Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation - PS Vita Review

The latest Hyperdimension game for the Vita makes the most of the handheld and series

Sylvio - PC Review

There is plenty of tension to be had in this title, despite some curious design choices

Audiosurf 2 - PC Review

A bit less polish than the prior version, but more options provide greater variety

Horizon Shift - PC Review

Bright, colorful and full of variety, Horizon shift is simply a lot of fun

BlazBlue: Chrono Phatasma Extend - PS4 Review

This is the latest, and certainly greatest, release in the series to date

Friday, October 21, 2011

Playstation Move - Singstar Dance - Playstation 3 Review

So the very first game we got to experience with the Playstation Move was Singstar Dance as it was shipped with our prize package. The game came with 2 microphones and a converter box that allowed them to plug into the Playstation 3 itself.

The idea was to do the same as other Singstar games and allow you to sing along with popular songs, but to incoroporate the Playstation Move so you could dance with the song as well, attempting to add an additional layer to the gaming experience. Does it work?

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Graphics - 7:

The actual music videos look pretty good, but I just could not get around the horrendous video from the Playstation Eye. The colors and pixels are very poor, and the Playstation Eye was one of my main points of concern in the hardware review. I realize that this allowed Sony to keep the price of the unit down but it just feels so low tech compared to the rest of the Playstation Move package, and in a game like this where the video gets displayed on-screen? It's much more distracting.

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Sound & Music - 8:

The tracks sound really good. I mean, this is not a game where you have to worry about the surround sound helping you succeed like in a Call of Duty game, but everything sounds professional and crisp, and in a music title like this, that is very important. Also, the track selection is fairly good. It's not really my type of music, but my youngest daughter loves pop music, loves to sing and loves to dance, so I figured this game for a hit.

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Gameplay - 4:

Unfortunately, this is where things start to come off of the rails a bit. The music component is fine, for those who like that sort of thing. It never really seemed to grab my daughter's attention though, despite the fact she liked several of the songs and listens to them away from the PS3 as well. She played it a couple of nights, and never touched it again. One thing that made the experience worse however, was the attempted Move integration. Honestly, it just feels broken. The 'dance' element is really rough, not terribly responsive and just takes away from the experience instead of actually enhancing it.

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Intangibles - 5:

Here's the thing: this game is meant to really help break some boundaries and better entice players into enjoying not just the music, but the movements. However, the movement controls barely work, and are much more of a barrier than anything. The musical aspect is solid, if this is your type of game, but if it is not there is very little here to bring you in and the Move controls feel tacked on and gimmicky.

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Overall - 6:

If this is your sort of thing, it might make for a fun party game. I'll be honest, it's really not my sort of thing. My wife showed no interest in it, and neither did any of my three kids. For the most part, that did not surprise me - but my youngest daughter's indifference did. She loves to sing and dance, as I mentioned before, but she just showed no real interest in this game. I had to suggest it to her for four nights running before she gave it a chance, and after she did, she never fired it up again. It's not a bad idea, but the execution was clearly lacking.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playstation Move - Hardware review

So, last year around this time, I won a Playstation Move package that came with Singstar Dance, two Move controllers, a Playstation Eye and all of the necessary cables. I picked up one of the small hand held control sticks to compliment the Move controller as well.

I am going to breakdown my impressions of the hardware, some of the games, and then just my overall impressions of the game lineup and offerings to date.

So, let's start with the hardware, which overall is pretty good. The build is excellent - the durability is quite sound as my kids have managed to drop the controllers several times and I have yet to notice any sort of negative impact on the performance. The appearance of the controllers is a bit odd - my son compared it to a glowing snow cone. I was not a fan of the button layout. The Playstation Dualshock controller has buttons laid out in a diamond shaped pattern, and the Move controller uses a square shaped one. I would have much preferred they stuck with the diamond shape surrounding the "Move" button.

The setup is quite easy, though my PS3 has somewhat limited USB ports, and the eye did use one of those up.

The off-hand control stick I picked up was decent as well, also having been dropped on its head a few times but never failing to operate. Not many games seem to use that controller currently (think shooter games and movement controls mostly), however. Both this device and the Move controllers hook up to the USB to mini-USB and charge just like a Dualshock controller would, and sync up to the system in the same way. Overall, I like that design, but having had one controller of about two years' age no longer holding a charge, I would be concerned that .this could happen here prematurely.

On to the Playstation eye - this is in most senses the least impressive piece of tech in my opinion. It looks nice enough, but the image quality is very, very poor. It responds well to the Move controllers themselves - I found the accuracy of the unit to be incredibly good in most instances, but the camera itself is of such poor quality that in games like Eyepet it was almost jarringly bad.

I heard a lot of concerns about the lighting, but honestly I did not have too many of those. Most lighting conditions in our living room allowed the device to work just fine, even if there was a semi-open window where the camera was pointing. The sometimes limited range of the Playstation Eye itself was sometimes more of an annoyance. Without the ability to 'adjust' the sweet spot on the camera, it was sometimes a bad 'fit' to my living room. I know the idea is to get people up off of their couches at times, but some games were lengthy and being able to sit on the sofa would be nice, but the Eye could not track properly because I was a foot or two away from the sweet spot. Another game, Eyepet, had a very specific distance you needed to sit in order for it to operate properly.

Overall, the hardware is very well-made. The controllers are durable and light, they track very well, and except from some particulars with the Playstation Eye itself, I found it to be very accommodating to our living room. I would score the hardware components as an 8 out of 10.