Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: May 2006 (page 2 of 2)

Sony Press Conference E3 2006

I am well aware that Sony fans will remain Sony fans no matter what Nintendo and Microsoft may say in their respective conferences today, so I’ll discuss Sony’s own performance now. For me the PS2‘s greatest strength was the breadth of games available for it, while its weakness was it’s controller, barely altered from the original console and very inconvenient to use. The delays suffered by the console were allegedly due to difficulties with the Cell processor, an investment that cost billions, where Microsoft took the triple-core approach with pre-existing technology. With the Xbox 360 already in circulation, what remained to be seen is whether the Cell processor’s rumoured power would make it almost instantly obsolete.

final PS3 controllerThe short answer is no. In fact the movies premiered by Sony were somewhat disappointing. While it’s true to say these are only launch titles and do not take full advantage of the new platform, I was expecting at least some increase from those available on the 360. The truth is that graphically the systems seem virtually indistinguishable so far. On the controller front at least they’re not going with the ridiculous banana-shaped boomeroller they previously designed. The presenter paused as he revealed something that looked almost exactly like the existing controller, apparently expecting applause for this, although I am aware that some fans are happy with the status quo.

There are some marked improvements, but I hesitate to call any of them innovations. Look at the list at tell me when it sounds familiar: hard drive (MS Xbox), wireless controllers (Nintendo Wavebird), analogue shoulder buttons (MS trigger controls), online connectivity (MS Xbox live), and integration with a handheld (Nintendo Zelda: Wind Waker). It all feels like a game of catch-up on the last generation. They have also added some gyro-based motion-sensory wizardry to the controller, but its implementation seems like a rush job, far inferior to Nintendo’s and cynically one might suggest purely intended to steal some of their thunder. There’s no surprise some have already dubbed it the “PlaguarismStation3”, given Sony’s existing reputation for feature-stealing — Warhawk developer Incognito let slip they’ve only had the tiltable controller to work with for a matter of days. Motion detection also means no force-feedback as this was said to interfere with its sensors (and is, apparently, so last gen). However, word from the floor is that it all works. The new iToy demo was impressive, featuring a card game that could moved in front of the camera to be played out visually on the screen, although its use is niche. A real selling point is full backwards compatbility as far back as the original Playstation. I really think Microsoft dropped the ball here, only supporting backwards compatibility in a certain (growing) range of titles.

And the price tag on this system? The full model costs no less that $599. As with the 360 a lower model (smaller hard drive, no wireless) is available for $499. This will probably translate into a ridiculous UK launch price of at least £350-450, while Microsoft’s console will likely have dropped to be at least £100-200 cheaper. Justifying the incredible expense will be hard, even for fans, though I have no doubt they will pay it.

Overall (and you’re free to disagree and offer alternative opinions) this seems to confirm that I’ll be throwing in behind Microsoft again this time round, although I am intrigued to follow Nintendo’s news this afternoon as well (it’s less controversial as they’re aiming at a different niche market). I won’t be buying a Revolution, or a Wii, or whatever it’s called in twelve hours time, but it’s innovation I fully support and would love to try out.

Play Beyond

Play BeyondThe week of E3 is now upon us but despite being inundated with a plethora of cool gaming news, I shall attempt to resist the temptation of rambling about nothing else. With a glut of high-definition footage and trailers already flooding out, this looks like the best year yet for those of us watching from home. The Sony advertising machine is already in full swing, although I’m not sure their “Play Beyond” slogan is as cool as they think. “Welcoming Chang3” was one thing but I don’t even know what this one means. It has lent itself to some innovative poster designs to fill their huge billboard spaces. Tonight’s press conference is really their last chance to convince me to wait for the PS3 rather than buying an Xbox 360 this summer, so we shall see what they can produce.

A review of Brick is now up. It’s the first I’ve written in a while so it feels a little straineThe film should be out in a week, and I urge you not to be distracted by its explosive competition aimed at the lowest common denominator. There is a certain conversation that necessarily must precede any decision to watch Mission: Impossible III and, having worked through it, fans are left in a suitable state of bemused absentia whereby they can switch off and enjoy what I am told is one of the most enjoyably silly big budget action films yet. The little plot there is doesn’t get in the way of what is essentially a single extended action sequence, which is, I suppose, a credit to the humility of scripwriters. I do intend to see the film, but it requires a certain mood that is not, I fear, overly prevolent in exam term.

As Sparkie seems to be enumerating the many modes of student procrastination into an unwritten table of sorts (that one might better divulge “number 19” to a guilty compatriot rather than voicing one’s true sin). I feel compelled to remind him of a stalwart #3, the ever-infuriating 3D Pong. Those who dare challenge its jade cavern of reflective glass quickly discover the zen-like mindset required, becoming one not only with the paddle but with the very ball itself.

Speaking of zen and homicidal frustration, you may have wondered how exactly one goes about killing a ninja. Ask A Ninja fall squarely into the “stupidly funny” bracket, a series of short videos in the style of Strongbad’s Emails and while not exactly clever, it is at least well-written.

And finally, a year in the making (though probably not continuously), Shams has finally completed work on Adam in Wonderland. It is hosted over at Sparkie’s Junkyard which is now our second highest referrer, just behind Gamespot which has recently been sending much traffic our way.

Cinco de Mayo

Downing was the only sensible option, but the committee didn’t sit on their laurels, instead delivering an experience that combined all the successful and established features of a Cambridge Ball with the new to make it a thoroughly enjoyable night.

