Ninja Gaiden Sigma

Just played the demo on the PS3 and it looks amazing. HD visuals at 60fps and while it’s the same as the 360 Xbox version, I never did play it through so this looks a must buy for the PS3. Also tried Virtua Tennis demo but it was just as bad as the 360 version.

Seeing as games are a bit thin on the ground (no Forza until June) I may pick up God of War 2 and also Pro Evo 6 on the PS2. God of War as it’s had great reviews and Pro Evo because after having a few games of the PS2 version it just feels better than the 360. It’s also only £17.99. Bargain. Speaking of bargains, Shop.To are selling PS3’s for £360 this weekend.

Style

Bit of a lazy weekend has been had although there’s a few things worth noting. Firstly, Casino Royale on Blu-Ray looks fantastic. If you’ve got a PS3 or a Blu-Ray player (all 10 of you in the UK) then this is a must own title. I’m enjoying the PS3 for movie playback so I’ll be picking up the remote which will get a lor more use than the 360 equivalent. Only annoyance is the remote is Bluetooth rather than Infra-red so I can’t program it into the Pronto.

The new Bond has moved to the Bourne style of movies and low and behold if there isn’t a Bourne Ultimatum trailer available. Really looking forward to this and hope it meets the same high standard of the last two.

More style can be found in the new trailer for Forza 2 (cheers Graham). Around one month to go for this must have 360 title that can’t fail to be good – can it? There hasn’t been a decent racing game on the 360 since PGR3 (Test Drive unlimited is a sims game rather than proper racing – harsh but true) so i can’t wait!

I also decided that I would start hand crafting my own site style a good while ago but that stalled after a couple of days so I finally got round to putting some time into it this weekend. A new app from Panic may help (Coda) but it isn’t even revealed until tomorrow so that will have to wait. I’m finding it all a bit frustrating at the moment but I’m getting there…slowly. I’m guessing at my pace it will be a few weeks before I have something to show for my efforts. At the moment I’m aiming for white, minimal and little or no graphics or ajax. It’s time to get simple.

Trialling .Mac at the moment and it’s great for keeping the two Macs and their apps in sync (calendars, address book, iGTD, Transmit and Yojimbo). The trial lasts for another couple of months before I have to hand over any cash but it’s likely thats another £70 to the Apple temple which is a tad annoying as .Mac doesn’t offer much disk space – this is an area Apple could address for not much money. It would be great if the £70 bought 40Gb of disk space to back up to and share.

Joost

I have three Joost private beta invites to give away. I’ve used it a couple of times over the last week or so and while it’s a bit buggy it’s one to watch especially with the new content deals being signed. If your interested then leave a comment or drop me a mail. Note that Joost works on Windows and Macs.

Back to the grind

Well after a great week off it’s back to work tomorrow. Got lot’s of outdoor work done this week which was good. The weather has been great for April – yet more freaky weather! Also got chance to enjoy the PS3 a bit more, catch up on some movies and also some TV. Sky+ is great but I can never keep up with all that I record. That meant I had over 3 weeks of some series to watch but then I can at least skip the adverts.

Also starting to get my act together with the two Macs and also thinking about off-site backup (paranoia is rife at the moment). I hadn’t really got the laptop and desktop working well together yet. The NAS drive I’ve got is good but gets noisy, so much so that I’ll be picking up an alternative or at least busting it open and replacing the fan with a larger, slower, quieter one. I’ve got the mail sorted by switching to IMAP so that all my e-mail (dating back to 98) is available on the server so from either Mac or on the web I can see it all. Next is the sharing of data between calendars, address books and a few applications I use. I’ve got a couple of options. Sign up to .Mac which is £70 a year for syncing and access to a 1 Gig iDisk. There’s other benefits but none that I would use. Alternatively I could sign up to something like Dreamhost and use it for the sole purpose of remote backup and synchronisation, making use of Transmit to keep folders in sync. Dreamhost would give me 160Gig with Webdav support for £60 a year. Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, back to watching Lost. The last three episodes have been great!

PS3 - The Games

After posting on the PS3 hardware and software it’s time to look at the games. Certainly the most important part of any console release is the quality of the games. The most touted games on release are Motorstorm and Resistance:Fall of Man. How do they shape up?

Motorstorm
Being the flagship PS3 title, Motorstorm has a lot to live up to. The game had so much pre-release hype and false starts (rendered E3 demo’s etc) and then a release in Japan minus the online component – how would it fair?

Motorstorm is in some ways the perfect release title. Loud music, high impact visuals and massive, at times bewildering arena’s to race in. You can’t fail to be impressed in that first half hour. For mates popping round and demo pods it’s a great game. After that half hour though is pretty disappointing. You realise that there isn’t much variety to the music and it soon repeats. You also realise you can’t change it to any of your own music. The graphics still impress but there’s a sameness about everything. Away from the wow stuff though and it’s just repetition. Offline is just select a bike, truck etc and race on one of the eight tracks. Yep – no longer arena’s. There isn’t that many routes and there’s usually the one route for your particular vehicle. The load times are also very long – some of the worst I’ve seen in recent years. It gets very annoying that selecting a vehicle takes such a long time, never mind the actual track loading.

Motorstorm

Online is at times impressive (lag free 12 player racing) but I reckon at least a third of my online games have not started, crashed out or been buggy in such a way to ruin the race. One of the other shortfalls is the lack of interaction. For all you know your racing against AI with the PS3 generating random gamertags to display – it is totally lacking in speech and atmosphere. While it does support speech hardly anyone has a headset and the game will also switch off speech to protect lag. Unlike offline, most online games also have catch up disabled. Quite a lot of the games I’ve raced sees one person break away from the pack and he will ultimately win the race as the pack fight each other while he sails off into the distance. Like the real F1 most online races are decided within the first few corners.

