Mad Catz FPS Pro

The FPS Pro is a gaming pad from Mad Catz, retailing for a similar price to the official MS controller.  It is a cabled Xbox 360 pad and features soft touch coating and two programmable buttons (left & right combat buttons, or LCB & RCB) located on the back of the pad.  Oh yeah, and you can change the colour of the analogue sticks independently, green, red, orange or leave the lights off.  It also has the proper MS type connector on the bottom of the pad which is good for attaching my AX Pro headset but I couldn’t connect a chatpad. It feels nice and solid and the soft touch coating is something I like in any pad.  It’s pretty much identical in size and shape to the official MS pad with all the same buttons in the same places, so no learning curve as far as basic usability is concerned.  The light up sticks are a bit…well…gimmicky I guess.  I don’t know, what I can say.  It’s nice they light up, It’s nice you can change them individually, but it nicer still I can turn them off 🙂 The combat buttons are a great idea, but sadly could be better implemented.  They are reprogrammable on the fly which I love, but their functionality is quite limited.  The LCB can only be set to the A, B or left shoulder button, and the RCB set to X, Y or right shoulder button, no option to set the start or select button.  Also the location of the buttons is a bit off.  I realise we all have different hands, and my hands have been likened to a bunch of bananas, but I know 4 people who have one of these and they all say the same thing, though I am not sure we all agree where the ideal location would be.  For me they need to be closer to the middle of the pad.

I think in summary this is a very nice pad, apparently as good if not better quality than an MS pad (I am keen to see if it develops slow turn like all my MS pads).  If the combat buttons are in the right place for you then that’s a bonus, I don’t think I will bother using them much to be honest. I really like the idea that Scuff use with their programmable buttons, with a flappy paddle thing each side at the back.  If they were programmable on the fly then I think that might be the ideal pad….

BF3 DLC…anyone?

I don’t know about you but I am ready for it now.

I thought I was ready 3 weeks ago, but EA knew that I only thought I was ready.

But seriously, why is it EA feel the need to gag DICE and prevent them from releasing any info about it whatsoever.  Where is the logic in that?  From tweets I have seen from Daniel Matros (@Zh1nt0) clearly DICE are keen to let the community know what they have planned, but the powers that be (EA) are preventing them from talking about it.

You know there are a lot of things I can understand.  I can understand why they would hold back on releasing a patch if every patch costs $40 k to release.   It makes sense to wait until you have as many fixes as possible ready to go and release them all at once.  I can understand that they charge us for DLC.  I can understand that EA are running a business and they need to make money, lots of money, because they are a massive company, and that’s what companies do after all.

But I don’t understand the logic behind the culture of secrecy when it comes to communicating to the fans.  Surely all they are achieving is annoying more people, and lets face it EA are not the most popular game publisher.  In the interests of research I just googled “why does everyone hate EA” and there are hits dating back 7 years from people hating EA, and about 80 million hits with a similar theme.   You might think that a company with that much bad PR would be trying to turn their image around, but there’s not much sign of that is there?

I guess there must be a reason for their behaviour, even if it is a nonsense one, perhaps one of these.

Maybe they like the fact everyone hates them?  Maybe they just don’t give a shit what people think?  Maybe no-one at EA actually knows what the hell they are doing?

I sure would like to know what it is though.

But all of that can go swivel, because what I really want is some information on when the BF3 DLC/patch is going to be released and what’s going to be in it.   Come on DICE, we know you can do it.  

 

Driver San Francisco

There is only one thing I like as much as blowing up stuff/people on the battlfield and that’s driving fast cars.  I have previoulsy enjoyed Forza 1 & 2, and 3, and before that PGR, if I cast my mind back there was Indy 500 on the Amiga, no wait, Stunt Car Racer..well anyway you get the picture.

So I have been sorely tempted to get my hands on Forza 4, but frankly I am too tight to spend 40 quid on a game I know I will only ever scratch the surface of.  So I have been waiting patiently for the price to come down, along with an occasional scouring of the second hand shelves in various stores.   It was while I was looking through HMV’s selection of used games I came across Driver SF for £19, this was a game I had only ever heard good things about.  Even Yahtzee  thought it was a good game, and he is a strange man who seems to dislike most games he reviews for Zero Punctuation…(he does make me laugh though, I highly recommend you check him out  http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation).  With the current high price of Forza and lack of a good driving game forefront in my mind I bought it there and then.I am very happy to report that this is a really very good game.  I am really enjoying it, totally suffering from the “just one more go” syndrome.I would give you the storyline (which is fine, and the cinematic senes are beautiful to behold) but lets be honest, noone really cares.  Essentially you are a good cop trying to catch the bad guy, pretty much single-handed.  It plays out much like any other driving game in the structure of the story progression.  There are garages to buy, cars to purchase, street races, cop chases, checkpoints etc etc.  All unlocked as you progress and all good stuff, and most importantly all done very well, just in terms of a driving game.  The cars handle nicely, its not overly realistic, the emphasis seems to be centred around having fun.  None of the missions last more than 10 minutes, and there are loads of little bonus things to do that take a minute or 2 each.  Perfect bite sized racing fun.The thing that Driver SF has over other driving games is the ability to switch cars at will.  Its a strange dynamic to explain, and I wont bother explaining the logic behind it, but it works really well.  As an example there are some races where you needed to come first & second, with 2 different cars.  I choose to play it without really doing the racing, I was purely sabotaging the other racers by leaving my body and picking a random other vehicle and driving into my rivals head first.  Brilliant, by the end of the race I was parking buses and lorries across the road in front of them.  I had so much fun I had to retry the race :)So if you like a good race now and again, and so long as you don’t expect it to be a simulation, then I would highly recommend you get hold of this one.The other bit of this game I like is the fact they have included a load of movie bonus challenges.  These are based around famous movie car chases.  So far I have been in Bullitt, Starsky & hutch, the French connection, the Blues brothers and a few others.  I am hoping the might be some minis driving through some sewers later 🙂

