Tag Archives: Console

A steamy deception?

As I started to dive into the world of hardware just to satisfy my renewed addiction for Elite (now Elite Dangerous), I thought it was my duty to keep a relatively normal approach to this. This is purely because I am a student on a budget and I need to make certain that I keep a normal life after paying my bills, so as I have been weighing the options, the views of re-entering the world of PC gaming is one that comes with several traps, even though some people entering this field are not realising this.

For some this jump is riddled with confrontational choices of lesser applicability.

In my case, Elite Dangerous does not take an over the moon graphics card, so I personally have an advantage, but many other people are not gifted with that option.

So as some ‘diss’ the PS4 or the Xbox One, because they are ‘only’ consoles, be wary of the dangers of factors you might not be taking into account.

In my previous blog ‘Getting back on the horse‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/07/19/getting-back-on-the-horse/), where I consider the costly dangers of a PC, my alternative thought was to move towards the new Steam Consoles, let’s face it, a steam console is basically a console for PC games (via Steam). So why not consider that?

Well, let’s take a look:

As I personally see it, Steam itself is misinforming the people from the very beginning. You see, in gaming, graphics is key and when we see ‘Alienware Steam Machine‘ with the mention  NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX GPU 2GB, yet it doesn’t not mention, whether it is a Titan, a 980, or a 740 or anything SPECIFIC, you better believe that the non-mention could set you on the short end of the equation.

The steam store does however mention models that do correctly mention that part, they often mention more too, which is good, but all this comes with the hidden trap. For example, the Asus ROG GR8S, which looks extremely pretty with that aggressive redness for the FPS killer amongst us. It offers the option to upgrade memory and storage, but not the graphics card… Oops! Is that not the heart of the gaming matter? Now in all honesty, it comes with NVIDIA® GeForce® 750Ti, which is decent, but it is a little less than one third of the GeForce GTX 980, so how long until we see a 2016 game (or even a December 2015 game) that you cannot fully appreciate on your brand new console? The graphic needs of the PC gamers accelerates a lot faster than the consoles, which is why some games look so much better on PC (Skyrim is a good mention), but it does come at a price.

Now there are more and more places where you get the option of building a steam machine, of course with the added bonus of having parts that can be upgraded, yet at that point we will get too close to the PC again, which means pricing and now with the limitation that it is not a PC, so only for gaming.

So how is this a good idea, or better stated, is it a good idea?

As I go through most new upcoming steam consoles (the bulk ready for release in November 2015), I must admit that the 3XS ST15 (at http://www.scan.co.uk/) stood out of being completely adjustable, yet when we add it all up, we get a £1106.74 system (AU$ 2,355.71), which is more than the above average gaming PC, so how are steam consoles a solution against the gaming PC?

At least with actual consoles, the games will be made for that console for years to come, maximising the game, without you spending a fortune. That was clear the moment you realised that the powerful graphic cards are prices at the cost of a PS4 and an Xbox One combined. So are these ‘new’ consoles a steamed deception?

On one hand, yes, because the steam store does not mention certain essential facts, which is not really their fault, but in the case of Alienware it is likely to become an Alienware issue. As the two models state: ‘NVIDIA® GeForce® GPU 2GB GDDR5’ for a graphics card and the Alienware Alpha at $849.99 states “Fully maxed; giving you all the console you will ever need“, which is great, because from my point of view that implies that this console should come with a ‘EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X Superclocked 12GB‘, if that is not the case than the term ‘all the console you will ever need‘ is deceptive in the very least! So as I see it, Alienware is setting itself up for one humongous issue when people (after receiving local legal advice), whilst the buyer after this will claim for the fore mentioned graphics card, as to keep the promise ‘all the console you will ever need’.

In my view, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Australian Law), might soon become popular reading with the steam console gaming community where we now see that the graphics card likely to be included is already not up to par to deal the full ability of either Tomb Raider or Metro Last Light gives voice to the limited truth of the claim and as such Alienware could theoretically end up having to upgrade their $700 system by a lot for the current customers at no charge (as a gamer, I find that path nicely amazing).

This is not a given until settled in court (if it gets there), but in all this, the slippery slope of steam consoles as their release seems to be (as I see it) is shown decently clearly.

Setting an upcoming hype in average equipment, hoping for that day one killing revenue in November 2015 is debatable at best. I wonder what happens to the sales commission in January when the consumers get either their refunds or free upgrades.

So even as we can accept that there is a market for these consoles, the fair fact is that the good machines are at the price of a PC, whilst only being able to do their console duties, which is of course the choice of the consumer. Yet, did this consumer group properly investigate their options and more specifically the limitations that their budgets would bring?

So, what do I have against these steam consoles? I personally do not care, as I decided towards the Xbox One for Elite Dangerous, but overall, when I see what people will want now on steam, and what people will desire next year on steam (like No Man’s Sky, Eve Valkyrie, Star Citizen, Survarium and Asylum). Whilst there are a lot more games coming in 2016 and even by the time Assassins Creed: Syndicate is released (late 2015), what will that game require to fill its hunger for graphical needs? Will the installed graphic card offer the maxed experience?

