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The Gaming Rant 8

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

This is an unedited, uncensored re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that fans can read the uncensored versions.

WARNING! This article is intended as a piece of satirical diatribe. Some readers may find the language and themes within extremely offensive.

Contains strong language, sexual references and politically incorrect commentary that some readers may find offensive. This article is satire and does not reflect the views of TheSixthAxis or myself. This article has not been endorsed or approved by the Third Reich. This disclaimer may be false, but it probably isn’t.

Last week my best friend told me that my rant didn’t have enough anger in it. Well, trust me my little bunch of anti-social loser gaming imbeciles, this week has no such anger shortage, I am literally oozing visceral at the moment. I’m so adjective I’m verbing nouns right now, for 3 excellent reasons.

Hard disk upgrade

Sub-ordinate 1: *pointing at map of Germany on the table* “Game Data and PSN games have sprung up in several locations. We have tried to slow their progress but they are using too much of our resources. At the current rate, we estimate full disk space consumption within 2 weeks.”

Me: *waving finger in the air* “Not a problem, a hard disk upgrade will solve that.”

*long pause*

Sub-ordinate 1: *sweating* “Mein Führer… The restore utility…”

Sub-ordinate 2: “The restore utility does not work properly. You will have to re-download and re-install everything, and lose all your game saves.”

Me: *takes off glasses, my hand shaking* “All of you who have successfully upgraded your PS3 hard disks, please leave the room.”

Yes, the week got off to a good gaming start as I got stuck in to Lost Planet 2’s online co-op. Then a man appeared at the front door with a new hard disk. My 250GB PS3 is rammed with data to the point where I had deleted all my demos, videos, FirstPlay episodes (no real loss there though) and had to resort to deleting Game Data files, and still had no space left. So I whipped out my cheque book and splashed out on a 640GB drive.

Remember the Indonesian tsunami of 2004? The Indonesians were running around on TV saying “God will protect us”. Some of us might think, orly? Who do you think sent the tsunami in the first place, asshole? That loss of 250,000 lives, however, was nothing compared to the shit God pulled on me this week*. What part of his Grand F*cking Plan says that I have to piss around for three whole days trying to get my stupid PS3 to backup and restore properly. Is this a character building exercise? Are you trying to make me a stronger person? Or are you just bored and trying to piss me off, in which case it’s working admirably.

So the little divine gremlins in my PS3 decided to test me like Job. Backups not working. Restores not working. Firmware refusing to install. Freezes. Crashes. Copyright validation errors. Activation errors. I won’t bore you with all the sordid details suffice to say on day 3 I got bored of it being hung at 70% restored and rebooted. The hard disk was blank, I took it out, put the old one in, deleted all my Game Data as advised on the forums (apparently some Game Data makes the restore fail, God knows why – but conveniently, the little bastard isn’t telling *shakes fist in air*), backed up, put the new hard disk back in, booted up and lo and behold approximately 70% of my games and Game Data were present. What the…. IT WAS BLANK FIVE MINUTES AGO! How annoyed was I.

This presented a dilemma. Do I keep my botched restore and re-install the remaining 30% but lose 30% of my game saves, or do I restore again and have all my game saves intact but have to re-download all the DLC? These game saves represent thousands of hours of hard labour on my part. Needless to say I’d callously deleted the old backup thinking it was broken and was suitably annoyed. Again.

Well, to cut a long story short I eventually got everything sorted out with no loss of any data. But, seriously, what the f*ck?! HOW HARD IS IT to make a simple backup utility:

  1. Compress and encrypt the files
  2. Copy to storage device

Restore:

  1. Copy to PS3
  2. Decrypt and decompress

So why does it freeze for 2 hours at a time at arbitrary percentages on the restore progress bar? Why does an estimate of 4 hours to restore suddenly turn into 12? And why is it so biblically slow (ah – God again, that explains everything, he just loves to screw with a winning formula). It is so slow that if I was Hitler, I could take over Europe in less time; and while I’d be pleased with my impressive victory in England, I’d be very unhappy when I got back and found the rest of the Gestapo was still screwing around waiting for the PS3. I’d be so unhappy I’d probably have to post a rant on YouTube about it, same as when I got banned from Xbox Live and when the iPad came out. And tell that Sony employee bitch in the corridor to stop crying.

