Today’s Poll: Which Version of Dragon Age: Origins?!?

Dragon Age Origins

I’m torn on this matter. As a longtime Baldur’s Gate fan, it feels natural to play this game on a PC. Unfortunately, I’m all laptop these days and I worry that my Nvidia GeForce 8400m won’t cut the mustard. Plus, if I’m going to be sinking 100+ hours into a game, my couch would be more comfortable than my Herman Miller Mirra. That said, I’ve been reading about some nasty bugs on the PS3 version. I’m not sure if the same bugs plague the Xbox 360 version, but I’m going to do more research. Which version of Dragon Age: Origins to buy?!? I don’t know! How about you?

[poll id=”5″]

Coffee Talk #17: PS3 vs. Xbox 360 Controller Battle!

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Ozzy Osbourne hosting Monday Night Raw, Apple possibly getting into subscription television, or the French press vs. drip machine debate, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Prior to this console generation, Sony was the undisputed king of console controllers. Then out of nowhere (at least, that’s how it seemed to me), the Xbox 360 controller took the throne. Personally, I don’t get it. I love the shape of the Dual Shock, prefer its more precise analog sticks, and hate the d-pad on the 360 controller. All that said, I understand why the Xbox 360 became so popular. It all started last console generation….

xbox 360 ps3 controllers slider

Shooters became prominent on consoles. Initially, shooter aficionados scoffed at the idea of playing with anything that wasn’t a mouse and keyboard. As consoles became more popular and PC gaming less popular, a lot of gamers begrudgingly lived out their World War II and space-marine fantasies on consoles. Eventually, the control schemes became better and more precise. A lot of shooter fans — especially Americans — preferred the larger Xbox and Xbox 360 controllers for shooting.

The Type-S controller for the original Xbox is also worth mentioning. The original Xbox controller was a giant piece of crap. The Type-S was much, much better — especially for shooters. The Xbox 360 pad is a nice evolution of the Type-S. Sony’s Dual Shock 3, on the other hand, isn’t much of a progression from the Dual Shock 2. Some, myself included, will argue that the company was right not to stray from an already excellent design. Others will say that Microsoft’s advancements give it an edge. I guess there’s something to be said about going to crap (original Xbox controller) to very good (Xbox 360 pad).

Anyway, I want to know which controller you prefer and why. Do you dig the small footprint and classic design of the Dual Shock 3? Or do you like the larger and more evolved Xbox 360 pad?

Sony Motion Controller Not Complete, Still in Early Days

Sony Motion Controller 2

Sony’s sex toy of doom motion controller is set to compete with Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Project Natal some time in 2010, by most accounts. Nintendo has found remarkable success with its motion controller and Microsoft appears to be close to entering the fray. Sony, while arguably having the most impressive tech of the three, seems two steps behind (like Def Leppard). In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said:

We are also still working on the motion controller; it’s not complete. We are making changes to the hardware, so we really want to wait until we feel confident enough about giving the audience a chance to try it out. We are making progress, though, and we wanted to show at least snippets of games in that are in development.

We are still in the very early days of motion control development. We have had discussions with the company management where we discussed if we approach this as a peripheral or a platform and we agree that this has huge potential — so we position this as a hardware platform. The initiative was from the Worldwide Studios, but this has to be designed so that many different kinds of games from all publishers can participate in this hardware platform.

I’m definitely excited to play with Sony’s wand (that sounds gross), but I have to wonder about the product’s timing. If its motion controller is released significantly after Project Natal, Sony will be playing catch-up to its competitors. It doesn’t matter if its controller has the highest fidelity; the customers that Sony will attract with this product won’t care and will have had plenty of time to consider the Wii and Xbox 360.

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

The gaming business is entering its final push before everything is on the table for the holiday rush. This week’s big release is Dragon Age: Origins from the outstanding Edmontonians at BioWare. Music games are facing off again, but this time the battle is for casual gamers with Band Hero and Rock Band: LEGO. Is the music-game genre to saturated? Or will these games sell to a different audience?

While you ponder that, here are this week’s PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo DS releases…along with some brief commentary. I’ve taken out most of the garbage and kids games (unless I found them funny). As always, let me know if you’re planning to buy any of this week’s new releases.

Dragon Age Origins chicky

PlayStation 3
Band Hero — Too bad this isn’t Band Camp Hero. I’d play an RPG about this one time, at band camp.
Dragon Age: Origins — BioWare rules!!!
Pro Evolution Soccer 2010
Rock Band: AC/DC Track Pack
Rock Band: LEGO
Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition
— I’m pretty sure the Sith invented repackaging.

Continue reading “This Week’s Videogame Releases”

Sony Corp. CFO Expects PS3 to be Profitable in 2010

PS3 Slim

Sony Corporation chief financial officer Nobuyuki Oneda expects the PlayStation 3 to be a profitable console in 2010. He explained to Impress AV Watch:

At present, the difference between sales and materials cost has been reduced to between 10 and 20%. Within the year, it could be in the single digits. We’ll be able to reach profitability at some point in the next term.

Out of the three major gaming consoles, Sony’s PS3 was, by far, the most expensive to create and build. Achieving profitability is a significant milestone for Sony.

