An actual hands-on, gamers review of the Sony PS3, courtesy of the :

Japanese gamer Teruma Naito from Oda City was one of the lucky few to bag a PlayStation 3. Here he gives his impressions of launch day and his early experience with the console.

The news footage of more than 1,000 people lined up outside the first shop to sell the PS3 in Tokyo was phenomenal.

I have never seen anything like that before in Japan. Such was the competition that apparently people were going to the length of paying homeless people up to 10,000 yen (£45) to line up on their behalf.

I was lucky enough to purchase a 20GB version (one of only two in our area) and the queue was not as big, but just as competitive with last-minute queue jumpers and those pleading with others to swap.

But those in despair do not have to worry as there is now a flood of PS3 machines being sold on internet auction sites in Japan.

People bemoaning the lack of availability seem to be spoilt for choice – if they have the money available – due to a price war offering consoles from between 10,000 to 30,000 yen above the retail price.

Having only played the PS3 for a day, my initial thoughts are that it is absolutely sensational.

The wireless controller, on-screen format and graphics quality is nothing like any other console I have used. Its functionality (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, music, photos, internet, games) now allows the PS3 to be the only machine stacked underneath the TV.

PS3 owner, AP

Only a few people managed to bag a PlayStation 3

It goes without saying that the graphics and playability were phenomenal but the real winner for me was the network gaming aspect which was very easy to use.

An on-screen map of the world indicates where each of the players are based and obviously all of them are packed in Japan at the moment, but in time, once the other countries come online, it will be an amazing sight.

However, with only five games to choose from, I ended up purchasing Ridge Racer 7 and Gundam: Target in Sight – games which do not appeal to me, but were better than the other three.

Lack of game choice is definitely something that needs to be rectified, otherwise there will be lots of gamers getting very bored with the ones they have right now.

The PS3s internet capabilities are impressive. By using the analogue sticks to move the mouse pointer, I was pretty much able to do everything from view videos on YouTube, download photos and videos attached to my e-mails and even do on-line banking and complete a money transfer.

The only thing is I don’t seem to be able to open any Microsoft applications like Word and Excel.

However, the beauty of the PS3 is that any updates, whether they are system updates and or programs, can be provided by Sony online. As such, I would expect that most teething problems with the console (if any) will be promptly rectified by Sony.

There has been a lot of talk over the last year of Sony’s profits and delays with the PS3 but I think Sony has certainly delivered the next generation of consoles and set a new benchmark for their rivals.

A chilled out weekend that began with a few hours of playing on the PS2, acquired by trading in some of my older games that I don’t play anymore.

RE4 is slightly less horror and slightly more FPS than previous incarnations, but I think it does so well. The interface seems slicker, there’s less really annoying, pointless puzzles and more story. I’m actually interested in what happens next. So I can see myself keeping myself amused with this in the odd moments of spare time.

On Sunday penny and I went to see the at the Royal Academy of Arts, which we enjoyed immensely. My favourite piece was the , rather than the more well-known piece, .

Monday, yesterday, Penny had a busy day. She had her first introductory driving lesson, a preliminary to her intensive course starting soon, and then went in to London in the evening. The purpose of her visit was to go to see Neil Gaiman announce, talk about, read from and sign his new book, . Apparently she enjoyed it immensely.

Well, what originally looked like it was to be a quiet weekend turned out out to be more eventful than expected.
On Saturday Penny was working and I was tasked with tinkering with her computer to make it better and…well.. to make it work. I had a go at it but decided in the end to hand it over to a shop to finish off for me. Hopefully I’ll hear today as to what state it’s in.

So, with my copious spare time I decided to use it fruitfully by playing , the expansion to .
DS2:BW Is pretty much more of the same as DS2, a perfectly adequate Diablo 2 clone. The new expansion adds a new character race (the dwarf), two new character classes (the Fist of Stone and the Blood Assassin) and an extra chapter of story. The race is pointless apart from if you liked the visuals of a hairy midget to represent you in the world of Arranna. The two new classes though add a certain amount of depth to characters that make it quite fun, particularly at higher levels. This actually succeeds in adding some more replayability to the game. The story is a little weak but perfectly adequate as you only really pay attention through the first time through. It’s a lot more depressing than the storyline of the main game which fits quite nicely. In the main game you ventured out all hero-like and caused a cataclysm and the deaths of thousands. In the expansion you must deal with the consequences of your short-sighted heroics.
Overall rating: Four cups of coffee out of seven

Saturday night, Penny’s friend Rhea came around for an evening of conversation, vodka and very alcoholic hot chocolate which was very much enjoyed.

