Archive

Posts Tagged ‘PlayStation 3’

The Gaming Rant 14

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

This is an unedited, uncensored version of a previously unpublished article originally written for another site, included here so that fans can read the uncensored versions.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.

Weekly Rants are banned. Like an angry pit bull terrier, I have been muzzled and chained, my freedom to viciously attack whoever I want repealed (Bob and I actually play golf together now; his Bugatti Veyron is awesome too). I hate my job. My boss is made of evuls. WHERE ARE MY BISCUITS?

So how do we do a weekly rant in a journalisticly acceptable way when my keyboard has the freedom of speech potency equivalent to a Blackberry in Dubai? First, we have to rant about things rather than people. Luckily, Killzone 2 Psychologist Cocaine Guy can probably be classified as a thing due to his sub-human observational capacity. Then we throw in a comment like, “but otherwise, he’s a top bloke and we love him to bits”. Future Publishing taught me everything I know (this is a lie; we love Future Publishing to bits).

The second thing we’re going to do is change the title from ‘Weekly’ to ‘Whenever’. This is because my TV-watching requirements are vastly more important than my desire to entertain you with cutting-edge prose.

Finally, we are not going to actually rant anymore. Instead, we are going to muse. This is the same as ranting, but with some anti-depressants thrown in, plus it sounds politically correct.

Let’s get serious for just a moment, though. The facts are that TSA is maturing, the industry is watching us more closely, so we have to try and be a bit professional. We haven’t set our sights too high though: our editorial policy is now to compare each article against the day’s headline story in the Daily Mail, and if our article contains less inaccuracies, prejudice and misleading statements, it’s good to go. Unfortunately, in an ironic double-lie, the Daily Mail also taught me everything I know, so maintaining journalistic integrity can be trying at times.

A word of thanks: I had an unbelievable amount of PSN mails from strangers and colleagues alike asking me where the Weekly Rant had gone and when it was coming back. I was going to come up with a triple lie (after all, the Conservative Party taught me everything I know), but the truth of the matter is I have actually been rather sick. In my head, not my body. I’m not proud of it, but Peter was kind enough to give me some time off. Changing ‘Weekly’ to ‘Whenever’ is really a contingency in case I get sick again. I shall soldier on and do my best. I really appreciate all the kind messages you all sent and it inspired me to continue, and I do mean that: thank you all very much. I’m also glad you all realise that when I slag you off, what I really mean is you’re top blokes and lasses and I love you to bits.

Now, moving onto business, I trust you all thought of me when Germany plastered England that weekend. Oh how I laughed. It was, of course, as predictable as a 2011 Call of Duty subscription, but there we go. It was a well-deserved defeat naturally. How much money did I make betting on Germany all those matches instead of England? Enough to get a rather tasty HTC Desire, which, if you are for some strange reason considering an iPhone 4, I can strongly recommend as a proper phone.

Move It

You can’t spell muse without Move. I reckon. You may remember I spent some months bashing everyone’s favourite vibrating wand earlier in the year. I declared many times I was totally uninterested in it and would likely never buy one. So it was a certain amount of looking suspiciously over my shoulder that I went to collect my pre-order when it arrived. “Too big” for the postbox said the note from the postman. Okay – is it too big to fit through my front door? No, it isn’t. Don’t make me walk for 7 minutes when you could make me walk for 0. There’s a reason gamers use motion controllers rather than actual motion.

So did it perform ‘the desired function’? It’s a toss up (see what I did there?) between the Move and the HTC. Dildroid certainly has comedy value, but it is somewhat reminiscent of the Apollo 13 mission: how do you fit a square plug into a round hole? Kids, I’m talking about USB-to-mini adapters *looks around* (pretty sure they had those in the 60s)

But I digress. I wrote 20 pages of stuff about the Move just now, but for those of you with real lives to attend to, I can sum it up in one sentence. It’s as I expected: a couple of decent games in a whole lot of dross. Who’s with me?

I should imagine anyone who isn’t interested in Move or EyeToy, sorry, Kinect, must be absolutely sick and tired of all the coverage by now. I know I am. What I want is for the press to inform me when there are some good Move games actually out with high scoring reviews, and in the meantime just please, PLEASE be quiet.

Scenes From Around The Web

1. PlayStation Hacking: Breaking News

Good news everybody. The PSJailbreak has now been officially ported to a ham and cheese sandwich, and here is a in-no-way fake video to prove it:

2. Gold PlayStation 3

For just a snip at £587.44 plus presumably an extortionate amount of shipping and insurance, you can now snag your very own gold PS3, phat, 40GB – so hopefully it comes with something lower than firmware 3.41, eh, eh? 😛

http://www.goldgenie.com/gold-playstaion-p-79.html

Check it out. For an even lower bargain price, you can get your existing PS3 or 360 gold-plated. Oh how the people who pre-ordered Gran Turismo 5 Signature Edition are going to regret that when they see what they could have had for only slightly less money instead.

3. Failure

I did a Google search on “PlayStation Move A&E admissions” but sadly nothing yet. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you guys on this one. Thank God Sony didn’t put a hamster in the orb.

The Summer Drought

You knew I had to mention this. Anyone here remember when a drought used to refer to a water shortage? This year the studios have been paranoically obsessed with preventing us from playing any games whatsoever in the months of July and August. My goodness, we live on a rotating, erm, orb, which is tilted just enough to produce seasons, big deal – but it is exactly this irritating 22.5 degree tilt that I hold directly responsible for manipulating the behaviour of the studios.

Obviously, we need to come up with a plan. I get all my ideas from video games so I reckon I have some sensible solutions at hand already. We could move everyone underwater, or destroy the Sun. Covering the sky with an opaque black dome could work – no wait, we’ll use a massive projection of some kids pretending to be dogs, Kinect does need all the help it can get after all.

OR… we could actually vote with our wallets, buy more games in the summer and less in the winter to make a point. That is pretty tricky I realise when all you’ve got to choose from is a flight simulator, an inferior 50s clone of GTA IV and a shooter which looks like it’s streaming on YouTube (can you figure out all three?!), but I think we really need to do something about this. What did I have to play over the summer? Green Day Rock Band. And there is really only so much inane spouting of random political messages I can take in my video games. Just kidding – we love Green Day to bits.

Medal of Honor Tali-banned

First let me re-assure everyone that I strung colossalblue up with nipple tongs in a public dungeon and paraded him until he promised never to write a gag line like that again (he has no chest hair, it was really humiliating for both of us).

Now. Call of Duty yada yada same old same old. We’re on the same page right? Good. So, what was the one thing I was looking forward to in Spack Ops?

The ability to play the Taliban. Be the bad guy. Why? Am I a secret terrorist extremist with an IED in my cleavage? No, it’s because, and Daily Mail readers do take careful note here: It lets me do something I would never do in real life.

