The TBoD Christmas Podcast – 40 – The Three Wise Geeks.

Happy Holidays!

In this very special episode we put the Merry in Christmas by keeping the booze flowing during our first ever live-stream!

We sing songs, pull crackers and give some christmas awards out as well give you some of our thoughts on the Steam Machine Beta, Dying Light and the new Bioware games in development.

Keep up to date with when we live stream by subscribing to our UStream channel.

Got any suggestions on what you would like us to talk about? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!

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Xmas Rockband Session

Crinbot and Quim prepare for an Xmas Rockband Session

The Christmas Crocodile joins us on the podcast

The Christmas Crocodile joins us on the podcast

 

The PlayStation 4 – Part 3 – Near Far Wherever you are ……

You can play on your PS fooooouuuur…. *ahem* *cough* er …. anyway, So launch day came and went with the TBoD alumni emerging victorious with PS4’s in hand, and as you know from Quims posts about the hardware and the games we are having somewhat of an epic time with our machines. One of the things he has not had a chance to play with is one of the things that excited me most pre launch (especially after I picked up my Vita) Remote Play!

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PS4, Vita and you … the perfect three-way?

This is nothing new really, it was touted as a massive feature with the PS3 and the PSP but it never really managed to get off the ground, partly due to lack of support but also due to the restraints of the PSP system. Still it was something that Sony would continue to tout and the introduction of the Vita to the picture in 2011 would force the issue a little further.

Titles such as Little Big Planet, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD and The God of War Collection HD supported full remote playability but these Sony in house titles alone were not enough to draw more people into buying the Vita itself. The announcement of heavy support for the PS4 remote play feature however set a few tongues wagging.

Enough of the history lesson let’s talk about how it fairs.

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I love this horse and this affection is not scale dependant

I want to make it clear that this is by no means a perfect system and it certainly has it’s flaws. First and foremost if you don’t like gaming on a handheld system this feature is not for you, the screen is small so you’re gonna need to focus. The Vita screen is a beautiful thing, those OLED’s sparkle and pop when playing a Vita title but that shine is taken away somewhat when playing Remote Play, games which run at 60fps on your PS4 will only display 30fps on the Vita screen and the resolution leaves a little to be desired, textures are a lot muddier and in general it’s not the ideal way to admire the gorgeous graphics of your brand new £350 system.

The truth of the matter is though it’s an unrivaled system that is excellently executed (not perfect, but still fucking ace). What’s not to love, well there are some things, some really freaking massive things that will drive you to the borders of madness in fact, but on the whole it works really well and you can literally play your ps4 games from anywhere that you have access to a decent enough internet connection which is just class. With 4G fast taking over the world it’s only a matter of time before you literally do not have to go without some next gen console action wherever you are. Now I have tested this theory, I have played Battlefield 4 from a house some 4-5 miles away from my own, admittedly this was using a 60mb internet connection but the experience was as close to flawless as I could have possibly expected (playing it on hard was probably a mistake) and I was very impressed with the responsiveness and just the plain fact that I could access my PS4 dash from somewhere else was so pleasing.

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I literally never have to be separated from you again PS4!

At present it literally works with every single game available for the system, Sony are playing their cards close to the chest but indications are that this will continue to be the case, the software is written into the machines OS (once you’ve downloaded the day one update) and chances are every game for the PS4 will be playable via remote play and that is some feat. The Vita has all the input options needed to fully emulate the DS4  it does a stand up job all told, the front screen emulates the track pad (and does an arguably better job while it’s at it) the sticks work well, the triggers are automatically mapped to the bumpers which makes playing FPS games a damn sight easier, even the motion controls from the DS4 can be replicated by the Vita and most importantly the extra analogue stick which was so sadly lacking on the PSP is there and it makes all the difference, this is how we play. Nearly all games now use the dual-stick input method and it had to be done for this function to work properly.

That’s all well and good but it does have a couple of issues when it comes to controls, the sticks are no where near as precise as those on the DS4 (probably more precise than a DS3 though) and you only have one set of shoulder buttons (the rear track pad emulates l1, r1, l3 and r3 it’s not perfect but it’s manageable with a little practice). The controls do respond pretty well but there is a noticeable input lag even when playing on your own local network (it’s noticeable but only very slightly).

