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Playback: Resistance 2

With the new consoles here, it is a sad time for games that are on the wane. Sony have a habit every year as does other companies to shutter the online services for ageing games. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift was one of the first major games to shut in 2012. Now, the poor SOCOM games and the average MAG shut yesterday. The Resistance trilogy and Gran Turismo 5 will shut its online in March. Time for a look back at one of the best shooters to appear on the PS3.

Comparisons are rife between the Resistance trilogy and Halo on the Xbox. Resistance is a series that punched well above its weight considering what it did. The first Resistance was a slow moving shooter which to its credit had a great backdrop and online. Resistance 3 instead had a brilliant story-truly gripping and fun to play. But its online, reduced from 60 players in the second game to just 16 and no separate co-op.

Resistance 2 is the most consistent game in the trilogy offering a solid lengthy campaign that even on the easiest difficulty will take 10 hours+. It also had a deep Co-op campaign separate to the story which again could take well over 30 hours to fulfill. And then there was the multiplayer-60 players and a notorious Trophy for achieving 10,000 kills. I am saddened that Resistance 2 has to shut its online servers.

The game came to me not long after I had gotten a PS3 back in 2008. It captured my imagination instantly with breathtaking set-pieces. There is one part in the game where you are on top of a building in Chicago trying to take down a massive beast. The beast grabs you and throws you into another building. Great stuff. The online also offered something considerably different from other games at that time.

Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the go-to game for most. But Resistance offered a more classic, slower and rewarding multiplayer experience. What was also enjoyable was the style of the game. The Resistance trilogy is set in the 1950’s-so the classical style, vehicles, weapons etc were mostly represented really well.

After completing the game fully recently, I realised that the co-operative is without doubt the main draw to the game. These games are 8 player missions in which the team has to complete 3 main objectives and down some titanic Chimera. Each player can choose a class-Medic, Soldier and Spec-Ops. The many matches of co-op required me to think about the team rather than myself. Only a select few games do this really well such as Payday and The Last Of Us.

It is a shame-games like these deserve to be recognised for their brilliance. Resistance 2 was the first true great multiplayer shooter on the PS3 and is up there with Killzone 2. Anyone that does indeed have a PS3 I would recommend picking up the Resistance trilogy even if you cannot go online-play the stories and grab a buddy for co-op splitscreen.

The Demise Of Nintendo

Arguably the biggest gaming staple since the commercialisation of gaming in the 80’s, Nintendo has stood tall and proud as an elite company within the industry. Catering for multiple types of gamers, Nintendo are well respected within the industry. Yet, after the crippling launch of the Wii U and the issues surrounding the 3DS, Nintendo is facing up to harsh realities after posting a forecasted loss of  £205m for the financial year ending March 31st.

Nintendo is by all accounts arguably one of the centrepieces to gaming’s short but populated history. Despite the success of the industry, gaming can be incredibly ruthless to beloved companies also. Over 10 years ago, Sega made losses equivalent to Nintendo despite releasing a superb console. But it was the stiff competition from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo that made the Sega Dreamcast falter. Sega then ditched console manufacture reshaping their company towards game publishing and development.

This could be the harsh reality that Nintendo could well face. There have already been questions over whether they will commercialise their games to appear on smartphones such as Mario for example. Whatever the future may hold, here is a look as to why Nintendo have fallen from greatness.

The Wii: First impressions are a terrible terrible thing. The Wii when first sampled in 2007/08 was a unique experience. Motion controls and enhanced interactivity opened up all sorts of possibilities for gamers. The console successfully touched into the casual crowd and was popular among family gamers. Yet, despite some sterling titles such as Super Mario Galaxy-the console in its later years received very few essential games.

Couple this with the low specification quality of the console and its inability to target hardcore gamers-the console was somewhat redundant in its final years. Despite a successful innovation, the company did not successfully enhance the Wii.

3DS: The launch of the 3DS was a failure by all accounts. The games available at launch were simply not good enough and a high price premium to purchase the console put many off a potential purchase. Nintendo made a radical decision to drop the price of the console shortly after its launch which meant-despite selling more consoles, they sold each console at a substantial loss.

Until 2013, the 3DS sold well but not at a rate which met expectations nor was it making any money whatsoever. This period hurt Nintendo and did briefly threaten its dominance in handheld gaming after the high-on quality launch of the PS Vita. 2013 was a return to form and the launch of the 2DS may ease the company through.

