Reviews

DualShock 4 On PS3: No Diagonal D-Pad

I can't believe nobody seems to has mentioned this limitation before.

As you may know, Sony's PlayStation 4 controller, the DualShock 4, is technically usable on the PlayStation 3, albeit with a few limitations:

  • No rumble, tilt or touchpad. (Although nothing on PS3 would support the touchpad anyway.)
  • No wireless This limitation was lifted in a recent PS3 system update, although synching it is a bit unintuitive.
  • The PlayStation logo button doesn't work (Except to turn the system or controller on).
  • Face buttons are on/off only, not analog (Very few games ever made much use of this anyway, and it isn't even supported on the PS4 at all.)
  • Not all PS3 games are compatible (Although most are).
  • The directional pad doesn't register diagonal.

That last one is the really interesting one. Most websites and news outlets, and Sony themselves, have been very clear on the rest of the limitations of using a DualShock 4 on a PS3...But I have yet to see anyone mention that last one - the lack of diagonal on the dpad.

Don't believe me? Try it. Go into the "training" mode of any PS3 fighting game and turn on the button input display. Try to get it to register a diagonal with the dpad. Or perform any of Ryu's special moves. Go into Fez, and try climbing diagonally. Try to move diagonally in any PS3 street brawling game, like Castle Crashers or Double Dragon. Can't do it with the PS4's dpad.

Interestingly, the DualShock 4's dpad diagonal does work perfectly fine on the PC.

Everything said, I do still think the DualShock 4 is a fantastic controller. I don't even have a PS4 yet, and I'm still thrilled with my DualShock 4 even just for PC and PS3. (It works much better on the PC than the DualShock 3 did. Plug-n-Play, it just works.)

Luckily, most PS3 games don't actually require using diagonal on the directional pad. Additionally, the improved analog sticks on the DualShock 4 are considerably less terrible as a dpad substitute than any other analog stick I've used. I've always been a die-hard dpad user, but I can even play Street Fighter reasonably well with the DS4's analog sticks - something I've never been able to do on any other controller.

The DualShock 4 is still a great controller and well worth getting, even for just the PS3, but I do think anyone considering a purchase should at least be aware of this limitation.

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All OSes Suck

Windows: Proprietary. Can't decide on a UI and tries to force everyone onboard through every crazy short-lived UI blunder. Plus it still doesn't always "just work".

Linux: Offers five thousand choices for everything, none of them well-polished.

OSX: Expensive, straight-jacketed, proprietary and often overlooked by third parties.

Ubuntu Unity: Goofy OSX clone with even fewer options. Really just Linux.

BSD: Expert-only Linux-ish with minimal third party support.

Plan 9: Minimal uptake, and therefore irrelevant.

BeOS: Effectively dead and irrelevant.

Amiga: Effectively dead and irrelevant.

OS/2: Long since dead and irrelevant.

Solaris/QNX: Newly dead and still irrelevant.

NeXTSTEP/IRIX: Also dead and irrelevant.

Haiku/Minix/Hurd: Alive and irrelevant.

Chrome OS: A web browser as an OS. Are you fucking kidding me?

iOS: It's freaking iOS for godssakes.

Android: It's freaking iOS with a system-level VM for godssakes.

CyanogenMod: Android sans straight-jacketing.

Blackberry 10: Proprietary straight-jacketing and minimal third part support.

Windows Phone 8: Proprietary straight-jacketing, minimal third part support and butt-ugly.

Windows Phone Pre-8: Effectively dead and irrelevant.

WebOS: Undead and irrelevant.

PalmOS: I love it. But it's outdated, abandoned, and therefore useless. Graffiti v2 sucked - thanks Xerox.

MeeGo: Replaced by Taizen.

Bada: Replaced by Taizen.

Taizen: Nearly at 3.0 and you still can't obtain it. Encourages HTML5 as an applications platform, presumably as some sort of sick joke.

