One of the things that was so compelling in Boishock was that you had no idea the motivations and relationship the Big Daddy and Little Sister, yourself, the world under the sea, Andrew Ryan, etc. And there was a great sense of discovery playing through the game. By just listing to a few interviews with Ken Levine, I feel I already know way too much about this sequel. I still avoid the videos but if you really want the best experience, I guess you have to be diligent and avoid all media about the game (not to mention headlines, images, etc).
While, I know you can avoid media about a particular game, its not all that easy. Especially if you like to keep up on gaming in general. I think its a mistake for 2K to give too much away or starting the media blitz way too early as I think Infinite has. I think the net effect may be a negative one in that many people playing it will just not have that same sense of wonder because they kind of see it coming. I wonder how much this will take away from the magic of this game. There's just nothing like playing through a game and discovering everything for the first time in-game.
Of course, Infinite does seem to be shaping up as an amazing game, but It would be even more so if nobody knew that already :)
The MS press event was about as dull as I thought it would be. And way too much Kinect stuff and not much else. I just don't understand MS focus on the kinds of motion gameing that the core gamers will only see as a distraction. If motion gaming was the right direction, the best Wii games would not be games that barely use motion controls (or not at all). Also, having a weapon customization interface that works on grand Kinect gestures?! What are you supposed to do, put down the controller while you config your weapon? Sure you could probably do it with the controller in your hand but at that point, just use the controller. It will be faster, easier, and less prone to errors. So, I can't get excited about MS in 2011/12 other than the great games that are coming. Halo anniversary and Halo 4 were fine but not all that exciting.
Basicly, MS E3 focused on the one aspect of Xbox that I could just not care less about, Kinect. I guess if you are a Kinect fan, you will be very happy since they are still touting the features of this device.
There is a lot of negative feedback on youtube about this new controller but most of the negativity is due to the fact that the reviewers expected it to work much like the standard controller. The shape of the triggers bothers them, the shorter throw buttons bother them, etc. I will say that it takes a bit to get used to, but some people (like myself) will really like the differences that this controller has to offer. Also, many of the reviews are for the premium version with the variable tension and a lot of people don't like that feature because it makes the sticks (at higher stiffness settings) more spongy. Since I was not interested in that feature anyway, I ended up getting the less expensive basic version which is pretty much the same except the sticks are not adjustable and there is no backlight on the buttons. I would have liked to have the back-lit buttons but it turns out, I like the standard sticks just fine.
Why I like it....
Re-mappable Bumpers: I have mapped the stick-click to the extra bumper. I have always hated using the thumb stick click for most functions in games. Its just unconformable to me. With the onza. You can also map A/B/X/Y to either button as well as start/select and bumpers. Although it would have been better if you could also map the d-pad and not be Left/Right side limited (you can only map left stick click to the left side for example) it does open up a number of possibilities. And for game that let you chose different mappings you can fix quite a few of those games where you just don't like the one button. That is of course if you like the idea of two-bumpers. Takes a bit getting used to but I do like it better than using the click-stick buttons so that is a definite plus.
Stick Movement: I like the feel of the sticks better on this controller. It feels a bit smoother and less jerky then the Xbox sticks. The tension seems a bit lighter but it still has a definite spring back to center that feels right. I even used the FPS Freeks on the sticks to extend them and they still had a nice feel.
Fast Action Buttons: These are quite different from the standard controller. They have a very short throw and fast but light click response. Not at all mush like the 360s. However, I though the Xbox 360 buttons were pressure sensitive (the original Xbox were) which is why they were mushy but apparently this is not the case. That explains why I can't think of a game since MGS2 on the original Xbox that used pressure sensitivity anyway. So, I found with these buttons I was navigating quicker and able to hit the buttons much faster with less fatigue.
The 4-Button D-Pad: The D-Pad is ok for many game that use it for weapon select or just use 4 directions but if a game does use it as an 8-way pad its a bit rough. However, most shooters only use it for weapon select and even games that use it with 8 selections (like oblivion) I could not use all 8 directions with the standard pad either. So, I pretty much prefer the Onza d-pad. But I am sure for some games (fighting games) it may not be good. But I don't play those so for me, the d-pad is also a plus. The d-pad buttons are also in a true up/down direction unlike the standard controller which points sort of toe-in. The idea is that when you move you thumb its moving in an arch so up should be a bit to the left but I prefer a 100% straight up/down direction relative to the controller and not the arch of my thumb.
Things that could be better...
Why not wireless?: I don't mind the wire too much but its a shame that MS seems to not license out the wireless tech to 3rd party control makes (or its too expensive). Its nice to have to have batteries for at least on controller but its hard to get used to after using wireless for 5 years.
