Journey (PS3)

17. March, 2012

Bored by the violence in Mass Effect 3? Solved Ratchet & Clank three times already?

How about a nice, relaxing Journey?

Journey is the latest … uh … game? by thatgamecompany. Remember flOw? Flower? If you already own those two, Journey is for you. If you don’t – give it a try. Discover the journey.

Sony vs. The World 1:0 …?

13. April, 2011

So Georg Hotz “caved in” and accepted to sign a settlement agreement (good article). Those quotes aren’t accidental; being accused in a law-suit does odd things to your life and most of them are unpleasant. Being famous isn’t as great as MTV wants you to believe. Ever wondered why all those famous persons are either weird, drug addicts or die early? There might be a connection.

As for Georg, one hell is over and now he gets raped by all his supporters. It’ll wash over, trust me.

So did Sony win? No. Win would mean to prove in court that it’s illegal to decrypt and modify the firmware of the PS3. Which they avoided. If you’re a multi-billion dollar company and someone/something is a threat to one of your most valuable products (my impression after reading what SCEA said during the lawsuit), wouldn’t you want to make sure this issue is fixed once and for all? For some reason, Sony didn’t.

It’s probably because they didn’t want to harm poor Georg.

*hilarious laughter*

Oh man, I’m killing myself. So. Sony caved, Georg won: He’s not going to jail, he isn’t fined, he isn’t prosecuted. He’s a free man. Well, mostly.

He isn’t allowed to do illegal things with “any SONY PRODUCT” (their yelling). Oookaaayy… what exactly is illegal? Wasn’t that one important point that the lawsuit should have settled?

I mean in Europe, it’s legal to reverse engineer any software if you need that knowledge to make it cooperate with some other software (“make it interoperable”) and if you can’t get that knowledge some other way (competitor wants to keep you out of the market, producer is no longer around, etc.). You must not spread the reverse engineered code but you could, for example, write a patch or an installer with it.

And Georg isn’t allowed to talk about the settlement which is confidential. I don’t need to understand this, I guess, but I’m sure he would rather forget this sad story and move on.

So. One guy fixed. I’m sure no other smart person on the planet is going to try this again. Ever.

And one prediction: It seems that Georg has some money left. Instead of wasting it on his own case (which Sony might have dragged out for a decade, for example) he might have invested it in the other lawsuit where chances to win might be much higher – especially with all the notes he got from his case.

Sony cracks down on Geohot

7. February, 2011

In an insane attempt to stop the world, Sony has sued George “Geohot” Hotz. Some comments on this:

The court has granted Sony’s request for TRO. In the document, the court rules: “… Hotz shall … preserve, and not destroy, erase, delete, dispose of, or alter any documents or records, … that relate to … the Circumvention Devices, or any communications with any party concerning the manufacture, …” (page 3, 12-22).

Hm … since Geohot distributed that information via his website and the “any party” is the world, doesn’t that mean he must not take the information down? Since taking down the information would mean to alter his homepage which the court ruling strictly forbids …

Or as Dan Gillmor found in his blog post: “Given that the research results Sony presumably cares about are available online, granting the order would mean that everyone except the researchers themselves would have access to their work.”

It’s interesting to see that the people, who turned the justice system into what it is today, starting to strangle themselves into it.

“Beware not to lose the war by winning it”
Haul monk to Forne Rako

Mass Effect 2 for PS3

6. February, 2011

I started playing Mass Effect 2 for the PS3. Nice game.

Dear EA: Console users want to play, not listen 1 hour for an installer to scrub the game disk with the read/write head. Hint: Other games show an elaborate intro while installing, not instead of installing.

Also, there is no turbo in the elevator; loading times in the ship itself could be much better. Fortunately, running around in the ship is only necessary in the early stages of the game.

Collecting shady individuals from all over the galaxy and poking planets for resources is quite some fun; I just wish the shooting sequences were not so dominant. Luckily, that seems to get better later in the game where you can roam space stations, break into walk-in safes of criminals, etc.

