Some things I've learned....

(1) An Engineer can do with 10 cent what a fool can do with a Euro.

(2) "Puff" - unimportant; insignificant; unworthy of study by engineering students; waste of time

(3) It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than to open it and prove them right!

(4) Blockwork people and concrete people can never work on the same site... Apparently they don't like each other....

(5) It's official; I'm fantastic!

Wednesday 18 April 2007

LOST...What the hell is going on???

Before I get into it, I want to make the point clear that this blog is not a blog about Lost thoeries or any crap like that. This is about my observations on the shows direction from a 'reality' point of view. It is not a GMG.

After discussing the matter with my associate Mr. Conway, who is as big a Lost fan as myself if not bigger, we came to the conclusion that based on the current Season 3 of the show, the show no longer has the appeal it had in Seasons 1 and 2.

For us, this came down to three main reasons:

(1) The show has entered a phase of 'unreality', and what I mean by that is the fact that certain areas of the plot now seem to me totally implausible. This is exactly what happened in the James Bond movie franchise, Die Another Day became so unrealistic (cloaked cars, body swapping gene theropy, a device which uses the suns energy as a weapon, etc.) that people lost interest. For me, there are several areas in the show that exemplify this point.

Firstly the idea of the "Magic Box" that gives you whatever you want. Do I need to point out how ridiculous this idea is?? I mean the idea of the Numbers and the Hatch and all that was plausible...but this...I just cannot get into my head about this at all. And what's more I'm fairly sure we won't get an explanation to it either.

Then we had the Hurley episode not too long ago. A meteorite. I looked again - a METEORITE. A meteorite hits the fast food joint he bought. Could they not have made it more realistic like a plane or helicopter or something?!?!?! Seriously. Of all the things that had happened in the show this takes the biscuit for the most ridiculous one of them all. I'll say no more.

A cure for cancer. Yes, you heard me. In case you don't watch the Lost, a recent revelation has led us to believe that the characters in Lost (the Others in this sense) have a cure for cancer. While the idea is plausible, to be able to just do it "like that" is too much for me.

Then we have the supply situation. It appears that they have both a limitless supply of ammo as well as food. I mean the supply drop came a long time ago, and I'm sure the food sources near the site haven't replenished that quickly. Also, one has to ask whether the laws of DISTANCE apply anymore to Lost. Are you honestly going to tell me that Ethan and Goodwin were able to run that far to the two crash sites? If so then they mustn't have been very far away as we are led to believe. And if that's the case, then why did the survivors never notice the giant fence before, or why hadn't Rousseau said anything if she's been there for 15 or 16 years?

Coincidences. During Seasons 1 and 2, we had a few. But the way things are shaping up now has blown things out of proportions completely. To put it short and arguably vague, it seems that in one way or another, everyone has met each other at some point or another in their respective pasts. Most notably the newest one being that Jack and Claire have the same father. I could take Desmond and Jack having met each other before...fine. Even Eko's brother's plane landing on the island, I could take that. But now that Locke's father has reappeared on the I'm sorry.

This then leads to the final point I want to make on unreality. Easter Eggs. We all love Easter Eggs in shows and video games. Lost had some good ones. But at present, there seems like too many for me. Again, like before I could take a few.....Hurley's lotto numbers being The Numbers and all that. But the Numbers have now become so repetitive that they have lost all meaning. For instance part of the chain of The Numbers is the keycode for The Fence.

(2) Characters. I'll start with the two newest recent ones, Paulo and Nikki. What's wrong with them? A lot. They come out of nowhere, we haven't seen them all through the first seasons, then suddenly they want to get involved. So they have this minor (and I mean minor) plot about going to the bunker with Locke and Sayid, and then they are present when Eko is killed. And that's it. Then we get some half assed story about their past, stealing an old guy's diamonds, then losing them in the crash, then finding them in the jungle, then fighting over them and the end result is that they both die. Buried alive I might add which was probably the highlight of the whole ordeal. They added absolutely nothing to the overall scheme of things.

