As I sidled up to the sofa for yet another hour of Sony's MLB 14: The Show for the PlayStation 4 yesterday, it dawned on me how, despite the obvious sports trappings, it really is the ultimate action Role-playing Game (RPG), setting a standard that the more typical fantasy-themed games in the genre would do well to emulate. Now, don't get me wrong, for the most part, MLB 14 is a standard sports videogame, one obviously themed to the well worn game of professional baseball. However, it does have among its cavalcade of modes, Road to the Show, which is as much of an RPG as any RPG that ever RPG'd (or something like that).
Road to the Show lets you create a baseball player from scratch. You have a pool of stats to distribute over a wide range of abilities (hitting, throwing, running, fielding, etc.), determine physical characteristics, design the player's features, determine preferred position, decide on the player's age, etc. In short, you can mould exactly the type of character you want to play, albeit only a male one (you can thank Major League Baseball for that particular restriction), right down to the name, which can even be spoken by the announcer who calls the games if you choose something common enough (my first name was there, "Bill," but not my last, so I chose a nickname of "Train," as in, "freight train - look out!," for my last name (don't judge me!)). (Read more)
Ridge Racer V by Namco, a very early PlayStation 2 release. Reiko Nagase - the series mascot - got a lot of media attention as her hair seemed to exist of loose strands that were animated separately, showing the awesome power harnessed inside the PlayStation 2's Emotion Engine. Quite a cool racer I hadn't given much attention when I first got it. The release of the Dreamcast back in the day and Metropolis Street Racer may have had something to do with it. But, lately, the game has gotten a lot attention from me.
Check it out. It's a long one and I just waffle though it on various topics: Android, Nvidia Shield, Gamemid, Archos Gamepad, and some more.
First off, it's clear that there have been widespread reports of PlayStation 4 (PS4) consoles that have had various technical issues, requiring a call to Sony technical support. The resolution for many of these individuals seems to be a roughly 10 day turnaround to get a replacement console. Not good. With that in mind, I can report I've had no issues with mine, so I can safely judge the PS4 on its own merits rather than frustration with a damaged unit. Hopefully the Xbox One consoles we ordered will be similarly trouble free in the coming week.
Anyway, I have the PS4 console, the camera, a second controller, and three retail games on disc: Knack, Killzone Shadow Fall, and Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (the latter two games got various pre-order add-on bonuses, and in fact Killzone itself was free from Amazon with the purchase of the other two games). I was able to supplement that with two free games thanks to my PlayStation Plus subscription, as well as a third game with a $10 credit in the PS4 box. I have some of that credit left still and will likely get one more games from the digital store: Sound Shapes. Anyway, the three digital games I have now are: Contrast, Flower, and Resogun. There was also a free offer for Warframe, which I believe is a freemium game where pay for additional in-game items. As a Plus member I got a bundle of in-game items to get me started.
I integrated my smartphone, a Galaxy Note II, with the PlayStation app, as well as my PlayStation Vita with the PS4 Link app. There were no issues with either pairing--just enter the numbers that appear on the PS4's screen and you're linked. The smartphone app gives you access to various account settings and the digital store and allows you to connect to the PS4 for control purposes, but there's nothing particularly intriguing about it. It's functional, but I probably won't use it much except to prepurchase items.
The Vita integration on the other hand is incredible. Taking the Vita's previous integration with the PS3 to a new level, the Vita can now display anything that the PS4 displays on its screen and also play any of the games the PS4 plays. My PS4 is hooked into my network via a powerline network adapter, and my Vita of course connects to the same network over WiFi. While I haven't tried it from every room in the house yet, there was little lag or delay in streaming the one game I tested with the setup so far, Knack. It felt nearly as good as playing it on the TV. This is a VERY promising feature.
Anyway, back to the console. It was easy to set up the PS4 and login to my existing PSN account. I was also able to integrate Facebook and use my Facebook picture as my account picture. Speaking of Facebook, the PS4 automatically records the last 15 minutes of whatever you're doing, which can be uploaded to the social network (live streaming to other services is also an option) either in screenshot or video form. The videos can also be edited and cropped. Simply hit the "Share" button on the controller and you're in business. Again, a very nice feature.
Here are some links to videos I posted on Facebook (I trimmed the latter videos on the PS4 itself):
A cool little 3rd person perspective Tube shooter developed by Tetragon and published by Virgin in 1996-1997 on the original Playstation. The only platform it came out on.
Ridge Racer V - is the 5th game in the Ridge Racer series on the Playstation line of consoles. This actually was one of the launch titles the PS2 was graced with and it is quite similar to Ridge Racer Type IV on the original Playstation or PSOne. It plays a lot faster and is more twitchy and it took me some time to get used to but it also showed a promise of things to come as Ridge Racer VI and VII obviously built opon the foundations laid in this game. A must play if you are a fan of the Ridge Racer series.
I take a look at the third part of the Ridge Racer series called 'Rage Racer'. A game by Namco released in 1996-1997 for the original PlayStation. A game quite different from the first two releases of Ridge Racer where it's not just simply racing but it is possible to advance, get more experience and basically experience a racing career. You can earn money and you get to upgrade your car and/or buy different ones.
You race within 5 racing classes on 4 different four tracks in this game - quite a bit different from the first two Ridge Racers and at the same time they look and feel familiar, especially the start/finish is similar. The car manufacturers found in the game are Gnade (Germany), Age (France), Lizard (USA) and Absoluto (Italy). All types and makes have different features and behaviours. The prologue movie on the game disc is different between American/EU release and the Japanese release. The Music in the game is quite distinct different from the first two releases.
Read more below if you want to see a complete list of all the Ridge Racer games out there.
In this video I take a look at the Japanese Playstation disc with the game Zanac X which is becoming more rare by the day :( Go check it out.
Zanac is a very cool series of Shmup games created by Compile. The game originated on the MSX and NES but also found its way on many other systems like this Playstation One version. It's very similar to other Compile shmups like PowerStrike, Aleste, Super Aleste, M.U.S.H.A. All these games feature a similar weapons system.
Other good Compile shmups are Blazing Lazers on the TG16 and Gunnac on the Nes.
Galaga Destination Earth is a turn of the century incarnation of the well known Galaga game. But it has a twist to the gameplay making it into a bit of an all compassing shmup. It shares similarities with Gyrus, Gradius and even Panzer Dragoon Ortha. Go check it out.
Though some were no doubt disappointed in Sony's PS4 announcement for every reason from general ennui with the whole videogame thing to a passionate allegiance to a competing platform, I fail to see how any real videogame enthusiast can come away anything but impressed at the promise of it all. The keyword of course is "promise," since everything sounds great on paper, but we don't really know how much will be executed how soon (and how well), nor did we have an actual appearance by the apparently camera-shy console itself. You can find many summaries of what Sony did unveil online, including a good one by PlayStation Universe, but I'll try to cover some of the high level highlights.
I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.
First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.