All in all, quite some fun.

Finally: Homebrew for PS3

10. January, 2011

As the last console, the PS3 has been opened for homebrew software. Fetch your SDK.

Kudos go to ~geohot.

PS3 was hacked

6. January, 2011
Tux, the Linux penguin

Image via Wikipedia

Like so many people, I was upset that Sony discontinued support for Linux. I understand that it was a security risk (people were dabbling with the encrypted hypervisor and the encryption) but no one really cared enough to actually invest the huge amount of time necessary to really break it. I also understand that supporting Linux was a cost issue for Sony while it didn’t bring that many customers. At the same time, I knew I could run Linux on my PS3 but never did.

So it wasn’t an actual issue for me either, it just upset me. I bought the PS3 for many reasons and being able to run Linux had been one of them. Not the major point but I still got mad when they took that from me.

At the 27C3, they showed how it was hacked but I was intrigued by short appearance of a guy who had analyzed the time it took to break a console and why it was hacked. While piracy is a side effect of hacking a console, it’s probably not the driving force. The statistics say that it took at most 12 months to hack a console make Linux run. The PS3 was unscathed for three years – until Sony stopped support for Linux. After that, the hackers really dug into it and – what surprise – they pwn3d it.

Made me wonder why Sony dropped support? As we know from the history of Microsoft, piracy is actually a major driving force for software sales. The calculation goes a bit like this: If you don’t want to pay for something, it’s hard to force you. But once you’re used to something, and you like it, you stick with it. A good example was Office 97. It wasn’t that great but companies were forced to buy it quickly because all people working at those companies had got free, time limited copies along with their PCs. I’ll let you assume how many people bought the product after the time was up.

The thing was: People took work home (good for the companies), work on it and then bring it back to work. Then, something happened: The “old” Office 95 did display a warning, about 90% the size of the screen “I can’t open this! You may lose your work! Help!” So suddenly, there was a strong pressure on the company to upgrade 95 to 97 – because everyone had got a free copy of Office 97!

The key here is to be able to balance sales with piracy. Microsoft knows the Spiel best: Really smack down on people selling pirate copies but leave the home users alone. C= (and the Amiga) couldn’t play it. In the end, piracy overtook sales and the platform died. The lesson we learn here: Piracy is something that must be managed carefully. No piracy and sales will be much lower than they could be; too much and you go bankrupt.

So here is my heretic thought: Maybe Sony didn’t have enough piracy. ^_^

References: Video of the 27C3 talk “”. Go to the documentation site and search the download links for “console_hacking_2010”. The statistics part is at 05:33.

Are they out of their mind?

19. February, 2010

I while ago, I downloaded the demo for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s a PS3 game and I like Wolverine, so I was really excited. Whoa, they really spent some time on the levels … lush forests … tree roots, plants … okay, I can’t leave the paths (in games, heroes can’t climb or crawl … see my post on Batman Arkham Asylum *sheesh*).

Anyway. I played a while. Hack’n’slay (you have to chop people to bits with Wolverine’s claws … so he has no brain, either … oh well). Then, there was that helicopter scene. You’re on a rope bridge or an edge or something, I forget. There is this helicopter with the machine guns, making your life (or rather the game character’s life) miserable. So you jump on it, slice the window, pull the pilot out and … chop his head to bits with the main rotor of the ‘copter …

What did you feel in that moment? Please comment below.

I felt: WTF?

In an instant, I found the game revolting. All my impressions about the nice graphics, all the artistic work was washed down with a wave of disgust. To my shame, I continued to play until he end and took out the last boss. Okay, there are special moves and such … but for some reason, I didn’t buy the game and I deleted the demo without hesitation. Later, I saw a game review in TV where they showed a lot of special moves, how to use spikes and your environment to impale your enemies and gore them in various ways. For some reason, they ran it in the afternoon, around 1500.

