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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Why I don't like the Xbox One

Can the Xbox One outsell the PS4 and Wii U? Does it pose a threat? Is it ultimately better than either? My biased mouth says "no" but my heart says "ugh, maybe".

A few hours ago, Microsoft had their admittedly underwhelming Xbox Reveal show, where they showed the console, controller, and tv functionalities of their new console (there may have been some Ghosts footage but cinematics don't constitute an evening of video game coverage). The first problem I found with the console WAS HOW HUGE IT WAS. That thing is the size of my VHS player, if not bigger. Not to mention the contrast of colours on the box is pretty ugly and negatively retro.
< Look at the size of that!
 The Xbox One is one of the biggest consoles of all time, and considering things are meant to be getting smaller, it makes it seem even worse. Think about how much space it will take up in your living room or bedroom. Hey kids, keep the console on your shelf? You're going to need some resizing to fit this thing in there. The reason it's so big is probably because Microsoft plan to sell an even smaller one next year, and then again for the next six years...

Also, Xbox One? I thought it was going to be Infinity, a much better name. Although it's easier to say "I'm going to play on my 360" than "I'm going to play on my Infinity", it sounds better than "I'm going to play on my One".
"Hey I was playing on my Xbox earlier" "Oh which?" "The one" "Wait, so the Xbox One, or the first Xbox?"
That and calling your console "the one" is a little silly sounding...

An excuse I've often heard for people not buying the Wii U is that it's too current generation. Well if current generation = backwards compatibility, then I don't think that's a bad thing! That's right, the Xbox One will not play Xbox 360 games. This is a bad move for Microsoft as most people still enjoy playing their 360 games. If the Wii U can, why can't the supposedly advanced Xbox One?

It seems Microsoft has a vendetta against age in games. In order to get even more profit, they're making every new Xbox One game be installed into the console. Got a preowned game with the last of your pocket money? Great! Just pay this preowned fee to us and then you can play it! Microsoft will make money from this, but they won't gain popularity...

I'll admit that the controller looks pretty acceptable. It hasn't changed negatively, the D-pad looks better, although the ABXY buttons look a bit weird. It may not have a screen, meaning no off-tv play, but it's fine.

Kinect looked useful, and although it will be mandatory, at least it will mostly be voice and not hand recognition...

For me, what sells a games console, is the games, which is why I've always got the Nintendo consoles, mostly for nostalgia and loyalty purposes. After watching the show, nothing persuaded me to buy the console. Ooh, Fifa and Call of Duty - impressive! Also, I don't like racing. If Xbox can get all the third-party support, then sure, I'll be convinced, but so far I'm not. I didn't care about all the tv stuff it could do, I cared about the games, and that wasn't covered.

So can the Xbox One win the console war this generation? We'll start with whether it can beat the Wii U. Probably. If it can beat the PS4, then it can totally beat the Wii U. As the Wii U is focusing more on "hardcore" gamers than family, that light seems to have been stolen by Sony, and Xbox One looks to do the same, and steal Nintendo's family market too, what with all it's tv stuff. However, if everyone gave the Wii U try, I'd reckon they'd like it...

I don't think Xbox One will win over the "gamer" gamers. The PS4 has better graphics than the Xbox One and so far, better exclusives (Nintendo has the best exclusives but that's a different story). After the show, most people seemed to align with the PS4. I've only seen negative news about the Xbox One after it's revealing today, and I think that will influence buyer's decisions.

Overall, I was totally underwhelmed by the announcement of the Xbox One today, and considering I'll buy the console that most of my friends play for online multiplayer (I'm keeping the Wii U but that's a solo venture), I hope they pick the Playstation 4.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tank! Tank! Tank! Wii U Review

There were a variety of games released on the Wii U's launch day. Perhaps the most random and confusing was arcade tank shooter 'Tank! Tank! Tank!'. When I saw the trailers and news for this game, it was the name that got me interested in the game alone. Recieving the game for Christmas, I felt pretty indifferent in terms of excitement. I predicted the game would go down in price quite quickly, though it did look fun. Hey, at least I didn't have to pay for it.

