PS3 Groan

The Euro PS3 is the most expensive PS3 when compared to Japan and the USA. Fair enough I guess as we’re used to rip off Britain prices. Now Sony have announced that they have altered the backwards compatibility features of the Euro PS3. Altering means they have removed hardware from the PS3 to reduce costs. That blows.

I’ve no real desire to play any PS2 games so it’s not the functionality loss that annoys me. It’s the fact that an inferior machine is being launched in Europe for a higher price. There is no justification for this apart that they can get away with it. Also annoying is that the reveal this just 4 weeks before launch when most of the pre-orders have already been placed. If Sony had any decency they would reduce the price, even slightly, for the PS3. I doubt they will though…the bastards. I should really vote with my money and cancel my pre-order. I may still do (OK…I won’t. Saying it though makes me feel slightly better).

Crackdown

GTA4 is out October this year, however you don’t need to wait – just buy Crackdown. Thats probably a little unfair but it’s from the guy who devised the original GTA and it’s hard not to see the roots when playing Crackdown. You play an agent who’s task is to take back three islands who have been overrun with gangs. You start off with fairly basic skills and through more driving, shooting, fighting you build up your skills. Sounds pretty formulaic but there are some twists.

Crackdown Vista
Firstly there are agility orbs – the more you pick up the further you can jump and faster you can run. This really opens up the game. No longer is driving the best way to travel. The islands have height, lots of height and once you start to level up you can make incredible leaps. Secondly the cars evolve with your skills. Some can even drive up walls again making great use of the terrain. The game can also be played any way you like. Enemies taken out in any order, evolve only the skills you want to, take part in agility and car races…if you like. While the sandbox environment mimics much of GTA, Crackdown’s game engine delivers far more than GTA ever could.

Crackdown
Finally a sandbox game with no pop-up and no other graphical issues that get in the way of the game. There’s nothing better than scaling one of the taller buildings, looking over the whole island and then jumping off, landing like Nero/Blade with the ground crumbling under the force. Golden moments that you don’t tire off. Explosions can be massive, there can be 100’s of enemies all firing at you, bullets ricocheting off walls, cars and other objects thrown at you…it’s all rather impressive especially as it’s got a cel shaded quality that makes it all look spiffy.

There are a couple of flaws though. Driving is tricky as the driving model is pretty poor and the streets crowded. Killing locals attracts the police and it’s pretty unavoidable at times. The islands are also pretty small with not much variety. Speaking of variety, the biggest flaw is the lack of variation in killing the gang members. They increase in volume and difficulty and thats about it. Once you clear an island there are no gang members left. Once the game is completed you can turn gang members back on but not the gang bosses which takes some of the sandbox nature away. However there are time trial options in which you compete to kill bosses in the quickest way possible which adds some depth.

Online play is limited to 2 player co-op and uploading race times. The co-op is excellent and you are only limited to your own imagination in what you do…play the game, race, fight, horse around etc. You feel though that an eight or sixteen player multiplayer game would have been amazing. With the different weapons and skills, battles could have taken place over the whole map or just limited to one island. I would love to play capture the flag in this game against friends.

I think thats my real gripe…it all feels rushed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game but it’s as if they’ve finished the single player game and instead of developing multiplayer Microsoft have slapped in the carrot of Halo 3 beta which is admittedly a very big carrot…but this game could and should have been so much more. Already dev’s are talking about Crackdown 2 which like the Halo series will probably see the introduction of online multiplayer. Probably more expansive environments too…and taller. However it will be another game, another £50 and more evolution rather than revolution. Crackdown is highly recommended but bare in mind it will probably take two versions to truly deliver unless, like Gears of War, downloadable content will be used to deliver extra multiplayer goodness.

Goodbye Temptation

CA GamesA guy at work is still trying to source a Wii so I gave CA Games a ring. Phone will not accept incoming calls. Oh – thats strange – they must have changed their number. A quick visit to the website brought the sad news that they have gone out of business.

Most gamers outside Glasgow probably don’t recognise CA Games but for me and a few friends it was THE import games shop in Glasgow. In a time before the internet had taken off it was the place to get import consoles and games at vastly inflated prices. Maybe it was the internet competition that finally did for the shop but there was many an hour spent in CA Games and many (too many) pounds spent in the pursuit of gaming happiness. Thats another local temptation that has been removed. Still, there’s always Loud and Clear if I feel the need for instant gadget gratification. Plus an Apple store coming soon. Saved.

k800 as Mac Bluetooth Modem

Finally got round to getting the k800 working as a bluetooth modem on the Mac. To get going visit Ross Barkmans site which has a massive list of mobile phone drivers and scripts for the Mac. Grab the 3G and GPRS Sony Ericsson scripts and then install following the included readme’s. If you don’t know your providers connections settings then they can be found here. Speed is OK – better than dial up, worse than broadband but considering this gives the Mac an internet connection anywhere I’m being picky.

Why I won't be Buying a PS3

Lot’s of pre-order’s flying around for the PS3 and while I’m a little tempted there are lot’s of reasons why I’m not buying a PS3.