Frankly, are you out of your mind? I’m not a softy or against so called “killer games” but some time last year, a border was crossed for me. Wolverine. Wet. Bayonetta. Brain-dead games, meant for simple button mashing, asking for the reflexes of a 15-year old but with the graphics of a motion picture.

I’m not sure who pays the money to produce such games. I’m not sure who works on such games. I’m not sure which person at Sony gave their OK for the production or distribution of such games. I don’t care. I don’t care if you think it’s OK. I don’t care if any court think it’s OK.

I’m proud to say that I feel this is WRONG.

Maybe you should read up a bit on how the human brain works. For everyone else, just don’t buy such games. They are a waste of time and money. And while there is no proof that they are bad for your soul, they aren’t any good either. As I said: A waste.


5. January, 2010

A lot has been said about this game (official website, 9.2 on IGN). I’ve played the demo and I liked it but the handling was a bit overwhelming in the demo, so I didn’t buy it right away. Now, it’s out in the platinums series and I must admit, the game is better than the demo. The handling is pretty good except when you try to rain death and pain on your enemies from the corner of a building: The corner is in the way too often. While it’s smart of the enemies to clump in your dead angle, in the real world, I’d just extend my arm over the edge and deal some blind damage.

But the other things work well. Cole jumps well, clings to edges, pipes and cables as if he was Spiderman. A 100m sheer drop is met with a tumble and Cole is on his feet again. Walking electric cables is fun and it’s great fun when you learn to glide them. Especially since they charge you up so you can really dish out. When you get to protect a box with medicine, the best place is on the cables above the area where you hail wrath and worse on the mortals below.

With time, you’ll learn several ways to deal damage which, used in strategic ways, will make the game a piece of cake. Taking enemies down will get you positive points, killing them (especially when they are already down) gives you negative score. Helping people gives you positive score, hurting them reduces your score. Just as in real life, your score doesn’t stop at 0 but can go bad. Really bad. Bad as in people running away from your shadow, gathering in mobs and throwing stones at you. Or they can become your fans, hurl stones at your enemies when they attack you and ask to you spend the night with them (an offer which you can’t accept).

Just like in Black and White, you decide to become a superhero or a supervillain. If you go the good route, your powers will be more controlled. If you go evil, mass destruction is your toy.

On top of that, we have a nice, complex background story which keeps things together. The side missions aren’t too thrilling but it’s a lot of fun to jump off and on buildings, scale walls, sheds, cars, train tracks. The enemies don’t just stand there but try to take cover, they disperse when you jump them from above like an angry thunder cloud. There are various parties involved, each trying to sell their own version of the truth. It’s moving when a group of policemen salute you after helping to arrest a gang member who killed one of them. To gain control over the city, the gangs turned off the power and your vision becomes blurred when you have to go into such an area.

Recommendation: Buy.

R&C Future: A Crack In Time

16. November, 2009

Ah, I like those long game titles. Anyone remembering Leisure Suite Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards? I have a feeling that a title says something about a game. If they care about the title, they care about the game.

Anyway, it’s jump, run and shooting time. Shooting with anything you can imagine and sometimes with things that you couldn’t imagine before. There’s a burp gun, a rocket launcher called “Negotiator”, a robot sidekick called Mr. Zurkon (always complaining that it can’t shoot at the innocent). I like its remarks. “Mr. Zurkon doesn’t need no pesky nanotec to survive, Mr. Zurkon lives from fear.”

Game levels are as colorful and nice as ever. Especially the Great Clock looks awesome with it’s red and gold and reflections. Ratchet finally has some fur on his ears. The levels are also pretty short, there are tons of mini-games, you can go hunt for Zoni’s to upgrade your ship, or Gold Bolts or upgrades for your weapons. Old time fans of the series will find all the good stuff again, like weapons that get better as you use them, pixel precise jumping sequences, there is an arena, and funny comments by the ton. Game play is fluent. I wished more game companies would take care of my time like Insomniac does: While the game installs on the HD, you get to see a long into movie which sets the scene. Two thumbs up for that.

