Outdated PlayStation 4 Thoughts

full disclosure yea this is kinda super late but I typed up my thoughts after Sony made the announcement and just forgot to post it. I figured I'd post it any way now, just so I don't have a random blog in a folder that never went live. -FS

There is finally light at the end of this long tunnel the next generation of video game consoles is finally officially coming. Sony struck first with their announcement of the PlayStation 4. The name while not really original is great its not something dumb I have to get used to like saying like Vita or Natal its simple. It’s the new PlayStation and you know that because the number is higher. Sony’s event was filled with 2 hours of talking almost solely about GAMES and how this console is going to do interesting things with GAMES, I’m sure its gonna have a Netflix app and and be filled with social media hooks up the ass, hell it has a button on the controller for it but I will get to that later, but they didn’t spend time talking about how their vision is going to be an all in one box or about how “It only does everything”. They just talked about games and that has me pretty excited.

They started off talking about the hardware for a few minutes and guess what its better. There is going to be an x86 processor, 8gb of RAM and an “Enhanced” PC GPU. Those are all good things but I’m not quite sure who that segment of the presentation was for. It using terms like “enhanced” and “next gen” when referring to computer hardware is too vague to mean anything of significance to people who really know computer hardware and on the opposite end of the spectrum the person who knows nothing is just going to see acronyms and numbers and then ask. “Is that good? Yea. Cool.”

Not a whole lot different, just slightly bigger

They also talked about a new feature that is like a sleep mode where it suspends your game and puts the PS3 into a low power state and then will boot up instantly back into the game. I love something like this on my Vita and if I can put my vita to sleep for like 3 or 4 days and come back and still have battery left I am fairly positive that they can do something similar with the new PlayStation and have it not kill the system or consume a bunch of power. The talked about the controller it looks like a Dualshock with a touch pad on it and it now has convex analog sticks. Having that pad is going to make the controller slightly bigger so its getting closer to the size of Xbox controller which I like, I currently feel like I can snap the PS3 controller in half just by thinking about it. They had a moment where they talked about the new controller being compatible with a 3D camera like the Kinect but it was only one line and it didn't seem like a focus. The current rumor of the new Xbox is that a camera is going to be integral if not required. I don’t wanna be forced to use a camera but having one for people or developers who want to use I like.

After that they got right into the games starting of with a character driven platformer called Knack. I’m not sure if Knack is supposed to be the new mascot of the system like a Mario or a Crash Bandicoot but it sure seemed like that was the effect they were going for announcing that first. It looked good visually but it wasn’t astonishing or even the best looking thing of the evening. It didn’t do anything new either it just was a new character driven platformer. What they did have to showcase with Knack was the connection to the Vita that is part of the vision Sony is going to try to achieve being able to stream any PS4 game to be playable on the Vita. I think something like that will be interesting if it comes to fruition because I really want this brick I own to become useful. I LOVE the Vita, I think it is a great device, I just need other people to buy one so developers will make great games for it. And if I have to leave my console for something like I want to watch something on TV or I need to be closer to the kitchen or I have to take a shit its nice to know it might be possible that I don’t need to stop playing whatever it is I wanna play.

Throughout the buzz words and bull shit they threw around I picked up that they are going to to do things with the store along the lines of Amazons recommendation system or what Google is trying to accomplish in predicting what you want to buy before you buy it. Then also taking that a step farther and downloading if for you so it is just immediately available. I don’t know about it predicting my interests but if it can predict what I am going to buy I should at least be able to tell it I want something before it is released and have it pre-load a game so I can play it the moment it is available like steam has been doing.

Gakai is strongly apart of Sony's "Vision"

The next thing that came up was the fairly recently acquired Gakai technology, Which is supposedly a On Live type thing that actually works. They talked a mess of game about what this streaming technology can do. Like trying a stream of a game without having to download anything to see if you like it. Being able to stream gameplay to your friends or online is supposedly going to be built in at a system level as well. This is where that share button comes in. For starters the system is supposed to hold 10 minutes of gameplay buffered so at any moment if something awesome happens you can hit that share button go back to the point of awesomeness and then post that clip somewhere like Facebook or YouTube I find this interesting not for the sharing capabilities because I don’t care if my friend from college that I didn’t really like who is on my Facebook friends list gets to see how awesome I am at Call of Duty, but because capturing content from a console right now requires equipment and software to do and building something like that in on a system level so when that moment comes you do want to show someone or you just want to keep a record of a game to go back to to remember something it’s there without having to have a setup for that kind of thing. And hopefully that will mean videos of awesome things taken on cellphones will go away.