Source via Andriasang

Final Fantasy XIII Crystalium Level-Up System Explained

Japanese magazine Shonen Jump has detailed Final Fantasy XIII’s “Crystalium” system, which is used to level up characters. Using “Crystal Points” and a chart with diverging paths, the system sounds like an advancement of the sphere grid used in Final Fantasy X. The good peeps at Andriasang have translated and analyzed the info:


As you defeat enemies in battle, you earn Crystal Points (CP). These can be exchanged for new skills and abilities, shown on a circular chart in the Crystalium management screen. As you learn certain skills, new paths on the chart open up.

In addition to earning new skills like “Fire,” you can also use this system to increase your characters’ parameters. The screenshots in Jump show options for increasing character HP.

Character growth appears to be done on a per role basis. This is my speculation based off the screenshots, but it appears that each character can be raised individually in the various battle roles (Blaster, Defender, Attacker, and so-forth).

This system sounds great on paper. I loved the sphere grid in FFX. Crystalium sounds like the sphere grid taken to the next level. Even though FFXIII’s gestalt mode continues to vex me, I’m thinking (wishing?) that Crystalium will help me forget it’s there.


New Final Fantasy XIII Gestalt Modes: Bahamut and Brynhildr

Oerba summon

Square Enix has updated the official Final Fantasy XIII web site with new information and pictures on two gestalt modes. First up is Bahamut, Oerba Yun Fang’s summon. Longtime FF fans will remember Bahamut as one of the most potent summons around. In FFXIII, it becomes a…chocobo/bat machine…with a little AT-ST thrown in.

Sazh Katzroy’s summon is just as ridiculous.

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Ratchet & Clank the Last 60fps Game From Insomniac

Ratchet and Clank Future

Citing research recently performed by the company, Insomniac Games engine director Mike Acton said that Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time will likely be the company’s last game that runs at 60 frames per second. The research concluded that hitting 60fps isn’t worth the effort because it “does not significantly affect sales” and “does not significantly affect the reviews”. Acton concluded:

It means that framerate is still important to us here at Insomniac, but it’s not on the same pedestal it was before. And that Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time will probably be Insomniac’s last 60fps game.

With development costs continuing to skyrocket, I understand the need for some tough decisions. While I agree that many critics and gamers are satisfied with 30fps, there are some that demand 60fps. People that fall into the latter category tend to be extremely vocal. They’ll complain long, loud, and hard about lower frame rates. They’ll convince other people to complain about the lower frame rates. It’ll be anarchy!!! (Breakfast Club reference)

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Insomniac Says it’s 2 to 3 Years Until PS3 is Maxed Out

Ratchet and Clank Future

While some people believe that we’re already past the midpoint of this console generation, others think that we still have a ways to go. Developer Insomniac Games (Resistance, Ratchet & Clank) is part of the latter group. The company believes that it will be two to three years until the power of the PlayStation 3 is fully realized. In a recent interview with CVG community manager James Stevenson said:

The first couple of years are all about developers getting games up and working. You see what Naughty Dog has had the chance to do in the past two years. You’ve seen what we’ve been able to do in that time. This is where it gets exciting.

I still think you’re not going to see the PS3 really maxed out for another two to three years. We’re using all of the PS3 right now, but you can always be more efficient in the way you use it.

While I do think there are still ways for developers to exploit the power of the PS3, three years seems too long. With games like Uncharted 2, God of War III, and Heavy Rain, it seems like developers are pretty close to maxing out the PS3. While I like and respect Stevenson, his words would have been more powerful coming from someone on the development team.

Still, I could be wrong. What do you guys and dolls think? Will it be three years until the PS3 is pushed to the limits? Or are developers close to that point now?


Coffee Talk #11: Achievements vs. Trophies — Fight!!!

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, if Lyoto Machida deserved that decision over Shogun Rua, T-Mobile’s new pricing plans, or how awesome it is to have the Yankees in the World Series, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

First off, kindly vote in the Saved by the Bell poll. It’s important…like very. Now getting back to the topic at hand….

RPad TV Achievement

Achievements and trophies. Trophies and achievements. They’re essentially the same thing — a little pat on the back for doing something in a game. In some cases, the reward is for something you would have done anyway. In others, you’re coerced to play more of a game and/or play it in a different way just to get some meaningless points or symbols. Don’t get me wrong, I love these things. I want them. (Even if I don’t know why.) What I find curious is that some gamers greatly prefer one over the other.

Familiarity might have something to do with it. Microsoft wisely incorporated achievements during the early planning stages of the Xbox 360. By introducing the system on day one, it was able to establish achievements as the norm and get gamers hooked on the whole idea. Sony’s trophies came much later and support hasn’t been consistent. This has changed, but there are some early releases that don’t support trophies. All that aside, some people prefer trophies because they rather have a symbol than a number. Personally, I don’t care either way — I want them all!!! (Unfortunately, I’ve played so many games on debug units and/or under shared accounts that my personal scores suck *sniff*)

On this fine Monday Monday (so good to me), I want to know which system you prefer and why. Are trophies your bag? Or do you dig achievements?

Continue reading “Coffee Talk #11: Achievements vs. Trophies — Fight!!!”