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Ben’s Week In Review: February 3

We’re into February now, and as we get closer and closer to the great games scheduled for 2007, I’m starting to get a little excited. In the meantime, I’ll just voice my thoughts on some of the most recent news and provide the requisite personal gaming update.

Who cares about rumble? Really?

So we learned earlier in the week that a company called SplitFish had plans to add a rumble feature to the PS3’s Sixaxis controller. Later on that same day, Sony was quick to stand up and say, “yeah, we’re not interested.” And to be perfectly honest, I can’t blame them.

I never thought the rumble was anything all that special; in fact, I thought it was little more than a cheap gimmick that never succeeded it making me feel more “immersed.” Oh, I just got shot…let’s make the controller shake in my hand, because of course, that’s exactly the sensation we experience when getting shot . Oh, I just scraped a wall while going 150 m.p.h. so yes, obviously a trembling gamepad makes me truly feel like I’m in the car. And that wicked sword slash I just delivered? It translates to an electronic rumble, obviously. It’s just silly. And now, with wireless controllers, such a feature drains the crap out of the battery, so I’m even less interested than I was before.

The stupid Xbox 360 controllers that run on AA batteries can only last 10 hours with the rumble. It would probably be the same with the Sixaxis, and I would much, much rather have a wireless controller that lasted three times as long without the rumble. Therefore, you needn’t strain yourselves to bring it back, Sony. Really. I don’t…care…at all . Good idea removing it and giving us a longer-lasting controller, I say.

Sony’s PS3 Losses, Third-Quarter Results, and the Future

It’s an interesting dichotomy, isn’t it? The ultra-expensive PS3 endeavor could cost Sony over $2 billion , but at the same time, all the dark predictions surrounding the recent fiscal third quarter didn’t come true. Yes, their games division was down, but some analysts had expected overall profits to be down as much as 50%, and they were only down about 5%. Furthermore, we have to examine the long run – which so many gamers and even critics clearly aren’t willing to do – and when we do, we start to realize that while it might take Sony longer to turn a profit this time, they appear to be in familiar territory.

We return your attention to the PS2 launch of 2000. Sony voluntarily took a loss on every console sold – just as Microsoft did with the Xbox 360 and Sony did with the PS3 – and with the typical game drought for the first three or four months of the system’s existence, analysts were predicting a Sony implosion. In fact, I’m willing to bet you could recycle those reports from seven years ago, place them up regarding the PS3, and they’d look almost identical. Then, the games started to come, production costs fell, and things started to roll. Granted, it had a one year jump on the competition – which is the exact opposite for this generation – and Sony certainly had more PS2s available for the Japanese and U.S. launches, but even so, it’s a very similar situation. By March, when the likes of Red Faction , Onimusha: Warlords , and The Bouncer came around, PS2s started to sell more. By the time summer came up, with Gran Turismo 3 , Devil May Cry , and others, they were off and running.

This year sees a lot of PS3 games with a lot of potential. Nobody expects Sony to turn a profit just yet. Microsoft has never turned a net profit on the Xbox or Xbox 360; they don’t expect to see any real money from that until 2008. These giant corporations function on the long-term , and if we could just notice that for a split second, we might realize the PS3 isn’t in a bad position. They’re just starting off, and with the European launch just around the corner, and Blu-Ray already outselling HD-DVD by almost 3-1, I fail to see the problem. As far as I’m concerned, every member of the “Big 3” should be just fine.

Final Fantasy XII Update

Okay, this game is even longer and deeper than I had anticipated. I just hit 100 hours, and there’s still plenty left to do, including tackling the biggest challenges. I’m still miffed that the Espers are very obviously useless, but I’ve been having fun toying around with the Quickenings (although they too are useless against the ultimate bosses), and I very much enjoy searching for the best weapons and equipment. I just wish there wasn’t so much luck involved with the search; the rare treasures only have a chance of appearing in treasure chests (you could get junk), and there’s a chance the chests themselves might not be there. So you have to keep going in and out of certain areas, hoping the chest appears, and then you have to hope you get the rare treasure out of it instead of the junk. Frustrating.

In the end, though, I think FF XII may have the longest-running side-quests and optional stuff in any RPG I’ve ever played. If you race through it, you could probably complete it within 40 and 50 hours, but there’s anywhere between 50 and 100 hours of extra things to attempt and complete…and that’s not an exaggeration. It really is crazy, but still very fun.

First, Wipeout is back

Anybody else completely stoked about the return of this awesome franchise to home consoles? Yeah, there was Wipeout Pure for the PSP, but we’ve really had nothing since Wipeout 3 , and I’ve been hoping to see another for a next-gen console. Thankfully, we are indeed getting another installment on the PS3, and I can’t wait . I remember having a huge amount of fun with Wipeout XL for the PS1, both single-player and multiplayer; that game was smooth as glass and ran like a dream. It really was one of the most underrated and under-appreciated technical achievements of the time, and I’m sure that same team can produce something very special for the PS3. Bring it on!

and then, THQ brings Red Faction back!

I had a lot of fun with the original for the PS2, and as one of the first must-play games for the system in March of ’01, I thought Red Faction was a fantastic addition to the library. It obviously pales in comparison to current FPSs, but the GeoMod technology worked pretty well (as archaic as it now seems), the pacing and action was excellent, the weapons and control were good, and even the story was pretty decent. So if they’re making another one for the PS3 , then I’ll definitely consider getting it, although I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same team working on it…but either way, I’ll have to keep an eye on this one. I’m a sucker for great FPSs, and even though I’ve played my share in the past, I rarely get tired of them.

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