On Sunday morning we decided to have a day out in London, principally to see A Scanner Darkly which isn’t showing at any of our local cinemas.

But before we got to the cinema we had a wander down Regent Street, which was all blocked off and rammed with people for the . Basically it was a huge advertising party for the Spanish tourist industry, but it was well done with festive clothing, regional music, food and dance etc. Virgin Radio also had a live music stage where we saw , currently in the charts with Last Request. Not really my bag, but it was there so we watched.

From there, it was off to the Odeon Covent Garden, via a brief sojourn to Forbidden Planet.
, the adaptation of ‘s novel of drugs, identity, reality and paranoia was an excellent film. The rotoscoping worked excellently for the thematics and even managed to help Keanu ‘Wooden’ Reeves emote. It’s not a mass market film really; It doesn’t have a ‘neat’ ending as such, though the ending works well, and some people will not be happy about the reality warping. But I think it’s a very good film indeed and worth watching.

Oh and it looks like the news of the morning is that the crocodile hunter . Never one to come high in the ‘Likely to die peacefully in his bed at a ripe old age’ charts, it seems like the crazy croc baiter, snake wrestler and spider fondler has succumbed to the dangers of a remarkably placid sea creature. It just goes to show that if you expect there to be danger you can plan against it, as Steve himself did professionally, but sometimes shit just happens.

This weekend was an active one; Andy came down to Aldershot to hang out, do some exercise and drink some beer, and that’s what we achieved. As Penny had other plans. on Saturday Andy borrowed her mountain bike and we took the bikes along the . Not the whole 153 miles mind! Just the 16 or so miles from Guildford to Farnham where it ends (), through the northern edge of the . It was definitely good fun and hard work at times, the worst being some horrible uphill stretches on bridleways. Public bridleways tend to be sandy, never the best terrain for a bike and certainly not uphill. But then there were some awesome downhill stretches. I nearly wiped out on one, when my peddle hit a bump, but luckily I didn’t lose control. The half-way point was marked by a nice half-hour break in a little country pub in Puttenham and the end-point was marked by… another pub! In Farnham this time. After a quick fly back to Aldershot, we cleaned up and headed back into Farnham for some food and beers. Definitely a good day!

Andy went home Sunday morning, so I spent most of the day playing . It’s quite a good game, entirely based on Diablo 2, with many of the same systems and concepts. These include skill trees to customise your characters specialities, item sets, socketted items, primary and secondary quests and so on. It has its annoyances, like not being able to select saved games if you’ve fluffed something up, the linear play-style or only being able to start multiplayer games at the beginning. (Though this might only be the beginning of the Act, not the game, I haven’t got that far yet.) But apart from that, it’s a good game. It’s pretty, it has more story than Diablo 2 (though what story there is less engrossing than Diablo’s tale. At least on the first play through), I like the idea of having pets rather (or as well as) than henchmen (including a literal mule) and it’s all quite robust. It’s no NWN, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be an engrossing time-killer and it’s very good at it. If anybody picks it up and fancies playing a co-operative game, let me know!

BBC NEWS | Technology | Pupils learn through Myst game

I found this interesting. The game Myst being used in class to improve visual literacy skills for children. The results?

The national average attainment of Level Four literacy levels for that age group is 75%. At Chew Magna, the number attaining Level Four have shot up from 76.5% in 2000 to 93% in 2004.

What is more convincing is the level of achievement for boys. The national average for Level Four achievement has stayed at 70% between 2000 and 2004. At Tim’s school, the figure has gone from 66.7% to a full marks score of 100%.

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It’s cheating somewhat, but I’m going to repost an article I originally wrote for Endless Games.

So far Wizards’ Eberron setting has been sadly neglected in the world of comuter games, despite a great deal of potential. Even the the extensive Neverwinter Nights module community has as yet not created a single Eberron module. This article examines the current situation of Eberron computer games.

