As the new owner of an Xbox 360 console after much scrutinizing and debating between the new toys divulged from the big three console players, I am happy with my choice, and happy that I didn’t follow the PlayStation lineage as I have in the past. Of course when I was younger, deciding which to buy was really a function of brand name and not necessarily that of an actual decision. It went about as deep as “will it have better graphics?” and the affirmative answer was good enough to merit a purchase. Something else I’ve always held as a truth was that Sony was a reputable company of unchallenged quality and reputation, although that has become something I dismiss… heartily.
Sony has become something of a follower and less of a leader. Nintendo is constantly willing to take risks and try innovative new things. Microsoft undoubtedly rules the online front with simplicity and user-friendly interfaces, yet highly robust and feature filled, as well as many great features that don’t pertain to Xbox Live. So what is Sony doing now? Copying Nintendo and Microsoft ideas, which is good. I don’t think it’s a bad thing – if PlayStation 3 didn’t have half of what Xbox Live offers or what Wii has to offer, it wouldn’t be worth a second glance. However what gets to me with the PlayStation 3 is the ridiculous Sony hype based entirely on false claims and consumer loyalty. With all of the hype PS3 is getting, you’d think it has a gigantic bag of fun new tricks. It seems like as the clock ticks, Sony’s sales depend more and more on company reputation that no longer exists in practice, but seems to linger on in the hearts of consumer America. Drastically overpriced HDTVs “for both men and women!” sell… and why? Because people can’t seem to make an active decision about what they buy. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of intelligent buyers who are well rehearsed on the subject – but a great deal of Sony’s consumer base seems to be, for the most part, retarded.
For the same reason racial and cultural stereotypes exist, people enjoy attaching a reputation to a logo, name, or face. Why? It makes their lives easier, and completely eliminates actual thought from a purchasing decision. We don’t need to worry about the fact that most of the 1080p TVs with HDMI produced in 2005 don’t have speedy enough HDMI transcoders to actually display a 1080p signal, including sets from Sony. Just make sure it’s Sony. Everything will work the way you want it to because Sony’s a good brand. I found it literally impossible to explain to a good friend that the Sony TV he had bought was not the resolution listed on the box. Apparently “lie” and “Sony” in the same sentence triggered a psychological atomic bomb. Why wouldn’t his PS3 output in 1080p? Because the box was full of !@#$. The little “1080p” sticker in the corner of the screen on the display model at Circuit City was full of !@#$. For some inexplicable reason, I see this consumer loyalty towards Sony on such a colossal level that it’s no wonder that PlayStation 2 sold twice as many units as Xbox and GameCube’s sales combined.
Despite Wii’s innovative controller design, despite Xbox 360’s industry leading online capabilities, despite PS3’s ridiculous pricetag, despite the PS3 being only marginally more powerful than Xbox 360 and being less featured, my friends are more stoked about PS3 than anything. Two of them camped out in the Michigan cold to get one of the damn things. Despite Sony making me pay for a botched PS2 they agreed to repair after a class-action lawsuit, and despite making misleading marketing claims on their TVs towards a loyal customer, they will still line up for PlayStation 4.
There seems to be some level of magnetism between Sony and its consumers. I honestly can’t see what is so attractive about the company. The PlayStation 3 is a fine and dandy console, but in my several hours of experience with a friends machine, I don’t see why exactly it’s worth spending $600 on when you can get an Xbox 360 for much less. The Xross Media Bar became sluggish, the PlayStation Store was slow and clunky, and the web browser had frequent hold-ups or sometimes just quit functioning altogether. Its lineup is subject to change, but the games aren’t particularly mind blowing. The graphics are not the heavenly experience hype and Sony itself has been touting. Granted, these are first generation games, but you only get one shot at a first impression, and my first impression of PlayStation 3 is not a good one. I find Xbox 360 to be more intuitive, to have a more impressive list of both released and upcoming games, tons of media and accessory functionality, and an online marketplace with a plethora of useful options and a bright future. The universal friends list is great, as with anything Xbox Live. So someone please enlighten me as to why a console that doesn’t offer a discernibly higher level of fun, doesn’t offer as many features, or a dramatically improved visual experience is worth spending an extra $200 on, especially one from a company that doesn’t seem to care about it’s consumers and exhibits increasingly lower quality products?
