Archive for December, 2007
After Henning’s sceptical post about Logic3′s SoundStation 3 PS3 Speakers, Logic3 got in touch and asked us if we would be interested in testing them out for ourselves.
I volunteered as I have been looking to get new speakers to go with my PS3, since the speakers on my TV are so poor.
Firstly, I’d like to get the boring bit (for me anyway) out of the way; the specs:
# Powerful 20 Watts RMS total output
# 6 x Patented Wave9™ neodymium 1¼” (32mm) drivers
# 2 x Hi-X 4”(100mm) Sub-woofers in each speaker
That might mean something to you but it just goes straight over my head. The speakers are also pretty light and don’t weigh more than 1.5kg each.
Before I move on to the performance of the speakers, I have to say they look pretty damn cool next to my black HDTV.
They also match the PS3′s piano-black finish, mirror strip and curves, and as you can see from the pictures below, they fit in perfectly with my other AV equipment that take pride of place in my living room.
The left speaker has the equaliser switch where you can choose between Movie, Game and Music. Strangely, out of the 3 settings, I prefer Game for playing games, listening to music and watching movies. Everything sounds clearer. It also has a very cool looking blue light when you turn it on.
The remote is pretty small and you can control the bass, treble and volume, aswell as putting the speakers into standby mode. You can’t change the equaliser settings though, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Bass Kicks Ass
After taking all of 5 minutes to set up the speakers with my PS3 (remember to change the Audio settings on your PS3 to SCART/AV Multi, instead of HDMI) , I decided to start the test by listening to Robyn’s With Every Heart Beat:
Now, I’m no expert in the field of audio but I immediately noticed a big difference between the speakers built into my HDTV and the sound that came out of the SoundStation3 speakers.
Not really a surprise you may think but considering the £70 price tag, I wasn’t expecting much of a difference.
The bass was noticeably impressive, even more so when I listened to Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry On Their Own
Next up I tried out a couple of Blu-ray discs starting with Planet Earth. David Attenborough’s voice was a lot clearer and more prominent without having to turn the volume up to excessive levels compared to my TV speakers. Casino Royale also benefited greatly from the speakers, especially in the Game setting.
The sound of explosions and gunfire was quite impressive, especially due to the impact that the bass made during the louder scenes.
The volume of the speakers is quite impressive. I didn’t need to turn them up past the half way mark during any of the tests. Compare this to my TV which is usually turned up to 10 out of a possible 100 for when I game and up to 30 when I watch DVD/Blu-rays. Any higher than 40 and the sound distorts.
For general watching the volume of the speakers didn’t need to be turned up to the halfway mark but anywhere past that was just too loud. As a point of reference, you really shouldn’t need to go past that level.
If you live in the middle of nowhere you may want to turn the volume up to it’s highest setting but it was more than loud enough at the halfway mark, even for DVDs and Blu-rays, which normally suffer a massive drop in volume compared to games and music.
Finally, I got to the best part of the test. Games! I tried out the superb Super Stardust: HD, first without custom soundtracks then with them enabled. I love the music in SS: HD anyway but the speakers really emphasised the bass throughout and the general sound effects came through clearly despite the music.
I then tried the atmospheric All Ghillied Up mission on Call of Duty 4. Superb. The sound of your sniper shots, Capt. MacMillan whispering in your ear guiding you through the Chernobyl wastelands, guards chattering, dogs barking etc, all sounded superb and really added to the level of immersion.
Playing games definitely brings out the best in the speakers which should come as no surprise as they were designed specifically for the PS3.
The atmosphere during the All Ghillied Up mission from Call of Duty 4 was superb:
If you can’t afford to pay for the full 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound experience or you simply don’t have the means to fit all 5 speakers in your room, then these Logic3 SoundStation3 PS3 Speakers will do an excellent job.
They don’t compare to the full surround system experience but they are a big step up from my HDTV speakers, which is made all the more impressive by their relatively cheap price.
