All About theWanderer80
So it's been a while since I last blogged. In that time I've been getting acquainted with my 360 by getting all the exclusive must-haves that owning a PS3 couldn't afford me.
Since my last blog I've bought an played Mass Effect, Bioshock, Condemned, Halo 3, Saints Row, Crackdown, Kameo, PDZ3, Lost Planet Extreme Condition, Dead Rising and Ninja Gaiden 2 among others. But what I've found is that I'm starting to buy games that I've already played on PS3 for extra Achievements like CoD4, Condemned 2, F.E.A.R., Stuntman Ignition, The Orange Box etc.
On the PS3 version I had no incentive to play CoD4 on Veteran from start to finish but on 360 I made it my mission to get every achievement from New Squadron Record to Mile High Club which took at least 20 goes each. On PS3 I got bored after 3-4 tries. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Achievements is the greatest contributing factor for why most multiplatform releases sell better on M$'s bug ridden platform rather than Sony's feature-rich PS3.
The achievement system is ingenious however it seems some developers add them only cos they are required to leading to some blantantly simple achievements like the 1000 points you can get in 30 seconds in Avatar: The Burning Earth. Nonetheless, due to the popularty of Achievements, Sony has responded with their own ranking system.
I have yet to come across a PS3 game that supports trophies so don't know any nitty gritty details of how they work or whether they provide the same sort of incentive to play through games over and over as their 360 counterparts.
Of course similar incentive systems have existed since at least the PS2 days when Insomniac, ironically a Sony only developer, released Ratchet and Clank with it's Skill Points system.
17Mar 08As this is my first ever blog I suppose a brief introduction to my gaming history is necessary. My first ever gaming experience was in 1989 when my cousin gave me a copy of a little 2D single screen platformer called AlleyCat on those big old 5.25" floppies which had a massive 360kb of space that I ran on my old x80 PC. Remember those? Mine had this huge case but when I opened it up the components inside filled about 5% of the space. It had 640kb of RAM and no harddrive so I'd have to load up the DOS disk every time I wanted to play something. Ahh... the good old days. After that, I had a 286 but things didn't change much until I got my first Windows based PC, a 386 running Windows 3.1, where I stumbled upon Doom and Space Quest and the rest, as they say, is history! My first console gaming experience came by way of a friend's NES where we'd play Super Mario Bros. for hours on end with periodic interruptions of The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt and Excite Bike. My last console experience at this time ended with the Sega Master System which had the awesome Alex Kid preloaded. And as for the Commodore 64's and Ataris I think they were around before my time or I just didn't know anyone with one.
Unlike most gamers, I had a 10 year long hiatus from gaming as most kids who grew up in the commission flats of Melbourne, Australia can undoubtedly relate to (otherwise known as 'the projects' in other parts of the world). So I totally missed the SNES's, NeoGeo's, N64's, Megadrives, Dreamcasts and PS1's and didn't reacquaint with my inner gamer until the Slimline PS2. I was blown away the first time I loaded up Ratchet & Clank 3 Up Your Arsenal to see how far games had come in terms graphics and gameplay and I haven't put the controller, or keyboard and mouse as the case may be, down again since.
Today my gaming machines comprise of a mid-range PC that can run Crysis at decent-enough quality, an Xbox 360 which I only picked up yesterday on the 16/03/2008, a 60GB PS3 I've had since launch, a Slimline PS2 upgraded with a DMS4 Pro chip, a PSP with custom firmware, a DS Lite and a Wii which I sold recently as the novelty wore off. I'm kind of spewing that I sold it before I got to play Super Mario Galaxy but hey, I'm trying to keep up with my games library as it is.
Ok so there it is... my gaming history in a nutshell!
For months I've been scouring the net for a 360 just so I can play Gears of War, Mass Effect, Bioshock and the upcoming Ninja Gaiden 2 and seeing the quality of the games available for it I had high expectations for the console as well. But to my surprise and disappointment it feels like a cheap knock-off of what I expected a 360 to be. The cooling fans are obscenely loud, the console gets hot as hell, the disk drive sounds like it's chewing the disks up and there's always the imminent danger of the RRoD. Seeing (or should I say hearing?) my 360 in action I'm not at all surprised that the failure rate of these half-arsed machines are a rumoured 30%-50% and to top it all off the Xbox Live experience which you have to pay premium dollars for isn't all it's cracked up to be. Now I understand why in 360 listings on eBay the sellers always say, "I'm selling my 360 cos I'm upgrading to a PS3." Having owned a PS3 since it's launch in Australia on 23rd March 2007 and being underwhelmed by the supposed "next-gen" experience so far, I thought to myself, "Why are these people upgrading to a PS3? I've been wanting to upgrade to a 360?!?" I suppose next-gen gaming isn't as next-gen as I had expected.
Having said that, I shouldn't be complaining about my purchase because I did do my research and knew to look for the new and improved model with the Falcon motherboards, which are supposed to be quieter, cooler and less prone to the RRoD. More reason not to complain is it was a steal. A 4 month old Pro console at $350 with 3 wireless controllers and 4 games was too good an offer to pass up. Nonetheless, I'm still a bit disappointed. Despite having heard about the noise levels and dodgy disk drives in various online forums, I just couldn't imagine these flaws being as bad as they are. At worst I thought it'd be like a loud hum but it's more like an equivalent of an industrial aircon running in the confines of my small lounge room. Or, perhaps I just couldn't comprehend a global giant such as Microsoft releasing a product as dodgy as the 360 has turned out to be. I shouldn't be surprised though. Just look at any of M$'s product launches: Windows 95, bug ridden, Windows 98, bug ridden, XP, bug ridden, and now Vista, yup you got it, it's a bug ridden pile of crap. So why should the 360 be any different? I've never referred to Microsoft as "M$" before but I'm jumping on the bandwagon!
Being one of the largest companies in the world you'd think that M$ would have a substantial R&D budget that would pick up on all these kinks. Unless it's their strategy. I read one guy's post on a tech forum the other day who said something that really stood out to me. Someone before him had posted that they can't wait for the Falcon model to come out so that he can upgrade his beloved gaming machine. And in response this guy said, "the Xbox 360 is the only known product where people are flocking to buy the latest one because the last one was so sh!t."
So to all you would-be adopters out there you have been warned! If you think the PS3 is somewhat of an underachiever then steer away from all 360's prior to lot no. 743 and manufactured before August 2007. Anything produced thereafter should be the new and improved model. I haven't had hands-on experience with the new one yet but I'd imagine they remedied all these flaws. Or is that me being too optimistic again?
Anyway, the reason I got the console is to play quality titles such as Gears of War which I purchased nearly a year ago in anticipation of getting the console. Despite being 2 years old it's a great game that rewards tactical thinking and skillful execution not to mention the awesome graphics that still hold their own to this day. Having played UT3 on PS3 my expectations for Gears were somewhat dampened. But to my surprise it's deserving of all the accolades it has received. Since the success of Gears, Epic Games has diluted its focus by trying to do too many things at once. They're only a small developer yet they have the gaming industry's most popular game engine the Unreal Engine 3 which is currently licensed by hundreds of developers, and their in-house game development projects have suffered as a result. I can only hope that they'll get their act together for Gears 2 due out later this year.
We've come to the end of my first ever blog! Come back in future to catch up on interesting issues facing the gaming industry and my views and opinions of them, issues facing aging gamers, thoughts and opinions of games I may be playing, reminiscing on games I've played in the past and just general jibber-jabber about this and that. If you've got any comments about any of my views, whether you agree or disagree, then post below or shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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