The restore utility is an absolute sham. I had to delete and re-install / re-download 66GB of Game Data. My patience was tested to the limit, I had missed my Lost Planet 2 meets, the SingStar Beta night and the week’s PSN update. I have no TV except via my PS3 either, this was a recipe for absolute boredom.

Screw you Sony. And screw you God as well. Go Hitler, er I mean, Go Me!

Modern Warfare 2

Lost Planet 2: no idiots.

Battlefield Bad Company 2: no idiots.

MAG: no idiots (I’m lying I have no idea, never played it since the beta, but I was running out of options)

Modern Warfare 2: Penile-Challenged Knob-Face Monkey Twat Central.

I’m seriously considering trading in Modern Warfare 2 after my experience a couple of nights ago, where I realised I can no longer get any fun out of the online play on this tepid excuse for a shooter. I’ve completed the campaign twice so that leaves little left to enjoy.

It seems like every time I put this bloody game in I have to report someone. This latest episode was no exception as a “your shit” email appeared in my PSN mailbox. Really? Well f*cking done Einstein, I know I’m shit, I’m actually just here to socialise with my friends and have a laugh. Would you like a medal? Not a grammar medal obviously, though I did resist the urge to use the classic “it’s spelled you’re” response. Instead I took the mature approach: “FYI I work for Sony, keeping your mouth shut is advised”. It’s a good job he wasn’t messaging Hitler, you don’t want to rub that guy up the wrong way. Trust me, I was on the receiving end of his briefing on YouTube about the Gran Turismo 5 release date. That was some nasty shit.

The response was “haha fuk u gimp”. Good job I wasn’t a real Sony employee eh? Ps3reporting.com was quickly engaged. If you’d like to share your opinion feel free to drop a pm to crazycracked, I’m sure it will be met with a suitably whimsical grammatically incorrect response.

I wondered if the child would say that to my face in a bar, where he would promptly get his faced smashed in by my fist. Evidently his parents don’t mind him playing an 18-rated game – seems to be a running theme this – so he should obviously be able to go get drunk in bars as well and see how his Class A1 Wanker comments go down in a room full of burly drunk adults. Die in a fire crazycracked.

Anyway, I get this kind of abuse every single time I play MW2. It was the first time I’d played online for a while and it reminded me why I never go online with it. It is truly saddening, but, I also realised that the rest of us actually need MW2 because it’s a nice honeypot that attracts all the adolescent low-life scum and sort of keeps them segregated in one place so that the proper gaming community doesn’t have to concern themselves with being bothered by them. It’s like, we’re the superior race and MW2 is like Auschwitz. The only problem is, the gamers on MW2 don’t die from gas poisoning afterwards. There’s safety in numbers it seems; but as Jimmy Carr once said, try telling that to 6 million Jews.

Have you noticed the nicks of the people who play MW2? I proclaimed on my headset that “the list of nicks in the lobby really speaks volumes about the kind of people who play Call of Duty”. A slight sweeping stereotype I admit, but you’ve got to concede: SuperKilla87, Megal33t, Ikillj00_pwned354783. There’s a pattern there, no? If you missed it: they are all nicknames made by toss-pots.

Screw Modern Warfare 2. Long live World At War – although I don’t like the way the Germans are portrayed. They were just doing what I told them.

Chatting up girls

Oh my God.

Oh my F*CKING God.

A couple of weeks ago my gaydar went off in GameStop as a clearly geek gamer girl bought a ton of PS3 games and was asking astute questions to the staff – clearly she knew as much about release dates and gaming as any member of the TSA staff. Man I’m digging sweeping generalizations today! She’s a girl, she wins by default, shut up.

I was too shy to talk to her of course and kicked myself on the way home for it.

Today I was in a different game store (Platekompaniet), and as I perused the PS3 section looking for ModNation Racers I noticed two rather beautiful girls next to me discussing the merits of Oblivion. I was somewhat impressed they would be into long, drawn-out, slow, complex RPGs, but far be it from me to stifle the enthusiasm of newly-formed girl gamers.

