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What a Broken PS3 Output Looks Like

My Playstation 3 (on which I watch a lot of MLB.tv) has decided to give up the ghost and now just displays this after a few minutes:

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A Logical Title

Apparently, according to Joystiq, this was originally the title of chapter 14 of Uncharted 2.

How you can not approve this is beyond me.

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On the Road to The Show

I’m very much enjoying the challenge of playing the “Road to the Show” mode in MLB10. This is my first experience with the Sony-developed baseball game, and it’s a really polished sim.

It’s basically baseball crossed with an RPG, like the similar modes in EA’s games (which I also enjoyed in NHL10). You create a position player, and play as that player through an entire career. I chose to play as a starting pitcher—but of course, I began in middle/late relief and had to work my way into the pitching rotation in AA ball to start.

As I posted before, you can take captures of plays in the game. Here’s a highlight reel of my strikeouts from a few games ago:

And one of a single play where I took one for the team:

(There are a few things in there that break the illusion, like the background music going across clips in the highlight reel, but it’s a neat feature anyway. It helps people who don’t have capture rigs.)

I’m a couple of months into the season and pitching late in the rotation (still in AA). It’s fun to learn how to pitch around people and how to work with relatively low velocity and bad control (I’m a rookie, after all). I’ve got four pitches: a 4-seam, a 2-seam, a change, and a slider. My strikeouts are all based on speed changes and pitch location. No CGs yet, but three quality starts to my name. I can make it about 7 innings, and then the coach takes me out if I get a single dude on base.

Yes, it’s really fun. The presentation is amazing, but I’ve seen a few bugs in the lower-thirds displayed and even in the commentary. I’m willing to deal with that for the sake of playing a pretty realistic baseball sim.

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I Suppose I’m Happy I Didn’t Pre-Order

This is a strong review of Final Fantasy XIII, and it’s chock full of harsh language, but if half of this is true, I’ll be waiting for FFXIII to get cheaper before I buy it.

​You guys know my love of Final Fantasy. You know how excited I was when Final Fantasy XIII came out on March 9th. I’ve probably mentioned my ridiculous college thesis on TR a dozen or so times. As nerdy as I am, there’s not a lot of things I consider myself a total lunatic for, but Final Fantasy is definitely one of them.

And yet, although it pains me, I must admit hate Final Fantasy XIII. Hate it. Hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it.

Oh, I tried to deny it. Tried to tell myself I was enjoying it. That it would pick up. That I could finish the main story even if I decided to skip the side quests this time. But I can’t. I’ve played through 25 hours (and completed Chapter 9, FYI) and I cannot subject myself to another minute of “playing” this horrible, horrible game.

The whole review is here at Topless Robot. (via Jenn Cutter.)

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MLB 10: The Show: First Impressions

I haven’t bought a baseball game in a few years—not since the 2K Sports series was still on top. But this year, after reading some fantastic reviews and seeing that last year’s game was well-loved by a lot of people, I decided to take a shot and grab MLB 10. I played a couple of innings tonight and here’s what I think so far:

  • The computer is a jerk of a pitcher, which is a good thing. It pitches around you, it mixes up pitch types, and it generally does what it can to keep you behind in the count. I like this. Even though I can’t currently hit very well, it’s a good challenge.
  • The animations and the environments are pretty good-looking. Busch looks pretty much like Busch. Fredbird looks pretty much like Fredbird. The players are as always hit or miss, but I think they look good more often than not.
  • The sound is incredible.
  • Umpires call different strike zones, and the game keeps a rotation of umpires, so you can “get used” to one umpire’s zone over another’s.
  • There are so many options here that I’m sure I’ll never even touch half of them. Custom crowd chants and heckles you can record yourself, custom walk-out music editing, league and player career options… a lot of stuff.
  • The built-in movie editor, while crappy in resolution, is a pretty neat way of showing people things you’ve done in-game. It even includes sound, which is better than the EA series. You can either export a specific play, or cut together a compilation of plays for a mini-highlight reel, which you can influence by setting camera change points and everything.

I didn’t play with the movie editor for very long, but here’s a couple of Carpenter strikeouts and a Holliday base hit:

Bonus tip: don’t keep the default camera angle. The “Offset” camera is much better for viewing the zone than the “Catcher” angle.

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Games

Ethan Mars

Last night, I started playing the beginning of Heavy Rain. Based on what I’d read about the game so far, what I had expected was a new type of experience in games, one leaning more toward what director David Cage calls “interactive drama.”

What I found was something more intense.

(Mild spoilers for the first 30 minutes of Heavy Rain follow.)

Ethan Mars is one of the four main characters in Heavy Rain, and his story is the first one you’re exposed to. The prologue of the game takes place in a rather ordinary setting. You’re taught how to manipulate the controls in the context of Ethan’s son’s birthday. You wake up, take a shower, get dressed, work a little bit, and play with Ethan’s two sons in his backyard.

A picture is painted—that of a successful architect, with a loving wife and two sons, who lives in suburbia, works out of a studio in his home, helps his wife with the groceries, and has trouble opening a cabinet in the living room. The scene is that of a sunny day. You can take a walk around the yard, look out the front door, and even lay down on the grass and enjoy the moment.

Between this opening scene and the dramatic turn that comes next—the shopping mall scene—the first teases you see of Ethan’s life and that of the game world of Heavy Rain are filled with light and color. The characters may have concerns, but things look generally optimistic and bright.

The moment that closes the prologue changes everything. After a sequence where he tries to find his son in a busy mall (and can’t), Ethan is forced to dive in front of an oncoming car in a desperate attempt to save his son’s life. As the prologue concludes, it is clear that he is unsuccessful. The closing scene is Ethan’s son’s bright red balloon floating into the air while the cries and pleas of his wife are heard over an astonished group of onlookers.

After the credits, you are reintroduced to Ethan two years later. He is unkempt: his hair is a mess, he hasn’t shaved in a while, and he has moved to a broken-down home in the city. His wife is nowhere to be seen. You spend your next moments picking up Ethan’s younger son from school, fixing him dinner, and helping him with his homework, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to be around Ethan—he barely responds when talked to.

And it’s not just the interactions that give you context. The city is a place where a heavy rain falls without pause. The sky is a foreboding grey, rumbles of thunder are heard in the distance, and the color (as you can see in the screen above) has been leeched out of Ethan’s world. It’s clear that either he has given up, or everyone else has given up on him.

It is not often that a game puts before us a protagonist who is so beaten, forlorn, and exasperated. It’s hard for people to associate themselves with a character who appears to be going nowhere. But in this case, in around 30 minutes of “play,” the prologue of Heavy Rain gives you a context for Ethan’s development (or regression, if you want to see it that way). Losing his son changed his life for the worse—as I imagine it might for a great many people.

As a father, this had an astonishing amount of impact. It makes you think. What would your life be like if it were you going through similar circumstances?

It is a refreshing change of pace that a game has triggered these feelings and thoughts. I also know from what I’ve read that things are only going to get worse for Ethan; I’m interested to see how far this experience pushes the bounds of storytelling.