The WiiU: I watched as the WiiU was unveiled to the world at E3 in 2011 and all I can say is that things did not look good for that moment. I said to my friend sat next to me that “its a really good controller for the Wii.” Then it hit us both, it was in fact a controller for a new console. The thing is about the WiiU is that the gamepad, as impressive as it is does nothing to paper over the cracks of the actual console which looks strikingly similar to the Wii.

The console, launched in late 2012 was meant to kickstart the next-generation. Its hardware? The hardware for the console was nearly on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360. The lack of first party titles at launch meant that the console was relying on multiplatform titles and version exclusives. It was a poor strategy and the console sold badly.

2013 got even worse for the console. Retailers such as Walmart and Asda dropped the WiiU from its stock citing the low sales. Anticipated exclusive Rayman Legends was then dropped from exclusivity and made multiplatform. The WiiU version despite being ready was delayed to coincide with the release of the other versions also.

Despite some titles in the pipeline, the console looks likely to do well only in Japan. With over 8 million gamers having bought the PS4 or XB1, the WiiU having been on the market longer has barely scratched 3 million sales.

The Future: The problem with the strategy of Nintendo is that the company is not prepared to take on risks or high manufacturing costs.  The 3DS was only at a high cost through its 3D feature and the Wii with its gamepad. Its hardware needed more investment so that they could appeal to all gamers. I remember at that 2011 E3 that EA got on stage and showed Battlefield 3. The trailer was not running on the Wii U and the game did not release on the console either.

Its an example of how inadequate the console is. The PS3 and XB1 have gotten better with age despite having relatively low specifications. I do think Nintendo has got exclusive games on its side and a number of them are in the offing to release this year. That will help the console claw back its fanbase. Things could indeed get worse if the PS4 and XB1 continue to be as successful as they are. It would not be a surprise in the future to see their games commercialised. If however games like Earthbound/Mother 3 were to release, everything could indeed change.

Killzone: Shadowfall Review

Killzone-a brooding dark Sci-Fi series which recently released its latest entry as a PS4 launch day exclusive. As the PS4 breaks sales records, Shadowfall is one of the faces of the PS4 and its quest for glory.

Killzone is a series which is a stark opposite to Microsoft’s Halo. While Halo is vivid and vibrant, Killzone is dark and violent. Much has been made of the Halo series and while Killzone has been largely seen as second-fiddle, Killzone 2 stands to reason as one of the best FPS games in recent years. Having saying that, Killzone: Shadowfall like Killzone 3 disappoints.

You control Lucas Kellen-at first a young boy after the events of Killzone 3 which left the Helghast fleeing to Vekta in order to survive as a race. Forced out into the cold, Lucas witnesses his father murdered at the hands of the Helghast in which Shadow Marshal Sinclair takes him in. 20 years later and Lucas is a Shadow Marshal of his own-badass might be more apt. He has to take the fight to the Helghast and confront the enemy threat though not all is as it seems.

Killzone has always demonstrated well-constructed settings and visuals. Shadowfall is no different and brings a lot of colour for the first time in the series. The graphics are outstanding-you would think it was another JJ Abrams movie. The set-pieces in the game are excellent too and always captivate that scale that Killzone has that its not just grunt vs grunt-its race vs race.

A bane for the KZ series has been its controls. Its not all that different here. Killzone has a weighted feel to aiming, shooting, running etc. It makes for some grounded realism but extra frustration also as there is criminally on console no aim assist. Though the weight, handling of weapons do compensate for this.

The story of the game is largely so-so. It has potential but never scales the heights of Killzone 2. Like Killzone 3, it falls rather than stands. There are some brilliant moments such as spacewalk missions, hostage retrieval missions and disarming bombs on futuristic trains was a highpoint. The characters are dull and the lack of a ‘Sev’ or ‘Rico’ from Killzone 3 really hurts the game’s persona. Lucas speaks rarely but when he does he is attentive to Sinclair. Sinclair himself is dull also.

The character Echo is a bright spark in an otherwise dull single player. Mysterious and suspicious, I liked the way she came into scenes often stealing them in the process.

