The amazing guys at Digital Foundry have had chance to sit down with Microsoft to have a play, and even breakdown the Xbox Series X. And what a beast it is! You’ve probably read the details, but the highlights for me are the following:
1TB Seagate SSD “Memory cards”
Potential for 2x Upscaling Xbox One games to 4k
A form factor like two GameCubes stacks on top of each other
12TF of power with hardware ray tracing
No price yet, but expect £500+ as thats RTX2080 power!
No Sign of Series S (Lockhart)
We are just over an hour away from the PlayStation 5 reveal. My prediction is the PS5 will be VERY simlar in spec, however you never know there could be some surprises. I dont think it will look like the Series X though…
I really want one, for the backwards compatibility. Yes I can do it on a PC, but I think the single use console and its improvements are a great selling point.
It feels kind of strange writing that, but it is true that today, 2nd March 2020 the wait is finally over and Square-Enix or Squaresoft if you prefer have release the demo of Final Fantasy 7 Remake on PS4 and PS4 Pro.
I have hidden away from the hype too much, and have to say I was absolutely blown away by the intro. Aeris, Midgar, the train… all beautifully done, sometimes as a near shot for shot remake, and sometimes as a tribute.
The game however plays entirely differently, and I think for the better on first impression. Its now like a third person action game, with hints of FF15, which never grabbed me. As solo Cloud in your party it feels very much like a DmC style game, which takes a bit of getting used to, but once you unlock magic and other things it feels like a modern Final Fantasy game. It also took some getting used to switching between characters and letting them do their own thing. I lost Cloud on the main battle at the end of the demo for example.
Overall the demo is about an hour and half long. You get to interact with Jessie, Biggs, Wedge and of course play as Barrett. All of the characters looks amazing, and you get an incredible sense of scale iwth the world. Plus that tease of Aeris and Cloud… I wont say much but you probably already know if you want to play this. If you havent played FF7 before, dont be put off as its quite different due to the lack of turn based gameplay. Instead as you are going through the menus you get some slick slow down bullet time action. It really works nicely.
The games looks stunning on the PS4 Pro on a 4K screen. Will have to wait for the DF analysis but looks like a 4k checkerboard solution based on some of the hair edges. Predictably plays at 30FPS. Didnt notice many frame drops. Really is a stunning title on PlayStation 4 Pro.
Download the demo for free on PSN and order the game now from Amazon or where ever (link below for Amazon UK’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake)
Remember the games of your youth, whether on C64, Amiga, Mega Drive or Coin-op arcade memories, well the YouTube/Dailymotion channel Gaming History Source features back to back videos of gaming classics (and obscure memories) showing comparisons between all the versions at the time. Sure to end playground feuds from 1990 about whether the Amiga version is better than the rubbish Atari ST (guess what camp I was in).
I’ve included a bunch of my favourites from the time below.
If this has interested you in playing some retro games, then why not grab a brand new Wireless Megadrive with 60 games! It comes with two wireless 6 button Mega Drive pads, so no screwing over your friends with a 3 button while you own the 6!
With a lot of people getting the bargain priced and game rich PS3 recently, myself included, I thought I’d look at what is the best controller for you if you have come from an XBox 360 or just wanted a change from the PlayStation 3 Dual Shock? While you will eventually get used to a controller no matter what, its nice to feel comfortable and precise, especially in sports and FPS games.
With this in mind I have three different controllers on test, which are very different in styles while (at present) coming in at around the same price. We have the official Sony PlayStation Dual Shock 3 but with ORB Analogue Thumb Grips (£1.25 Amazon UK) to make the sticks inverted rather than domed. Next we have the Mad Catz MLG Controller (Major League Gaming), which is wired and is fully customisable beyond belief, and finally the Gioteck SC1 Wireless Sports Controller, which has multiple sensitivity settings and a XBox 360 layout.
For £1.25 deliver this is one of the most incredible changes you can make to the feel of a controller. Why Sony decided to stick with convex sticks for its Dual Shock 3 controller we will never know. Bit of sweat after a decent session and your fingers slide right off. Most people would agree that this is a design area to be improved. Since the Dual Shock 4 has inverted sticks, apparently Sony now agree. So besides do these ORG Analogue Thumb Grips do their job?
In the pack you get two inverted, but also two convex grips with additional bumps (ideal if you like convex and the grip has worn off). They attach very easily, you just stretch the rubber over the existing sticks. I have only found them to come off once, and that was because they hadn’t sat down 100%. What is surprising is how different it makes the sticks feel. They feel taller, which makes it feel more sensitive and precise on Gran Turismo 6 and Far Cry 3, even if that is just in your head. Other than that, nothing else changes obviously. I would go as far to say they are an essential purchase for any DS3 owner. They are designed to be non slip inverted analog sticks and they do that job near perfectly.