Symbian: A flip-phone OS isn't exactly much of an OS. Did anybody ever know there was a smartphone version? No matter, it's dead now.

All that said, I still use both Windows and Linux, I intend to get an Android/CyanogenMod device again, and there's some others I'm keeping an eye on. Obviously most OSes have their good points, too. And I'll use what I need to, when I need to, if I need to, and bitch as much as I damn well choose to. Still, that doesn't mean OSes don't all suck anyway.

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Review: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The gameplay of El Shaddai is that of a watered-down God of War or Devil May Cry...and God of War isn't exactly an example of deep gameplay anyway. It isn't terrible, or even badly-controlled, but it is simplistic and derivative.

The game also leaves me wondering: Why is there a button dedicated to changing the weapon's color? Apparently it's something about "purifying" the weapon, but I don't see what difference that makes. Does that make it work better? I can't tell.

Due to the basis of the story, there are constantly repeated bible references and themes. These can make the game feel dangerously close to being a production of a religiously-affiliated content house, even though it actually isn't. This can be fairly irritating, particularly during the first (roughly) half-hour which consists primarily of unskippable cutscenes.

However...El Shaddai is worth playing simply for the environments alone.

I'm not a particularly graphics-driven gamer these days. I'll pick an ugly or low-tech title with solid gameplay over a shallow cinematic polygon-pushing powerhouse nearly every time. But the art direction in El Shaddai is incredible. These are the most original, inspired abstract environments I've ever seen - let alone with interactive motion.

Various other games certainly have more raw horsepower under their hoods. But due to the pure artistry here, and very creative use of pixel shaders, I don't hesitate at saying this is the most beautiful looking game out there.

Though notably imperfect, El Shaddai isn't a videogame with graphics and story: It's an interactive painting you can battle through.

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Review: The Walking Dead

It's been awhile since I've done one of my videogame "reviews" (for lack of a better word). Clearly I'm past due. So here's my review of Telltale Game's "The Walking Dead":

*Ahem*...

Didn't I already play this twenty years ago?

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Ramblings on PlayStation 3, Wii, XBox 360

For this past console generation I've been a Wii user; largely because, personally, I find having a proper pointing device (the Wii's IR pointing) to be more compelling than upgrading graphical fidelity beyond the already great looking XBox 1, or even the GameCube. In other words, I'm not a graphics whore, and unlike my teenage days I'm no longer interested in blowing hundreds of dollars just for more pixels and polygons. The graphics on 360/PS3 are a very nice bonus, granted, but it's not a big selling point for me.

While I've been mostly disappointed with Nintendo's flagship franchises on the Wii (as compared to the GameCube, which was underrated IMO), there are a lot of fantastic games on the Wii: Such as the best version of Resident Evil 4 and Kirby's Epic Yarn. Yes, the latter is very kid-friendly, but it's also the most solid, original and enjoyable 2D platformer I've seen in years. Highly recommended.

Quite a few years after PS3's initial launch now, it too has a large number of great games and, more importantly, no longer has the price tag of a 3DO. So I've finally gotten one (thanks largely to a particularly good Christmas that made me feel like it was 1988 again). You'll probably now see me commenting on many things that are old, old news in the PS3 world.

Why'd I go with a PS3 instead of 360? Well, even though it was a gift (I don't usually spend my extra money on entertainment for myself), the holiday happiness conspirators knew my tastes: The PS3 definitely has it's problems, as does my beloved Wii and the Wii 2 (I refuse to call it "Weeyuu"). And I may add a 360 to my collection at some point. But these were, for me, the biggest factors:

  • I don't like the 360's controller. I'm a relatively big guy and no longer have the tiny hands of a kid. As such, the 360's controller is far too small for me (The original "Duke" controller for XBox 1 was the perfect size for me.) Plus, I'm big on 2D and retro-style gaming and for much of that a good D-Pad is essential. Unfortunately, Microsoft has never been able to make a good D-Pad, even as far back as their pre-XBox Sidewinder days. Of course, PlayStaion D-Pads tend to be love-it-or-hate-it, but I'm on the "love it" side.

