Jan 13 pc, lcd by Ebrahim Sadien |
I recently upgraded my PC. I had a reasonably tight budget of about R6000.00 which meant that it was not going to have a cool graphics card. The motherboard has onboard everything. I bought a 160GB hard drive, 2GB RAM and a Core 2 CPU.
To remain within budget I bought a combo case which included a PSU, keyboard and mouse. I bought the AOpen combo previously so I was reasonably confident of what to expect. The Gigabyte case was a revelation. It is extremely light but this is probably because it is made of the cheapest steel known to mankind. The case is black with silver around the front bezel. My old AOpen case was not painted on the inside which makes sense if you are selling a budget product. I guess on a large scale production line, every drop of paint counts. In the Gigabyte case the inside panels were partially painted. The technical term would be speckled with paint, this seems like a waste of paint to me. In a budget box with no plexi-glass side panel there is no point to painting or partially painting the inside of side panels.
On the plus side, the case has a cool, blue light around the power button which perfectly matches the light around the power button of my beautiful 22 inch wide Samsung monitor.
In line with my budget I bought a LiteOn optical drive. It definitely looks and feels low budget as compared to my Sony writer. I will let you know how it treats me after I write a few discs.
Overall the performance of my PC belies its budget price tag.
Jan 07 xbox, tokyo by Ebrahim Sadien |
I bought an Xbox 360 controller from Hori when I was in Tokyo. It is not pink which is a bonus. It feels more ergonomic than the Microsoft controller but the analogue sticks are longer which takes a little getting used.
I hoped to source third party Xbox 360 peripherals from Japan but there was not much on offer. The one’s that I did find were of the super cheap and tacky variety. There were alot of third party peripherals for the PS3 and Wii so I guess it means the Japanese really don’t like the Xbox 360.
Jan 07 Ebrahim Sadien |
Piracy of music, movies and games regularly make the headlines. These headlines are normally accompanied by wild and unsubstantiated estimates of the losses that piracy causes to the respective industries.
One of the popular arguments made by people who pirate intellectual property is that they would buy the product if it was not grossly overpriced. In response to this the music and movie industries have made their products far more affordable. The game industry has lagged behind this trend. Although this has changed with the introduction of Classic Xbox games, the PlayStation Platinum range and the budget range of PC games.
The debate around what represents fair value for a game will rage long into the night. But what cannot be denied is that even a pirated game carries a cost. It requires storage in some form and over time the game is less valuable than the storage space that it occupies. Contrast this with a regular retail version which over time still has value in the second hand market as a trade-in or discounted title.
The profit margin in the South African market is in the region of 14% and given that South Africa is a relatively small market there is not much room for major discounting. However there is a lot of room for innovation in the trade-in and pre-played market. As always the innovation is being lead by small independent retailers like BT Games and Trade Station.
Given the fact that the major retailers employ staff who don’t have know how to differentiate between a music and game title, it’s all optical media after all, this is a market which is ripe for innovation.
Dec 27 Ebrahim Sadien |
I thought it was a joke, a trailer for Duke Nukem Forever almost 10 years later! But I have to admit that I am still keen to see what it looks like after all this time. To add to my confusion some sites called it a trailer and others a teaser, then some genius was mixing it up by calling it a teaser-trailer which did not really make the matter any clearer.
After I downloaded the teaser, I went in search of the non-existent trailer. I soon realised that it was a fools errand, a bit like believing that DNF will be on sale shortly after Christmas.
I have played all the previous instalments and even had a DNF wallpaper on my desktop for years while I waited in vain for any news of a release date.
Duke was the first game that I played on a LAN which is probably why it holds a special significance for me. But I think the strippers, cinema action and Duke’s one liners may have also played a role.
Now they claim that DNF will be available on console platforms as well. I will believe it when I see it.
Dec 27 Ebrahim Sadien |
And yes I do mean my new monitor. It’s a Samsung 22 inch wide screen, 2 ms response with a maximum resolution of 1680 x 1050. In other words it’s beautiful even when it is switched off.
It has a piano black finish and the design leans more towards an HD TV than a PC monitor. It makes my beige box look extremely ordinary but matches quite well with my black Microsoft keyboard.
I have played a lot of Gears of War on it and it looks fantastic. The monitor has a number of pre-set display modes; it is currently set to text-mode which works very well for desktop applications.
The fact that I have not had to manually tweak any settings to get the monitor working optimally is a huge selling point for me. The monitor has a three year manufacturer warranty which means I do not have to trek back to Sahara in the event that anything goes wrong.
Did I mention it's beautiful?
Dec 19 xbox live by Ebrahim Sadien |
Despite not being available in South Africa, Xbox Live is extremely popular. It requires some social engineering but it is possible to connect to Live servers in the US and UK.
I have not yet taken the plunge but I plan on doing so soon if I do not find an alternate solution which allows system link play via the Internet.
I have toyed with the idea of creating a VPN but apparently this can be problematic because of the IP range that system link uses to connect.
In the midst of all my Googling I rediscovered Xlink Kai which supports a multitude of console platforms, including system link on the Xbox 360. I will be testing it soon and will report back on my results.
Dec 19 Ebrahim Sadien |
I played a lot Gears of War this weekend. It’s a graphic game with some very violent sequences, the kerb stomping and chain sawing stand out as two gruesome examples.
I enjoy stomping and chain sawing as much as anyone. Although on Saturday I was more the stompee than the stomper.
The game got me thinking about age restrictions, as they apply to video games particularly. The mainstream media are keen to make the link between violent games and increasing violence in children. Games like Manhunt are used as prime examples of the types of games which corrupt impressionable youth.