Single player

Tank! Tank! Tank! features one single player mode, where you use your tank to either take down a swarm of enemies or one big boss, occasionally accompanied by some "minions" or the like. The robots you face are quite amusing, raging from robotic spiders or gorillas, to a giant cthulu that shoots lasers. The graphics are cartoonish, and don't feel like a step up from those of the Wii. However, the design of the enemies is interesting enough to look by. Gameplay itself is basic, there isn't much skill involved. Aiming occurs automatically, and it's moving about where any skill comes in. You'll constantly hear the screams of a male and female uttering corny lines that can provide a couple of laughs at first, but will annoy you after a while. There's a ton of unlockable Tanks(!) but not much in the way of upgrades, nor cool features on them. There's a large amount of missions, though they're really all the same and get repetitive. In a way, there's replay value, as you have to unlock coins in order to unlock some levels, and beating a level earns you a coin, so this doesn't help the repetivity.


Now multiplayer is where the game really shines. The Free for All mode will provide many laugh-filled frenzies, as it's so easy to destroy other tanks. Newcomers may be confused and overwhelmed at first, but once you get into it, you can have a good time, though this can get old and boring after a while. There's a team mode too, so those hoping to work together won't be denied here. One fun aspect of playing with friends is customising the look of your avatar. You can use the Gamepad to take a photo of yourself, and add a cartoon avatar to it. For example, you can have your face in a penguins body, or look like an army general. There's a lot of options, so the laughs can continue for a while. The best part of the whole game perhaps, is My Kong mode. One player will use the Gamepad to take control of a massive robot gorilla (complete with the face of the user, which when revealed is hilarious) who must try to survive and destroy the other players who use the Wii Remotes to try and take the Kong down. A session of this will take quite a few minutes, so you'll feel satisfied (and tired from laughing) when the victor is shown.

Game specifics

As said before, the graphics are pretty standard. There isn't much detail in them, as they're just cartoon, though they lack charm. Still, they don't look bad, per say. It's the look of monsters you face that keep you interested. At times, you may face some glitches, driving through the floor or buildings with no effect can occur, though this doesn't affect the game much. The controls work just fine, as the simplicity of the game doesn't require much controlling apart from moving the tank with either the D-Pad or analogue stick, and shooting with A or 2. Moving about with the D-Pad after a while can hurt your fingers so it's best to stick with the Gamepad. During play with the tv, the Gamepad shows the engines of the tank, which doesn't exactly use the controller's full potential. Some attacks might have been handy. Remote play is possible though, if you really like the game enough to play it anywhere in the house.


Though multiplayer might provide laughs for the first couple of plays, and the design of the robotic creatures are fun enough, the limited single player modes and repetitiveness of gameplay make the game boring within a week of play. Tank! Tank! Tank! is a game best played in short spurts over a long period of time, and worth getting out with your friends for half an hour at the most.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

How Nintendo can sell the Wii U, and why the Wii U isn't selling

In November I wrote an article debating whether or not the Wii U would do well in the United Kingdom and its chance of success. I didn't believe that the Wii U would be the "end of an era" and I was optimistic that it would sell. However, new worries have arisen. I expected that the Wii U, while not as capable of selling loads like the Wii, would still do well. I was wrong. Last month, Wii U sales took only 1.6% of the gaming market, and not a single Wii U game has even made it into the Top 30 charts for games sold. It sold 40,000 at first, but sales have declined rapidly since. It's very likely that all these sales were from Nintendo fans.

These are the reasons why the Wii U is failing:

1. Too high a price point.
The Basic pack is a rip off. £249 for 3GB of game data with no game included. The Premium pack, a much better deal, was still £309 for 32GB, Nintendo Land, and a Premium membership. 90% of the Wii U sales were the Premium pack. However, this is still too high, and many people have resorted to either waiting for a price drop (which Nintendo have foolishly said they won't do) or buying it preowned where Nintendo makes no money. One problem is that Nintendo makes a loss when they sell a Wii U but make a profit when a game is purchased too. When preowned consoles are being bought, Nintendo is making very little.

