Home on the PS3 has been out for well over a month now. Since then there have been updates to the software plus additional content so it seems more appropriate to scribble down my thoughts.
Home is downloaded and installed on your PS3. It’s accessed from the XMB as if launching a game or separate app. Initially I couldn’t connect to Home but after the first update I’ve been find. Some of my friends have still been unable to connect though. After 5-6 weeks. Sony admitted recently that they had released Home too early – it certainly looks that way based on my experience.
Once in Home you start off in your house. You can buy other homes and also furniture for your current home. I used the word buy – get used to it. While there are some things for free in Home, a lot of the content is pay for only. One other aspect to get used to in Home is waiting.
As you move from your Home to the shopping centre, cinema, bowling alley, arcade games, basically any new area, you need to download and install that area. I found this tedious and took away any feeling of inversion in a virtual world. Even worse, the bowling alley, pool tables and arcade machines – you need to queue to use them. If they are in use you need to wait your turn. I do not jest.
In a virtual world Sony have implemented queue’s. Unbelievable. Who thought this was a good idea?
It would be bad enough if the games were worth playing but they aren’t. Virtual Pool on the iPhone is leaps and bounds better than the pool found in Home. A new addition is Red Bull Air Racing but this is no better than a few years old Flash game. Very disappointing.
Add to this a cinema where you can watch movie trailers and quite a few shops where you can buy clothes, furniture and features for your house and you have one of the worst features of the PS3. I can’t believe this was once talked about as a dashboard replacement.
I’ve not blogged for a long time. Been very busy and not really had too much to post about that Twitter can’t take care off. Still, in times of post crisis I always resort to this kind of thing. Lot’s of bullets and lot’s of bite sized….tweets. Ahem. Anyway, on with the nonsense:
- O2 broadband has been up and running for two weeks and so far it’s all good. Great for online gaming and I’m getting a rock solid 8-9Meg with no throttling. I’ve now left Virgin so saving quite a bit of cash each month. Take that credit crunch!
- Speaking of which – crazy times eh! Makes me question the pension I’m in. Eats up lot’s of my salary and I’m again questioning what I’ll really get at the end of it. At the same time I know I need to do something for when I eventually get old. Or do I? Could anyone have predicted banks being nationalised, taxpayers bailing out the massive institutions and the global demise in the stock market? I guess Alistair Darlings warning at the end of August doesn’t look so negative now. Brown is also coming out smelling slightly better than he was just a few short months ago. Is this finally turning the tide for Labour? I have my doubts as ultimately they will be portrayed as the guys that got the economy into this mess. Still, interesting to note how quiet the man with the plan is. Knobber. Also nice to see shareholders moaning that they have been wronged. Ho ho ho.
- I’m enjoying Fringe.
- New Apple laptops. Macbooks, Macbook Pro’s and…thats it. While everyone wants a tablet I still can’t see it happening. To much of a clash with the iPhone. I don’t think we’ll see a glass touchpad either. Just doesn’t sound right but you never know. I won’t be buying whatever they release (that was bold!). Although I do want to replace my current desktop and laptop with a new laptop at some point. Time will tell.
- Had a nasty migraine this morning. First in quite a while. Annoying.
- Fifa 09 is superb online. Best online footie game by quite a margin. This will probably be the first year that I won’t buy Pro Evo. Only thing that sucks is people who quit games early because they are losing. I still get the win but it’s pretty unsatisfying. The club options where you and friends get to play in the same team against others is a real highlight. Highly, highly recommended.
Wipeout on the PS1 heralded a generational leap in home consoles. It was the essential launch game for Sony and it left a long and satisfying impression on me. Updates over the years have ranged from middling to good with the two games on the PSP being particularly good. WipEout HD has now finally arrived for the PS3 as a downloadable PSN game. Does this mean it’s a cut down game? Far from it.
The screen above is from the actual game. Jaw droppingly good. Screens however can mask how a game actually moves but in WipEout’s case (why the uppercase E???) the game is so smooth, fluid and best of all fast that it’s a joy to behold. I’ve been playing it since Thursday and I’ve yet to see a drop in frame rate or a graphic effect that seems out of place. The menu’s and overall graphic design is excellent. Each new mode or track offers something new and fresh. Coupled with that is a great soundtrack. The original Wipeout changed how game music was used. Established bands like Leftfield and Chemical Brothers provided some of the tracks and it was so fresh and different from other game at the time. WipEout HD doesn’t have the same impact but it’s still quite good. You can also use your own music by creating playlists on the PS3. Unlike the Xbox though you can’t listen to music streamed from from Mac’s or PC’s but at least there is an option. More important than any audio or visual concerns is the handling and feel of the craft. Mess that up and the game is a waste.
