VIDEO GAME PARADISE
11\3\05: Kingdom Hearts 2 is due to come out March 1, but may not be exact.
Also, PS3's are to come out in spring of 2006.
Tip of the day: Today's tip is for Backyard Football 2002. If you type in "mrclanky" as the coach, there will be an option on the team choice, you can pick the Tackling Dummies as your team. They will all be robots.
Ratchet Deadlocked's front
cover big shock for gamers
Tip of the day: On Sim City 3000 hold down alt+ctrl+shift+c. A cheat box will appear. Type the following codes to do the following things:
i am weak=you don't have pay a cent fo anything.
power to the masses=you get all the powerplants garbage in, garbage out=you get all the garbage disposals call cousin vinnie=go to your consultants page and Cousin Vinnie will have called. Accept his deal and you will get $100,000.
An unending stream of next generation tech spec information has been flowing from the West Coast of the US since last Thursday, when the Xbox 360 team uncovered its insides to the MTV masses. But what in the world does it all mean? If you could happily die without knowing what a terraflop is, never fear, gamesblog will breakdown the jargon and, with the help of some friends, give you the details on what's really going on.
Editorial note: the Nintendo Revolution is its own entity; the company is focussing on content rather than high-tech so the below only deals with heavy-hitters Microsoft and Sony.
First up, the brains of the machines. Much has been said on the difference between the two machines' noggins, some biased towards the Microsoft and others towards Sony. The CPU in the latter has more going for it in terms of "core" hardware but the former's cores - while fewer - are more powerful. According to game designer Nick Harper,
The cores really place the power in the hands of developers. The Xbox 360 has 3 running at 3.2GHz each, the PS3 has seven apparently. So theoretically the PS3 is faster, much faster, which means it can do a lot more complex things. These days complex things refer to physics calculations and graphics operations. But it's all about how to use them as the power can only be exploited by using the cores together. It's a bit like having several complex puzzles to solve with several clever people available. If you give each person one puzzle will they solve it quicker than if you give all the people one puzzle at a time? The better developers will make their code efficient, meaning theoretically better games.
The PS3 will be more complex to develop for, which might mean that the first wave of games will be better on the 360. Having said that, the PS3 line up looks a lot more impressive right now. We'll have to wait and see what Greg plays with on the floor at E3.
In terms of the active memory on access, the PS3 is two times as powerful as the PS2 and the Xbox 360 is twice that.
Nick says, The reason memory speed is an issue is purely for framerate. If you have a massive polygonal monster (err literally) to display that's a lot of vertices to process, on top of texture mapping, normal mapping, light mapping, per pixel shading etc etc yawn. And you're trying to squeeze all that data down a pipe to be processed and spat out at the other end. The faster your memory the more you can squeeze down the pipe at once, meaning the more data you can process. So memory and processor speed are very connected.
Now for those teraflops. The more there are, the faster the machine can do sums. In more high-tech speak, gamesindustry.biz says:
a measurement of how many of the floating point operations crucial to the graphics and physics in modern games can be processed per second Sony wins in tech-talk on this crucial ground, with two times the terraflopping of the Xbox 360. Says Nick, Expect to see this utilised for physics and world realism. The actual core games probably won't change that much because we're still using the same input devices - analogue stick joypads. But certainly expect to see more going on. Some of it will be irrelevant to a game but pretty - trees swaying, individual leaves being affected by wind and so on; some of it will be much more relevant - armies of bad guys swarming toward you, massive explosions, things collapsing with true physics, etc.
With all the different processors added up, PS3 can perform twice as many raw calculations per second. In practise though, the different chips will need to wait for each other to catch up, so it will never run at full tech speed.
Next, the graphics. High-Definition, High-Definition, High-Definition. It's all about HD. Both companies are "totally stoked" about the HDTV revolution expected to take the US by storm (propelled by the media, of course), which should saturate the market with screens twice as detailed as current widescreen products. Of course, because both Sony and Microsoft purport to be releasing media centres, this means there'll be plenty of HD for non-gaming applications. For interactive software, however, the PS3's announcement suggests that the graphics in the machine are twice the current market leader on PCs.
PS3 will be able to output a higher-resolution (i.e., more high definition) signal, but there are very few TVs in existence that can use this highest resolution. In a few years though, who knows? Games will also have to be made in widescreen compatible. In the meantime, I'm pleased that both companies will still support my old televisual clunker.