.A small caveat for some reason at time of writing my Remote play does not allow me to watch Netflix, I find this a little strange but I imagine that it’s something to do with Licensing and the ability to use the same Netflix account in two places simultaneously? This wouldn’t be an issue were it possible to get the Vita Netflix app here in the UK …. we’re still waiting over for Sony/Netflix to pull their fingers out.

Probably my biggest complaint about the system is that there is simply no way to party chat, you can party up from the vita to the PS4 no problem what-so-ever, I can be playing Gravity Rush and chatting away to my friend on PS4 playing BF4 with the greatest of ease but as soon as I fire up remote play my Vita party chart app closes down this would be fine were it not for the fact that the Vitas built in mic is not recognized by the system during Remote Play and thus you cannot talk in a PS4 party, you can listen but not talk. Many people have suggested simply keeping your headset plugged into your DS4, not possible when you activate Remote play the DS4 disconnects, when you re-activate the DS4 the Vita disconnects, it’s infuriating. Hopefully this is something they can remedy in a further update but I don’t have the answer to that right now sadly.

“What else can it do?” I hear you ask, well in addition to Remote Play the Vita can also serve as your second screen device, it’s not something I have had the pleasure of fully using yet but with such a focus this generation on the second screen experience I think this will prove to be a vital tool. All I have used it for so far is to avoid the pain in the ass of having to manually input each letter of every password and every account name, the Vita’s touch screen makes text entry so much easier, although admittedly this can be done with any Smart Phone hooked up to the system using the new PlayStation App.

Maybe it’s not perfect in all aspects but it’s an idea that with refinement could really take off. As Sony and third party developers create more games that support cross platform play, more games that focus on Vita support and more importantly take into consideration the Vita’s many control mechanisms I can honestly see it growing stronger. Right now however it’s more fun to use for something like DC universe or contrast where super responsiveness isn’t all that important rather than something like Battlefield or Resogun where speed and efficiency can make the difference between life and death.

– eremenko

The TboD Podcast – 39 – A Subtle Nonce To It

The podcast is quite al fresco this week, but our lack of prep is made up by added enthusiasm.

We make a special shout out to the podcasting crews of Postgame Carnage Report and Drunken Halo for their immense generosity to Eagleman, on of their listeners. Check out the video Eagleman made here.

We also airs our thoughts on the crisis that professional YouTuber’s are facing, the content creator that was recently introduced into GTAV and Destiny’s release date and hints at how multiplayer will work.

Our indie pick this week is Grapple Knight, a lovely 2D platformer that is introducing some new mechanics to the genre.

Happy listening peeps, hope you enjoy it.

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The PlayStation 4 – Part 2 – Free Games.

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In last weeks post I discussed my feelings toward the hardware and UI of Sony’s PlayStation 4, on the menu this week are the games that are available to play for nothing. Admittedly I haven’t played them all but I have sampled a good selection of the launch day titles and one or two in the launch window, this list will include the titles that come with PS Plus since that service is required to play online now.

Resogun

The saying usually goes that you save the best until last, however at TBoD we aren’t really one for convention so we are putting the cream of the crop up at the top where is belongs. Resogun, developed exclusively for the PS4 by resogunHousemarque, is a side-scrolling sci-fi shoot em up very much in the vein of old school games like R-Type and is meant to be the spiritual successor to Super Stardust Delta/Super Stardust HD. The aim of the game, as muttered out of the DS4 controller, is to “save the humans” from the insane amount of ships flying around each level. The graphics are beautiful in 1080p and this shooter runs smooth like butter at 60fps.

The control scheme utilises both sticks of the DS4, one for movement the other for shooting your main weapon and as you progress during the arcade mode this weapon gets increasingly more powerful, receiving much-needed upgrades as the enemy soon fill your screen and threaten to overwhelm you. Of course you have a couple of tricks up your sleeve when it gets all too much, your boost will get you out of a tight spot by ramming you through oncoming foes and the overdrive your ship is equipped with is the equivalent of a beam from The Death Star slicing through swathes of bad guys. Of course in a pinch you can use one of your limited number of bombs to nuke the whole screen causing an incredible explosion of voxels covering the level.

