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6:56 PM on 09.27.2015

All of my concerns about Mighty No. 9 have been completely wiped away. The demo is fantastic.


2:55 PM on 09.24.2015

Denuvo is a perfect example of why I'm always ranting about DRM. (Rant inside!)

I've been playing a lot of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain recently. I love the Metal Gear series, and I couldn't wait to pick this new title up on the PC, now that I've gone almost completely PC this generation.

I had been enjoying the game quite a bit, and I wanted to play it with a friend, with whom I had already played the previous entries in the series. I copied my Steam client to my external hard drive, along with the game's installation folder. Keep in mind, now, I've done this a hundred times with nearly every other game I've ever bought through Steam; one of the client's best features, whether or not it's seen as a "feature" by Valve, is the fact that it's totally portable. You can copy/paste your client and library from one machine to another, and you won't need to go online to start playing on that second machine; Offline Mode works perfectly across multiple PCs.

But when I tried to run The Phantom Pain on my friend's machine, I got a strange error: I was told that the game had to be starte online at least once before I could play it offline. So I figured, okay, maybe I missed an update in there somewhere and my files were out of date. But when I checked everything out, I realized that no, everything had been in order. So I wracked my brains trying to figure out what was stopping the game from launching, and I found a tiny, 1KB file in the game's userdata folder called dbdata. It turns out that this is part of a fairly new DRM scam called Denuvo Anti-Tamper, and it's made by the same people who invented SecuROM.

Denuvo Anti-Tamper is a self-proclaimed, "don't-call-it-DRM" system that's supposed to protect clients (like Steam) and games from being modified; essentially, a DRM protector. Well, that's a huge crock, since Anti-Tamper itself is indeed DRM. After doing some research, I found that the dbdata file is actually hardware specific, meaning I have to validate my files every time I want to run a game that implements this system on a new machine. What's more, this shit isn't listed on any Steam game store pages as 3rd-party DRM, since Denuvo has actually convinced people that Anti-Tamper is actually DIFFERENT from DRM, and it isn't DRM at all. This is absolutely unacceptable, and an outright lie to the faces of potential customers.

Denuvo made it perfectly clear that their product is intended to protect games and clients from piracy and modification, and that it's not DRM, which is a giant lie. Denuvo, and Denuvo alone, prevented me from playing my legally purchased, unmodified game through my legally downloaded, unmodified Steam setup. My digital rights were being managed. DRM. Hell, it's DRM FOR THE DRM, which I can still barely even comprehend. Call me crazy, but I'd like to, you know, PLAY what I bought without having to ask permission to do so, much like most Steam games allowed me to do before Denuvo showed up and soiled the industry. Steam's client DRM was plenty, and now we have this bullshit that doesn't even have to be listed as DRM, since the company said so, so it must be true.

When I went online on my friend's PC, this horrendous thing popped up and slapped me across the face:

I had no idea what was going on, so I just clicked Next to see what would happen, and I was accosted by this:

At this point, I was absolutely livid, because I knew exactly what was going on: It was trying to make me download a new file that was specific to my friend's computer. Before I could figure out what to do next, my web browser automatically opened, and I was blinded by this:

What the actual fuck is the point of all of this shit? Are we fucking lab mice to these asshole developers and publishers? And why in the name of everything holy doesn't this piss more people off? Do we live in a world in which instant gratification is so damned important that people actually don't care that their games are going to eventually be snatched away with the flip of a single switch? This is a "not if, but when" situation here. Hell, I got all of those same error screens a second time after simply letting an update download automatically and then trying to run the game ON THE SAME FUCKING MACHINE that ran it in the first place; I was online and connected the entire time!

Apparently, there was a time when Denuvo actually kept track of how many days had passed between the release of their last protected game and the day said game was cracked. They claim that they know their system will always be cracked in the end, but keeping it uncracked for at least a couple weeks is all they're looking to do. Okay, that's fine, I get it; the most money is made within that first couple weeks, so as long as you can cause the most legitimate sales to happen during that time period, you consider it a win. That's great.


This company is obviously aware of the instant their system is broken (for The Phantom Pain, it was five days, I believe), so why is it still in all of those games? There are games that were released damn near the middle of 2014 that still have this hardware-locking horse shit in it, and I would LOVE to know the reason for that. They will NEVER beat pirates, and they seem to damn well know that. Well, thanks for just leaving legitimate customers to deal with this shit forever. We really appreciate the hell out of it.

