Tag Archives: 2009

Full PS3 Need For Speed – Shift Review

SHIFT_april14_007

Every racing game you play on the PS3 is always measured against Gran Turismo it is after all the daddy of racing games on pretty much any format. So its always with much trepidation when you first load a new racing game to see how it measures up, because lets face it, its not going to be as good as GT is it…. well lets see.

NFS – Shift Game Overview

You start the game by doing a single lap short Brands Hatch circuit in a BMW M3, its this that sets up how much assistance the game is going to give you and how tough the AI is going to be. For me it didn’t quite turn out right as when it goes across the line and I had my foot flat to the floor the M3 wanted to spin like a top and I got a right swapper on, needless to say it didn’t end well. It kind of work but I still tweaked the settings, I didn’t need brake assistance and I wanted a stronger opponent so I upped it from easy to Medium. You then do an initial race that decides how much money you are going to get. I came second so I got $37,000 dollars to speed.

So what do you buy as your first car? Well I went for the 135i BMW and a cracking choice it has been. I didn’t want any of the 4wd Audi’s and the BMW already has good handling and is quick on the road so off I went.

Nfs-shift-promo

Points make prices

Each game wants to add to the racing genre so what does NFS – Shift add? Points for being good and bad, yes if you leave it late to break into a corner and smash another drive out of the way then you get some points to help advance your career.  But if you want to have a nice clean race, then hold the racing line, brake at the right time (take note of the changing racking line, if you are on it and its read you really need to brake) and you will get the same points for doing it right, nip inside of another car without touching them and you will get points for a clean pass, or just nip across an apex to master the corner and it gives you a bag load of points. Meet the criteria of that race and get first and you will get a full rack of stars that bring extra points and more challenges.

Handling

This is fairly important for a racing game, it needs to be able to react well to how you might think the car drives and in this type of game provide entertaining handling, but does it deliver? In buckets, its Brilliant with a capital B, OK so I’m playing with a new wheel (more of that later) but I’ve been playing GT Prologue all week and this is so much better its untrue.

Power out of a corner and you can nicely hold a drift or correct a slide easily and adjust your line, brake late and you can just about ease off the brake and tip toe around the outside of the corner just like you can in a car at a circuit. OK so I have a low ABS setting and the same for traction control again on low but who cares, I want the game to entertain me and it does. It makes the handling model of Gran Turismo feel wooden by comparison and yes with similar settings.

Each new car you drive also feels different as it should, take an MX5 for a drive and you can see why people rave about it, it feels fantastic, step into a DB9 and it feels properly quick but a bit cumbersome as well, you can feel the extra weight and lack of braking power that I bet is also apparent in the road car.

I have to say I’ve never wanted to go back and play a racing game more than this one, that includes all the GT and GTR/2 the lot, as a combination of a fine handling model and just a damn good fun it has to be up there with the very best, in short they have a winner on their hands in my opinion.

Tuning the Car

So you have bought your car and earned a few points and a bit of money so what can you do with it. Well the game also has a nice little upgrade center. You can make the car lighter, add uprated suspension, racing exhaust or add an aero package, the whole lot. You can also change the paint colour or add vinyls its a nice additional touch that only adds to the game and draws you in even more.

Opponent AI

They are fiendish little things, brake a bit early and they will nip around the outside of you on the higher tiers, they are inteligent and will try to block you and they will easily out brake you if you try and take it easy. But if you attach they will also push back, you feel like you are driving a good on-line but fair competitor, it makes the game great fun to play.

GT@_2_2Shift_BMWM3GT2_05

Graphics

Its good, but not quite GT polished good, but it really doesn’t matter, there is plenty of detail and there is never any slowdown or frame rate issues at any point. Things aren’t as slick or as polished but then I’m concentrating on clipping the apex and getting the line right and not looking at the view across the valley, but don’t take this as the graphics being bad they aren’t they are actually very good. They have also used the graphics to enhance the race, smack into the side of another car and the colour will suddenly go and the screen goes black and white, smack into the back of a car and the screen goes blurred so you can try and cheat but you can’t see for a while afterwards.

