Crysis 2 – What does the lack of PS3 footage mean?

Crysis 2 is less than 2 months away from release and so far, only footage and screenshots from the Xbox 360 version has been released.

So what could this mean? If you cast your minds back to Red Dead Redemption you’ll remember that up until its release, the Xbox 360 version was the one chosen for display and when the comparisons inevitably happened once it hit the shelves, the PS3 version was shown to be slightly inferior, graphically speaking.

I think it’s a given that the PC version will blow the console versions away. I know it’s incredibly tiresome to praise the original Crysis’ graphics but it’s true, however it’s also unfair to compare the PC to a console. It’d be like comparing an iPad to a Kindle….

However it doesn’t seem likely that the PS3 version is inferior. In April last year Crytek admitted that it was “getting slightly more performance from PS3 compared to 360”. Similarly, in an interview with Gamastutra in June 2009, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli claimed that they had almost maxed out the PS3.

While no PS3 screenshots or footage have been released, footage of the Cryengine 3 has been displayed running on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC conveniently at the same time.

Here’s a screenshot from the demonstration, PC is the screen on the top, PS3 on the left and Xbox 360 on the right.

 

 

The PS3 version clearly shows superior lighting and slightly more detailed textures, particularly on the bricks, seemingly in line with the argument of the PS3 version being slightly superior.

If this is the case, and it’s entirely possible that by the time they’re released both versions look identical, then why would Crytek choose to demo the slightly (I can’t stress ‘slightly’ enough) inferior looking version? It’s the opposite of what game developers normally do. It could be out of loyalty to Microsoft, after all, the original Crysis did sell extremely well on PC.

I guess we’ll have to wait until late March to know for certain.

Crysis 2 in released March 22 in North America and March 25 in the EU

One in Ten UK prisoners have a games console in their cell

Want to commit a murder but don’t want to miss the next Call of Duty game? Well if you’re in the UK you needn’t worry as according to a one-off survey carried out by the Ministry of Justice in 2008, 11,200 prisoners had a games console in their possession.

To put this in perspective, according to according to a Ministry of Justice report, the population in custody as of August 31 2010 was 85,600; meaning that more than 1 in 10 prisoners can continue gaming from behind bars.

Prisoners are allowed games consoles as part of the Earned Privileges Scheme which rewards prisoners for good behaviour and cooperation for sustained periods of time. According to the MoJ “the scheme has three levels; enhanced, standard or basic level, only prisoners on the enhanced level of the IEP scheme will be entitled to the privilege of having games consoles in their possession.”

Between 2005 and 2008 the prison service spent £221,726 on providing games consoles but as of July 23 2008 the purchase of video games and consoles with public funds was prohibited, meaning if you get locked up you’ll need to buy your own games so if you’re going to go on a killing spree, best go on a shopping spree first.

Click here to view the Ministry of Defense report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.

Gran Turismo 5 Nitpicking Exceeds Expectations

Despite being released to a metascore of 86 and selling 1.8 million copies worldwide in just two days (to put that in perspective, Halo Reach still hasn’t sold that much in EMEAA countries), Gran Turismo 5 has suffered a barrage of bitch slaps by fanboys since its release.

Here are just a few examples of articles that currently litter N4G’s news feed:

Gran Turismo 5: Flying Karts and Texture Loading Problems from the Final Build in Action

Gran Turismo 5 Graphical Review

Gran Turismo 5 Installed vs. non Installed

GT5: Can this be true? Incredibly ugly standard cars

Gran Turismo 5: Online mode is full of problems

GT5 is full of bugs

Gran Turismo 5: Non Premium Cars Look Awful

While its certainly true that many of the scores given out by reviews are incredibly minor disappointments as most gamers were expecting hordes of 90%+ ratings, a metascore of 86% is very good, as are the early sales indications and general feedback from the gaming community who are after all, the ones who really matter.

Where Gran Turismo 5 is unparalleled is in the nitpicking from the rest of the community. When Halo: Reach. Forza 3 and various other Xbox exclusives were released N4G was spared the cavalcade of articles comparing various in-game models and angrily complaining that “they look less like real life and more like a videogame”. No shit.