The debate touches on two key issues. The one is censorship and the other is parental responsibility. Should games be censored and designed to cater to the lowest age group which may have access to it? How much control do parents exercise in the types of entertainment that their children access?
One of the first scape-goats in this debate is technology. Once people find or claim to have found a new social ill the next step is to find something or someone to blame because that is the easiest solution. The reality of course is that technology is a tool, a means and not an end. If it is abused or misused then it will lead to problems. This applies equally to other supposed evils such as cell phones and the Internet.
The solution is simple but as always requires hard work. The staff at your local store should not sell age inappropriate games to young children. Parents should know what games their children play at home and with their friends. Teachers must be aware of children who have anti-social or violent tendencies.
The reality is that we do not live in a vacuum. Children are affected by different stimuli in different ways. If we promote and encourage non-violence in our homes, schools and neighbourhoods, it will go a lot further than any ban on violent games ever will.
Dec 12 Ebrahim Sadien |
It’s the end of the year; bonuses are in the pipeline for many as well as some holiday time away from work. I’ve been approached by colleagues who ask me which console they should buy for themselves or for their children. What advice to give them? Which console to buy? What would you say?
Before I delve into my thought process, this is not going to be a console face off, or a comparison of technical specifications. This is intended as a basic guide.
The typical scenarios:
• A work colleague who is not an avid gamer, comes to you and asks you which console to buy for himself.
• A friend asks for advice on a which console to buy his pre-teen kids.
• A colleague asks which console to buy as a Christmas gift for his/her nephew in his teens.
• Nintendo Wii
• Xbox 360
Okay so I left the PS2 on there for good measure. If we look at the kinds of gamers that play on consoles from the scenarios given, you basically have three: The adult gamer, adolescent and teenagers. Each gamer has a particular set of preferences, for adults and teenagers graphics quality and game quality plays a role, whereas for adolescents, its more about the fun factor of the game.
My thinking is that for gamers that just want to have a little fun the Wii is a good bet, however it is a party console. For the more mature gamer that mostly plays on their own, the Wiimote technology will wear off quickly as there is a lack of quality games on the Wii. If on the other hand, you always have friends over, this is an awesome console, especially as a spectator. Because it is fun to watch someone dislocate their shoulder while hitting an imaginary ball.
The 360 offers good all round features, great graphics and a wide selection of games to please most tastes. However I think it is targeted at a more mature audience. Most of the games are rated and there are very few games that are child friendly. You would not want your 11 year old getting frisky in the back seat of a stolen car in GTA now would you?
The PS3 is a good console as well, but lacks a wide selection of games. That being said, the PS3 will most likely have some more RPG and platformer titles than the 360, particularly the JRPG genre. Ratchet and Clank is one of the better 3D action games around. The PS3 has a lot of cross platform titles with the 360 although I would only suggest a PS3 if some of its exclusive titles are on your most wanted list.
The PS2 is a cheap, old generation console. I usually recommend it for first time console buyers. It has tons of titles which can be bought at a steal in bargain bins and the console sells for half the price of the next generation consoles. Getting the console repaired or finding accessories for it is very easy. It is also small, portable, and less noisy and really importantly, does not break the bank.
To end off, for the average gamer (which is not you right) I think it is a toss up between the Wii and 360. A more mature gamer who is looking for a challenge should choose the 360. If you are looking to have a blast with some buddies go with the Wii. For the hardcore gamers, we will probably end up owning two consoles and for the lucky few, all three.
Drive safe and limit those crazy driving skills to Forza!
Dec 09 Ebrahim Sadien |
The mind boggles at the genius who dreamt up the idea of putting a DVD disc inside a bare metal box. The Halo 3 limited edition game pack consists of two discs and a hard cover booklet. Amazingly of the two discs, only the game disc was scratched from bouncing around in the tin. The other disc was securely in place without a mark.
The tin was fairly banged up from shipping and was not easy to open. This made it all the more surprising that only one of the discs was scratched.
I have never been a fan of the Halo series, I played Halo 3 a bit but it really did not grab me. I have been told that the multiplayer is very good and I will give it a try when I get my Xbox Live connection sorted.
I prefer 3D shooters which have historical or contemporary settings which is why I am such a fan of the Call of Duty franchise as opposed to games with a futuristic setting. I played a bit more Call of Duty 4 recently and the game mechanics are exactly the same as the previous instalments. Which means that if you did not like the others you will not like this one, except that the graphics are amazingly beautiful and detailed.
I was reminded over the weekend how subjective opinions about games can be. We were chatting about Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War. No one liked Halo 3 despite it being one of the biggest grossing games of the year. The reaction to Assassin’s Creed was mixed with the majority opinion being that it erred on the side of being repetitive and somewhat limited. However everyone loved Gears, both the single player and multiplayer mode.
This reinforced the idea that regardless of the history, hype or marketing campaign behind a game, you will only find out if you like it once you play it for a bit. No game review, trailer or game play video will change this.
Dec 08 Ebrahim Sadien |
It looks like wishes do come true. I have wanted the Halo 3 limited edition Xbox since I first saw it. I finally managed to buy one at BT games on Monday and I love it.
It took some very exciting driving and I only just made it before closing time.
The Mongoose is green with a single green, wireless controller. It has the standard wired headset but has a black play and charge kit. Although the play and charge kit is listed on the box, the BT staffer that I spoke to did not know that it was included in the box.
It also comes with three games, Viva Pinata, Forza 2 and of course Halo 3. I don’t have a high def television but I plan on buying a 22 inch wide Samsung, 2ms response monitor tomorrow. If anyone knows where I can get a VGA cable at a good price please drop me a line.