I’d hate to think that anyone would not buy this game because the graphics aren’t GT good, but then hey we have waited 5 damn years for an updated full GT game (way way way too long) and still no idea when it might appear, NFS Shift is here now…!! Check out the video below, it looks sweet.

Sound

You can’t have a good racing game without great sound and this game has great sound. Drive through a tunnel and you can hear the exhaust get louder as it ricochets off the walls. Each car sounds the same as the road cars do that I’ve heard, they haven’t just tired to make a sound something like it should, they have obviously done a fair bit of sampling to get the sounds just right. The effects when you skid or hit another car are good and the sound really works, you want to drive another car to see how interesting the engine is going to sound. Its one of those racing games that you play that little bit to loud because you just want to feel like you are in the car.

Any Bad Bits?

Well not really, I’d like it to remember my screen choice, not have to set it each time I race, but that might be fixed in a update. More circuits would be nice and more cars but so far I’ve not played many again so its not really a complaint yet.

Conclusion – Rating 9/10

As a game to entertain and offer brilliant handling, great graphics and some new and entertaining features its great. I’ve not played any of the NFS series for a while, but I used to love playing it on the PC, its more circuit based and less road biased than in the past but its still a cracker. If you have been thinking I will wait until GT 5 comes out don’t get this and sod them it really is a good match. No there isn’t a massive list of cars, but that just means you spend more time upgrading and playing will your current cars, lets be honest how many of the 1000 cars in GT will you actually drive anyway.  I’ve dropped a point because the graphics could be a little bit better but then again I’m glad they just got the game out and spent more time on the driving model.

I mean I’ve just driven a large junk of the Nurburgring, which was great fun and it felt far more realistic than it does in GT, its great go and buy it and I hope there will be some new DLC to keep the game fresh for a long time to come. GT, eat NFS brake fluid, your days could be numbered.

Billion 7800N Wireless ADSL2+ Router Review

So I’ve been looking for a replacement wireless N ADSL router. Some have Gigabit ports, others Dual Band wireless N but few have both at least not in the UK anyway.

But I think I’ve found the best compromise and here it is, the New Billion BiPAC 7800N Wireless N ADSL2+ with Gigabit Ethernet Switch, catchy name isn’t it!? But it has all the features that I need, but will it perform how I hope.

My ISP is Bethere Internet or Be as they like to be known and they offer a potential connection speed of up to 24Mbits if you live right on top of it. But I don’t so typically my connection speeds are about 13-15Mbits with my old router a Speedtouch 780 that was supplied with by my ISP, but that is still a lot higher than most sub 8Mbit speeds.

After I’d ordered the new router I did a set of test and noted down the speeds and times of transferring a 780Mb file to multiple different locations around the house and to different PC’s.

Equipment used for test

Homeserver – 1.5tb Green WD drive – Gigabit Ethernet

PC – XPS 430 –  Quad core – Duel stripped drives = Wireless G

Laptop – Duel Core Dell XPS 1330 = Intel Wireless G / N

PS3 via Ethernet

False Start

You know what its like, you order a new gadget and can’t wait for it to arrive. Only this time the excitement didn’t last for long as when I opened the box there was no power supply inside. I was a bit disappointed to say the least but hey these things happen. A quick call to broadbandbuyer.co.uk from whom I’d purchase the router and they got onto Billion as they had sold out of the router and there was a new power supply on the way. It arrived only a couple of days later so did it live up to the performance expectations.

A quick note on the instructions supplied before I get to the performance. Lets just say they are a bit rough and ready, no more than a few pages of photocopied A4 pages to get you started and they really aren’t that useful. If you know what you are doing then it won’t be a problem but for the novice you might be a little daunted.