The multiplayer in Shadowfall is very good bar some flaws. Matches are 16 vs 16 maximum-a staple for the series and is best described as Battlefield in the future. Maps are tight, bases return from Killzone 2 and the sense of future returns. Yet, the game has no progression system opting for challenges instead. Its a strange experience playing through the multiplayer without a levelled goal. All weapons and classes are available from the off so I do suppose its more about skill than progression.

That being said, like the rest of the game-Killzone: Shadowfall is at times the best FPS ever and then at other times makes basic mistakes that leaves you scratching your head at. It is good, not exceptional and not better than Killzone 2.

What is Good?

-Brilliant graphics second to none.

-Multiplayer works very well.

-Some of the single player missions work very well.

 

What is Bad?

-Dull story with dull characters.

-Slightly awkward controls.

-Lack of progression in multiplayer.

Killzone: Shadowfall is a very good game with flaws which hurts the experience. As a Killzone series diehard, the game does more right than wrong. Yet the successes of Killzone 2 are slowly fading away with each successive console entry. But the amount of enjoyment that can be found within the game especially online still makes it the most relevant PS4 purchase. 7.5/10

Playstation 4-The Next Generation.

Happy new year and so 2014 begins after riding the wave caused by the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. Both consoles have been doucmented, torn apart and no constantly compared against each other. Here is the Playstation 4  and my overall impressions of the console so far.

The Playstation 4 is a very good console so much so that for general ticking the boxes, it completely beats the Xbox out of the water. However, in saying that the PS4 (along with the XB1) is not a great leap in imagination and creativity as I would have hoped for.

The Console Itself: The console is shaped like an awkward parallelogram yet it is about the same size as the slim PS3 which is good and convenient. It has a nice colour and texture while having touch sensitive power-on and eject buttons. Now some have said its quiet compared to the PS3-I disagree. The console is equally noisy when booting and launching games. But, the overall design of the console and performance is so far impressive.

The UI: The interface of the console is familiar with the PS3‘s clunky xmb media bar UI. It has a small selection of icons and tabs in which you can find games, the PS store and so forth. New to the PS4 is live streaming and integrated Twitch. More on that later. It is nicer than the PS3 and has decent background music-if anything it is like the UI for the PS Vita. So nothing overly special nut solid nonetheless.

Live Streaming: The PS4 supports at this moment in time Twitch and Ustream stream options. Any player can livestream what he/she is playing and it works extremely effectively. Its very good to see for example what games like Warframe or War Thunder are like before you set off to download and/or purchase a game. Streaming for The Playroom does need to be restricted in some way as some gamers have twisted it to their own delights.

Performance: The console performs very well-especially if you put in a variable SSD which can boot load times of games such as Killzone to just 9 seconds.  A great and underrated feature is you can now download more than 1 item at once which hampered the PS3 at times. But it is standard fare-the PS storefront still has issues and the settings such as standby mode, suspend/resume are not all that useful just yet.

Remote Play: You can play PS4 games through your PS Vita which is interesting and lag-free (within a certain distance). It certainly opens up gaming possibilities and games such as Fifa may well suit the Vita better. I played Killzone through the Vita and I have to say it was tricky to say the least. But, with more practice I am sure it will be a valuable alternative way of playing.

Games: In my honest opinion, there was no standout launch game for either console. Killzone: Shadowfall while at times is breathtaking perhaps strays too far away from what made the series successful. Battlefield 4, a visual masterpiece is easily reminscent of Battlefield 3. I did like Sony making the move to upgrade and port games such as Escape Plan, Sound Shapes, Flower and Flow to the console. All of which are free if you have purchased the game already.

The free to play games on the store such as Warframe, Blacklight and War Thunder are okay games but nothing worth bothering with. Resogun is free for all players through PS+ and is one of the best games available for the PS4 at this moment in time. With strong exclusives in the pipeline, the PS4 looks to have a good roster of games early on.

Overall: If I were to advise you on which console you should choose, I would advise the PS4. It is not voice command controlled, enforced and does not have a camera that needs to be always on for it to function. The PS4 is less restrictive, more powerful and easier to use. Having saying all of that, my first impression is that the jump from the PS3 to PS4 is small. I remember playing Final Fantasy 9 on the PS1 before playing James Bond on the PS2 when I got one and that jump in graphics was huge.

Because the PS4 is still on equal resolution terms mostly as the PS3, the jump is noticeable but not huge. The future does look bright but I do hope that the new console brings new ways to play games rather than more textures, detail and playing the same old games from this generation.

