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[REVIEW] Overwatch (PS4)
12 June 2017
Posted in Reviews

Overwatch is probably the new flagship of Blizzard, and I got to admit that the game is fun up to a certain level. And it's that level that really bothers me. Before going any further, I got to admit that I'm not a real PvP player and generally suck at arena PvP games...

I picked Overwatch up during it's 1st annevercary's 'free' weekend and I've played it quite a bit with my brother (he didn't buy the game but gave the free weekend a try). It brings me back to the late 90s where I played a lot of Tream Fortress Classic. Overwatch is somewhat similar, aside from not just having 1 char per class but several to choose from. Sadly there can be only one character per team in play, which means that from time to time you have to pick an other because you're too late selecting it

Overwatch does not really show a lot of diversety in levels. Actually, the number of maps is quite limited as well as the number of different conquests on the maps. Problem with the maps though is that when you're new to them, you have no freaking clue where the health is, what save spots are or where your objective is or brings you to. But that can all be learned by playing them a lot.
The conquests are a bit so-so - it's a lot of rinse & repeat IMO. The one I think is quite funny is where you have to escort a vehicle to a location, while the one I hate is the capture/defend spots. Since I haven't played it for about 2 weeks now I'm not even sure if there's an other kind of conquest available, if so, it didn't really impress me
The vehicle conquest is also one that's abused a lot. One team has to defend the wagon and gets the advantage to enter the map first. More than once I've seen spawn camping on the opposing team's location (who has to lead the transport to their location). This is some serious bad mechanic IMO!

Then the PvP in general. Back in the days of TFC we all used mouse & keyboard, and with Overwatch I see why MicroSoft is not allowing keyboard & mouse on their XBOX 1. On the PS4 there are clearly people using keyboard and mouse over controller (while that's not possible for this game, but CronusMAX does wonders in remapping). These people are having a HUGE advantage over most players who stick with their controller. I have seen players on their kill cam (I was the one killed obviously...) who rotated their camera, moved their character around, aimed and shot me, while they jumped. This is just impossible to accomplish when playing with a controller! I'm even wondering if they are using aimbot scripts with their CronusMAX...

Then about the price for this game... I think 60 after a year is still way too much for it. Most games that are this old already are discounted to 30 to 40. But this is Blizzard who is advertizing the game like there's no tomorrow, and with 30M sold copies you can keep charging that 60.
For me it's a good thing that I bought it during that annevercary discount for a mere 30. I've played the game for a 'good 10 hours' and selling the thing will give me 25 back. And even though I'm below that 1/hour I still think I've been bought by this game. It didn't give me really that 'good feeling' when playing it that so many other games gig. Perhaps that's because it's a PvP game and I'm getting too old for it..?


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[REVIEW] Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone
01 May 2017
Posted in Reviews

If you've said to me that I'd be playing rhythm games, I'd be laughing real hard. Not because I don't have a sense of thythm, but because (opinion) they are all about high beats per minute (BPM) and thus you'll end up with house and techno pretty quick, a genre that's one I'd rather not listen to (not at all!).
That was until I decided to give Hatsune Miku: DIVA Future Tone a try. I've seen is from time to time already and it's been popping up in the PlayStation store as a possible interest for me (probably because I'm playing jRPGs a lot), so I figured to give it a try...

Hatsune Miku: DIVA Future Tone is a 'Free2Play' game, and I've put the quotes around Free2Play on purpose. Normally, F2P gives you quite a huge portion of the game, or even the complete game, and microtransactions (cash shop) are available for player convenience. Sadly tough, with Hatsune Miku, the F2P part of the game contains only 2 songs and the tutorial (Ievan Polkka). A tutorial that's not available in the F2P game itself, but is contained in one of the DLC packages. The 2 songs that are included are of decent difficulty (3 of 10 stars on easy mode), to give you a good idea of what to expect.

The DLC is there wht fun begins with the game though. There are a couple available, all with a different amount of songs. Where the 3 'Encore Pack's each contain only 4 songs for 9.99 (or 24.99 as season pack, including the Unlock for all cosmetics), the 'Future Sound' and 'Colorful Tone' packs each hold over 100 songs each from older Hatsune Miku games (also with a lot of cosmetics) for 'only' 29.99. With those 2 big packs I think the fun of the game really gets started.