Performance and Set-up

Set-up wasn’t to complex but I did need to make a few tweaks to get everything working well. The Auto configure didn’t work so I had to use the manual method.  I used this Billion Be/O2 help page to get the right settings and it almost worked, the trick was to add in the correct manual Primary DNS IP address as the AUTO setting wasn’t working. Hey presto it was up and running, but what have I connected at?

Speedtouch – 1090(Up)/14834(Down)

Billion 7800 – 1191/15801kbps (initial figure)

But things are set to get better, Be/O2 use Annex M and this means I might be able to get an even better upload and download speed but how good? Very good is the answer check out the figures below, this is far better than I have ever got before so I did a speed check as well to see if things go better.

Billion 7800 Annex M – 1347 / 17931 kbps

That’s a 3000kbps or 3Mbit improvement in upload speeds, a very healthy increase indeed. A quick speed test confirmed the boosted speed, going from 13.2Mb/s to 15.7Mb/s, not quite the sync speed but as it was via wireless and there are other factors involved that’s still a healthy increase. Another reason is that the Billion 7800 N uses a broadcom which is know to often get better download speeds.

Wireless N, is it any quicker?

I’d say maybe a little but that would be a lie, it is much much quicker for me at least. Rather than waffle on to much here are the transfer differences I saw below on the PC and the Laptop. The test was to transfer a 780Mb AVI file.

Laptop performance

Wireless G – 99% Signal – 1.82Mb/s – 6 minutes 47 seconds.

Wireless N – 99% Signal – 2.72Mb/s – 4 minutes 57 seconds.

PC Performance

Wireless G – 81% Signal – 2.42Mb/s – 5 minutes 41 seconds.

Wireless N – 50/70% Signal – 8.92Mb/s – 1 minutes 25 seconds.

The Laptop is a bit quicker but the test was done when the laptop was as close as it can get to the router, this can cause an issue with performance thus why the difference in speed is small. Also the laptop was having to try fairly hard to transfer the data @35/40% processor usage meaning it will start to be a bit of a factor in the transfer speeds.

But for the PC the speed improvement is dramatic to say the least and a clear view of how much faster wireless N can be. It wasn’t initially that quick, I had to play around with the location of the Wireless N dongal and ariels before I got a better figure and the 50/70% still doesn’t look great. I used a Billion 3010N that I bought with the router that doesn’t have a wireless antenna, but regardless of the noise the performance the speed speaks for itself.

Initial Conclusion 9/10

Well the Billion 7800N is cheaper than many of the other wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet routers, add to that it has full ADSL2+ and Annex M support and its a great package that these initial speed results show. The slight disappointment with the power supply is now  forgotten as everything else is as good or better than I hoped for.

I will update this review when I have done the Ethernet performance tests and if the router is more stable than the frankly terrible Speedtouch.  If you are in the market for a new ADSL router and are with Be or 02 or anyone for that matter then I would give this a serious look as it ticks all the boxes for me.

Gran Turismo 5 – Full Game Features list released

Well what do we have here, yes a full list of the features of Gran Turismo 5, but no release date, will they hurry up already. Fingers crossed the released date won’t be far off but the signs look very positive. I think learning 60 yes 60 tracks will be interesting and I for one can’t wait to find out.

They have been comparing it to Forza recently but who will come out on to? Only time and a hell of a lot of game place will we find out. So have a read a drool over this lovely list of features, now what am I going to call the private race room then…….

With any luck it will be out well before Christmas as the signs are that its going to be launched before December, watch this space.