Overall Score

Console: 8/10

UI: 7/10

Live Streaming: 9/10

Performance: 8/10

Remote Play: 10/10

Games: 8/10

Films Of The Year 2013.

As ever, 2013 was an eventful year for Film. Much like gaming, Film has seen some outstanding films emerge as well as some familiar faces. 2014 looks to continue on in the same vein bringing us great films. For now, here are the top 5 films of this year:

5. Place Beyond The Pines: Beginning with the crime epic Place Beyond The Pines, the film followed both a criminal and policeman within a small communal area in America. Ryan Gosling plays the stunt driver turned bank robber and Bradley Cooper who plays a policeman in an area of conflict and corruption. While dark and not particularly enamouring, the film is grounded heavily in a culminating narrative which goes full circle by the end. Well acted, shot and occasionally blistering, the film is an effective piece of narrative drama.

4. Prisoners: Prisoners is one of the dark horses of the year. The film is extremely dark, tense and rife with what makes us shiver at night. Hugh Jackman as well as Jake Gyllenhall shine in this drama about two children that were snatched in broad daylight. What follows is a tense race against time to save the children. I would compare the film favourably to cult classic Cape Fear in which fear and tension surrounding a dark scenario are fully realised. Its a great watch though nonetheless.

3. Les Miserables: Continuing with Hugh Jackman and epic musical Les Miserables became one of the best musical films ever made. With memorable songs, scenes and some superb individual acting performances (looking at you Anne Hathaway), its a memorable film which kicked off 2013 in style. Hugh Jackman was on top form and nominated for an Oscar. What it likes in substance more than makes up for in style and atmosphere-recommended for all.

2. Only God Forgives: One of the most divisive films in recent memory, Only God Forgives is criticised as well as heavily admired by critics. Simply put though, the film is extremely well made and crafted. A questionable story is negated with a great soundtrack and vibrant shots. Its not for everyone and those that will appreciate it will hold it in high regard. Its brutality and dark narrative is countered with its colourful vibrancy and cinematography.

1. Gravity: 3D is something of a gimmick. Avatar was the first and up until Gravity the only film to effectively utilise 3D technology. Gravity trumps Avatar in its 3D visuals as well as being one of the best space films ever made. At the centre of it is Sandra Bullock with a brilliant performance as an astronaut stranded in space. This is a film which can be held highly with excellent visuals, premise and acting. A brilliantly made film that stands as the film of 2013.

Top 10 2013 Games.

2013 was a great year for games. Plenty of variety, new consoles, the return of old faces and some new ones-2013 also gave us one of the best games of all time. Either way, there was something for everyone in 2013. Here are the top 10:

10. Sound Shapes (PS4): A port of the game released last year but don’t let that fool you. Sound Shapes stands as one of the most unique games ever made-a real treat for the eyes and ears. Getting enhanced visuals and as part of cross-buy, exisiting owners can get the PS4 version for free. It is a wonderful game-extremely innovative, fun and comes with a good soundtrack too.

9. Killzone Mercenary (PS Vita): Handheld first-person shooters are something of a mixed bag. Last year, both Resistance and COD failed on the biggest stage. Killzone: Mercenary released in September to critical acclaim here and stands as one of the best handheld shooters around. A brilliant game with superb gameplay, graphics and a surprisingly deep multiplayer-a must buy for all Vita owners.

8. Pokemon X+Y (3DS): Pokemon made a blistering return by going full-on 3D at long long last. It is still Pokemon, it’s still mostly the same. But, its addictive as ever and as involving as ever. Certainly, this year has been a year to remember for the 3DS after this and Fire Emblem which sadly just missed out on the list. For all 3DS owners though, this is a must.

7. Machinarium (PS Vita): One of the games of last year, the Vita finally gets a port of one of the best puzzle games in recent memory. It is as hard as nails-but combines fantastic animation with intelligent puzzles and a nice narrative to go with it. The Vita got two great ports this year-Machinarium and The Walking Dead-both of which are fantastic.

6. Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch (PS3): One of the forgotten games of this year in the midst of the later bigger releases-Ni No Kuni is a wonderful game. It yarns us back to the good old days when JRPG’s were cool, involving and fun. It is a return to form for Level 5 after the quite simply pants White Knight Chronicles. With a good story, better gameplay and some of the best anime graphics ever witnessed in gaming-you can hardly go wrong.