We’ll begin by looking at the Neverwinter Nights situation. Although Eberron has been out for well over a year and the fact that the NWN module writing community is extensive, there have been no Eberron modules created so far. This is presumably down to several reasons. Firstly, the Eberron adds a three new races, which would be hard to impliment. In fact one of those races uses psionics, another feaure that core NWN does not have. Add in the extra prestige classes, spells feats and a new core character class, the Artificer, and you have quite a lot of hacking to do to create some of the components of Eberron that give it it’s unique flavour from a rules perspective. As for the flavour Eberron from an atmosphere perspective, while the setting has the opportunity for dungeon bashes, the setting really shines in urban, high-roleplaying scenarios. These are always harder to code using the Aurora toolset. Finally of course, Eberron is a D&D 3.5 setting. While this would not be critical, it is certainly a factor

It was hoped by some that Neverwinter Nights 2, due in 2006, might have an Eberron single player campaign, this was quickly quashed by Obsidian, pointing out that it was in fact Neverwinter Nights 2, and hence would continue to be set in the Forgotten Realms setting, in the environs of the city of Neverwinter. NWN2 will be based on the 3.5 Edition rules-set, which removes on potential obstacle for the writing of an Eberron module. Beyond that, it will be interesting to see if the new toolset makes the adding of Eberron specific content any easier.

Then we have the specific Eberron games. Foremost of those we have the much delayed Dragonshard. Dragonshard is a real-time strategy game, set in the world of Eberron. Reviews and previews have been excellent so far, but delays have been stacking up. It was originally due to be released in June 2005, but has now been delayed to September 23rd 2005. Here’s the official blurb about the game: As players direct troops over the land, they also plunge smaller, hero-led parties below ground to an RPG-modeled world of beasts, battles, and bounty. Experience and items gained in this underworld result in great powers and abilities above ground.

Using magic, weaponry, and skilled maneuvers, players command armies from varying races to control, protect–or destroy–the powerful Heart of Siberys. Obtaining this omnipotent artifact will unleash its full forces, good or evil, upon the entire world.

And finally we have perhaps the biggest announcement in Eberron computer games. Turbine Games is writing Dungeons & Dragons Online a D&D based MMORPG set in the world of Eberron. The release date for this mammoth project is provisionally set to the second half of 2005. Realistic estimates put the relase date at around christmas time and beyond. It will be interesting to see how this game fares, as it has stiff compeition from a great number of fantasy based MMORPGs, like Everquest, EQ2, Guildwars etc. Comparing the results of past MMROPGs, we look at DDO with some trepidation, as it would be a shame to see this project turn into another endless dungeon crawl, killing endless monsters for experience and ph4t l00t.

So there you go. It all looks a little pessimistic doesn’t it? Hopefully the next update on this topic will be a little more optimistic.

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I’ve strayed away from talking about the ongoing lawsuit against the designers and publishers of Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas. Especially as every other blog and every single webcomic seems to be commenting on it right now. But what the hell, the weight of public opinion seems to be behind this one.

For those people who have been living on the moon, gallivanting across the country with visitors or just generally don’t care about video games, here’s the summary for you. The successful newest incarnation of GTA, San Andreas, in which you play a street hood who can start his own gangs, steal cars, shoot people, buy and sell drugs etc. Recently a hacker found that there was actually a sex scene encoded in the game, but you needed to hack the code to unlock it. The result? An outraged public have demanded that the game be raised from a rating of Mature (17 years or older) to Adults Only (18+). The US Senate is debating the depravity of the computer games industry. A granny is suing the company because she bought the game for her 14 year old grandson and is now worried that he may have been corrupted. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk a child seeing computer graphics having sex. For a start it might distract him from killing hookers and stealing cars!

So aside from the fact that this game should be only sold to 17 year olds anyway and you need to breach the End User License Agreement first by hacking the game, the whole collective of the morally indignant is quivering in further indignation that such a repulsive sex scene could be found in a game about being a criminal. Violence and theft are good. Sex is just unacceptable, apparently.

I liked the summary in The Register: So, while US teenagers can, in the words of one Reg reader, “pimp hos, pop a cap in a drug dealer while driving a car stolen at gunpoint”, they may not indulge in sexually explicit acts with their virtual girlfriends because “that threatens the very fabric of American society”.