Their vision is to also be able to stream live gameplay out to the world and to other friends and be able to transfer control to the other person. On the surface this sounds sorta dumb because I don't really wanna have my friend help me get past that part because it is too hard or I don't want that call from someone I know who is more of a casual gamer asking me to get online and do something for them either. But if that is possible the time of local only games is over. If I can stream and transfer something like The Cave to friends and be able to play with them like they were sitting next to me I think that would be awesome. Although it would be nice if games just didn't come out with local only co op any more.

Seeing this made me sad, I have nothing against Killzone, I just want new stuff

Different developers came out and talked about their games some of which were sequels that I’m not really excited about but there was new stuff. Knack looked fun and above all its at the very least a new world to explore and a new character to use. Destiny was there that I already talked about when it was announced last week. Watch dogs was revealed to be for next generation systems. Jonathan Blow came out and was very cynical about AAA game development and talked about his new game, The Witness which I'm sure will be good I’m just not really sure what it is yet besides a open world puzzle game. I am looking forward to see more of these games but for now I am happy knowing there is new things coming out.

The notable things that were not present that I was not surprised about were a release date other than Holiday 2013, a price and a picture or image of the box itself. These being missing doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The only reason I would have been happy with a price is because I want to see the statement they are going to make with that number. I am going to buy this thing anyway no matter when it comes out or what it costs or looks like so I’m much happier seeing what I might get when I buy it which is what they showed.

Overall I am pretty excited but at the same time I’m remaining pretty skeptical. The words Sony used seemed intentionally vague and consoles usually don’t live up to every thing that was mentioned at the launch event. And a lot of the things that were mentioned require things that may be outside of their control like good internet. Am I going to be able to stream a game demo without latency on a 3mb connection? But even so the things they mentioned are at least getting people thinking about what they want and can possibly expect in a new system where as before I wasn't really sure what could be new that would get me excited i just knew that 3d and motion definitely were not what I wanted. It’s Microsoft's turn now and I am slightly worried they aren’t gonna make as big of a push of video games. I think we are going to see a lot of that only one box needed stuff which is nice but not what I am interested in in a video game console.

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Seamless Online

The announcement of Destiny seems like Bungie is trying to bring an mmo type of experience to consoles and I think what little they have shown looks good and the idea is interesting. Things are changing in the industry and its going to be interesting to see how Bungie comes up with a way to be able to support this game for a decade, while still making it relevant and fun while still also making money on it without charging a monthly fee. I have slowed down on my multiplayer gaming over the last couple years due to a combination of getting busier and boredom. I get busier because there is things I would rather do than spend all my time in one game that is mostly similar to the game I spent all my time in 5 years ago only with new bells and whistles, Multiplayer games on consoles are still fun but the gameplay loop hasn't changed. It is still for the most part, play a match, see what I unlocked, see what I want to unlock next, wash rinse repeat. The idea that loop might be possible to change is interesting.

It looks like we are both walking to that mountain. You ... uhh wanna, like walk together?

That being said what little Bungie has said Destiny is trying to do isn't exactly new or revolutionary. Journey last year did the seamless multiplayer/single player world quite well and at the time I like many others praised it for being new and completely original. But that’s not true Journey was just arguably to first game to do it flawlessly and the game being such a small scale made that flawlessness easier.

Jeff mentioned in his underwear video that Test Drive involves that same concept as well and I totally forgot about that. I even played both the Test Drive games and I completely disregarded the way that game handled multiplayer as being important. That’s partly because it wasn't done exceptionally well, it worked fine most of the time but it was slightly buggy and the games wrapped around the system weren't the greatest ever either. So when Journey came around and the game was an amazing set piece on its own and then all of a sudden there was this other person there it seemed revolutionary.

When Journey was released I said that the next thing in multiplayer gaming had something to do with the seamless world and I still believe that to be true my point is that it goes back farther than Journey it just takes some thing that is built to the same quality as Journey was to put that style of gaming on the map and its going to take something like the scale of Halo to have it reach a mass market appeal. And I believe Bungie can provide that product.

There were mp3 players before the iPod came around in 2001 but making an mp3 player that people desired and then wrapping it with something like iTunes at the time is was got people away from CD players.There were first person shooters on consoles before Halo came out but Bungie figured out how to make it reach a massive amount of people before anyone else did. That was then followed by Halo 2 and Xbox live that changed everything multiplayer wise. I believe that Bungie has the skills and the ambition to change things up in gaming again that along with new hardware is going to make consoles new and refreshing again.

But who knows in two years we might look back at this interesting time of change and be sad things did. Destiny might come out and be just another shooter with new bells and whistles the new consoles might bring on the new crash but I’d like to think that the time for something to be different and better is rapidly approaching. All it takes is for someone or some company to do it right for people to follow.

