So today was mostly spent upgrading the iMac to Leopard. All went well. In fact it was relatively painless which is more than can be said for my calf which I’ve aggravated again just walking about town. I don’t think I mentioned this but I tore my calf last week playing badminton. 10 days later and it’s still sore(r) but then I knew it would take a while to heal properly.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a Leopard post. Well I’ve not really had chance to play with it much so I’ll get the laptop done tomorrow and then take a few days to mull over what has changed. It ain’t all good you know!


Totally agree with John Gruber that not releasing the GM of Leopard to dev’s is a really bad decision from Apple. Already there are app’s not quite working with Leopard which will only be fixed after the release of the new OS, not before. The decision not to seed GM didn’t stop piracy either as the leechers have been able to download it since Tuesday.


December 2005. PGR3 on the newly launched 360 is met with plaudits but also some frustration. Not a true HD game, 30 fps and a lack of variety compared to PGR2. What guaranteed it’s success was a lack of competition. It took over 18 months before a game challenged PGR on the 360. That game was Forza 2. However there was never any doubt that Microsoft would cash in with a PGR sequel.

I should point out that I loved the PGR series and it’s predecessor Metropolis Street Racer with PGR2 being the highlight so far. Great track variety and a superb online mode supplemented with downloadable content that extended it’s life. However it was widely known that Bizarre was forced into releasing PGR3 as a launch title which meant corners were cut. With a sequel given the green light I can imagine they wanted to throw as much into PGR4 as they could. Unfortunately too much can detract rather than add to the game.

So What’s New?
There are now 10 cities within the game and this really helps to reduce the repetitiveness of the tracks seen in the previous version. However four of the cities were also in PGR3 so you do feel a little cheated. Before PGR4 was released the dev’s made a big play on how the tracks were now more forgiving and you can see that in some places but in general there are some incredibly tight sections that inevitably lead to contact, especially online. More on that later.

Start Line

The game modes are almost unchanged from previous versions. Street racing, eliminator, one on one modes and time challenges are still my favourites. This leaves the dreaded cone challenges and kudus star chases. I detest both with a passion and these modes detract from the game.

What is new are the vehicles available. Some older models are now in the game but by far the biggest addition are the bikes. These obviously handle differently from the cars and they just feel a bit odd. When you start to turn a bike the head moves with the first movement of the pad and then the bike starts to turn. It takes some time to get used to and to be honest I’m still not that happy with them. They are also far more resilient than for example Moto GP which is understandable as no one would use them if they fell down at the slightest touch. However use them online at your peril – almost every game online has seen bikes taken out before or during the first corners. It’s a dirty world out there. It’s also amazing how much draft you get from a bike!

Graphics and Sound
The graphics are stunning. The detail of each car is amazing but the bike models show off the graphics to an even higher level. Look at the pic below – bike chain, nuts and bolts…almost too detailed. Cities are also rendered to a far greater detail than PGR3 as are the few tracks that are in the game. The F1 track looks miles better than before.

Detailed Bike

The game is also very smooth with no pop-up and no glitches seen during both off and online racing. Special mention must go to the weather effects. The rain is stunning. Riding on bumper view and it looks spectacular and the puddles gathering on the tracks not only look realistic but grab your car as well. However swapping to in car view shows an amazing simulation of rain on the windscreen. Streams run up the windscreen as you accelerate and on stormy nights the wipers struggle to give you a view. It really adds to the immersion!

Engines also sound superb with the best reserved for some of the bikes – they sound monstrous apart from maybe the jet bike which just sounds odd.

This is an arcade racer. Get that into your head and you’ll enjoy the game. If you expect handling approaching Forza 2 then you will be disappointed. In saying that it is good fun although I do find the cone and star challenges incredibly dull.

The usual Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum difficulty levels apply but there is also a career mode that allows you to climb a world ranking table taking on challenges over the period of a season. This is a nice mode and much better than the arcade challenges.

Along with the multiplayer, online scoreboards etc it’s a pretty deep game with plenty to keep you occupied with. It’s annoying though that lap times and split times aren’t displayed but that just highlights the lurch to an arcade model. It’s also disappointing that modes like capture the track are missing from the game. I hope it’s not released as a paid for upgrade as it should have been available from the start.

There’s a couple of major changes to the online options in PGR4. Firstly there is now a party mode similar to Halo which allows you to take up to three other friends into opponents rooms and race as a team. Sounds great but in practice it has a number of issues. The matchmaking is slow. Really slow. Amazingly badly slow. We were waiting at least two minutes between finding rooms although there were times that after five minutes we had to stop and start the search…only to wait another couple of minutes. The second issue is that the online world is full of dirty players. Almost every game is ruined by opponents taking you out of the game. I accept this is an arcade game but it is frustrating to be taken out on the start/finish line or the first corner on almost every race. You can see some stats on PGR Nations like the screen below but I’ve no idea how a clean race is calculated.

PGR Nations

The third major problem was the graphically fantastic weather. Almost every game was wet or…very wet. While I appreciate the effort that has gone into the weather modes the matchmaking needs a tweak to reduce the rain’s frequency. If only we could do that in real life!

Unfortunately those aren’t the only issues. A gap of a few feet between cars but you still cause a crash? It’s also annoying that spins are so easy online but offline you can’t do the same to AI racers. That sounds to me that spins could be addressed but the developers have chosen to allow spins to easily occur.

The other major new feature is PGR Nations. The site allows you to upload photo’s and see world rankings, you and your friends stats and also enter tournaments and see the worlds best players. It’s a nice addition especially the photo mode. On PGR4 you can also save and view friends video’s and also rate them. Some of the top 20 video’s are superb and well worth a look.

