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The Black Smoke's blog

4:59 AM on 12.28.2008


There are very few things in life i would comfortably bet my house on, however my PS3 not dying would probably be one of them. Well if i had made that bet then i would be typing this from outside my neighbours house whilst stealing their wireless and hiding under a cardboard box, cos yesterday evening my beloved PS3 stopped reading all disc formats ( blu-ray,dvd,cd ) after freezing during a session of guitar hero world tour. At first i thought it was my girlfriends fault for being such a shit singer or maybe my PS3 hates living on a prayer but once i started to use logic it was obvious i was just one of them unlucky bastards.

Anyway i woke up today to see if it was back to normal , but nope it was still not reading discs but i could still play downloaded games, music and porn. So i called up sony support and talked to a very sexy sounding lady who then told me that it would be picked up on jan 5 to be repaired or replaced with a refurb ( which sounds shitty ), and that i should expect it to take up to 3 weeks, meaning i could potentially not have a PS3 until February. I cant say i wasnt pissed seeing as tho my PS3 is essentially the only one of my consoles in use but i have a life outside of gaming so i can handle the wait ( just about ). My only beef with this is that i have a 60gb PS3 and im worried if they cant fix it will get replaced with a non backwards compatible version. Its not a MAJOR complaint but dusting off the PS2 and hooking it up every time i want to play persona3 is just a pain in the ass, not to mention that i would also not have it upscaled anymore.

So now im gonna play the shit out of Warhawk and WipeoutHD until jan 5, and then i will have to turn to one of my reject child consoles for the rest of January. Since i would rather die in a fire than play my wii, i will be back on the 360 which has not been turned on since ninja gaiden 2 came out. So any recommendations for 360 games i should check out ? besides gears of war 2 which i have zero interest in and fable2 which is just not my thing..... nothing?... no?... ok :(


10:12 AM on 08.03.2008

SCIV Online: Unranked FTW/Kilik is a F*g

So on friday i rejoiced as i finally got my hands on Soul Calibur IV (cos namco bandai love europe). As an avid beat em up fan i have been waiting so long for a next gen fighter on the consoles and im happy to say that for the most part SCIV delivers it very well. I believe with a fighting game its appeal only lasts as long as you have someone to play against and so online is for me the main selling point of this game. After spending a good 4 hours playing in offline modes, i felt i was ready to try out online. I decided that i would jump in to some unranked lobbys to just get a feel for the game with lag, but to my surprise it was totally lag free the whole time. Me and the other 2 guys in the lobby were chatting away, trying different characters on each other which resulted in some epic fights. I got my ass kicked in some matches but i dished it out equally as much (hilde ftw), and in the end 3 hours went by just like that.

Now feeling comfortable with everything i decided to play ranked....and then he appeared....

So my first ever ranked match was to be against kilik and in my past experience with SC2 i knew perfectly well that he along with maxi was the eddy gordo, the vegeta, the sagat of the soul calibur series, but i decided to give the player the benefit of the doubt as he was level 30 compared to my level 1. In the end i wondered why i even bothered, as the kilik fag spammed the same 3 moves over and over and over and over again. I was pissed but moved on to the next match... kilik level 22, next match kilik level 28. Once i got on to my 4th kilik in a row i was ready to just play pixeljunk eden and never come back, but this kilik was at level 5 (nub in training) and with my last 3 matches experience of kilik rape i actually beat this bitch 3-0 but only because i played cheap tactics also. After this match i exited ranked and went right back in to unranked and to be honest i dont think i will play ranked for a while.

Personally i think leaderboards and rankings are truly hurting the online experience in most games. It seems people are more concerned with numbers than actually having fun or for the love of the game resulting in this new generation of cheap bastards with no sense of sportmanship. Another fighter i play is Tekken 6 at the arcade, all the players there are skilled and appreciate the game on a technical level. On the rare occasion a person plays cheap tactics, everyone watching lets them know and even sometimes yanks their ass out of the seat. However i know that once Tekken 6 comes out on console it will be the same situation as SCIV. This kind of makes the elitist in me wish that some games never reach mainstream audiences as it tarnshes it and makes me resent the game itself for even having online.