I later found out that Batman: Arkham Knight is also subjected to this same invasive system, and I'm very interested to see if the eventual Linux version of Batman has this DRM; will they actually have the gall to force it into a free, open-source operating system? The fact that Steam games are still client specific in Linux is a bit surprising, so I guess anything goes nowadays. I'll tell you one thing, though: It's shit like this that make me realize that consoles will ALWAYS have a place in this industry, no matter how much more open the PC is. I'll take ownership over a few extra pixels any day of the week.

I sent a really long email to Denuvo calling them out on making people think Anti-Tamper isn't DRM, but - as if this is any surprise at all - they haven't responded.


12:30 PM on 08.22.2015

Window 10 Impressions: HOLY F*** IT'S DRM-FREE?!

I've been a Windows user for as long as I can remember, probably because I've been playing games for as long as I can remember. I moved from DOS to Windows 95 when it was pretty new, and my family just kept upgrading our systems from there. By the time Windows XP had become freely available, I had started really paying attention to how Windows works, and I didn't really use much else until recently, when I taught myself how to use Linux.

I love Linux, don't get me wrong; I'd drop Windows like a bad habit if I could get all of my Windows-based games running well in Linux. But, sadly, that's not a possibility just yet, so if I want to keep up with PC gaming, it's Windows or nothing until we see how Valve's SteamOS pans out. I'd had Windows 8.1 on my desktop since I put the thing together, so I figured a free upgrade to Windows 10 would be a good thing. I had been hearing great reviews of the operating system, so I took the plunge knowing that I could always backpeddal if I wanted to do so. But now that I've used Windows 10 for this long, I don't think I could ever go back to anything before it.


I'm in the minority when I say that I was a pretty big fan of Windows 8.1. I had some issues with it as everyone seemed to have, but after installing Classic Shell, nearly every issue disappeared, and I had a system that was far faster than it was when I had Windows 7 installed.

Windows 10's speed blows Windows 8.1's out of the water.

I honestly still can't believe how quickly my PC moves with Windows 10 installed. I can turn the machine on from a completely powered-down state, and within about 30 seconds, I'm at the desktop and doing what I need to do; I feel like I'm using a solid-state drive, even though I'm not. The windows minimize and maximize more quickly and smoothly, web browsing seems to be sped up, and doing system-wide searches is almost instantaneous.

I'm also a big fan of the return of the Previous Versions tab in the Folder Properties window. There were quite a few times in Windows 8.1 that I needed to recover old file versions, and I couldn't figure out how to do it; Windows 10 returns to the couple-clicks-away method of Windows 7, and everything is the way it should be again. Some of the simplicity that disappeared in Windows 8.1 has returned here, and that's always a good thing.

The Start Menu is also far better than it was in Windows 8.1, i.e., it exists again. The Start Menu is a hybrid of Windows 7's traditional menu and Windows 8.1's Metro tiles, making it perfect for both mouse and touchscreen use. Windows 10 also has a Tablet Mode, which makes everything more finger friendly for tablet/smartphone users. I still use Classic Shell, since I'm spoiled by how you can tweak EVERYTHING, but the default menu is quite a bit better than a screen full of tiles from corner to corner.




Look at that image up there. To the left, we have Windows 8.1's Computer icon, and to the right is the same icon in Windows 10. I do not like the Windows 10 version.

This is kind of the way I feel about everything visually in Windows 10. Not only are the icons lower quality, but the colored title bars of individual windows are now all one single color, making it harder to immediately tell which window you currently have selected. I've heard that Microsoft did this in order to make everything fluid across regular programs and Metro apps, but whatever the reason, it's a little disorienting to me.

Also, as to be expected, there have been a couple compatibility issues; the transition from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 was a hell of a lot smoother than it was from Windows 7 to Windows 8, but there are still some issues. My number-one compatibility issue right now is with DS4Windows, which is something I use on a daily basis on my PC. It takes your DualShock 4 and turns it into an Xbox 360 controller in Windows, also giving you a TON of customization options and custom button mappings to your liking. The program still works, but it takes an extra step now, since Windows 10 itself takes control of the controller drivers before DS4Windows (or anything else, for that matter) can. It works, but I really miss just being able to turn my controller on and have everything working immediately. I'll take what I can get, though, and I'm willing to bet someone will figure out a permanent fix for all of this.


