PlayStation 5 – early impressions


Well as promised my brand spanking new next-generation games console arrived today, November 19th the U.K./European launch day. On unpacking it I was aware from the various unboxing vids I’d seen on YouTube, but was still taken back by the console’s immense size and unique shape. It’s an impressive looking device!

Set up was easy; attach the cables, fit the stand (again, unboxing vids came in handy) and switch the machine on. I went though the usual on screen prompts to log in, connect to WiFi etc, and quickly began I stalling Demon’s Souls. I thought I’d check out the much talked about Astro’s Playroom whilst I wait, However it required an update, which took a while (I don’t have the fastest Internet) so it was a bit of a wait until I got to play my first PS5 game.

The only downside I’ve experienced thus far is how slow the machine copies data from the disk (definitely slower than PS4) and then the loooooong wait for an update to download. I think much of my time was even taken up purely waiting. Sigh.

Back to Astro’s Playroom and yes, that haptic feedback (combined with the built in speaker) is no joke in the new Dual-Sense controller. I love it and it certainly adds a lot to the experience. This game is largely a showcase for the capabilities of the controller but is also a fun platformer that compares favourably to Mario’s 3D outings. It’s polished, very colourful and full of personality. I must say I’m not that into games that are purely a showcase for tech, I prefer something a bit more grounded … but I’ll certainly be coming back to this.

Demon’s Souls was up next: I’ve always avoided the Dark Souls series, and many of my trepidation’s were confirmed. This is pretty tough and at times frustrating with an unforgiving restart system. However as a graphical showcase this was lush. So far I’ve only played it in its 60fps ‘performance’ mode but it felt extremely responsive and fluid. I will check out the 30fps 4K mode also, when I feel up to tackling the game again.

Finally I gave Spider-Man: Miles Morales a go. I played it for about an hour and was instantly hooked. So far this is easily my favourite. It looks stunning, the ultra-realistic reflections, courtesy of the much hyped ‘ray-tracing’ technology is stunning, and well… it’s just fun!

Miles Morales had an issue installing an update at first, but downloading it a second time there wasn’t a problem. I haven’t really explored much else what the machine can do, and haven’t touched backwards compatibility with PS4 games. I also have Watchdogs Kegion so will check that out another time.

For now though this has been good. I’m certainly impressed by the swiftness of the loading, but not so much with the installing or updating. The graphics are very good, but better than say Red Dead Redemption 2 on Xbox One X? I’m not sure. There a slickness to everything here though and it does feel ‘next-gen’. so for now I’d say that’s good enough. I’m looking forward to diving in deeper with this console so may provide updated impressions soon.

Craig.

Happy birthday to me!


Well I’m a bit late with this…what can I say I’ve been having a good time and er…life.  Anyway, it was my birthday on Tuesday 14 November.  I usually post something to mark the occasion although before anyone get’s too excited it’s a regular birthday so no repeat of last year’s London trip / go see my fave band in concert…just at home, family, prezzies and a take away.  This year to celebrate turning 41 (I know…I can’t believe it either)… I got Watchdogs 2 in a limited edition steel book, as well as the limited edition ‘crystal’ variant of the official Dualshock 4 PlayStation 4 controller.  I also got some money and vouchers, some of which I put to use buying a couple of Blu-rays, namely The Huntsman: Winters War and the new live action version of The Jungle Book (review to follow).  Overall had a great day and my thanks and best wishes go out to my friends and family.

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Ramblings


Well sitting here at my computer, some 90s music blaring out via iTunes, scrolling through various blogs, internet stuff etc, felt like blogging some stuff that’s in my head.

CES has just come and gone, and what’s with these new curved TVs?  Why do we need to watch something on a curved surface?  Is it cool or more a case of technology for technologies sake?  Oh and what about Ultra HD… 4k, OLED etc…. I have a Full HD 1080p 40inch LED television that I think is more that good enough…. but suppose if the technology really takes off, then we’ll all have them … one day.  I like to at least try and keep up with new gadgets, tech but its all moving so fast these days.

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I am looking forward to a new Garbage album out this year, and following their touring adventures on Twitter, Facebook has been a joy since they returned from their hiatus.  It’s pretty cool isn’t it, with the internet and everything, that us regular human beings can feel so close to these celebrities, rock stars these days?  So much more than it used to be say in the 80s or 90s.  Oh and talking of 90s, as I write this, Pulp’s Common People is playing … that track is sublime.