Then we have some of the main characters. Let's look at Jack for a moment. Not too long ago we had a flashback. Now usually these flashbacks add to the current story, but this time all it did was tell us about his tatoo, which in the grand scheme of things has nothing to do with anything whatsoever.

The Others. Everything and anything to them with them has lost much of its meaning. There is no fear anymore. True we were bound to learn about them eventually, but in the way Season 3 has shaped up, we have clearly learned too much too soon. The only consolation I got out of the whole thing was Ethan popping up more frequently, who in my opinion was the (and still is) the coolest Others character of the lot. We got some background detail in some of them, mainly Juliet, but this ties in with the unreality factor of 'making a woman pregnant even though her reproductive system no longer works'.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the Others' history but I DO want to address two particular characters; Mikhail Bakunin (patch guy) and Bea Klugh (the black woman). Firstly Bea. At the end of Season 2 she seemed to have a very prominent role in the Others society. But what do we get in Season 3? She's killed, moments after we see her again for the first time. This plays into point (3) I make below. Then we have Mikhail. This character had so much potential it's unreal. How cool would it have been if he wasn't an Other? Instead, Sayid can tell almost instantly that he is an Other, they fight, Mikail is captured and then killed next episode. This again ties into point (3) below.

(3) The fact that ABC have told the writers to start wrapping up. This was announced at some point, where ABC said they wanted Lost to conclude due to falling viewing numbers. Now if this is the case, then it explains a lot for the standard of Season 3. With this hypothetical restriction of time to unravel the plot, perhaps that is why we have learned so much about the Island since Season 2. It also explains why many characters are being conveniently killed off in order to avoid a workload of progressing characters like Mikhail into the story. Also, if this is the case it explains why we have had so little exposure to the rest of the Survivors on the beach, the writers cleverly avoiding them, not needing to think up storylines.

Added to this rush, we are presented with characters like Paulo and Nikki, who (if the announcement was indeed true) were only brought in to give the illusion that the writers were bringing us back to the beach when in fact they weren't at all.

Similarly, this "rush" has (for me), presented somewhat of a sloppiness on the writers part. For instance there is a timeline problem for when Ben finds out he has a tumour in the most recent episode and when we initially learned he had a tumour earlier in Season 3. One day before the crash as opposed to two. The sloppiness also falls into the unrealistic events that have come about. Whereas in the previous season we learn that Desmond's boat crashes on the Island (which is plausible), we see this season that Locke's father magically appears on the Island thanks to a magic box that just happens to be there.

Also, what has happened to the Other's apparent superhuman abilities that we saw in earlier seasons; extreme strength, stealth, the voices, etc. They are not nearly as threatening anymore at all. If the work they are doing on the Island is so important as Season 3 has suggested, why then have they not just killed all the plane survivors and get on with their "work" instead of all this bullshit about capturing them. Why isn't it that we haven't seen any of the other survivors that were taken by the Others since we saw them when they met Jack in the cage?

Have you also noticed that few of the episodes have left us on the edge of our seats like they used to? I mean why was the apparent "plan" put together by Juliet and Ben revealed to us at the end of the last episode. Why not come up with some other clever way to suggest she may perhaps betray Jack and the other survivors. Probably because they don't have the time or patience that they used to when putting together the plot of the episodes.

That all being said I do like Lost, it is most definitely one of my most favourite programmes on TV, I can only hope that the standard picks up for Season 4 (which has been confirmed). I think we'll be lucky if we get a Season 5 out of it at all.

Leave your thoughts below.

Fellas, smoke me a kipper!

~The Damo

Saturday 14 April 2007

Greatest Games of All Time!! - Issue 1.5

If it hadn't been for Catherine and Ann Marie leaving comments regarding the last blog, I'd never have re-read and realised how much detail I left out from the review. So here, as Issue 1.5, is the continuation (and conclusion) of my FF7 review.