Customisable buttons

I know I have playing games for quite a while, and perhaps because of this my memory is a bit hazy, but didn’t games used to let you customise the button layout?  I was pretty sure that in the day of the launch 360 you could remap buttons willy nilly.

Well I just checked 2 Xbox 360 launch titles, Amped 3 and Kameo (I can’t believe I still have them either) and it appears that I am wrong.  Am I thinking of some old original Xbox games, or is it that faulty memory again ?

But to be honest I don’t really want or need that facility.  What I DO need is a standard button layout from the game manufacturers.  I know we sort of have that already in some areas.  In a driving game the R trigger is go and the L trigger is stop, and A is usually the handbrake.  OK, so there arent a lot of other buttons in racing, but you get my drift.

But in the FPS arena there seems to be no such similarities other than the R trigger being fire.  Usually the L trigger is aim, but not always.  In Deus Ex Human Revolution its not, aim is a click the R stick….seriously.  And how about the knife button, or melee button…whatever…put it in the same blooming place.

All FPS have very similar themes OK, not themes but very similar functionality…I can change weapons, I can knife, I can grenade, I have some other special stuff.  But all the buttons that let me do this are in different places depending on which game I am playing.

So how about a compromise for us gamers after all we pay these gits wages.  We get the option to remap all those secondary, knifey buttons, but we have to keep look and strafe on the sticks and aim and shoot on the triggers (take note Square Enix).

I suppose I could always the option to go back to the dark side.  Yes, the PC, the ultimate time-sink.

No..I kicked that habit, I …. must … resist….
😀

Razer Onza

Image

I recently treated my self to a new pad, specifically a wired Razer Onza tournament edition.  I have had it about 2 weeks so I think I have had enough experience to talk about it.  What I think about it, the good and the bad points as I see it.  But first here is a quick run-down of the features, bear in mind that it has everything a normal MS pad has plus the following:

  • Adjustable tension dual analogue sticks
  • Remap-able buttons
  • A 15 foot cable
  • A new D-pad
  • Non slip coating
  • Lit, soft touch A, B, X & Y buttons
  • Microswitches

Lets start with the good points.  The tension adjuster is a great idea, and the implementation is well thought out.  I am finding the sweet spot by starting at the loosest settings and tweaking it as I play.  It seems to work really well.  The same can be said for the remap function, I think its a great idea and the way you can change the buttons on-the-fly is fantastic.  The cable is really long, which is good, and its also sort of woven instead of plastic coated, which does alleviate any tangling issues.

I like the D-pad a lot, I always thought the MS one was off-kilter slightly.  I often pressed in one direction only for it to go a different way.  The non-slip coating is nice, it fells a lot nicer than the standard MS pad.  The soft touch buttons are great too, I hardly touch them and they go off, the merest brush of a thumb, a hair trigger if you like.  And they light up too which is pretty cool…or pretty pretty at least.  All of the important buttons are microswitched, which I like a lot.  You get more feedback and a much better idea of when the buttons is down and when its up.

So far so great, but of course there has to be something wrong with it right?  OK, well yes actually, I think that there are a couple of things that I think could be better.  Firstly the remap buttons I am finding very hard to adjust to, and its their location thats the issue.  I am sure its just a matter of time to learn the layout and I will get along with them fine.  I could set them to have the same function as the shoulder buttons, thereby resolving the problem, but also rendering my extra buttons redundant.  My other main gripe is the BACK and START button location, having been moved from the middle of the pad to the bottom of the pad.  Again I am sure I will get used to it, which would make playing without back on a MS pad feel weird, hey ho.

Another small problem is you cant plug in a chatpad, as the little connector holes are not on the Onza.  This is the biggest issue for me.  I quite like being able to use a chatpad for the odd thing, passwords and such.  I guess I will always have a MS pad kicking about for that though.  And also my headset uses those little connector holes to enable chat.  I have to use an adapter and a different cable to connect it now.