Jesus Christ. In Killzone 2 I killed thousands of Helghast. How do we know they weren’t the good guys and that we were victims of anti-Helghast propaganda? In EndWar I played the Russians, and let’s note that over half of the Europeans online also chose the Russians (amusingly, nearly all US players choose to play the US, so pathetically patriotic – can you tell they’ve been brainwashed by the media much?). And in SingStar, I played Devil’s advocate. Hell, I can call my EyePet Pope Benedict if I want, and God only knows what kind of game he’d be in (I’m thinking a blend of Dante’s Inferno and Milo). No, just kidding, we love Pope Benedict to bits. Sometimes he loves Milo to bits as well. And yet, I can’t play the Taliban in a war game set in Afghanistan? If that happened in a film, everyone would turn round and say, hang on a minute, aren’t we sort of missing one of the core elements of the war in Afghanistan here? Dismal EA, dismal.

1 million free TSA points and a smooth banhammer to the person who writes “FIRST!” before anyone else. Have a good weekend 🙂

The Gaming Rant 11

June 10, 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. Video games make children violent – I should know, I’ve had to kill a few already just in self-defence.

If I’m honest, apart from my nurse kindly asking me to remove her from being set as my mum on Facebook, nothing really stands out as getting on my tits this week. Sure, my wisdom tooth is still being a bitch, but finishing Prince of Persia was like pulling teeth so it kind of balanced itself out. Hot girls I can’t shag are still cruising around in their bikinis on the street, and the reflective glare of the Sun’s rays bouncing off their perfectly formed breasts and into my living room is still rendering my extraordinarily expensive TV completely useless for playing video games during daylight hours. Which is becoming a bit of a problem, because it never really gets dark at the moment in Norway.

Lesbians are still chatting me up on Facebook, and they still fall into the same tedious categories: ugly, psychopathic, sporty, on the other side of the planet or in a relationship. Usually all five. Not a single Scandinavian woman has answered my plea for attenshunz. Oh well, my PS3 loves me and he’ll never leave me *glances nervously over to check it didn’t YLoD as I said that*

My friends are all still broke and never want to go clubbing or even for dinner. My office is still as hot as Cameron from House being dipped in an acid cauldron and then dowsed off with boiling water. My ability to acquire new games is still based on short selling Credit Default Swaps.

Yes, all in all it’s a pretty standard summer, with one exception: Federer got knocked out of a grand slam. Oh how I laughed.

DJ Hero 2

Sub-ordinate 1: *pointing at map of Germany on the table* “Hip-hop and rap DJs are appearing on PlayStations in several locations. We have tried to make an advance of trance and house music but Activision are blocking us. At the current rate we estimate that no teenager will have heard of trance music by 2011.”

Me: *waving finger in the air* “Not a problem, DJ Hero 2 will fix that.”

*long pause*

Sub-ordinate 1: *sweating* “Mein Führer… DJ Hero 2…”

Sub-ordinate 2: “DJ Hero 2 will feature Metallica, Rihanna, Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers and the sultry sounds of Lady Gaga. There is no trance music.”

Me: *takes off glasses, my hand shaking* “All of you who do not owned Clubland Smashed, please leave the room.”

WHAT THE F*CK! In January Bob Kotick specifically came out and said, and I directly misquote: “We made a mistake with DJ Hero …. the next instalment will be more Europe-centric.” Of course, rather than hiring actual Europeans with cultural knowledge to help them with that, they just left it to their bunch of retarded American in-bred cousins to do the research, and we all know how good Americans are with European culture.

“Ow I love Europe!”

“Really, so what do you know about it?”

Yeah, fuck all, that’s what I thought.

“Ow I really want to go to Europe!”

“Really, which part? There are 39 countries in Europe last I checked”

Yeah, you really have no effing idea as long as you’re on the continent. Go to Belarus – our last remaining dictatorship – that’s in Europe, let us know if you still love it then. Or if you’re from Alabama, come to Norway and let us know your views on homosexuality, see how well that goes down (it’s safe to say that because Alabama only has dial-up internet at the moment). Actually don’t, I don’t want your fat ugly ass spoiling the view from my balcony when you’re standing at the other end of town. Next you’re going to tell us English people have bad teeth and that you loved the latest episode of Fawlty Towers in a vain attempt to be socially relevant.

So with such a geographically competence-challenged population, it’s not really any wonder that Activision thought I would appreciate Metallica. I mean, they already have it licensed so it’s cheap, right? Because I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to a nightclub with the guys at Whatstheirface Studio who developed DJ Hero, the first thing we always do is look at each other while the beats are pounding and say, “Hey, you know what would liven things up a bit? A nice bit of Metallica.” The funny thing is, they are never actually playing Metallica when we arrive. I wonder if there’s a reason for that? Perhaps Europeans, say, don’t want to fucking listen to Metallica when they’re expecting to hear dance music.

You useless bunch of cocks. Oh and BTW, thanks for not bothering to put the free DJ Hero 2 mix on the European PSN store yesterday. Assholes.

PSN Maintenance Timing

Speaking of blazé ineptitude, whose bright idea was it to take the PSN down for 12 hours on exactly the same day it was updated with a ton of new stuff? I mean, I don’t know if you’ve checked your calendars lately Sony, but there are 7 days in the week. Maybe 5 in yours because you’re lazy sods, but that still leaves – I think – 4 days where you can do an update that won’t interfere with my impulse buying addiction. I got the shakes on Wednesday when I couldn’t log on to buy pointless crap I don’t want or need. What were you thinking?

SCE really are the masters of timing aren’t they? So we’re bringing out God of War 3 on 16th March, let’s be sure to engineer a massive world-wide stock shortage to hit the same week.

Christmas is coming! Make sure the factories are closed by November.

Microsoft cut the price of the 360 two years ago and got a huge market share lead. Maybe we should cut the price of ours soon?

Apple just came out with the iPhone 3GS! Let’s release a portable device with no touch screen that also can’t make phone calls, but costs disproportionately more and has far less applications, which also cost more. Just to throw in some further insults, let’s make sure it only supports wireless b and not g, won’t work with WPA2-PSK and doesn’t have predictive texting. The PSPgo does have some things in common with the iPad though: no USB ports, no camera and no Flash support; so it’s not all bad news.

Then they cut off PSN on the same day that IGN’s highest ever rated PSN game is released (Joe Danger). Seriously, you’d think Sony wants to lose money sometimes.

Please release some rubbish games

The summer dry spell. Orly? Yes, June is a dry spell alright: with only Soldner-X 2, Joe Danger, SBK X, Green Day Rock Band, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Naughty Bear, Singularity, Demon’s Souls and Transformers: Cybertron and probably Quantum Theory shortly afterwards to tide us over, how on Earth are we going to manage?!

