Tag Archives: PS3

DualShock 3 Impressions

In what I’m sure will be remembered as a breakthrough up there with the moon landing and the mapping of the human genome, Sony have done the impossible: they’ve got rumble and motion sensing into the same controller.

DualShock 3

With rumble back in there and the controller no longer feeling quite as waifish, that’s two problems down. We still have the somewhat floaty and uncomfortably-placed sticks and those inexplicable convex triggers (PSW has the right idea), but it’s a big improvement. Perhaps more importantly, however, I haven’t had those intermittent signal dropouts that plagued the Sixaxis and I’m yet to hear of any from other people. That’s worth the upgrade alone.

Like the Controller S for the Xbox, this is how it should have been done the first time. I’ve kind of given up on my other problems with the DualShock design being fixed or even acknowledged as problems, so at least the removal of several new issues is a step in the right direction. It seems like a subtle improvement in general, with the sticks having a slightly different feel to the Sixaxis – a friend described them as being more “PS2-like”, although I don’t know what exactly had changed – and the whole thing generally feeling more sturdy.

The DualShock 3 in my hands The DS3 smothering its deformed older sibling
(click images for larger versions)

Obviously it’s the rumble that provides the main attraction, and that seems well done. It’s clearly not the much-vaunted TouchSense, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like weights on motors. The games that I’ve tried which feature rumble – Uncharted, Resistance, the GT5 and Ratchet demos – may simply be using it in subtle ways (I’d bet that they were integrated in a hurry) but in all instances it felt more like a buzz than what I’d describe as a rumble. It remains to be seen how it will handle the sharp jolt of gunfire once developers have it properly integrated, though it was predictably well executed in the rumble strips and engine feedback of GT5. It also tested fine for rumble in PS1 and PS2 games.

In-game Sixaxis motion sequences are, predictably, still shit. Developers: please look at Warhawk’s optional implementation and let me use the sticks.

So from what I’ve played the DualShock 3 seems to be a worthy new iteration of the Sixaxis that PS3 owners will want to invest in. It seems odd that there is such a gulf between the Japanese and Western release dates given that there are no region locks for hardware, but – given that there are no region locks for hardware – it’s a simple import. Admittedly not quite so simple anymore for EU residents, so in that case I suggest looking for importers in your country or simply taking a punt on eBay.

For non-EU residents Play-Asia has both black and ceramic white variants available. Might I suggest the white because, like its console cousin, it won’t show up the dust quite as much and looks rather more spiffing.

The Assassin’s Creed Cop-out

Assassin's Creed 2: Altair in Space!

First, a warning: if you haven’t been paying attention, this post could spoil certain aspects of Assassin’s Creed for you. In any case, rest assured that the ‘twist’ discussed here occurs minutes into the game, so put the pitchfork down.

And so, here we go. As you probably know if you’ve been following the development at all, the 12th Century setting of Assassin’s Creed takes place within a futuristic setting, exploring the idea of genetic memory. Expect a plethora of sequels set in various time periods (World War 2, here we come!) throughout the next couple of console generations.

As one of the early standard-bearers for this generation, Assassin’s Creed had a lot of hype behind it. And really ever since that showing at X06, when we saw an early version of the game looking and playing like most finished games at the time, it’s looked like one of those truly ‘next-gen’ games from the start. But what I liked it for more than anything was that it was doing something different in its setting. When it seems like every game is either a space marine shooter with a main character named like a Steven Seagal character or a fantasy epic, a game based on a relatively unexplored period of history was a breath of fresh air.

More like a hot blast of arid, desert air…

Maybe it’s understandable given development costs nowadays, and that coupled with a notoriously conservative industry (creatively speaking) means that working outside the comfort zone is even more of a risk, but it was the Third Crusade setting that first attracted me to the game simply because it was something that I hadn’t experienced in a game. And the overarching sci-fi elements wouldn’t bother me if they were limited to some kind of level hub or as justification for a sequel, as if they needed one.

But no. Areas between missions are truncated as the memory gets ‘skipped’; the HUD is all cool blue futurism; digital interference appears during holes in the memories. And that’s just what I saw in the first few missions. It’s like they got cold feet and considering how secretive they were about this plot element – a few public slips aside – I find it inexplicable. Sci-fi fans aren’t going to know about it and those interested by the history behind it, like me, will find it obtrusive and unnecessary .

I hope now that embargoes are up and the secret is out we might get some serious interviews on why this decision was made. I just can’t fathom it. Why would you make a game about genetic memory and keep that fact secret? Surely it’s an interesting enough concept to feature prominently. Why would you spend years showing a Prince of Persia-meets-Hitman game when most people are going to walk in and get something completely different? There’s no indication on the box that it’s anything other than an historical adventure, and thanks to the aforementioned embargoes it’s not mentioned in any of the reviews. Someone who hasn’t been following the development certainly won’t know about it.