If you know anything about me, then you know that I can't stand DRM in ANYTHING. Up until about a year ago, I was actually anti-PC gaming, because I couldn't stand dealing with things like Steam. After some of my own experimentation, I eventually came around, but there was always an argument that was brought up from which I had no way of defending my ideals: Even if games are DRM-free, they still require Windows (most of the time), which has DRM itself. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore, because if you keep it offline, Windows 10 is seemingly completely DRM-free for EVERYONE, even if you didn't upgrade from a previous version of the OS.

To test this, I installed four versions of Windows in a VirtualBox environment: Windows 7, Windows 8, the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and Windows 10, all of which are/were available straight from Microsoft for free as ISOs. I then set my PC's clock forward 30 years, and restarted every one of the different versions of Windows without activating any of them online or over the phone, and with NO Internet connection. The results were interesting:

  • Windows 7 had a solid black background and dialog in the corner telling me that I wasn't running a genuine product, since, you know, it had been 30 years without activation. I also ran slmgr /dlv in the Command Prompt, and I was told that my grace period had expired.
  • Windows 8 also told me that I wasn't running a genuine product and that my grace period had expired, but with Windows 8, there isn't a grace period to begin with. Activation needs to happen immediately after installation, or problems start cropping up really quickly. Another interesting note is that Windows 8 required me to type in my product key during installation; Windows 7 and Windows 10 let me skip this step.
  • The Windows 10 Technical Preview outright stopped working. I got a blue screen telling me that the operating system itself had expired, and that it could no longer be used.
  • Windows 10 functioned absolutely identically. No grace period messages, no black background, no dialog in the corner. I could even get online and download official Windows updates without a problem, even "30 years" later, which I tried after all of my offline experimentation was done. The only non-activated system restrictions I could find involved customization: I couldn't change my wallpaper, user picture, etc. in the Windows settings menus, but there are so many third-party programs that manage stuff like that that it isn't even a slight concern (not to mention simply right-clicking a picture and choosing Set As Background still worked).

Someone else online had been messing with an unactivated Windows 10, and found the same result: You don't need to activate Windows 10 in order to use nearly every aspect of the system. He even went as far as to call Windows 10 "shareware," and I can kind of see where he's coming from; the only difference is that the things that are locked by Microsoft if you don't activate are completely aesthetic, and they don't impact the way anything on your system works.

For a long time, I'd been trying to figure out how to make a future-proof gaming PC system, something I could use years and years from now ENTIRELY offline without having to worry about its functionality. Windows 10 is the final piece of that system; I'll be able to play every one of my purchased games in the future now, even if I have to install a then-old copy of Windows 10 in order to get everything done. I don't know if I'll ever actually need to do any of this in the future, since we don't know what's coming years from now, but I like challenging myself with these projects. The feeling I get when I finally figure out something like this is pretty nice, and it's also nice to know that I'm in full and complete control of everything I've bought. I still plan on re-playing a ton of my games in the future, the same way I do now with NES, SNES and Genesis games. In the future, I won't need an Internet connection in Windows 10 or any of these games to play them, and the fact that all of this looks like it's actually going to work years from now WITHOUT having to rely on any company's servers is thrilling to me.

Anyway, those are my thoughts as far as Windows 10 is concerned. I can't recommend highly enough going ahead with the upgrade, as it was completely painless to do and kicks the crap out of every version of Windows I'd used before it. If you moved from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and had a bad experience, don't worry about any repeats this time around; everything seems to be as smooth as it can possibly be, and I haven't found a single game that won't run on my new system. I doubt anyone will care nearly as much about running Windows 10 offline in the future as I do, but it's something I'm passionate about, and I couldn't help but share.


6:37 AM on 03.05.2015

2015: The Year of Linux?

I love Linux. In fact, if I could reliably get my Windows games to run on them, I'd drop Windows like a bad habit. It's faster, it has more user support, nearly every program for it is free, and there are about a thousand different flavors from which to choose. (My personal favorite is Mint.)