Now I don’t know about you, but I still haven’t got round to Super Stardust HD yet, which got me thinking. The game studios must surely be losing money by not developing more slowly and staggering the releases, and I’m sure I’m not the only one getting frustrated with the sheer volume of high quality games being released in the last year or so. When there are more blockbuster games being released than blockbuster movies, you know we’ve got a problem. The solution, of course, is to adopt the movie industry’s approach: produce more shit.

If we can’t slow down these developers, we need to tweak them to produce worse games instead. That way, we won’t have to spend so much money, and we’ll have more time to play the good titles. On top of that, the studios producing the slop will go bankrupt and we’ll prune down the number of people working on new titles as a bonus. And I just happen to have some ideas!

Modern Warfare 3: it will be set in 14th century Italy and you will control a guy called Ezio. There will be no guns, only fists and sword play. That should hopefully kill this stupid franchise dead once and for all.

Damnation 2: get all of Infinity Ward, sorry, I meant Respawn of course, working on it. There is no need to inform them that it needs to be as bad as possible; with half of the IP missing they don’t have a hope in hell of making it any good anyway; a self-solving problem.

DJ Hero 2: for this we just need to pick some incredibly inappropriate artists for the game. I’m thinking Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, Rihanna, the sultry sounds of Lady Gaga and ooh, of course.. Metallica! …. *person puts a note on my desk which I read* … *looks up* You are joking, right? … Oh.

Girl-pulling Skillz: I Haz Dem

Hm, perhaps I’ve been reading too much “Please May I Have A Cheeseburger Dot Com?” lately. But anyway, at the risk of turning my weekly rant into a personal blog, those of you who were amused by my weak escapades in GameStop and Platekompaniet the other week will deeply relish the personal hell I suffered through today. I have thinly veiled it below as in some way being vaguely relevant to video games, but really it isn’t.

We are of course talking about the girl behind the counter in Kiwi (a Norwegian grocery store chain). Who else? This girl has teased me with her cute smiles, grins and giggles ever since the innocuous little words “you’re pretty, by the way” may have inadvertently slipped out of my mouth as I was walking off with my shopping 2 months ago.

Ever since that day, going into that shop has been like playing Far Cry 2. First, reconnaissance. Patrol the area. Determine if she is on the counter while retaining the maximum possible distance from the store entrance. If so, enter Bioshock mode: turn your head in the other direction and pretend to scratch your ear when entering to avoid detection – this is like avoiding the video cameras in Rapture. I have tried hacking them before to disable them but I got arrested, so I had to knock that on the head.

I tend not to use the Uncharted 2 cover system while I’m in the grocery store because it can lead to some funny looks, especially when you vault over cover from one aisle to the next, shopping cart in tow. Who said video games affected my behaviour eh? So instead, I take the Modern Warfare 2 approach: go prone and crawl to the counter.

Today though, I didn’t have my game head on, and broke all ranks. Instead, I chatted her up with five people behind me in the queue and a bunch of people to my side, which she seemed to take well. Like all good stalkers who use video games for their training, I stood in the longer queue so I was served by the girl in question (also called “the currently selected target”, she was highlighted in pretty on my HUD, and trust me, if I had an “objective marker” it would have been pointing straight at her; as it happened I only had an extremely small spray can). I went home kicking myself as usual.

And then something different happened. An unexpected plot twist. I said, you know what? Fuck it.

So I put my boots back on and walked back to the store – I returned to the last checkpoint to retry a failed mission. Unfortunately the target had levelled up to her lunch break and I had to engage in a side quest of asking the manager for “the girl who was on the counter an hour ago”. This went down about as well as giving a dozen roses to the Helghast, so before I got mowed down with an incendiary device I meleed my way the hell out of there and looted a coffee and some cigarettes from some NPC shopkeepers to regen my stamina. The target’s lunch break was 45 minutes and let me tell you, those minutes in the park and the coffee house passed like days. It was at this point when I wished real life took as long to load each area as ModNation Racers, but unfortunately real life has been designed with background streaming, an idea blatantly stolen from Asheron’s Call. I sat re-assigning my gadgets (cellphone and PSPgo), thinking the mission was perhaps too high level for me, but after the regen and freshly buffed from coffee, I went back and re-acquired the target.

The boss fight was, to be honest, much easier than anticipated, all I had to do was hand her a low-level Slightly Chewed Pen, then endure four hours of Alpha Protocol-style SMS dialogue to which there are no right or wrong answers, only reputation points and three choices of answer: Suave, Professional or Cocky. Fortunately I worked up my reputation enough to unlock a higher level mission – coffee at about the time this will be published on some web site the name of which I’ve temporarily forgotten.

Wish me luck. It’s been four years since I unlocked a quest of this difficulty level. And no, I do not want to form a pick-up group with you to help me complete it. This one I’m doing solo.

Top Ten: When The Game Beats You

April 12, 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.

Thanks to TSA reader deadpixel for inspiring me with this idea a few weeks ago.

Hardcore gamers can be spotted from miles away by the way they react when they get stuck on a video game. Like the honey badger – known for its testicle-eating abilities – gamers give off signals to the rest of their species, and over time they develop a fixed set of responses to cope with any tricky gaming situation that may arise. Let’s take a look at what happens when a gamer is defeated in battle.

Cuss wildly – usually the first port of call for the disgruntled gamer, stringing together a succession of the worst words you can conjure up is a natural stress reliever. A few deep breaths later and you’re prepared for the next bout. Swearing quantity and volume increases proportionally to the number of defeats, and if there are too many of these said defeats, may be accompanied by a short break and the lighting of a cigarette by the less health-conscious player.

Assault your peripherals – stage two of your rage can be fulfilled by the swift ejection of the controller from your hand in a quick downward thrusting motion. Often combined with cussing wildly for added effect, we have all come to expect that controllers are basically indestructible – my main controller alone has been thrown onto the floor at least 17 million times. And that was just in my last four or five FIFA 10 matches.

Have… just one more go – you know the syndrome. This time I’m gonna nail that little b*stard. I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’ve memorized the route, the map, the timing, the button pushes. This time it’s gonna be perfect! Repeat a dozen times. Two dozen if it’s that bloody Astro Tripper game.

Enter Focus Mode – focus mode is what separates the hardcore from the casual. In Focus Mode, you sit at the edge of your seat, lean forwards, sit right in the center view of the TV, re-position the controller slightly in your hands, stare in tunnel vision at the screen and put your mind in “extra-hard concentration mode”, hoping that reducing your screen distance by 2 inches and the reduced viewing angle will make all the difference. It doesn’t, of course. Yet we never learn.

Google “Name of game + walkthrough” – face it, we’ve all done it: “Mirror’s Edge mall level walkthrough”. We wouldn’t tell anyone though. Personally I’m a n00b – I’m interested in the journey, I have no interest in repeating the same section over and over, so when trouble arises, I will have no compunction to sheepishly resort to gamefaqs.com and find the walkthrough. Besides, if I didn’t, I’d never complete anything.

