Tag Archives: Xbox 360

Is this the next Xbox – or just a very confusing infographic?

Image

Look! Colours and boxes!  Via VG Leaks.com

So, this is what the inside of the next Xbox looks like, apparently.

It’s a deeply interconnected series of coloured boxes with vaguely impenetrable titles, which will somehow allow you to play the next “Gears of War” in eye-wateringly intense super HD vision from the future.  Why, it’s almost as if we’re on the verge of a new generation of games consoles, Valve-approved PCs and similar free time monopolising devices of fun…

I’m no technologist, but I know that 8 GB of RAM and an identical number of CPU Cores promise lots of potential to deliver more immersive games worlds.  Of course, it’s an arguable point as to whether the complexity of the PS3‘s internal architecture was ever satisfyingly grappled with by most of the multi-platform publishers and developers in this generation of machines – if the 360 couldn’t handle it, it does seem that EA and Activision didn’t exactly shoot for the fences with the systems out there.

Ever played “Dragon Age: Origins” on the PS3?  Exactly.

Expect major fireworks to be unleashed come E3 this June – or possibly earlier, if you believe the word on t3h str33tz…

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

To Stream or not to Stream?

Image

 

I have always been a fan of quality.

Now, that’s something which is in the eye of the proverbial beholder – what’s perfectly fine to me might be intolerable to you and the reverse is true, too.   When it comes to things like entertainment, I have always been a fan of the best reproduction that I can get my hands on, even if that means inconveniencing myself slightly – carrying a CD Walkman when many of my peers had moved on to smaller, lighter MP3 players, hankering after a Laserdisc player when everyone I knew was more than happy with VHS.  You get the picture, I suspect.

In recent years, I’ve begun to see the advantage of relaxing my self-imposed high standards just a tad.  I now carry a Sansa Clip Zip Mp3 player armed with a capricious flash card filled with songs and podcasts and I get on fine with it (albeit with my music ripped in Flac format and a funky little FiiO headphone amp to boost the output a little) and I’ve begun to play about with the streaming services available via my Xbox 360, thanks to a slight contretemps with my local branch of Blockbuster Video (I don’t want to verify personal data in a queue every time that I rent films, their bizarre corporate policy apparently insists on it.  Enjoy your soon-come obsolescence, boys).

My findings were mixed.  LoveFilm, arguably the market leader in the UK thanks to the muscle offered by corporate parent Amazon, had a limited selection not assisted by smudgy video quality and frequent buffering issues which rendered films unwatchable (this is on a 60 mb connection, mind you).  Netflix UK was similarly hit-and-miss with video quality and I really can’t get on with the recommendation engine, which works about as well (i.e., not at all) as most recommendation engines seem to do for me.  They’re fine if you’ve somehow only just found out about the existence of films and the cinema, but not really a serious consideration for anybody else.

Microsoft’s own films on demand service is apparently aimed at Russian oligarchs, so is really not for me as I don’t want to pay the cost of a new DVD movie to rent a streamed version.  So, it was to evil corporate overlords Sky that I went for a free trial of their ‘Sky Now’ service – an offer boosted somewhat in my estimation by a tagged-on 800 Microsoft Space Bucks if you watch at least 90 mins of the service in a month.

Do not spill this lady's Chablis.  Seriously.

Do not spill this lady’s Chablis. Seriously.

Having viewed the 2012 McG spy-fi action comedy, “This Means War“, and Steven Soderbergh‘s “Haywire” on the service, I’m now able to suggest that it’s actually…okay?   Not a match for a decent sd DVD transfer, as the sound is resolutely stereo-based, but perfectly watchable quality which should allow you to check out a movie and then double-down on the Blu-Ray, say, if you really like a film.  No buffering whatsover to report, either, which is a nice change – many of the streaming services that I’ve tried have offered image and playback quality so prone to glitches, drop-outs and other annoyances that they become less the experience of watching a film and more akin to glancing at still photographs and listening to a CD skipping in the background.

I don’t know that I would continue to subscribe to the service – the selection is pretty limited, which seems to be true of every such offering available to UK consumers – but it’s certainly worth looking at if you can take up this current Xbox offer in the UK.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Films, Geekery

What would you do with £148 million?

It’s not a problem which many of us will ever have to deal with, I grant you, but it’s good to see lottery winners finding creative (if jocular) ways to go large with their new windfall.