That’s not to say that it’s the Xbox community who are largely to blame for the reaction GT5 has been getting; the PS3 community demonstrated extraordinary hubris and even started the in-game model comparisons, frequently comparing screenshots to Forza 3 and declaring it “a game-changer” and “better than real life” way before the first actual gameplay footage had been released.

GT5 seems to have set a precedent of nitpicking, and one that could possibly be applied to every hyped console exclusive from now on.

The fact of the matter is that Gran Turismo 5 is nowhere near a flop. If VGChartz is to be believed (and to be honest, it probably isn’t), it sold more in the first two days than Mass Effect 2 did in ten weeks. From this it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a financial success and with positive reviews across the board this is bolstered even more. Granted, it’s not as perfect as we’d have liked it to be but a majority of the big issues that reviewers had with the game can be sorted out with future game updates and patches. Knowing Yamauchi’s dedication to the game this is a near certainty.

Has EA snuck Bad Company 2’s Vietnam Expansion Pack onto Consoles?

PS3 owners hoping to play a few quick rounds of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 may be surprised to be greeted by a mandatory update a whopping 1752Mb in size.

On the official Battlefield Blog, EA explains the mammoth size as being “in preparation for our upcoming VIP Map Pack 7 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam” and offers a “complete list of fixes” which are:

– Acog and Red dot scope now equippable on MK-14 and G3.

– Fixed a bug on PC where the G3 would do less damage than intended.

– Reduced VADS push back and damage to balance it with the ZU23.

– Fixed a bug where Vehicle Countermeasures would fail to remove tracer darts at high speed.

– Reduced the reload time for Vehicle Countermeasures.

– Slightly increased the AT4’s damage vs armor to emphasize its anti vehicle role while keeping it balanced vs armor.

– Increased the AT4’s top speed and acceleration so users spend less time exposed when firing.

– Increased the AT4’s splash damage so it competes with other AT weapons vs infantry. The AT4 still has the least splash damage of all AT weapons.

– Reduced the splash damage of the Carl Gustav to bring it in line with other explosive weapons. The Carl Gustav still has the most splash damage of all AT weapons.

– Increased the 1 shot kill range of the M95 body shot to counter its lower rate of fire.

– Fixed a bug with the SVU that gave it better close range damage than other semi auto weapons.

– Reduced all weapon damage to the MCOM by 50%.

– Fixed a C4 vs MCOM exploit on Atacama Desert.

– Fixed a bug with FOV when aiming the M1911.

– Lowered the close range damage of the AN94 to highlight its long range role.

– Increased the accuracy of the F2000 on the move to highlight its role as a mobile AR.

– Increased the close range damage of the shotguns to give them a greater advantage vs slugs.

– Slightly lowered the damage of the M60 to balance its accuracy advantage vs other LMGs.

– Slightly lowered the damage of the MG3 at close range to balance it with other high rate of fire weapons.

– Slightly increased the damage of the UH6

The list is obviously not complete and changes to benefit the release of a new map pack and the Vietnam expansion pack have evidently been left out of this list since it’s highly unlikely that 20 very simple and very minor changes to weapon and vehicle specifications would rack up a size close to 2 gigabytes of data, such patches are usually well under 100Mb.

It seems likely that EA have actually put in all, or at least a majority of the data required for the upcoming map pack as well as the Vietnam expansion pack, something which contains just 4 new maps, 6 new vehicles and 15 new weapons and would easily fit inside an update 1752Mb in size.

If this is the case, it means that when Bad Company 2: Vietnam is released, you’ll just be paying $15 to unlock content already existent on your hard drive, a practice that EA already have some experience of, with the actually content downloaded once purchasing Bad Company’s Onslaught mode being less than 1Mb in size. Gamers could also pay to unlock content in EA’s Tiger Woods 2007 that could easily be unlocked by playing through the game. A quick web search reveals hordes of gamers frustrated by this increasingly common practice, one which is not just utilised by EA.

It’s easy to see why this is done, paying for extra content and not having to wait for it to download is a lot more appealing than the alternative but then it’s also easy to see why the principle of paying for content you already possess can be irksome to gamers.