While gaming on Linux is still way behind gaming on Windows, it seems like Valve's SteamOS and Steam box hype is working out for them. Earlier today (3/5/2015), a huge SteamOS sale launched, and just look at some of those titles: Shadow of Mordor, Saints Row IV, and Batman: Arkham Knight have been announced for Linux, as well as some heavy hitters that were already there, like Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, and Civilization: Beyond Earth.

I will never, EVER buy a pre-built, overpriced-yet-underpowered Steam machine, but I desperately want them to succeed. The more people who really buy into machines that run SteamOS, the more popular Linux gets, and it looks like that popularity is already starting to build. There are more triple-A games on Linux now than there ever were in the past, and being able to run them all on an OS that's completely restriction free makes me giddy.


5:06 PM on 02.27.2015

My parents, the artists

When I was young, I played with a TON of action figures. Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-Man, Thundercats... I could make this entire blog just a big list of the action figures I liked. There was a disconcerting lack of Nintendo-based action figures in the 80s and 90s, though; this wasn't the amiibo-rich paradise in which we're blessed enough to currently reside. I longed for the day when Mario figures would be available, so I could break all of them along with my other toys, but it didn't really happen. Sure, we got the Super Mario Bros. movie figures, but let's be realistic about this: I wanted to ENJOY my toys.


My parents raised me to remember that things didn't have to be expensive or fancy in order to entertain me, and they were right. I remember making myself costumes and such out of random things I'd find around the house, and the same went for action figures; if there was a figure I wanted and couldn't find, I just tried to make my own out of cardboard or something like that. They were like paper dolls, except I never played dress-up with them.


As you can probably imagine, my parents were much better artists than I was when I was three. I asked them to draw for me Mario characters based on their appearances in the game manuals, and I kept them all this time. Pulling them out and reminiscing about all the times I'd entertain myself with them and how much time my parents had put into creating them, I instantly felt as if I was being swept back into my childhood, and as someone who considers nostalgia to be my forte when it comes to writing, I love that feeling. Not only do these drawings remind me of how I could say I had Mario "figures" that nobody else had, but it also reminded me of how much my parents were willing to do to make me happy (something I never actually need to be reminded of).



Here we have Racoon Luigi on the left and Super Mario on the right. You could always immediately tell which ones my dad drew (Mario, in this case), because they always looked more realistic than the official artwork. A lot of the characters face left because I'm right-handed, and I wanted to see the awesome artwork as I played with them, dammit!


You can't be a forever-flying raccoon without a P-Wing! Look at how happy he is!


Remember the Birdos that only shot fireballs in Super Mario Bros. 2? The one on the left is one of those. I remember playing the game with my dad, and I wanted to fight Birdo so much (colloquially known as the "Egg Bird" in my youth) that he would just tell me to call him back into the room when I was done leaving the screen and making Birdo respawn over and over.


AW YEAH, BOY. You know Mario found a Starman recently. AND he's got a Cape? He's living the good life!


I was absolutely TERRIBLE at playing as Frog Mario in Super Mario Bros. 3 when I was younger. I had my mom draw this one facing to the right because I wanted a drawing of it, but I didn't expect to play with it as much as the others, which just sounds hysterical now.


Here, we have an assortment of Mario 3-related drawings. First is the Tanooki statue, then a Fire Brother, and one of those incredibly annoying and hard-to-kill Fire Snakes.


Dry Bones! I always loved this guy. I thought it was awesome that you couldn't kill them, and I loved to watch them get up so I could crush them again. I was a disturbed child.


Back to Super Mario Bros. 2 for some more enemies. There's more of a variety here: Albatoss, a Flurry and a Pidgit, which is still fun to say out loud.


These were always some of my favorite drawings. I love the level of detail that both of my parents put into the Koopa Kids, and I even had them draw a few Magic Wands separately, so I could pretend that other characters could use them.


For this one, I wanted to channel my inner Captain N fanboy. If you've seen the show, you can undoubtedly still remember Game Boy's annoying voice, but I loved everything about that cartoon as a kid.


BONUS! I posted this in a comments section a little bit ago, but I think it fits quite well here. My mom made this Kirby out of Play-Doh WAY back in the day, and we just dried it out and kept it. Part of his right arm is missing, but not so much that he looks injured or anything. I'm honesty surprised that he's held up as well has he has after all these years.


Thinking about everything my parents did/do for me always brings a tear to my eye, but I love reliving those memories whenever I can. These are some of the coolest toys I ever had, and yes, they were definitely toys. Of all the things I've owned over the years, these are some of the most precious to me, and I'll always be able to tell you exactly where they can be found at any given moment.