Change the difficulty level – one for the real pussies, and it raises that awful dilemma: what about those elusive gold and platinum trophies? If I drop down to Only Slightly Hardcore difficulty, I’m screwed for XP. Wimps like me have these days resigned to starting on Easy anyway and begrudgingly sacrificing the silverware, but I certainly don’t expect that kind of slack behaviour from readers of this esteemed publication. Only beta testers and reviewers can be that lazy.

Bust up some n00bs in another game – getting your ass handed to you on a plate in COD: World At War? Try Peggle instead. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of making it personal: some revenge payback at innocent bystanders in another game will refresh you, restore your confidence and give you that impetus you need to go back and wipe the floor with them.

Lie – an excellent way to look good, if you’ve almost finished the game but can’t nail that last boss, just say you completed it anyway. Hell, what are they gonna know? I did 48 of the 51 events in GRID and couldn’t be bothered with the last three. I said I completed it anyway. “Couldn’t be bothered” is a good PR spin too: instead of saying “I sucked too much to finish it”, you’re saying “I’m so good I don’t need to prove my worth; I have more important fish to fry”.

Cheat – SingStar has a trophy for scoring over 90% on hard on 5 songs. Screw that. If I wanted to witness my ex-boyfriend’s balls shrinking to the size of shriveled little peanuts as he squeals out Leona Lewis’s cover of Run I would just fondle him with some ice cubes. Instead, I took the professional approach and let someone else log into my account to do it for me. I still get PSN mails to this day asking “wow, how did you get that trophy?”. Changing the date and time is good for cheating too.

Never admit defeat – last but not least, this is in fact the very First Commandment in true gaming. Never, never, EVER admit you couldn’t do something. Always have excuses ready for why you only got the bronze trophies. Say you’ll come back to it when you have time. Say your console broke, or the dog ate the controller. Say anything, just whatever you do, don’t admit failure or weakness of any kind. Your street cred will be destroyed instantly – more specifically, you’ll become a gay n00b.

Have a great weekend everybody!


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


 

Top Ten: April Fools Jokes (Previously Unpublished)

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a previous unpublished article originally written for 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.

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt the technical tricks described in this article unless you are sure you know what you are doing. Neither TheSixthAxis nor myself accepts any responsibility for hardware or software you break or brick, whether you followed the instructions properly or not. Some of the items below are quite irresponsible and should be handled with extreme caution.

As we all know, there’s nothing funnier than annoying another person and wasting their time, so here are some quick April Fool’s Day tips for you:

System Failure: The PG Version

Make a file called index.html and upload it to a web server with the following content:

<html><head><title>PlayStation 3 System Failure</title></head><body style=”background-color: red”><div style=”font-size: 72pt; font-weight: bold; color: black”>WARNING: A fatal system error has occurred. Please contact your nearest Sony representative for assistance. Error code 4PR17-F001.</div></body></html>

Open your friend’s PS3 web browser to the site you’ve uploaded to then turn the TV off. Enjoy the look on their face as they come home for some nice gaming and switch on to see the failure message.

System Failure: The Hardcore Unrated Version

Install Linux on your friend’s PS3. Set Firefox or Opera to start by default and set the homepage to the same page as above. Set the OS to auto-login. Remove your friend’s keyboard.

Result: every time he turns on his PS3 he’ll be greeted with the failure message with no way to start any games or other applications. To put the machine back to normal, type “boot-game-os” at the prompt when it is turned on.

Screw up PSN connectivity

Add a entry in your friend’s router or firewall to block “*.playstation.net”. Or you can just go into your friend’s PS3’s network settings and change the static IP to something random. However the first method works best as he will check all his PS3 network settings and be unable to find the problem.

Result: all the other machines on your friend’s LAN will work but his PS3 won’t be able to log in.

The Modern Warfare 2 variant

This is a classic if your friend is a Call of Duty whore. Simply block port 3074 on his router. His PS3 will go online and all the games will work but he won’t be able to find any matches in Modern Warfare 2.

Force firmware update on every boot

Make a series of directories in the root of your web site (usually httpdocs) as follows: /update/ps3/list/eu. Replace ‘eu’ with ‘us’ if you’re in the US. In this folder, make a file called ps3-updatelist.txt (case-sensitive) with the following text:

# EU

Dest=85;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.1500-;

Dest=85;ImageVersion=0000948f;SystemSoftwareVersion=13.3370;CDN=http://deu01.ps3.update.playstation.net/update/ps3/image/eu/2009_1210_54ee80e14e479f8351a988eb9a472072/PS3UPDAT.PUP;CDN_Timeout=30;

Replace the number 13.3370 with any number that amuses you.

This file tells the PS3 what the latest firmware version is and where to download it from. Now you need to trick the PS3 into checking this file instead of the official one. For that, install ettercap on a Linux box or use a program like PS3.Proxy.GUI for Windows.

Spoof fus01.ps3.update.playstation.net to point to the IP address of your web site. Tutorial here (just replace ps3news.com’s IP with your own, the rest of the instructions are the same):

http://www.ps3news.com/forums/ps3-guides-tutorials/ps3-firmware-version-check-bypassed-thread-55789.html

Result: every single time your friend turns on his PS3 he’ll be made to download a firmware update (the file above will just cause firmware 3.15 to be re-downloaded) – which will no doubt drive him crazy.

The AV Scrambler

Does your friend have a TV with multiple inputs, or an amp? Re-arrange every video and audio cable arbitrarily. I have 8 inputs on my TV and 11 on my amp, and they’re all used. That would drive me absolutely crazy. For added effect, make sure to mismatch the audio and video cables for different devices so that when he changes input he gets the video for one device and the sound for another. When he detects the ruse, tell him his girlfriend was trying to get the Wiimote to connect.

Parental lock

Set the parental lock to its highest restriction level with a random PIN code. A quick solution to preventing many of his games from working.

Change background

Another easy classic, change your friend’s XMB background to porn or something equally offensive for when he switches it on in front of someone else.

Set system language to Japanese

Speaks for itself.

The Disk Scrambler

My personal favourite. My initial thoughts here were to use the grouping options to completely mess up the location of your friend’s PSN games. But then I had a better idea. It only works if your friend has a lot of Bluray games, say more than 40.

Assuming they are arranged horizontally on the shelf, take each disk out of the Bluray case and place it in the Bluray case 4 items to the left. Put the left-most 4 in the right-most 4 cases. In other words, all of the game boxes should remain in the same place, but all of the disks inside should be rotated left by 4 places.

See how long it takes your friend to figure out the “code”. The best part about this is, if he has as many games as me, it may be months of amusement for you before he bothers to put them all back in order again. Enjoy as he decides to play a game, goes to his shelf and you see his finger count 4 places to the left to find the actual game he wants to play.