If I were a rich man…

This is the dilemma affecting newly-minted millionaires Adrian and Gillian Bayford, who this week claimed a winning EuroMillions lottery jackpot of £148 million, leading music store owner Adrian to joke that he’d like to use some of his cash to persuade the classic Guns ‘N’ Roses line-up to reform.

Putting aside the sad truth that even if you paid him handsomely  to play a private gig for you the odds are that  Axl would still show up two hours late, I got to thinking about what manner of frippery I would spend my hypothetical jackpot on.

“Uncharted” on a multiplex screen? Yes please!

I’d hire out my local multiplex’s bigger screens, hook-up a games console and blast through some action games for an evening of delirious nerdery.   Or, you know, build my own cinema addition to whichever house I bought (which would, of course, be Hagrid-friendly).  Who hasn’t gone to their local cinema and thought – “You know what ‘The Expendables 2’ needs?  To be Uncharted 3 or Dragon’s Dogma instead and have me playing it”

I’ve never been a car guy, so expensive luxury prestige marques are not for me.  What’s the point in buying something that jettisons a metric ton of value once you get the keys and sit behind the wheel for the first time?  Likewise, I don’t aspire to own a helicopter or personal jet – this kind of personal transportation is more my speed….

Should be able to get the shopping in the back of that no problem…

And if money was truly no barrier to creating things that I know would please those I love…

Now to summon the pots of cash necessary to hire Southend Interactive to make my wife a bespoke sequel…

I’d hire the developers of lovely, eccentric and desperately underrated XBox 360 platformer “Ilomilo“, Southend Interactive, to code and create a sequel to their glorious XBLA title.  Because Mrs Rolling Eyeballs would quite like that, don’t you know?

6 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Gaming, Geekery, Music, Random Notes

A “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” player’s lament

What with reading, listening to tunes, seeing films and walking dogs, my leisure time no longer finds much space to fit gaming in.  Accordingly, the few titles that I do pick up are lasting me quite a while and I like to think that I’m getting some kind of value out of them.

That said, THIS dude in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is kicking my arse.

Image

It’s never a good sign when the trailers for the sequel to the game that you’re playing are going up on games blogs and at E3 when you’re still mired in fighting the second level boss…

Even my usual technique – turn down the on screen music, affix iPod to lugs and power through the battle whilst listening to Dragonforce – is failing me.

3 Comments

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

Marcus In Chains? Now updated – it’s Baird and Cole!

Image

Ooh, look – the (slightly disappointing) third game in the “Gears of War” saga wasn’t the last word on DudeBros in Do-Rags saving the day and kerb-stomping monster men into oblivion.  Funny, I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be.

Eurogamer has a story – inspired by Game Informer’s cover above – which guesstimates a big reveal for a new game in the 360 signature FPS series in next week’s Xbox 360 press conference at E3 .  I’m thinking Kinect support with Baird and Anya dance-off mini-games and a sweet Kart Racing level (like “Joyride”! Only worse!)

See, this whole ‘Appealing to the Normals’ thing is easy…

Updated – Saturday 2 June 2012!

Cole Train, baby – Woo!

The other two “Game Informer” magazine covers have leaked prior to E3’s Monday kick-off and feature Baird and Cole from the other “Gears” games, with the frequently bickering odd couple leading a different squadron in a game said to offer a prequel side-story to the current trilogy.  It’s also supposed to be developed by People Will Fly, who brought you the excellent and underrated SF shooter, Bulletstorm.

The king of the frosted tip, the bard of bad attitude, the one-liner whiner – Damon Baird

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

The Mark 8?

Image

‘Stark Industries Xbox 360’ Via Reddit.

3 Comments

Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” announced

Image

Well, that’s Autumn sorted for a lot of gamers – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 announced • News • Eurogamer.net.

I’m not one of those players – action RPG nerds who play as Rogue Female Elves for the win! – but I fully expect this latest episode of the annual FPS franchise to dominate sales chart and mind share in the games community for the latter part of this year.  It’s the go-to shooter for many a gamer and remains seemingly unstoppable at the retail counter, predictable annual controversies notwithstanding…

Expect a proper reveal (and trailer) tonight and more hype when E3 rolls around in the summer.

3 Comments

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

You’re Doing It Wrong!

I suspect a cunning double-bluff of some kind...

When confronted by this kind of genuine pleasantness online, I must sadly confess that I’d be expecting a sucker punch of some kind.  Sad, huh?