Full button remap: There are a number of odd limits on the L/R side buttons must map only to the same side. It would be better if you could map them anywhere. Being able to map all 4 bumpers would also be nice. Being able to map the d-pad too. Basically fully re-mappable 4 bumpers would be just one step better.
Triggers: These are not as comfortable as the standard triggers. I like the lighter throw on the triggers and I like that they extend out a bit more but because the extended part is thin and just a tab, it makes the trigger feel cheap and a bit uncomfortable. Basically, the trigger should feel like a single well-rounded trigger, not a trigger with a nub on the end. But this is by no means a deal-breaker. The triggers are good, just not as good as they could be.
Rumble: Rumble feel was not as good as standard controller. Better rumble with maybe a bit heavier weights would give it a better feel.
Enclosure: The plastic feels a bit cheap on the basic model. Maybe just a bit too thin and light.
I really like the base model. For 39$ its a very nice 3rd party controller with some extra features. If you don't like the extra bumbers you could just map the standard bumpers to both and you would still have a very nice controller. Its generally has a lighter pressure feel and is more responsive on all fronts (buttons, triggers, and sticks) and the dpad is certainly no worse. From what I hear, most people don't adjust the tension up on the pro-version so you may want to just go with the base model. Also, if you like to use the FPS Freeks definitely go with the base model because they don't fit well on the pro model. I really like this 3rd party stick and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a controller with a lighter more responsive feel than the original.
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Well, I did end up with the Boxee Box but after only a few weeks, returned it. It was pretty much 50% broken for watching internet content which was the main reason for getting one. So, look like the perfect internet media streamer for you TV is still no where to be found. All of the current contenders Apple, Google, Roku, Boxee, etc all have major issues.
Just saw a demo on the Google TV and I have to say, there is no way soccer moms and dads are going to use this thing. Its too complicated to get working with your cable box or satellite system and relies to heave on the browser interface. The whole thing is a half backed mess. I just don't see this thing becoming part of TV the way it is advertised. They are expecting this thing to be put directly into TVs, cable, and set top boxes? I don't see it.
For myself, I have been playing with (and even putting together an app) for the Boxee. This thing is cool. And even though I don't see this thing being too big, it has huge potential because, unlike the other internet streaming boxes, it is very easy to add all your RSS feeds to it and even write apps. Sure there are problems with licensing network content etc but once the providers realize that incorporating the ads into the stream itself is the only way to get people to watch it, they will do just that and these streaming players will take off in the popular market. Its already taking off as Netflix has already stated that they are now for all intent a video streaming service that just happens to rent physical DVDs.
And no one wants to have 10 different set top boxes for watching 10 different streaming services providers. Using a single, low energy streaming box that can provide multiple networks is the way of the future. I think Boxee is a first glimpse at doing it right. It will probably flowder and fail to sell but its a great piece of software that is closer to anything else at being able to provide many diffrent and changing internet TV channels in a simple and easy to understand way.
E82. What is that? Do a Google search on "E82 Xbox" and you will quickly find out. Its a common error code on the new Xbox 360-S model. It basically means that there is a hardware error and that you Xbox 360 is now a big black brick! Sadly, I was foolish enough to think that the new 360 model would improve on the reliability issues that plague the Xbox but, for me, that is simply not the case.
I have owned 5 Xbox 360's. Four of which have succumb to hardware failures. I take excellent care of all my hardware. In the same period of time, I have owned only a single GameCube, one PS2, and two PCs, and numerous pieces of home entertainment equipment. The only other piece of hardware I had any where near as much trouble with is the Apple Mac-Mini. That crap PC died after about 3 months and its replacement (under warranty) died just after a year. I also had one PS3 that died after about 3 years.
So, now my new 360 Slim has died after only about 3 months of use. How do I feel? Disappointed to say the least. The only good news is that my last model, a Frankenstein 360 Arcade unit with an Elite 120G HDD is still alive and back in service under my TV. As loud and obnoxious as ever.
Man, I really like the S-Model. Its so quiet and has tons of space. Maybe after I return it for service, the replacement or repaired unit will last just a bit longer. Heck, the oldest one they can send me is 4 months old because its only been manufactured for that long. After 5 years of making the Xbox 360, you would think Microsoft would figure out how to make this thing. Sure, its made cheap but with all the die-shrinks and after losing what may be 1 billion dollars on all the RROD repairs and replacements you would think they could put their "best men" on creating a model that lasts more than a year. Certainly more than 3 months.