Delete the Game Data

Ok first a word of warning. Do not delete the game data for LittleBigPlanet or any music game as it contains user-created level data and downloaded songs. Do not delete the game data for other such games, and definitely do not delete the save data as that is really cruel and not recoverable.

Result: every single game he tries to play will need to re-install and re-patch.

User account chenanigans

Make a new user account with an almost identical nick to your friend’s. Set it to auto-login. When he turns on his PS3, he will think he has lost all his settings, friends list and trophies. It will take him a moment to realise it is not his account. Priceless.

Remove the hard disk

Simple enough. Get a small watch screwdriver, unclip the panel, remove the HDD, hide it somewhere and re-attach the panel. His PS3 will epic fail to start every time. Replacing the HDD will put everything back to normal with no ill consequences. Just be careful not to ruin the heads on the screws as they are very soft.

Happy April 1st!

Gaming Opinion: Gran Turismo 5 Release

March 28, 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.

March 26th 2010. Woof, woof woof, who let the Gran Turismo 5 fanbois out? Oh it was me, sorry about that. So on Friday there was a little bit of a stir regarding my comments on the Gran Turismo 5 release, so I’d like to talk about this seriously for a moment from the point of view of both the developer and the publisher.

I am a Gran Turismo 5 fangirl. I pre-ordered it last summer. Driving games are my favourite genre and GT5P sits proudly on my shelf as the very first PS3 game I played at home. I’m really looking forward to Gran Turismo 5, although I’m now becoming afraid that it is going to be style, realism and feature-bloat over playability and addictiveness.

I won’t pretend to know I have any idea what is going on in the bowels of Sony or Polyphony Digital, but from past work experience I am pretty sure of at least two things: 1. They already know they made a mistake by not releasing sooner, and 2. Sony will be secretly relieved when this thing gets out into retail and it’s over and done with so they’re not bleeding away more money on it.

From the developer’s point of view

A project is never finished. It can always be refined more. New features and improvements can always be added. Perfectionism is paramount. Nobody wants to make a bad game. On my music gaming web site (www.totalmusicgaming.com), we are incrementally adding features and tweaking issues all the time, and it is very rewarding to see it become gradually better and better and more used.

The Gran Turismo 5 team want to make a perfect game and they will ultimately never be 100% satisfied with it, as is the case with all game studios worth their salt. If left to their own devices, development will go on forever.

From the publisher’s point of view

Analogising again to my web site, there comes a point where you have to stop developing and start marketing, otherwise you run out of money and don’t have any users. The web site is very, very far from perfect, there are years worth of extra features and goodies that could be added, I’m not happy with it and would have really wanted to push the envelope on a SingStar add-on a lot further before release – but it is feature-complete, and it’s not economically feasible to do it all before the product is released, and we have to see a return on investment or development cannot continue.

Up to a certain point, each man hour spent on development is worthwhile. Eventually a tipping point of diminishing returns is reached, where the potential market for the product is more or less maximized and additional work is simply a cost with little-to-no benefit. When a game is delayed for 6 months, not because it isn’t finished but because it is being padded with feature bloat, the publisher and gamers lose out in several ways. First the public become frustrated with the delay. Second the publisher loses money while it is shelling out for the development team to continue working when the number of copies sold isn’t likely to increase much as a result of additional features being added in. Thirdly the time spent on that could have been spent developing new games.

There comes a point where you just have to say, it’s good enough, push it out now. Steve Lycett commented on this in his recent TSA interview about Sega & Sonic All-Stars Racing:

“We’d love to include more, but then we’d never finish a game!”

This is exactly how I feel about development. If all publishers allowed perfectionist standards, there would be no games to play.

Some may argue that Polyphony Digital is an exception or that it’s important to let the game be developed until its potential is maximized. Of course, it’s important not to set the bar too low, but PD is really not an exception. I don’t think many people would argue that including 3D or Move support is necessary at this point, and that is a considerable time drain. Avatar: The Game was designed for 3D; did that make it a better game? Consider, what are the potential uses of the Move in GT5? A trade-off has to be reached, and in my opinion the appropriate trade-off has not been made for this game by a long stretch.

I am not suggesting for a moment that unfinished games should be released. If a game needs to be delayed to iron out bugs or finish the content, that is one thing. Polyphony Digital have already announced more than once that the game is essentially finished and that “we could release it now”. Gran Turismo 5 has been in development for over 5 years at this point and was meant to be one of the key early adopter titles to drive initial sales of PlayStation 3. Sony have clearly given up on this idea now and Gran Turismo 5 has likely become a monetary sink for them. That cannot possibly benefit us.

My opinion is that the developers at Polyphony Digital have lost sight of what is truly important, and lost their way. By trying to cram in every possible feature, they are neglecting the core of what makes a good game: the gameplay. If it is true that each car takes 1 month to model, then the modelling should have been simpler, or less cars should have been included. Is it necessary to include 1000 cars? There’s no doubt it’s cool – but would it be a worse game if there were 250 cars? Will you play 1000 races? Was Need For Speed Shift a worse game because of its more limited car selection and simpler graphics? If it was, then we are talking very small percentage points.

What is the target audience for Gran Turismo 5? Is it car enthusiasts, or is it gamers? Is it realism or is it fun? Of course it’s not a black-and-white argument and there is room to balance both sets of users’ needs, but I’m extremely concerned that these major issues are being sorely overlooked.

Gamers also need to have realistic expectations. The concept that the longer a game is in development, the better it will be, is false. In the same way there is a diminishing return on revenue with development time, so the quality of a game is also not proportional to the time it takes to develop. Spore is a classic example of this – a game with a 9-year development cycle. While some will argue Spore is great and others will say it is horrible, the point is, either way, it would be hard to argue it was worth 9 years of development. It’s also worth noting that Duke Nukem Forever was canceled after an 11-year development cycle due to lack of funding.

Almost everyone who is going to buy Gran Turismo 5 has probably made their purchasing decision already. In my opinion, it should be released now before the hype backfires, if it has not done so already. Game development is not a hobby, it’s a business – but Polyphony Digital seem to think otherwise, and that’s a dangerous game to play.

The Gaming Rant 2

March 13, 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.

Last week’s list of nuisances seemed to go down pretty well, and hey, misery loves company, so let’s continue on that theme. This week I promise not to say anything that could be construed as filth or mention lesbian porn, this will be entirely clean. Oh who am I kidding, the gutter is my natural habitat – let’s proceed.

1. Colossalblue made me use my Xbox 360

What A Cu… nning guy. Yes Katy, you can have this game, yes Katy, you can have that beta. But you know what cupcake, I think you are way too attached to your PS3, you’re getting clingy and it needs some space. Try to bond with your 360 for a while, it’s really lonely. Not as lonely as that Wii sobbing under your TV mind you. Way to treat a woman CB. So, I did bond with it. Love didn’t give me any sense of fulfilment so I used the sword Square Enix gave me last week instead. Here is the result, and I feel we are getting along well now:

I feel much better

 

2. Xbox 360 Nuances

I said nuances, I meant nuisances. The nostalgia started flowing with vigour as I remembered all the reasons I don’t use my 360.