– models included

1,000 vehicles

170 Premium new models (full interior modelling, the interior corresponds to vehicle damage)

830 kinds of standard model (some are from Gran Turismo 4 that have been carried over to GT5) [Read: Cars we have seen in GT4 before ]

– Courses

60 courses confirmed with 20 or more to be revealed

– physical simulation of vehicles

Physics system simulation is brand new

Represented is full fall in vehicles [possibly rollover]

Damage representation (reproduced in full by real-time collision deformation)

faithfully reproducing the behavior of electric cars, i.e. Prius, Insight, hybrid cars and the latest Tesla model

– Arcade Mode

Single Race

2 player battle

– GT Mode

World Map

My Garage

Car Dealer

Tuning Shop (parts, tires)

Car Washes/Oil Change

Race Championship (Series system, point system)

License Test

– Online

Open Lobby

Text / Voice Chat

Private rooms

Online Photo Album

Online Replay Album

YouTube replay output

– Photo Mode

Photo Drive (Circuit)

Photo stage (Stage Photo mode only)

– Gran Turismo TV

Video output to a PSP or PSP Go®

Progressive Download

Improved user interface

Continuous Play for videos

– Museums

The Gran Turismo 5 Prologue version, + more information at TGS

– Sound

Custom soundtracks (Use songs from your PS3 hard-drive)

Dolby Digital 5.1 and 7.1

– User Interface

The Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, and the same design concept. The icons change color

Able to track the movement of Cockpit Camera interface (confirmed in full 3-D. The camera can be fully manipulated and you can opt to have your head tracked by the PSEye)

iPhone Nano to launch in September 09 on Vodafone and all other Networks? – Updated

iphone-line-up-2009On Monday Apple announce the upgrade of the current iPhone the 3GS, its not a major upgrade, no OLED screen, major increase in battery life or many of the numerous rumours that surrounded the announcement.

There was also no news on the iPhone Nano that many say is still in the wings, but maybe its not that far off. So every year in September Apple upgrade the iPod range with new models but it seems they might have a suprise in store, how do I know?

Well a friend that wants to get the new iPhone 3G S asked for his PAC code from Vodafone, they didn’t put up a fight and said fine we will send something through. But he got a call today to discuss another option, apparently Vodafone are in talks with Apple on a new un-announced phone that is set to launch in September. They said that talks are set to conclude in 60 days that may mean 02 loses its iPhone exclusivity deal and Vodafone along with all the other networks so O2 / Orange and T-Mobile might get the ‘New’ phone. For many a new phone available on not just 02 with be a massive change to the current deployment model, is 02’s exclusivity about to end.

So was this just to keep his business and delay moving off the network or was there some fact behind the information and we will indeed be sing another model being added to the iPhone line-up?

UPDATE

Well this was close but just not the Nano bit. It was confirmed today that Vodafone will be carrying the iPhone 3G and 3GS. Close but no cigar but either way the info on Voda announcing something was spot on. So a wait until January 2010 and we will have 3 operators offering the iPhone, may the prices reduce, everyone is a winner.

Gran Turismo PSP Video Looks Amazing!!

GT Mobile PSP

GT Mobile PSP

After a drought of news on anything new Gran Turismo we have another update this time the first video of GT on the all new PSP Go and some pictures, looks great doesn’t it? Yes the video you see below is GT PSP in all its 60fps glory, and it looks stunning. Ignore the driving they obviously haven’t got a clue but it looks great and better than it does on the PS2, but this is a hand held console. No news on a release date yet and nothing for GT5 on the PS3 either apparently its un-decided, great, come on Polyphony and Kazunori Yamauchi, hurry up!!

More info on GT PSP or GT Mobile as it might be called.

  • Will have all the tracks of GT4
  • Over 800 cars will be avaliable
  • Can be bought for PSP Go and UMD disc PSP’s

Oh and if you missed it these are the specs of the new PSP Go, expect it in the UK for sub £200

  • Approx. 128 x 16.5 x 69 mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces (including batter)
  • CPU: 333MHz
  • 64MB memory
  • 3.8-inch display (480 x 272 resolution)
  • Built-in stereo speakers and microphone
  • 802.11b WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
  • USB 2.0
  • Memory Stick Micro slot
  • Analog video out
  • 16GB storage

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