Thanks for making my childhood so amazing, Mom and Dad.


4:34 PM on 12.07.2014

Ralph Baer passes away at 92

The father of video games, Ralph Baer, has passed away at 92 years old.

This guy, for those who may not have heard of him, started EVERYTHING. He's the reason we discuss everything on this website and hundreds of others, he's the reason we have the hobby that we do, and he's the reason that we've become the tightly-knit community that we are. It's incredible that the niche thing that he invented exploded into what it is today.

I'm not really all that good at eulogies and the like, so I'll just leave you with this video of Baer appearing at Video Games Live: Level 2.



7:51 PM on 11.25.2014

Dark Souls II for PS4, XOne and PC DirectX 11 Announced [REPOST: IT SUCKS NOW]

Wow, it looks like FROM is REALLY screwing people with this upgrade. I guess the servers will be split for the console versions, too, but on the PC, they're essentially charging for an engine upgrade. What the hell.




It looks like everyone is getting their wish, as Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is coming to current-gen consoles. The PC isn't being left out, either, as a new, DirectX 11-based version is launching alongside the console versions. The improvements will come in the form of a free update for everyone who already owns the original version on the PS3, 360 and PC (except for the original three DLC packs, obviously, which you'll have to buy if you haven't already); since the game hasn't made it to the PS4 or Xbox One before now, those versions will be brand-new releases with everything included.

New NPCs, better online, improved graphics and more are coming. As a huge fan of the Souls series and an owner of the giant collector's package of the second game on Steam, I couldn't be happier right now. Dark Souls II is one of my favorite games of all time (yes, even more than the first one, even though I think I'm in the minority there), so I'm absolutely ecstatic about this.


2:48 PM on 11.22.2014

Super Smash Bros. Wii U: One Day In

I've been a huge fan of Super Smash Bros. since the very beginning. I took a chance and picked up the original on the N64 the day it came out, and I've been in love with the series ever since. When the new games were announced, it was a given that I'd get at least the Wii U version, which I played all last night on my girlfriend's console. (I still won't buy a Wii U for myself, and this game highlights the reason pretty well; there will most likely be another blog dedicated solely to that.)

I'm well aware that I'm in the minority when I say that I truly thought Brawl was the best game in the series. I thought that other than the tripping mechanic, which was sloppy and unnecessary, every single aspect of Brawl was better than Melee. I went into this new game knowing that it had a lot to live up to in my mind, and while I'm still every so slightly more partial to Brawl, I'm extremely happy with how this one turned out.


We've had HD for years, yet Nintendo HD tends to look better than anything else I've ever seen, and this game is no exception. The colors pop, the environments look like they were taken right out of their original games, and everything runs flawlessly at a never-dropping 60fps. It's a huge improvement over Brawl, which was obviously only in standard definition on the original Wii. Ironically, though, when I ran Brawl on my desktop through the Dolphin emulator just to compare the two, I was actually able to make Brawl look pretty much graphically identical to the brand-new Wii U game. Comparing them on the original hardware, though, is no contest. The level of detail in the new Super Smash Bros. is staggering, whether you're looking at the playable fighters, things far away in the background, or the entire battlefield as a whole.


Have you noticed that I have yet to refer to the Wii U title as anything other than "the new one?" There are a million different fighting-related words Nintendo could have chosen, but they chose "for 3DS" and "for Wii U" instead, which is idiotic to me; it makes it sound like the new games are remakes of the original N64 game for the 3DS and Wii U. I don't know what possessed them; did they think if they didn't put the platform in the title that we'd forget which version we're playing?

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that the "for" in the titles ("for Wii U" and "for 3DS") is supposed to be a play on the number four, since it's the fourth title in the series. What the hell.



So, you can have eight people play the new Super Smash Bros. On one screen. With up to seven Wii Remotes.

When I heard about this, I didn't know what to think, but it's just so hectic and fun that I can't help but love it. I've only played with CPU fighters in this mode so far, so I can't attest to having seven friends sitting next to me just yet, but it's pretty easy to figure out how it'd go. It's the ultimate party game, which is what Super Smash Bros. has always been from the start. I only wish you could do 8-player Luigi's Mansion, all Ice Climbers with infinite curry on; that'd be a fun way to see if the console would explode or not.