The new stuff is that you can actually fly around space a bit, shoot asteroids for fun (and some bolts), play the main story or idle in some side levels. There are levels for the die hard jump’n’run people and shooter levels. And when I say “die hard”, I mean it. I’m not that bad at R&C but I’ve had to use the skip option once. Some of Clank’s jump sequences in the Big Clock are insanely hard. I must’ve died a hundred times in there. The logic puzzles are usually more simple on the “jump” side but it takes some brainpower to run yourself four times through a level, timing the switching of buttons just right to get all your copied through. And in time. Luckily, you can skip a puzzle. 95% for that one. For 100%, there should have been a way to revisit a puzzle to try it again.

All in all, they kept the great stuff and added a couple of nice, new features. The individual levels are short but plenty, so you can save often or take a break, and won’t have to start all over again.

Recommendation: Buy.

Goodbye Fallout 3

11. November, 2009

I made a mistake. A big mistake. I admit it. I shouldn’t have. I still did. I bought the game officially in a store. Sorry. Won’t happen again. Bethesda is now on my “Don’t Buy” list and Sony is close.

What happened. A year ago, I bought Fallout 3 in a shop. It’s a German uncut version. I’d actually preferred the cut version; the splatter effect is probably some nice piece of FX code but blood doesn’t give me much. Can’t have that. I’m in Switzerland and I can’t do as I please. On top of that, it seems my shop sold me the Austrian version. It’s German, too, but different. Somehow. I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer. The main difference is that when I buy the addons in Sony’s PSN, then I get something that doesn’t work with my game. Because I must have the Swiss version. Since I’m in Switzerland. And I bought the game in Switzerland. And I have a Swiss PSN account. I think. I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer.

So what happens is that I have an illegal copy of the game. Illegal as in “if you’re in Switzerland”. Why Bethesda decided to produce three German versions? I don’t know. I’m just a stupid gamer. I don’t need to know such things. Why were the DLCs available for months for Xbox but not for PS3? I don’t know. Why did everyone say that the DLCs would never come to the PS3? I don’t know. Maybe it was because Bethesda knew what would happen. Or maybe Sony treats them like their customers. I don’t know.

The net result is that I have a game which I can’t upgrade (at least not without illegally creating an Austrian account on PSN). I probably can’t buy the GOTY Editition without loosing my save games. I don’t know for sure. I’m not sure I care anymore. My blood pressure raises when I only see the game box. I buy games to relax, not to heap more problems on my plate. I don’t care who is responsible for this crap. I don’t understand why it’s more cheap for Sony to put some text in the game description (“Don’t buy this unless you have BLES-00399”) instead of checking the list of installed games. It’s also sad that Switzerland doesn’t have any laws to protect customers who buy over the Internet. Sony can put anything in the rules of the PSN and I can only weep. I can’t even sell or ebay things I buy on PSN.

Makes me wonder what happens should I ever have to move back to Germany. Will I have to buy all my games again? Or will Sony be nice and allow me to keep my Swiss PSN account even though I’ll lose my Swiss credit card? Maybe they’ll expect me to live close to the border, so I can still buy games. Or carry the PS3 over, hook it up to PSN via my mobile phone, so I can update the games I bought.

Some more frustration: Fallout 3 has left about 600 save games on my harddisk. It would take me approx. 24 hours to delete them (it’s a process that involves pressing eight buttons in the correct sequence).

Or how about this: I bought a Sony LCD TV because the PS3 can talk to my media server. I was naively assuming that the TV would work just like the console. Well, it doesn’t. I can watch photos and videos on my PS3 but not directly on the TV.

Well done. For some reason, Xbox and Wii sell better than the PS3. I wonder why. The PS3 looks so much better!

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