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Large_Soda Blog

PlayStation Network

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It's been well over 2 years since I've had a PlayStation 3 and I've never really given online play any consideration, in large part because I have a 360 as well and I'm not the biggest fan of competitive MP. But now NHL 10 is out and the bulk of my friends are playing this game and they all have PS3s, so it was a no brainer to pick up the game on Sony's system. This is where my issue starts.

The PlayStation Network is garbage.

I'm not talking about actually playing a game and encountering lag, I'm talking about everything prior to that. Setting up a game, viewing your messages, not being able to have voice chat, no party support, no game invites; all of those things are completely disconnected or non-existent and it really knocks the experience down several pegs.

If this were the first year of PSN I'd be little more inclined to forgive these shortcomings, but when we're approaching year 3 and it's still so far behind Xbox LIVE I can't help but voice my displeasure.

My first bone of contention is the fact that Sony stupidly decided not to include a headset with the system, which to me is a massive blunder. I also find it disappointing that Bluetooth is the preferred tech, since the only voice chats I've had has been between myself, a friend and all the background noise is his room. I'll chalk that problem up to the fact that he has a generic BT headset for a cell phone, but my point still stands, not having a certified, tested headset packed in with every system is proof positive that Sony's online strategy is "fly by the seat of it's pants".

I find more often than not, I am setting up games with friends over the phone and that should not have to happen.

Now to be fair to Sony, I don't know how many patents or proprietary features Microsoft has that may be responsible for Sony's lackluster online, but something tells me it's simply them not knowing or caring.

"It's free, what do you expect?" is likely the Mission Statement at Sony. Just like Home will forever be in beta.

I'm really not trying to influence people one way or another, I really like both systems, but my experience thus far with NHL 10 has been so rife with issue that I needed to write something. Heck, maybe someone with more PSN pedigree will be able to give me some pointers and then I'll change my tune, but for $50 a year Xbox LIVE is a steal for the seamless integration it offers.

PlayStation Home Beta

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So last night I received an email notifying me that I had been accepted into the Home beta......after the crickets stopped chirping I carried on with my business. This morning I decide to fire it up and see what this unnecessary response to Xbox LIVE is. So here I am, home sweet home - "Let's create my character". Boring. Now I am in my apartment, I can look out the window, I can change the wallpaper, but not with anything from my own collection, just presets which makes it look pretty generic. So much for customizing my own space. Now I see a chair! I can move it and sit in it!!!!! 73 seconds after being placed into my apartment I want to leave, so I do. Now I am in the Central Plaza and I see lots of other people, none of them are my friends and none of them ever will be because that is lame. Cyber-friendship is lame. Ooooooo! I see a mall, let's go inside. There is a clothing store, a furniture store and neither of them have anything in them. While I look around the mall I see many losers, dancing, talking and just standing around, many of the latter as "blown away" as I am with the experience. I leave, never to return. Now it's off to the bowling alley! I'll admit, this portion is neat, but I didn't really care for the arcade games they had and it sucks that you have to actually wait till someone is done using it. So I immediately left. Never to return. Now I visit the music dealy, whatever it is and see a whole bunch of nerds/losers dancing to terrible music. I go to the menu selection spot and I am able to choose between 3 songs, all of which suck. I wish I could stream my own music and force everyone to listen to what I want. I leave. Off to the Home Theater. Quickly walk around, get a seat and wait.........for............the.............SOCOM Confrontation trailer. As I leave I wonder what the whole point of this is, sadly an answer is never found. I head back to my apartment to cry, but there is no emoticon for crying. But there is a PS button on my controller and when I hold it down for a few seconds I get a nifty message called "Turn Off System", which I happily choose. Now the mystery of what Home is or isn't is finally over.

Is there something wrong with me?

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There was a time when I would go out of my way to defend Insomniac Games, because they gave me the ability to play Ratchet & Clank, which was at one point my favourite game series.  I also really liked the early Spyro games too.  Much of that credibility carried over to this current gen of consoles and when I played Resistance: Fall of Man, I defended it, even though I really didn't care for it.  I also never finished it.