They look great, they are easy to set up and their overall sound quality for listening to music, watching movies and playing games on your PS3 is great value for the price. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending or buying these for my PS3. They are definitely worth the asking price and gave great value for it.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Logic3 PS3 SoundStation 3 Speaker System provided by Logic3.
If you haven’t heard, here’s the backstory. Harmonix and Red Octance develop the Guitar Hero games which require a guitar peripheral. Red Octance gets bought by Activision, and Harmonix gets bought by MTV. Activision gets one of their internal studios to make Guitar Hero 3. Meanwhile, Harmonix develops Rock Band, a new game that can use two guitar peripherals, a mic, and a drumkit. The game Rock Band comes with one guitar, a mic, and a drumkit. It would be nice if a Rock Band owner could use the Guitar Hero guitar as a second guitar when playing Rock Band. And this is exactly the case on the Xbox 360.
But not on the PS3.
Harmonix has a patch ready to go that would allow PS3 owners of both games to use their GH3 guitar while playing Rock Band. But Activision has blocked this from occuring, asking for money.
Do I really need to go on? Here’s the relevant information from boston.com:
Activision spokeswoman Maryanne Lataif said her company was willing to work with Harmonix to make the various game controllers fully compatible with one another. “Unfortunately for Rock Band users, Harmonix has been unwilling to discuss an agreement that will allow us to provide that option in a manner that maintains the high standards people have come to expect from Activision,” Lataif said.
She added that any agreement will involve someone at Harmonix writing a check. “We believe we should be compensated for the use of our technology,” said Lataif.
I find it hard to fathom that a company would be so small minded, petty, and greedy. Activision sold gamers a guitar. If they want to use said guitar in a different game, Activision shouldn’t even be part of the equation anymore. They’ve already been compensated.
It irks me even more that this is not even an issue on the Xbox 360. Why does Activision not have a problem with Xbox 360 owners using their guitar in Rock Band, but it wants to shaft PS3 owners?
I’m not buying any more Activision games until this is resolved in our favour. This is just ludicrous. And yes, that means I’m not buying the next Call of Duty either, even though CoD4 is my favourite game right now.
Activision: smarten up!
As soon as you open the box for Time Crisis 4 you are greeted with a bunch of directions on the box on how to connect your Guncon 3 to your PS3 and TV. Pretty straight forward. It comes with 2 LED light sources, kind of looks like a watch. You place these on the upper left and right corner of your TV and plug it into your PS3 via USB.
The Guncon 3 itself is comfortable to hold. I wish the buttons on it stood out more, there are 9 buttons in all including the trigger. But you only really need 2 buttons to play the regular game. I was hoping this thing would be wireless, sadly it is not.
When you boot the game up you are presented with a calibration sequence. You can do a simple 2-point calibration, or 5-point if you want to be really accurate. You’ll have to do this each time to start the game up too.
You have 2 ways to play the game.
Arcade Mode: The standard arcade gameplay. Play as Giorgio or Evan.
Story Mode: My personal favorite. You play as Captain William Rush as he investigates what’s going on with the terrorist attacks. Best part of this mode is FPS (first person shooter), you also use all the buttons on the gun pretty much.
I’ll start with the FPS Story Mode, since that’s what’s so cool about this game. Now it does take some getting used to, because there has never been anything like this before. You use the analog sticks to move and look around but you use the gun to shoot freely. I wish the camera tracked the gun’s movement and not the 2nd analog stick, but not a huge deal. Took me 10 – 20 minutes to really get the hang of it. But once you do, man it’s fun. I recommend turning on the aiming reticule until you really get used to it.
In the Story mode your health will regenerate if you stand still for a few seconds. Makes it very easy to get through the story mode. I never died until some of the later boss battles. There is a lady that helps you through the game and at times it’s insulting as a gamer. For example: I come to a door that’s locked. She mentions to me, it’s locked. Looks like there is a key in this building over here. Then once I get the key, “Looks like it will unlock that door”. Just because this gameplay mechanic is new, doesn’t mean I’ve never played a game before. Let me explore and find it. Just needed to get that off my chest.