  • Cost. It’s £425. Thats a lot of money. Add on HDMI cable, another joypad, couple of games and your at £550. Ouch.
  • Games. There’s not much on the first day of release or near horizon that I’m desperate to play. If Wipeout had been a day one title I’d have gladly handed over my cash, but it’s not out until next year. There’s very few exclusives that are bound for PS3 only – even GTA4 will be released on 360/PS3 on the same day.
  • Online play looks to be well behind that of Xbox Live. Although it’s free the online service lacks the uniformity of Live. Some games support online play, and only some of those support in game voice. Even then there’s no official headset although USB headsets and most bluetooth headsets work well (allegedly). In certain games voice chat makes all the difference, from lifting the strategy in FPS to making a much more social experience in Tiger Woods or PES6.
  • Joypad. The biggest form of interaction with a console and yet Sony have stuck with the trusty dual shock minus the shock. No rumble in the pads removes a fairly important feedback mechanism. Think of the different rumbles in Gran Turismo – how can that be replaced? Shame. The pad is also ergonomically inferior to the 360 pad. It would have been good if Sony had tried to innovate instead of copying the 360 guide button and throwing in some motion detection similar to the Wii. I wonder if the dead zones on the Sony joypads have been removed? Still, at least they are wireless and allegedly lighter than the PS2 pads.
  • Competition. 360 has some fine games coming out in the next 3-4 months – Crackdown, GRAW2, Mass Effect, Forza 2 plus Halo 3 beta. More than enough to keep me busy. Also most of my online Live buddies aren’t getting a PS3 and I want to continue gaming with them, hence making the 360 the platform of choice.

The above was written around the start of last week and I never got round to finishing it off and publishing until now. However since writing the above I’ve pre-ordered a PS3 and I’m looking forward to it arriving at the end of March. The call of the new, the gadget envy etc etc was enough for me to buy. Motorstorm does look good, playing on the online service should be interesting, interactivity with the PSP promises much (but will undoubtedly deliver little) and Blu-Ray is a nice addition. Be interesting to see how Linux runs on it and also how it streams data (if at all) from other devices. We might also see a console version of Pro Evo that doesn’t suck online and also doesn’t stutter like Gareth Gates. Thats a bit harsh as my recent online games have been very good – the stutter however is inexcusable.

So there you have it. Lot’s of reasons not to buy a PS3 that I’ve plainly ignored. Still time to cancel though…or cash in on EBay if there is a drought at launch.

3...2...1...Aggggghhhhhhhh

3…Wake up feeling a bit warm but nothing unusual there

2…Grabbing some breakfast, watching a bit of news and notice ‘the line’. This is a bad sign. The line I notice is horizontal, moves up my eye over a period of 20 minutes, makes it difficult to focus on text etc and is a sure sign that a migraine is on the way. Two pink migraleve and it’s back to bed. Maybe I can stop it before it starts.

1…The calm before the storm? Have I stopped it? Maybe it wasn’t a migraine. Maybe I could travel down to Barrow?

Aggggggghhhhhhhh

No such luck. Pain kicks in. Vomiting ensues. I ain’t traveling nowhere. Maybe it will clear quickly. 6 hours later without much improvement I come to the conclusion it won’t. I hate migraines. I hate Mondays. Yesterday was one of the few days where I could say that I would have rather been in Barrow. Yesterday was also one of my strongest migraines in the last couple of years. Thankfully cleared today but still feeling sorry for myself.

Never mind – almost got my identity back. Just not too sure who else has got a claim on it though.

Robbed x2

A small’ish update to my Robbed post. Firstly thanks for the comments. I’m sure what’s happened to me is something that’s happened to loads of other folk or will happen to others in the future…doesn’t make me any happier dealing with this shit.

Yesterday it emerged that the swines have my Egg credit card details too. An e-mail from EBay alerted me to another account being created using my card details. 10 mins after confirming it wasn’t me EBay had closed the other account and confirmed my card details used. A quick call to Egg and that card was closed down. Only expense was for £1.50 which I’m assuming is the Paypal setup payment. Thankfully they didn’t rip me off for anymore or anyone else through some false EBay bidding. That was enough for me to get the police in. Very impressed with EBay and their speed in alerting me and taking action – excellent service.

So I’ve passed on all the details to them, closed down all my accounts to stop any threat of more issues and I also heard today that two people were arrested in connection with a very similar fraud in Partick. Hopefully it’s the bard’s that did me but I don’t know for sure yet.

Still not clear if it’s an e-crime or someone taking details from my wallet and/or elsewhere. If it’s e-crime I’d love to assume it’s from my Windows days and that I’m on Mac and hence nothing to fear. However I’m currently backing up data. Tomorrow I’ll reformat and re-install. I’ll then get everything I need back on then begin the task of changing all my passwords, both offline and online. For those critical online accounts I’ll also be adopting a strong password (which I had already) and changing them every two weeks or so. Pain in the proverbial’s but once bitten etc etc. It will give me some piece of mind at least.