5. Bioshock Infinite (PS3/360/PC): Bioshock is something of a mystery. On the one hand, it is completely innovative. On the other, it is another Half Life. Step up Bioshock: Infinite which blows the original out of the water. With a great narrative dynamic, much more open gameplay and some excellent technical attributes-Infinite will stand just below Half Life which is no mean feat itself.

4. The Walking Dead (360/PS3/PC/PS Vita): The retail release saw last years’ The Walking Dead hit discs as well as Vita owners. The game is that good that the re-release gets this high. The game is special in almost every single way and would be placed higher were it not for the fact it has a few bugs. A milestone in emotional storytelling, the game emerged as one of the great games of 2012 and this generation.

3.Persona 4: Golden (PS Vita): Persona is a series which hasn’t kicked as much as a bucket in the UK. That is shame because the fourth instalment is something truly special. Persona 4: Golden is a breathtaking old-fashioned JRPG which combines solid gameplay with that odd Japanese humour we have come to love. Factor in a memorable story and 80 hours worth of quests, Persona on the Vita is essential.

2. Grand Theft Auto 5 (360/PS3): GTA 5 rolled off considerably of the hype bandwagon and didn’t quite reach full marks in our review. Having saying that, what GTA does is combine its elements to near perfection mostly. While not taking steps forwards, it reinforces the ground beneath the feet making sure that GTA is back on form with the 5th instalment. A meaty treat with plenty of content, gameplay possibilities and a stupendous online mode, GTA5 despite some shortcomings is nonetheless absolutely essential.

1. The Last Of Us (PS3): The Last Of Us is one of the best games ever made and it would be injustice to the game to place it anywhere else. Despite the presence of GTA this year, The Last Of Us was a game like no other-making gamers appreciate features of a game not utilised often. Harsh emotional drama, tense gameplay, brilliant endearing narrative. The Last Of Us is a joyous game but not in the sense to play but to experience, savour and then play again.

Only God Forgives Review

Ryan Gosling and Nicholas-Winding Refn team up again following the 2011 hit Drive. Only God Forgives is a very divisive film with many peering reviews while other critics have snarled at the film also. What is more is film viewers it seems are also split in their opinion of the film.

Only God Forgives is a world away from the crowd pleasing Drive. While Drive had a good heart and characters at the centre of its narrative, Only God Forgives uses that same template of visual narrative telling but without much heart or characterisation. However, it is clear that Only God Forgives continues in the same vein as Drive with beautifully constructed visual shots and an awe inspiring soundtrack.

The film follows Julian (Gosling) as a boxing club owner in Bangkok. He is there with his brother Billy who goes out one night in search of having an encounter with an under-age prostitute. This turns violent though as he batters the girl to death and when police lieutenant Chang finds him at the scene, he manages to get in touch with the girls’ father to deal with the situation. He of course naturally beats Billy to death. Upon learning of this, Julian is hesitant in dealing with his brother’s killers. Yet, his mother Crystal (Kristin Scott-Thomas) flies over to Bangkok and demands that his son Julian takes action against police Lieutenant Chang. What follows is a trail of bloodshed and violence.

Only God Forgives is a difficult film to rate as viewers will see the film differently. The film itself is a slow moving frame by frame tale of violence. Some sequences don’t make a great deal of sense. Most sequences are beautifully shot and beautifully backed by the soundtrack. But the centrepiece of any film-the characters are existing pillars of the film. They are not the cornerstone of the film nor do they play a big part in it.

Gosling is slightly disappointing here which is no fault of his own. There isn’t much compassion or charisma from the character previously seen in Drive. What we see is a tortured soul who is going through the motions. Does he want to avenge his brother’s death? Not really. Does he want to better himself or aspire for greater things? Not really. He is a very much one note character in which you only see anger from the character.

I do though have to praise the performance of Vithaya Pansringarm-who plays Chang. He is a wonderfully created character in which he abides by justice by whatever means necessary. Brutal, uncompromising but compassionate and wise-arguably his character is the centrepiece of the film rather than Julian or Crystal.

That brings me onto Crystal. While she is a menacing presence throughout the film, I found that her character to be also one note and her scenes to be extremely disparate. You see, her motives while natural are over exaggerated and her character is also exaggerated. Every hip movement to determine her superiority and every insult just confirms this.

