As you may or may not know, the XBox 360 finally red-ringed, which means no more XBox games until it's replaced. Frankly, it's lasted a long time, especially considering the incredibly long gaming sessions Jake and I would put it through. In the meantime, we have other consoles, including a PlayStation 3 which, until today, I had never touched.
I used to be a die hard Sony supporter. I loved the PlayStation, I loved the PlayStation 2, and I was sure I'd love the PlayStation 3 if only I had a spare thousands of riches to spend on it. Instead I stuck to my PS2, which has a wealth of amazing games that I never get tired of playing.
Then Jake moved in and brought his XBox with him. I was sceptical. Sure that it would be just another game console, nothing to brag about. All fancy graphics and no substance. I turned out to be partly right -- it is just a game console, but so is everything else.
I can be a bit of a snob, if you haven't figured that out for yourself.
Anyway, so I got used to playing on the XBox, after a period of having trouble remembering that the X button is over here instead of over there. Now that I'm used to it, I actually find the XBox controller to feel more natural than the symmetrical PS controller. I also enjoy the shape of the trigger buttons -- they feel easier to use than the R2/L2 buttons on the PS controller. Not that the PS controller is difficult, mind you.
I wouldn't say I converted to XBox camp. I honestly feel that supporting the XBox over the PS3 or vice versa is very silly1. Consoles these days have advanced enough that the differences between them are invisible2 to the common man, like myself. I don't really understand the technical aspects of the two consoles, I just know that they play games I like. I also know that we have a huge library of XBox games and not so many PS3 games, so I never bothered trying to play the PS3.
Until today. See, Skyrim came out today, and as the XBox is broken, Jake got it for the PS3. And I have thoughts on both of these things.
(Skyrim, if you are unaware, is the newest in the Elder Scrolls line of games. The Elder Scrolls games (of which I am familiar with Morrowind and Oblivion) are a fantasy RPG by Bethesda, the same company that makes the Fallout line of games. The two are therefore fairly similar in mechanics.)
I have to say that I am unimpressed with the PS3. I've been playing for roughly an hour, I think, and it has frozen quite a bit in that time. One instance, I had to restart the console to get it to start responding again. On the other hand, when the XBox freezes, it freezes bad, so waiting a bit for the PS3 to get over itself isn't all that bad. I also find the controller to be slightly unresponsive -- not enough to be really noticeable while playing, but it's there. However, I've noticed that there's a piece missing on the controller (the piece of plastic that goes between the R1 and R2 buttons) which implies to me that this controller is well used. So that could be why.
Also, I can't get the clock to display the correct time. There's no option to change the time, only the time zone and DST settings. This bothers me quite a bit -- if the console is supposed to sync up its clock with something, it had damn well better, or you'd better give me the option to change the time myself.
As for Skyrim, I have a few thoughts after a brief bout of playing. The first is that they've slimmed the game down quite a bit from its previous incarnations. In the character creation screen, this is an enormous improvement. No more fiddling with little sliders that change bits of the face you don't really care about, no skin tone options that don't seem to do anything, no waiting for the game to load the changes you've made. There's pre-set options for things like mouth shape and eye shape, and sliders for things like jaw width and height. The whole thing is a lot smoother. On the other hand, there's things like the birth sign which has been reduced to three options that all do the same thing (gain experience 20% faster) for one of three different skill sets (thief, warrior, and mage). Previously, you got to pick from a variety of star signs that did a variety of interesting things, like give you the power to poison people.
Much like Oblivion, the opening of this game is long and boring, and I expect it'll seriously detract from replay value.
I griped a bit about this on tumblr, but it remains a problem: the text in this game is the worst I've ever seen. The font is minuscule and, even worse, all scrunched together. On our not-HD-TV, this makes the letters slightly blurred together, making it almost completely illegible from a reasonable distance away (I'm perhaps five or six feet away from the television and have to peer at the TV to make anything out -- even then, I decipher the words from context. I couldn't make out the difficulty setting at all until I stood up and moved to a foot in front of the television) and even when at the aforementioned foot away, everything was still slightly difficult to read. Reading should not take effort, for me.
Oh, I should mention, the character creation has a weight slider -- I don't know if it actually allows you to be fat, as I only slid it the other way, but it might. It might, on the other hand, make you muscular instead. Next time I start up the game, I'll start a new one and find out.
The graphics actually look a little sub par, to me. They have the usual problem of there being way too much detail (I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but in video games I frequently have trouble making things out because everything just sort of blends together). There's also a certain choppiness to the game and I think it's to do with the graphics, though I could be wrong. As I said, I'm not too familiar with the intricacies of game mechanics -- for all I know, it could be the fault of the playstation.
The character information/level up screen is some kind of fancy astronomy thing with a lot of zipping around between constellations and stars. I find it unnecessarily fancy, and preferred the paper-and-pen style of Oblivion. Also, no way to look at your character unless you switch from first person to third person, that I've found.
At the very least, it's nice to have another game with a race of playable lizard people. Not enough games have that.
I may have more thoughts on this later, when I've played some more. But for now, that about covers it, I think.
ETA: I want to add that there is one thing that Elder Scrolls gets unfalteringly right. The level up system. How you level a skill is by using that skill -- use it a lot and it levels faster, never use it and it never levels. No sticking skill points into one skill or another. Practice is what does it. I love that.
EATA: [sigh] Confirmed: the body size slider makes you more/less muscular.
1A position that I'm sure many people have, these days. I haven't heard any console wars in a while (though I haven't exactly been anywhere that I would hear about such things), just console vs. PC.
2Except for the Wii.