Shirley Manson of Garbage

On the gaming front, it’s fun looking forward to some of the new games on the horizon … especially Watchdogs which is due out in the spring, and has been announced as being available in various special editions, including one called Dedsec… that comes with a figurine of the main character and soundtrack, the game in a steelbook, badges, an art book and other shizzle…for £94.99 … yes a bit (ahem) pricey.  Talking of pricey, I have ordered Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for XB1, for three reasons:  firstly there’s not a lot to play on the new console until at least late February (Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes???) and well it’s a shiny new version of one of my favourite games of last year.  Also it comes out in deluxe packaging, never a bad thing.

I look at this blog and wonder if sometimes I should post more, get my thoughts and feelings out there, probably not get too personal but unleash my annoyances, concerns, feelings out there … for the public to read, puzzle over, laugh and smile at … but I probably wont … I am just a bit more inward than I sometimes think I should be.  That being said to me this blog is an outlet, a place for me to write about what ever I want, even if it isn’t movie related… yes that remains the main subject of the blog, but sometimes I’ll write as today about other things.  This has been a bit of a random post from me and not really for any other reason than to just write about something and get my thoughts down.  Hope you have enjoyed reading, maybe you learnt a little more about me in the process, or maybe not.

But as we begin a new year, thanks to all who take time to read my stuff on here and I promise to keep posting reviews and musings.  Will you join me on this journey?

XBOX ONE – hands on thoughts


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Well it’s been about two weeks with the next generation of gaming that is Microsoft’s much hyped XBOX ONE the successor to the highly popular XBOX 360 that actually came out eight years ago!  Whether this new generation will last as long, only time will tell, but for now here’s my impression of the new console after a lengthy amount of time with it.

The games I have played are as follows: Forza Motorsport 5, Battlefield 4, Killer Instinct and Dead Rising 3.  All pretty cool.  Out of these I’d say Battlefield 4 has had the most time played, mostly down to the online portion, which as many will attest, is the real meat of the game – although I greatly enjoyed the single player campaign and consider it one of the more underrated experiences around.  The game has been cursed by bugs and issues, such as single player progress getting wiped (happened to me once, when I was almost at the end of the game…grrr) and various issues with the multiplayer, most annoyingly the inability to join a game.   Graphically I might say that Forza impressed me the most, with its slick 60fps and 1080p capabilities, something that has been a bit of an Achilles heel for the XB1 so far, with games such as BF4 and Call Of Duty Ghosts suffering from lower resolutions than their PlayStation 4 equivalents (although apparently with more consistent 60fps than PS4 to make up for this).  I’m not that taken by Killer Instinct … its just doesn’t feel very polished, despite some nice visuals, and the menus, character select are sluggish.  Dead Rising 3 however has been a great deal of fun.  Immediately the amount of zombies on screen at one time is a wow factor, and overall I think its a very detailed, very impressive looking game.  Strangely the game seems to have a dislike of any sort of water or rain effects – meaning this isn’t included at all … and after the lush water seen in BF4, it’s disappointing.  Yeah I know, a small thing … but surprising nonetheless.

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The machine itself I am enjoying.  I have had a lot of fun with the Kinect sensor, and overall it responds well to regularly used phrases like ‘XBOX ON’ or ‘XBOX PAUSE’ or ‘XBOX GO TO DEAD RISING 3’ and proves useful and a fun part of the whole experience.  Apps such as Netflix, 4OD and YouTube work flawlessly in my experience and are a joy to use.  The only real issue I experienced recently was with UPLOAD, the built in gameplay capture software that stores all your recorded clips.  Now this is a great part of the XBOX ONE and playing a game like BF4 and getting a great moment and saying ‘XBOX RECORD THAT’ is so wonderful, I am surprised it’s taken this long to be included in a games console.  However for reasons unknown, one day I went to view my recorded clips and the XBOX just kept trying to load them, sometimes saying I didn’t have any.  I have 29 goddamit!  I cursed, and of course this got me worried that something was wrong.  After a quick Google search that told me a fix if some apps become unresponsive I power cycled my console … which is done by holding down the XBOX logo on the front of the machine until it reboots.  This clears the cache on the system and also resets your network card – meaning I had to manually input my wi-fi details again.  Then like magic, everything was working again, and has been fine for days now.  Very odd.  The only other issue I have come across is a slight lip-sync issue when playing Blu-rays.  Now this I discovered only occurs when having the 24hz option ticked in the settings.  When that tick is removed, Blu-ray plays fine.  Some may have issue with not being able to take advantage of 24hz playback which is pretty much a standard for Blu-ray (and works fine on my PS3) and I hope there is a patch to fix this soon … but for now, I am not overly bothered.