Speaking of the missing Ice Climbers, I just can't help but feel that the roster this time around is a little eh. Don't get me wrong, I like having characters like Mega Man, Little Mac, and Shulk in there, and other characters, like Pit, are completely different than they were before; I'm not hating on the actual character choice, since there are actually a bunch more this time around (althought a lot of them are just clones; Dark Pit? Was he really necessary in the slightest?). But I really miss the ability to change characters mid-battle. It's cool that they kept Zero Suit Samus and Shiek, but I liked being able to switch between them while I was fighting an opponent; it put my own skills of mastering multiple characters to the test while also forcing my opponent to change tactics to fight someone completely new.

The one that really stands out to me is Charizard, who was introduced as part of the Pokemon Trainer's original three starters in Brawl. I thought the Pokemon Trainer was one of the most unique characters I had ever seen in a fighting game, and it sucks that two-thirds of that team was eliminated. I feel like this new title has much less strategy involved, and much more outright button mashing; it seems a lot more straight forward, and I don't know how into that I am. Changing characters on a whim was a fantastic way of keeping your opponent on his/her toes, and building up your own more varied skill set, as well.



I think it's really cool that you can not only fight as your personal Mii characters, but also transfer them between the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game. Miis have always kind of fascinated me, and I think they tend to fit in well with every Nintendo-made game, despite the fact that they look even more cartoony than Mario himself. I'm a really big fan of character creation, and despite Miis being really simple and easy to make, seeing them in action is always welcome; I even remember playing as no one but my own Mii in Mario Kart Wii. That probably won't happen quite as much in this game, but it's awesome that the option is still there.

I also like the ability to customize the built-in Nintendo characters. The Super Smash Bros. series has always been so varied the second you start a match, and being able to take what's already there and tweak it adds a completely new dynamic to the game and increases it's already huge lifespan.


The amount of loading screens in the new Super Smash Bros. is actually kind of amazing. Going to select a character? Loading screen. Finishing up a match? Loading screen. Changing modes? Loading screen, and they're not always short, either. I feel like I'm playing Sonic '06 half the time.

In Brawl, you had one single loading screen in the beginning of the game, and then you never saw it again. I have no idea why that same thing wasn't kept for this iteration, but it really does take me out of the mood when I feel like I actually have enough time in between matches that I can put the controller down. After a game that had instant transitions, shouldn't the newer game on the more powerful hardware be able to do the same thing? It's a little staggering that loading screens even exist in this game, let alone how many of them there are.

EDIT: After getting the Wii U online and downloading an update for the game, it seems like the loading screens have at least been shortened. They're much more bearable now, but it still kind of sucks that they exist. Brawl majorly spoiled me in that regard.

Anyway, there are my two cents. I love this series so much, and I'm super excited that we're finally able to enjoy a new one. While Brawl will always hold a special place in my heart, it's nice to start from square one again, rehoning my skills that have no doubt gotten rusty over the years. And hey, maybe online play will work well enough this time that I'll actually want to utilize it more than once!


6:03 AM on 10.15.2014

The Evil Within: Quick PC Thoughts

I was able to get The Evil Within at launch for a pretty good price, so I decided to jump on it. I've only played a little bit of the game, but I wanted to say a few things about the PC version.

First, unfortunately, the PC version reeks of being a console port. Now, console ports aren't necessarily bad by default, but this one has barely anything that actually takes advantage of the fact that it's on the PC, so it's kind of hard to overlook. First of all, there are barely any graphics settings outside of shadow quality and anti-aliasing; you're not going to be doing a lot of tweaking here. Second, there are HUGE black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This can be modified with console commands, but that shouldn't have to be something we have to mess with through text, and the lack of actual visual customization is kind of a twist of the proverbial knife. Not only that, but some of the scene transitions look really weird without that super-widescreen aspect ratio. Still, the game is graphically beautiful, and I'm sure it'll be updated to be a bit more user friendly in the future (Bethesda has already confirmed that patches are coming).

The thing that gets me is the framerate: Initially, it's locked to 30fps. It can be unlocked with one of the console commands I mentioned earlier, but I don't recommend changing it, since the framerate is really janky in The Evil Within. I have a pretty capable desktop now, and after trying both locked and unlocked, I swear, there are parts that won't go above about 25fps even if I set the resolution to 800x600; yes, I'm serious.  This is probably my biggest problem with the game so far, and I wish I had a PS4 or Xbox One to compare it to, just for curiosity's sake.