As I said before graphics and game processing aren't necessarily what make a great game, and rather strangely, FF7 falls into this category. By today standards, the graphics achieved by FF7 on the Playstation is...well....crap.. HOWEVER, the cinematics graphics are incredible, it is hard to believe that graphics (which rivalled some PS2 games) were achieved on the PSOne. Take the picture below of Sephiroth. Now that is taken from the PSOne version. Compare that to the image of Sephiroth from the previous blog, that was created no longer than a year and half ago for the film "Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children". As you can see, what was achieved is beyond words for its time.
Now of course with the exception of these cutscenes, the rest of the graphics has a great deal left to be desired. Throughout the game, not including the cutscenes, there are three "phases" of the graphics engine. The first is the World Map and Town Map phase (see right). This is the lowest quality graphics, with blocky hands and very little character detail, it is only evident to me now why this was the case. To make the game as detailed as the cutscenes, the game would have to have been about 10 discs long. DVD technology was in its earliest stages. The second being the battle screen, a higher resolution with more detail, basically what you would expect from PSOne. The final phase is the Cloud Vs Sephiroth fight at the end, close to cutscenes standard.

It is only with the rumoured arrival of a FF7 remake for the PS3 that we may see graphics like the ones to the left.
While this rumour is still unconfirmed, it is certain without any shadow of a doubt that a FF7 remake would be the top selling game of the decade.

I detailed before many aspects of characters and plot threads and so on, but now I'll actually focus on character images, strengths, etc.

Cloud - the main character, close quarters character, ideally supposed to be the strongest character you have. In FF7, each "ultimate weapon" offers the character 8 materia slots (which is how you equip your character with magic) joined in pairs to give 4 double slots. Cloud's ultimate weapon is "Ultima Weapon" which you get after defeating Ultimate Weapon. Confusing, probably, I'll explain later.

Tifa - one way to describe Tifa would be…well.....a rival to Lara Croft if you know what I mean. Her physical attributes lets just say....dominated the screen when it was a close-up. OTHER than that though, Tifa is a fist fighter. Her ultimate weapon is the "Premium Heart". Obtained by the Wall Market shop guarded by the Gatling gun on disc 2/3.

Barrett - who you could describe as "the muscle". He could be a ranged or close quarters fighter, depending on how he was equipped. His ultimate weapon is the "Missing Score". This weapon is obtained on your way to the 'Sister Ray' cannon in Midgar, so long as you have Barrett in the party.

Cid - is the bad ass of the group, aggressive, always has a cigarette, and owns an airship. He is a close combat fighter, wielding long weapons such as spears and lances. His ultimate weapon is the "Venus Gospel", which you get by talking to the old man at the base of the Rocket in Rocket town.

Aeris - is the least aggressive of the group. Her focus really is magic. Her limit breaks and ultimate weapon have to be gotten in certain circumstances, playing the right tune on the piano and obtaining the weapon in the Temple of the Ancients respectively. The only kick in the balls about that is that Aeris is killed after that by Sephiroth. He actually kills a playable character, and any good equipment you gave her is lost too!

Red XIII - it's quite hard to place Red XIII a role. Whilst he is a close combat fighter, it's my opinion that he holds a more solemn and wise approach than anyone else, possibly because of his upbringing. His ultimate weapon, the "Limited Moon" is obtained from his 'Grandpa', Bugenhagen, in Cosmo Canyon (his hometown).

Cait Sith - really has no specific role...comical maybe. He too is a close fighter, and his ultimate weapon is the "HP Shout", obtained on floor 64 of the Shinra Building during the 2nd raid. Needless to say I never used him in the party unless I had to.

Yuffie - is the brat kid, very spunky and hyper. She too is a ranged fighter (a ninja to be more precise). Her ultimate weapon is the "Conformer", obtained from a treasure chest inside the sunken Gelnika Airplane which you can only reach using the sub.

Vincent - is the most mysterious of the lot, and often offers wise counsel. He is a ranged fighter, but his limit break transforms him into a close combat fighter aswell. Whether he attacks up close or at range is determined by the computer. His ultimate weapon, the "Death Penalty" is found at Lucrecia's Cave in the waterfall at the centre of the world, again using the sub to get there.

In conclusion, my final party configuration was Cloud, Vincent and Cid.