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Metal Gear Solid Series Completed... Finally

I told my self at the beginning of the year that I wanted to make a bigger dent into my back catalog of games and a I’ve found that a good way for me to accomplish that is to set hard deadlines for finishing games, and I started with the Metal Gear Solid series. I am happy to say that I met the deadline of the release of the new game so it seems that this might be an effective strategy in getting through the hundred some odd games I own that I have not played. I already posted my thoughts on the first couple games I played but I have since finished MGS4 and Peace Walker.

As expected Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots is probably my favorite game of the series but only because it is the most modern of the bunch. MGS4 was different to me than the rest in that I didn’t play stealthy at all. The game introduces a points system to buy better guns and upgrade parts which makes the game more open but it also made me actively want to kill enemies to get their weapons easier to make more points. I might have just been tired of stealth having played the first 2 games almost completely stealthy but in any case I’m glad the game made each option a completely viable way to play..

The game is structured the same as the previous games but the areas are much larger and there seems to be multiple ways to get though most of them. There was always the run straight down the middle and murder every thing in your way option but then if you looked a little harder there was almost always a way to get around everyone without them even knowing you were there. These options and extremely better controls made the game much more enjoyable to actually play. The older games weren't bad by any means they weren't as fluid. Watching footage of Rising: Revengeance seems like the it is taking a step forward in that sense.

While watching the cut scene in 4 where Jack is introduced and destroys all of those gekko’s saving snake, Knowing that the next game was gonna be filled with more of that cut scene I got pretty excited. Not only did 4 play better than the rest it also had a ridiculously crazy story with set piece moments and tons of call backs to the older games, it also filled in most of the plot that the other games left open. One could argue that Kojima wrapped everything up too neatly but that didn't bother me that much. The game even though it is 5 years old which is almost old enough to be considered classic with how fast things move nowadays is still great and doesn't show its age where I could tell that 2 and 3 were from another generation.

Having said that Guns of the Patriots is my favorite of the series the one that surprised me the most was Peace Walker. With it being originally on a portable system there was some key changes to the structure that I really enjoyed. Its not linear like the rest there is a hub menu and each mission can be replayed as much as possible, in fact it is encouraged to play things over again because the meta game around the game itself centers on recruiting soldiers to work for you and the stronger your soldiers are the more weapons you can research and better missions you can send the soldiers on. If you know the main points of the series you know that Big Boss was a part of the PMC revolution that plagues the world of Metal Gear now and this game has you creating his PMC from the ground up.

Overall I liked Peace Walker better than MGS3 as a prequel because I felt liked it fit more into the story than 3 did while I was playing it. When I played 3 I thought it didn't connect to the rest of the series very much they were connected later on but I like that I immediately understood the connections Peace Walker was making to its predecessor in 3 and the games it was also a prequel to in the games taking place in “modern day”.

The story is significantly less fantastical than the rest of the series. I mean there is high tech mecs that were definitely not possible in the 70’s but there wasn't a guy who was immortal or a guy who was filled with electricity. Along with the main story there is a whole lot of side missions to do that give the game serious depth. I haven’t even come close to finishing the side missions and there is more variety and some more of that not completely based in reality stuff in those side missions that I have yet to get to. I intend to go back to peace walker at some point because of the side things I wasn't able to get to. In order to recruit more soldiers I found this game easier to play stealthy the game controlled fine on the PS3 adding the second analog stick although I don’t think I’d like it at all without it.

All in all I really enjoyed the series and all the hype it has gotten is definitely warranted and if you haven't played any of the series yet the games hold up fairly well and are all still worth playing. My next deadline is the God of War: Ascension release. I just played God of War last weekend and I want to go through the other 4 games before mid march which should be fun.

P.S. You might notice a trend because my next series to get through after God of War is Uncharted although I’ll probably try to finish that before The Last of Us just for continuity sake although if I am going to be that way about it I never did play Jak 2 or 3 hmm...

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A K/D ratio of 0.18 is normal right? ... Right?

I took a week off from the Metal Gear Solid series this week to play some Rayman Origins on my vita and play Battlefield 3 on the PC. Rayman is still as good looking as it was last year and it a blast to play on the Vita. The controls are also really tight and satisfyingly floaty at the same time, and that along with the animations make you feel like you a badass at games. That game can get really challenging by the end especially if you are trying to collect every thing you can and when you finally nail a whole level flawlessly after you have been trying for a half hour you you feel like you accomplished something. The S rank I got in Origins is high on my list of S ranks I am most proud of.

