Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Welcome to 2007! Chief's Rule, Resolution time, and touching the PS3.

Happy New Year!

First off let me say Happy New Year! to everyone, I hope you didn't party too hard ringing in the New Year. The KC Chiefs got a late Christmas present on New Year's eve, going into their game Sunday they needed to win, and have four other teams lose, well the stars aligned and Indianapolis here we come! Of course the time we met in 1996 didn't go so well, I was at that game damn it was cold. Spent too much on tickets and then we lost by a friggin' field goal. :( Man it really doesn't seem like that was 11 years ago, I remember it had snowed a lot the day of/day before the game and the plastic seats were piled high with snow. Of course our next playoff meeting didn't go so well either. I'm hoping it's just because both games were at Arrowhead, maybe the RCA Dome will be better luck for us. :)

I've made my New Year's resolution (but I can't start until after the 12th...) to stop buying new video games. Yep, that's right no more, zilch, goose egg, nada, etc. I guess I should clarify that means new full priced retail games, I will still buy used games, sale items, and new games after a price drop or two. I buy a lot of games (get caught up in the hype) when they first come out, the problem is though I don't get around to playing them, and leave them sealed sitting on a shelf. We get used copies of almost every game within 2-3 weeks of release at work, why not wait that period and save ~20% off the cost of new? If I could hold out 2-3 months (depending on the game) the new ones may be half-off their original retail. Certain blockbuster titles may take longer to depreciate, but most all games do eventually. Of course I guess if you think about it, since I get a discount on games at work, I haven't paid retail in 4 years anyway... I mentioned the 12th because Lost Planet comes out then, and I thoroughly enjoyed the single player, and multi-player demos so I will be there on launch day.

I got a 'hands on' opportunity with the Playstation 3 last weekend, I got to fondle the system, peruse the manual, and enjoy some Resistance : Fall of Man goodness. My first overall impression of the system was it's really big, all of those PS2 fanboy's making fun of the original Xbox because of it's size whose laughing now? It is a sleek looking case (unfortunately after only 4 days it was showing dust) and its really quiet too, but it did get warm after a couple hours.

The wireless six axis controller was nice and comfortable, but I did miss the rumble feature and any extra heft would have been welcome. It's really light, I wish they would have put room for a couple AA batteries (one in each handle) to make it feel more... like a real controller. The 5 Ft. charging cable (USB A to mini-B, same as a PSP-PC link) is kinda cheesy as it's too short to sit away from the console and play while the controller is charging. Speaking of which, the console has to be ON to charge the controller. I've never used the 360 play & charge kit, but it will work with the system off won't it?

That brings us to the other features, and I found some cool and useful ones. The first which I had heard was the video port is legacy PS2/PS1 vintage that means any Playstation video cable will work. I already had PS2 component cables laying around so I used those and they worked like a charm. The second feature I stumbled upon was the internal hard drive (20 GB, and 60 GB depending on model) are user replaceable. You pull the side door off, slide the cage out, and you can install any Serial ATA laptop drive you want 100 GB, 200 GB you name it. Messing around the menu I found an item to go along with the larger drives, you can partition it and through the menu install another OS. I poked around the net and found people already have Linux distro's available for the PS3 console. It really is just a PC with specific components, and I think it's cool Sony gave you the option to mess around with. The last feature that I found neat was you can create 'virtual' PS1/PS2 memory cards on the hard drive no more proprietary memory cards! There is a optional converter (USB->PS2 memory card slot) that allows you to transfer your saves (if you already have them on memory cards) to the HD if you need it. After playing with both the Wii, and PS3 systems I really think Microsoft missed the boat on Wi-Fi connectivity, I know they want to sell you their $100 networking adaptor but geez. It's so nice to have Wi-Fi built-in especially in the new house where cable runs from upstairs to the basement would suck.

Now onto the games! I downloaded Gran Turismo HD demo, MotorStorm demo, and the Cash, Guns, and Choas demo from the Playstation 3 virtual store (think marketplace) to try out. I played a fair bit of the GT HD demo, and it looked good. I noticed that the bystanders/crowd looked like people not 2D cutouts, and there was some background animation going on that gave it more realism. I found it supported my Logitech Driving Force EX wheel, so I dug that out and hooked it up. It didn't help my driving much, but it was cool using it. I was disappointed that the MotorStorm demo lacked the six axis (wireless) driving mode that is in the demo kiosk, I wanted to try it cord free since you can't do that at Target. It didn't allow you to change the options, and looked like the same level as the kiosk demo. Cash, Guns, and Chaos was a top down run & shoot game where your two analog sticks control you and the firing (meaning you can run any direction, and shoot any other direction). It reminded me of Loaded on the original Playstation, it was fair but not something I would play a lot. Resistance : Fall of Man on the other hand kicks' ass! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't know how far into the game I got, but so far the story was really cool. I also tried out the multiplayer and I must say a 40 person deathmatch is insane, I don't know if it was the specific map or settings but man it was frantic. One of the options (on by default I guess) is 'one hit kills' meaning just one bullet can take you out, this coupled with the fact that when you spawn you don't have any protection lead me to a spawn/die/spawn/die/etc. cycle for a bit. Once I got into the rhythm I found that worked both ways because before you spawn you can see the playfield, if someone ran by me I instantly knew where to head. I played another map which was only hosting 25 people, but must have been larger and more spread out as it seemed to take quite a bit of time to find other players. They had it set to start with all the weapons fully loaded so I did get to try some cool ones that I hadn't got in single player campaign yet. I don't know if it's the mechanics of Gears of War or what, but unfortunately at this point in time I much prefer Resistance over Gears. :(

Is Resistance a system seller? To me, yes. I would consider buying a PS3 just to play Resistance, but that leads me to the dark side of the PS3. Personally not needing a Blu-Ray player (since I already have the HD DVD add-on for the 360) I think the PS3 is price prohibitive. In the last week though I've seen a lot of PS3's sold to people who were shopping for Blu-Ray players (Ultimate Electronics is sending customers to us) find that stand alone players are $1000, and they can get a player for $600/$500 and it has other uses to (it plays games)! If I run across a used PS3, and have the funds available I may have to pick it up.

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