So even now, in foresight, there is no guarantee at all that many of the steam consoles will offer max gaming whilst the system is still in its warranty stage. The systems that do offer the options of maximising will cost a bundle, which is what steam machines were definitely not about.

For now I will call these consoles a dicey market to say the least, for the rest, time will tell!

 

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Tomb Raider, A game the wrong way round.

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This is for those who play/played games (on a console or PC). I have been involved in the gaming industry for a long time. I have tested them, reviewed them and been in contact with original game creators since 1989. No matter who we applaud for whatever game started what, there is no denying a basic fact. When Sony released the first PlayStation the world of gaming changed forever.

This console came in the beginning with a minimum amount of games; however gaming changed forever one year after the PlayStation was released when a game named Tomb Raider was released. This game was in no uncertain terms the pinnacle of gaming in many ways. It was puzzling, Action, exploring and extremely exciting. It had 4 area’s comprising of 18 levels. It was a massive game filled with so many things that replaying was essential. The game that followed was even bigger and more challenging. I reckon it took no less than 3 weeks to get through either game. I was mesmerised. It was there for a shock that I got through this new game for almost 90% in just two days.

The new Tomb Raider is served like an expensive meal. Nice plate, exquisite display of eatable items, but a nice plate does not necessarily leave you filled and in this case it leaves you hungry soon after dinner. The game is rocky in several places. It is repetitive; at times it has the same shock effect again and again and at times too cinematographic where you must push a button at the exact time.

So, what are the good parts?

Yes, they had so much to work with. Enough so, that I am very concerned on how this was messed up to that extent. The premise that it is on ONE island was pretty brilliant, the idea of a Tomb Raider zero is pretty decent and one thing MUST be stated at the very beginning is that the graphics are UNREAL! That is the one part that is beyond exceptional. The graphics show utter perfection. Especially when you get to a level called coastal base, you have no idea what you are in for. The graphical part of the game is without a doubt utterly perfect. To give you a little more, this is from the same house that brought Deus Ex. A game that brought several times the satisfaction this game brings. Square Enix is a house that has a high quality established name, so what went wrong? WHY is this game so mediocre in my mind?

Let us take a look at the first level. It is decent and a good introduction to this game. It gives the person a way to control and move through the introduction. In the end of this short run we will have seen how easy the game is controlled and that is what any good introduction does. From there we stop at our first camp. The camps are important and it is a good way to progress and safe a game. All that is fine. Next we get to get the bow and do a little hunting. Soon thereafter you will get a first feel on how good the game might be. You as a gamer will quickly become hungry for more. After a day, when you see your progress you realise that overall this game could have been a lot more, and it is without a doubt way too small. The indication that ‘downloaded’ tombs are coming might not even be a consolation, especially if those tombs cost extra (unknown at this time whether it will cost). I do not know whether the failing is due to timing, due to marketing or just a lack of creativity. The art and graphics are so amazing that the third option is not likely the case.

Levels are overall not that bad and the hidden tombs are nice. The change that the entire game plays on One Island gives the game a good feel, and soon the story will narrate into a supernatural field that is well known and a source of fame for the Tomb Raider series. So, the elements of a great Tomb Raider game are definitely there. However, some levels could have been a lot larger, making the game a lot more and especially longer challenging. I reckon that this is one of the two great flaws in this game. The game does have many decent sides, again, it tends to get repetitive when Lara is dumped in the deep end, suddenly surrounded by overwhelming forces and then the fight starts again. I can understand that approach to happen once or twice, but it happens too often, I would state that this is a big No in my book. This repetition becomes tedious after a while. This is odd way to go, because the approach with stealth kills with a bow is actually a very nice twist for the player. In addition we soon have an idea who is two-timing us, so the average gamer will not get too much of a surprise.

What was good is in some levels there is a running need to jump, climb and skip in a cinematographic approach. This is not bad, but it again happens too often and then it is all about timing the button correctly, or to shoot the right obstacles. 2-3 might be nice, but it happens slightly too often with too many cut scenes.

What could have been done better? Larger playing levels are a definite! 2 of them, like the Coastal area and the climb to the monastery are sizeable area’s to see. However, getting through the levels is at times slightly too fast. If we look at places like the Research Station, we see a place that was way too small. Even additional puzzles in all areas would have been a good thing. Additional levels and depths as well as puzzles to get through the hidden tombs would have given this game additional weight; those additions would have dramatically driven the score of the game. In one weekend I got up to the final temple, and most areas were 100% completed.

I am a decent gamer, but not a great one. I am certain several gamers could have done the same game 1-2 hours quicker on the highest setting, which again is shown in my low score. The hidden tombs are a fun idea; however, for the most each one has one small puzzle and not a challenging one at that. Only the fishery tomb is slightly challenging at first. But all levels do show utter perfection in its graphical and artistic environment. That makes it all so upsetting.

I would rate this game a 7.5 out of 10. With a little more effort it could have been an easy 9.4 out of 10. Which begs the question, why the failing effort? Tomb Raider, of all games should be better than this in my mind. The second question is how the critics came to a score so high, way higher then it currently deserves.

Important that this review is based on the single player ONLY! This game has an additional multi-player option which was not tested.

 

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