  • I've been burned too many times by Microsoft hardware. They make good keyboards and mice, but I've had major technical problems with both the XBox 1 and the Zune (the Zune is a whooole other rant...). And the 360 has a notably worse reputation for reliability than either of those. Even though Microsoft has made big reliability improvements on the 360, I still don't trust it to keep working for more than a few years. Oh yea, and I'm not interested in dealing with a system that scratches my discs.

    Plus, to be honest, I did feel rather betrayed by how quickly Microsoft abandoned the XBox 1 (although that's admittedly a lesser issue). On a related note, some of my favorite XBox 1 games never did get full 360-compatibility, such as Chronicles of Riddick and Beyond Good & Evil.

  • Free online multiplayer. I'm not usually much of a multiplayer gamer, so $50/year just wouldn't be worth it for me, no matter how good the service is. Which means that if I had a 360, I would skip the XBox Live subscription, and have no online multiplayer at all. With the PS3, I can still play online in the rare cases I do feel like it - which is very good considering my brother recently got me hooked on Counter Strike: Global Offensive. That's very strange though, since I never used to like Counter Strike. Of course, the irony here is that I did end up signing up for PlayStation Plus ;). (FWIW, my PSN/CS:GO name is NitrodePants. I use keyboard/mouse, but you'll probably still kick my sorry ass anyway.)

  • Microsoft can't decide on a fucking dashboard. Seriously, how many more times is Microsoft going to completely redo the 360's system interface? Just pick a damn interface and stick with it! Ok, this isn't really one of the reasons I went with PS3, but it is a 360 annoyance.

  • Less proprietary bullshit when upgrading the hard drive. It's a hackjob to use a non-Microsoft (read: non-overpriced and large variety to choose from) hard drive on older 360's. On newer ones it's not even possible.

  • The exclusives. I absolutely detest the fact that platform exclusivity exists at all. Heck, Sony produces movies and music yet those play just fine on non-Sony players - and yet Sony still seems to be getting by just fine. The device used should be the user's choice, not the developer's choice. Nonetheless, exclusivity exists, and the exclusives on PS3 seem to be more to my taste. The 360's notable exclusives seem to be:

    • Halo: I very much enjoyed the original Halo (except for the sections of levels that were copy-paste repeated over and over. And over and over and over.), but it was enough for me, and I've never felt compelled to play the sequels, as good as they may be.
    • Anything from Epic: I was an Epic fan back in their "Megagames" days (yes, I've been around that long), and I'm pretty sure I was the one person who thoroughly enjoyed the original Unreal (I really do mean "Unreal", not "Unreal Tournament") But I haven't been particularly happy with Epic since then.
    • P.B. Winterbottom: Good game, but I already have it on PC.
    • Forza Motorsport: Fantastic series, I have the original on XBox 1. But Sony has Gran Turismo which is equally good now that Sony controllers have proper shoulder triggers for L2/R2 (EDIT: Unfortunately though, the way the PS3's L2/R2 are mounted and hinged makes them awkward to use since holding them down greatly alters and decreases your grip on the controller. At least Sony finally has shoulder triggers, but they weren't well designed.).
    • Fez: This is the one that I do actually want.

    But then the PS3 has me completely sold on these exclusives:

  • And Little Big Planet seems interesting too, although I do wish that chatterbox narrator would shut the hell up.

While I'm overall thrilled with my new PS3, I do have a number of minor gripes with it. But as this has gotten long, I'll save those for a separate post...

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Windows 8: And I Thought iOS Was Bad

If I didn't know better, I would almost think it was an industry prank. Windows 8 does for UI what Windows ME did for reliability.

Even ignoring the impracticality and intuitiveness, Metro is the ugliest, and downright messiest looking, environment since Windows 1 and 2. The "classic" desktop is botched too, looking as if the GUI failed to finish rendering - and that's coming from someone who keeps both Luna and Aero disabled.

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