Additional Content

The Weapons
My use of the phrase "Weapons" describes a group of 5 enemies, 2 of which you fight mandatory, 2 which you may choose to fight, and 1 that is killed by the Junon Cannon. The "Weapons" are released by the Planet when the planet is in danger. In this case the danger is Sephiroth who summoned the giant comet METEOR using the black materia.

Diamond Weapon - the first one you fight, mandatory of course. Diamond Weapon emerges when Shinra begin charging the Midgar Cannon (formerly the Junon Cannon) to fire at the Northern Crater where the real Sephiroth is. Ultimately, your party does not kill Diamond Weapon, as once the Cannon fires, it passes right through it.

Ultimate Weapon - is the perhaps the most annoying of the lot. He encounters your party at several points in the closing stages of the game, most notably when Cloud is discovered floating in the Life Stream. In order to fight Ultimate Weapon, you have to chase and collide with him in the airship, several times I might add, and fight him a couple of times until he rests over the Hidden Forest near Cosmo Canyon. Once he is killed in battle by your party, he explodes, allowing you to travel up to the Hidden Forest.

Emerald Weapon - is one of the optional fights, and is equally as tough as Ruby Weapon. To make matters worse you are under a time limit to beat him because you have to fight him underwater after bumping into him with the sub. At 1,000,000 million hit points and at 20mins for the ain't easy.

Ruby Weapon - the other optional fight, he partially emerges after you defeat Ulimate Weapon. The annoying aspects of this fight is that his armour is so strong that you do ZERO damage to him, you have to wait until his claws emerge behind you. And he has an attack which removes one of your characters from play, usually the best one, aka Cloud.

Sapphire, Jade and Omega Weapon - Sapphire Weapon (pictured) met its end quickly in FF7 when its head was blown off by the then Junon Cannon at point blank range. Jade Weapon appeared in another FF7 project "Before Crisis". It is the first Weapon to be awakened since the 1st Jenova incident. Omega Weapon is the final and most powerful Weapon of the pack, and features in the PS2 title, "Dirge of Cerebus", who's main character is Vincent. While the other Weapon creatures were made to protect the Planet, Omega was made to absorb the Life stream and unite all life on the Planet into itself, before departing for another world to transplant the Life stream. what else...

Let's see:
>Chocobo breeding to reach secret areas of the World Map
>Chocobo racing
>Battle Arena
>Fort Condor Battles
>Golden Saucer Mini-Games
>Master Materia Quest
>Ultimate Weapons and Limit Breaks
>Cloud's Past (Twice)
>Dress to get into the Strip Club thing
>Hidden Forest Mini Quest
>The Sunken Ship
>Vincent's Past
>Yuffie Quest
>And so much more..
Well, I think that's all I can say. I mean Wikipedia will give you so much more like. All in all, a well deserved title as one of the best of all time. I probably won't get a chance to review the film: "Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children", so in short I'll give you an idea of what it holds.

(1) Fantastic CGI. Simply flawless, without a shadow of a doubt the most impressive CGI film ever.
(2) Sephiroth. Sephiroth. Sephiroth. Sephiroth. Sephiroth. Sephiroth. Sephiroth. And oh yeah Sephiroth!
(3) The One Winged Angel remix track. When you hear it along side the Sephiroth and Cloud fight at the end.....speechless.
(4) The Turks, seen as the always have been, cool incarnate.
(5) Rufus!!! Even though we thought he died when Diamond Weapon fired upon Midgar before getting blasted by the cannon!

Hell....just watch the damn thing. And if you want to see more Sephiroth and all that stuff I was going on about in Cloud's past, download the animated film "Last Orders".

Wow...ok....another greatest of all time on the way soon!
Death or Glory awaits Ladies and Gents!

~The Damo

Thursday 5 April 2007

Greatest Games of All Time!! - Issue 1

As I mentioned in my PS3 blog, I decided that I would take some time out to mend my gears, and blog on about the greatest video games of all time. Now this list is long and detailed, and spans many years between titles, featuring consoles such as the PS2, the PSOne, the Nintendo 64, the PC and perhaps one or two old school systems aswell. For the most part though, the titles that fit into the "Greatest of All Time" will be from more modern times, aka the PSOne and N64 era to today!