As far as the actual game goes, I'm really enjoying it so far. It's sufficiently creepy, and it has that early Resident Evil cheesiness that I can't help but love; it's absolutely a Mikami game, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm looking forward to diving into it head-first later today with my girlfriend, and if it goes the way I think it will, we're in for an enjoyable ride.

Overall, The Evil Within on the PC is definitely playable, but it needs a hell of a lot of work before it's optimized enough to be considered a proper PC "version." While I'm fine with the experience because I didn't BUY IT AT A HIGH PRICE!, I'm a little sick of the way developers and publishers keep releasing obviously unfinished games; I really do wish sometimes that our gaming machines weren't capable of going online so companies would be forced to actually finish their games before releasing them, just like in the good old days.


2:32 PM on 06.02.2014

Modding the DualShock 4

I love the DualShock 4. Seriously, it's my favorite controller that I've ever used, and I've used pretty much anything you could name to me, plus a countless number of third-party offerings. In my 26 years of gaming, I've never used a controller more comfortable.

Except for the joysticks.

The DualShock 4's joysticks really bother me. They just... I don't know, feel like they're going to start wearing out at any moment. Not only that, but they're the only joysticks I've ever used that actually hurt my thumbs after using them for a while. So I figured I'd replace them.

First, I checked to see if the DualShock 3's sticks would fit, but that turned out to be a bust; the bottoms are too big, and the hole that the pegs go into aren't the right shape, so a lot more -- and messier -- modding would be required than I was willing to do. While doing some research, I came upon an interesting discovery: The Xbox One controller's joysticks fit the DualShock 4 flawlessly, and I love the Xbox One controller's joysticks.

As it turns out, the holes on the bottoms of the Xbox One sticks are literally the exact same sizes and shapes as the holes on the bottoms of the stock DualShock 4 sticks. It wasn't hard to find some extra sticks on Amazon, and with the help of my lovely girlfriend, I got to work.

The first thing I did was look up a tutorial on YouTube of how to pull the DualShock 4 apart. It's not too hard, but after unscrewing the back of the controller, there were a couple clips on the sides that gave me a lot of problems. I didn't have one of those plastic separator tools, so I used my fingernails, which didn't exactly feel nice. But whatever, I got it open.

The battery fell out almost immediately, since it's only held in the controller by a ribbon. It's worth pointing out that the battery in the DualShock 4 is the same size as the much superior DualShock 3 battery, and they can be swapped if you want longer battery life for your PS4.

As I opened the controller casing, the triggers flew out onto the floor, but they were easily put back in. There were two small L-shaped springs that were connected to the sides of the triggers, and they're absolute pains to get back into place. The only purpose they serve is to add some extra tension to the feel of the triggers, though, and reassembling the controller without them doesn't make much of a difference; the triggers are fully functional without the springs, but they feel ever so slightly more spongy. On the plus side, removing them actually fixed my sticky L2 trigger.

After disconnecting the battery, lightbar, and motherboard ribbons, I was able to just lift the motherboard out of the casing. This was the goal, since the sticks are connected to the board on the opposite side.

The sticks themselves were easily removed by simply pulling them off the pegs, which my girlfriend did as I held the board (I get nervous putting delicate stuff like circuit boards down, and I try to hang onto them near the edges until I need to put them back). The Xbox One joysticks were then lined up and pushed into the pegs, and the motherboard was put back into the casing.

After everything was back in place, it was just a matter of reconnecting the three ribbons and screwing the back of the controller back on. Everything went back together without a hitch, and as you can see, it looks absolutely gorgeous:

I can't even begin to tell you how much better the Xbox One sticks feel over the stock DualShock 4 sticks. Everything is just as smooth as when I took the controller out of the package, and I couldn't be happier; the Xbox One sticks are a bit taller than the stock DualShock 4 sticks, but the difference is barely noticeable. This controller is perfect now, as far as I'm concerned, and combined with the XInput wrapper for Windows, there's no better controller for PC gaming.

How about everyone else? Anyone dabble in controller modding in the past?