Soon after that we all got wind of a new PS3 R&C game and that got me obviously excited, but when I actually played it I was a little shocked at how bored I was with it, but I couldn't process what exactly it was that was different.  The gameplay was tight, the graphics were great and the story and characters I'd loved were all there.  Something had changed and again I never finished the game.


Now it's holiday '08 and all the great are coming out and one of the PS3's heavy hitters is Resistance 2, so naturally I am going to pick it up.  So I play the campaign for a couple hours over Tuesday and Wednesday and I'm mildly into it, it's functional, but nothing in it really amazes me and then Gears of War 2 comes out and completely tears me away from R2.......probably for ever too.  It's just made me realize how boring the campaign is and how craptastic the PS3 controller is for FPS games and how the 8 player co-op could be cool, but I don't know 8 people that have PS3s and even if I did, there's isn't a 100% chance they'd have headsets, because stupid Sony doesn't include anything.

I also couldn't care less about multiplayer, I just don't play it anymore...for any game.

As I re-read this blog post, I realize I have no real point and my sentence structure is deplorable....but whatever, the point I'm trying to get across is that Resistance 2 is boring and that I no longer hold Insomniac in high regard.



My Microsoft Woes

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My launch 360 made it a while, from November 2005 to January 2008 and then it would no longer read discs of any kind. I called Microsoft and found out the console was out of warranty, so I obliged to pay the $100 to get it fixed. Shortly after I received a "new" system.

Fast forward to last Wednesday, fresh off of a 10 hour GTA 4 power session, I turned on my 360 to run wild in Liberty City, when all of a sudden, right in the middle of dancing on the counter in a hospital, Niko froze. I hit the guide button to see if there would be a response, but sadly there wasn't, so I turned off the system and started her back up and then, the dreaded RRoD. This was a first, I had heard about it, but never experienced it and now I had to deal with it. It couldn't have come at a worse time.

My first instinct was to get this remedied, so I immediately called Microsoft and went through an all too familiar process. My coffin was on its way.

My next thought moved to GTA 4, I needed to keep playing this game. I contemplated buying the PS3 version, but the fact that I was about 11 hours in was deterent enough to not go that route. I knew if I wanted to keep playing I would need a new 360. So I headed to a local store and bought the cheapest console I could. I knew I had 30 days to return the system for a full refund and based on my last experience with Microsoft, I was confident I would get it back way before that.

I was told it would take 3-5 business days to receive the box, so that meant by Wednesday (yesterday), I should be sending my system back. Well the box never came, so I decided to call MS and see what was up. After being placed on hold several times and having my issue escalated to a "supervisor", I was told that the box was most likely lost by the courier company and that a new box would be sent. The agent I was speaking with told me that if I do happen to receive the original box, I was to disregard it. I asked the question "Well what if that box comes tomorrow? Can I not use that one, or must I wait potentially 5 days extra for this new box?"

I was told to wait.

I must say I am thoroughly disappointed with Microsoft and how they are handling my situation. I know I am one of thousands, or tens of thousands that are experiencing the same woes, but it still stings. I cannot understand the logic in having to wait for the new return box, even if I receive the first one.

Oh well, at least I can play GTA 4.

Halo 3, MLB and Good Ole Me

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Since the Halo 3 Beta is the "in" thing right now and website blogging is also in, I decided to combine the two and share my thoughts via a website hosted Halo 3 Beta Blog.

My Halo background: I played the hell out of Halo CE, primarily in single player with a bit of multi thrown in for good measure. I have probably played through the Halo campaign more than any other game ever, I have no exact count, but easily 3 times on all difficulty levels and the fun missions an additional 8-10 times.