Waaahmbulance Moment incoming....

Now i know i sound like a moaning bitch but seriously, the amount of people who complain about kilik players is proof enough that the character is just pure shenannigans. Hes designed to have easy to execute moves with stopping power and range both vertically and horizontally which can flow seamlessly on and on. I hate how developers feel they need to include characters for noobs in order to be classed as accessible, what ever happened to ya know... learning to play. Dont get me wrong, im really not having a go at newcomers who button mash (if you wanna pay £40/$60 to mash buttons like a retard then by all means..), but rather people who knowingly exploit cheap moves with characters designed for newcomers just for the sake of getting their stats up, which by the way is futile in the end as you really need to have no life to be anywhere near the top of the leaderboards.

If you actually ever want to have fun online in SCIV just play unranked and let the kiliks kill themselves off until their all extinct.   read

8:21 PM on 07.27.2008

OFN Review: Devil May Cry 4

Platform: PS3

Played to completion on devil hunter difficulty


If you have played any previous DMC games, you will know that the story has never been the main focus, and nothing`s changed here. During the install there is a brief explanation of the plot from each of the first three games, which may help you get up to speed with all things DMC but in my opinion you can enjoy this title just as much without ever reading it. Unlike the last three DMC`S in which you play as Dante, this time around you play the role of a guy named Nero. At the beginning of the game an “event” causes Nero to go in to pursuit of former Protagonist Dante, however as the journey continues Nero starts to realize the very people he is helping are not who they seem and so there is a shift in his priorities. Eventually there is a climactic moment in the story for Nero, then the plot shifts focus and puts you in control of Dante to finally tie up the story and save the day once again. The dialogue consists mostly of cheesy one liners and the cutscenes are short and sweet making the plot very direct and easy to follow. Overall the story is nothing special but again the story is not the main reason to play this game.


This game looks really good. The textures are very hi-res and the lighting effects are spot on most of the time. The characters animate realistically with good lip sinc and bodygestures. The choreography in the cutscenes is some of the best you will ever see, reminiscent of something in crouching tiger or the matrix. I also like how the cutscenes are done in engine and not pre rendered meaning there is a smooth transition back to gameplay. My main complaint though is that I am tired of being in a gothic castle environment for every DMC game and this game does exactly the same bar a brief period in a jungle. I found the continuous grey walls to be really boring however the architecture was beautifully done. DMC is definitely one of the best games graphically but they played it too safe with repetitive environments.

The Music is just like always with an eerie ambient music playing in the background that then changes in to heavy metal when in a fight with an enemy, this is done well but the heavy metal song never changes and can be annoying after a while. Even though the dialogue is mostly cheesy the voice acting is also very well done and helps bring the characters to life and convey their personalities. The sound effects are perfect and add to the visceral nature of the combat.


The gameplay is what I feel DMC has always been about. I would argue that DMC has probably the most solid fighting mechanics of any hack and slash type game and in DMC4 it is refined even further. If you have played DMC3 you will feel really comfortable with the controls when you start out. At first glance Nero may look and fight a lot like Dante however the inclusion of his devil bringer arm adds a whole new layer of depth to the combat. Neros arm gives him the ability to snatch or pull himself to enemy’s at a distance, this means that you can chain together massive combos and free form with much more ease .As soon as you get a hang of it you will find yourself always using it and I feel its probably one of the best additions to combat system. Nero can also do context sensitive grab moves on enemy’s, which look great and adds to the style factor of the game, however as soon as you switch over to Dante you loose that ability and it does feel hard to adapt as you become so reliant on it before, however this is good in defining that your playing as two totally unique people rather than 2 character models with one move set.