Sony's machine is unique in that it offers two HD outputs, for the ultimate in multitasking. Game on one, FAQ via the Ethernet connection on the other. They don't want us to move ever again, do they? Can I have fries with that?
Third, memory. There is far far far more memory in both of these machines than most people will be able to fill, but that's not stopping either Sony or Microsoft from calculating for future profits from upgrade sales on removable hard drives. Microsoft's will probably ship with 20GB - a behemoth amount (think 5,000 songs on an iPod). PS3 purchasers will have to buy their hard drive at the pay point. Both machines support memory cards. Microsoft's will be 8 times larger than PS2's current 8 MB card, but Sony's will support their SD memory sticks. More memory will come from the USB ports - a whopping six on Sony's machine and three on the Xbox 360. That means I'll be able to save my draft PhD thesis on my new console, as well as on computers strewn throughout the UK and USA. Egad, the possibilities. More normal folk will be able to view files and listen to tunes that they'll keep on these removable memory devices.
Fourth, music. The days of stereo are over; let's move on to surround sound. As with the previous iterations of the consoles, both the 360 and PS3 will feature Dolby 5.1.
Fifth, controllers. For some reason, Sony will support the odd number of seven controllers on its PS3. A theory going around my house is that they suddenly realised they had more Bluetooth-width than expected and bumped up the number of possible controllers to seven. An alternative view is that they oversubscribed with eight and are now having to make the best of the limitations. Whichever, the PS3 supports more players in the same room than the Xbox 360 which only offers four. Really, though, with internet access on both machines and the new HDTV taking up most of the space in the living room why have so many friends in person; just play with them online. Sixth, online. Both machines will release with out-of-the-box Ethernet capabilities. Both will be WiFi enabled (but hopefully will be better than my current provider whose "wireless" adaptor is attached to my laptop with a very long wire and whose service is infuriatingly sporadic) and both hope to corner the market on downloadable content. Internet access, music downloads, movie downloads, video and text chat (with the later-released video cameras): this is the showdown space for the non-gamers, and this is where Microsoft kicks butt. For gamers, Microsoft is also in the lead with their profiling service which should offer a useful service to folks who want to play hard-core online titles, meander through the Final Fantasy MMOG or just play drafts.
Microsoft simply has more experience with the online medium, so it's expected that their implementation of Live will be better. From what I've heard on the inside, it's definitely easier to design for.
Finally, release dates. The Xbox 360 will be released everywhere by the end of the year, and the PS3 will be out (for sure in Japan) in Spring 2006. Just enough time to take the wind out of Microsoft's sails.
The pretty pictures on display at the Sony launch may have wowed some of the gathered, but as others have already commented earlier on this blog, Sony has a habit of showcasing amazing video clips at their launches and the gameplay in the actual products can leave much to be desired. Unfortunately there's not one chunk of hardware that can make gameplay better or worse; it's up to the designers to craft the interactive experience in a suitable, engaging and balanced way.
Although graphics will improve with every generation, these new consoles appear to be pushing processing power beyond the point where it places limits on gameplay. Good games for the next generation will depend purely on the imagination of their creators rather than the raw power of the consoles, while uninspiring games will continue to be disguised by ever prettier visuals.
Final thoughts from Nick:
At the end of the day there's very little that can be taken from either Sony or Microsoft's presentations in relation to gameplay - these were pure graphical demonstrations. None of the games show a particular leap in terms of gameplay content, certainly not compared to the visual leap. And primarily this boils down to the user interface. We've pretty well reached the point of complexity with dual analogue sticks, analogue triggers and four face buttons, so while you can expect to see more content in terms of things happening, not much originality was on display. Gameplay advances will come from peripherals and Sony really showed that off with their kooky EyeToy games. Nothing wrong with controlling two bondage-clad Japanese spy chicks via videoconfering in my mind :)
There's a lot pulling for the hearts and minds of next generation gamers. At this point, it's a battle between brand and multimedia functionality. As Greg has remarked, the real test will be the software. Take it away Howson!
many thanks to Max for help and translation
Tip of the day: On Backyard Hockey type in the following names as players to get them:
Buddy Cheque: Buddy Cheque
Lemon Boy: Thor Herring
Beverly Backstop: Beverly Backstop