The Art of the Demo on PS3

So far, one of my favorite things about the PS3 has been the absolutely huge number of demos available for it. This was especially useful since I had the PS3 to myself for three days before The Orange Box arrived and interrupted our honeymoon. I spent my first several hours with the PS3 just downloading and installing every demo that looked moderately interesting. And I still haven't tried all the ones I want to.

Unlike the Wii (which I still love), demo availability allows me to dip my toes into gaming waters I had previously avoided. As part of my new gaming initiative, I'm trying to play games that are "out of my element," to quote the philosophical Walter Sobchak. So I've tried out numerous shooters (loved Bioshock), Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (hated it, as expected), and even Super Rub-a-Dub (ughhh?).

But what I've really enjoyed about demos is their ability to both remind me of games I forgot about, and open my eyes to new experiences. I tested out the Ratchet and Clank demo, and was completely blown away by how much fun it is. It felt like the PS2 ones all over again. Pure joy wrapped in a colorful candy shell. And despite (or because of?) being cartoony and colorful, it looks really beautiful too. I also tried out Super Stardust HD, only knowing its reputation, and was again blown away by how fun and addicting that 5 minute demo was. I really wanted to keep playing, try to beat the first planet, and unlock a trophy. But alas, it was much too short. However, I shall buy it someday. It made the list.

Lastly, I just tried Pixeljunk Monsters. I had played Desktop Tower Defense, so I knew what the game was all about. And I feel very empathetic, because I totally get why some people would love this type of game. But it's just not for me. The continuous march of monsters is just too much pressure. I don't want to be responsible for the lives of my villagers against that constant threat of destruction. If I bought the game based on reputation (and my love of Pixeljunk Eden), I would regret it after the first level, and have to glue my hands to the controller to adequately play through it. But, and here's the important point, I understand it as a game.

There are still a dozen or so demos I want to test out, as well as an entire Half-Life 2 campaign to work on. So the PS3 is keeping me plenty busy. I'm just glad I'm able to dip my toes in the water before diving right in.


Why I Bought a PS3

My second article is up over at TGR, about why I finally bit the bullet and bought a PS3. After arriving last Friday, I've been playing it pretty consistently. Unfortunately, I didn't have a full retail game until just Tuesday of this week, when I received The Orange Box from Amazon. It really is an amazing, great value. I felt portal deserved to be played first, and also that that would ease me into playing a first-person game, which I tend to avoid. It was every bit as amazing as I've heard people say for the past year, although I was a little disappointed/frustrated at points. For the foreseeable future, I'll be focusing on Half-Life 2, which already looks great even though I never played the first one. There are also a number of PSN games I've got my eye on, one of which will probably be swept up soon.

Overall, I really like the PS3. It has a really smooth interface, and there are a number of games out for it that I want. Most importantly though, I'm really enjoying playing games on hardware that sports such a big jump in graphics and technology, compared to PS3 and GameCube games. It feels good.


History of Console Prices: My First Feature Article at TGR

I received my PS3 on Friday, have been enjoying it immensely, but will post some thoughts about it later. In the meantime, I wanted to advertise a little for my first published feature article over at The Game Reviews. I started by updating console price data first published two years ago at Curmudgeon Gamer. What I found was that while game consoles have indeed been getting more expensive, the relative price (adjusted for inflation) has actually decreased somewhat. Also of note, I talk about the added costs gamers face today, beyond simply buying a system and a few physical games from a store. Check it out. I think it's pretty decent for my first article.


My PS3 Has Been Delayed

Why, when I find a Dell.com coupon online, do other people find it too? As I talked about last time, I ordered a PS3 at 15 percent off from Dell. It was expected to ship on Monday of this week. However, early Monday morning I got an email saying my shipment had been delayed. While there was no explanation attached, my theory is that other potential PS3 owners found the same coupon. With hundreds or thousands of customers simultaneously trying to get a PS3, I think Dell ran out of stock. My order is now delayed two weeks, I think, because they have to wait for another shipment from Sony. It's a little sad, because I was greatly looking forward to the PS3 arriving. But I think I'll be OK, because I'm still only maybe a third of the way through Persona 3, and am trying to finish up Jeanne d'Arc. So I'm still pretty busy with games.

