By Paul Blom (originally appeared in the Cape Times)

In the world of electronic gaming you can narrow it down to three main streams. The Arcade game machines, the PC and the TV plug-in home entertainment consoles.
When it comes to home gaming, you needn’t be an Abraham to remember the 8-bit, blocky Atari- and Intellivision systems of the 1980s, and before those, the ZX Spectrum-type systems. In the space of just a few decades the home gaming advances seemed to go from the Stone Age to the Space Age.

With the home gaming systems it has a lot to do with both the processing power of the machine, and the storage capacity of the software delivery system on which the game is loaded.
Some of the old TV plug-in computers of the past utilized magnetic audio cassettes! This evolved into the cartridges reigning for many years (and still available today), from Space Invaders and Pac-Man, to Sonic The Hedgehog and Mortal Combat.
Once digital CD technology started to push analogue systems like 8-tracks, vinyl, cassettes and reel-to-reel systems out of the way as the consumer market leader for audio, other applications were being experimented with.
The first PlayStation console dramatically jacked up the quality of games with the larger CD storage capacity.
Things did not lie stagnant from there onwards, but evolved together with technology, smaller and more powerful processors, and discs with even more storage capacity. Enter the DVD. With over 5 times more space than your regular CD, the possibilities expanded yet again and gave birth to the PlayStation 2. The PS2 took gaming to yet another level and added the capability of watching DVD movies in addition to playing games. And with this came more realism, more detail, more opportunity for game developers to let their imaginations fly in the direction of any genre and beyond – motor racing, martial arts, war, puzzle- and strategy games, beat ‘em ups, shoot ‘em ups, surreal fantasy worlds, underground, outer space, platform themes…the list is endless.
Basic gaming criteria also started to expand by incorporating high quality rendered (and often live action) movies linking up game stages imbued with a sense of narrative, drama, mood and atmosphere. No wonder many games have been turned into movies – and vice versa.

The improved High Definition quality comes into its true right when used on an HD TV with 1080 resolution lines (as opposed to our regular television set’s 480 lines). Most of us cannot afford the top range screens (some a couple of metres wide!), but this is the future of home entertainment and your large LCD or plasma screen TV will become the focal point of your home, be it for watching TV, movies, gaming, picture downloads or browsing the web.

Sony’s new PlayStation 3 system is an all-encompassing entertainment monster. It offers you the highest quality in home gaming with the fastest processor ever on the platform, and consolidates all of your entertainment and lifestyle components - from storing all of your pictures and music to video and data. Your portable PSP can also be connected via Bluetooth. The first shipment of 20Gig consoles supported your PS2 games as well, but not the 40Gig one! That sucks, and is probably the PS3's biggest complaint. It supports a variety of memory cards and multiple outputs from HDMI, and LAN, to Digital and regular AV out. The look of the controls haven’t changed much, but is now cordless and utilizes a six-axis control with motion sensitivity, allowing you to use the control as a floating steering or trigger device. You can listen to Compact Discs, Super Audio CDs, or watch movies on DVD or Blu-ray.
Especially when paired with the right screen, the HD quality of the new Blu-ray discs is phenomenal (holding up to five times more space than regular DVDs).
But, with all of these advances, this also introduces the dilemma of weighing your options – cost and quality. Can you afford to dish out to such a degree? Are you not really all that phased by ultimate picture quality? Do you want the best technology has to offer? The leap between video and DVD is a noticeable one – if you’re happy with the current DVD quality, and don’t need the super-intensity of the new advancement, is it worth spending the cash?
Are you perhaps going the route of waiting for the prices to drop? This cannot however be guaranteed and you may be losing out in the long run – especially if the prices start to rise!
Nothing is free, and nothing good is often cheap.
A fine quality new Blu-ray player can cost you in the region of R8 000 – excluding a screen and sound system…
A PS3 with multiple application possibilities comes in at almost R2 000 less.
If it is within your budget, and you want more than just watch movies, the choice may be an obvious one.


With all gaming systems venturing into getting people off the couch, freeing up the controls and placing the player inside its world, Move is PlayStation's addition to this new technology. Hitting the streets about a year ago, with most new technology it takes a while to integrate and for developers to come up with truly exciting titles and not just your basic obvious cartoon-like releases.


Flowing from their revolutionary EyeToy camera developed during the PS2 era, the new PlayStation Eye combined with the Move motion control is key - the camera detecting the position of the control's light orb in 3D space and thus linking you to the game, and in mosy cases, placing you within it.
One of the new developments in 2013 include the Wonderbook, where a book with strategic glyphs on each page is detected by the camera, allowing fo augmented relaity to emerge and enter your world.

Next Generation Guncon®

Next Generation Guncon®
After several incarnations, the current Guncon® 3 peripheral control is the most advanced to date, with some top-notch redesigns perfect for next generation shoot-‘em-up gaming. Ideal for FPS games like Time Crisis 4, the new design includes two dual shock analogue sticks, one on the new extended second front grip (in addition to another two buttons), and the second stick at the back of the gun where the firing pin would be (again with an extra two buttons below that). Both analogue sticks are comfortably controlled with the thumbs.
The new design and button configurations allows for a whole new dimension of free roaming gameplay, throwing you right in the action.
The control is fully compatible with all TV screens – extra sensors supplied to place at the corners of your set to detect the trajectory for accurate aiming.
Some may find the orange colour jarring, but this may appease critics who don’t want it to look too realistic.
The next step? Making the Guncon® cordless!