Before I begin, it's important to note that if you were to ask me how I would rank all of these titles in say a Top Ten, the likelihood is that I couldn't. Any of the games I review and discuss are (in my books) equally as good as the next, though obviously some would disagree. You should also note that you may think I am being biased in regards to reviewing Playstation, Nintendo and PC games only, but so far, other than perhaps Halo, the Xbox has yet to deliver and all time great game.

So what makes a great game? Well several things: Characters, Story/Plot, Gameplay, Longetivity, Re-playability, Unlockables/Secrets and in relation to PC games, the ability for people to modify the games with the development of MODS. You might say: "Don't graphics and sound make a great game?" Well the short answer is "No". As you will see over the coming blogs, many of the "Greatest of All Time Games" are not the most finely graphically generated games ever, with one or two exceptions.

Also, something which I realised while preparing for this and the following blogs, is that many (in fact almost all) of the titles I'll be discussing don't actually use 'cheats'. And by 'cheats' I mean entering in a code by pressing certain buttons whilst holding others. I'm not talking about cheats that you can unlock by playing the game (well!). That makes it a great game as I metioned above.

I figured I'd start the series off with one my own personal all time favourites - Final Fantasy 7.

Console: Playstation and PC
Released: 1997


The story and plot of the game can be found here:

It would take me too long to paraphrase it either, a sign of how in depth and great the plot is, further enhancing its reputation as one of the all time greats. The story in brief is that of the main protagonist Cloud Strife and his battle to the rid the world (Gaia) of the main antagonist Sephiroth. On his way through the events in the game, Cloud (the player) gathers more people to his cause, all of whom are playable along with Cloud.


Cloud - The main protagonist, an Ex-SOLDIER in the game, Cloud wields a massive sword that makes the Hulk look lame. Cloud's past is troubled, as you will see in the link given above. He served alongside Sephiroth, or rather under his command, and played a pivotal role in Sephiroth's first apparent demise. Upon meeting Cloud for the first time in the game, he sides with what can only be called a terrorist organisation, namely AVALANCHE. They fight to destroy mako-reactors around the city of Midgar, which suck the very life force from the planet and produce energy. Cloud is intended to be your party's strongest character, as you have to use him for almost 99.8% of the game. As the story develops, it appears that Sephiroth was not killed as first presumed, and it is at that point that Cloud's role becomes evident, that he must kill Sephiroth. On a side note, there is an interesting love cycle created between Cloud, Tifa and Aeris (yes Aeris! not Aerith as some people wrongly quote, check the manual for God's sake!). The player can in some part control this triangle, but the end result is the same (see Sephiroth).

Tifa, Barrett, Cid, Aeris, Red XIII, Cait Sith, Vincent, Yuffie - all characters available through the game, though Vincent and Yuffie have to be "found" in a manner of speaking. It would take me too long to give a detailed background into all these characters, so I'll give a brief idea of each. Tifa is Cloud's hometown friend, part-time on and off girlfriend some would say and a fist fighter. She plays a pivotal role in resolving Cloud's confusing past regarding Sephiroth and early life. Barrett is head of AVALANCHE; he joins Cloud after Shinra (the company which controls the mako energy) destroys his home. He has a mechanical arm, which can be modified to accommodate a variety of weapons. Cid is an airship pilot, who joins Cloud once Shinra interfere with his plans to be the first man in space. Although Cid does reach space, the conditions of how he gets there play a part in his joining of Cloud's team.

Aeris is the flower girl that Cloud meets when he separated from the rest of AVALANCHE. There is a romance between them, and ultimately she is the reason the party succeed in defeating Sephiroth. Aeris is killed about half way through the game. Red XIII is a fierce and brave creature who can communicate with humans. He joins Cloud after he is rescued by him in one of the Shinra HQ labs. Cait Sith appears as a stuffed animal, who meets Cloud in the Golden Saucer entertainment park. He is revealed to be remotely controlled by a man working for Shinra at one point but as he spends longer with the group he comes to acknowledge their efforts and sacrifices himself. A second Cait Sith appears shortly afterwards. Vincent is a dark, brooding, and sardonic young man whose heart has been numbed by a tragic love.