After I’d paid there was one customer in the queue behind me before the girls. So I took the plunge and braced for impact.

“Are you gonna buy Oblivion?”

“Yeah”

I tried to be as helpful and non-patronising as possible, fearful they may not be happy with their purchase:

“You know it’s a really complicated, slow, old-style RPG game right?”

“Yeah”

The conversation shifted from Norwegian to English and they obviously loved my classic British accent.

“Have you played Fallout 3?”

“Yep, I heard this is the same but with less shooting”

“That’s exactly right.”

“Hm ok – well then you know what you’re getting into. Have fun!”

The reason I remember the conversation line by line so vividly is because, much like Gregory House who I aspire to be like, actual human contact with females is sort of a once-in-a-year occurrence, so any sort of interaction gets immediately committed to memory and over-analyzed for months.

I left the store feeling absolutely devastated and grumbled all the way home and for some time afterwards. We all know how awkward it is to strike up a conversation with a random stranger in a store, and I’m sure we’ve all had those moments where we see a nice-looking boy or girl and wish we had the stomach to approach them.

I was pleased I had the guts to even say anything, it took me a few minutes of silent procrastination next to them before I managed it, but why oh why oh why did I not just say “Listen I don’t mean to be rude but do you wanna play sometime?” Games, obviously. I got the feeling they would definitely have agreed and yet I still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Is it part of God’s plan to make me a pussy, rather than give me pussy? What’s your point God?

All I had to lose was two minutes of dignity, tops. *bangs head on desk*

So I thought to myself, What Would Hitler Do? I video conferenced with him on YouTube, and it turns out he would’ve first asked the bitch out, then forced her if she didn’t comply. So I think I’m gonna do that next time.

Screw dignity. Long live German efficiency.

Conclusions

Never upgrade your PS3 unless you want a burst blood vessel. Delete Modern Warfare 2, put the disk in the microwave, then shred it up with a chainsaw and frisbee it out of your window – sharp end first – at any passer-by who looks like they might be a MW2 player. Always sacrifice your dignity when the opportunity of a potential shag arises. I have learned these lessons the hard way so you don’t have to. Also, on reflection, I should probably stop watching so many Downfall parody videos.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just picked up a copy of my secret new project. I can’t tell you what it is, but, let’s just say it rhymes with Castration Razors.

Tschüss!

* I made a substantial donation to the Indonesia relief effort.

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The Gaming Rant 7

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

This is an unedited, uncensored re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that fans can read the uncensored versions.

WARNING! This article is intended as a piece of satirical diatribe. Some readers may find the language and themes within extremely offensive.

Contains strong language and sexual references. This article is satire and does not reflect the views of TheSixthAxis or myself. It actually represents the views of Infinity Ward’s lawyers.

Strangely, I didn’t really feel like ranting this week. I think I’m all ranted out, but I’ll give it a go, just to humour you, like. I think I got burned out from all the iPad, DRM, OtherOS, consumer rights, abusive DLC, FirstPlay and ModNation Racers ranting I did the last few days. My nurse did warn me I should only skip my pills on Thursdays to make sure I could rant effectively ready for Friday, but did I listen?

April was supposed to be quiet

I had assured my girlfriend whore that things would calm down after God of War 3 and Just Cause 2, that there were only two compelling releases for me in April (Nier and FIFA 2010 World Cup) and that I would have more time to waste on MSN giving her meaningless and unfulfilling cybersex.

Yeah, right.

It all started one day when I logged into my bank account to see if I had enough money to pay for both food and my web server this month, only to find a 4-figure medical refund had been deposited from the lovely Norwegian government. That same day I opened my mail and found my first sick pay cheque – a sum of money so ridiculously large that you could buy a small Pacific island with it. I already have my own island though, so clearly a trip to GameStop was in order instead. I bolted to town immediately.

I picked up a few pre-owned games (it was so much money I couldn’t afford to buy them new): GTA IV, Saints Row 2, DiRT 2, Sacred 2, X-Men: Wolverine, Lord of The Rings Conquest and Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena. Then I thought out of the goodness of my heart I better write a review of Dead To Rights: Retribution for TSA, along the lines of “well, someone’s got to do it”, so I picked that up. I may have inadvertently pre-ordered Red Dead Redemption at the same time.

