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Sokol4ever Blog

PS4 Impressions and how to upgrade the hard-drive video tutorial.

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After spending the last two days with the new PS4 I have to admit it truly is a fantastic and powerful piece of hardware. Original set-up took me around 10 minutes in total and outside of the few tries getting the PSN to update 1.5 firmware, everything went properly.

One aspect of the PlayStation 4 console that really impressed me is the extremely fast and quick response from the new dualshock 4 controller and XMB which I will get into later. Obviously, the new system is expected to be fast but after using the PS3 XMB for the last seven years the difference is truly amazing. The new PS4 XMB feels familiar but also fresh, modern and new.

I was also presently happy to see PlayStation Network to finally be very responsive and quick. It's a breeze to navigate menus, download, stream and watch videos compare to the current PS3. Outside of the PS4 incredible overall speed due to new hardware, the redesign Dualshock 4 is a thing of beauty. New R2 and L2 triggers are finally improved, I found myself using them pretty much all the time in every game. The new controller also feels little heavier in your hands, which I don't mind at all. It adds a nice feel to the overall design.

The new clickable touch pad in the middle of the controller feels very responsive, during my play time with Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassins Creed: Black Flag the touch pad was used in a light sense. Time will show how the developers will utilize the new gadget. I can see a potential with certain PC games, such as Real Time Strategies (RTS) make an appearance.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the PS4 hardware, it looks and feels next-generation, its has a lot of power behind it. The new re-designed DS4 feels very, very good and I believe it might even sway many gamer's towards the PlayStation 4 console, especially those who prefer First Person Shooters.

The console comes with the 500GB hard-drive, which realistically will give you 408GB of a free space. The rest is taken by the HDD itself and good portion also appears to be reserved by the PS4 for future updates.

If you are looking into upgrading, make sure you are purchasing laptop 2.5 SATA drive with no bigger then 9.5mm in size. It's a quick and easy process and it doesn't mess-up your PS4 warranty. Here is a simple, easy, step by step video on how to do so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp2CgTmUqbw

The only negative impact is the current mixed state of the PlayStation Network which is ON and OFF depending of the time of the day. Server maintenance is working things out and its expected for a launch of a new hardware. Server simply can't handle the large amount of people trying to use it all at once. I don't believe Sony themselves anticipated large amount of consumers. Either way, give them few days and the servers will be back to normal.

Some of my friends are still experiencing issues with online play with both Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. At some times they are able to login and play and other times they are greeted with server down maintenance error.

The two games I had been playing so far, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and Killzone: Shadow Fall single play experiences are stunning. Reviews on those two games will follow up later on.

In the end, I'm very satisfied wit the PlayStation 4 and very much looking forward to the future games on the system. Kudos to the Sony team for a slick and future build platform, now work on getting the PSN back to normal. :)

PlayStation Vita Impressions

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With the recent PlayStation Plus offerings, I have finally decided to buy The PS Vita, I personally wanted one in the black color and the COD bundle wasn't the game I wanted so I simply purchased the portable system itself and 16GB memory card for 50$ which by the way is still ridiculously overpriced on its own..
Nonetheless, the system itself is a wonderful piece of technology:

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After spending some time with very handy tutorial of how to use all the Vita's features I connected the Wi-Fi in less then a minute and spent some time browsing the Internet and PlayStation Store. It's all well implemented, the Vita's gorgeous 5" OLED screen is nothing short of brilliant. The touch screen is accurate and quick to navigate and the hand-held itself feels very comfortable.

The content manager software is very useful, I was able to transfer any PS3 purchased games via USB port quickly to the Vita and vise-versa. Uploading any saved game files to the PS+ Cloud was also not an issue.

So far, I started and played little bit of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush, Wipeout HD and Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, which by the way is pretty amazing. 

In the end, I'm satisfied with the PS Vita hardware, it's powerful, comfortable with gorgeous OLED screen and the games look beautiful. The only downside I believe Sony made a mistake with would be the memory cards. You can only use Sony specific and they are very expensive.. Count in the PlayStation Plus for one year (to get those free games) and this brings the price of the hand held way over 300$ which I believe is too expensive.

I'm looking forward to different games PS Vita has to offer and if you have PS3 and PS+ membership, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It complements the big brother very well and some games offer cross-play between two platforms. 