Vincent is a former Turks (like the Shinra FBI) gunman who was experimented on by Hojo (the same man who experimented on Red XIII) approximately thirty years before the start of the game, and consequently developed superhuman abilities and characteristics. Cloud and the others eventually discover him sleeping inside a coffin in the basement of the Shinra Mansion, where he joins them in their quest to fight Sephiroth and Shinra. And finally Yuffie is a 'ninja' or at least claims to be. She is from part of the world that compares to modern Japan (there'll be more on Yuffie in "Re-playability and "Secrets").

Sephiroth - the main antagonist in the FF7 plot. Quite possibly the greatest villain ever to grace the film and gaming world. What makes him a brilliant villain in this game? Chilling music, an incredible background story which intertwines the story of Cloud, a 10 ft long Masamune sword, and just sheer coolness. Sephiroth was the greatest in SOLDIER, and it was events whilst on a mission in Cloud's hometown of Nibelheim that turned him to evil. Confused over the origins of his birth, Sephiroth began the search for his mother, Jenova. When he found her, in the Nibelheim reactor, he was 'apparently' confronted by Cloud. It is later revealed that this wasn't exactly the case. He was confronted by Cloud's friend Zack, and when Zack was incapicitated, Cloud charged Sephiroth. Easily overpowered, Sephiroth held Cloud with the tip of his Masamune. In an inexplicable turn of ends, Cloud somehow managed to get to his feet and threw Sephiroth over the ledge into the mako reactor.

However, it appears that throughout the game Sephiroth was in fact not killed at all. The party follow him in his search for the black materia (Meteor) to destroy the world. In one of the climactic moments of the game, the party meet the real Sephiroth, encased in a shell of mako in the Northern Crater. By the end of the game, the party finally gets the chance to fight Sephiroth, which eventually lead to the main one on one confrontation with Cloud. Cloud killed Sephiroth...or so it seemed, but that is for another time.

Nothing can really be flawed in the masterpiece that is FF7. The game consists of 3 main types of screen. The world map, the town map and the battle screen. Though the world map is the least interactive of the 3, it is still enjoyable, and is only mildly tedious for long journeys, otherwise, the array of vehicles available to you help make the world map a very pleasant experience.

The town map is usually very interactive, whether it's talking to characters, buying things, looking for items, whatever you might be expected to do in a town/building/room etc. It is in this type of screen that the storyline progresses in conversation form.

The battle screen, is as its name suggests, where you do the fighting. Undoubtedly the most enjoyable aspect of the game, a simple easy to use interface means you get the most out of the experience, which only gets better as you progress.

Obviously the difficulty of the game increases as you go on, but this helped by the fact that your characters progress on the way, levelling up as it was, getting stronger, learning new skills etc. only makes the game more enjoyable.

But the developers didn't stop there. They include many smaller aspects of the game which required different gameplay. Examples: Riding on a motorcycle attacking enemies that closed around you, snowboarding on the frozen plateau, piloting a Shinra submarine in pursuit of the mega materia and so on. Also, there were many other smaller bits that required concentration, and were without a doubt frustrating.

One being the 'button' sequence. There is a point in the early stages of the game where Cloud (you), Tifa and Barrett all have to press the buttons at the same time. Now this sounds easy, but no. They get it in time, but the actual time gap between you pressing the button on the controller, to when Cloud actually hits the button on the screen, coupled with the timing of Tifa and Barrett is just unreal.

Another is when you are giving a person mouth-to-mouth. The time taken for Cloud to's just too long!!


Very long. At three discs on Playstation and four on PC this is a very long game, but that is just thanks to the excellent storyline. Other than the actual pursuit of Sephiroth, the game allows you to play into the respective backgrounds of each of the characters, visiting their hometowns, and filling in gaps in their stories. Once you start playing FF7, you'll want to see it through to the end.