A friend of mine said he thought playing a game that used the D-pad lot would be difficult, like street fighter I suppose?  Hmmm, well maybe, I will let you know next time I play a beat-em-up…..could be a very long time I suspect 😉

That’s it, that’s the sum total of my criticism of this pad, some stuff I will get used to, and a slight modification required to use my headset.  All in all I would say it really is a great pad, and would recommend it to anyone, just bear in mind there is a slight learning curve in getting used to certain aspects.

UPDATE:  sadly my Onza seems to be suffering from a dodgy left thumbstick.  Specifically it stops working when pushing it up, which as you can imagine is a significant issue when trying to play BF3.  Its very odd, it works for a while, then it slowly gets worse.  First your sprinting stops but you still move.  Then you stop moving at all, it feels like you are snagged on the scenery, but you are not.  Sometimes it stops completely and then starts sprinting again without you moving your thumb at all.

I am very disappointed, particularly as I was just getting used to the buttons.  As Amazon are out-of-stock I will be getting a refund, so I am in the market for a new pad again.  A friend has suggested the Madcatz FPS pro, so I think I may give it a shot.  Rest assured I will post my impressions as and when.

 

BF 2143

As any fans of DICE’s Battlefield series will know there has been a lot of talk from DICE that DLC will be plentiful.  I think the term they used was an aggressive DLC release schedule.  There is quite a lot of ambiguity there, but in the interests of keeping the BF3 momentum up there has to be something on the horizon.  The question is what shape will the next, all important, release be?

This has been the cause of much speculation, the majority of which has centred around the possibility of  a BF2142 remake, BF2143 (probably).

I would love to say that I agree that we will see a BF2143 DLC made available for BF3 but I cant see it happening.  I remember playing the original BF2142 on PC, and it was not an expansion pack, it was a whole separate game.  Now, bearing in mind EA own DICE, and EA are a business who are in the business of making money, I cant see them turning down the opportunity of releasing BF2143 as a full price release.

I dont know if there is a maximum price that DLC can be, but I am pretty sure most people wouldn’t want to pay 40 quid for DLC!

I do know that they can easily ask you to pay £40 for a new, vacuum packed product.

Yes.  Sadly I would have to say that As far as DLC is concerned a BF2142 remake is highly unlikely.  I think it’s far more likely that we can look forward to DLC more like some of the following:

  • new maps (or remodelled old maps, some new vehicles, a bit of snow)
  • a vietnam era mod, with maps and weapons
  • garbage like the “pay us to unlock all those weapons everyone else had to play to unlock” type upgrades (but hey, if people want to pay for it then wtf I guess!)
  • new SP content & co-op missioons
  • more assignments (maybe they will throw this in somewhere else as a sweetener)
  • a WWII mod (weapons and vehicles)

I myself would gladly pay a reasonable price for more content of this sort (except the early unlock thing).
And if they announced it tomorrow BF2143 with a £50 price tag………honestly……….
my name would be at the top of the waiting list….  so long as they keep Titan mode……with mobile Titans……..ooh and motion mines……and, and, and everything else that was in the original with added destruction

🙂

Call EA tech support…I would rather use google

I have had an issue trying to play BF3 online for a few weeks.  It is a very intermittent problem, and quite a perculiar one.  Stay with me here 🙂

The game loads, everything is working on the front end, friends, battlelog feed thingy etc etc etc.  I launch an online MP game (quick match or via the server browser) and any game type (TDM, Conquest etc), the match loads, the (crappy) background music plays, I get a loading screen and after a suitable amount of time the scfreen goes black….and thats it.  The music is still playing and I can still press the live button and access the blades, but nothing else ever happens.  I sign out and I get returned to the main BF3 screen, sign back in and repeat, same thing happens.  I go to dashboard and reload…same thing happens….

Very annoying, particularly if I only have a spare 30 mins in which to get on the battlefield.  After yet another failure to get in game time’s up and I switched everything off and walked away, disgusted.    At some point after all this I tried again and it worked fine.  Urgh, intermittent problems, I really don’t like them.

I spent some time googling and couldn’t find anything similar to what I was experiencing.  After a lot of testing I decided this has to be an issue server side, not client side, seems blatantly obvious to me.

At one point, I must have been really annoyed or drunk because against my own better judgement I logged a call with EA, maybe I wanted an admission that there was some issue server side.  It took them about a week to reply to my request, and they suggested the typical things they always do, reboot your router, don’t use wireless, open your ports blah blah blah.  Why do I bother explaining what the issue is if you are just going to tell me to reboot my router  FFS…honestly.  Anyway, 3 further emails between EA and me about clearing my cache and deleting all my game saves.  I have just responded asking how my problem could possibly be caused by a corrupt game save!

We will see what happens with that but to you I would say if you have an issue with anything EA there is very little point attempting to talk to them about it.  Your first and best port of call is google, and keep googling.  In my own example I have just today searched the same issue I did last week and I found a very promising topic on the EA battlelog server.  It suggested it could be an issue with non-EA or non-DICE servers.  I will do a bit of testing my self to see if I can recreate the problem.   I sent this on to EA advising him to have a look, as it has makes a lot more sense than anything EA have suggested so far.

http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf3/forum/threadview/2832654624830520163/