Once you get over the loss of your precious arm you will realize how much Dante kicks ass. He may not have the arm but he has way more moves combos and weapons meaning a greater variety in combat. The styles system from DMC3 has carried over meaning you can change from swordmaster to gunslinger to trickster and to royal guard. Each of these styles changes the way Dante plays adding new attacks or defensive maneuvers to the repertoire, whats even better is that you can switch styles on the fly meaning you can chain together styles and weapons switches to rack up those stylish points with ease. Its quite apparent that Nero is aimed at easing newcomers in to the franchise whilst Dante is for the hardcore veterans of the series. I like how this also makes you realize how much more experienced Dante is in comparison to Nero kind of like what they did with Raiden and Snake in mgs2, through the two different combat styles you feel like there is a difference in power.

The camera is for the most part fixed but now the camera is free in confined spaces. The fixed camera is mostly in the best place possible but sometimes it wont give you the right angle for a jump or an enemy off screen will hit you without you noticing. The bosses are big and tough as always, some will leave you swearing at the T.V with their difficulty but it’s the usual formula of working out the pattern of attack and then capitalizing for the win. One thing I hate is the puzzles in the game, I don’t mind so much a puzzle put in front of me to solve but most of these involve grind rather than brain power, with a lot of backtracking needed in order to progress.


Don’t get me wrong, this game is solid and I doubt most will be disappointed but to me the amount of backtrack really harmed my enjoyment of the game. In my opinion backtracking is a way of extending playtime without having to go to the effort of creating anything new. Besides the backtracking from the puzzles or being lost the worst case is that when you switch to dante you are basically going all the way back to the beginning of the game, walking back through all the old environments you already traversed with Nero this even includes fighting the same bosses all over again albeit in reverse order. To me this makes it feel like I have only played half a game which is such a let down especially because dante as a character is so well constructed, it almost seems like a waste to just include him in the game in this way. Capcom could of easily sent the final “objective” to a brand new location but I guess that was too much work. Other than this gripe, the game is pretty solid and the inclusion of built in achievements, higher difficulties and the bloody palace survival mode will keep you coming back for more.

8/10   read

6:01 PM on 07.20.2008

OFN: E3 2008 My thoughts not yours

As an owner of a PS3, xbox360 and unfortunately a Wii , This years keynote presentations from the big three all had a chance to wet my appetite for whats to come in the near future of gaming. In the last couple of years we have seen so much innovation and breaking new ground in what is possible (with the exception of the wii),so I was really looking forward to that moment of zomfg! .Unfortunately that never happened. Here are my impressions of each conference based entirely on FACTS and MY own opinion ..

Microsoft - Innovation ?......

Well lets not beat around the bush here ,they stood up on that stage and with a big smile shamelessly announced their own rip offs of singstar, buzz, eyetoy play and Wii Miis. We could argue all day that nothing is original anymore but it was clear we could see where the “inspiration” came from. Personally I think Microsoft are running out of ideas and are now intent on cornering some of the wiis demographic with a by any means necessary type

The dash update looked streamlined and functional but again heavily “influenced” by other sources. The avatars or Mii$ as I like to call them ,looked so tacky ,soulless and really out of place on a platform like 360, I had to laugh when their avatar party concept basically boiled down to having a bunch of these ugly f*%&ers standing on the dashboard during voice chat ( Home lite perhaps?) although the idea of moving from game to movie to game with the same party in that seamless fashion sounded great . I have to say I was really not impressed with the new concept but they could completely change it all before release so ill reserve judgement.

The other notable announcement was the partnership with Netflix ,which no doubt got a bunch of misinformed xbots happy they could watch everything on netflix for free via xbox360 …well sorry let me break it down. First of all the service requires a gold account subscription and an existing Netflix subscription , more importantly the service is not for access to Netflix entire library but only to the Netflix direct movie stream service which I believe consists of straight to dvd, b movies, and pre 1990s type content all in glorious standard def, so it is a bit of let down if you put it in to context. I still think Piracy FTW!