You have several guns to pick from in the story mode as well: Hand Gun, Machine Gun, Shotgun, Knife, and Hand Grenade. I wish I had a sniper rifle, because there are some enemies that had one. But you can zoom in a little which is nice. Sometimes you can even shoot mounted machine guns. You can pick up ammo from enemies you’ve killed. At times you switch back to the typical Arcade Mode to continue the story, then after that you are back to FPS goodness. The story ends with the Arcade Mode which was a little disappointing, just because I wanted to finish it in FPS, but that’s just me. But the Story Mode adds a lot to the series.
Now the Arcade Mode is pretty much what it has always been from the start, just prettier. It’s still fun though. But it does add a few new things. At one point you are in a cave and it’s mostly dark and you can’t see the enemies so you use a flash light guided by your Guncon to find and shoot the enemies. Nice touch. Then there are 2 or 3 screen battles, this is how it works. Enemies come at you from different directions and to switch to each screen you point the Guncon away from the screen to the left or right and it moves the screen that way. It gives you a warning if enemies get too close on the other screen so you know to switch back.
Lastly there are a couple parts where you are in a helicopter shooting a mounted machine gun with unlimited ammo. That was very fun, shooting other helicopters out of the sky and blowing up vehicles on the ground. At one point you have to shoot a truck’s back tires out with a sniper rifle – it’s good challenge.
If you don’t beat the the Arcade Mode on the first try you are granted another continue up to 9 times. But once you beat the game you have unlimited continues. But each time you’ll have to start all over. It’s too bad there isn’t online co-op play, because most people aren’t likely to go out and buy another Guncon 3 controller. I tried my Guncon 2 controller to see if that would work, but sadly it did not.
To really test your shooting skills you can try Crisis Mode and all the mini games. Crisis mode is like the arcade mode but you have to shoot many things within a time limit. Some are very challenging, I like the sniping ones.
Overall Time Crisis 4 delivers the arcade experience to your home well. The FPS mode about doubles the length of the standard arcade mode. The length of the game is fine for arcade shooter. But extending the campaign with downloadable content is more than welcome The story is corny and goofy, which is typical for these games.
I would rate this game a 7 out of 10, I’d give it a 8.5 if it had online co-op.
I hope more games come out that support the Guncon 3
I’d like to thank the guys over at Rocket XL for giving me a copy of Time Crisis 4 to review!
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Time Crisis 4 provided by NAMCO Bandai Games.
2007 is now almost over so it’s time for us to look back over a year that saw the PS3 finally hit PAL regions but which struggled in many departments for most of the year.
2008 is set to be a massive year for both Sony and the PS3 so it’s time for us to muse over what went right and wrong in 2007 and what’s to come in 2008 for PS3 owners:
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2007:
Gary: Far too many multi-platform games that came to the PS3 were inferior to what were available to 360/PC owners. The most recent example is Half Life 2: The Orange Box.
A lot is made of the PS3 being a difficult system to develop for but when Infinity Ward can do a top notch job of Call of Duty 4, it just makes it all the more galling that other devs aren’t willing to put the extra effort in to do a better than decent job.
You could argue that devs shouldn’t need to put the extra effort in to get the best out of the system but hey, life isn’t always easy. You’d think devs would want to do the best job they possibly can, you know, taking pride in their work.
Henning: Those of you who know me won’t be surprised by this. I have to say the continued trend towards relying on online to fulfill gamers’ multiplayer needs. There’s nothing better than getting together with your friends to play video games. Witness the whole Rock Band phenomenon. Being physically in the same space to play a game is unmatched by any online method of getting together. So the fact that fewer and fewer games are supporting split screen or local multi-play in some form is quite disappointing.
Tosh: I was disappointed to hear some of the PS3 ports not getting the polish it needed. Call of Duty 4 looks and plays great on the PS3 though, great job Infinity Ward! I’m glad they take pride in there work, which ever console they are working on. I was also disappointed to hear that Home got pushed back until Spring 2008. Hopefully they’ll still be a open beta this year. And it’s to bad the Dual Shock 3 wasn’t released outside of Japan in 2007. That would have been a huge hit for the holidays.