There is simply nothing left to say. The Xbox 360 is simply a piece of crap when it gets down to it and the S-Model is certainly no better, and maybe worse in terms of reliability than the earlier models. If you do that search "E82 Xbox" you will find a bout 180,000 results in 0.10 seconds. Just because I was curious I did a few more specific searches to see if I could find a trend....
+E82 +Xbox = 124,000 +E82 +Xbox +slim -arcade -elite = 12,500 (Slim Model has been out for 4 Months!) +E82 +Xbox -slim +arcade -elite = 2,530 +E82 +Xbox -slim -arcade +elite = 4,500
Well, there may be nothing really evident here other than Google is a kick-ass search engine but I was shocked to see so many hits specificly against the Slim model since its been on the market for such a short period of time. Of course I suppose Google's search data may drop off after a while and old hits against the older models may just no longer be indexed. But still, these numbers are pretty scary for a console so young.
Anyway, I am still a fan of the Xbox and can't wait to get my Slim back from the repair shop. But I think we all just have to face it. Owning an Xbox is simply a heart wrenching experience. Its more expensive, time consuming, and frustrating to own than any other game console in history. That is simply a sad fact.
P.S. The PS3 is not that much better. The first PS3 was DOA from the store. The next one lasted 3 years (not terrible) and I now own the PS3 Slim.
Recently I had Other M on pre-order because I am a huge fan of the Metroid games on both Gamecube and Wii. I own both Corruption and the trilogy remake for Wii.
But, at the last minute I canceled my pre-order and for one reason and one reason only. As a fan of good controls in games, I have just reached my limit with the Wii controler. I often refer to it as an ergonomic nightmare for any game that needs more than 2 buttons. And even then, the Wiimote is simply so uncomfortable that I can no longer make excuses for it. The Wii, for me is slowly becoming my Gamecube player.
That's not to say there are not standout games on the Wii, but I have just finally come to the realization that even my favorite Wii games would be more enjoyable with a more comfortable controller and I can't take it anymore. The motion controls are actually not that bad and the pointing is decent. But the shape of the controller with hard edges that does not fit in your hand and lousy position and feel of the buttons... Its just horrible design. It sounds like this game tried to get away from that by using horizontal controls but then when you have to switch back to pointing that is clunky etc.
Anyway, I will end my rant here. I will certainly rent this game just to check it out but my days of buying Wii games may be over. Because the insult to gaming controller that is the Wiimote.... Ahhhhh. I just can't take it any more.
NOTE: This is not about Other M. In fact, the controls for that game are probably relatively good. My issues with the Wii controller go back a long way and using "Other M" to represent the last straw was probably not a good choice due to its non-conventional controls. And its not mentioned as a deterrent that often in the initial reviews. Later reviews will probably be a bit more critical. But my dislike of the Wiimote is as strong as ever and this game just made me think about it more.
Just played "Other M" for a little while. All I can say is, I was right, I don't like these controls one bit. The controls are certainly troublesome. Switching between the d-pad and the first person may be smooth as far as the graphical transition but its not that smooth in terms of the immersion of the game. It completely takes you out of the game and make you think about nothing but controls. I'm sure after a while it is less jarring but I was certainly annoyed by the controls in the first hour of play. But besides that, this game just feels clunky and not like the prime series to me. The story is so lame. You can't use your weapons because you're going to respect the implied order of a commander even though you are not part of the command and more than that, you are looked down upon by that group? WTF? You are a bounty hunger. So, story starts out pretty lame if you ask me. Also, the world and controls just make it feel like a brawler not an adventure game which I feel metroid must be. Anyway, that game may be polished but I must say, I am glad I did not buy this game because I feel like I may not even get into it.
I figured I would write up a quick review that does not contain hype since I had to pay for it :) I've had a number of Xbox models in my time; 4 to be exact. Two were just replacements after RROD. One got repaired but failed just 3 months later. Before the new 250B model I had a hodgepodge system made up of an 2008 arcade unit and an older elite (120G) HDD. Sort of an Oreo cookie 360. Recently, I have been tempted to get a second Xbox so that I could set up for some muli-screen multi-player at home. Once I saw the new 360 and read reviews that confirmed that it was much more quiet, I pulled the trigger. So, after a few days with the latest Xbox, here is the review points...
Is it svelte/pretty?
Well, its about 15% smaller. So the reduced size is not really that big a deal. If you keep your Xbox in a tight space, it may help but its generally just a bit smaller. But its much more sleek looking with the internal HDD. It looks more like a piece of home theater than a toy. Its glossy and matches many flat pannel TVs which also looks better. As far as finger prints, unless you often lug it around from home to home, that is a non-issue.
Is is quiet?