For some reason resident evil5 and fallout 3 were a part of the proceedings which last time I checked were both coming to ps3 (needed to fill up time perhaps Microsoft ?), although the fallout 3 dev announced some exclusive DLC for 360 followed by an obvious “suggested” I heart teh xbox type one liner. Cliffys gears 2 demo was awesome as expected , the levels look far more fleshed out than the first one , a definite first day purchase for me, but yet again I already knew about gears 2 before E3 so nothing new there.

Finally the “Bombshell” as all the xbots call it that SQUENIX had given in to the money and Final Fantasy 13 was now coming to 360. This is big news in the sense that ps3 have lost a title that would of definitely helped to sell consoles next year , but in the grand scheme of things this is good as everyone will now get to appreciate this title and SQUENIX will have more revenue for future projects…However… The simultaneous ps3/360 release means that the game will be delayed even longer now. I really hate the idea of the ps3 version being ready to go but having to wait months after for the 360 port until I can get my hands on it oh and also If they dare gimp the game in length or quality because of the 360 i will be pissed. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the reaction on all the forums which gave me a lot of LOLs , generally the PS3 fanboys consensus was that SQUENIX sold their soul to the devil and Xbots who previously said final fantasy was a piece of shit all of sudden fell in love with it (gotta love hypocracy).
To summarise then , lots of sony and Nintendo rip offs , dashboard update, a clear intention to tap in to the wii market , failed Netflix buzz , and a bunch of titles that are on ps3 also.

C + - Is banjo and halo all you have?

Nintendo – Still printing money

As I tuned in to Nintendo’s presentation , let’s just say I did not have high hopes for what I was about to be shown and for the most part I was right not to. For what I can only describe as patronising from the outset , I felt like I had some form of retardation no one bothered to mention to me, because every word that came out of the “camminators” mouth was so annunciated ,slow and broken down for my apparent small mind to digest.

We had heard promises of the hardcore audiences needs being addressed in this keynote and well , their idea of that was to unveil animal crossing for the wii and…. That’s about it. But hey its an all new animal crossing right? brought up to next gen standards?... no. Quite frankly the video they showed of it looked IDENTICAL to the Nintendo ds version in terms of graphics (we are talking n64 polygons here).I know the wii does not have the graphical power of ps3/360 but ffs when I see games like Mario galaxy , I know the wii is capable of more than the crap that was on display. The only notable difference was the inclusion of a city of some sort in the game. That said I would hardly count animal crossing as a hardcore targeted game anyway, to me it’s one of those do as you please , set your own objectives , procrastination type of experiences, well unless nintendos new definition for hardcore gaming are games that involve more than one button.

An appearance from shaun white demonstrating his new balance board snowboard game felt awkward ,with horrible scripted comments from him and camminator as they demonstrated how much “fun” they were having.
Reggies announcement of the motion controller add - on bundled with the new wii sports resort title further solidified my suspicions that nintendos profits were entirely from Hardware and peripheral sales . While wii sports resort looked good in terms of the new accuracy in the wii mote , It is basically another collection of minigames that you will be bored with after half an hour. I have no doubt though that they will sell a billion copies.
In between announcements was the usual boasting of sales figures which is basically showing us that Nintendo can afford to buy the world on ds sales alone etc. which was no surprise to anyone.

At this point I didn’t think it could get any worse but Wii music managed to trump all I had just seen. The sight of Miyamoto and the Nintendo staff girating around whilst schizophrenically shaking those wii motes around was cringe worthy , I felt an awkwardness on par with being caught masturbating by your grandparents. The concept behind wii music was to eliminate the challenge and complexity of music games such as rock band and guitar hero and instead focus on the performance aspect . If you thought you looked like a twat with a plastic guitar ,wii music will surpass that quite easily.

Overall its clear to see Nintendo have taken the road to casual one button gaming now and don’t intend to turn around. As far as hardcore gamers are concerned it seems Nintendo blew their load early on in the year with smash bros brawl and Mario kart , so the rest of the year looks bleak unless they are saving a new Zelda or Mario perhaps for the Tokyo gameshow. We can dream……

F – F is for FAIL . I wish the wii fad would just die .