The strength of the film lies in its art-house inspired cinematography. I would say this is the best shot film of the year in terms of flat narrative telling rather than technical such as Gravity. Every sequence is art. Every frame means something and every frame can be seen differently from each watching viewer. Its stylish and certainly prefers style over grounded substance.

Its a shame that its core story isn’t all that great. Its scenes are quintessential but the meaning behind them is lacking. The film itself is enjoyable if you are able to watch films without caring so much about the story. Its violence is graphic and grounded. Its circumstance and thinking of the film is not definite. I interpreted the film as a journey through maternal and physical relationships. Its these relationships that form the thinking of forgiveness, redemption and violence. Connected at these is Chang-the force of good, law and more importantly justice.

Why You Should See It?

+Beautiful cinematography and photography. As arty as a film has been this year.

+Effective in its delivery. Though weak in its narrative, its overall product is an effective viewing,

+Excellent soundtrack. Neon inspired and soaked-the film compliments the soundtrack very well.

+The character Chang is very well acted, seen and his presence is formidable. I would say one of the best characters in a film this year.

Why Should You Not See It?

-The first act is slow moving. The rest of the film is still slow in comparison.

-The English speaking characters-Julian and Crystal in particular are perhaps subdued largely.

-The overall story and narrative is weak as a whole.

-The film is not for everyone. You could fall in love with the film or hate it quite easily.

Overall, I did enjoy the film as a whole. The film was steeped into my mind with is effective visual shots and brilliant soundtrack. Its actions and reactions in the film also are effective. But, the film is perhaps flawed with its main characters being weak and the story being a passenger to what is important. I am divided on the film. While its flaws are substantial, the film is by no means bad, terrible or a poorly mad film. The film is made for an acquired taste. Even violence fanatics will be found wanting with the film.

After much deliberation, I believe films should be rated on quality and enjoyment. Only God Forgives is a film that is extremely divisive. It is in part brilliant and in part not to my liking.  Yet despite this, I will watch it again. Although the rating is high which I believe is correct, what I cannot do is recommend it as easily as something like Drive. ****

Xbox On?

The Xbox One has made a a good impression in its release despite its problems and issues from the very moment it was announced. Here is some coverage and impressions of the Xbox One as well as also why you should consider purchasing one.

The Xbox One is not a gaming console as pure as the PS4. That much is given. Its support for Indie games, Free to play games and all round ability to encompass gaming purity is faltering. However, what you will get with the Xbox One is unsurpassed media capability. The ‘snap’ feature and built in Skype are perhaps one of the best features yet for the Xbox. So here is an analysis of individual aspects of the console and what it does better than the PS4.

Gaming: The Xbox consoles have had a limited variety of exclusives in the past dominated by Western shooters such as Halo and Gears Of War. For the new launch, new exclusive Ryse was thrown into the fray as well as Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5. Ryse is instantly reminiscent of God of War-it is clear where that inspiration has come from. Graphically and technically, the game is a marvel but is hounded by repetitive gameplay.

Dead Rising 3 isn’t a spectacular zombie shooter like Left 4 Dead or perhaps more recently in theme than The Last Of Us. Yet, it is solid, fun and big in numbers. It just does not do enough to evolve the Dead Rising formula that has either been loved or hated by some. Forza 5 is probably the best exclusive for the Xbox One and the one in which you would most likely get with the console. While solid, it is lacks much depth compared to previous instalments. Also, the micro-transactions are not the most welcome also.

Media: The Xbox can double as a top-box for your TV in which services like Sky can be incorporated into the console. There have been problems with juddering framerates as in America, television is generally displayed in 60fps whereas here it is 50fps so causes judder in displaying content. One of the more amusing problems is when adverts are displayed on the tv through the Xbox and if an Xbox ad appears saying a specific kinect command, the console will follow that command.

The console supports the main apps such as Netflix, Iplayer and so on. But the console does support Skype which is a major bonus considering its Kinect functionality. Down the line, I would expect the capability and functionality to be improved for the UK in the future. We have seen little also of the Smartglass function for the console also but 2014 should be the time when the console comes alive outside of the US at least.

Other: The console is more expensive than the PS4 though should you have purchased the launch console, you would have got the console, kinect and a game for £429 which isn’t that bad considering. If you get the chance to purchase one now though, it is the same price without a game though however which is a shame really.