Here is the best new feature, major reduction of noise. Two small/fast fans have been replaced with one larger/slower fan. This definitely reduces the noise. Its very similar in sound level as the PS3 slim. The power brick fan also has a very low hum but also very quiet. In fact, when the DVD is not spinning I usually don't know if its on or off. Kudos to Microsoft for finally fixing this issue. When spinning, the DVD is noticeable but I would guess about 1/2 as loud (-6db) as my last Xbox 360. And with the 250Gb HDD, you can install lots of games and almost never have to hear the DVD.
New Features and Issues?
New integrated WiFi (N-Band) is a welcome addition for many users and makes it WiFi future proof once N-band is more standard. Larger HDD of course allows you to keep more games installed and not worry about removing things. Two very minor issues from the new design come to mind. I don't like the position of the eject touch button. Its too small and in a more awkward position than before. Not sure why they did this? That being said, the new touch buttons are great in general. Both are very easy to activate (unlike the orig PS3) and have a nice beep to tell you when they have been hit. The only other issue I came across was that some USB keys do not fit into the front trap-door access port. Some will hit the door and the USB opening almost seem off-center. But probably only 2% of USB keys will have an issue.
Overall, the new design is better in a number of ways and includes WiFi, larger HDD. Whats not to like. As far as reliability, the answer to that question will have to wait but there is no reason to expect it to be less reliable and good reason to expect it to be more reliable. With the single heat sink, smaller chips, and less power (which means less heat), its likely it will be even more reliable than recent models. I think they did a great job with the refresh of the design. Of course Microsoft should be hung out to dry for the poor quality of early 360 revisions but this new edition may just hold up. While there is no real need to upgrade, other than piece and quiet, its nice to have this better design moving forward.
If it were not for Keven Butler, I may not have enjoyed the PS3 conference :) He was highlighted in a number of video clips and came out and did a funny bit. The way he makes fun of the Wii motion control and the boxing game are great. Much like MS spent a lot of time on KINECT, Sony spent a lot of time with both 3D gaming and Move. My interest in these technologies continues to be less than stellar. I was impressed with the Sorcery demo. Unfortunately that is a 2011 title but it looked good. I do find move more compelling for core games but still I think I will continue to prefer a controller.
KZ3, LBP, etc. Seems like if they highlighted the games that were offering either Move or 3D. Game eats some crow, that was cool although Kevin B. should have punched him in the face. That would have been cool. Odly, instead of focusing on true exclusives like MS, Sony focused on how multi-platform game would be best on PS3 and that many 3rd party developers will treat PS3 as t he premier platform. Lately, more multi-platform games do not shine much brighter on either PS3 or Xbox with few exceptions so I am not sure this is the best message. And GT5 (finally) and Final Fantasy 14? I suppose fans of these series will be exited. But towards the end of the conference, the announcement of Infamous 2 and, the worste kept game secret ever, Twisted Metal for PS3 helped with highlighting a few exclusive games.
I think I am a bit worn out with E3 conferences. This one did not seem all that memorable. Probably because Sony did not announce any new hardware or not much new that was not playable on multiple consoles. Since so few will have 3D enabled TVs in 2011, its hard to get exited about that. Move had a good showing and the price reasonable . A decent showing but unfortunately, it lacked any kind of truely memorable announcement.
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Well it started with a bust. Not even Miyamoto could demonstrate the accuracy of the Wii motion Plus. They pointed to technical difficulties and that may be the case. I guess we will have to wait until the press get there hands on the new Zelda on the floor. Still, I think with this demo, I have just lost all interest in using Wiimote and Motion Plus as a way to control classic games. It did not add anything, other than frustration, to Twilight Princess, and I don't see it working well here.
Zelda, Donky Kong, Goldoneye, and Kid Icarus! Well, as far as game announcement go, Nintendo really nailed what Nintendo fans want. More of the same franchises. And one new Disney game Epic Mickey. Nintendo is laser focused on the youth market and re-making old franchises that appeal to the parents of today's kids. All you can say is it seems to be working. I would have like to see some new franchises or even an announcement of a new HD Wii, it makes sense that Nintendo will keep the Wii/DS train moving without changing what is working so well.
Hard to tell unless you see it working in person. Certainly the addition of an analog control (PS3 style pad but bigger) and 3D are enough to refresh interest in the platform. I'm sure it will continue to sell well. Nintendo seems compelled to answer the quesions "How man DS's can one family own?"
While the Nintendo conference started on a sour note, they went on to announce many of the games that the fans would be exited about. Not being a big fan myself (other than Zelda) I was still impressed with how they continue to appeal to the much ignored DS/Wii crowd which is probably younger than your typical PS3/360 player.