When playing the game, you're shown some sort of videoclip. Most of the time I'm not really paying attention to what's happening on the screen, other than just watch the notes and rhythm, but my wife watched it a bit and thought that the models were very well animated. They dance very life like and (aside from being obvious manga), you could be watching a videoclip on tv.

There is a HUGE downside to the game though. All songs are in Japanese, and while not being bad per-se, the way the game is made it might be. Game series like 'Guitar Hero' and 'Rock Band' (bought a couple of those already - will give you my take on them later this month) are purely made on the rhythm, and you need to play the tones, while with Hatsune Mike the game switches from tones to singing from time to time. And while the sung parts are still within the rhythm, not knowing what's being sung gives a disadvantage. I've already found myself just mashing buttons at times just to (hopefully) keep up with the incoming amount of notes I have to match
It's also worth noticing that Hatsune Miku: DIVA Future Tone is not holding any story like the other Hatsune Miku games have. It's just a collection of songs that you have to play. There is no 'progress' in the game, other than that you'll get some virtual currency that you can use to unlock the tons cosmetics that are available in the game.

In general, I think that Hatsune Miku: DIVA Future Tone is really worth a shot if you're into rhythm games. The 29.99 for the over 100 songs is a bargain as well when you think that the average song is about 2 1/2 minute long and each song has 4 difficultly levels to beat. It'll take you hours upon hours (at least 20 hours if you succeed at all songs at first try) to clear all songs with at least a grade 'C', but of course, it's the PERFECT performances that you'll be aiming for


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[UPDATE] Playstation 4 review - internal HDD vs USB3 HDD
21 April 2017
Posted in Reviews

In my review of the Playstation 4 Pro, I spoke about periphals as well, including the USB3 external harddisc. I said that the speed of the internal harddisk was about on-par with the USB3 external harddisk. Now I can confirm this, but the external USB3 harddisk is a bit slower than the internal one though.

Yesterday my brother and I played Elder Scrolls online and we teamed up to do some quests together, which included a lot of going in and out of buildings and the Thieves guild. Those are the moments when the game loads it's assets from the harddisk. With my brother only using the internal harddisk and me having dropped ESO on the external one, the (slight) difference in speed became clear.
Where we both were about at the same time to exit an area (or to enter a new one - take your pick ), he was always a bit earlier in the game again then I was. The difference was about a second or so (and with ESO loading really a lot of assets for the world, it's almost nothing), there was a bit of a delay when loading from the external harddisk.

I also noticed this difference when playing Games of Thornes - a Tell Tale series (I'll give you my review on it later this month). I've bought the season pass disc with the first 5 games on the BluRay disc and the 6th one being downloaded. That download was stored on the external HDD automatically and when I reached the 6th season of the game, I noticed that the game was loading a bit slower compared to the load from the BluRay drive.

This means that (as I said), the external harddisk indeed is a bit slower than the internal one, and it's barely noticable. But when you're playing a game in multi-player mode, it advisable to have that game on the internal harddisk instead of the external one. Also, very small games (those under 3Gb, and most likely indie games) can be easily installed on the external harddisk. These games will load in one go and most likely have very little assets to load when switching maps/areas.


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[REVIEW] Playstation 4 Pro
11 April 2017
Posted in Reviews

It's time for my first review, and let me kick off with that one thing that I'm using for most of the reviews. Yes, that's right, my Playstation 4 Pro! While I haven't owned a 'regular' Playstation 4, I can't compare it to it, but I can make some comparison with the older Playstation 3 and my current PC when it comes to performance. Now I realize that the Playstation 3 is a total unfair match to say the least, but there are 2 games that I used to play on it (Destiny and Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn) that I can use as a reference. The same goes for my PC, but the thing is pretty old and I think it's old enough (AMD Phenom II X6 1090T with 16GB DDR3 RAM and a GTX970) to make the PS4 Pro a compatitor anyway Last but not least I will also give my thoughts on the 4K features the Pro (and the upcoming XB1 Scorpio) have. Also an important note that I will not get into the technical specifications of the PS4 pro. There are already enough topics on that part on the net and while I know a lot about PC technical building, consoles is a totally different thing and (for now?) out of my legue.
I will cut this review down in the follwing parts: (loading) speed, graphics, controller and periphels and VR (not owning one [yet], but what I've read about it). I will end the review with my view on 4K and HDR in general.