The console is slightly less powerful than the PS4 and much has been made of that in terms of overall performance. Yet its capabilities near enough match the PS4 pound for pound though. But, you won’t buy the console for its power alone though as most games will be equally optimised. The exclusives will show the true nature of the console however.

Overall: Depending on how you live your life with media, the Xbox One could be the essential convenient purchase you have been waiting for. Games, media functionality, built in skype-it screams convenience albeit it at an expensive price. The console has been optimised for America mainly though and it will take time for the console to settle in other areas. The console has not enjoyed the best of starts though and it may come back to haunt Microsoft.

Titanfall aside, the exclusives are not all that appealing for the console. Depending how soon as to when Halo comes, Titanfall looks to be the saviour for the console. If only Microsoft could branch out to Indie developers and make their console more friendly worldwide, it will be a success.

Xbox One: All Is Forgiven?

It seems that the best of us are quick to forgive and forget. The Xbox One launched yesterday in 13 different countries to good sales numbers exceeding more than 1 million sales. It just begs the question-was everyone too ready to forgive or was everyone too ready to hate on the console?

May 2013 and the Xbox One was revealed. In contrast to the PS4 reveal which was like a E3 conference of sorts, the Xbox reveal was only an hour long and populated by media related announcements-nothing in the way for the gamer. There was a shroud of confusion as to how restrictive the Xbox One was-second hand sales, 24 hour DRM, Kinect is always on and so on. Come after E3 where Sony absolutely rained on the Xbox One’s parade, the console was in dire straits.

So, like anyone does-they listen to the general consensus and change their ways. It was a victory hailed for the gamers and brought the console back into the fore. The console was also made to appease those that favoured the ways set by Sony and Playstation. With the launch yesterday, there was a certain buzz of positivity coming after all the negative press surrounding the console. So, were people too hasty in their hate?

Definitely. The Xbox One has bags of potential that is only beginning to scratch the surface. The fact that problems with consoles can be casted away by a simple firmware update-which was the case with the XB1. Although, I am impartial to say that the negative reactions forced Microsoft into action. Ever since the change of ways, the positivity of the console has increased dramatically and now the console is on equal terms with PS4-mostly.

I think the Xbox if it is going to go toe to toe with the PS4 needs to open up to Indie’s more and dearth themselves to more exclusive games. A narrow selection of exclusives will not go down well. The amount of exclusives that appeared on the PS3 compared to the Xbox 360 was staggering.

Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, The Last Of Us, God Of War 3, Killzone 2, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, God Of War Collection, Journey, Ico+Shadow Of Collosus Collection, Little Big Planet 1+2, and Okami HD are the games on the PS3 that exceed 90 on Metacritic-classed as ‘Universal Acclaim’. In contrast, the 360 had;  Gears of War 1,2,3, Halo 3 and Halo Reach, Forza Motorsport 2,3,4, Trials Evolution, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. While the number is close between the two, 9 unique franchises are for Playstation and 5 are for the Xbox 360-nearly double the amount.

The future does look bright with Titanfall and Quantum Break on the horizon for the Xbox One which will go lengths in sharpening its exclusive appeal. Overall, I think the Xbox One is closer in line with the PS4 than when it was first announced. Both consoles will go a long way in improving for years’ to come. I do think the PS4 is the better all round console and with Playstation Plus in full swing-it will be very difficult for the Xbox to match.

Yet, with the games for gold coming to the Xbox One next year and with its heavy media profile in the West-the console could hold up a formidable against the PS4. All eyes are on Friday then for the PS4 when it launches in the UK. I suspect it will be equally successful but its Western influence will be key. The PS3 was second best in America and the UK to the Xbox 360 yet bettered the console elsewhere. Both will be vying for Western supremacy.

Launch Games and Consoles: Overview.

When a new console releases, there is a certain buzz to it like no other-the only feeling that could relate to it I guess is the feeling of getting a new toy, car or something you hold close to you. The PS4 has launched this week in America and with the promise of great games. How have games for consoles in the past fared at launch? Which games have stood out? Lets take a look at console launches from the most recent to the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast…

Wii U 2012: No real essential games as such. The game that had the most promise was Rayman: Legends which was delayed, removed to be exclusive. The console suffered badly at launch relying on ports of current games to enhance the appeal of the console. This failed to materialise in sales and many retailers have stopped stocking the console. However, with the release of Zelda: Wind Walker HD recently, things could turn.