• Next Generation Guncon® – The most advanced Guncon ever, redesigned specifically to enhance next-gen gameplay.
• New dual analog stick design - Change camera angles, switch out weapons and control your character’s movement, including crouching and jumping.
• Full compatibility with all displays 13" to 50" - Enjoy the adrenaline pumping action in HD quality graphics whether you have an LCD, plasma or widescreen display. (Also supports Standard Definition displays)
• FPS mode – Exclusive to the console version and entirely new to the Time Crisis universe, roam freely as a new, console exclusive playable character, and experience FPS style gameplay in 5 new stages.
• Multiple modes – Time Crisis® 4 delivers intense-action in numerous modes of play including:
• Complete Mission - Play through a combination of original stages and brand new FPS stages.
• Arcade - Experience arcade action in your very own living room!
• Crisis Missions - The popular Crisis Missions are back and more exciting than ever, now with new tactical missions! Destroy biological weapons and complete other objectives requiring the utmost in stealth and precision.
• Mini Games - Test your sharp shooting skills and complete your objective within seconds, or go head-to-head with a friend in a variety of challenging mini games.
• Upgraded Arsenal – In addition to your standard weapons assortment, such as handguns and shotguns, upgrade to grenade launchers and mounted machine guns (FPS mode only) to increase your lethal arsenal. Also features unlockable console exclusive bonus weapons. Select your weapon and be prepared to assault enemies from every direction.

- Paul Blom

Die PLAYSTATION 3 Revolusie (in Afrikaans)
by Paul Blom (originally appeared in JIP)

Die nuwe PlayStation 3 word trots aangekondig as “die wêreld se mees gevorderde vermaaklikheidsisteem…” Dis nogal ‘n groot aanspraak wat met resultate beproef moet word – en Sony het daarin geslaag!

In die laat 1990’s het Sony se oorspronklike PlayStation tuisvermaakstelsel groot opspraak gemaak met CD-formaat speletjies wat ook die twee dimensionele formaat meer in die rigting van drie dimensies gestoot het, soos die van arcade masjiene en PC speletjies.

Toe, in die vroeë 2000’s het Sony die revolusie verder gedryf met die PSone se opvolger - die baanbrekende DVD gedrewe PS2 (wat al oor 110 miljoen masjiene wêreldwyd verkoop het). Die groter stoorkapasiteit van die DVD sisteem het dit moontlik gemaak om baie meer detail en teksture in die speletjies te bevorder. Behalwe om musiek CDs te kan luister soos sy voorganger, kon jy nou ook jou PS2 as DVD speler gebruik en rolprente kyk. Adisionele hardeskyf opsies en internet konnektiwiteit het dit ook moontlik gemaak om met ander spelers rondom die wêreld mee te ding.
Terwyl daar ander sisteme met die Sony PlayStation probeer meeding, is hierdie naam en populariteit net so bekend as die kwalitiet wat verbruikers daarvan verwag.

Dit bring ons by die heel nuutste revolusie in tuisvermaak – die PlayStation 3!
Hoë Definisie (HD) televisie was al lank op tegnologiese fundi’s se lippe, maar die vordering het veral in die laaste jaar al hoe meer van ‘n realiteit geword…en die PS3 is voor op die golf. Die resolusie van HD skerms is drasties verhoog van die TV stele waarmee ons grootgeword het, en styg van 480 resolusie lyne op die skerm, na tot 1080!
PS3 maak gebruik van die nuwe digitale stoorvoormaat Blu-ray, wat 25GB informasie op ‘n enkellaag skyf kan vat (teenoor die gewone DVD se 4.5GB!). Dit beteken dat daar soveel meer digitale detail ingewerk word in die speletjies – en soos met die PS2, beteken dit ook baie meer moontlikhede wanneer dit kom by die ontwikkeling van nuwe titels en die realisme in die ervaring daarvan. Jy kan ook natuurlik rolprente wat op Blu-ray vrygestel is kyk. Tesame met ‘n HD televisiestel is dit ‘n plofbare vermaaklikheids-kombinasie.
Die evolusie van die PlayStation se voorkoms is ook altyd ‘n modern en stylvol een, en gaan hand-aan-hand met die tegnologiese vooruitgang.
Van hierdie vooruitgange binne in hierdie aantreklike pakket sluit in die Cell Processor, die vinnigste wat nog ooit in ‘n tuisvermaaksisteem ingebou is. Jy kry ‘n 60GB (of 20GB) hardeskyf waar jy informasie kan stoor soos foto’s, musiek of flieks. Die RSX Graphics Chip is twee keer meer kragtig as meeste PC’s. Jy kry 5.1 kanaal DTS klank, twee maal 256MB Memory, kan jou draagbare PSP opkoppel, op die internet gaan en selfs ‘n verskeidenheid memory sticks gebruik. Die kontroles is ook koordloos en is Bluetooth konnektief.