High re-playability factor. It is highly unlikely that you manage to explore every aspect of FF7 the first time you play it because there is so much. Plus with the variety of characters, weapons and items, the variability of play is endless.


There are so many of these in Final Fantasy 7, I'll do my best to name as many as I can.

Characters - Yuffie and Vincent. Yuffie has to be tricked into joining you in a certain area of the map, which leads to an additional storyline involving Yuffie when you travel to her hometown. Vincent is found in a coffin in the same house where Sephiroth learns of his secret. Vincent’s addition to the game adds interesting dialogue and also reveals gaps in the story.

Weapons and Items - too many to name. Each of the characters 'ultimate weapon' and armour, all of the various materia including summoning like 'Knights of the Realm'.

Locations - available through Chocobo breeding, hence how you get some of the more special items and materia. The hidden forest as well once you defeat Ultimate Weapon.

Enemies - some depending on whether you get Yuffie and Vincent. The other big ones (no pun intended) are Emerald, Diamond and Ultimate Weapon. Uncontested as the most difficult bosses ever to be created in any game. Though you don't necessarily have to fight them, the challenge of beating an enemy with 1 million hit points is too good a challenge to pass up.
Okay so that's it on this one. Tired now I shall give you the final scores:

Story/Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Gameplay: 9.5
Longetivity: 10
Re-playability: 10
Unlockables/Secrets: 10

Not biased at all as most will agree, this game was voted second greatest of all time by a Japanese poll.

Over and out until next time!

~The Damo

Wednesday 4 April 2007

Playstation 3 Kicks Ass!!!

After coming into ownership of a PS3, the title simply explains it all. Another way for me to phrase it would probably be: "PS3 pwns ALL!!". Several years in the making, the wait has most certainly been worth it.

Unlike greedy Microsoft, Sony didn't rush the development of their next generation gaming entertainment system. The PS2, which (to put it simply) revolutionised the gaming world, was released back in October 2000 (US) and shortly afterwards in Europe in November. The Xbox was Microsoft's venture into the console industry. Released in March 2002, the Xbox was intended to be the main competition in a market dominated by Sony. Yes, the Xbox had a more powerful processor, taken that in the 2 year gap certain advancements were made in computer processing, but where it had an advantage in power, it lost out in titles. With the exception of Halo and possibly a few other games, the Xbox couldn't contend with the already impressive and well established PS2 range of titles.

Unsatisfied by the lack of dominance of the Xbox, Microsoft pushed into production the Xbox 360, released in May 2005. Only 3 years after the initial Xbox release. Being a 7th generation console, obviously the 360 had a FAR more powerful processing system than the PS2, but there was still one problem with the market. With the exception of titles such as Halo 2 and Gears of War, both the 360 and the PS2 shared many titles, which begged the question: "If the 360 is so much better, why are the same games being released on PS2?" It wasn't as though the 360 games differed from Playstation at all. In fact, they were identical. Now of course, the 360 had many new features which didn't come with the PS2 such as Wireless controllers, Internet Browsing and improved online play. But neither were these features beyond Sony either. The Sony online gaming network improved greatly and wireless custom controllers could be purchased.

During this time frame, the PS2 sleek, the PSX (DVD system) and the PSP were also released, which all stood as testaments to the ongoing development of modern technology. We all see how phones are getting smaller and smaller, but it is only when you see the comparison between the two versions of the PS2 that one can see how far things have come.

The PS3 was unveiled at E3, 3 days after the 360 was released. The time and money that went into the development of Sony's 7th generation console (as opposed to Microsoft's 3 years between the original and the 360) showed off to the world why Sony is still top. Although I've stated that there was a 3 year gap between systems, the actual concept of the 360 began in 2003, shortly after it was evident that the original Xbox was not competing to expectations.