PS Vita 2012: The problem with the Vita for many is not its games nor what it can do. It is the price and the fact that most phones are equally capable of gaming. Yet, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipEout 2048 and Super Stardust Delta were excellent exclusives. After a difficult 2012, 2013 has seen the Vita improve and reach the standards set by its excellent launch line-up.

3DS 2011: Another console that had a bad launch. It had the wrong price and wrong games at first. The handheld relied on many ports or lazy launch games such as Ridge Racer 3D. Arguably, Street Fighter 4 was the best game available but it was still a rough launch compared to the PS Vita a year later. A heavy price cut followed and now has gone on to be much more successful despite making losses on each console.

PS3 2006/2007: The PS3 had a good lineup that was probably the only highlight of their first year on the market. Resistance and Motorstorm were the standout titles. Both are still excellent games yet in the months that followed were disappointing releases. Uncharted: Drakes’ Fortune released in late 2007 and the console has gone on ever since.

Wii 2006: The Wii introduced motion-tech to the world and with it the bonanza that is Wii Sports, an excellent game representative of the Wii as a whole. Fun, family-friendly, dust collector and everyone has one summed up the Wii. The console sold over 100 million units in 7 years-far more than its direct competitors the PS3 and 360.

Xbox 360 2005: A decent launch that had many multiplatform games without any real exclusives. The thing about this launch was it was the only next-gen console on the market so its games could be considered as the best versions. Nonetheless, Project Gotham Racing 3 was the best title at launch. The 360 changed much of how console gaming works and has brought the best out of shooting games in particular.

PSP 2004/2005: The PSP was a very good handheld console that was hacked to the depths of hell. That partially explains why sales of the console were strong but games not so much. There was Ridge Racer, Twisted Metal: Head On, Pursuit Force and WipEout: Pure all excellent games. Despite its excellent potential and great games, the console was largely second best to the DS. Yet, the PSP was a success before being succeeded by the Vita some 7 years later.

DS 2004/2005: Not the strongest of launches but the new dual screen and touch screen innovations was certainly appealing. Super Mario 64 DS was a superb game for its launch. The DS enjoyed much success for the next 6 years selling nearly 145 million units. Its first-party titles were excellent but multiplatform games-not so much.

Xbox 2001: The original Xbox was a nicely conceived console that had potential and did a lot right. Yet, in the face of the PS2 failed miserably. However, Halo: Combat Evolved will always stand as one of the best launch games ever and kick-started the big franchise it is today. The console lasted a meagre 4 years on the market before being succeeded by the 360.

Gameboy Advance: The GBA was a good handheld console that as you would expect brought the best out of games directly made for the platform. Super Mario: Advance was a great game to kick-start the console into life but its best game was Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon-a brilliant game and one of the best Castlevania games to date. The GBA lasted only 3 years before it was replaced yet sold 82 million in 7 years on the market.

Gamecube 2001: The Gamecube had a decent launch with Luigi’s Mansion being the best game available. Despite some excellent games in its coming years, the console fared just as well as the Xbox. The PS2 was utterly dominant in the early 00’s and the Gamecube was replaced 5 years later.

Playstation 2 2000: Arguably the best console ever made, the PS2 sold over 150 million units to the world and had its last game sold this year-a run of 12 years on the market. Its launch was strong too and boasting some real gems. Tekken: Tag Tournament , SSX and the brilliant Timesplitters were the best games at launch.

Sega Dreamcast 1999:  The Dreamcast for its time was a phenomenal console and probably the best console ever made. Its innovations paved the way for things such as the PSN, Xbox Live and the Wii U gamepad. Such was the success of the PS2 that the Dreamcast was quickly crushed. Its launch was decent with Sonic Adventure being the standout title at launch.The console was abandoned 2 years later as Sega went through financial trouble.

The console was worth owning for one game in particular and that was the fantastic Shenmue, widely regarded as one of the best games ever made. It was also the most expensive video-game ever made for a while costing nearly $50 million. Despite the innovations, the Dreamcast crucially had no DVD compatibility. Also, when the PS2 was announced most switched their attention to that. Sega pulled the plug 2 years later in America and 3 years in Europe.

I hope you have enjoyed the list and I hope you have had a sense of nostalgia in remembering these consoles being launched. What do you think of the launch games of these consoles? What were your favourites? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook and Twitter @jugaccino.