Of course the game has numerous trophies, but the real fun, just like in the old school arcades this title emulates, is trying to beat your own and your friend’s high score. It’s frenetic game crack that you just keeps you coming back when you fancy a break from the regular triple A titles. I think the fact that this game is completely free to PS Plus members shows just how good the value of the service is.

Contrast

Another title that’s included in your PS Plus subscription Contrast is a cross generational title so don’t expect any super shiny visuals, not to say it is a bad-looking game but this is very much a port which has not received that much of a re-working. This puzzle platformer is centered around a young girl names Didi and hercontrast imaginary friend Dawn, the story is basically about Didi trying to see her Dad again and Dawn is there to help her.

The story itself I didn’t find incredibly compelling, though the main game mechanic is certainly an intriguing one. In order to traverse the world Dawn is able to shift between the real world and the shadows to clamber to each goal. Moving lights and projectors and so on helps reposition shadows to reach otherwise inaccessible points adds an extra element to the puzzle. The problem for me is that the story is just mildly engaging and the puzzles aren’t incredibly challenging to drive me to play this religiously. That’s not to say I won’t go back to it as the main game mechanic is a good concept, it just lacks in execution.

Warframe

Originally a PC game, Warframe has been developed and ported over as a console exclusive for the PS4. A free to play over the shoulder third person shooter which puts you in the exo-armored shoes of the Tenno, an ancient warrior race awoken from cryogenic slumber. Your task is simple, work co-operatively or alone through this hard sci-fi universe taking out enemies in order to reclaim it from evil doers, all Warframethe while earning credits to spend new on your battle suit. Of course, as with nearly all F2P games, if you don’t fancy grinding and are feeling flush then these credits are available for purchase to speed things up.

The art design of this game, for me at least, is pretty unique. Based in the far future it has hints of Dead Space tech, Guillermo Del Toro style enemies and a Cortana A.I. which I thought mixed rather well. During the mission’s themselves the lighting is pretty dim, meaning during lulls in the action its pretty tough appreciate the aesthetics of any of the levels. Also level design is almost labyrinthine in places, now admittedly I wasn’t paying attention to my teammates but for me to not get clear waypoints is a no-no, I found myself lost a couple of times.

With regards to the shooting mechanics Warframe is fairly solid and my recommendation would be stick to your guns, Why? Because the melee combat is nothing short of diabolical. The strength of your sword attack is fine but the combo of a rigid and awkward camera and pretty poor control of movement makes the whole process an ordeal. Every single time I ran at a target I would overshoot them or if they moved behind me I would have to maneuver the unwieldy camera to face my enemy, it exhibited all the finesse of getting a sofa through an attic window. This really let the game down for me, what do you have left when a space ninja cannot ninja? A waste of space. I am being overly harsh just for the play on words there, it does have some good qualities but it didn’t grab as great to play right off the bat.

DC Universe Online

Another Free 2 Play that’s made its way from PC (and PS3) and this one shows alot more promise, if you hadn’t guessed it is a superhero MMO and, apart from Resogun, the most fun to be had for free on the PS. After an epic CG cutscene you are invited to create your superhero (or supervillain) and the options go pretty deep, choosing everything from your suit and optional cape, to your movement powers, from flight to super speed and your combat skills from ice, fire, sorcery,DC Universe Online martial arts – the list is quite extensive. You then specify your mentor and this will determine where your starting area is, in my case Gotham City.

The whole game feels very World of Warcraft, which to be honest is no bad thing as WoW is to still in many people’s minds the benchmark MMO and as a result does so many things right. It’s relatively easy to party up albeit a little harder to share quests in the early stages. The quest chain’s follow a usual formula, blast your way through henchman, complete missions and finally reach a boss fight. As you go you level up your character and earn experience points to spend on unlocking more spectacular powers and skills.