2. Lack of appeal.
One of the main reasons the Wii sold so well was because of the Wii remote and motion controls. It was easily for the family to join in and any casual gamer would feel much more comfortable playing games like Wii Sports than say, Dark Souls. The Wii U Gamepad is a much harder controller for your Grandmother to get into. Nintendo has attempted to win back the Xbox and PS3 gamer, but those gamers are either past "saving" or the Gamepad seems far too different to their controllers. This means the only people buying the Wii U are Nintendo fans. Nintendo has gone away from one of their biggest consumers. The majority of the UK video game market are Call of Duty and Fifa fans, and Nintendo have alienated themselves from that group. Whilst the Pro Controller shares the same design as an Xbox 360 controller, this isn't advertised, so the less knowledgable market is unaware of this and is instead only aware of the Gamepad. Nintendo sell their first party stuff easiest, and this is among their large fanbase. Nintendo's fanbase, however, is one of the only things keeping them alive. Third-party "hardcore" games that are often on Xbox 360 on the PS3 usually don't feature on Nintendo consoles, so someone buying a new console hoping to buy the next Dead Space, perhaps, won't find it. This moves onto my next point:

3. Nintendo is not advertising their 3rd party games.
Nintendo knows they make more profit off their first party games, but what they haven't grasped is the fact that other games are more socially popular. Watching an advert for New Super Mario Bros. U isn't as cool as it used to be, unfortunately. Luckily for Nintendo, they've got many more popular 3rd party games that would never have been seen on the Wii. For once, Nintendo has big names like Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, and even decent editions of Call of Duty and Fifa. However, Nintendo isn't letting people know they exist. With their casual market gone, Nintendo needs to get the hardcore market in, and showing off Nintendo Land just won't do it.

You wouldn't be a fool to think that Nintendo has some dark times ahead of them, but I still believe the Wii U has some potential, and this is how the Wii U can still be a success:

1. The next Xbox is to be Kinect mandatory, thus taking away the hardcore market from Microsoft.
While it's pretty likely that the Xbox fans will move to the Playstation 4, some may still go to the Wii U if the next Playstation controller is buttonless. If Nintendo is lucky, the sales will be coming to them.

2. Launch a system seller.
Nintendo Land doesn't have quite as much of the appeal that Wii Sports did. While Nintendo is getting some exclusives like Bayonetta and Rayman (Oh wait, betrayal!), it hasn't got much special right now. Their first party titles will still sell amongst the devoted, but Nintendo needs to get those who weren't previously interested. Perhaps bringing back some old first party franchises like F-Zero may appeal to the racing fans, but Nintendo needs to get some popular third party titles to make them more likely to sell, and if they're lucky, try and make them exclusive.
(Just a hint, Nintendo, Lego City: Undercover just isn't your killer app)

3. Get the families back in.
Nintendo fans may have hated their casual approach, but the smart ones would have known that it was keeping their beloved company in business. The upcoming Wii Party U NEEDS to be advertised, as well as the new Wii Fit U. Quite simply, Nintendo needs to appeal to the "casual" and "hardcore", not just their fanbase, who will buy their stuff no matter what.

There is still hope. The 3DS sold below expectations when it came out due to the fact there were hardly any good games to buy it. However, now due to games like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Resident Evil: Relevations, it's selling much better. As long as Nintendo plays their cards right, and Microsoft and Sony don't, they'll be back on track.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Can the Wii U be a success in the United Kingdom?

The Wii U has already been released in the United States and despite complaints that the system will be a failure, has sold 400,000 units in the 8 days it has been out. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, Wii U's predecessor, the Wii, has been the top seller in the console wars, with Xbox 360 second and PS3 trailing last.