As previously mentioned, this is an essential purchase if just the sticks annoy you on the DS3. Costing just over £1 they are a bargain. End of article? Not quite, the following two controllers offer entirely new experiences and something that XBox 360 Controller fans in particular will love…
Mad Catz name in the past was synonymous with terrible cheap controllers that you give your friend. This is very different, and the clue is in the name. MLG (Major League Gaming) have attached their name to this controller and it comes with so much, as it should. Why? The original RRP was £99. Yes £99. Fortunately not many people wanted to buy a controller from Mad Catz for £99 and it is now a much more reasonable sub £30 on Amazon UK. But when you get the box you can see how they tried to justify that £99 price tag. It feels like an occasion. You get a huge box which comes with the following… Presentation Case, Carry Case, 4 Sets of Sticks, Two sets of D-Pads, Matte and Glossy Faceplates, and Weights.
Why do you need all this? Its all about making it YOUR joypad. The controller sticks and D-Pad are fully customisable for positions and well as style. You can have PS3 or X360 style D-Pad, as well as PS3 or Xbox style stick positions. To swap you hold the edge and spin the stick to unlock them out. It then leaves a whole which you can mix and match as you please. Not only this, but on the back you can add or remove weight form the controller due to your preference. This level of customisability has never been seen before on a commercial controller and it really is impressive to see. The only problem I have with this pad is it seems a bit heavy, even without any weights in. Partially this is due to the wire, which has almost a clamp style system. It looks nice, and the wire is very thick and sturdy, but it adds weight to the top end of the controller. Its not a lot but its noticeable.
One major trick up its sleeve is trigger swaps. As the MLG controller features real triggers, unlike the DS3, it wants you to use them. Something games like Battlefield on the PS3 dont want you to (they make R1 shoot). This isnt a problem for the MLG Controller as by holding down Start and Select for a few seconds it swap L1 with L2 and R1 with R2 for the “correct” setup. This is a great feature for games which decide for you how they want you to play.
Value: 5/5 (at current price)
Overall the controller feels quality. Even the cable is braided and just oozes quality. It offers up something new with its stick swaps. My only gripe is the weight, bulky size and its not wireless. Sure, the weight gives it that premium feel but it is a fine line between premium and bulky and I think it toes that line very close. If the customisation is something you value, and you don’t need wireless (the cable is 3m which is long enough for most) then this could be the controller for you. I really like it, its just the unnecessary weight and bulk which could be too much for some.
This could be considered a halfway house for people looking for the XBox feel and nothing else, but they still want additional controller features. The SC1 is available for £28 on Amazon although it has been as low as £18. Its stick and trigger layout is like the XBox 360 and it is advertised as a sports controller. Although I would say its great for FPS too. Not only does it have real triggers but, the sticks have a way to adjust the sensitivity, by simply holding the Turbo button and moving left or right on either stick. This m
ean you can have one stick very sensitive and one slower. Its a nice feature and works well, however I’d like to see a way to slow sensitivity too. The SC1 also has turbo buttons and two programmable buttons to give you extra options on fighting games etc. S
ome people complain the Square button is a bit close to the right stick, I personally do not catch it but I can see where people are coming from with this.
In normal mode, the sticks are concave, like the XBox, and provide a nice feel. My only gripe is the right stick is quite close to the square button, although not massively so. The trigger work well and feel good, however L1&R1 feel a bit weak. The Gioteck SC1 is wireless however its not bluetooth so you need to have the built in dongle in your PS3. The advantage of this is it works on PC too, which is handy for some. The pad has a quality rubberised feel which is hard to match at this price. It is typically about £10 cheaper than the DS3 and offers up former XBox owners a good alternative to the DS3 layout. It feels great on Gran Turismo 6 and Borderlands 2, while for sports games like FIFA and PES, the adjustable sensitivity does work great on the fly. Bluetooth rather than the USB dongle would be nice, but its not really a deal breaker. This joypad also works seamlessly with PCs, which is an added bonus.
A great controller for those looking for something a bit different. Its light, comfortable and compact. With a few modifications this could be a stand out controller for anyone. As it stands it still is highly recommended especially as its currently available for around the £20 mark.
Gioteck SC1 Gallery:
To Summarise I have tried to give a “Best For” based off your needs. Everyone is different, especially with controllers and I think this will help you choose:
BEST FOR PRICE: Sony Dual Shock 3 with ORB Analogue Thumb Grips (Inverted)
BEST FOR FORMER XBOX 360 OWNERS: Gioteck SC1 Wireless Control Pad
BEST FOR HARDCORE GAMERS: Mad Catz MLG Pro Controller
BEST FOR CUSTOMISATION: Mad Catz MLG Pro Controller
MY CHOICE(s): ORB Analogue Thumb Grips & Gioteck SC1 – At just over £1 you cant grumble at trying the ORB Thumb grips, while some games seem perfect for the Gioteck SC1, so get both! The MLG Pro Controller is a beautiful piece of kit but for my setup wireless is a must.