As I perused the store I was checking reviews on my normalPhone (who would’ve imagined that you didn’t need an iPhone to get a quality mobile web browsing experience eh?) and thinking, God what a cock I would look like if I was doing this on an iPantyliner right now. James May-style. I thanked the gods that iPads cost more than the £100,000 welfare subsidy I’d been given so that I couldn’t cave into the purchase. I will, of course, because I’m hopeless.

I rushed home and didn’t play any of them because FIFA obviously took priority (I epic failed to qualify Norway, of course, because I suck). But, before that, a top-up of my 3 regional PSN wallets was a necessity, naturally. I won’t bother listing all the purchases as it may make you want to stab me repeatedly in the face over the internets, suffice to say that I probably don’t ever need to buy a video game ever again. I will, of course, because I’m hopeless.

I’m trying really hard to find a way to rant about having acquired a lot of great games at no personal expense, but I’m failing. IT’S ANNOYING! There, I said it. Still, at least I didn’t buy the Stimulus Pack – I’m not made of money, sheesh! I will, of course, because I’m hopeless.

Which brings us conveniently to the first of several conundrums.

Conundrum 1: eBay PSN codes

Those motherf… When I moved to Norway I sold pretty much the entire contents of my house on eBay, however I still consider myself to be an eBay n00b. It continually amazes me that some people can buy stuff on eBay and they actually managed to get it delivered, that it matches the product description and actually works and isn’t damaged. How do you guys do that?!

I’m naturally suspicious of eBay. It is like a combination of Poundland prices and Iceland quality. I love how sellers are rated “A++++++++”. Why only 8 plusses? Why not 9? Or 15? The number of plusses is key to my purchasing decision you know. When a buyer rates with too many plusses, I think, it’s an insider deal. They’re banging each other, it must be a hoax.

ShopTo.net decided that my Norwegian credit card had to be registered for 30 days before they would deliver instant UK PSN codes to me, and the other online stores seemed overpriced, so with great reticence I resorted to trying to find a code on eBay.

Don’t do this. Ever.

I was lucky. It only cost me a pound. Though saying that I could’ve bought 1/30th of a pizza with that money in Norway. Damn those bastards.

So I get my code. Which is actually not a PSN code, it’s a promo code for some web site that you enter to get a discount to buy some other code that you enter into another web site to get a PSN code. Or something like that. However you cut it, it was bollocks. Ultimately, not only did the store in question only send codes in the postal mail, but they would also only send them to the UK, and the eBay promo code didn’t work anyway without a minimum purchase of £60. I felt betrayed by mankind.

Just as a final kick in the teeth to my misguided use of a full one hundred British pennies, the very next day somebody sent me the very same code in a PSN mail. Cheers for that.

Conundrum 2: Disk space

I have an original 40GB PS3 which I promptly upgraded to 250GB shortly after purchase when I realised that 40GB really means 36GB minus firmware updates minus game installs minus downloaded trailers minus downloaded demos minus patches. Minus 10GB for Linux – but, let’s not talk about that *crushes her ceramic coffee cup in her hand* Whoops, where was I.

When I upgraded, I had one PSN game: Echochrome. I backed up, restored, and lo and behold the game crashed with an error and I had to re-download it. It still gives a weird error but it loads and plays ok now. Today I have, oh I don’t know, a billion PSN downloads, say, just as an approximation. It has reached a point where I deleted all trailers, music, demos, Qore and FirstPlay episodes, game data for games I traded in and now can’t install anything unless I delete game data for games I’m still actually playing. This is bad. The fact the SingStar beta uses 23GB doesn’t help.

I’ll admit, I was naïve. When I got the machine I thought, what on Earth does anyone need 40GB in a console for? And sure, 2 USB ports? Well who needs 4 anyway? Glory days my friends. Little did I know that PS3 games load like old ZX Spectrum tape games the first time you run them. Who knew that in the days of 50GB Bluray disks that you would for some bizarre reason have to install the game? Why did I stop playing PC games again? Oh yes, that’s right, it’s because I didn’t want to faff around setting them up.