EDIT: It turns out that there are microscopic slots in the controller where the trigger springs are actually supposed to go. Once I figured that out and got the springs to go in, everything felt great when it was put back together. Even with the springs, my L2 trigger doesn't stick anymore, so I suspect that the spring wasn't fit correctly out of the box. (More than one person has reported sticky triggers on these controllers.)   read

9:09 AM on 05.06.2014

Five more things about pedrovay2003

Ooh, it's been a while since we've done one of these, hasn't it? Well, we've all had life updates, I'm sure, so let's get to it! (I'm only doing five, since I've done one or two of these in the past.)

1. I've been published in an actual gaming magazine

Remember when you could actually pick up a magazine made of paper, instead of reading it online? Well, I've recently been doing some writing for Pure Nintendo Magazine, and one of my articles got printed in the actual, physical publication. As a mass communication major and writer, this is still the coolest thing that's happened to me in a while. I'm pissed that the editor used an old copy of the story, though, with some grammatical errors; you can't exactly fix something like that after it's been printed.

2. While I constantly talk about how I hate DRM, I love Steam

Want to know a secret about Steam? It's not actually DRM. Steam's CEG component is its consumer-locking DRM system, and it's completely optional when publishing a game to the platform.

The key word there is "platform." As a platform, I love Steam, and I only WISH consoles could do all the things it does. There are plenty of games that use Steam only as a delivery service, and I'll gladly take those PC versions over console versions any day of the week. I just wish developers/publishers, Valve included, respected their customers enough to know how to use Steam and how to not use it; it's not like Steam's DRM actually slows piracy down or anything, anyway.

3. I can't stand touchscreens

See that picture? That's a picture of my phone, and I love it.

I'm typing this blog on my girlfriend's Kindle Fire right now, and my God. I don't care what the future of gaming has in store, physical buttons will ALWAYS be better than anything that has to do with touch sensitivity. The feedback you get from actually feeling the movement of buttons, a joystick, or a mouse under your finders/hand will never, ever be accurately emulated by merely touching a flat surface. The occasional touch feature in 3DS games and the like are fine, but as a main method of control, no thanks; I generally won't even play an Android game without a controller.

4. I'm very interested in the future of the Xbox One

So, here's a fact-within-a-fact: I think the Xbox 360 is close to being the most perfect gaming machine we've ever gotten. While the later exclusives weren't all that impressive, the system-level features were astounding, and every day, I wish the PS3 (and PS4, for that matter) can do what the 360 can.

With the promotion of Phil Spencer as the head of the Xbox brand, I think we can expect the amazing OS features of the 360 plus a healthy list of exclusives down the line. Yes, I think the price needs an adjustment, and I think we'll get one soon. But for now, I'm hopeful. I just sometimes miss the old-timey Destructoid community that was more tolerant of differing opinions; it seems like every time an Xbox-related story or comment comes up, the bashing ensues without ado.

5. I think the keyboard is one of the worst game controllers ever

A keyboard is good for three video game genres: MMO, RTS, and Surgeon Simulator. For everything else, WASD is a horrendous d-pad that requires three fingers to operate and is used to navigate a 3D space. My PC controller of choice? Mouse+PS Move navigation controller. Yes, I'm dead serious.

The nav controller replaces the separate keyboard keys for movement, giving me a complete 360-degree movement system using just the joystick with only one thumb, while maintaining the precision aiming/cursor movement of the mouse. I've actually tried to go back to the keyboard for games like Half-Life 2 and Metro 2033, and I just can't. And don't even get me started on the original Thief games, which are carpal tunnel sources if you use the keyboard with their three million movement keys.

So, there we have it. I hope I made these interesting enough!   read

4:12 PM on 12.30.2013

PSA: FlingSmash with Wii Remote Plus $14.97 at Kmart

I guess the guys at Kmart don't know that the Wii Remote is compatible with the Wii U, because they're currently getting rid of all their copies of FlingSmash -- which comes with a black Wii Remote Plus -- for the paltry price of $14.97. I don't have any stores around me that have any in stock, but the website seems to have them ready right now.

I already have four Wii Remotes, two of them being Remote Pluses and two of them having separate MotionPlus boxes jacked into them, and even I'm thinking of grabbing this just on principle alone. That's a fantastic price, even if the game is mediocre, and to have it work right out of the box with Nintendo's current console offering? Yeah, that sounds good to me.   read

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