I have added to the original article on the A10-7850K the videos below, but incase you didnt see that, here are a collection of real benchmarks from people with the A10-7850K in their system. All these videos are running the fast 2133MHz RAM which is required to get the most out of the GPU. Overall impressions are more favourable than first expected! Being able to run Battlefield 4 on ultra, even if only at 720p is very impressive for a £130 APU. Likewise Skyrim on high at 1080p running at over 40fps average is mighty. It really reinforces the fact that the A10-7850K is perfect for a budget gaming PC / Steambox. The quest for 1080p on ultra at 60FPS can be an expensive one. This APU provides a great way to get on the PC gaming ladder with very good graphics and limited fuss.
If you own or have just ordered a PS3, and you are not subscribed to PlayStation Plus then get subscribed as soon as possible. You can do this via a 90 day PS Plus subscription (pay no more than £9) or a 365 day subscription (£30 is a good price). Why? Because you will get not only the new games for February, but also your subscription will overlap for the final days of January, which means you get the superb duo of Devil May Cry and Borderlands 2 (PS3). For February they are being replaced with the 94 Metacritic scored Bioshock Infinite and 80 scoredMetro Last Light. Both are very good games, Metro Last Light is the kind of game you don’t want to play in the dark by yourself, while Bioshock Infinite is a game everyone should experience.
So you are getting two top rated shooters (3 if you get Borderlands 2) for virtually nothing. They are good to keep as long as you keep the service, and you can renew at any time. If you have a PS4 you have to have PS Plus to play online games, and PS4 owners get treated to freaky Outlast, while Vita owners get Dynasty Warriors Next and ModNation Racers. So a whole bunch of great games, but with its large back catalog, the PS3 owners are getting the pick of the bunch.
New to PS Plus?
Once you subscribe, go on the Sony Entertainment Network website on your computer/tablet (anything but the console), and you can “buy” the free games for the PS4 and the PS Vita too, building you up a nice back catalogue incase you ever get one.
While this is just a rumour, it has quiet a bit of backing. Since Nvidia have been very quiet for a while on the next generation “Maxwell” based Nvidia GTX graphics cards, today some websites are claiming a 18th of February launch for the new graphics card which will replace the GTX 650 TI and will run on a 28nm process. It should retail around the £130-160 mark, putting it in direct competition to the Radeon R9 270.
The difference with the new Maxwell cards is they use unified virtual memory. The marketing blurb is “The goal of UVM is basically to use page faults in the virtual memory systems to detect when a piece of memory is being accessed on the GPU and move the pages to the device, and then move it back to the CPU when the CPU accesses it.” The series of cards will also have an integrated Nvidia 64bit ARM processor to further reduce the strain on the main CPU for certain tasks. In the GTX 750 Ti form it should give performance inbetween the GTX 660 and the GTX 760. If the price is correct, that is some serious horsepower for the money.
They are clearly going for a mid range card to test what it can do before bringing out the much waited for GTX 800 series. Still if you only have a 1080p monitor or you output your PC via a TV, then the GTX 750 Ti could be exactly what you need. Very power efficient, so should be cool too, this could be the ideal Steam Machine graphics card. We await the tests to come out and final pricing, but Maxwell is looking very good right now.
AMD have carved themselves a good niche with their APUs. Having the processor combined with a good onboard graphics card for low cost, has proved very successful in laptops, and ideal for HTPC and small form factor PCs. Not having to worry about a large graphics card in a tiny PC has a lot of advantages, nevermind the costs sometimes involved. With the new Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 having modified versions of these APUs in them, we know the potential power can be there, and the latest Kaveri APUs have had budget gamers excited with this prospect.
What Systems are Kaveri AMD APUs for? What are the Options
If you have a good mid range or above graphics card already, then ignore them. Get an FX processor. However if you are looking at a system build which case size or noise is a factor then these are for you. There are three versions out of varying power. The base A8-7600, which offers very low power (as in watts), while the next step up is the A10s, which are the A10-7700k and the A10-7850K. Both of which are Black Editions so expect some overclocking. Prices currently range from £119.99 for the A10 with the A8 expected to be around the sub £100 mark. The top end A10-7850K has a 3.7GHz Quad Core CPU (turbo to 4GHz), and a 512 Shader Core Radeon R7 graphics card built in. They all run on the FM2+ socket motherboards.
What is the Gaming Performance like on the A10-7850K?
Well take a look for yourself! To summarise the video, it can play Battlefield 4 on medium at 1080p at around 30FPS. Pretty good for such a device. And there is a bonus as Mantle, AMDs new technology for gaming, is supposed to boost performance by over 10% in some games. That comes as soon as the new patch for the game is released. Expect most new games to have Mantle upon release in Q2 2014 onwards.