Everyone tells me the 360 controller is superior. Why? The weight is good, but let’s cut the shit. The PS3 controller is ergonomic and black. On the 360 controller, the arrow keys behave like a supermarket trolley on speed. The analog sticks are just fractionally too far away for my little hands to be comfortable – a blatantly sexist design – and it looks like a cheap plastic toy for 5-year olds that might go “Mooooo!” if you press one of the coloured buttons. Mostly because I was too cheap to get an Elite so I have a white one. Goes well with the Wii, helps keep the toys distinguished from the proper hardware.

Now what about the cables. Am I the only person in the world who feels that it is perfectly appropriate to plug an HDMI cable into a TV and a digital optical cable into an amp – shock horror – at the same time? Oh my goodness, I could not believe it when I realised they wouldn’t fit together. Microsoft wanted to sell me a $30 piece of plastic to fix that so I retorted by taking a penknife to the enormous video cable, now the metal end with the bare wires dangles gracefully out the back of the box. Genius work there guys.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the interface. You thought Motorola phones sucked – NXE takes it to a whole new level. It takes skill to make an interface that bad. I reckon SingStar Team have been doing a bit of work on the side.

And why…. Why…. WHY… does it switch itself off when you change input on your TV. So CB wants me to download some crummy 9/10 rated game, 700MB, no problem I’ll just fire up a TV show on the PS3 while I wait for it. Oh no, I’m sorry, if you do that the 360 will turn itself off and the download won’t finish. I went through every conceivable setting, turned off the screen-saver, auto-TV detection, inactivity power off, but no dice. No problem, I’ll just watch the show via the 360’s media client.

“This content cannot be played because it is not supported”. It’s an AVI file. For the love of God. So I had to retort to drastic measures and go out to buy cigarettes instead.

I know this is all a matter of subjective taste, so if you disagree with my opinion, that’s fine, but please feel free to remain quiet; use the time to realise that I’m right and you’re wrong.

3. The Tester

Could be a running theme this. Was a bit relieved Amped didn’t get kicked out because if there’s no hot girls left at the end there’s obviously no point watching it. Props to Fame Girl for managing for the second time in a row to be completely incompetent yet somehow survive elimination. This week the guys had to shout at each other through megaphones telling blindfolded people in plastic bubbles where to walk. This was a test of communication, apparently, and yes, I can see that, but only the mind of a TV executive could conceive that as a good way of determining true communication ability.

Picture the scene: I’m sitting in my office at Polyphony Digital testing the code I just wrote to make the horn blow on my Kia (or other slow uninteresting car of your choice; Gran Turismo seems to be big on cars with a top speed of 60) when I bust-a-Move. I’m sitting in my giant plastic bubble of course because I wouldn’t want to infect my co-workers with my herpes and delay the game for even longer. They have cut little holes for my arms but unfortunately I’m blindfolded so the only feedback I have is the vibration on the Move. Kaz Hirai walks in to give one of his bi-annual back-patting ego massage speeches to let the team know how impressed he is with their fast pace of development. Of course like every CEO he’s using a megaphone in case we can’t hear him over the fan noise from all the 360s everybody is secretly hiding under their desks so they can play Forza 3 at break time. “Men, I give you pay and food and crisps” he says, dishing out the freebies. I hear it as “Man, I hope one day our game’s as good as this”. I respond by saying it better be because Forza 4’s coming out soon, and promptly get marched into his office for a pep talk about employee attitude.

This classic, common daily occurrence in game development houses can of course only be avoided by performing the Megaphone Bubble Test on potential new applicants. Poor Amped, she didn’t know her left from her right – but then being American, perhaps proper English is not her native language.

Naturally, there are other problems with The Tester. The winners of episode 2 got a fantastic £15 PlayStation 3 headset, which – being hardcore gamers – they presumably all own already. Brill-i-ant. The naïve contestants were told that testing is just the start, they can go anywhere from that within Sony and the lead designer of Twisted Metal and God of War is excited to know that one of them is going to be the next big thing! No, you will not be the next big thing. You, my friends, will disappear into the bowels of a huge faceless corporation never to be heard from again. If any of you even so much think about writing a line of code to be included in a video game, I will personally file a negligence lawsuit against Sony. There’s a reason all you do all day is play video games: you’re not fit for any other purpose. Much like myself. Go home, play your games, go back to stuffing your face with Doritos and Beerios and leave it to the pros. Of course, we will have to fire a lot of people at Sony first so we can hire some pros to start with.

4. Activision Made A Good Game

Kick to Bob, Tick OK Bob, and I B Bot Cokk are all anagrams of Bob Kotick; none of which are particularly funny, but it was the best I could do, so it’s lucky he isn’t called Boh Cotick I guess.

Developing games for the love of games. Working with passion. Love of the creative process. Innovation. Customer satisfaction before profit. All things we know to be anathema to any Activision CEO worth his salt. Bob is to the gaming industry what Jeremy Clarkson is to the environment: highly toxic, with a big mouth. Exactly like me, only I mask my toxicity with perfume and makeup. The big mouth is much harder to conceal. So it gives me a great sense of psychological unease to say that I really enjoyed the Blur beta. I had been planning to ditch this game and buy Split/Second out of protest, even though it’s made by a cartoon company best known for a lead character which is a rodent with two prophylactics on its head that nobody takes seriously. Come to think of it, Activision is best known for sort of the same thing.

Which doesn’t bring me to a point. What is it with driving games with four-letter words? Pure. Dirt. Grid. Fuel. Blur. Skate. Do the marketeers who come up with this stuff have learning difficulties or something? Or maybe they just haven’t figured out how to reduce the font size in Photoshop yet. That’s what you get for hiring people from The Tester. Whatever it is, it’s unhealthy and it’s going to end in tears. Can you imagine a world where all lesbian porn movies had 4-letter word titles? Oh, shit… I said I wouldn’t mention that. Arse. So, two good titles there already.

What if Wipeout was just called Wipe? Gran Turismo could just be called Gran. What if the Move Vibrator was just called Move? Gives you a whole different perspective doesn’t it. And if Mario Bros was just called Bros? Then we’d all have to kill ourselves.

5. My £400 racing setup doesn’t work on the Xbox 360

To be fair, it’s a PlayStation wheel and seat that came out at least a year before the 360, but I don’t care, I’m the customer, I’m right, when are you going to patch it? Credit where credit’s due though, they are half-way there: the seat works fine.

