Rosy Improvements

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Apple A9

Intel’s battle against physics may not be going according to plan with setbacks and less than spectacular performance increases but that doesn’t mean CPU performance increases in other areas have stagnated. The newly released Apple A9 SoC looks like another one of those jumps in performance that we’ve come to expect from the tech giant.

The CPU and GPU improvements are impressive but were known. The significant jump storage though? That was a pleasant surprise. The inclusion of NVMe over the industry standard eMMC gave the iPhone 6S nearly double the storage performance over last year’s iPhone 6.

Well done, Apple. Well done.

PS4 System Software 3.0

Speaking of incremental updates, PlayStation 4 System Software 3.0 arrives tomorrow and if you’re a fan of socializing and streaming, it seems to be a wonderful update. I’m hoping for some hidden surprises because only the PNG screenshot feature is appetizing to me. If I stream, I’ll likely switch to YouTube but that’s an “if”. Everything else seems like extra fluff and I’m not seeing the immediate appeal.

 

 

Sony’s TGS 2015 Press Conference

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Tokyo Game Show 2015 is just a few days away and I guess Sony wanted a bit of limelight for themselves so they held a press conference.

Here are some of notable highlights that I ran into on NeoGAF’s front page this morning:

Okay. Let’s take a step back and digest all of this. There are quite a number of remasters and returning franchises. I’m not offended by it but I know there are those who are not keen on the idea of seeing old games come back with new coats of paint. A Yakuza 1 remake is a little out of left field but remastering Gravity Daze for PlayStation 4 makes sense if they’re going to make a sequel to it a PlayStation 4 title.

Speaking of sequels. Of course there was going to be new installments of Yakuza and Hot Shots Golf coming to the PlayStation 4 — they’re like Mario Kart and Zelda titles for PlayStation platforms at this point. Then there was King of Fighters XIV which was also a surprise announcement but for the wrong reasons (did you see how bad it looks?). I know Gravity Rush 2 was a fan favorite but I didn’t enjoy my time with Gravity Rush on the PlayStation Vita; I struggled with the controls. Hopefully the PlayStation 4 sequel will address my concerns.

Umbrella Corps was unexpected for a few reasons. It’s a Unity 5 game which is weird when you consider that Capcom have MT Framework. It will also be a competitive multiplayer game that will launch for the PlayStation 4 and PC for just $29.99. The last point stuck out to me because I can’t recall the last time Capcom released a full priced Resident Evil title. It seems they’re more than content with these smaller projects for their survival horror franchise.

Project Setsuna is the unnamed “old school” JRPG being developed by a smaller team within Square Enix. World of Final Fantasy is an upcoming title aimed at younger players with its emphasis on simpler mechanics. Both titles are similar in nature in my mind. I hope these more “experimental” titles pan out for Square Enix because I love the ideas behind them.

I liked Bloodborne — despite its outstanding frame pacing issues — so I will likely pick up The Old Hunters expansion when it hits $10 or so. You may call it me being cheap but it’s also a way for me to give myself some time to play other titles coming out that during that time.

A Very Solid Lineup

That’s a very solid line up coming from Japan and that’s just for Sony’s platform. I’m sure when Tokyo Game Show draws closer, I like to believe we’ll see even more from Japan’s various studios.

 

Metal Gear Skylake

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I just watched the Super Mario Maker Overview trailer and was reminded that the game debuts on September 11. I had no idea. I thought this was an October title. With Super Mario Maker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s release dates sneaking up on me, I decided to take an inventory of my upcoming 2015 games and what’s coming out and when.

  • Sept. 1 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
  • Sept. 11 – Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
  • Oct. 27 – Halo 5: Guardians (X1)
  • Nov. 6 – Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PS4) *
  • Nov. 17 – Star Wars: Battlefront (PS4) *

* – Digital

So there isn’t as much as I thought. It’s the holiday so there’s plenty of shoot bang titles to stave off the cold. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a giant question mark for me though. It didn’t have the best showings at the tradeshows. The upcoming beta this week will ultimately decide the game’s fate methinks. Then again, my brother and I enjoy our co-op shooter campaigns which BLOPS3 has.

We’ll see.

The Skylake Is Falling?

So Skylake is here. It’s been a couple of weeks since the reviews for Intel’s latest “tock” release were posted online. The results are a little weird. On one hand, instruction per clock performance improved ever so slightly over the previous generation for general computing but seemingly took a hit in gaming scenarios.

The switch to DDR4 won’t move the needle for performance over DDR3 right now but it will lower power consumption. I thought there’s a premium over DDR3 modules but a quick glance at NewEgg.ca sees both DDR3 and DDR4 16GB kits priced at $150 each.

By far the most attractive prospect of upgrading to Skylake platform is the accompanying Z170 chipset. With the new 26 lane Flex-IO hub, motherboard manufacturers can provide more USB 3.0, SATA or PCI-e ports than ever. More ports are welcomed. Faster ports are also welcomed and some Z170 motherboards will feature USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that will offer up to 10 Gbps transfer rates.

With all the goodies in hand so far, there’s actually more to come. Intel’s first Skylake CPUs only come in two flavors: the i7-6700K and i5-6600K. The motherboard situation isn’t great either with only Z170 chipsets based ones on the market. I’m not big on CPU overclocking these days so the K-series CPUs and Z-series motherboards a bit overkill. Not to mention that the ITX options are scant. In the end, I’d wait for the rest of Skylake to launch because while promising this all seems very premature on Intel’s part.

 

Did I Ask For This?

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Microsoft’s Gamescom press conference was alright. They showed more footage of Quantum Break, the first gameplay of Platinum Games’ Scalebound and announced Halo Wars 2 was coming Fall 2016. There wasn’t much in the way of mind blowing exclusives but it was worth the check in. I just don’t know if Halo Wars 2 was the best way to end the conference.

Hot Takes!

  • Quantum Break looks neat and if you’re going to feature the actors behind Cedric and Carcetti from The Wire, it’s bound to be pretty good right? I just hope they don’t lose the silly FMV shows like Alan Wake’s Night Springs.
  • The Scalebound demonstration didn’t start as inviting as I thought it would but by the end of it, I bought into Platinum Games’ monster fighting action game. Is it an action RPG? I saw damage numbers.
  • Halo 5: Guardians continues to look neat because of Warzone. I don’t understand why they’re trying to manufacture hype around the competitive “E-Sports” Halo scene though. I never see it mentioned outside of Microsoft’s press events.
  • They keep showing more and more Rise of Tomb Raider and I like what I see but this staggered release between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One makes me extra cautious.
  • Just Cause 3 looks bonkers and that’s probably best term to use to describe it. At this point I’m going to forgo Just Cause 2 and wait for the sequel to arrive and play that.
  • Forza Motorsport 6 sounds like a substantial upgrade in the details department and if I were in the mood for a driving game, I’d consider picking this one up.

And that was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2015 press conference and what I took away from it. Halo Wars 2 doesn’t do anything for me but I’m interested in seeing it in action. Maybe it will be awesome on PC and it’ll convince me to try a Creative Assembly RTS for the first time.

I didn’t ask for it but I’m glad Microsoft put on a good show.

 

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