As I said, it’s not going to impress the history buffs (because they won’t want it), and it’s not going to impress the armchair scientists (because they won’t know about it). Sci-fi games are the ones pushing the big numbers so far this gen and Ubisoft seem to be trying to tap that demographic by the back door. Ultimately, will they please no-one by trying to please everyone? We’ll have to wait for next month’s NPDs, I suppose.


These are unusual times. I’ve found a PS3 game to play and we’ve got a proper game that’s being digitally distributed. ‘Proper’ meaning not a touched up classic and not a £5 twin-stick shooter. It’s something new to console gaming and I really like it – Sony’s taken what could easily have been the next Shadowrun and done it right, making what’s probably my favourite PS3 game yet.

The Warhawk concept has been reinvented as a multiplayer-only Battlefield clone which, to be fair, is the game you want to copy if you’re making a multiplayer war game. And like Battlefield, it suffers from fairly average infantry and ground combat mechanics that are entirely forgiveable in light of some superlative aerial combat. While limiting yourself to the dogfight servers means missing out on certain dimensions of the gameplay, it’s the best way to guarantee a good game without the risk of being left behind without even a wheeled vehicle to carry you into the fray.

I inevitably gravitated towards flying the titular aircraft with sticks (I make no secret of my dislike of the ‘waggle’ fad), a setup which gives one stick to traditional flight and the other to the necessary aerobatics that make dodging and weaving between rock formations quick and intuitive. It never fails to be exciting when you have 16 wingmen flying with you towards the inevitable chaos of missiles and flak that await in the middle.

Warhawk isn’t particularly fully-featured and seems to have constant issues with connections and stats which should really be ironed out by now, but Sony has gone about it in the right way by making it £20 (or £40 on disc with a Bluetooth headset). To make the Shadowrun comparison again, that was also light on content but sold at retail for £50, and look how that turned out.

If this is a way to sidestep crippling development costs while still giving us proper next-gen games, I’m all for it. Of course I still want my big budget BioShocks and blockbusting Halos, but we can’t afford to spend £50 on every game that comes along.

A Week of PS3: Some Thoughts

After seven days with the monolith from 2001 sitting on my desk I’ve got a good idea of what the system’s all about at this point in its lifespan.

Xbox Live pisses all over PSN. Poor friends integration (besides the fact that I only know a handful of people with one), different interface in every game, and they apparently remove older content because I can’t get the Everybody’s Golf demo or the first Uncharted trailer now. Plus no way to arrange content by game. I know PSN is free, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather stay at the Ritz than a homeless shelter.

Live would do well to steal the idea of selling things in real money, though. At the current exchange rate Tekken 5 would cost me approximately 700 points. Although I’d have to buy 2,100 to get it. Fuck.

The PS3 is a better Blu-ray player than the 360 is HD DVD. I’ve watched a couple of films now (Apocalypto and Casino Royale) and have been thoroughly impressed, although despite the bigger library on BD I still struggle to find more than half a dozen films I want. There are a number of titles that I’ll be buying before the end of the year, though. And 1080p video doesn’t make Casino Royale any less overrated.

When the price drops I’ll probably buy a 360 with HDMI. It looks pin sharp and really is a surprising improvement over component or VGA. Oddly this is the first time I’ve watched native HD content over HDMI, since I’ve only ever used my upscaling DVD player previously.

Remote Play is a brilliant feature. Let me stream a DVD or BD to myself on the bog and it’ll be perfect.

Although the disc drive is significantly quieter than the 360’s, the fans aren’t. It’s near silent when turned on until they kick in after a few minutes (or is my room just too hot?), at which point I can hear them over a movie. Still, credit where credit’s due: it doesn’t sound like a jet taking off during a game which is an improvement.

I love the open standards for peripherals. Bluetooth means that anyone can put out wireless accessories, and being able to use any old flash memory card or USB drive as a memory card – allowing me to back up saves and even downloaded videos to my computer, no less – is fantastic. Ditto being able to use any old Bluetooth headset. Microsoft needs to note that charging £25 for a 64MB memory card is insulting when I can buy a 4GB flash drive to use with the PS3 for less.

On the subject of Bluetooth, why haven’t the syncing issues with the controller been fixed? Probably half a dozen times now my controller has stopped responding to leave my character running into a wall, and it’s not on when other wireless controllers like the 360’s and even the Wavebird have been absolutely rock solid. Because Resistance is so obnoxiously stingy with the checkpoints I had to do a whole – quite difficult – section again when it cut out and sent me gaily walking out in front of a big enemy with an equally big gun.

And why isn’t there an IR receiver? I see no real benefit to a Bluetooth remote (the ergonomics of a remote mean that it’s generally pointing at the device anyway) and it only serves to annoy the AV geeks who have their expensive universal remotes. You know, the ones who you’re trying to convince that the PS3 is a high end piece of AV equipment. Mine can turn on and control the 360 and PS2 but not the PS3, the one with movie playback that I might want to use with some regularity.

Stop plugging ‘CELL?’ and ‘Blu-ray Disc?’ at every opportunity. We know you have big discs (I said ‘discs’!) and a powerful CPU but we don’t need to be told in game trailers. It comes off like vapid marketing speak and undermines how good the technology actually is.

