knew it was showing off a different section of the game) and liked it much, much better (to the point where I'd like to bring it home and give it a few spins). Very lush, very gorgeous - fun to tool around with, and the shooting action (for what it is worth) was enjoyable enough. Raised my interest quite a bit. Beautiful graphics - shows of PS3's power!
Insomniac's Ratchet and Clank Future : Tools of Destruction (demo). I've never been an RC player (I do have the 1st one, of which I have played maybe 10 minutes' worth) but I can appreciate what they have done with this title. It's looking GOOOOood. They are really pushing some geo and textures here, and it all flows smoothly, perfectly - it's not quite a real "living city" for real quite yet, but you get the feeling that there's always a lot of hectic excitement going on all over the place - it feels pretty intense. Play-wise, this thing is stuck in the dark ages, though. I don't need to jump and hack pointlessly anymore. Platformers can be fun, but this play style does not suit me, it feels so tired and done-over-and-over that I don't care HOW good it looks, it I doesn't inspire me to invest time or money. But I know this is a very successful franchise, it would be sort of risky to change all of that just for my sake. Well, maybe I will take home the office copy if I get bored.
Heavenly Sword (demo) - another anticipated title, I am not too terribly sure how well it was received - lukewarm perhaps, certainly not bad. I was expecting God of War smoothness, not that I am too adept with that game, this one just felt a little clunkier. It gave you some very satisfying action-killing-closeups, maybe if there was a little less constant-bombardment from the same enemies coming from everywhere to vary things up a bit, it would be more enticing. Just a demo of course - as usual, lush/perfect graphics, though a little chuttery on the framerate (and a little of the nonsense Quicktime events which I strongly detest). This game looks nice, the hero and action "feel right," and I am inclined to investigate more - could be some satisfying hack-n-slash. Nothing I would investigate if there was more on the shelf though.
Everyday Shooter - the first thing I loaded up on my PS3, before ANYTHING else (including the pack-in). I have been rather interested in this title, after hearing a bit about it's genesis. Yeah, a stylish (in a way) one-man-show, and for all intents and purposes it's just a freakin' Flash game, but it is fun and I like that they are promoting stuff like this. This is where gaming needs to go, in my opinion. I love REZ, and I want to see more like-minded stuff (ripoffs not so much, but inspired-by is certainly the way to go). For crying out loud, tis makes me want to buy Fantavision, there I said it...! Anyway I had to straight-up buy this thing right away.
Ridge Racer (yawn!), Formula One something-or-other (yuck.. yuck!), a couple of other games that I don't recall. I haven't played them all yet. The Rub-a-Dub game (Flicky crossed with controller gimmick) felt thin at first but has grown on me, I might throw 10 bones at it. Toy Home is a Toy-Story feeling racer, it's got motion-controlled steering. VERY Japanese-kiddy, my girlfriend likes it so we scooped it up. I was unhappy to learn that there's not a straight "race battle" mode in there, but for what it is, it's not bad for $10. Pixeljunk racers sounded cool, but felt uckkk awful (this is a game.. really?)
Otherwise, I played with Motorstorm a little bit. After working on a similar-styled game some years back, I can appreciate the fun in such a game. It's not drawing me back too terribly, but as it's the only on-disc PS3 title I have got currently, I want to spend a few minutes with it. It DOES LOOK nice, I will say, and the prospect of eventually running a big rig through the bud sounds fun. I was a fan of the early ATV PS2 games back in the day (long on looks, but they sufficed - and the handling was so perfectly satisfying!) Honestly if they made a proper, arcadey-follow up to those games, I'd sign right up. I investigated MTX vs ATV on 360 (recent demo) and though it had some relation (also, it looked pretty nice), that spot-on feeling was just ripped away. You've lost that lovin' feelin'.
I guess that nearly wraps up my original PS3 impressions. The interface is not too bad, just keep ripping off Live and it'll be better I say. The system runs relatively quiet as HELL, which I love. I have yet to investigate Blu-ray (don't really care, and as I have a CRT, does it matter so much?) Someday perhaps I will upgrade to HDTV but that's a ways off, and not something that's a priority for me. I have yet to try the backwards compatibility, but I would happily remove my PS2 from my game shelf in order to clear up some clutter/danger. I will check that out later (in my mind I will still say PS2 is the most comprehensive system to beat, out there.. for the time being). So in essence - PS3 - nice to have, future games will be interesting, glad I got it as a gift. Would not buy, for now or for a lonnng time.
Over in Other-video-game-system land, I have been neglecting my recently-re-acquired 360 what with the new gadgets to play with. I intend to get through Bioshock however, and I would like to pick up Orange Box (I wanna play Portal). And just generally mess around with demos as I see fit. As for games I would actually buy, skate seems fun (I will wait till it goes down in price!) and maybe Amped 3 if I can find it cheap. As mentioned earlier, I DL'd the Frontlines demo (THQ/Kaos) and did manage to play through it. It is getting some scratchy reception on the message boards, I must say it's a nice experience though. Looks and plays well - I hope it does well for them! I can see why people complain, they want it to be exactly like the other games they love - which it isn't. There's a lot of love in there, I hope they fleshed it out properly. We'll see soon enough. Otherwise, Rock Band dominates - still! You can't touch this game, man. I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but these guys really rule the world. It's the perfect mesh of man, music, and game, party game at that. I hope to see them take it further and make it more fun - hell! I wanna play this game at bars with strangers, I know it would just be a blast! Even my non-gamer girlfriend is getting into it. Who would have thunk - someone out there can make games with the priority of just causing people to feel good, and have a good time. I have half a mind to pick it up myself, but geez - I think I have spent enough $$$ this season.
In Wii-ville, it's business as usual. Pretty much all that gets played around here is Wii Play and Wii Sports - and they are still fun! We've had it set up nearly a month, mind you - and not all the game hold up - but tennis, bowling -- great for unwinding. I got into boxing as well. It's just fun with a bunch of people, again "great for nongamers" of course. The ultimate test will be in a couple of days, to see if my parents can actually get into it (I got them one for the holidays, I may have mentioned it in here - they haven't played any games since, oh, pacman and centipede...haha). I got some games for my girlfriend for the holidays as well, Wario Ware Smooth Moves and Cooking Mama Cookoff (you would not believe how difficult it was to find a game called Cooking Mama!) We only checked out the former so far, but I must say it's done as well as I could have hoped - those guys are nuts! Intelligent Systems has to be one of the better devs out there, for real - I love wacky, weird, abstract stuff that makes you scratch your head and say "wha?" If the game doesn't fall short then I will say it's worth the money. Check back with that in a few days - anyway it's nice to see someone take the Wiimote at face value and make stupid simple little minigames out of it. I hope the multiplayer translates properly, it could be another rocking party game.
Whew! So there's what has got to be one of my longer entries, in a while - I had a lot of lost time to make up for, so slobby pseudo-journalism is what will result. I haven't really even touched on politics this time, or end-of-year wrap-up stuff.. maybe later.