(Via Reddit)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” – frustration, vindication and flashing blue icons…

As I’ve stated previously on this blog, whilst I love playing the new-fangled video games, my enthusiasm for them is often tempered by being bloody hopeless at them.  And yes, I have tried sucking less, thank you very much.

Some twitch-reaction gamer’s four to six hour single player game can typically take me between ten to twenty hours to finish, so I tend to take a while to catch up with titles which have long-since left the hardcore gamer conversation as they’re ever onto the next thing (the upside of my deliberation and slowness in completing games is that I feel like I get more value from gaming than somebody who plays a couple of levels and trades a game in to get the next new thing – could be delusional on my part, but I prefer my approach).

All of which is a long way round to talking about my initial experiences with MercurySteam and Kojima Productions reboot from a while back, “Castlevania: Lord of Shadows”.  I mentioned last week on the blog that I picked this up in the slow implosion of UK retailer GAME’s recent stock clearance and I’m happy to say that it’s living up to my expectations so far.

Moody. Mysterious. Mental.

The gameplay is a lovely hodge-podge of things you’ve played before, with the challenges of redesigning a classic 2D series for the 3D era met in mostly elegant and exciting ways.

The heroic weapon of choice in the series, an Indiana Jones-style bull whip, is redrawn as the Combat Cross – an in-no-way over the top, heavy-duty weapon of Him Upstairs, which can be used to help hero Gabriel Belmont climb surfaces, mete out violent death to arcane supernatural beasties and, perhaps most importantly, to pose moodily in the frequently driving rain.

Just a traveller/Walking down a lonely road/Werewolves want to eat me/But I don't want to know...

The major criticisms that I have at the outset of the game are its familiarity – look, there’s a set piece which is quite like “Shadow of the Colossus”!  Hey, there’s some art design ripped from the noggin of Benicio Del Toro! – and the locked, unyielding camera system which would try the patience of the Dalai Lama (were he the kind of reincarnated living deity who played modern third-person, action hack-and-slashers).   Not enough to stop from playing, although the difficulty spike in the first boss battle had me heading for YouTube for a walkthrough to try to figure out why I was being chucked around like a rag doll and where I was supposed to be jumping (that’s where the flashing blue icons in the title come in – you have to climb up the guy below, chip away at his health by smashing the blue icons on his body and then hang on for dear life as he tries to flick you off his body – it’s a bugger of a gig, let me tell you).

Titan up - see what I did there? No? Oh, please yourselves...

The acting – by the likes of Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle and Natascha McElhone – is pretty decent for a game, although the scripting and dialogue lean rather more towards ‘overwrought, fan fiction cheese’ than I might otherwise like.  I have to confess that my experience with “Castlevania” as a series is less than it perhaps could be but I have to imagine that this kind of archetype-heavy, breast-beating drama is par for the tooth-baring course.

Lots of anguished looking to heaven, wondering why Our Lord has forsaken his servants and let Evil run unchecked – you can probably guess the kind of thing.

I’m really quite enjoying, nonetheless – it’s a gorgeous game, which has characters, environments and animation to rival the leading-edge likes of the “Uncharted” series on the PS3.  The music’s quite lovely, too and the gameplay, whilst ever so bloody derivative, is still good stuff – it might be based around combat, puzzle-solving and exploration which you’ve seen executed elsewhere, but the standard of that execution is key to the success of this game.  Everything’s done so expertly and with such love for this kind of action experience that any memories which it conjures of previous titles can be set aside.

On the evidence of what I’ve seen so far, Mercury Steam are a video games developer to keep a close eye on.

2 Comments

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

Live action “Mass Effect 3” ad affects massively…

How about Sheffield City Hall for a change, invading alien overlords? Haters...

Any doubts that one might have had about the desire of games publishers to appeal solely to core gamers are neatly underlined by the new ad for “Mass Effect 3” – the wholly ambiguous and in no way on the chin “Fight” teaser, which you can see here.

Not looking good for the church's new roof fundraiser...

So, small children in the midst of civil unrest, young lovers embracing as the blasts hit and pious folks taking shelter in a church and major American landmarks getting jacked up – all good stuff to use to reach out to the folks who think that games are still like Mario the Hedgehog on the Nintendo Playstation.

Yep, that's a live-action ManShep alright...

One thing’s for damn sure after checking out this advert – you can see where EA are spending your Collector’s Edition cash …

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery, TV