Sounds pretty standard so far, and to be honest from what I have experienced it is. Despite lacking any unique take on the MMO the gameplay is solid, the environments are straight from the pages of a comic and I found it pretty joyful to explore the moody nighttime streets of Gotham, flying over buildings and under bridges. The attacks obviously get more grandiose with each unlock and although you begin by merely button bashing, after a while you want to learn the combos of your new moves because they are pretty pleasing on the eye.

All in all DC Universe Online may not stray too far from well trodden path of an MMO but it plays well and makes you feel like you did as a kid when you tied a jumper around your neck. It actually makes me want to invest some change in a couple of items on the marketplace or maybe even buy some new storylines, I think for me that shows this off as a successful F2P. Great Stuff.

All in all it is a pretty strong line up, some of the games had their disappointing factors to them, on the whole I think there is definitely enough to keep you entertained if you make the leap to next-gen. The fact all of these games can be played either for no outlay or are complimentary with PS Plus means you wallet can breathe after taking a battering buying this cutting edge console.

The TBoD Podcast – Episode 38 – Livin La Vita Loca

It’s that time of week for another podcast,

In this weeks slightly musical show  we discuss the highs and lows of the VGX Awards, the Vita TV coming to western territories and a guy who paid way too much money for a picture of an Xbox One.

Enjoy.

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The PlayStation 4 – Part 1 – Hardware and UI

ps4 meme

With our pre-orders placed back in July and after months of commentating and speculating on our podcast, finally the 29th of November arrived. A date we have hotly anticipated as the moment we got our grubby little mits on Sony’s fourth iteration of their PlayStation console. Having lived with it for a week now I thought it would be fitting to get some words down about the console in general and the gaming experiences I’ve had so far. This first part focuses on the console itself, my first impressions on the games available at launch will be coming next week.

Aesthetics.

As one would expect, the media has spent a good deal of time comparing the PS4 to the XBox One on every level, its outward appearance being no exception. PS4 consoleVisually it seems to combine a retro feel with a contemporary slant quite literally. The surfaces are sleek and clean, for a while at least, the reflective quarter seems to boggle physics by drawing every particle of dust in your living room toward it like a black hole, if you are a clean freak be prepared to run a rag over it regularly. The LED strip that indicates the console’s on status (or if you are really unlucky its error status) makes it all a little sci-fi, this and other little details I really approve of as it really highlights the thought a due care that has gone into every bit of this console and it’s controller.

The DualShock 4.

If you have listened to our podcast you may be aware my initial encounter with the DS4 was a little underwhelming, as was my time with the Xbox One controller. Looking back at Eurogamer I think my experience with it was marred somewhat by the games I played on it. Now that I have a DS4 of my own I can safely say it is a worthy peer to the 360 controller, the ergonomics of the controller’s provide a surprisingly comfortable grip (something Sony in my opinion has never been good with). The thumbstick orientation is great too, no more unnaturalPS4 DualShock 4 Controller stretching or finger bumping, keeping on the thumbsticks the resistance they provide is quite something making movements more accurate than anything to come before. The triggers too have had some major thought put in, they offer more travel and feel more analogue than digital, if this is the case it could be interesting to see how future games may implement them, for example in a shooter using them to fire semi auto with a half press rather than changing firing modes on the D-Pad.

For me the face buttons offer a similar experience to that of it predecessor, which is no bad thing and the D-Pad actually edges that of the DS3, something I didn’t think was possible. My one gripe would be the options and share buttons are a bit of a reach and certainly I haven’t managed to hit them without looking at the pad, I guess practice will overcome that but with a controller like this that makes everything else feel so natural and well placed this is a niggle keeping it from a perfect score.

The touchpad I have used relatively little so can’t comment on, other than to say that it feels sparsely implemented so far and as it stands may turn out to be more of a gimmick than essential feature. However I could be proven wrong here as I was by the controller in general which stands side by side with my beloved 360 as a tour de force in pad design.

The User Interface

A ghost of the PS3 XMB is still evident in the new UI which, unlike the XMB, is a mostly utilitarian affair. Still flowing sideways the dash is split into two primary rows, PS4 UIthe upper is where all the functional stuff is like your notifications, settings, party, friends and PS store reside. The row below is where the fun happens, all your games are tiled out in horizontally and admittedly this could get a little messy as your library expands but your 5 most recent are place right up front which, unless you are a gaming butterfly, should minimise that ‘Sony scroll’ as much as possible.