(Loading) speed
Compared to the PS3 here the PS4 Pro certainly has gained a lot. I've read that the PS4 Pro uses SATA3 for the HDD input/output and you notice that a lot. When comparing the loading speed (along with the graphics buildup) in FFXIV the difference is significant. Where on the PS4 it took me about 10 seconds to zone from one map to the next and then had to wait at least the same time for all non-map objects (mainly other players, characters and houses), the PS4 zones in a couple of seconds (3-5) and the build up of the non-map objects is almost completely done when you're entering the map. I realize that this difference in time is also related to the graphical power the PS4 Pro has, but is certainly also has to do with the general HDD and CPU speed difference between the 2 consoles. On the other hand, Destiny on both consoles shows about the same speed when loading, where the PS4 wins by just a little bit.
Comparing the PS4 with my PC and then specifically The Elder Scrolls online, I think they are about on-par with eachother. I think my PC is a bit faster, but that's more thanks to the faster GPU I have than the CPU.

Graphics
This is probably the most important selling feature of the PS4 Pro, and more specifically the power to feed 4K display, but is it? I've watched a 4K/HDR gameplay video of Mass Effect: Andromeda (on 1080p though - I don't own a 4K monitopr/TV), and I thought it looked very good. But after I bought the game myself, I noticed a couple of differences, where the 4K/HDR video came short compared to my plain 1080p gameplay. One of the most distinctive differences is where Ryder 'lands' on the planet and her helmet is broken. On the 4K/HDR video she just reparis it, while on my 1080p monitor I saw gas (oxigen obviously) escape through the cracks of her helmet.
When comparing FFXIV between the PS3 and PS4 (aside from the difference of 720p vs 1080p), the difference in graphical power becomes more obvious between the two consoles. Where on the PS3 the graphics looked very good (for that old console ), on the PS4 the game became alive. The colors were more vibrant, you'd see sun rays and the floor was more detailed (texture wise, not resolution).
Comparing ESO between my PC and PS4, I think the PS4 wins by a bit, because ESO is optimized for the PS4 Pro and thus makes use of the extra power it provides, while for the PC need to use custom settings and then bottleneck my GPU through my CPU. I gotta admit though that I haven't played ESO for over 2 years on the PC though and can't tell how it looks now...
I am able to compare games between 'normal' and 'Pro enhanced'. Most games that are 'Pro enhanced' do have the option to toggle it off (WHY?) and the best example is shown with Horizon: Zero Dawn. The 'Pro enhanced' option for 1080p is a lot of extra super sampling, which makes the game even more impressive than it already is. I've also watched a couple of streamers who use 1080p and you also see the difference then between the 'Pro enhanced' and the 'normal' game. I think for this clear difference alone it's worth to buy a PS4 Pro, even more when you take into account that SONY wants more developers to make special 'Pro enhanced' features for their games.
There is one downside though on the extra power the PS4 Pro puts into it's GPU - NOISE. When playing Horizon: Zero Dawn, at times the fans of the console start to blow pretty hard (even on my 1080p with additional supersampling from the 'Pro enhanced' options). When playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, things even get worse with the fans blowing almost the entire game. Yes, that's right, the GPU generates a lot of heath when pushed to the limits, so make sure that there's enough airflow at the back. Also worth to note that while regular games and there's not enough airflow around the PS4, the fans will start to blow out heath as well, so DO NOT place the PS4 Pro in closed spaces like TV cabinets.