Most of all, the PS3 needs more games. Resistance, Motorstorm, and Ninja Gaiden don’t cut it at this point against two competitors that are ahead in sales and software. Thankfully there’s some good stuff coming this year.

E3 Conference Review

Microsoft – Only showing games to be released this year was an interesting gimmick, but ultimately I felt that it was a mistake. It did a great job of showing off the 2007 release list for the 360 which is, in my opinion, by far the best of the three consoles, only to leave 2008 and beyond as something of a vacuum that left the door open for the other two to take the plaudits. The likes of MGS4 aren’t coming out this year but they still carry a lot of weight as franchises.

And why did Microsoft choose to show only their 2007 titles and then show Resi 5 anyway? Why not just show other future titles and plug the strength of the 2007 lineup? They could easily have had their cake and eaten it.

The show itself fairly poor until it was saved by some excellent gameplay footage of big games like Call of Duty 4 (plus online beta!) and Assassin’s Creed. I’m still as hot for Halo 3 as I ever was after that trailer, as well, although it was admittedly not a brilliant trailer. It’s just that they played it safe, had their aforementioned high points, a couple of low points (the Madden thing was…ugh), and came out just affirming what we already knew: that the Xbox 360 has a strong 2007 lineup. They need a huge X07 or TGS now.

Overall: C+

Nintendo – I don’t doubt that every mainstream outlet on the planet is writing glowing features on Wii Fit as we speak and it’s going to make ridiculous amounts of money, but that show was a lesson in how to alienate your hardcore fans. I’m admittedly a lapsed Nintendo fan and a Mario game doesn’t do it for me like it used to (I’ll still buy Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 for sure, though), but nothing there did it for me. What was there except Wii Fitness and half a dozen new Wii peripherals? Vision Training? Not even any big DS announcements!

Mario Kart? It looks the same as Double Dash and they already did it online on the DS. No Animal Crossing. Little new on Smash Bros except a release date met with dead silence. The focus on Wii Fit meant that it ended up coming off like an infomercial for a step machine like you get on Five US when CSI isn’t on, and just affirmed for me that Nintendo and the Wii is no longer going with what I, as a gamer, want.

Overall: D

Sony – Mainly given the advantage of following Nintendo’s show and having only to be better than last year, Sony only really had to show some games that weren’t coming out this year in order to ‘win’, and they did. It started badly with some cringe-worthy Home skits and a painful appearance by Chewbacca, as well as so many plugs that it felt like I was watching Casino Royale again (“Spider-Man 2, now available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and UMD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment”; “connect your PSP to your Sony Bravia flatscreen TV”; “Home on my Sony-Ericsson mobile phone”), but then it was uphill.

The new PSP is a good improvement even if it didn’t have internal memory (I’ll buy one when it gets hacked), Echochrome looks cool, and MGS4, Uncharted, and Killzone all look superb. For the first time since E3 2005 I’m seriously considering when I plan to buy a PS3 and which game is going to do it.

Overall: B+

Overall, though, I think we can all agree that the new E3 is a disappointment for those of us who like to sit back and enjoy the show. Bring back the old one, I say!

E3 Predictions 2007

Even if the big show isn’t the same as it used to be (I miss it already), that doesn’t mean that the big companies aren’t up to their old tricks. This is what my money’s on the big three announcing at their conferences – which start with Microsoft’s a fortnight today – along with a few outside bets.


  • $100/£80 price drop across all SKUs.
  • Halo 3 campaign demo, hopefully closer to the real thing than last time.
  • Ninja Gaiden 2. I then spend an hour trying to clean up the mess I made.
  • Some real PGR4 and Fable 2 video.
  • Rare bringing back one of their classics (I don’t think it’ll be Killer Instinct, for the record).
  • At least one current PS3 exclusive coming to 360.
  • Shenmue III. Please? If enough of us believe they’ll have to do it.


  • Lots and lots and lots of sales graphs.
  • Animal Crossing Wii shown and it’ll be a kind of walled-garden MMO: you live in your town with friends over the net, using WiiConnect24 to let anyone mess around in the persistent town at any time. Ban this sick burglary simulator!
  • Mario Kart Wii.
  • More Smash Bros shown, with a new feature that we haven’t seen. I’ll be upset if the Ouendan team isn’t in it. Sonic finally making it in is an outside bet.
  • A new console for the Virtual Console. Neo-Geo?
  • Miyamoto waves something around and Reggie has a new line for the fanboys to run into the ground for the next year.


  • Absolutely no sales graphs whatsoever.
  • $100/£75 off PS3.
  • PSP redesign.
  • Killzone 2 is finally shown and looks very good, albeit no E3 05 trailer.
  • Home and LBP. Lots of comparisons to MySpace put me off it even more.
  • Sony ruins their palindrome with the announcement of the force feedback Sixaxis. Shockaxis?

Any thoughts or predictions of your own are, of course, welcome.