However the main game I want to talk about is Battlefield 3 and its less so because of the game and more of my experience with it. Battlefield 3 is a perfectly competent game and if you're a fan of good shooters Battlefield 3 is definitely an excellent shooter but it does nothing to really innovate and bring in people who might have grown tired of the genre. What made it so interesting to me was that it is the first shooter I have seriously tried to play on the PC. I used to be above average in Call of Duty and Battlefield Bad Company on consoles and have been using a controller for games for the better part of 12 years, a controller is like a part of my body at this point. Long gone are the days of having to look at my hands to figure out where the button I need to press is. On top of that the shooter genre has become accustomed to standards control wise. So much so that if placed in front of most any shooter I, like most any gaming enthusiast, would be able to pick it up and be decent in very little time.

The main reason why I don’t play shooters on the PC is because of this change in control mechanism away from my comfort zone. It’s like someone who all of a sudden is forced to brush their teeth with their foot. It’s probably possible but they’re not gonna be very efficient or comfortable while doing it. At the same time, though I feel like it is important somehow to learn how a large segment of shooter fans prefer to play them instead of just writing the PC off as inferior. And I tell you it is an extremely humbling experience. I started off playing some of the campaign just to get a sense for how bad I was going to be and wow am I bad. Those days of having to look at my fingers are back even though I use a keyboard more than I use a controller using it to control a virtual set of hands is completely different than writing an article or typing in a web address.

I then tried some multiplayer and it took me 30 minutes to even get one kill and the only thing I could really do was laugh. On a console when I was good if I were to ever even go close to a negative K/D ratio I’d just quit and even now a days since I play to many different games to devote the time to continuing to stay that good if I have a string of like 5 matches where I go negative I’ll take a break but even then forcing myself to play almost 3 full matches without even killing one person is not something I ever thought I would be able to handle temper wise. The strange thing is I never really got mad the first kill was more of a goal or an accomplishment for me that evening.

But as I played more this week I started to get the hang of it. I quickly realised that a lot of the fundamentals from shooters on consoles carry over onto the PC, it is just how you perform those fundamentals that is the difference. You still need to check your corners, understanding the flow of a map is crucial. then understanding what you can see and what is able to see you at any given time, then training your fingers to just instinctively move properly is then just about repetition. At this point I am better than I was a week ago but I still have a long ways to go and I look forward to being able to hold my own and being able to play anything well regardless of platform. Its almost like learning how to drive a manual transmission. It may not be as easy and an automatic may or may not be a better choice in any given situation but being able to make the decision based off of personal experience and being able to drive any car is a nice skill to have if it is necessary.

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Press the ACTION BUTTON to post your blog.

So in my struggle to get caught up with my backlog of games I am trying to enforce meeting deadlines. The first deadline I am forcing upon my self in the new year is finishing the Metal Gear series before Rising comes out. Rising at least on the surface looks like a completely different playing game than any other in the series but it still looks like a ridiculous good time. My interest in the game basically boils down to “Fuck yea I wanna chop shit up with a sword.” but , I digress. I purchased the MGS HD Collection last year when I purchased my PS3, and it like many other game have been sitting on the shelf. I owned a PS2 but at that point in my game playing career I was very close minded in the games I played and at the time Metal Gear was, I guess too complicated for me is the way to put it.

But this generation my mind has significantly expanded and I want to play most every thing and after hearing how good of a game MGS4 was, I was interested in going back to the older games to get caught up on the very convoluted story line. I did some research and read up on Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. I really didn't feel like playing a PS1 game again because I feel early polygonal games don’t really hold up at all and MGS2 has a section in the menus that kind of walks you through the events of MGS1 I felt comfortable skipping the actual game. I then started my mission with Sons of Liberty.

It will never be an experience I can compare with someone who played it originally because first of all gameplay standards have changed and second of all I knew about the main plot twist that seemed to make people mad. It was also my first foray into the series so I don’t have the attachment to Snake as other people at the time had. I don’t really understand the hatred for Raiden really because of this. I mean he is sort of a bitch and every time he would go “Why?” or “How do I do that?” I would shake my head slightly but him being a rookie and having to learn the ropes from most everyone he met was an interesting story to be involved with. Whether he was a bitch or not I certainly don’t hate him at this point in the series.