6. Qore

Qore – hm, 4 letters again. Not to be confused with Puls or Firs, if you’re not aware this is the American game magazine which appears on the US PSN store every month. New episode out in the week I wrote this. I’ve absolutely got to take issue with this. It costs $2.99 per episode. Now, I know Veronica Belmont is pure pornography, but why do I have to pay to watch her? And they just tease you by advertising Qore on Pulse. It’s like those porn sites where you get a ‘guided tour’ and then have to subscribe to see the real erm, meat, of the subject matter. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Guys, the subscription model is dead: RedTube is free, and look how popular that is. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Sony, please take note.

7. Gran Turismo 5 Trailers

It’s a hoax I tell you. Think “NASA Moon Landing Trailer: Coming Soon”. Activision presents “The Holocaust”. Gran Turismo 5 is vapourware just like those things (ok calm down I’m joking, the moon landing was a very serious thing I know, people died for that). What really annoys me is, the trailers all look so gorgeous – so why was the demo so utterly, utterly hideous? 40 years I’ve been looking forward to this game, and the time trial was more stale and uninviting than an incontinent pensioner’s underwear. I know exactly what it is. They spend all their time making trailers. Then one day Jack Tretton came in with his megaphone and said “hey guys, demo? Anyone?”. I heard it as “All lies. Lemon anyone?”. The rest of the team didn’t have herpes though so they panicked and quickly upscaled Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec into HD so they could rest easy making amazing pre-rendered trailers only vaguely resembling the game for another year or two. I sat in my hazy bubble and said “pass me the doobie guys, all this drum & bass is stressing me out. Put some jazz music on like the good old days.”

8. The Tester: Part 2

I know I haven’t mentioned The Tester before so if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a free show on the US PSN store each week in a Celebrity Big Survivor Island House-or-whatever-its-called-style, God I don’t know, I don’t watch reality TV except for Trinny & Susannah (always hard to decide which one to go for, hell I don’t even know which is which). Anyway, they eliminate people each week and the winner is going to make all the video games you ever play in the future. It’s the next big thing, trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

One small issue. The presenter. Hal Sparks. Apparently Americans love him. Or at least this motley group of wannabe gamers do anyway. You know what I’d like to do to Hal Sparks? Crucify him. No wait, that would be too fast a death, and he might come back 2 days later and create a religion. Then where would we be. I’ve got enough on my plate with Dante’s Inferno and God of War 3 without having to deal with Scientology Star Wars and Meditation Hero as well.

Instead, I propose we put him on Survival Fat Dogs And Their Owners Oprah Mansion, and lock him up with Amy Winehouse, Boris Johnson and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then he can learn the fine arts of professional conduct (Amy), eloquent public speaking and how to cope with that butt ugly face of his all at the same time. Plus he’ll come out as a blonde gay singing crack addict with a stupid grin and Sony can hire him as the tester instead, then the whole unpleasantness of that show can be avoided altogether. He’ll be more than qualified for the job. Testing is just the start – with the right attitude, he could go on to be the new Activision CEO with Bob as his lap dog. Then we’ll have some real games: Blonde Warfare 3: Revenge of The Swedes. Heroin Hero: play with 3 friends and go for the maximum multiplier. Bendy Bus HD, in which you have to scrape gum off seats and steal teenagers’ cellphones in a constantly shifting environment. Cats: The Game. We’ve never had a theatre tie-in before. It’ll have nothing to do with cats, but it’ll make a good sequel to Uncharted 2.

9. Sony’s GDC Presentation and 10. Move – double combo attack

Well, apart from the fact they made me sit up til 1am just to listen to Jamiroquai and Owl City, how in the name of dignity can anyone possibly get excited about a motion-controlled hairdressing application? I say application, because if it was a game it would be fun, and I wouldn’t pay someone else to do it for me. I think I’ll take my PS3 to the salon, shove that dildo in her hand and say, can you cut my hair with this please? I’d like it in the style of my EyePet, Sirocco, today. See whether she thinks that’s a worthwhile use of her time.

Did any of you see the PlayStation Blog that night? It was so sickeningly stereotypical: four pictures of Move blobs, one of them was pink. Guess which one had the happy smiley girls in? For your information, I like other colours too. I’m currently wearing a green and cream plaid top with a little bow round the waist. Now, this may come as a shock to you marketing people, but it actually doesn’t make me look or feel any less feminine.

Just wait til they come out with games “aimed at the growing female sector”. Trust me, I’m not growing, I’m shuddering. Imagine this:

Dissatisfied Housewife: “Dear PlayStation. I’m so sick of Killzone 2 and Final Fantasy. I got a tip, you’re going to be releasing some games for housewives. Confirm or deny.”

Kevin Butler, VP Feminism Damage Control: “Oh, Jenny, have I got just the thing for you. We’ve got a whole range of games coming out to suit your tastes! Why, there’s Move Vacuum, Move Iron and Move Cook. You can stir and it will react just like a real pan. We feel there just aren’t enough household chores in women’s lives these days, so at PlayStation we aim to give you a break from reality. You should be grateful. When your mother was your age she had to stir sauce with a stick.”

“But..”

“WITH A STICK.”

Of course, I’m just masking my true fears. I’m happy to sit with my EyePet waving my hands around looking like a complete twat if it makes Sirocco happy. My real fear is, I’m lazy. And so are you. And you know it. Why would I want to expend 2kJ playing a game when I can expend 1kJ? I have to have some left to be able to get up and go to the bathroom between deathmatches you know. Don’t you people think these things through? My Wii was entertaining for five minutes but then I realised it was a lot more fun to beat my ex up for real. I played table tennis once. It nearly killed me. I don’t need that in my living room. And what about FPSs? Can you imagine what it’s gonna be like online? People staggering around and falling over, trying to aim their guns at each other but they’re shaking so much from exhaustion it looks like they’re recovering alcoholics. Occasionally your mom walks between you and the TV (because I assume you’re all still living with your parents) and your character goes “Oh Noes, I better stop aiming and shooting”. You waggle the Move around in frustration telling her to get out of the way but that only makes matters worse, you’re doing barrel rolls, dropping your inventory and doing wave greeting emotes at SVER as they mow you down. I don’t see how this can possibly be good for the gaming industry. SVER. Hm.

Sony, let me tell you what we need. It’s not Move, but it is similar; unfortunately it exceeds 4 letters so I don’t know if it’s technically possible: Mouse. There’s a reason all hardcore gamers play FPS on the 360: the controller is a lot better.

Top Ten: When The Servers Go Down

March 4, 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.

We’re all familiar with it: you log on for a bit of team deathmatch, or to buy that new downloadable game that got a 103% average score on Metacritic, only to see some obscure error code: your console’s way of telling you the servers are down. Downtime causes great pain and suffering to all those affected, in some cases leading users to take such extreme action as cleaning the house or eating. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan for when that inevitable downtime comes. How can you be best prepared? This 10-step survival guide will show you.

1. Panic

It’s important not to remain calm when downtime strikes, otherwise it may seem like you don’t care. The ramifications of mass calm are dire: the admins may think nobody is really bothered and go for lunch instead. Panic is key to making the time pass faster and getting the problem solved as quickly as possible.