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The controller in relation to the original XBOX 360 one is similar, but lighter, still requires AA batteries (surprising considering the PS3 and PS4 both use USB charging … but battery life is about a week after causal gaming (2-3 hours each day).  I also love the rumble in the triggers, which gives Forza’s driving and BF4’s shooting real immersion.  I should also point out the machine runs very cool, only gets moderately warm after a lengthy session of gaming, and despite a small wiring / humming of the fan, is relatively quiet in operation.  Other things to note is that game installs (mandatory) are fairly painless, slowed down initially by the games I have played needing a hefty-patch which has to download, but usually the game is ready to play fairly soon (half an hour max? – I haven’t actually timed it).  There are things I would love to see added, such as being able to manage hard drive space or see the battery life on your controller, both easily done with a patch … and Apps like Sky Player and BBC iPlayer at some stage.  Being able to upload game footage straight to Twitter or Facebook needs to be implemented to I think.  Also here in the UK the linking your XBOX ONE to your TV service is reportedly not that well done and something I haven’t even tried or likely to.  I see how Microsoft wants it to be an all-in-one entertainment system, but that aspect isn’t something that interests me beyond the already good on-demand services.

For now only a slight games drought bothers me, with many big name titles not due to see light of day until at least March (Watchdogs, Titanfall) or not having a release date at all just yet (Tom Clancy’s The Division, Quantum Break) but this does mean there is plenty to look forward to in the year ahead.  Just what the machine is capable of I don’t think we have even witnessed yet.  Exciting times.

2013 and the year ahead


Been an interesting year (so far) and with 2014 looming on the horizon, I got thinking about some of the interesting things I have been able to experience in 2013.  Three quality pieces of technology immediately spring to mind … firstly my Sony Xperia SP smart phone, which I really enjoy.  Slick functionality, with none of the slow down of my previous phone (the Sony Xperia U) and it’s great for emails, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  Oh and it makes calls, takes very good pictures with it’s 8mp camera – can see me sticking with Sony for a phone in the future too. 

Windows-8

Next up was my Windows 8 PC … now I was as sceptical as the next person regarding Windows 8 but I really like it.  The implementation of Apps, the new Start screen, and general slickness of everything makes it feel like a really state-of-the-art piece of kit on my humble budget.  This carried over nicely into the XBOX ONE, which visually borrows a lot from Windows 8 and is proving to be a great machine … even if at the moment the games only hint at what the console is capable of.

Movie-wise 2013 has been pretty good and highlights include Tom Hank’s movie Captain Phillips, Park Chan-Wook’s english language debut Stoker and Tarantino’s Django Unchained.  My yearly Top Ten will follow on New Year’s Eve and I think it’s going to be interesting selecting the best movies and choosing what order to put them in.  I am sure everyone has their favourites so I will be browsing and commenting on those that I discover on other blogs … look out for me!

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This year has also been interesting for TV shows, with highlights including the Kevin Bacon thriller The Following, even with the final season of Dexter proving disappointment.  Yet I discovered Breaking Bad this year too, and was the reason I subscribed to Netflix.  Boardwalk Empire, in it’s fourth season seems to show no hint of letting up on it’s quality either. 

2014 for me, aside from life, work, family, bills etc will be all about the XBOX ONE … with big hitters coming next year like Metal Gear Solid 5, The Division, Watchdogs and Quantum Break.  Should be very exciting.  We should also start to see true next gen graphics finally being showcased.  I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t taken a lot of interest in movies coming out next year … is there an Avenger’s sequel?  Oh and what about that rather worrying sounding Batman Vs Superman??  At the moment I am trying to cram in as many movies as possible before the end of the year, with the likes of Iron Man 3, Kick-Ass 2 and Monsters University all scheduled to be reviewed in the next fortnight.  Oh and let’s not forget a little movie by the name of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

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Plenty to think about and watch in the coming days, and hay it’s Christmas too – so I will report back as usual on what I have gratefully received on the day.

Craig.