Best Playstation 4 Headset – Philips SHP9500 + Vmoda Boom Mic

PS4-USB-Headset So for years, YEARS, I've been using the Playstation headsets. They are wireless, work on PC, Mac, and Playstation, and sound really good to my ears. The reason I have recently moved away from them is because of the microphone quality. Since I started streaming it had become painfully obvious that the quality of microphone was really quite poor. It works fine for chat, but for something where your voice is being recorded it kinda sounds like poop. I had recently picked up a pair of Philips SHP9500 headphones, which are incredible by the way. They are open ear-cups so you can still hear whats going on around you and you don't end up screaming while trying to adjust the volume of your voice over whatever you're listening to. The open design also creates a nice airy feeling to the sound, which I've found a really quite impressive compared to my experience with closed ear-cups in the past. They sound great. I also really love how light these headphones are. They weigh very little and feel comfortable on my head for hours. They are comfortable as hell. The last really notable thing about these headphones is that they have a removable cable... Enter the Vmoda Boom Mic. What this is is essentially a replacement cable for your headphones that has an adjustable boom microphone built into the end that connects to your headphones, converting them into a headset. Its got an inline volume control and mute toggle, which is great, and sounds WORLDS better than the Playstation Pulse Elite, or Gold Wireless Headset mics. If you're not into the Vmoda, another option would be the AntLion Modmic. I ended up opting for the Vmoda because it results in a single cable, which was more attractive to me.
When I tried plugging into the controller, my audio kept cutting out.
Vmoda-Boom-Inline Now for most people this would be the end of the story. Since the PS4 has a headphone jack in the controller you can just plug it in and be done with it. When I tried plugging into the controller, my audio kept cutting out. After looking online I discovered that can happen if your area has a lot of wireless and bluetooth signals competing for the airwaves so I needed a way to convert it into a corded solution. From here I got a splitter which converted the single headphone cable to a mic and a headphone jack, then used this adapter to convert these two separate signals into a single USB connection. Then added an extension USB cable so that I can sit in my chair I use to play games. The result is fantastic, albeit kind of ridiculous, but it works really well and I've really enjoyed both the sound quality and consistency that it provides. I can heartily recommend any of the products listed above if you want to have a similar setup for amateur streaming of videogames. I also have a pair Custom One Pro headphones that I use when I'm using the mic and am playing with other people. The closed ear-cups provide a better seal, which means much much less sound leakage. If you have the volume up really loud on the open headphones like the Philips, the mic can pick it up which can give the people you're playing with an echo. The rest of the setup stays the same. These headphones are very comfortable, but the soundstage and airiness aren't nearly as good as the SHP9500's. Oh, and before anyone asks, the thing I have my headphones on up top is actually a rack that is meant to be used for attaching to a wall and holding a hose, but it works great for headphones.

Lost Planet 2 – Now I’m Interested

lostplanet2 I have never really gotten into Monster Hunter. I've thought about it. I even downloaded the PSP demo, but shitty camera controls kind of threw me. After this week's Co-Op and hearing what they had to say about the upcoming Lost Planet 2 I am now officially interested. Basically, it sounds like you're playing a sci-fi version of Monster Hunter where you and a team of up to 3 other players take down huge monsters. Co-Op says that the control and aiming is solid which would be a welcome departure from Monster Hunter. Lost Planet 2 doesnt come out till next year, though. Poop.

PlayStation 3 Slim / Firmware 3.0 Announced

ps3-slim-01 Today Sony announced the PS3 Slim. So whats different? The price for starters. The PS3 slim is now $299 (down from $399), has a 120GB hard drive, a matte finish, and actual power/eject buttons. What I am most excited about, however is the reduced power consumption. My current PS3 (a 40GB) uses 380W, the new Slim uses 250W. Quite a big drop, which gives me hope that I'll be able to play games while the AC and gaming computer are on, ya know, without blowing a fuse. It's good to see Sony finally getting into the game as far as price is concerned. I'd like to upgrade if I can get a decent trade in price for my current PS3... gotta remember to put the 40GB hard drive back in there. The slim is available for pre-order and will be released "The first week of September" shortly after firmware 3.0. Firmware 3.0 was also announced today. The bulk of the update is to the UI. There are some additional features added to the themes menu including animated themes. I'd really love to see a theme of Old Snake smoking like the loading screen for MGS4. They finally fixed the clock/charge level overlay. They've also changed the layout of the friend's list and replaced the Information Board with a "Whats New" which seems more useful.

Fat Princess Impressions

I picked up Fat Princess the day that it came out and ended up playing it for about 5 hours, which is a clue of how fun it is. In the first week or so there was some server problems, and there are some bugs but over all the game is great and as the problems get patched out it will only get better and better. The art style is awesome. I love the way the characters are modeled and textured. Its hilarious seeing big teams of butch stumpy dudes running around slaughtering each other. The backgrounds are simple but very stylized and detailed. The graphical overlays used in the game like the princess's status, and the map tie everything together nicely. Each of the game's classes (Priest, Wizard, Worker, Archer, Warrior) has their own set of skills and 2 weapons which each play differently. You get the second tier by harvesting resources and upgrading hat factories. There are several modes from the simple team deathmatch, a slightly more advanced capture points mode, and the full blown capture the enemy's princess. Capturing the princess is the best mode by far in my opinon and is pretty much all I play. There is also a soccer mode, which is oddly fun. For $15 this game offers up an insane amount of playtime. I've already logged close to 40 hours and still find myself wanting to go home and play it while at work.

