The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘xbox’

Digital Doesn’t Mean Perfect

Posted by BigWords on August 28, 2009

I’ve gone through plenty of disks over the years. CDs, DVDs, games, multimedia… Recently I have noticed that some new ones aren’t quite up to the standard of previous years, and it might be that we are – as consumers – letting some companies get away with releasing inferior products. There’s going to come a time when digital downloads are fast enough to satisfy even the most die-hard film geek, but we aren’t quite there yet.

This post is getting to the point. Don’t worry.

The Xbox-360 disk of The Darkness, an excellent horror-suspense-action hybrid, was the first recent game to give me trouble. I bought the game in a now-defunct Woolworths store when it came out and immediately had problems with it. It would play fine for a while before freezing on one of the cutscenes. Taking it back for a different disk solved the problem for a few days before the same glitch appeared. Another trip back to the store.

Long story short, I eventually got another disk (a third one) online. It worked perfectly. For a few days. I don’t know how many people experienced this particular problem, but all three disks couldn’t have been random exceptions to the quality control. The cutscenes, which brought to mind Oz and The Sopranos, were fun, but they didn’t seem particularly hard to render. Maybe it was just the disks, but my machine has never crashed on any other game.

Flash forward to this week, and I eventually got around to buying The Spirit, Frank Miller’s re-imagining of the classic comic-strip character. I would tell you how much I liked or disliked the film, but it won’t play. Not in the R2 DVD player, the region-free one, the new laptop, the old Vaio laptop or even my rig. It is coming up either ‘wrong disk’ or ‘please insert a disk’ when I try to play it.

Irksome, and rather difficult to remedy as I bought it in a town I don’t normally visit. It was from a chain, so I am planning on popping into my nearest branch tomorrow to see if I can get another copy. Normally I wouldn’t be bothered by a faulty disk, but I really wanted to see the film.

Is technology being taken for granted? I remember getting my first CD (Leonard Cohen’s Greatest Hits) after years of listening to cassettes, and the excitement of a new format. Now when I buy CDs I normally treat them as just another disk to add to the collection. The magic has worn off. Same thing goes for games. Only, where games are concerned, the first ones on CD annoyed the hell out of me. Endless FMV sequences that weren’t skippable, and having to watch them over and over and over again…

Maybe the machines have good taste, and refuse to let me sully Will Eisner’s memory with a lesser adaptation. I wonder how they will feel about Supergirl

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Platform X

Posted by BigWords on June 25, 2009

When the concept of a single console to replace the multitude of competing platforms was first brought up, many years ago, I mocked. The idea was so utterly ludicrous that it could never work in practice. Now… Maybe now I’m ready to give it a bit of serious thought. The reason for my turnabout in thinking is due to a Mission: Impossible prop thinking it is a console – the old X-Box made a soft pop, fizzed for a moment, then released a single wisp of white smoke into the air.

Which means I really should get a new one. It isn’t like I don’t have enough consoles, but I have a soft spot for the black brick – it doesn’t sound like a Chinook taking off, it doesn’t scratch discs and it is relatively ergonomic. Do I really need another console? I can play most of the original games on the 360, and the space could be better used. I’m coming around to the idea of a ‘master’ console, but I would have to set some ground rules for anyone thinking of creating one-

  1. Make it future-proof for at least three years. I’m not going to buy a “slightly different but essentially the same” console in twelve months time. I don’t care if the new one has a few gigabytes more memory, plays Chopin on start-up and can recite the Iliad; the minor alterations which come along can be ignored.
  2. No larger than an average console. I’ve seen the home-made attempts at integrating 3 or 4 consoles into a single case, and they always end up being massive, ugly and totally impractical. If anyone can come up with a play-all system that isn’t the size of a small car I would buy it immediately.
  3. I’m not spending more than £450 on it. I’ve already spent more money than I care to think about on games (and this is not counting the PC software I buy / upgrade in an endless attempt to stay ahead of the game), so a reasonable budget is to be expected.
  4. As few essential add-on’s as possible. I bought the HD player for the 360 and used it twice, which makes it one of the most expensive items I have in relation to the enjoyment I have taken from a purchase. The Guitar Hero pack was used non-stop for nearly two months. Value for money means making add-on’s that I’ll actually use.
  5. No easily-breakable components. The PS2 controllers have very short lives in my house, so I’m not going to settle for second best from a next-next-gen console.

Sure, I’d splash out on one if the ability to play Wii, PS3 and 360 releases was incorporated. There was a plan in motion a couple of years ago to utilize a Linux-based OS for a multi-format games console, and I’ve never heard anything more about it. One of these days it’ll pop up again as The Saviour Of Gaming, I’m sure, but until then I’m stuck with the collection of boxes under my television. And on the floor. And in their boxes, piled atop one another…

Life was easier when the choice was Amstrad or Commodore.

Sure, I’d splash out on one if the ability to play Wii, PS3 and 360 releases was incorporated. Now, who wants to get to work on the software?

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