It wasn't until Halo 2 that the shift from single player time consumption to multi player happened, primarily due to a full featured online experience, but also due to a under whelming cliffhanger ending that zapped my enthusiasm away. I will go on record and state that I have completed Halo 2 twice and I think it's a great game, with a great story and I feel it will be a stronger game once part 3 is released and the story is all laid out for us.

Now to the multiplayer aspect of Halo 2. I typically don't get consumed by multiplayer games anymore, as I am getting older my casual gaming needs are taking shape more and more, and while I love to sit back and play a good game, the length in which I do it for and how in to it I am has really decreased. But when Halo 2 was out, I was a younger man, with virile stamina with the ability to please a server for hours on end and Halo 2 kept me satisfied, and I in turn kept her satisfied.

After maybe a full year of Halo 2 goodness I started to get bored, my playtime would go from every day, to every other day, to eventually once a week. Before I knew it, wasn't playing the game at all. A few months went by without me playing the game, but the rest of community could not stay the same, they had been logging in just as many hours as they ever had and were getting much, much better.

I'll end my Halo background here, as it is the perfect transition to the Halo 3 Beta experience I have had thus far.

Halo 3 Beta Experience: I like many other Halo fans waited in anticipation, then anger and ultimately joy on Wednesday for the Beta to be released. But for me the mere THOUGHT of more Halo was a much more real feeling the actual act of PLAYING more Halo.

My first attempt at the game was on the new snow map (whatever it's called) and once the game started I just played the game, I didn't pause and look at the map, or the graphics, I just started playing. I went through the obvious fumbles of hitting the wrong button to reload, searching for the new weapons and seeing how they faired. After the round was over I started to ponder the last 6 minutes, I knew a few things: I didn't like the map, the assault rifle was a welcome addition (but it didn't sound right), the graphics were mildly better than Halo 2, and the same players that were handing me my ass in 2 were still good and were still owning me in 3.

I have since played about 10 more games on all 3 maps and I have come to the realization that there has not been enough of a change in this game to grab me back in. I don't blame Bungie at all, because they had so much hype to deliver, that it would not have made sense to really change what already works.

In all honesty it boggles my mind that people are still playing Halo 2, to me it has gone stale a while ago and since the fresh loaf of bread that was the Halo 3 Beta has come and not delivered (for me) I am now awaiting the single player campaign, which I'm sure will deliver the goods. Story has always meant more to me than multiplayer.

Another thing that really puts me off of multiplayer gaming, but Halo specifically, is the community. Last night I joined a Rumble Pit match against 4 or 5 players that were obviously friends and their constant smack talking drove me nuts, they constantly talked about trying to use the "XBR" glitch that was in Halo 2, the one that thankfully reared its head after I had stopped playing, and it really got to me. Why is it that people cannot just play a game and enjoy it? Why must they try to exploit glitches and call everyone the "N" word? I know there is option to mute these people, but I'm afraid there is a majority of those people in contrast to players like myself and I fear I'd be spending more time muting than playing. So the easiest thing to do is to just not bother.

Just to show how my love for Halo multiplayer has dwindled.....I was playing a game and then I remembered that MLB 07 The Show just came out for PS3. I stopped playing, shut off my 360 and went out and bought the baseball game. I was more excited for that....a baseball game......than I was for Halo.

Oh well, all good love affairs need to end at some point.

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter

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I just finished the single player campaign last night on the normal difficulty. I finished it in just over 7 hours, and for the first time ever I thought "wow" this game is too short.

I have never been the type of person to invest 20+ hours in games as I usually get too bored or just move on to whatever the newest game is. Sorry ladies, but I treat you this way too(joking). Monogamy in gaming is hard.

Anyways, I understand that the technical feats in GRAW are insane and that might account for the short length in some respects, but 8 hours is just not enough. Thankfully the game was over so quickly, and I am still psyched to play it, I can go back and beat it on hard, and still get achievement points. So I suppose all is not lost.

Not sure if this entry has any point or relevance, but I am bored, and I guess this is what a blog is for.