I remember not-so-fondly the day I carried my bloody heavy as f*ck PS3 home from the post office. A 10 minute walk took me 45 minutes and a hernia that day. It was the GT5 Prologue bundle. I slammed that sucker into the Bluray drive and proceeded to wait over an hour as it installed 6GB of data then downloaded a series of patches so enormous that it made a Windows Vista install feel as fast and satisfying as a teenage boy jerking off. Satisfying for the boy I mean, not me. Jesus you people, control yourselves.

So, what’s a geek girl to do? The obvious answer lay in the form of a 640GB drive on Amazon. Unfortunately, I have nothing large enough to back up on that also has a USB cable coming out of it, and well, do I really want to download 250GB of games, patches, add-ons, themes, demos, 400 SingStar songs and all the other gunk on 3 accounts all over again? Do I? Really? Thought not.

So I’m struggling on, regularly beating down unnecessarily used disk space like a Turkish wife-beater. Except for that 10GB I used for Linux of course, which can’t be recovered without reformatting – but, let’s not talk about that *stubs her cigarette out in the eye of a random passer by*

Conundrum 3: What is the iPad actually for?

I alluded earlier to the imaginary twat-like appearance that would arise were I found sitting on the floor in GameStop using an iPad. In reality, I have purple and orange hair so I look like a twat anyway, but this is besides the point. A silver iPad wouldn’t help, I’m pretty sure of that. Especially if I put it in my underwear (as I have become accustomed to doing with pads) and waddled around like Donald Duck with a severe case of constipation going “Quaaack!”.

The iPad hype is really getting on my tits. Not literally, fortunately, or I’d have to burn them off without anesthetic as part of a soul-cleansing ritual. Partly it’s getting on my tits because like all gadget freaks, I want one. Moreso, it’s getting on my tits because the world now thinks Apple is God’s gift to tablet PCs. Next they’ll tell us their company is named after the fact that it was actually Steve Jobs who discovered gravity, then improved it to make it more convenient and a better user experience (the iFall).

Do you feel tired in the mornings? Don’t worry – there’s an app for that.

Do you have problems getting laid? Well, there’s an app for that too. I always thought it was the bogs behind the train station, but apparently I was mistaken.

I have some questions though. Is there an app that lets me run Flash applets? I believe there was, it was called Adobe Creative Suite 5, and Apple banned it due to fear of sub-standard applications. Well, if you want to talk about sub-standard Steve-o, let’s talk about an $800 slate that doesn’t multi-task, can’t take photos and has no USB ports. There’s really only one reason to own an iPad: compensation for having an exceedingly small nob. I’m excluding nofi of course, his nob is huge obviously – trust me, I of all people should know – and just has one to be smug. You could do with cleaning it a bit more often though nofi or it gets nasty flecks on it. The iPad I mean. Obviously.

“But it looks so cool!” – yeah, so does clamydia, on paper. It has no symptoms except making me infertile. A win-win situation surely. Still don’t think I’d want to acquire it though.

Also, the tablet PC I have now has this futuristic thing called buttons. Which turn out to be pretty important.

Overall, I think The Sun summed it up best (perhaps the first time they have ever summed up anything accurately) in this classic commercial:

FirstPlay: Epilogue

After receiving an almost unanimous bashing from the readers of this esteemed organ for my derisory 5/10 rating of FirstPlay, I did as promised give it a fair chance. I’ve now seen 7 episodes. What do I think of it?

*Yawn*

Yes, it’s good for casual gamers who won’t spend 99p on something they know nothing about anyway and probably don’t check the store often. Yes, it’s good to sit and watch it on the sofa as you wait an hour for it to download and wonder why you’re using 2.5% of your disk space for the pleasure when it would have been much more plausible as a streaming service. Yes, it’s wonderful to pay for ads. I certainly have had a huge amount of enjoyment watching ads for Final Fantasy XIII, Just Cause 2 and Sky for 7 weeks in a row. Final Fantasy XIII is coming in March by the way, just in case you missed it – not long to wait now!

So, everything is peachy for casual gamers then. But what about the more hobbyist-oriented souls among us?