Ultimately if you get a PS3 you should get Motorstorm as it does initially impress – just don’t expect that feeling to last.
Continue reading “PS3 – The Games”

PS3 - The Software

The PS3 is potentially the most capable console ever released. However if the software isn’t up to driving it then it’s all a bit pointless. I’ll cover the main user interface and also the media playback and networking capabilities of the PS3 in this post. I’ve already covered my thoughts on the PS3 hardware which just leaves the games to cover in a future post.

Cross Media Bar
The Cross Media Bar (XMB) is Sony’s standard GUI in a lot of their products – PSP, high end Bravia’s and now the PS3. It’s very easy to use and provides quick access to stored content, games and online features. I prefer this to the 360 blade’s which while easy to use can take a lot of button presses to reach your content or fire up a quick game. While the XMB is great, whats not so great is that you can’t access it while in game or watching a movie. Pressing the PS home button allows you to return to the XMB, not access it.

From the XMB you can reach the following functions.

User
This menu control user access. You can create multiple users and also apply parental controls to the users to give finer control over kids accessing adult material. I’ve actually created three users with each user accessing a different store (each store has different content). Each user can also have a different network ID and friends list.

Photo’s
Photo Album view renders the pictures in 3d with hand written time stamps which is a really creative way of showing photo’s. You can also use standard method of viewing, rotating and zooming of images and you can also change the sort order of the photo’s.

The background to the GUI changes colour depending on the month and the time of day. While this is nice it would have been better to give users the chance to pick their own background. The PSP was initially the same until a firmware update allowed the user to pick their own backgrounds.

Music
You can playback MP3’s and AAC files. You get a nice visualizer while playing although sometimes there were some playback issues with files, especially if you crank the volume up. If I up the volume via the amp the quality is fine but if I up the volume via the PS3 the sound degrades. Annoyingly you cannot select any locally stored music to be played in game, a feature the 360 has had since day one. I also found it a bit unituitive when selecting tracks, albums and genres and unlike the 360 you cannot select music stored on pc’s or mac’s. You can only play cotnent stored locally or plugged in at the time via a USB drive.
Continue reading “PS3 – The Software”

Life on Mars

Well, it ended tonight and has probably guaranteed it’s status as a classic by leaving strands open to interpretation. There may be spoilers ahead if you didn’t see tonights episode so you’ve been warned.

My take on it all is that he never woke from the coma. He had a choice to make and was still in the coma imagining he had made the choice and woke in 2006. Those scenes were all too clean. Morgons quotes about being the worlds best surgeon were very odd. No one mentioned the coma or what he had been through – it was all surreal. Sam jumping off the building was him rejecting 2006 and going back to 1973. But he never woke. So he’s still in a coma but happier with the imaginary 1973 life. The girl switching the TV off – was that Sam’s life support being switched off?

Well thats what I think but there’s a couple of alternative theories that are as plausible. 2006 is fictional and in Sam’s head. 1973 is where he’s from although the first series saw him finding his young self and parents? But then he knows all about iPods etc.

Or he did wake from the coma and he killed himself or put himself back in a coma by jumping off the roof. I doubt this one as the current day scenes seemed really false. I’m sure other people will have more alternatives.

John Simm said in an interview that he wished the last episode finished 4 minutes earlier when Sam jumps of the roof – how confused would we be if that had happened. A classic show – I’m really pleased they ended it after two series though as it went out on a high. I wonder how the Ashes to Ashes series thats allegedly starring Philip Glenister will follow this?

*Update* – The lead writer has spilled the beans on the Manchester Evening News blog. He did wake from the coma, he did commit suicide and the test card girl switching off the tv was an in-joke from the writer telling the viewers to go and do soemthing else instead of watching TV. Class.

Over The Top

While death threats against bloggers aren’t to be condoned and the people who did it should be found and punished by law in the same way that I could be if I made death threats in person in the real world, the call for a Bloggers Code of Conduct is a real over reaction. Tim O’Reilly has put together a draft set of rules with friends that he hopes will be adopted by the blogging community. Blog’s are all about freedom of speech, and with freedom of speech you do get people with extreme and sometimes controversial/unpalatable views. I’m fine with that and if something I saw posted here was against what I wanted then it would be removed. However I don’t need someone else defining rules nor do I feel the need to wear a badge that reassures people I follow a certain code. I’m sure the graphics for the badges are temporary but the fact one is a sheriff’s badge just sets the wrong impression…as if the blogging world has lost control and it needs to be policed.

Hopefully this will all die down and turn into some guidelines that bloggers are free to copy to their own site if they wish. I personally don’t see the need.

*Update* – This blog has now been upgraded with the Airbag Department of Security Blog Advisory System – see bottom right of sidebar. The blogging world is now a safer place.

Doorstep

Shakeel was up visiting so we took advantage of some nice weather on Saturday to plod round Glasgow and try out his new camera. It will take a few days for his pictures to appear but I’ve thrown up some that I took.

Glasgow Harbour
Clyde
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Glasgow University

It’s a bit annoying that I don’t get out and about photographing more as there’s some great spots in Glasgow. That was the first time I’d visited Kelvingrove since it had re-opened too. In fact it’s the first time I’d visited since I was a kid and thats shocking as I used to only stay a few hundred yards away. The interior looks magnificent now but it still had the same smell that I remember from all those years ago. However I only scratched the surface while I was there – I’ll definitely be back soon as it’s wonderful.

Something that hadn’t changed was Glasgow Uni. It’s been over 12 years since I left but walking round the quadrangles and seeing the exam desks – it was as if nothing had changed. Apart from my weight. Still – really nice day that made a change from buying more gadgets! Must do more often.