Verder hoef jy ook nie jou ou speletjies (of DVD flieks) uit te gooi of te vervang nie, aangesien jou gewone DVD rolprente kan geniet, maar 'n groot teleurstelling is die feit dat jy nie met jou 40Gig PS3 jou ou PS2 speletjies kan speel nie! Van jou PSone sal werk.

Dit moet in gedagte gehou word dat nuwe HD aparate nie vir ‘n appel en ‘n ei weggegee word nie - maar die kwaliteitsprong is aansienlik. Die PlayStation 3 (met al sy ekstra vermaaklikheids moontlikhede) sal jou egter ‘n paar duisend rand minder kos as ‘n nuwe Blu-ray speler…‘n logiese keuse.

Die revolusie is hier – spring in!

Third Strike…NOT out! - The rise of the PLAYSTATION 3
by Paul Blom

Picking an addition to your home entertainment set-up or starting from scratch could be an expensive exercise not to be taken lightly. Now that the launch hype dust has settled around the most anticipated home gaming console since its predecessor the PS2, you can take your time and kick the tyres of this slick piece of tech with a clear head.

So, you find yourself facing a wall of expensive equipment at your favourite home entertainment emporium. What to do, what to do... You want the best money can buy – but also the best you can afford.
If you have 6 grand+ in your wallet (be it cash or plastic) there are several options open to you. This all depends on what you have in mind. For that amount you can get yourself a regular TV set and affordable DVD player and still have several zeros left to spare. Or you can get yourself a modest plasma / LCD equivalent and perhaps an all inclusive home entertainment system. If sound is your thing, a pretty damn decent surround sound system (DVD included) can be yours.
But, what if you’re an avid gamer? And what if you are prone to plunge into each of the new technologies introduced in this perpetual digital revolution?

After Betamax was nudged aside by VHS, it reigned for several decades. The LP-size Laser Disc system never really went mainstream, but was the grand daddy of the formats to follow, with great picture and sound quality - its only slight drawback being its size…

From there the DVD system rose like a whirlwind as the post millennium format seemed set to replace our analogue way of watching movies at home. Just as the consumer thought this digital storage system would be hard to top, in steps the various high definition formats, including Blu-ray. In the early ‘90s I worked on the Macintosh computer’s Media100 editing system that boasted a whopping two drives of 1.2 and 2 gigabytes respectively (!) – and it cost a fortune. One Blu-ray disc can hold 25 gigs of digital info on a single layer disc (or 50 on dual layer!). More storage space means more capacity to load information, thus more potential for detail – not only for movies, but games as well.

Yet, like the old conflicting Beta-VHS conundrum, we have two leading new formats backed by various electronics factions. Blu-ray and HD. Sony, Philips and Panasonic opted for Blu-ray and thus this is the system of choice when it comes to Sony’s drool-worthy PS3 console. The PS2 was quite something when it was launched, but the third chapter in this home gaming console’s evolution is another beast entirely.

It simply seems logical – if advanced systems can include multiple possibilities like watching both Blu-ray movies and playing PS3 games, why settle for a single function?
One can easily embellish the fact that this is the ultimate home gaming system, but if the proof is at your fingertips, and another system can’t overshadow its impressive specs, you simply have to believe it.

To try and convert a PC gamer may prove futile. And not everyone uses their computer for anything more than spreadsheets or word processing functions. A large portion of the population is not jumping onto the broadband wagon yet, or own killer processors and insane graphics cards necessary to optimally run these PC games. And while the price of the PlayStation 3 matches many decent computer systems on the market, this little baby actually comes with a 60GB or 20GB hard drive and has the capability of loading computer operating systems. You can browse on-line, download game upgrades, play online against anyone around the world…

The new controls are wireless, you can load any digital data and even interface with your portable PSP. There’s no need to chuck out your favourite PSone games, although, unfortunalte (and disappointingly the later shipment of 40Gig PS3 consoles is not compatible with your PS2 titles!!! So, now you'll need to hang onto your older consoles (for more than mere sentimental or historic reasons of posterity). New matching peripherals are also available .

Besides the cutting-edge components under the hood, naturally a lot of care went into the sexy body of this piece of digital machinery - and like the PS2, can be positioned in two ways. While some may think the aerodynamic PS3 looks a bit like a designer sandwich toaster in its flat, horizontal position, it’s the vertical tower stance where it displays that slick, futuristic look.
On top of superior gaming you can watch your regular DVDs and, of course, Blu-ray movies. The PS3 games and Blu-ray media will also meet its full potential with the right HD TV set – which means digging even deeper…

With technology expanding access to the world to a great extent, it is ironic how this expansion further crushes us into our home cocoons in front of a variety of screens. But if that’s what you’re going to do, you might as well go all the way! Just be sure to occasionally pop out to the beach, a park, or catch a live band before real life passes you by in a digital haze.

So, you’re still in the store with the need to be entertained – weigh up those options and whatever the salesman is spinning, make up your own mind.


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