Modern gaming is split into two sections nowadays - the "gamers games", which will involve either rehashes or sequels of classic games, or be general modern "hardcore games", such as Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Bioshock, Portal, to name very few. The rehash games are often developed by Nintendo, such as Mario and Zelda, but third party companies like Sega and Capcom develop these too. The other section, are the "casual games". These games can be considered system sellers, as they are played by casual gamers. People who had no interest in video games ended up purchasing Xbox's or PS3's to play games like Call of Duty or Fifa (these games are well known to be inferior on the Wii due to the gimmicky controls and low-resolution graphics). These "casual gamers" usually have no intent on playing games like Bioshock or Mass Effect, as it was never their intention to play what can be considered proper video games. The "hardcore games" I am referring to are mostly on the Xbox and PS3 rather than the Wii, which was another way the Xbox and PS3 were sold as they owned the games.

In England, despite the Wii being sold more than the Xbox or PS3 due to the whole family appeal, a lot of people who play games in the country are the "casual gamers". Playing Fifa is like a religion to some, and is one of the only games some people will play for the console. It is considered embarassing to own a Wii in England as it's seen as the "baby" console due to family-friendly advertising and a glut of casual games on shelves. The nerds are often associated with the Wii as well as it owns the Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and other first party games, which is true - a lot of people who play these games played them when they were only first around in the 80's and 90's. Therefore, Nintendo has alienated the "casual gamer", who can be considered the main consumer of the industry.

Nintendo has vowed to "lure the hardcore gamer back" with the Wii U, and they have done this with less casual, family orientated adverts, and instead focuses on both the first party games, and the third party games, which are actually quite strong. For example, games like Mass Effect, Tekken, Batman, and Assassins Creed which used to be exclusive to the Xbox and PS3, are now on the Wii U. This could be crucial to help the Wii U sell units, as not only do they have their first party games, they now have the popular hardcore third party games.

The Wii U comes, as like every other console, a new console, and in true Nintendo fashion tries to stay as innovative as possible. It's not quite as futuristic as the motion controls of the Wii Remote, but the rise of tablet and mobile gaming may prove to be useful to Nintendo due to the Gamepads similarity.
As someone who has played it, I found the Gamepad to be comfortable, the screen to be a nifty, non-gimicky inclusion, as well as having a clear display. I believe the Gamepad is not something to be doubted just yet.

While the United States is more open about Nintendo gaming, and will possibly be even more so thanks to the inclusion of third party games, it's still going to be hard to convince the casual gamer of England to buy the Wii U. It's still not going to be the essential purchase for the gamer only interested in Fifa or Call of Duty. It certainly won't sell as well as the Wii did due to the lack of futuristic innovation and family appeal, but I disagree with the popular doubt (even supported by Nolan Bushnell, creator of Pong) that the Wii U will be the "end of an era" for Nintendo.

Friday, 20 January 2012

SOPA/PIPA gone for good?

As I write this, within the hour, the SOPA and PIPA bills have supposedly been "killed". To those thinking it's gone for good, the truth is that it has been "shelved indefinitely". Many different news websites and blogs may tell you otherwise, but as stated by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the bill will be "postponed". Despite this, there is widespread belief that the bill is gone for good, and the internet is safe. But how sure of that can we be?

In recent weeks, the SOPA/PIPA bills have recieved a staggering amount of backlash and attention, more of my fellow students have posted their feelings about the bill on Facebook (which I found to be a good opportunity to share the blog article I wrote last month to inform more people), and have even threatend to riot if the bill is passed - an exaggeration we can all be sure of. Of course their parents won't be taking them to London to aid them in their 10-manned attempts of making a point. But the rages of teenagers are besides the point I wish to make today.

Actually, staying on the topic of raging teengers, hacktivist group "Anonymous", which for those who don't know is a group of internet hackers who attempt to bring down websites and organisations they don't agree with. Oh, they also like to appear as threatening as possible by using robotic voices in their video messages and wearing V for Vendetta masks at their public protests. Much of the internet supports Anonymous due to their motives as people who "speak for the internet", but many also see Anonymous as a bit of a joke, sometimes making threats which they can't even fulfill, and whose melodrama can make them seem almost embarassingly pathetic. However, after the deletion of popular filesharing website "Megauploads", Anonymous was able to momentarily bring down the US Governments website, while continuing to preach their message of internet users to "stand together" in the battle. Rightfully so, there has been much praise for the hacktivist group.