A10-7850K Battlefield 4 – Ultra 720p at 30FPS
A10-7850K Skyrim – High 1080p 42FPS
What Alternatives are there to APUs?
If you are running a standard mATX motherboard / case combination then for the £125 it will cost to get the top A10-7850K you could buy an Athlon X4 740 (£56 Amazon) and a HD7770 (£73 Amazon) which would outperform the APU and be more upgradable for the future. Plus you would not need to worry about buying expensive 2133MHz RAM to get the most out of the APU Graphics. This is quite a radically different setup, but if your aim is not for near silent PC or small form factor like HTPC then you might be better off. For comparison, this can be seen running Battlefield 4 at 1400×900 averages 45FPS on High which is very impressive for the money. A little bit apples and oranges, but it depends on the intended place and usage of your PC.
I like to view APUs as for what their main purpose is rather than compare to the example above. As a way to have good graphics, low power and noise without spending a fortune, they are a superb purchase. It will be very interesting to see what AMD do with the latest APUs for laptops. For desktop and small factor, there is very little on the market which can match the A10-7850K for its cost. The only downside is that the RAM has to be fast to get the most out of it. While the A10s are very good, if the A8-7600 price is right, it could be the one to go for. As it stands its main competition is the A10-6800k from the previous generation which has dropped in price (floating around the £100 mark) and represents excellent value.
At CES 2014 Valveunveiled a whole new bunch of Steam Machines associated with a number of different hardware manufacturers. Some of these machines are absolute monsters, while almost all are more powerful then PS4/XB1. So why am I slightly concerned?
Well when Valve first announced that they wanted to push Gaming PCs into the living room, one of the things you expect is a similar price to consoles. With the Xbox at £449 and the PS4 around the sub £400 mark, most people expected Valve to push low end (for PC, but still console beating specs) and on the side offer high spec options. If you own a PC and are a heavy gamer, chances are you will want a PC customised to you and you will build yourself to your specification, whether you have a £400 budget or a £2000. These type of people are not who Steambox is aimed at. At CES, Most of the companies were showing PCs at the top end, including up to $6,000! Anyone with $6,000 to spend on a PC will build it themselves. On top of this, the companies aren’t building anything you cant do at home. This is a worrying trend, as although PC gaming is cheaper in the long run (cheaper games, no online fees, backward compatibility etc.), it would of been nice to show console gamers PC gaming doesn’t have to be expensive to be superb, which is doesnt. If you just want 1080p (Something the majority of XB1 launch games have massively struggled to do) you dont need more than a £120 graphics card, nevermind dual GTX Titans like Origin PC Chronos is offering in their Steambox.
So What Would We Like To See?
It needs to be a simplified PC experience. Give consumers a couple of option levels, like Normal, High, Ultra. And have two options (AMD and Intel/Nvidia based) for each tier to keep the main component manufacturers happy.
Normal costing a console matching £4-500. Featuring something like R9 270.
High costing £600-700 Featuring a R9 280x/ 760 GTX
Ultra being £800+ with Minimum R9 290X/780 GTX
This can easily be achieved if you buy the components yourself, so with manufacturer discount to offset the warranty/build time something around these numbers is feasible. Obviously you will need to add in the cost of a Steam Controller to these, but with even the bottom end beating consoles graphically, it should be easily achievable.
Standardisation is the best thing about consoles. If there were a couple of options which took off sales wise, it would mean game publishers could optimise for these, which would in turn bring performance bonuses for any PC with these main graphics cards in the same way consoles got better overtime as publishers got used to the hardware.
One of the major hurdles is Steam OS itself. Back catalogues will mostly never be converted to Linux, and it will take a huge effort on Valve’s and other publishers to start releasing every new game as Linux compatible at launch, otherwise a Windows license is going to have to be added to that price..
So What About the Streaming Steambox?
When they were first announced, one of the major features of Steambox is the ability to use one as a streamer for your main PC in a different room. The Steambox Streamer could just be a low power device, which something like an AMD APU which can process the streamed data fast enough and come in at a very reasonable price (sub £150). This would be attractive to people who already have their PCs, but they dont want the noise/size in their lounge all the time. This would also get over the whole Linux issue while most games are not compatible.
It is an exciting time for PC gamers. With more ad more people using Steam (over 65 million users now), and all these Steamboxes have created new smaller factor cases which you can buy or build your own living room gaming PC. Competition is always a good thing. While 1440p and UHD monitors are rapidly coming down in price, most people while only have 1080p TVs for a number of years yet. This means living room gaming PCs will become VERY cheap for even maximum settings. This is where Steam Machines could make consoles look very old indeed.