Well, I’m pleased to report that as of now the content is bang up-to date. There is tons of exclusive footage, no repetition and the featured downloads are updated regularly. Luckily the issues with the FIFA goals only using up 25% of the screen so you can’t actually see the ball, and similar problems with PSP reviews have been fixed, and the presenter has been changed to one without an annoying voice. Also the script-writing has improved dramatically. So as we can see, Future has taken all the user feedback on-board and made sweeping changes where needed.

Sorry, wait. Scratch that last paragraph, I was thinking of GameSpot. FirstPlay is still a space-guzzling abyss of mediocrity. Which at least makes it marginally better than Edge – although to be fair Edge does have an excellent pen touch interface built-in. I’m looking forward to FirstPlay’s relaunch as FirstPr0n, because let’s face it, only porn can save it now. Hence, Lucy Porter should be visible on-screen at all times.

Marc Whitten – Natal Supports Your (Football) Team

Whichever one that is. Well thank goodness for that, the world is saved.

For those of you who missed it, Microsoft VP of Genius Unfounded Speculation – Marc Whitten – announced that Natal can now sit on your sofa, analyse your t-shirt and know from that which football team you support.

Awesomesauce. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s talking bollocks. As you know I do love a good session of mocking the PlayStation Move, but I will have even less compunction in slamming down baseless claims about a piece of vapourware coming out for an unfinished product. So I’m sitting watching porn from my amazing lesbian porn server, wearing my customary white nurse’s uniform. In the voice of Stephen Hawking, Natal informs me that I’m watching a Plymouth Argyle away match and that the pitch condition is poor, with a lot of sand cover and mud in patches. I try to turn it off but it has become a sentient being hooked up to SkyNet. It jeers at me knowing full well that if I had bought a Move I could’ve used it as an integral part of my educational viewing.

Yes, Natal team support: just what I always wanted.

Enjoy your weekend my chickens; if you don’t hear from me again, it’s because by the time you read this the Conservatives have won and I’ve hung myself with piano wire.

Review: FirstPlay

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that the blog is a complete repository of my written work. The article is reproduced without pagination, formatting, images or editorial changes made on the original site prior to original publication.

Wotta already did a nice First Impressions of FirstPlay yesterday. I’ve now watched two beta episodes and the first official release; here’s my quite different take.

FirstPlay is Future Publishing’s attempt to create an interactive gaming magazine for your PlayStation 3. Veteran gamers may already be familiar with Qore – also an interactive gaming magazine – available on the US PSN store.

FirstPlay

FirstPlay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re not reading this in the UK, you can stop now – or you can make a UK PSN account. FirstPlay is temporarily only available in the UK – though see the end of the review for more information.

So, what’s it all about? Well, each week there are four sections: HD Reviews & Previews, Network Highlights, Screenshot Galleries and Featured Downloads. The names pretty much speak for themselves. Comedienne Lucy Porter is the narrator, and I’m pleased to say the scriptwriting has improved considerably since the beta – although there are still problems. Unlike Veronica Belmont and Audrey Cleo in Qore, Lucy doesn’t appear on camera which makes things feel a little disconnected.

The Reviews section includes game reviews as you would expect, and also the odd Bluray movie review. Screenshot Galleries shows concept art from various recently released or forthcoming games, with narration for each picture. Featured Downloads has items for download – naturally – and the Network Content section is broken up into round-ups of minis, PSN games, top LittleBigPlanet levels and, pleasantly, a summary of what’s currently on the video store.

Is it any good then? Well, my impression is that the content is generally out of date. Reviews of Just Cause 2 and God of War 3 (released 26th and 16th March respectively in my territory) do not exactly make for timely viewing on 8th April when we’ve all already read the reviews on TSA, and maybe guiltily snook over to a rival web site to check out the free video reviews. This leads to another problem: it is clear that Future are inexperienced in TV production. The visuals are excellent and sharp, however the script has obviously been designed for print, which leads to a situation where the humour doesn’t work so well when spoken, and the reviews are shallow because you’d normally see them in a 2 or 3-page spread in Official PlayStation Magazine. The reviews are short and certainly don’t go into the kind of depth you’d see on for example on a GameSpot video review.

Even the ads are out of date as I was informed that Final Fantasy XIII would be ‘coming in March’. The level of ad annoyance has been ramped up since the beta; you can now no longer skip the ads until you’ve seen them all, and they appear before every article and when the magazine first loads. There are handy links to the advertised items on PSN though, where applicable.