Those who know about the SOPA/PIPA bills also know about the fact that websites that have any kind of "copyrighted material" on their websites, will be taken down. On the 18th of Jan, websites such as Explosm, Minecraft, Reddit, and Mozilla did "Blackout protests", where users would find a message informing them of the SOPA/PIPA bills policies, instead of gaining any access to inside the website. A special mention goes to Wikipedia, where their blackout message was seen by 1.8million people, giving users more knowledge of the bills policies. The blackout was considered a huge success - a substantial amount of supporters for the bill backed down, and many believed that SOPA/PIPA were dead. But celebrations were short lived when the following day, "Megauploads", home to millions of music videos, tv shows, and downloadable files, was deleted by the US government. Naturally, rage and panic surged through the internet. Anonymous declared themselves as "no longer playing nice", and this was proved when they bought down the US governments website, while internet users realised that SOPA/PIPA was not down yet, and many others also realised that even though the bill hadn't yet passed, the government still had the power to take down websites for exaggerated copyright claims.

The deletion of Megauploads has been a hot topic since this morning, yet earlier this evening, there was the announcment that SOPA/PIPA had been shelved indefinitely. As this was big news, everyone seemed to interprete this in their own way. Many shared their belief that SOPA/PIPA were gone forever, and that this was a victory for the internet, however as stated earlier, this hopeful assumption is just not true.

Now, while SOPA/PIPA being shelved is certainly a brilliant step forward, we should all know that the battle is not over yet. It's been shelved indefinitely - it is not gone for good. Internet users should still keep a look out and be prepared - there is no way of knowing when the bills may come back. There have been rumours that the government may be able to make another version of the bills that both sides can agree on. But let's be realistic here - the government and the public can't agree on anything, and with any version of the bills created, there will be an aspect that people will be able to pick out, and thus the arguments shall rage on.

As previously mentioned, we can all take a sigh of relief for now. But remember this, it's not yet over. Keep knowledge of the bills and be prepared for any kind of mention that the bills may come back. We must make it known that we have not forgotten about the bills, and that we do not believe that it's gone for good. The government must know that we do not agree with this bill, and we do not want to see it passed. Carry on spreading your message, and be ready.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act

I was surprised to learn that most people in England are unaware of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a law that the US government intends to pass on December 15. Also know as the E-Parasite, SOPA is internet censorship. The government wants to push this through congress as they're trying to crack down on internet piracy. This doesn't sound like too much of a bad thing, and most of you might think that this would mostly apply to pirated movies uploaded to websites such as MegaVideo. The act states that whoever uploads copyrighted material is now a criminal - it is a federal offence. Oh, and the website that the video got uploaded to, gets taken down. This could mean the deletion of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Youtube. Say an infringed video is uploaded on to a website, the owner/host of that website is legally responsible. This is a massive problem for Youtube, as millions of videos are uploaded to their website every day. Normally, if someone finds a video with copyrighted material, they can flag it and Youtube will investigate it, and if they agree it's copyrighted, the video is taken down. But under this new act, the uploader of the video has broken the law, and the website is deleted completely. After this, search a popular channel on Google, it's been wiped out completely, you can't find it. Shared a video on Facebook? You're a criminal, website taken down.

Now who could possibly support such an act? The majority of support is coming from film studios, who have been losing money since people discovered you could watch and torrent films online. To most people, who would want to spend £10 on a cinema ticket or a DVD when they could watch it or download it for free online?

As you can expect, there has been a huge backlash from the internet who have been protesting on the streets and on social networks in order to get their message across. If this law passes, the government will be so powerful that they can block out the voices against them. They could have the tiniest excuse against a website and take them down anyway. The result could be a virtually broken Internet where some sites exist for half the world and not for the other.

Do we want to have an internet where our favourite websites are taken away from us, and laws so strict that we're afraid to share or view anything?

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