Saturday, May 5, 2007

In The News (4/29-5/5)


GTAIV designer 'limited' by HDD-less 360s
      So you may have heard of them. Maybe not. The makers of Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar, have reported experiencing difficulty overcoming the lack of a hard drive or a next-gen disc format in the XBOX 360 for their upcoming game, Grand Theft Auto IV. This raises some significant questions for the future: Will PS3 ports suffer due to the 360's limitations? Has Microsoft's decision not to include an HDD with their Core system hurt them? For that matter, is this proof that Sony has made the right decisions? The answer to all three of those questions is "yes."
      Due to the lack of a next-gen disc format or even a hard drive standard for all XBOX 360's, I believe that they have not only hindered developer's options, as they must always design for the lowest common denominator (the 360 Core unit), but hurt gamers as well. Sony, as a result has a lot of great tech that truly does "future-proof" their system, but will not be fully exploited other than by PS3-exclusive games.
      At the beginning of this generation, many criticized Sony's decision to make a Blu-ray drive standard, citing many early XBOX 360 games that used extensive compression to overcome the lack of space of the DVD9. But now, we see that those people were wrong, and that as these games get more and more "next-gen," they'll require more space, on both the disc and hard drive, something that the XBOX 360 can't offer. But only time will tell if this hardware advantage for Sony will lead to more exclusive games or dumbed down ports.

Downloadable PS1 Games Now Playable on PS3
      Speaking of Sony, you can now play PlayStation games purchased from the PlayStation Network Store on your PS3 (previously only playable on PSP). This is something that should have been done from the beginning, but now that it finally has been implemented, at least we can say that Sony is handling it pretty well: If you've already bought a game from the Store, you can upgrade it to the PS3-compatible version for free. It seems that Sony is finally starting to "get it."
      If they keep this up, Sony may end up having the most advanced downloadable game service of the consoles. While Nintendo will undoubtedly have the most appealing retro selection available and Microsoft currently holds the "original content" title, Sony could establish itself as the most innovative: Download a title to your PS3. Play it. Then move the save to your PSP and play it on the go. Then update the save file on the PS3 and play it on your TV again. You can do that.

Wii's First Original Downloadable
      While the actual story about the Impossible Mission remake isn't that compelling or note-worthy, the fact that the Wii's Virtual Console is going to finally begin getting original titles is certainly significant. Where will they promote these games? Will they stay inside the Virtual Console proper? My honest prediction is that Nintendo will send out messages either for all new original titles or for select few original titles to all Wii owners, much in the same manner that they send messages for system updates or new channels.
      Now, putting advertisement boxes throughout the Wii console the way Microsoft can for the XBOX 360 wouldn't work very well, though, because the interface simply wasn't designed for it. And does this mean that the Wii Connect24 service will finally get some use? I'm just hoping that a) there'll be plenty of original titles, and b) there'll be an option to automatically download each one, either while it's on, in the background during gameplay or whatever, or while it's off, so I'll wake up to a new game demo occasionally.

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