Nintendo 3DS joins my hardware gaming collection

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The last time I owned the handheld was GameBoy color.. To be perfectly honest, I'm not on the road and when I do travel my laptop is most of the time with me.

However, my wife is a Nintendo woman, she pretty much had all the Nintendo consoles and handhelds in the past, not to mention she is a big Pokemon fan.

So, with the announcement of the Pokemon X and Y, I decided to pick up brand new Aqua Blue 3DS.

While the handheld will be in my wife hands most of the time (:))I'm personally big RPG and Adventure fan. I never had the chance to play any Nintendo games past Super Mario back in the NES area. (I'm primary and PlayStation owner)

So, understading that my better half decided to introduce to me to some classics. So far, I'm planning on picking up Ocarina of Time 3D since I got a lot of recommendations and upcoming Fire Emblem.

After spending some time configuring the 3DS today, connecting it the online and updating the software for the system I have to admit, the handheld feels nice in the arms.

I still have to learn how the memory card works and just how big of the SD card do I need but otherwise I'm pretty happy.

3DS joins my Nintendo Wii and PS3 collection gaming hardware collection :)

If anyone has any advice or recommendations as to which games to play (DS and 3DS) I'm open to suggestions.

Is it worth spending 60$ on games this days?

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It all depends how much you really want the game to be honest and of course if money aren't much of a problem. (Which is not a case for many people this days, myself included.)

Take one of my current games I have been playing for the last month - Game of Thrones. I love the books and the TV series and was very interested in the game itself. Barely 2 months after the game originally released it was 30$ new, 25$ used.

After buying it and currently about half a way into it, 22 hours of gameplay, I'm having a blast and it really feels like money well spent. Of course the game has issues, however I'm enjoying it and I didn't break the wallet buying it.

The thing is, it's a smart idea to wait few months on certain type of games. I understand if it's Call of Duty or similar heavy community based online experience where it makes sense to buy it on the release day since you end up spending months playing it, otherwise 90% of the single player driven games drop their price within first 2-4 months significantly.

Another issue I'm noticing lately is the rise of the so called premium membership or value DLC prices (one time fees) on top of the already 60$ game...Recent;y - Call of Duty and Battlefield series are notorious for this... however, that's a matter of another topic I will eventually find some time to discuss.

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On the other side, in my case specifically, RPG's and sometimes Action-Adventure (like Assassins Creed) are the only type of games I would spend 60$ on. This happens maybe 3-4 times a year, when superb RPG game is released. I value many hours of steady, non-rushing gaming and I feel I spend the money with satisfaction.

In the end of the day, it all depends on a person. I don't personally believe 70% of games released today warrant their price and I vote accordingly with my wallet, unfortunately, as we are nearing the next generation of consoles (with Wii U knocking on our door step) I believe the prices will rise to at least additional 10-15$ per title.

I hope we will see some kind of discount service (like Steam) when the new console arrive, otherwise - the budget vs quality game will be wider and only few games and developers will survive. Time will tell.

New PSN Store Impressions

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After spending little over half an hour with the new PSN store I have to admit, some specific re-design ideas are well implemented. I do enjoy new search functionality for example. It's easy and intuitive to use.

The design is good, it definitely resembles more of the mainstream media such as Smart phones and Tables.

At this point in time I would love to still see improvements to the download library page. It's still the same and it still takes some time to find old list of previous downloads. I have little over 540 items and it can get little annoying scrolling from top to bottom looking for specific game, or theme I wanted to play again.

Another little quirk I noticed is that it takes little longer to find new content quickly and efficiently. Previously, all that was needed is to select "What's New", be it PlayStation + or "Today" update folder and you will have a list of all the updated files. With the new re-design it takes some snooping around.

We do have more options now then before but it will take some time getting use to the new PSN Store. Overall it looks much better and its visually appealing, however the simplicity of the old navigationwe all had before to for the last few years will take some time getting adjusted to.

I personally don't mind it but I would love to see more work being done to improve the PSN store further.

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First Platinum - Counter-Strike: GO.

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It's been a very long time coming but I finally got my first Platinum.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was as fun as it gets with online FPS games. Having played Counter-Strike 1.6 and CS: Source for so many years, I guess it comes at no surprise that I was able to actually achieve it.