The entire Ball Committee was certainly pleased with TCS’s overwhelmingly positive review. In particular Jing must be ecstatic at the entire paragraph dedicated to food, which had previous received some criticism. As expected the chief flaw was the chilly weather, somewhat out of our control but even more must be done to rememdy it in future. Dave’s team is fast coming together but I hear there may be a few spots left, so if you’re interested in getting involved speak to either him or Angie fast.

I preface what I am about to say by stating that Cinco de Mayo is in itself legitimate, a celebration of Mexican independence. It is not, I ought to point out, “Mexican Independence Day”, as it is often misrepresented (that was declared on the 15th September 1810) but rather a commemoration of the historic Battle of Puebla against French forces in 1862. But someone ought to inform those of the USA that being able to say the date in another language is not actually cause for a holiday. Especially if you don’t even know what it is.

In exam term, procrastination is paramount in the sanity struggle, so I consider it something of a community service to direct you to Four Second Fury, a WarioWare-style game incorporating a host of simple 4-second games. The object is to survive as long as possible, completing these rapid-fire tasks. Its addictiveness is a given. And if, for some reason, you’re a fan of Deal Or No Deal? and such trivialities amuse you, I believe this alternative will hold your attention.

And in closing I offer a ray of hope for the summer ahead. Two rays, in fact. The first is in the form a blonde-haired 007, as Daniel Craig reinvents Bond in Casino Royale. The second is in the highly polished iconic form of The Man of Steel. Superman Returns is looking far stronger than rival X3 at the moment for the simple reason that Bryan Singer seems to inherently understand both mediums, that of comicbook and that of film, enabling him to direct the transition with a skill not evidenced in most recent adaptations.

Th Grat Gadsby

If youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn’t constantly run across folks today who claim that “a child don’t know anything.? A child’s brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult’s act, and figuring out its purport.

-Ernest Vincent Wright, Gadsby

Remember how you always thought E was an important letter, besides being the opening gambit for most hangmen and hangwomen? Hangpeople? People who play hangman. E’s considerable prevolance in the English language has elevated it to a position of esteem, often considered first among vowels. Enter Gadsby. In an attempt to deflate its ego (or perhaps in a subliminal anti-drugs stance), this 50,000 word story does not use a single E. Although undoubtedly done as much “because he could” as “to prove it could be done”, it does highlight some interesting linguistic peculiarities and since it is all properly written, it holds good examples of complex sentence construction while avoiding ambiguity.

The band who played at Jehan’s birthday at the beginning of the month now have a website where you can listen to two of their songs, including a great cover of Black Magic Woman. So go check out Funkin’ With The Lights On. Don’t be shy, I already told them you’re coming.

Something tells me that has not been developed exactly as Microsoft might have envisioned. Whilst I disagree with such cybersquatting on principle, to claim that it is anything less than hilarious would be specious at best. Unaffiliated with either corporation, a WHOIS search reveals that it was actually registered by a Brit who decided to do something far sneakier than merely attempt to sell it to Microsoft.

Lastly, the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest has leaked but has yet to be released officially anywhere, which is odd because it certainly looks complete and very polished. In the meantime WWTDD has given it a home. My only complaint would be a slightly excessive slant towards the supernatural, though I’ll never turn down a good Kraken!

Tool Return In 10,000 Days

10,000 days in the fire is long enough;
You’re going home.
-Tool, 10,000 Days

Net of BeingIt being official release day, I’ve been proudly wearing a Tool t-shirt all day, although I’ve had my hands on the new 10,000 Days album since Saturday. Tool albums are complicated affairs and it took me some time to appreciate the subtler nuances of Lateralus (second only to Thirteenth Step and The Downward Spiral) but I’ve had enough time to form my first impressions on their new opus. Looking first at the packaging, givent the last two releases I was hoping for another high-quality innovative design and they have delivered with more of Adam Grey’s fantastic artwork, this time appearing 3-dimensional when viewed through the attached stereoscopic lenses. If you are not familiar with Grey’s work, I suggest you check out the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors immediately.

Vicarious is an excellent opener as an almost perfect continuation of the Lateralus-era Tool sound making it instantly accessible to fans. The usual progression between Tool albums is then found throughout the remainder of the album from the moment Adam Jones’ guitars kick into Jambi, dominating with an insistant power while Maynard’s vocals fall back to a more minor role. Indeed it is the vocal changes that dissidents will find jarring, particularly the very different style featured in The Pot. The core of the album consists of Wings For Marie and 10,000 Days, the former really an introduction to the latter. Together they form a 17 minute epic that stands as a vulnerably honest triumph, as Maynard sings of his mother’s unfaltering faith despite her paralysis for 27 years (approx. 10,000 days) and of the ascension she deserves. Rosetta Stoned is the album’s heaviest track and probably the most musically complex, while Right In Two provides a simple (the lyrics are less veiled this time round, though still powerful) description of angels looking down upon humans. Less heavy but with a rythmic intensity running throughout the album, this is another fantastic collection and proof that Tool certainly have not yet lost their edge.

Mozilla have announced the winner of the Firefox Flicks campaign, in which entrants were asked to direct a short clip to advertise the browser, my personal favourite being This Is Hot. In a similar vein the BBC have launched a new project, looking for people to submit redesigned versions of their front page, including new ideas for new interactive media features for the next incarnation of the site. Opinion is divided as to whether this marks a bold consumer-centric approach or a way to buy a million pound facelift for the cost of a measly laptop prize. Head over to for more details.

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