Controller and periphals
The controller, perhaps the most important thing for a gamer these days and when it comes to Playstation, a point of discussion. In the past (PS1 till PS3), the controllers were made for the smaller Japanese/Asian hands and we Western players had to deal with it and get cramps after a while OR buy a 3rd party controller that would fit our bigger hand better. And when comparing these old controllers with the XBOX controllers, they were REALLY TINY. It's good to report that the PS4 has a slightly bigger controller that also fits our larger Western hands. And while it's still a bit too small for me, at least I can play for hours without cramping or fatigueing my hands. Sadly though, the controller is still hard plastic and after a while, and certainly intense, playing you'll notice that it'll get moist from your hands sweating
An other important thing to mention is the keyboard, or lack of SONY making one for the PS4, while there was a very good PS3 clip-on keyboard available. Instead you need to buy a 3rd pary keyboard and the ones that are available to clip-on the PS4 controller just suck balls. Their bluetooth connection fails a lot, the battery depletes very fast and they feel cheap in general. Instead you're bound to buy a larger keyboard, either wired or bluetooth. I've bought a bluetooth one at a discounter which is intended for tablets and works very well with the PS4. The only downside though is that when in a game and I need to type a message, I do need to put down the controller
Ans speaking about periphals, lets start about the USB ports as well. The PS4 Pro has 3 of them (the PS4 Slim has 2) with one at the back. Of course, I've added a USB3.1 HUB on the one at the back to connect extra stuff, like my microphone, the LEGO NFC console. Those work perfectly fine, and I can even use it to charge my controllers. But adding an external harddrive for external storage on the HUB (possible since firmware 4.5) is a no-go. The external storage MUST be connected to it's own USB slot...

VR
As said, I don't own a VR set yet and what I'll be writing here is from hear-say. Generally, if you're totally into VR and think you need a PS4 Pro for it, then think again. There have been a lot of tests on the net on the topic. Yes, there is some difference between the representation of VR on a PS4 Slim and Pro, but the difference is so small that at times you don't even notice if you're playing on a Slim or Pro. Okey, when you see the difference, it's on the Pro, but if you already own a PS4, there's no need to upgrade to the Pro just for VR...

1080p, 4K, HDR and my view on it
I've posted a question on the MMORPG.com forums about a 24" 4K monitor and if it's wise to purchase it. There were quite some interesting responses to it with opposing opinions about size, distance and minimum width a 4K monitor should be. But one of the most interesting responses there dropped me to a chart that shows resolution vs screen size vs optimal viewing distance:

Image title

This chart shows that to benefit the most from your 4K resolution, you practically have to sit on top of the screen. In the case of that 24' monitor I saw, I have to sit 2' (60cm) away from the screen to fully benefit from it and if I sit up to 3' (90cm) away from it, it looks like 1080p already Now take this to larger (TV) screens that are 40", then the optimal distance is 2.5' (75cm) and at 5' (150cm) it starts to look like 1080p alread. When looking at the maximum on this chart (145" - anyone even has a TV like this ) you gotta sit a bit under 10' (300cm) for the optimal distance and from around 19' (570cm) it looks like 1080p (and not take into account that in Japan the TV broadcasters are already using 8K...). This makes me wonder how useful 5K is in general.

Then about HDR. I've read a post that people would benefit more from 1080p HDR than from 4K (with or without HDR) and that's very interesting. Even more that up to now there are NO 1080p HDR screens available, but instead all HDR screens are 4K (see my point just above here). But that's going to change. SONY has finally seen the light and announced their Bravia 1080p HDR line of TVs, a step most likely intended for PS4 users, but also XB1 Scorpio users will benefit from it. And I think that when these TVs hit the market later this year, the PS4 Pro might become an even better console than it already is, because now developers have choises to make when using 4K and where to cut performance. But when you use 1080p with the 'Pro enhanced' options (super sampling and more details mostly) along with HDR, gaming on the PS4 Pro might just become a bit more awesome than it already is!