PGR4 is a good game. Not great, but good all the same. If it hadn’t come out during this golden time for games then I may have appreciated it more but it just doesn’t do enough compared to others in the series. Hopefully over a longer period it will show some hidden depths.

Flickr Related Tag Browser

A great Flickr search tool – Flickr Related Tag Browser. Type a tag and watch the preview window fill. Move your mouse to the edge of the screen and related tags to your search will be shown – click and view those photo’s. A great visual way of searching through Flickr.

With updated map searching, video support and online picture editing all coming soon it’s looking like good times ahead for Flickr.

Rugby World Cup

Well done to South Africa – well deserved winners over the whole of the tournament. Unlucky England who I think did well to reach the final and played well. As for the England try…it always looked like the players foot touched the line and then lifted in the air. I just hope ITV don’t labour….who am I kidding. There going for it big style but well done Martin Johnson for calling it correctly and stuffing one to smarmy Jim Rosenthal.


One week to go until Leopard is launched for the Mac. I shouldn’t really but I’m considering popping along to the Glasgow store after 6 next Friday to pick up my copy. If I don’t get it then it will probably on Sunday with Shakeel who’ll be up for the weekend. It’s odd – never looked forward to Windows O/S launches this much.

The Finder improvements look to be welcome along with the small improvements to Mail, Address Book and iCal. Spaces and Time Machine look useful too although there’s some smaller things that caught my eye like using expose to turn off the display and stacks to quickly get to common files and folders. The updated Front Row with new Apple TV front end should be a nice addition. iChat has a ton of new features as well…but I hardly ever use it!

However there is quite a bit of fluff in there. Mail Templates look like all that was wrong with Outlook stationary and extra photo booth settings aren’t really my thing.

The big question – how to upgrade. Take the easy route and install on top or format and start fresh. I’ll probably choose the latter even though it will take a bit more work. If your interested a new guided tour of Leopard has just been posted at apple.com.

Scotland 3 – 1 Ukraine

It’s early days but a brilliant start to the game. To be two goals up within 10 minutes is unbelievable. Hopefully they can keep a clean sheet until half time. Two set pieces, two goals. Fantastic.

Update – another great win! It was looking a bit dodgy at 2-1 but McFadden stepped up again to give us a third. 24 points with two games to go. An unbelievable position but heartbreaking that we will likely need more than 3 points out of Georgia away and Italy at home to go through. The run of form has been tremendous and never did I think we would top a group containing Italy, France and the Ukraine.

Around two and a half years ago we were ranked 88th in the World. 18 months ago that had risen to 72. February this year saw us break into the top 20. We’re now ranked 13th which will make a massive difference to the World Cup qualifying campaign…but never mind that – there’s a Euro Championship place in our hands. Roll on Wednesday night.

In Rainbows

It’s out and I’m enjoying it more than i thought I would although the bare bones Videotape from iTunes was better IMHO. The 160kbps was disappointing as was the lack of cover art. Tut tut. Step in Jon Hicks and friends with alternatives to the naked cover art. Some of them are fantastic.

The 160kbps will be sorted when the discbox is shipped although delivery will be dependant on the workshy communists getting their act together.

Cheaper PS3

Announced today, there’s a new PS3 for £299 with no backwards compatibility, a smaller hard disk and only 2 USB ports, no media card drives. A pretty good price. The 60GB model drops to £349 and includes two first party PS3 games. So that’s what they are doing with Lair then!!

It’s a good price drop and takes it into 360 range especially as the features dropped aren’t essential in my opinion. However it leaves just one little question. Where’s the fecking games?

Metacritc PS3 Top 20
1 Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The 93
2 Ninja Gaiden Sigma 88
3 NHL 08 88
4 Resistance: Fall of Man 86
5 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 86
6 Virtua Fighter 5 85
7 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 85
8 Sega Rally Revo 85
9 MotorStorm (JPN Import Version) 84
10 Warhawk 84
11 Super Stardust HD 84
12 SKATE 84
13 NBA 2K8 84
14 DiRT: Colin McRae Off-Road 83
15 Fight Night Round 3 83
16 MotorStorm 82
17 Gran Turismo HD Concept 82
18 Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection 82
19 College Hoops 2K7 81
20 NBA Street Homecourt 81
Metacritc Xbox 360 Top 20
1 BioShock 96
2 Halo 3 94
3 Gears of War 94
4 Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The 94
5 Guitar Hero II 92
6 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 90
7 Forza Motorsport 2 90
8 Call of Duty 2 90
9 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 89
10 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 89
11 Burnout Revenge 89
12 NHL 08 88
13 Project Gotham Racing 3 88
14 Project Gotham Racing 4 87
15 Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, The 86
16 Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 86
17 Fight Night Round 3 86
18 Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine, The 86
19 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 86
20 SKATE 86

The table show the top 20 games on the PS3 and XBox 360 according to the average ratings as shown on Metacritic. I thought this would be the fairest way as biased reviews would be averaged ut across platforms. Doesn’t make very good reading for the PS3, does it? Where are the AAA exclusive titles for the PS3? They’ve been and gone and weren’t that good. It’s poor that the best rated exclusive title is Resistance which was a release game. It was good but that review score was very generous. Compare with the top 3 on the 360 and it makes for a compelling reason not to pick up a PS3. Even cross platform games are picking up the same score if not better on the 360.

If Sony wants to pick up sales it needs to address the games. If the PS3 had the AAA titles that the 360 has enjoyed then price wouldn’t be an issue and there wouldn’t be an entry level console launched today.