SONY – looks good, why cant I have it now  ?

After the news that final fantasy had gone cross platform the day before , many people were eager to see what sony would have in response to microsofts acquisition. Although sonys keynote did not have the bang to it that Microsoft had I felt overall it was solid in terms of content.

From the outset it was quite clear that rather than enticing third parties , sonys focus was investing money in to first party development with pretty much the entire show dedicated to sony owned playsation exclusives. The show was led by Jack Tretton who started the show off with high energy but eventually I felt it kind of lost its tempo with jack pretty much solo on stage for the entirety.

As well as the ps3 jack wanted to emphasize the importance of the ps2 also. Many felt like the ps2 talk went on a bit too long but with over a 100 million ps2 install base I think sony would be crazy not to aknowledge it . It seemed that support for the ps2 was still ongoing with titles such as yakuza 2 due for release. He mentioned a lot of worth while ps2 titles which I would probably be tempted to pick up (thank god I have backwards compatibility).

The new content for PS store looked very interesting also with titles like pixeljunk eden, flower and fat princess catching my eye. He also showed off the new ratchet and clank game which would be a PS store download with the premise of a shorter game at a lower price. Regardless of the size of the game it still retained those pixar like graphics from tools of destruction. Right now the difference in quality from the PS store and live arcade is like night and day infact jack even had a dig at Microsoft by saying something along the lines of we don’t fill our store just so we can say we have the most games (you sly guy). Overall PS store is really looking strong with most of the new titles coming before holiday 08.

They announced a movie download service finally , which from what I saw looked well intergrated in to the stores design, what was more suprising was the launch of it on the day it was announced (now that’s very unlike sony), however they kinda forgot to mention the teeny weeny fact that it was only for America .For someone who lives in Europe I don’t have hopes of seeing this in the store until at least 2010 and when I do probably wont even use anyway.(again piracy FTW).

The blu –ray release ps3 games again looked to be pretty solid , Resistance 2 looked to be shaping up nicely ,showcasing a giant leviathan type boss encounter ,another thing to note is as with gears I think the new trend in fps will be twilight and god rays rather than the old dark and gritty brown and grey colour palette we are used to. The little big planet powerpoint presentation was genious , and probably the highlight of the whole show, it just seems this game surprises me with its depth over and over and I cant help but smile like a child each time I see it all in action.

Jim Lee stepped out to announce a new ps3 MMO based on the world of DC comics, graphically it left a lot to be desired but world of warcraft is not exactly crysis either in the graphics department ,so this could be a big thing. I think I myself would probably not be that interested in it but it shows the diversity of the playstation library.

Finally 3 titles were announced for being god of war 3 ,which really was a no brainer. I was a bit let down they showed only a pre - rendered sequence as it suggests they are probably really early in the development cycle of it (I could be wrong) .Another game called MAG otherwise known as massive action game (possibly the worst name for a game ever) promised 256 player online battles . Again the trailer was pre-rendered so I couldn’t really comment on the gameplay but if they manage to pull it off it could be a system seller. Finally they showed infamous which I personally thought looked amazing probably my second favourite game behind LBP. It seems to be a mix of prototype and crackdown but with stunning visual polish to it, that will definitely be a day one purchase.

B- – nice ideas but must work harder.

Overall E3 was lack luster at best .Microsofts keynote was all sensationalism but really felt shallow, probably the most entertaining to watch but that’s not saying much. Sonys was coma inducing and drawn out however as far as content sony wins it hands down . If it is true that 3rd party devs will lean to the the multiplatform route from now on then I think sony have the upper hand in the near future. It seems obvious Microsoft will launch a new console sooner than we may think while SONY really want to push the 10 year plan on ps3… also…..

Oh and the wii..was ..umm ….yeah..k thnx bye.

E3 Expo 2008 - TheBlackSmoke   read

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