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Reviewing games and how I'll be doing it
08 April 2017
Posted in Reviews

I've been reading reviews about (Playstation) games a lot lately, and I found them lacking on serveral fronts. My main complaint is that most of these reviews feel like paid reviews, where every game gets at least 9/10 while at times games feel like utter crap and totally don't live up the promises or expectation (yes I'm looking at you Mass Effect:Andromeda ). This also might be because a lot of gaming reviewers get a free copy and don't care about playing through a game within a couple of hours, while the game itself costs 65 or even more!
The other problem I have with gaming reviews is that only the 'major titles' are reviewed. When you're playing an indie game or a less known AAA-game, you have to search the internet for a (decent) review, or even turn to YouTube for some gameplay videos to see what the game is like.

With the revival of the Pages from Sages site, and me now playing a lot on the Playstation 4, I figured to start reviewing the games I play without adding a number to it. The ratings given to g ames are all personal and what I think is an awesome game, you might think sucks balls (and vice versa). Instead, I'll just write my opinion on the game (I might make vlogs later on) with a couple of points you might take into account when buying the game.

What I think is important to a game is totally different from (professional) game reviewers on some points. Here's how I'll be reviewing games:
  - Price per hour
  - Graphics
  - Music & sound effects
  - General gaming atmosphere
  - Promises / expectations (hype) vs delivery
  - Boxed vs Digital

I realize that 3 out of 6 are pretty regular, while 'Price per hour' and 'General gaming atmosphere' are the odd ones. Let me try to explain the other trhee though...

Price per hour
My brother and I have been playing computer games for over 30 years by now. We started out with the Atari 2600 system and have seen the whole gaming (r)evolution through home computers, PCs and consoles. And we both think that over time the main focus has been shifted the wrong way. Where in the past you'd have (by our current standards) ugly graphics and sounds with kick-ass gameplay that you could play for 100s of hours (Baldur's Gate and The Elder Scrolls Morrowind), now you'd have the opposite. Games tend to become more and more polished (Horizon: Zero Dawn) with almost all dialogues being voiced-over, but lacking deep gameplay, lenght of play and even re-play value (Horizon: Zero Dawn again - you can finish it in 25 hours !!).
For this reason both my brother and I feel that a 1 per hour played is a decent price. I realize that new games with this rating might not end up well though. With an average 65 for a new console game and the current trend of games becoming shorter and shorter, that 1/hour standard is hard to hit.
*I will review this feature on both retail price and what I've paid for it*

Promises / expectations (hype) vs delivery
Oh yes, HYPE. One of the biggest killer of games (No Man's Sky). Developers say that their games will be the 'next coming of Jesus' and gamers make up stuff from alpha gameplay footages that's not even there (once again No Man's Sky). While I'm no longer jumping hype trains for upcoming games, I do keep an eye out for the hype people put on games, while promises are easy to search back after the game has been released. I realize that by the time I play games (I don't have the money to grab every new game so I will go for either 2nd hand or discounts) the hype is mostly gone, but it's always easy to look back on it afterward and thus give a verdict on that as well.

Boxed vs Digital
I admit, I'm a DRM freak and I loathe the fact that most games cost the same digitally as they cost boxed. I mean, WHY? Digital content should be cheaper because it lacs the price of the physical box and distribution of it, while ditigal content only exists as one copy on a server that can be downloaded to your console (or PC). And it still baffles me that people are still so dumb to buy digital games for 65 and when they switch to the next gen console or are done playing, they can't sell th game anymore. And I'm not even talking about those 'digital deluxe editions' that come with an extra soundtrack and PDF booklet, while I can get those on CD and paper when I buy the boxed deluxe edition for the same price. I personally think that digital content should be at least 10% cheaper and that the 'digital deluxe editions' should just be ditched alltogether. But well, people are dumb enough to buy it, and where there is a demand, there's always some one to supply...
So how will I review this? Once again, I dont't have the money to buy every deluxe edition out there (though I really wish I'd have in some cases!), but I can make a comparison of what you get for the same money when you buy boxed or digital.

Last but not least, I will only review games that I play. Which would mean that there will be little to no shooters, horror & survival games and sport games will be found here. I mainly like open world and (j)RPG games and I can write about that with a passion.

Also worth to note that from time to time I will review hardware. But with consoles being quite limited in hardware, don't expect a lot of that here though. When reviewing hardware, you have to think more in the line of add-on items like streaming cards, new controllers and such stuff...


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