For me the handling is spot on. The craft have a real weight to them. As the game speeds up it can get difficult and there is a pilot assist mode to help but don’t use it – once you get used to the handling it just feels so right and getting it right without any assists is so satisfying.
There are a few game modes but strangely less than on the PSP versions. You have the normal race and tournament modes and fastest lap, time trial modes. Thankfully the zone modes from the PSP games are included. The graphics are stripped down (see above screen) and you have to try and clear as many zones as you can, your craft getting faster and faster as you clear the zones. It’s a real challenge and is very hypnotic. You unlock more tracks and challenges via the Campaign mode. As you progress in this mode there are more options unlocked in the Racebox mode. You can basically set up any style of game for any track and then race it. Great flexibility which also applies to the online mode.
I’ve only had a few online games but they have all been excellent. Still very quiet compared to the Xbox due to a lack of headsets but online felt very smooth with little signs of lag. It’s also a lot more competitive than the offline modes.
So, any negatives? Well there is a reported bug that the game locks up if you have a friends list of more than 50. There’s also people reporting general lock-ups but I’ve not seen any. There’s also only eight tracks, which can be reversed, which feels a bit tight especially as they are lifted from the PSP games.
However the tracks have been totally remodelled and look superb. Eight tracks also doesn’t sound so bad when you hear the game costs £12. It’s available as a download only but this is an absolute bargain. Don’t let the fact it’s available on PSN put you off. This is a high quality game full of customisation and unlockables to keep you playing all the while adding a superb online mode. There’s also a photo mode which allows you to take pic’s and save them to the PS3’s hard disk and I’m sure there will be future track packs available to extend the game even further.
This is an essential purchase for the PS3. Cheap, great gameplay and some sublime graphics makes for a really good package. The PS3 would have got off to a much better start if, like the PS1, this had been available as a launch title. Looking like a strong period for PS3 with Little Big Planet coming in October. About time. I’m off to create a Wipeout playlist or two. Hopefully see some of you online soon for a race or two.
I loved the first Geometry Wars (Retro Evolved to give it it’s full title) which has been out for ages on XBLA. The sequel came out on Wednesday and it easily surpasses the original. Geoms are now dropped by each shot enemy which changes the gameplay ever so slightly. Collect geoms to increase your multiplier. There are also a couple of new enemies. Rockets fire both horizontally and vertically across the playfield which I’m sure is added to stop you rolling clockwise through the game racking up points. Local multi-player has been added but the biggest addition is there are now six different game modes.
- Deadline: Score as many points in three minutes. You get unlimited lives but if you want a decent score don’t die.
- King:One life and no bombs. Safety zones appear randomly which enemies cannot enter while the player can only fire and cannot collect Geoms while inside a zone. The zone shrinks and disappears a short time after it is entered, forcing you to move zone to zone. Think strategic chicken.
- Evolved: Similar in style to Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, score as many points as possible with no time limit. The old classic but with more enemies on screen than before. I think.
- Pacifism: One life and cannot shoot. Fly through gates to destroy nearby enemies, and earn extra bonus points by flying through gates in rapid succession.
- Waves: You have one life and must avoid and destroy waves of rockets that fly horizontally and vertically from the edges of the playfield.
- Sequence: Twenty levels, each with a predetermined pattern of enemies. You have thirty seconds to destroy all of the enemies in each level. If the player loses a life, they are taken directly to the next level, but the game ends if the player loses all of their lives.
Each of these is pretty unique and add’s a depth and variety that the first game didn’t have. Also polished is the graphics and sound. Screenshots are pretty pointless as they don’t show the game in motion. When the screen is busy the game looks amazing. So colourful, no slowdown, all in HD. Sound has also stepped up from the original – each mode has it’s own soundtrack which fit so well, especially deadline.
However Geometry Wars claim to fame was it’s gameplay and that’s been retained…in spades. Even more so with the new modes which only add to it’s charms. There’s also some subtle little touches that add to the game. It supports online scoreboards which can be accessed as usual but while playing each of the modes your friends highest scores, not yours, alongside their name is displayed at the top right of the screen. Just to niggle you that bit more as you try and better them. Genius.
This game is like a drug. Each and every time you have just one more go, each and every time thinking you can better that score. For me it’s as pure a game as you can get. Simple, addictive and great to play. Remember that this only costs 800 gamerpoints…£6 or so. Unmissable.