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25 20 12

therealgreek89 Blog

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger?

Blog post number 2, going well so far.

It's gotten to the point in the console lifecycle where, despite all the graphical and technical advances in the last 6-7 years, the increase of quality found in the games being released on the ageing systems has started to slow down. Obviously, there are some exceptions. Two games in particular, shown at this years E3, are getting a lot of grunt out of the current generations hardware. But a lot of the really good looking games at E3 this year were running on PC's, and the lack of parity between console and PC is immediately apparent, even to outside observers. My own Mother was gobsmacked over the amount of detail in games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2 running on a PC, and the last game she played was Tetris.

Speaking to New Scientist, NVIDIA's principle engineer Simon Green has said that current, high end graphics cards are up to 24 times more powerful than the card found inside your XBox 360. This means that on average graphics cards become around 3 times more powerful per year, and when you take into account that everything in a PC is upgradable it isn't just graphics that get a boost, you can imporve your entire system exponentially. This is great for games like Battlefield 3, which gets a much bigger online experience on PC, as well as giving a game like Minecraft an enormous advantage over it's console counterpart. A game which is, by no means, graphically intensive uses that extra juice, as well as the freedom associated with working on the platform, to bring us bigger and more plentiful worlds, more features, regular incremental updates, better enemy AI, custom skins and texture packs, and access to a huge modding community. What the XBox 360 version get's in lieu of this is a better crafting menu and an easier way to play with other people. A trade off which is heavily weighted to one side and, I think, really curtails the overall experience that over 6 million people have grown to love. What's even more worrying is that Simon Green has also expressed doubts that the next generation will be comparable to the PC technology of the near future. Epic Games VP Mark Rein has spoken out about the growing concern that the next generation of consoles might not be using the latest technology available to them in order to keep down costs, a worry that is shared by a lot of core gamers. When you combine that with the rise in prevolence of affordable, pre-built desktops and laptops from companies like Razer and Alienware, it make's the idea of PC gaming ever more alluring (no matter how much the 'PC Elite' seem to dislike this fact).

One of the other main motivating factors for making the move to PC gaming is the amount of options you have when it comes to purchasing the games for your tower of power. You are still able to buy your games boxed from a retailer, but the majority of PC gamers these days are downloading their games directly from Valves Steam service, who sell games generally cheaper than their boxed counterparts, and regularly offer sales on a large selection of products on their service. But Steam is not the only one, last year EA launched their own download service, Origin. The one stop shop for all things EA did attract the ire of PC gamers by way of some questionable business practices, pulling their games from Steam and forcing gamers into using the service, as well as allegedly scanning the hard drives of it's users, in a way similar to Google or Apple. However, EA's games have started to find their way back onto Valve's popular service and Origin has somewhat cleaned up it's act, making their service seem a little more viable as a platform. PC gamers also have the option of using smaller, independent services like Good Old Games, which offers DRM free games at affordable prices, as well as games distributed directly from developers websites, and the ever popular Humble Indie Bundle (offering great indie games like Amnesia, Sword & Sworcery, and Bastion), which operates a 'pay what you want' business model, as well as giving a portion of the profits to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play charities. So while the computers themselves are more expensive to buy outright, you end up saving money when purchasing games.

Consoles, on the other hand, have a very closed system when it comes to game sales. Your choices are buying £40 ($60) boxed games, or downloading them from their respective marketplaces at an inflated cost, with the smaller, 'indie' games making up the middle ground. When it comes to offering choices, Console manufacturers are at an obvious disadvantage because of the costs associated with the certification process that they employ. In an interesting turn of events, though, Sony seems to be exploring different business models when it come's to distributing games. Killzone 3's multiplayer component recently went free-to-play, up to a specific player level, DC Universe Online has been free-to-play on Sony's console for some time now, and the upcoming First Person Shooter Dust 514 is set to release on the Playstation 3 as a free-to-play game. This is an encouraging development, and makes the future of console gaming seem a little brighter. But free-to-play is also growing dramatically in popularity on PC, and the quality of these games is genuinely impressive. Adhesive Game's Hawken, Crytek's Warface, Zombie Game's Blacklight Retribution and Tribes:Ascend from Hi-Rez Studios, to just name a few, are defying belief and showing us that free-to-play games have matured to a level that makes them a more tempting prospect, to gamers and developers alike. Crytek recently stated that they would be focusing entirely on free-to-play games for the forseeable future, and the majority of these games will probably be coming to PC. So not only are retail games cheaper, you have a whole host of games that you can play without having to pay a penny.

There are, however, some inherent advantages to console gaming. Buying a system often boils down to walking into a shop and walking out with a box to play games on. Monitors are not a problem because the majority of people have a TV in their home already, and they allow you to have a 'sit back and play' experience. You don't need to sit at a desk to play your console games, and in a society where more and more people are working longer hours in office jobs, the prospect of sitting at a desk, after having spent several hours sitting at a different desk, is obviously not a very tempting one. In addition to this, according to NPD, the average age of a gamer in 2012 is around 37 years old, so being able to sit back on your sofa, put a disc in, and pick up a controller is a god send, not to mention the additional benefits of being able to use services like LoveFilm, Netflix, and other localised video services on your TV set without having to shell out extra money for a Smart TV, as well as Sony effectively smuggling a Blu-Ray player into millions of homes worldwide. But one of the main advantages the Consoles have over PC has been suspiciously under-used in this current generation. Split-Screen multiplayer, the feature that most differentiated Consoles from their PC brethren, became a rarity in most AAA games, who would have rather strived to go feature for feature with the PC version.

But all these changes and extra features are taking consoles, originally created as single-function devices, back into the realm of a personal computer. They aren't just for playing games anymore, they can browse the internet, stream movies and music, download content and more. They've attempted to take all your entertainment needs and put them all in a single box to sit under your Television. They're not as fully featured as a PC, that goes without saying, but it's clear that they are becoming more than just a place to play games, they're a place for everything you would want to do on, or with, your TV set. Consoles are getting closer and closer to being an alternative for all your other living room devices, and have always strived to be an alternative to PC gaming, but the closer and closer they get to this ideal, the more they seem hampered by their lack of upgradability. And it doesn't just hamper the games released on console, it hampers games generally. More and more you see devs limiting their reach when developing games for PC in order to be able to have their game running on the consoles. While this means that, due to the rise of multiplatform development, there are ultimately more games on PC, very few of them use the technology available to them to its full capacity. PC versions of console games are generally better looking and arguably more stable (Rage not withstanding), but you get the feeling that they could have been even better. When PC games get ported over to consoles, though, the difference is remarkable. Battlefield 3 is a notably different game on PC than it is on console. Not only is it bigger and better looking, but runs at a rate of 60 frames per second, compared to the consoles 30, making for a much smoother and sleeker experience. While it's true that games on PC are often better than their console counterparts, it requires at least some basic knowledge of how computers work. It's not a matter of plug and play in many cases; some games require a degree of trial and error, others can fail to run due to incompatibility issues. For many PC gamers, though, having a better experience makes up for the fact that it is sometimes a little more difficult to set your games up, and it becomes part of the experience. With a little effort it is entirely possible to learn everything you need to play games on a PC in a couple of days, with everything else following behind.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you are a console gamer please don't pass up on PC gaming, it really is all it's cracked up to be. There is so much freedom associated with the platform that the little niggles don't matter so much when you jump in. And if you're a PC gamer, don't be so hard on the console kids, everyone has to start somewhere.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I'd like to hear from you guys, wether you agree or disagree (especially if you disagree) let me know what you take is on PC gaming.

Like I said in my previous post I'm pretty new to this, so if this is too long let me know and I'll remember for next time.

See you round!

Credit goes to: PCGamesN, IGN, Gamespot, Kertech Blog, Gamasutra, NPD.

Just a quick one.

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who read my first post on monday, even getting just a few people reading it is really great.

Turns out this blogging thing is quite theraputic, I think I'll do some more:)

Like I said before, feel free to comment with whatever comes to mind. Even (and especially) if you disagree with me. I'd love to hear everyone elses opinions on the things that I write.

But yea, that's about it. I'm gonna go make myself a lovely cuppa tea and eat some custard creams.

Thanks again and I'll see you around!

First Post, possibly of many......most likely not.

Heeeeeeelloooooooo and welcome to my first ever blog post, I'm Nik the Greek and today I'm going to randomly type things and hope they make sense at the end.

I've been reading Gamespot for a while and been a 'member' for about 6 months or something like that and I thought that it was about time I wrote something for you lovely guys and gals to read while eating cereal at midday, out of a bowl that hasn't been washed in a week cause you keep putting it off. You've just got so many games to play you don't really want to have to go do the washing up and so are content with eating cereal out of a bowl that still has the old milk in it and it's started to coagulate around the bottom of our bowl but you ignore it and use the same bowl anyway, but I digress.

Anyway there's been something that's been really bugging me about 'mainstream' games recently. I don't know if it's genre fatigue, platform fatigue or just that the triple A games being made today, on the whole, just aren't very imaginative. Another Call of Duty, another Assassin's Creed, another Halo, another Gears....you get the picture. It seems like big publishers have given up with trying to impress us, content with just churning out game after game of the same franchise to go for the easy dollar. Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just cynical, but this last week during E3 only one press conference really wowed and it wasn't even a platform holder. [note: I wasn't there, but I watched extensive coverage of it on several sites. This is just my 2 cents]

SEGUE!!

Nintendo, the company with the most to lose coming out of this years E3 and promising a dedication to hardcore experiences with the WiiU launching later this year, started of well with Pikmin 3[even though I think it's the weakest of their franchises, and I personally don't like the game]and Ubisoft demoing their games running on WiiU which was awesome. They then decided, however, to take up stage time showing us games we've already played and more of the same family friendly casual stuff. Obviously this was to be expected, Nintendo made a very pretty penny out of casual games on the Wii so I had no doubt in my mind that we would end up seeing some of this stuff at the presser. But although it was expected they would show some,after telling us that their focus was now back on the core gamer [and the fact that the casual market is no longer in Nintendos ball park] I think we expected to see, oh I dunno, some new games for the core? Surely the people who are interested enough to watch or go to E3 are the fan(boy)s, the people who are gonna go out and buy your system day one and Nintendo presented us with games that will have already been on the market for around a year by the time the new system launches. That's not commitment to the hardcore by any stretch of the imagination. Where were Retro? Where was Zelda?Most importantly, where the hell was Smash Bros? The game was teased at last years E3 with no footage, no information, no date, no nothing....just a name. This year there was zero mention of Smash Bros. You'd think that after using it as a ploy to get us to pay attention that this year it would have been a marquee title, something for Nintendo to hang their hat on and say thisis why you want a WiiU. But no, they just showed us Nintendoland and finished off with fake fireworks on a screen........did I miss something? We were all waiting for a Zelda announcement and instead we got a little video of pre-rendered fireworks.....good god I'm amazed.I give Nintendo a 4/10

Microsoft gave us the same non-chalance when it came to games in favour of showing us more Kinect stuff, it's new media partners, and 'Smart Glass' [which I will shortly be filing under **** we don't need']. Why would I want to browse the web on my XBox thorugh my tablet, when I could browse the web on my tablet through my tablet? What could this possibly bring to the gaming experience? I know, I know, it is impressive tech and will probably find a home being used for something else, and more media partners is good and all, but E3 is a show about games isn't it? Games we haven't seen before, something to make us salivate over the prospect of another year with XBox....What we got was a conference which was yet again book ended by beige shooters, with the new IP being religated to minute long videos that explained very little about the actual games. While I love how Microsoft has supported XBLA over the years, and we've seen some pretty awesome games on the platform, if you're going to show off downloadable games at E3 give me a show reel of 10, not short videos of a couple.Microsoft gets a 5/10

Speaking of showreel, Sony showed us another one, they are very good at making these videos look the absolute bomb. But we're not here to watch nicely cut videos, we're here to see games......and Sony had afew.There weren't many surprises at Sony's conference apart from Wonderbook [more on that later] and Beyond:Two Souls, although we already knew Quantic Dreams David Cage was working on something,we just didn't know what. So for that reason I don't think it really counts. But to be fair to them, what they had to show looked (mostly) good.The Last of Us was my personal game of show. I was a bit scared that it was gonna be a very scripted experience, but what I've heard so far from Gamespot [as well as *ahem* other publications]has left me with the confidence that Naughty Dog will knock another one out of the park, I may be wrong but it looks like it may end up being another feather in Sony's hat. Along with the absolutely stunning Beyond, Sony's 2 big new IP's did make quite a splash, but most of the rest of the presser was luke warm at best. We saw God of War: Ascention, which was most definietlysomeGod of War[It does have multiplayer now, but they didn't show it on stage.....so bite me].Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, which is the front runner for most ridiculous name, got a few new characters; Uncharted's Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from Irrational Games Bioshock. I was most impressed by seeing Big Daddy in there, hopefully it's the start of good things to come as far as 3rd party support goes, but I really can't see Nathan Drake being that useful a character. It seems like they put him in there just because he's a recognisable face, rather than the character adding anything to the game. I may just be wrong here, but it seems like after Nintendo announced a Smash Bros was coming to Wii U eventually, Sony wanted to beat them at their own game and bring out their own version on the current system before Nintendo had a chance to even talk about it. Then there were some 3rd party demos, the Assassin's Creed demo was interesting, I'm liking the Naval combat etc etc. Now before I talk about Wonderbook, I just wanted to say this.... "SONY, SHOW US MORE VITA GAMES!". From what I heard they had a whole bunch of Vita games on the show floor, so why weren't they in the conference? Why show a community of hardcore gamers a book with no words in it, rather than showing us all the awesome games we'll be getting on the underappreciated haldheld? Way to sell your system Sony, show us one trailer for an Assassin's Creed game and a black screen with Call of Duty written on it...we love that **** To be honest, Assassin's Creed Vita did look pretty interesting, new protagonist *gasp* who is a WOMAN *gasp*. I don't think it'll be that big of a system seller, but it looked pretty good none the less......Oh and PlayStation All-Stars Big Punch up Extravaganza is coming to the Vita too, great moving on. Now I don't really know where to start with Wonderbook. At first I thought it was another dumb idea from Sony's motion control department [although judging by the garbage we've gotten thus far, it may as well be a motion control island....lost at sea never to be seen by anyone other than Kaz Hirai], but then they said the name J.K.Rowling and I thought Hey, they might be onto something here! But then she wasn't even there, she just left them a quote, talking about muggles and how good Sony is, which wasn't even read out. I should have expected it really, J.K.Rowling is a notorious recluse and Sony do some strange things sometimes. Then the disappointment was confounded even more when they spend 10-15 minutes demoing it with some random women sat on the floor and on top of that the thing hardly even worked! It was at this point I thought to myself "no wait, this is terrible". Ok ok, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Wonderbook. As a learning tool for children it could be pretty good, and the J.K.Rowling connection means that every child thats even looked at a Harry Potter book is probably gonna start bugging their parents to get them all some Wonderbooks. I think I'm leaning too far the other way now, ok fine, Wonderbook.....it's a thing that exists, Harry Potter, PSMove, all that Jazz.Sony receives 7/10

Strangely enough, the general concensus is that Ubisoft won E3, and I would have to agree. They really stepped up the bar this year, everything they showed looked at least good if not brilliant with the possible exception of ShootMania....I'm not sure about that one. There weren't as many terrible jokes this time [note: there were still a fair amount terrible jokes], and I don't think I could have survived another visit from Mr. Caffeine. But, like I said, games wise Ubisoft did a really great job this year. Far Cry 3 looked amazing, a really interesting game that looks like it could be several different kinds of awesome, it's just a shame that no one will buy it. Assassin's Creed 3 looks great, although I was talking about fatigue earlier there's something that feels fresh about number 3 but we'll have to wait and see. Rayman Legends looks like another 2D Rayman game, which is in no way a bad thing. ZombiU looks ok, your standard FPS with some WiiU gamepad features....looked a little like a tech demo repackaged into a full game, that's the impression I got anyway. Splinter Cell looked slick and really polished, but looking very scripted and otherwise unremarkable. Ubi's big one though, their tour de force, was Watch Dogs.....running on a high end PC it was gorgeous. They gave us a fair amount of exposition before showing gameplay which I thought was kind of strange, but then as the demo started I realised that the game spoke for itself. It looks so different to anything Ubisoft has brought us before, different to anything else showed that whole show. I was flabbergasted by how good it looked I was literally slack jawed through the whole demo. Well done Ubisoft, 100 internets for you....although you really need to sort out a host who is actually funny or just don't bother.Ubisoft has a well deserved 8/10

I've left EA till last because there is something that I want to talk about...but more on that later. They showed Dead Space 3 [more co-op, less scary], some sports games and some shooters.....as well as a brand new Sim City, and....another.....brand new.....Sim City. Wait what? Throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks EA? I don't like it, I like it a bit, ok to be honest I'm kind of indifferent. Seems like a decent strategy I guess, but I just wanna play the big Sim City rather then the watered down 'social' version, but whatever. Something that EA also showed was Medal of Honor:Warfighter, a game that claims to have all the meat and trimmings from your military FPS, but also a deep storyline...something that doesn't happen very often. I'm gonna give EA a score now even though I haven't talked about them much. But then what's to talk about? EA Sports, Need for Speed, Battlefield Premium and Medal of Honor.6/10

MoH:W sparked a bit of controversy right here on this site[If by controversy you mean a verbal scuffle].Gamespot's Tom McShea wrote a scathing editorial about how MoH:W was attempting to portray realism and respect for troops while still having regenerating health and headshot counters and all that jazzy stuff. He called the game 'shameful' and 'sickening', whichexecutive producer Greg Goodrich obviously took mild offence to and decided to sit down with Mr. McShea and talk it out. Now, as I said before I've been reading Gamespot for quite some time, and while I don't claim to know anything about him, from what I've seen of him on the Hotspot, On the spot, and the articles he writes, McShea seems like an Intelligent and well-mannered individual. However, while I understood the point that Tom was trying to get across, he managed to come across as rude, petulant and slightly conceited. You know as well as I do that when developers show their games at E3, they always show the most big, bad-ass, bombastic scene they can, which means that there's not much room for story information....this is a given. We also know that, as much as we like to think of gaming as this kind of art form, gaming is a business....these guys need to make money in order to make more games, this is also a given. In order to sell games, the game has to be fun...I don't understand where Tom was coming from with this one. Upon being asked if Danger Close should make a game that isn't fun, Tom McShea answered 'Yes'. This does not sound like a balanced argument from a man who has a grasp of what his point actually is, it sounds like a man giving obtuse answers in order to give himself the upper hand. Goodrich had some very good, and sometimes amusing, points to make in response to McShea's argument which seemed to be outright ignored and instead McShea decided to focus on the issue of regenerating health again and again and butting in with smaller, secondary points in, what seemed like, an attempt to undermine Goodrich. The whole interview was handled badly from the start by Tom, I'm going to guess he didn't make any friends over this and was made to look at least a little foolish by Goodrich, who was polite and reasonable throughout. Goodrich, in my books, has gone from a developer I've never heard of, to someone I actually admire. Goodrich, you're awesome.


Anyway, if you got this far thank you very much for reading. Like I said before this is my first blog so if it's a little long I apologise and I will try to make ammends for next time.

So what do you think? Who won E3? What's your game of show? Did you like my first blog? Do you think I'm an idiot?

Leave me a comment and maybe we can talk it out too.

See you round!