Navigation is much breezier than the PS3, eternal lists are far less evident (bar the aforementioned gaming bar and the settings menu which is a touch long-winded)  where you mostly just select, click and in you go. The whole thing is, as you might expect given the beefy internals, extremely snappy and pretty satisfying to move through, offering little to no wait time loading up menus. Design wise, Sony have chosen the very trendy super flat tile look so common in the tech world today, you just have to look at their competitors Microsoft’s console and indeed any mobile OS nowadays to see this aesthetic dominate. I have to say I like it as it gives the dash a crisp appearance.

With social media now infiltrating every part of our modern lives Sony has dished up a more integrated experience in the PS4, right from the outset you can choose to connect with social behemoth Facebook and, if you choose to do so, will pull your profile pic from the site to replace your PSN avatar. The integration runs deeper than that too as the share button (more on this later) will post gameplay videos and images directly to Facebook and indeed Twitter meaning you friends/followers get to share in/be annoyed by your finest gaming moments.

Even the What’s New section mimics Facebook by taking the familiar look of the Timeline and filling it with what you and your friends have been up to on their Whats New ScreenPlayStations, its great for seeing what people have been playing and checking your friends recent trophies or being satisfied when it posts your Resogun high-score. For a Social Media lover such as myself this is possibly one of my favourite features. I will mention it is not all rosy, some features you may have grown accustomed to on your PS3 are distinctly absent. The ability to play MP3’s, set up media servers or watch 3D blu-rays are all lacking from the PS4 at launch. Sony says they are coming down the pipe which if you are an optimist could be viewed as Sony wanting to get the newer features right, or if you are a cynic a ploy to push their Music and Video Unlimited services. Whichever side you take, if you are one of the few who actually gets the media server to work reliably then it looks like the PS3 will have to remain plugged in for now.

Speaking of the proprietary “Unlimited” media subscriptions the PS4 comes with 30 day trials of each, for kicks I thought I would try to see whether it was actually unlimited. Both myself and my girlfriend tested the Music App by searching some really obscure artists we thought it couldn’t possibly have, to our surprise it found us some music by each artist. However we did hit a limit in a sense, in one instance it find an artist but not the particular song we were looking for. We will take that as a partial win, though I think it proves we are more mainstream than we thought.

One honourable mention and my favourite function on the PS4 is the share button, this feature is what boosts this machine from a just console with upgraded horsepower to something truly next-gen. Provided you have set up your twitchPS4 Share Button previously then streaming gameplay takes literally 30 seconds to initiate, it can be done on a whim and takes literally no effort. Experiencing a particularly lovely vista in-game? a couple of taps and you have shared the view with your Twitter followers. Just mowed down a ton of enemies or performed a counter-stab in Battlefield 4? Hit the share button and have that moment immortalized and posted to Facebook. Simple. Brilliant.

So far I have been very impressed by the PS4 and can’t wait to see what else Sony has up it’s sleeve, once I can view 3D Blu-ray then myself (and the 23 other people who adopted 3D and use it) will be very happy.

Have you recently picked up a PS4 or next-gen console?  Think I have missed something? Share your thoughts in the comments.Thanks.

To read Part of our PS4 Review on free games Click Here

The TBoD Podcast – 37 – Well Hung Voices

Salutations Gamers,

In this episode we try to maintain an even keel by talking about the rumours surrounding Fallout 4, the GTA Online black friday event and what the players think of it. We also give our indie game of the week to the C&C based fan made shooter Renegade X.  

However eremenko and Quim can’t help but show their love for their new toy’s; The PlayStation 4.

We talk about the dashboard experience, the share function, the controller as a standalone piece of kit and in comparison to the benchmark that is the 360 controller. Of course we do talk some of the launch titles too, covering Battlefield 4, Resogun, Contrast, NBA 2K14 and Killzone Shadowfall.

Did you get a next-gen console recently? let us know your thoughts and what games you picked up.

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