2. Reboot

I’ll be a little more specific: turn off your device, unplug it from the mains, wait 30 seconds, then plug it in and turn it on again. Anyone who has ever called Sky or their ISP about a faulty set-top box or modem knows that rebooting the client device is the universal solution to 100% of all server-related problems. Heed their advice.

3. Hammer the Reconnect button repeatedly

It’s important to keep server load as high as possible during downtime, as it helps the admins check and resolve any problems more quickly and assists with the testing process. Logic dictates that a server can be tested for bugs faster when people are trying to use it than when it is unoccupied.

4. Call Sony or Microsoft technical support

Level 1 tech support are extremely well-versed in server issues and are always kept up to date with the latest information. When there is server downtime, call volume is generally low so this is an especially good time to call for assistance. The level 1 staff will be able to fix the server for you while you’re on the phone and you’ll be up and running again in no time. They may also offer expert advice such as waiting, rebooting as above or returning your machine for repair – crucial knowledge which is all too-often forgotten. Tech support is underrated; these are fine people, salt of the earth. Where would we be without them?

5. Write an abusive post on the company’s blog or a large gaming web site

Nothing says you care like a well-timed “fuck you”. There are several advantages here; the first two are establishing mutual respect, and admin motivation. Imagine you are face to face in the office. You say “my God you useless retards, I am so sick of this shit, I paid for this service! Or if it’s PSN, I didn’t, but I paid for my PS3 goddammit and now I can’t use it at all. You guys are amateurs, I’m never buying another game from you.” Not only will the responsible admins respect you more, but this also lets them know you really like their service and will motivate them to fix it faster than they would if you hadn’t waxed visceral at them. The third advantage is time-saving: like a horse being whipped, the downtime will get fixed much faster if the staff are constantly bombarded with abuse they have to respond to, rather than just being left to trot along at their own pace.

6. Heap praise on the admins on the company’s blog or a large gaming web site

Server downtime is a good moment to find new gameplay buddies. Posting messages like “you’re doing a great job, I’m with you!” or “take the time you need to fix it properly” will make you instantly more popular with the other gamers, and you’ll quickly find your inbox filling up with friend requests.

It’s also important to establish a clear separation between player and company employee. Those people who respond to a comment of praise with “what are you kidding me? Do you work for Sony or something?” are far more astute than you might think. Create boundaries by posting praise with your normal screenname. This will ensure there is no confusion and it will be clear you an impartial gamer, not an employee.

7. Reconfigure your internet connection

This includes closing any ports you may have open, re-arranging the ethernet cables in your router in an arbitrary fashion, enabling your firewall, changing your IP address, resetting the router to its factory defaults and so on. Anything you can think of that might help. It should be second nature with the knowledge you have by now to know that when you and all your friends can’t connect, the servers must be down because of your internet connection, and resetting it will fix both your and your friends’ connection issues.

8. Post a conspiracy theory

As with making friends in step 5, now is also a good time to weed out the chaff. Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, and by everyone, I mean idiots. Catch these people out and improve the company’s reputation to boot by coming up with a good conspiracy. It doesn’t have to be plausible or in any way factually accurate, it just has to be couched in a way that makes gullible people believe it. Once you’ve got a list of respondents who agree with the theory, you can add them to your block list. Some examples follow:

Your 360 died and when you went to town to buy another one, all they had in stock was Wiis. This is a clear case of Nintendo paying Microsoft off to send a virus to Xbox 360s in your town only, with Microsoft in exchange reducing stock levels in your area.

Your downloaded games have become corrupted. The manufacturer did this on purpose, hoping you would not notice you could re-download them for free and would pay for new copies.

Did your PS3 die with a YLoD one day after the warranty expired? Sony engineered the machine that way on purpose to make you buy a new one. You’ll notice here the theory overlooks the fact that Sony make a loss on each hardware unit sold. Some people with moderate intelligence may try to catch you out here, but you can foil them with a secondary conspiracy: Sony just want you to think that so you feel sorry for them and buy more games.

Venessa Phelps takes a dump that is so potent that not only can it be smelled from Redmond, it actually seeps into the server storing all the Xbox Live Silver subcription data and destroys the hard drives. Again, a clear case of backhander pay-offs. In this case Microsoft paid Venessa Phelps to make you upgrade to a Gold membership.

9. Reformat

It is well-known by experts that deleting all your game saves, install data, downloaded games, add-on packs and other DLC in one sweep not only improves the performance of your machine but also takes the load off the servers allowing them to run more smoothly. If you all reformat when the servers go down, this will help them come up again much faster. Always reformat during server downtime. Every little helps.

10. Check the date

Is it 1st March 2011, 2013 or 2014? Relax. Sony schedule a mostly annual 24-hour maintenance window for PlayStation Network every 1st March. It commences at 0000 GMT and ends at precisely 2359 GMT. You may have heard conspiracy theories about a bug in the PS3’s internal clock. Pay these uninformed peasants no mind; these rumours are completely unfounded and Sony have a large team of engineers queueing at Dunkin Donuts right now working extremely hard to identify and resolve any outstanding maintenance issues. The downtime will always be over within 24 hours.

11. Pull your machine apart

Voiding the warranty on your console is an excellent way to pass the time while the servers are down. Dismantling your machine requires only a bare minimum of skill with a screwdriver and almost all of the parts inside are easily user-serviceable. Try removing and replacing the laser from the DVD or Blu-ray drive as a simple introductory exercise if you are new to warranty voiding as a pastime. You can also try upgrading the RAM by desoldering the existing memory chips and gluing in some much faster and higher capacity standard PC memory. I’ve tried this and it makes all my games faster. If you don’t have a desoldering tool, use a penknife to cut a hole in the motherboard around the memory chips, which can then be safely removed.

12. Practice counting to ten

A skill often forgotten – particularly by female writers – counting from 1 to 10 is another good way to pass the time, and will help you sharpen up your math skills for Blue Toad Murder Files to boot.

Finally, a word of warning. Under NO circumstances should you leave your premises during a server outage. Despite what you may have heard from loved ones and your psychiatrist, going outside is extremely risky and reckless behaviour and could lead to such negative exposures as the Sun’s dangerous UV rays, physical exertion and outside interactions. Please remember that outside interactions are not rated by ESRB.

Of course, the worst-case scenario of leaving your premises is that you may even miss the moment when the servers come back up, which could lead to the nightmare scenarios of having to wait a few extra minutes for that new DLC to download, or your friends soaring past you in level, making the game virtually unplayable.

If you do feel the compulsion to go outside, do remember that virtual money is invalid in the real world and you should always carry with you a supply of soda potions and pizza breads in case your stamina starts to run low. Try to keep the other items you’re carrying to a minimum as it will slow down your maximum walking speed and make returning to your premises more difficult.

Good luck!

 

%d bloggers like this: