Sunday, July 30, 2006

Prey (PC)

- I did it pretty much in a single day. It took around 9hrs.
- Overall the pacing was pretty good. It got a bit repetitive a few times after about hour 6 or so but then they would always throw in something really cool every 15 or 30 min.
- There are somethings you have never seen in a shooter: sense of scale, mini planets, incredible use of portals, gravity changes, not a single ladder in the whole game (instead you just walk up special walls/ceilings), some flight levels which reminds me of descent.
- There are some really stand out incredible levels/puzzles that utilize all the above, I just wish there were more of these wow moments.
- Lots of run and gun in tight quarters with a few wide open areas thrown in between.
- A bit too many flying levels toward the end for my taste.
- It's almost like playing with god mode on since you can't actually ever die. You just enter the spirit realm and play a mini game. Gosh If I have to play that mini game one more time....
- So health all of a sudden doesn't become that important but ammo does. The only time I ever quick loaded was when I thought I wasted too much ammo.
- Use the leech gun, a lot, to save ammo on other weapons (especially toward the end).
- Really nice graphics, great use of the doom 3 engine. Quite a few glowing elements sort of like in Tron. There's this cool effect (I wish it was used more) where you see the level build and assemble itself right before your eyes.
- Nice mix of weapons that look different but still plays very familiar to other shooters. No need reload though.
- A few new casino/arcade games are available that are a step above punching a turkey.
- There's a tiny level after the credits.
- Tried the X360 demo briefly. It pretty much looks exactly the same though framerate was a little choppy at the beginning. I hear it gets better after the first part. Still, very playable and pretty good controls for a console shooter.

A very solid shooter with some truly unique elements that you have never seen/played before. If it had just a few more wow moments this game would have been really great.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

God of War (PS2)

I finally went back and finished this after stopping for 7 months (getting the X360 distracted me).
- finished in around 10 hrs on normal.
- Some frustrating platformer bits toward the end. Lots of timed puzzles with no room for error.
- Camera is NOT user controllable and sometimes they are just BAD!
- great gfx, sound, music, solid enjoyable combat, great combo system with just the right balance of learning curve and depth.
- some truly great boss battles with some dragon's lair button sequence gameplay thrown in there.
- same dragon's lair stuff lets you finish off some of the bigger creatures.
- true adult content with over the top gore and topless nudity (including 3 way sex mini game but you don't really see anything).
- tons of extras/unlockables with making of and silly alternate skins.
- great skill level system where if you die consecutively a few times it asks if you want to change your difficulty to easy.
- pretty well spaced out save points. It causes frustration sometimes.
- I enjoyed the story with some nice twists in there. Great cut scenes. Satisfying ending.
- excellent level/puzzle design.
- It's only $20 new right now.

Probably one of the best 3rd person action games out there (right up there with Ninja Gaiden). If they just toned down a few of the more frustrating platformer bits it would be perfect.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray

First let me point out that I have no experience with either format. Here is just some information I got from listening to the podcast.

Here's a very interesting podcast on the subject:

Granted this is microsoft so it's pro HD-DVD but they did mention some interesting bits:

I'll use B for blu-ray and H for hd-dvd:
B - data closer to the surface, 1.1MM substrate - data - .1 MM substrate
H - uses .6mm - data - .6mm which is the same as DVD
H - the above allows dual sided discs where you have the regular dvd on one side and hd-dvd on the other side. So you can start buying some hd-dvd's today and enjoy the benefits later when you pick up a hd-dvd player later
B - has no such dual format capability.

H - ethernet - internet connectivity + persistant storage is required on every player. This allows full bookmarking + resume features and maybe in the future dynamically d/l HD trailers.
B - optional, up to player manufacturer

- note: both B and H have to support 3 codecs but it's up to the
studios to pick which one they want to use: VC1, Mpeg 4 (h.264), Mpeg2)
- an uncompressed high def movie would take about 1TB of space. bitrate of 1gbps
H - currently all studios have picked VC1 codec which is 2-3X more efficient than mpeg2.
B - all studios have stuck with mpeg2

H - all discs are currently dual layer (30GB. 15GB per layer)
B - only 25GB single layer available. No 50GB dual layer commercially available yet.
- storage + codec choice makes HD-dvd discs look better for now

H - base spec requires the ability to decode two HD streams at the same time. This is for PiP Director Video Commentary type effects and extras.

B - has a faster data transfer rate

- both will use AACS copy protection.
B - has an optional BD+ dynamic copy protection in addition to AACS.