The Network Highlights section is probably the most interesting due to its varied content that you may have missed elsewhere. One of the beta episodes had a SingStar Top Ten videos of the week and that was certainly entertaining. The various round-ups here are helpful and well thought out, and I really enjoyed this part.

The featured downloads were grossly out of date in the betas; in episode 1 you get a FirstPlay theme and a Just Cause 2 mini-add-on. I am not quite sure what we should expect of them here, but for me it was rather uninspiring. It has potential, but I think if we can’t come up with a more interesting selection, it might just be better to drop this section altogether and consolidate the others.

One missing feature I would like to see is the ability to just simply watch it like a TV show. FirstPlay and Qore both suffer from this: you can’t just sit and watch it all the way through while you eat your dinner; you have to click often, and the articles are short.

The interface itself is smooth and well-designed, although I do wish the left and right arrow buttons were reversed because everything always seems to scroll the wrong way in the menus.

One very worrying thing I noticed is that during one of the game reviews, a little overlay video of one of the developers making some comments on the game appeared in the corner. Developers should not be involved in reviews in any way. If a review publisher goes to a developer and asks them to say something about the game because they’re writing a review, are they really going to give it a bad score?

Some of you may be wondering how FirstPlay stacks up against its more expensive but monthly ‘rival’ Qore. Not that well, unfortunately. Over the course of a month, 4 episodes of FirstPlay are going to pile up more content than one episode of Qore, but the content is comparatively weak. There are at this time no early release demos or betas on offer, but most importantly, there are no real features or interviews to speak of, just reviews. One of the things that makes Qore worth looking at occasionally is they have developer interviews, they visit the studios and show the production process in action, and so on. In other words, real features that cost real money to produce. So far, FirstPlay has none of this. Except for the 30-second aside I mentioned above, all of the articles are composed entirely of gameplay footage with Lucy’s voice superimposed on it – there is no camera work at all.

Pros:

  • Network-related feature articles are excellent
  • Good if you’re a more casual gamer who doesn’t rush out for the latest releases or visit gaming sites regularly
  • Very cheap

Cons:

  • Out of date if you do buy new releases and read gaming sites
  • Featured Downloads are very weak
  • Reviews are light on content and detail

FirstPlay won’t take you more than half an hour or so to watch, which makes the repeated clicking even more troublesome. With only 3 game (p)reviews, 1 movie review and the 4 network features to hold your interest each week, it will take some of us longer to download than to enjoy.

The huge benefit of FirstPlay for the non-hardcore, is that it is dirt cheap, and comes often. I resist the urge to write a joke where this sentence is. At 99p an episode or £8.99 for about 12 episodes over 3 months (Qore at $2.99/month or $24.99 for a year equates to £2 or just over £16 for 12 episodes per year), it is absolutely worth buying a single episode just to see if it is to your taste. This leaves us wondering exactly who the intended audience is, though. The only people likely to pay for what is essentially highly glorified trailers and advertising are the enthusiast gamers, and they have probably already seen most of the content for free on the web. When you consider that many developer diaries, producer interviews and other interesting material is now being pumped out regularly on PSN for free, Future will be under some serious pressure to up their game over the coming months.

On the subject of regional limitations: I would like to note that Future invited me to the second beta of FirstPlay after I lambasted them on TSA a few weeks ago, then told me I couldn’t have it because I lived in Norway; so I simply usurped a copy from one of my colleagues, as I did with the launch episode. Then they sent me several emails reminding me of the release date and encouraging me to make the purchase. Not good form – I would have paid if given the opportunity.

Future have, however, stated they are hoping to bring the service to other countries soon. We waited about 8 months for VidZone and we’re still waiting for the video store, so let’s hope they can overcome any logistical hurdles as quickly as possible.

In summary: buy one episode and see if you like it – it’s so cheap you can’t really go wrong for a one-time purchase. For me, I think the publishers have overstretched themselves by trying to create a weekly edition; the excellent interface and visuals are outweighed by thin content, short articles and advertising, which it made it a completely average experience.

5/10


 

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