Virtual Reality is now… a reality! Apart from issues shipping the things out to their anxiously awaiting fans, the Oculus Rift CV1 and the HTC Vive are now in the hands of consumers ready to experience the closest thing we have to the Matrix. Or Sword Art Online. I am one of those fans, having been in possession of a HTC Vive for a few weeks now and can give my thoughts on preparing for VR and using VR. Prior to getting the Vive I was upgrading my PC, not only in preparation for the Vive but also to play games at higher settings with smoother frame rates.
I am in the market for a PlayStation 4. With the upcoming release of Persona 5, Gravity Rush 2, Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian, there is finally a number of games that are not available on the PC that I would like to play. So it is quite fortuitous that Sony announced two new models of the PlayStation 4, the Slim and the Pro. The Slim is the unsurprising smaller and more efficient second rendition of the base PS4, while the Pro represents a new change in the console hardware lifecycle that was previously only seen in Nintendo’s handhelds, namely the New 3DS. The PS4 Pro promises greater graphical power, allowing it to support output to 4K televisions, but also to improve graphical quality and/or framerate at 1080p. The Sony conference also spoke at length about support for HDR-capable televisions, but through firmware updates every PS4 model will support HDR.
I watched this with Ben last week at Event Cinemas (there was a limited one day theatre release). I didn’t watch the film with many expectations, but it ended up not being too bad at all.
For something that is meant to serve as a separate piece that ties into the overall universe of Final Fantasy XV, the film did its job. I enjoyed it more than Advent Children, that’s for sure.
The plot lines were a bit confusing and some of the dialogue choice and delivery was pretty bad and I thought that the audience were never really invested into the characters. The fight sequences were pretty hard to follow and far too long sometimes compared to the amount of story and dialogue going on.
However, the world did look interesting and the basic setting of the universe (two countries at war) was also good.
I’m actually fairly looking forward to the game now whereas before I wasn’t really, so I guess the film did do something good.
Kingsglaive is available digitally (or will be shortly) and Final Fantasy XV comes out at the end of November. For those interested, there is also a five part short anime series on youtube which covers the back stories of the main characters in the video game of Final Fantasy XV.
There’s more to say about the latest Macross instalment, but I’ll wait till the season finishes. For now, I will say that despite Yoko Kanno sadly not being involved, the music in this show is top notch. The OST/bgm is forgettable, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dig the j-pop idol tracks that are being thrown out. It helps that the singers are harmonising, and don’t all sound like school girls. For reference, I was expecting a girl army/choir, ala AKB48, where everyone is just on the main melody. Admittedly, my exposure to idol music is quite limited – maybe AKB sets a shit standard for idol music.
The ED is below, and after the break is the song which I think I like most… but that might change towards the end of the show.
I never got into Roller Coaster Tycoon, but I did play Theme Park World. There’s something about building a theme park that appeals to the micro-manager that lurks within me.
The same dev team behind the ridiculously well received Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (Frontier Developments – oh hey it’s the guys currently behind Elite: Dangerous) are currently making the next BIG theme park simulator. It’s currently in alpha, and even in the first two alphas they released, where the systems and parts available to the park were quite limited, amazing parks were created.
In a break from my usual posts recommending anime, I have an actual proper television show to talk about. Well, it’s a Netflix show, so who knows if that is technically television (or something superior)… but regardless, you should watch Stranger Things. Stranger Things is a Netflix original show which begins with the mystery of the disappearance of a child in a small town in America in the 80’s, but that mystery quickly becomes a supernatural sci-fi horror mystery. It is an homage to a bunch of stuff from the 80’s and gets inspiration from Stephen King, Dean Koontz, E.T. and more. But apart from a very interesting story and good atmosphere, there is some stellar acting especially from the children. I don’t want to spoil too much, but a great part of the show is showing a bunch of different sets of characters attempting to solve the mystery before their storylines intertwine for a satisfying conclusion.
It is no secret that I am a fan of the… genre? Category? Whatever it is, the group of anime known colloquially as ‘cute girls doing things’. Recently I realised that I had not discussed one of the greatest shows in this category, which was fortuitous as its movie recently came out. Girls und Panzer is one of the standouts in this burgeoning category of shows, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that the thing that the girls are doing is engaging in friendly tank battles.
Friendly tank battles with realistic live ammunition, where the girls are literally only protected by the fact of plot armour.
To elaborate, in this weird alternate world tank battles using WWII-era and prior tanks has become a martial art practiced solely by females, called sensha-do. The main cast attend a school that is located on an aircraft carrier (along with a small town), and to save their school from being shut down must win the high school sensha-do championship. The studio behind GuP have their priorities straight, as a huge cast of tanks are depicted, from the eponymous Panzer IV to the dependable M4 Sherman to the fearsome Maus. The sound design on these tanks is especially top notch, though I cannot say if it is actually accurate to the tank.
There are two big JRPGs releasing this year (at least in Japan). While I’m cautiously optimistic for Final Fantasy XV, I am beyond hyped for Persona 5. You really, really, really should watch this trailer. Amazing dungeon design, a UI with top-notch style and flair, and cutscenes by Production I.G. Given the pedigree I am sure I will be blown away by P5.
Giant Bomb’s Austin Walker just published a story from his sources that gives more concrete information about the rumoured PS4K (or PS4.5), an upgraded PlayStation 4 that would support 4K output. The rumour was first published by Kotaku’s Patrick Klepek, formerly of Giant Bomb and who broke the change in Microsoft policy regarding always-online on the Xbox One as well as revealed Destiny before it was announced, with corroboration from Digital Foundry over at Eurogamer. Personally, I place great stock in the rumours either of these people publish, so for me I think this upgraded PS4 will be announced soon, possibly at E3.
The details of the PS4K don’t surprise me greatly in terms of how Sony would do a console upgrade. The CPU is slightly faster with the same number of cores, the GPU is a bigger upgrade with double the compute units and slightly faster clock speeds (possibly AMD’s upcoming Polaris?), and the memory is slightly faster too. As previously noted it supports 4K output (though the games are probably not going to be rendered at 4K). But the main thing is that Sony is mandating that there will be no exclusives for the new upgraded console, codenamed NEO, and all games that run on it will run on the original PS4, although with the NEO you will get better graphics and/or framerate. So this should be a situation like the PS3 Slim, a new model that works like the old model – except this time there is a upgrade of the internals. So for those of you who already have a PS4, I don’t think there is great cause for concern – unless you want to run games with the faster hardware (and accompanying boost in framerate) and feel that it is unfair or in poor taste to start introducing upgrades to the console experience. Those of you who might want to get a PS4 (like me) should wait.
I think the more interesting question is whether another upgraded model will appear in the future. If this becomes the norm, at some point developers are going to want to develop games that only run on the latest version of the console. In fact, Sony could (highly unlikely) change course in a year or more and allow exclusives for the NEO (like with the New Nintendo 3DS). As someone who likes to upgrade my PC (and is currently upgrading my PC), I’m not sure I would want a 2-3 year upgrade cycle for a console I owned. That said, I am speaking from the position of primarily being a PC gamer, and my consoles are generally for exclusives. In the meantime, at least it will be great to see what Naughty Dog can cook up on the upgraded PS4, it can only look more stunning.