The Hypocrisy of the Medal of Honour Taliban Controversy

For those of you living under a massive rock, the latest incarnation of long-running first person shooter franchise Medal of Honour was released earlier this month to generally positive but few gushing-with-praise reviews and selling a hugely respectable 1.5 million copies worldwide in the first five days of release thanks largely to an extensive marketing campaign, no small feat for a reboot of an IP that has festered over the last few years.

However the release was overshadowed by possibly the largest video game controversy (that’s right another one) since Modern Warfare 2’s ‘how man holiday-goers can you shoot in the face?’ level. It seems that when you make a game that pitches you, as a member of the US army, against the Taliban, the logical decision to make the Taliban the playable opposing force in the multiplayer mode isn’t acceptable.

Fox News were typically ‘fair and balanced’ about the whole situation:

On top of this, UK defence secretary Liam Fox was quick to speak out and was quoted as saying:

“It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”

Canadian defence minister Peter Mackay was quick to read the minds of all 30 million people in his country:

“I find it wrong to have anyone, children in particular, playing the role of the Taliban. I’m sure most Canadians are uncomfortable and angry about this.”

Putting aside the obvious fact that in his country it’s the ESRB that is responsible for the T rating that the game has earned which enables ‘children’ to play the game, not Electronic Arts, the whole controversy over the matter is a shameless hypocrisy for two very simple reasons:

1. It was seemingly fine to play as a Nazi in the previous Medal of Honour Games

That’s right, all previous incarnations of the series which pitted the player against the Nazis have featured multiplayer modes that let you take control of members of a political group responsible for the deaths of:

  • 6 million Jews
  • 2 million Soviet prisoners of war
  • 2 million poles
  • 250,000 disabled people
  • 200,000 gypsies
  • 15,000  homosexuals

Granted, none of the games were as callous as to let the player take part in any of this but the newest game doesn’t let you kill any civilians either, instead it simply focuses on the conflict between the US army and the Taliban, or at least it did until the developers caved in to pressure and renamed them the ‘opposing force’.

EA representative Amanda Taggart was quick to point out the logical necessity of having the Taliban in the multiplayer mode, just like the Nazis in the previous games were also a necessity, saying:

“If someone’s the cop, someone’s gotta be the robber, someone’s gotta be the pirate and someone’s gotta be the alien.”

It’s true that the war against the Taliban is still ongoing whereas the war against the Nazi party has long been over, although fringe groups still exist, but anyone who compared the Taliban with the Nazi party would certainly agree that the latter ‘s actions were by far more devastating and immoral than anything the Taliban has ever done. And despite the fact that the Nazi party was disbanded a long time ago, most of the criticisms about the latest Medal of Honour game don’t stem from the fact that the Taliban are still active, but more that they’re responsible for the deaths of many citizens from the Western countries that are criticising the game, a charge that can also be pointed at the Nazis.

All of which brings me nicely onto the second reason why the controversy is hypocritical:

2.The forces fighting the Taliban aren’t beyond moral criticism.

The War in Afghanistan, as well as being condemned as illegal by many, has also seen the estimated deaths of between 8,991 and 28,583 civilians killed as a result of US led military actions, far exceeding the civilian casualties enacted on the West by the Taliban.

In addition to this there is a vast array of documented civil rights abuses, from the illegal detentions in Guantanamo Bay to the beating to death of an innocent taxi driver at Bagram Air Base, actions widely condemned by human rights groups from across the globe.

Without wanting to enter a drawn out political debate about the necessity of the War in Afghanistan, the civil rights abuses and the collateral damage incurred as a result, it seems that it wouldn’t exactly be unthinkable for some people to claim that of the two forces playable in the multiplayer mode of Medal of Honour, both sides are at least equally morally repugnant. There’s no denying that the Taliban is a terrorist group responsible for atrocities, but then again the US and indeed to other countries in the coalition have, in instances, been as reprehensible and I’m sure that many gamers in Afghanistan would be equally as offended by the prospect of playing a game as a soldier from the same army that has invaded their country.