I never "hunt" trophies, not to mention Platinums but I have to admit, it feels nice, at least to have one. :)

Batman:Dark Knight Rises impression

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Before I begin, please note that if you haven't seen the movie as of this writing, there will be spoilers.

Now that is out of the way, I have mixed bag of feelings towards the dark knight and Christopher Nolan third movie which I don't believe will be the last, especially when you consider how the movie ended..

Introducing Robin, Catwoman influence and we have even seen Scarecrow during the "Judge" part.

To me, Bane is not really a masterful criminal Nolan tried so hard to make him, while to me personally, he spent too much time (at least 30 minutes) wasted on back story.

While Christian wasted even more time inside the prison finding his "Soul" I couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted to see mor of Batman in this movie.. I craved more Batman toys, his masterful combat and so forth. The whole movie felt to much of everyone else but not enough of our Dark Knight, and when he fought, he was tired, looked old and slow..

I really, really tried to love the movie and to an extent I did had a good time despite the almost 3 hours.. which should had been cut to much shorter time.

I don't personally believe it was better then the Dark Knight where Joker stole the show and pretty much made the movie the greatest Batman ever made to date.

I was hopping the third movie would had been able to top that or at least match it but after seeing the movie I can't see it. It was good and worth watching but it could not touch the amazing Joker performance for me personally.

If you have seen the Dark Knight Rises, share your thoughts.

Concluded E3 2012 Impressions

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Not the most impressive E3 by many accounts. Comparing to the last few years the feeling I got from all the respected companies is that we are on the last year or two with the current HD generation consoles, respectively - PS3 and Xbox 360.

I'm looking forward to the next generation, with Wii U just around the corner and myself still going through the Nintendo Wii library with my wife. While I always keep an open mind when it comes to gaming and life in general, outside of few great Mario oriented games and 2-3 good JRPG's, I haven't found many Wii titles on the market that interest me.

I'll start with my personal impression with the Nintendo press conference:

- I was expecting Wii U to be the prime orientation for the press conference and they did show some games for it. The new Pikmin looks superb, the new Mario Brothers looks fun as well even thou it looks oddly too familiar with current Nintendo Wii title. I'm not sure how to feel about introduction of the hardcore gaming with Wii U. We all saw few current and future hardcore games on the system, Arkham City Wii U edition, Assassins's Creed III introduction and so forth.

I'm little in doubt why would Nintendo go with hardcore route when we already have two major consoles that fill in that market very well. Do we really need a third one? I own Nintendo Wii, PS3 and PC. Each entertainment offers me something different. I don't think Wii U should waste resources and income with hardcore games and should continue focusing on the market they always had instead - casual, family and kids. Time will tell how that will work out for the company, I just hope it's not going to divide them too far apart.

- Unfortunately I don't own xbox 360 so I won't comment much on it respectively. I did watched the press conference as well and I did liked the new Halo 4 and Gears announcements.

- Ubisoft conference was pretty well done. Lots of great games had been shown and one of mine most anticipated titles had been shown in its full glory, of course I'm talking about Assassins Creed III. The game looks excellent in motion and I have little doubt it might be strong contender for 2012 GOTY nominee.

- EA conference was not bad as well, I wasn't the fan of the over - marketing strategy they pulled off but the games well good. Dead Space 3 looks great, Crysis 3 and new Medal of Honor: Warfighter also look great.

- PlayStation 3 conference had some good exclusives for me to look forward to. The Last of Us gameplay footage was superb, David Cage's - Beyond: Two Souls project appears to overcome the Heavy Rain emotional concept which will probably make me not want to put down the controller, God of War: Ascension single player demo also showed some new enemies, new gameplay combo variations and of course over the top kill animation. It looks to be another amazing title in the series.

Also shown off was Assassin's Creed 3 itself for the PS3, utilizing a live demo on stage to show off the game's massive high seas battles by ship which looked outstanding.

One product I'm still not sold on is the PlayStation Vita. E3 did announced its own version ofAssassin;s Creed 3: Liberation, which will feature for the first time a female assassin as the hero for the game's series. I would love to see more specific Vita games only before I consider purchasing the product. At this time,Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the only game I would love to play.

The system needs better memory card bundle, cheaper price and more Vita oriented games - more quality RPG's, action adventure titles that you can't find on PS3. The handheld needs its own quality games. AC: Liberation is a start.