Maybe I'll get lucky, though, and it's all a big misunderstanding. Dell, get your act together. I need that new PS3.


The Joys of Choosing

Well, I finally did it. I bought a PS3 today. Of course, the only bad news is that it won't arrive until sometime between Thursday and next Monday. I hadn't planned on buying any game system, preferring instead to catch up on PS2 and GameCube games. Fortunately/unfortunately, last I week I saw blogs all over the Internet reporting that Wal-Mart would be having a super-amazing-deal on PS3s on Saturday. Buy a PS3, get a $100 gift card. Effectively, that almost gives you two new games of your choice for free. It's a great deal, especially since Sony has repeatedly stated that they will not be dropping prices this holiday season. The one-day sale started at 8. Thinking there wouldn't be a rush on systems, I took my time and made it to Wal-Mart at 8:15 or so. They were gone. I think I saw a woman leaving with the last one as I entered electronics. : (

In my frustration at having missed such a good deal, I scoured the Internet when I got home searching for another one. Luckily, Dell.com had a coupon code for 15% off all electronics, including PS3 and 360 systems. While not quite as good as the Wal-Mart sale, it still got me a PS3 for $340, which is basically like getting a free game.

The problem, though, is that I'm completely undecided as to what game to buy. Let me run through a short list of what I'm considering. Please, please give me some input and help me decide. I'll probably mess around with downloading demos, videos, and maybe buying one PSN game first. But I'll want a full retail game soon enough. Here we go, in no particular order.
  1. Fallout 3 - I loved the quirky humor and apocalyptic setting of the first two games, and these turned me on to computer RPGs in general. However, I tend to play a lot of huge, lengthy RPGs/strategy games. Maybe now would be a good time to change pace.
  2. Bioshock - It just made it's way to the PS3 last month after over a year of exclusivity on the 360. I have to eventually play the game that everyone still references. However, everyone has pretty much played and talked this one to death, so maybe I should play something new and fresh.
  3. Call of Duty 4 - Similar to Bioshock, I really want to play the FPS that got so much critical acclaim. But it's older and might drop in price after World at War is released. On that note, maybe World at War (if it looks good).
  4. Metal Gear Solid 4 - This is probably the game I actually want the most for PS3, despite its flaws, but I kind of want to play MGS3 first. So maybe I'll wait on this one.
  5. The Orange Box - I've always wanted to play the Half-Life series and see what all the fuss is about, and I don't think I can call myself a gamer without playing Portal at some point. However, the PS3 version is supposedly the most glitchy of the 3 versions, although I've heard it's not so bad.
  6. Far Cry 2 - I mainly see this as a good way to branch into a different genre of games, FPSs, which I rarely play. The things I've read about Far Cry 2 have been positive, and it's pretty new, but I'm more excited about some of the others.
  7. LittleBigPlanet - Last, Sony's promise of changing gaming and allowing users an unprecedented degree of freedom. I think LBP looks cute and charming and very fun, but I'm worried I would only use 2/3 of the game. I would definitely play all of the developer-created levels, and I would play as many user-created ones as seemed worth my time. But I highly doubt I would invest much time in creating levels. I've pretty much never done that with other games.
So, that's my short list. Leave a comment and let me know what game you think I should purchase first. Ultimately, I'll choose whichever one I think I'll have the most fun with, but I'd like some other input too. And if you think of a game that's not on this list, let me know. I could easily have missed something great. So write me a comment. I need help.

Note: GTAIV is not on this list on purpose. I've never finished a GTA game, so I think I'll probably skip this one.


Writing For a New Site

To all of you visiting me from GameSetWatch, hello, welcome, and thanks for stopping by. I've been pretty busy lately, and haven't had too much time to post.

The biggest news is I've started writing and contributing content to a small gaming website, TheGameReviews. So far I've just been posting news stories, but I'm nearly finished with my first couple of feature articles. Hopefully they'll be looked over, edited and put on the site in the not-too-distant future. Don't worry, I'll always link to whatever I write over there. It's really a great site. All the writers have a great dedication to integrity, and spend a lot of time working on really great articles.

I've also been slowly working (suffering?) through Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee along with the Vintage Game Club. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but it is frustrating constantly dying and dealing with occasionally clunky controls.

Anyway, I've been enjoying all the writing I've been doing lately, and hope to keep it up. Stick around!