The experience I can share though is that I found the game to be quite good. It holds up surprisingly well aside from some clunkiness with the controls which is to be expected. There just isn't a flow and fluidness to how things work, everything needs to be deliberately done. But at the same time the game was designed around this deliberateness so I never felt like the game was asking too much of me. I was also surprised how much of the game’s story still surprised me. I decided long ago that to get the type of coverage I want on games I need not worry about games being spoiled or I will miss out on things I would rather know about regarding development or speculation that is being discussed. I figured I knew about all the game had to offer surprise wise just from talking to people about games and listening to and reading games media every day but at multiple points during the game I said out loud “Wait, what the fuck just happened?” and by the end of the game I didn't really quite know what completly happened until I asked a friend some questions.

Snake Eater was next, and unlike Sons of Liberty I hadn't really picked up much spoiler wise and was going in mostly cold apart from a couple of easter eggs I heard about. This first thing that surprised me was how good looking the game is, It definitely isn't the greatest looking game ever but for being a remake of a 10 year old game it was surprising. I have played games released in 2012 that looked and performed worse than 3 does. Snake Eater has some welcome Improvements including a better camera that was included in the subsistence release of the original game. Having what would be considered a modern camera system was a big improvement to the fixed camera in 2. The controls were similar to the previous game but I was used to them at this point so I found them less bothersome. The game had some interesting changes display wise as well. There is no automatic radar like there was in the previous game which forced me to keep a line of sight with the enemy that bundled with the environment the enemies blended into made the gameplay slightly more interesting and is what made the new camera so helpful being able to point it where I wanted. There were items that served the same purpose as a radar but using them consumed battery power and after going to any sort of convention with a smartphone you have a new mission in life that revolves around storing as much battery as possible at all times so I never used them really.

The story seemed more straightforward than 2 at the end I wasn’t really unsure about any thing that happened. I do wish it got more convoluted than it did just to be more interesting but overall the story seemed solid and ultimately wasn’t disappointing. The bosses in the game annoyed me quite a bit though. Having them all named after a noun and then having them repeat said noun over and over again reminded me of a weird form of a Pokemon.

After playing both games I feel like the part where you play it was better in Snake Eater but the story of Sons of Liberty kept me entertained more. Both games are also weirdly self aware and self serious at the same time. I enjoy the references that are made to things that are only made possible in a game and how instructions tell you to use the ACTION BUTTON, It gives the series a personality that not many other games pull off very well when they try to be self aware.

The next game on my list to get through is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, followed by the last game in the HD collection Peace Walker. I am choosing to skip portable ops because I don’t already own it and for the sake of time alongside the small controversy of whether the game is truly cannon or not I figured I could read up on it or watch the cut scenes on YouTube or something. I am looking forward to 4 because it is the most modern game and I hope its gonna answer some lingering questions that I have. I will be disappointed though if I don’t find out more about Revolver Ocelot. He sort of has this thing about him that makes me feel like there is more to his character that hasn’t come to light yet.

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Hopefully the first of many

I play alot of games, and I buy more games than I play, which by the way is a bad practice to partake in, because I play so many games by the end of the year I tend to forget what I thought of the games I played, unless they made a strong impression on me. So I have decided to actually write my thoughts down so I have something to go back on, and also make it available online incase anyone out there cares what I have to say. I have been planning to do this since the beginning of last year and since it is the start of a new I felt like why not start now.

Why do I want to write this stuff down? One could argue that games that make strong impressions are the only ones that matter, but I disagree. There is a lot to be learned from games that end up being mediocre or not revolutionary. In an industry where taking what another developer has discovered, then using those mechanics or devices in your own interesting ways to create a product that is something you and your team can call your own. The games that end up being in the middle so to speak are the main body of this brand of entertainment. In any given year there may be only one or possibly no significant games in any given genre that make revolutionary changes with platform, because of this I think it is worth making note of all the games that you experience good or bad. After 10 or 20 "mediocre" games that each developer adds their own slight spin to you will notice a significant difference between game number 1 and game number 20.

At the same time I’d like to have a record available of my experiences with a game around the time I stop playing it, for 2 reasons, The first being to see if I can connect the dots about why i stop playing games whether it is because the game did something or if it is because something different came along for me to play. The second being so there is a record of how a game ages weeks or months after its launch. Most reviews do what they are trying to accomplish in telling a user if they want to play the game or not, but I’d like to keep record of what someone can expect after they have put a significant amount of time into a game that has the ability to change significant amounts, either because it is multiplayer based and people get better or because it has received significant updates or expansions.

Now since I buy more games than I play I have a larger than normal back catalog of games to play so I will be writing about whatever I have played, not necessarily what is out that week. I am mainly doing this because it has been something I have been thinking of doing for at least 2 years and something I have been seriously thinking about for the last 10 months. It's something I am gonna do for personal gain and if anyone wants to come along they are welcome to it hopefully I will keep up on this a lot better than I was about starting it.

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