- Overall It was a decent E3 2012 for me, although little underwhelming on some parts. I wished Sony E3 had more time (1 hour wasn't enough) to show off more Vita games and future plans, PS3 could had used another 2 great exclusives.

Wii U should had shown actual console hardware statistic and more unique games for it and not just games we already have or will have on both PS3 and Xbox 360.

Special interest for me was Star Wars 1313, Dishonored, new Tomb Raider, Metro: Last Light, Ni No Kuni gameplay, amazing Watch Dogs by Ubisoft which was my favorite game of all E3 2012.

This are some of the games I can't wait to enjoy even thou some of them are not here until 2013. The way I see it by 2013 E3 we will have next generation console announcement and by late 2014 we will spend Holiday season being with friends and family and next gen. hardware. Look forward to anticipation of next year E3.

New Playstation 3 is at home. ;)

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After the two weeks wait, I had received back call from Sony technical repair service who kindly informed me that my 2 year old PS3 Slim is not reparable because of faulty motherboard and they couldn't get it up and running even after changing it.

So, being under 4 year warranty (Since 2010) when I purchased it in extended version (smart, wasn't it....) I was eligible for brand new 320GB version InFamous 2 bundle which came of course with new controller.

The first thing I did, after latest update 4.11 (didn't die on me this time..), went to local EB and picked up 3 months PS+. Luckily, during my first 15 moths as subscriber, I did managed to upload good amount of save files to Cloud service, which I still believe should be available to everyone, not just PS+ members - from my GT5 to Dragon Age Origins and so forth.

The only game unfortunately I miss is my 35 hours Skyrim progress but not much I can do about it now.

A note to my Gamespot friends, I still have in mint working condition original released PS1 and PS2 console. I also have first generation 60GB PS3 which failed blu-ray disk drive back in 2009. After repair it still kicking in nicely in my living room mostly used for media (pictures and blu-ray player).

This is the first Sony console which I owned (PS3) that I had two failures with both completely out of my control, blu-ray disk drive failure and motherboard issue. I have all my electronics in mint condition, clean and extra space location, not to mention I follow more then enough safety procedures to keep them running at up-most risk free environments.

However, it seem like, it doesn't really matter. No electronic device is forever fault free and sometimes it's out of your hands.

The best advice I can give to anyone, when you're asked: "Would you like extra warranty Sir?" - You say: "YES" and shell out those extra money for 3 years warranty. The times have changed, electronics are moving too fast and their quality is not primary concern anymore, it stinks I know - but it's either that or spending over 180$ on repairs each time..

As of right now, I'm covered until October 2014 with my PS3 warranty which I hope should be enough until PS4 arrives at which point I have a feeling additional warranty purchase would be good idea. It's sad the developers are starving us with extra money out of our pockets just so we can keep our save files and game progress, not to mention our consoles in working conditions.

Time have changed, we as consumers have to be smarter.

Now, it's time to continue Deus Ex: Human Revolution. One of mine favorite games this generation which I barely quarter into actual progress. After that, I will pick up Mass Effect 3 and finish the story. ;)

Ah, have to send PS3 for repairs. :(

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It's been awhile since I made my last blog and its unfortunate that the current one has to start with my PS3 being sent for repair.

The unfortunate event happened when I went to upgrade to 4.11 firmware update where the download stopped at 99% and it will show system error after which it would reboot itself and automatically continue to update again to 99% where it would freeze.

I was unsuccessful to enter 'safe mode' which Sony Customer service tried to guide me with for 15 minutes and replacing my hard drive didn't work either.

It's a shame, this is my second PS3 being sent away in last 4 years, the first one had blu-ray disk stop reading and required repair, this time around it's simple firmware update that seem like it somehow corrupted my hard drive..

I don't know how it happened but it did. Either way, I will send it on upcoming Tuesday since it's Family Day holiday here in Canada so no shipping service is operating until then, sadly. At least my 4 year old purchased warranty takes care of all costs but I did lose over 40+ hours of Skyrim gameplay which disappoints me the most.

Looks like my weekend is going to be spent with Skyward Sword and good old Counter Strike, StarCraft II.

Looking forward to my PS3 return, hopefully by first week of March just before Mass Effect 3.