Darrin: The continued negativity surrounding the PS3 in 2007. Also dropping PS2 BC on newer SKUs is a big disappointment. And why is there still no PS3 native dance-mat game?
I don’t see the multi-platform quality problem that you guys do. I’ve read about inferior PS3 versions of Orange Box and Madden, but those are just a few bad apples (and games that I’m not interested in). All of my favorite multi-platform titles such as Rock Band, Kane & Lynch, and the games I’m really looking forward to such as CoD4 and Burnout Paradise are great on PS3.
BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT OF 2007:
Gary: This may sound corny but I’ve met some great people online via my PS3. I’ve had a lot of fun playing games (Resistance, CoD4, Calling All Cars etc), taking part in crazy videos and just generally having a good chat via forums and the XMB.
To save them from embarrassment I won’t mention their names but you all know who you are. I’ve had a great time getting to know you guys and have had a lot of fun playing online with you all. Bring on 2008!!
Henning: There’s nothing that really sticks out as one thing that really impressed me this year. There are so many ingredients that together made for a good year. (I can’t honestly call it “great”.) I really enjoy CoD4. I think some of the firmware updates were pretty cool, like the PSP Remote Play. I hope that Remote Play will be supported by more PS3 titles (supposedly PixelJunk Monsters will support it). I joined a clan for the first time in my life (TWW). I’ve been really enjoying watching Blu-ray movies on my PS3. Stick all that together, mix in some other great games like Super Stardust HD, and you can have my highlight baked together in a yummy cookie.
Tosh: Getting a chance to beta test Warhawk was a blast. Global Remote Play, and remote start was a great addition. I had a lot of fun with the games this year: Call of Duty 4, Tekken DR Online, Uncharted Drakes Fortune, Warhawk, Heavenly Sword, Calling All Cars, Super Stardust HD, Flow, Time Crisis 4, Motorstorm, playing all the demos on the PSN, making and downloading themes for the PS3 XMB. Watching Blu-ray movies. Making movies with the PlayStation Eye using the Eye Create software.
Darrin: The flood of PS3 games and features in October-November.
WHICH PS3 GAME/S HAVE GIVEN YOU THE MOST ENJOYMENT DURING 2007?
Gary: This is going to surprise a few people but I’d have to say Resistance: Fall of Man. It’s the only game where I’ve put in more hours than Oblivion, which is saying something.
At it’s best online, it’s fantastic fun with some epic battles against the right opponents (not spawn killers, LAARK whoring glitchers!). I’ve had some memorable matches and some great memories playing with my clan mates.
It’s still got the best online infrastructure of any online PS3 game (including CoD4 and Warhawk), but I’ve moved on to CoD4 for my FPS online shenanigans. I just hope other games can take the best bits that made Resistance so great, I’m looking at you CoD4 with your lack of squads, mute options and unstable party system.
Henning: Call of Duty 4. This game is so much fun, anyone who enjoys shooters should buy this game. While my skills in this game are not equal to most of those I play with, I still have a good time. I rarely get a kill in Search & Destroy (which is what my clan seems to be playing recently), but I often place near the top in Headquarters. Go figure.
Tosh: Call of Duty 4. It’s so fun to play. Whenever I have a few minutes to play I usually pick up that game to play. I’m having so much fun online I haven’t even finished the single player yet. Tekken DR online, because I’m a Tekken fan Uncharted: Drakes fortune and Warhawk are great too!
Darrin: Definitely Rock Band: playing with my girlfriend and step-daughter is a ton of fun. Ratchet, Folklore, and Kane & Lynch were also great, and two PSN titles really stood out: LocoRocco Cocorecho and Everyday Shooter. There are also a few titles that look great, but I haven’t had a chance to try: Uncharted, UT3, and CoD4.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST FROM 2008?
Gary: Games, games and erm games! Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4,MGS 4 Online, GTA IV, LBP, Killzone 2, Gran Turismo 5, Resistance 2, Haze, Burnout Paradise, FFXIII, FFXIII Versus, Yakuza 3, Dynasty Warriors 6 and Resident Evil 5 are just some of the games off the top of my head that should hit the PS3 during 2008.