What is different between the PS3 and its predecessor? Like the 360, the PS3 now features wireless controllers as standard, but not only that, it can accomodate up to 7 controllers at once. But Sony didn't stop there. The controllers have a built in 'SIXAXIS' technology, aka, the controller can move in 6 different axes which affect gameplay (more on this later). The console itself is obviously quite larger than the PS2, but also looks better, i.e. it has lost the 'blocky' look completely. Also thrown in the package is a 60GB hard drive, for storing films, music, pictures and any downloaded game content. Like the PS2, the PS3 is designed to be backward compatible with all previous titles. Currently, the system is at the 1.60 version, and not all PS2 titles are compatible, but with new updates on the horizon, the list of compatible games will only grow longer. Keeping in touch with games at the moment, perhaps now is a good point to address a very evident issue regarding the 360, the Wii and the PS3.

When you examine the list of titles available for each system, their is a very evident difference which no doubt explains the "success" of each console.

Taking the Wii firstly, its games are most certainly centered on 'group games'. Not that this is a negative thing at all. In fact most games are most enjoyed in groups. The only issue here with the Wii (and I'm not getting into the Wii's lack of gaming power in comparison to the 360 and PS3) is that you really need a fairly decent sized TV to play it properly. And when I say decent I'm talking in the big region here. The Wii, unlike the other two, isn't suitable for bedroom TV's like my run of the mill 12" screen. In with that then is the fact that there are very few games for the Wii, save perhaps Zelda, that accomodate the older gamer and can be enjoyed by oneself. Not that I don't enjoy Mario or anything like that, but the odd time you do tend to feel like blowing the heads of a few Nazis, chopping up droids with a lightsaber, or dancing with the Playboy babes (not that I have that game, but you get the point).

Then we have the 360. Most definitely aimed at the older gamer, with many titles running in the 15/18 cert. Much influence is placed on online gaming which is unsuitable for younger players, but the older gamers will agree that it is nowadays the only way to play a game. As I mentioned above, the 360 accomodates the average TV better than the Wii, and has a wide range of titles which one can play by him/herself in their room.

The PS3 strays more to the 360 aspect of things, but also makes an effort to provide for younger gamers. But this has always been the policy right back to the PSOne. Where the Wii focuses on how you play the game, both the 360 and the PS3 focus more on realism and gaming quality, with the PS3 venturing into Wii areas with the new SIXAXIS controllers. Sony are also now putting much emphasis on online gaming, with the two big titles which I own (Call of Duty 3 and Resistance: Fall of Man) being the two fore runners. Like the 360, the PS3 accomodates normal televisions, but the PS3 is also the first console to provide HD readiness, with the new Blu-Ray discs. For those of you who don't know Blu-Ray is like HD DVDs.

Ultimately as far as processing power goes, it is very difficult to draw a line between the 360 and the PS3. The only thing perhaps is the load times, which I found to be much faster on the Sony system. Where you can draw the line is in the games. As I mentioned earlier, the 360 shared many titles with the PS2, with games like Halo being Xbox only. The PS3 has similar titles like Tekken and Ridge Racer and the new Resistance: Fall of Man. But it is when you find out that titles such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Final Fantasy XIII will be PS3 only that wins you over. Sure we will have GTA: IV on both systems, and rumoured differences in gameplay between the two versions, where you will have to download content such as more maps and missions for PS3 and more online content for Xbox 360. But when you have MGS4 and Final Fantasy all to yourself, you can't go wrong.

A final brief note on the two PS3 games I currently have in my possession. As I said, in comparison to the 360 it is hard to draw a line, but the gameplay certainly feels better with the new controllers. Only in COD3 can you swing your controller to the left to smack a Nazi in the head with the butt of your rifle, knock him to the ground, then put a bullet in him to be sure. Th SIXAXIS controller also has a feature where an enemy may jump on you, and you have to swing the controller violently from left to right in order to over power him before you floor him and give him a quick bullet to the head. Resistance has a similar aspect, where the Chimeran troops will leap on you and start eating away at you, shaking the controller up and down throws them off and smacks them with your weapon.

It will only be with the arrival of flight and sports games that we will see the full potential of the SIXAXIS.

Expect more gaming blogs as next time I'll begin working my way through the greatest games of all time and why they're that damn great!!!

Is this Living?

~The Damo