Living in the oldest city in the midwest has always been somewhat of a spectacle, but it's something more now. The superbowl has come to Detroit, after the long awaited return of the Detroit Lions to the inner city. The Lions have found their home in suburban Pontiac for the last thirty years or so, and their move back into the city has caught the attention of those high up in the NFL, and they've brought this holy grail of sports championships to my hometown. Personally, I don't really care that much for sports. What I'm proud of is what this game has done for our city. Detroit has a nasty reputation for being a hellhole, usually among the leading cities in crime in the nation, but right now you really couldn't tell. The superbowl has brought people from all over the country to Detroit, and the city has dressed in the proper attire. I was shocked earlier today as I walked down Woodward Avenue to see all of the abandoned buildings having a facelift, and right next to downtown at Woodward and Grand River there's a big empty gap where a building once was(the J.L. Hudson building, demolished), and it's cemented in, and a stage was set up for a concert. This was a stage on which Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Clint Black played. I'm not a fan of either, but not once in my life have I seen a concert take place in the open. Normally, you get padded like you're a terrorist when you try to enter Cobo Arena or the State Theater. Instead, there was a free, general admission concert right on Woodward, about a 5 minute walk from downtown. Throughout Winter Blast there are many different attractions. Sprint, Jeep, GM, Ford, and several other companies all have stages set up in tents all around the city. Normally shady places have become tent villages full of nice people here in the Motor City to enjoy themselves. Thanks to the temporary fluxuation of population, more pubs and stores are opening up downtown. I'm pretty sure they'll flee the city like they have for the last few decades, but it's nice to see this after so much time. Kudos to the Super Bowl for making Detroit shine.
A shot of Woodward during the Winter Blast.
Detroit's landmark, the Rennaissance Center, has been decorated for the Super Bowl XL and looks great in the fog.
Here's a distant view of all the hubbub happening on Woodward Avenue.
I guess you could call my gaming taste a hybrid of colorful, charming adventure roots, and murderous, frenetic shooters. I started out playing video games on my brother's big, fat, grey GameBoy in the early 90s and eventually went on to play SNES and Nintendo 64. Fans of these platforms know the glory in their adventure and platforming games, and this is the foundation of my gaming addiction. Almost a decade later, I became hooked to a game by the name of Unreal Tournament, and my shooting binge begins. I went on to waste ridiculous amounts of time on Counter-Strike and Quake III.
However, for some reason, I feel rooted to colorful, well mannered games. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was the game I was looking for, but my glee was short lived as it wasn't very long, and Ubisoft decided to go all Grand Theft Auto and turn the game into a bloody, gory, and sexual themed action game. I guess nowadays everyone wants to be edgy and cool, and I feel like I'm losing a grip in what I once saw in video games. Increasingly escalating gore and violence and drastically decreasing originality and true gold for content. But alas, I struck gold again...
FarCry brought the pretty, colorful style that I grew up with, and incorporates it with the bloody, shooting style I've acclimated to. Naturally, I'm eager to see what's next from CryTEK, even if it isn't a sequel. Something to keep me on my toes until something like FarCry to be released is good enough for me. I just need to know that another one's coming. I thought today was going to be the day that my wish was granted, after having seen a tech demo of CryENGINE 2 on the internet. Sadly, my hopes were let down:
"a new kind of gameplay challenge requiring adaptive tactics and customization of weapons and armor in dynamic, hostile environments as mankind struggles to survive in the face of a horrific alien invasion."
After two years of no word from Ubisoft or CryTEK about anything, my hopes are smashed to bits by another big-budget, overrated Sci-Fi Shooter. Somehow I can't see my self enjoying this game very much, even if it is good. I've saved the earth from destruction by means of an alien race many times, can't we come up with a new storyline? I can think of a few titles in the last year or so that were very similar...
The only hope left in the world for a decent shooter that didn't copy everyone else is bringing the usual banter about bring a new style of gameplay to the genre, blah, blah, blah. The only game that implemented something so unique that it really felt original was Half-Life 2. Aside from that, I can think of no other. Every big budget shooter that is said to offer new levels of gameplay always turns out to be the same, sell-out, big-budget ripoff that this genre is damned to be until the end of time. Deep inside, I'm still hoping for word on FarCry 2.