Some may slip back to 2009 but it’s still set to be a fantastic year for high profile games. Then there’s the games we don’t even know about!
Henning: I’m looking forward to some good firmware upgrades (see my answer below). I’m also looking forward to some good games like LittleBigPlanet and Killzone 2. I hope that they don’t disappoint. I’m also hoping that developers start to give the PS3 its due and give us games that match the 360 versions in quality.
Tosh: 2008 is the year of games for the PS3! Metal Gear Solid 4, MGS 4 Online, Killzone 2, Resistance 2, Burnout Paradise, FFXIII Versus, Tekken 6. I’m curious to see what features will be added to the PS3 firmware in 2008. I’m hoping that PlayStation Home will be a huge hit. It has the potential to be. But a lot of that rests on the game developers shoulders. I’m excited to try it out. And I want more PlayStation Eye games
Darrin: I’m most excited about the wild cards: will The Agency really succeed and deliver something new? Will Sucker Punch’s Infamous really excel? Will the new PS Eye games push the envelope? Will Insomniac, Naughty Dog, Harmonix, or NCSoft ship a big ’08 title? There are too many unknowns. In terms of safe-bet blockbusters: GTA4 definitely tops my list. MGS4 (particularly the online component) looks great, GT5, and Mercs 2.
WHAT NEW FEATURES DO YOU WANT TO SEE ADDED TO THE PS3 NEXT YEAR?
Gary: I don’t want full in-game XMB access, I just want to be able to send and read messages when I’m in a game.
I’d also like to see games make more use of customisable soundtracks. Super Stardust: HD is a start but games like Burnout Paradise and Skate would be awesome with that option.
Henning: Like almost everyone else with a PS3, I want in-game access to messages. It would also be great if the PS3 supported system-wide voice chat so I could talk to my friends no matter what game they’re in. This would also be handy if they’re in the same game and they’re the only person I want to chat with. That way I wouldn’t have to listen to the garbage all those foul-mouthed kids spew forth.
Tosh: In-game XMB access would be nice, full access isn’t needed. I just want access to message my friends and talk with them. Access the web browser, and some of the settings. Also the web browser needs to be improved. It’s slow, doesn’t even pull up some web pages. Firefox running on Linux on the PS3 works better than the PS3 web browser. I want to be able to choose my own photo for my PSN online icon. More PlayStation Eye support.
Darrin: My top wish is a DRM-free, SACD quality online music store. Other than that, Home looks awesome and the video store will be great, and I can’t wait to see all the other stuff that Sony thinks of.
Gary: Do you agree/disagree with our views? Share your views by posting in the comments!
Riggins44 pointed out the link by 402 about the new CoD4 patch.
Hey Everyone –
I wanted to give you a heads up on the PS3 Connectivity patch for the PS3 version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This is the patch that will improve matchmaking, connectivity, and optimized performance for you guys when playing online.
The PS3 Connectivity patch will be hitting in the very near future. The PS3 (exclusive) Connectivity patch will include:
US Data Center For NAT Server
Will make all US players connect to US data center and EU users connect to EU data center. This will optimize performance for all users in those areas.
Fixed ‘Downloading Game Settings’ Error
Fixed error with conflicting packet interaction.
Port 3095 Issue Corrected
Players were required to have port 3095 open in order to host. Now players who have port 3095 blocked can still host matches.
Server search will end upon acquiring a certain number of good servers. Added “prefer” servers with best ping, this will optimize and expedite players finding and joining good matches.
This is the first patch, addressing connectivity issues, there will be a future patch that includes several more multiplayer enhancements but won’t be here until well into the new year. Let me know if there are any questions. Thanks guys.
I tried it last night and it works great for me, though I’ve heard some people have had problems. When I searched for an HQ match I was caught off guard by how quickly it found a match. No more waiting around! Woo-hoo!
Can anyone explain how the server hosting works? How do you know if you’re the host?