Demon’s Souls

demons-souls

I imported the Asian version of From Software's "Demon's Souls" a few weeks ago. I've been playing for about 10 hours so far and I feel I've gotten enough playtime I'm to formulate some feelings on the game. The first thing you'll notice about Demon's Souls is its difficulty, which will be extremely polarizing. You'll either appreciate the challenge and work really hard to overcome it, or you'll be turned off by it and never want to see this game again. Now a bit of back story. Demon's Souls takes place in the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, a once great nation now being ravaged by a demon scourge. As a result, people who die are trapped in what is called The Nexus. After a brief tutorial level you are thrown into a battle with a gigantic boss, who proceeds to kill you in one hit. This sets up the game's story and gives you a bit of a taste for just how challenging the game will be. The Nexus is the game's main hub where you can teleport to the various stages, buy or store items, and learn or upgrade skills (after you beat level 1-1). When you start the game the only level available to you is 1-1. This serves as a time for you to learn the combat, and the basic skills in the game like dodging, attacking, and blocking. Over the course of the level you open up shortcuts which let you get back to areas deeper in the level without having to fight through the whole thing again if you die (which you most likely will). There will be enemies you just cant beat in the beginning so these shortcuts act as a path to get to various parts of the level to revisit these super enemies. Anyway, at some point in level 1 you open a large gate to the first boss. Once the first boss is dispatched all 4 other areas levels become available as well as the ability to go deeper into level 1 (and giving you a second entry point to the level in the process), it also opens up the ability to purchase skill upgrades and magic. Enter souls. Souls are the game's money--they are used to upgrade your stats (strength, endurance, vitality, etc), buy or upgrade and fix your weapons, and purchase magical spells. Part of this games difficulty comes from the way in which souls are handled. You gain souls by defeating enemies. Weaklings can give you 6-60 souls, and bigger guys and bosses can give you thousands. If you die however, all of the souls you have at the time are dropped, but you can fight back to where you died and pick them back up, but if you die on your way there a new set of souls drop and the original (usually larger) sum disappears. There are also various online features to the game including 4 player co-op, and a sort of MMO style online mode where you can see other players as ghosts in your world. You can also leave messages on the ground for others to read and to warn them of danger or of secret items. If you see a message that you find helpful, you can rate it which will give some life back to the person that left the message. You can also leave messages if there is a part you're having trouble passing and passers by will be able to lend a hand by rating your message and refilling your life. This is why you'll see a ton of "This is harsh. Evaluate me." messages. There is even a PVP system in the game where players can force themselves into other someone else world and stalk and kill them as a phantom. I am having a lot of fun with Demon's Souls so far, and I cant wait to see some of the later areas in the game. Though, I think I'll level up a little bit more first.

Metal Gear [5?] Wallpaper

mgs-countdown1 As Metal Gear fans around the world watch Kojimas Countdown > Countdown > Countdown the anticipation for the next game in the series grows. In the past few days there have been reveals of several "familiar faces" including a raiden look-alike with brown eyes and what appears to be big boss. I threw together a quick wallpaper (1920x1200) using some of the counter's image assets. Enjoy! (click the image to get the full size or click below) You cant really see it in the preview but it says MGS5 very faintly in the top section and has a diagonal line pattern. Click me for badass MGS5 wallpaper!

Demon’s Souls

Back in the day of the original Playstation King's Field was one of my first games. I fell in love with it, despite its slow plodding pace, almost complete lack of story, and brutal difficulty. Demon's Souls, a new PS3 game by the same developers, is out in japan/asia, and I'm thinking of importing it. The asian version has english voice/text so it should be easily playable, and I dont think they are bringing this guy over to america. decisions...

Modern Warfare 2 – June Game Informer Cover

modernwarfare-2The upcoming June issue of Game Informer magazine has a 10 page cover story for Modern Warfare 2. There have been a few small teaser trailers so far including a 15 second gameplay movie, but really, this game is a mystery. It looks like I'm going to actually have to pick this up. I loved the previous Modern Warfare, and played the multiplayer for a long time. Hopefully this time I can get my friends on board.

Runes of Magic – A Free MMO

runes-of-magic Yesterday I was home sick and bored. I had heard about this game Runes of Magic on this week's TRS and figured now would be a good time to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. The graphics are pretty solid, and the gameplay is very similar to WoW in many respects. I played for awhile yesterday and got to level 8. One thing thats really nice is that you can learn all of the professions so if you want to can collect any resources you want and use it to make whatever you like. Its always bothered me in games like WoW that like if you're able to skin things and mine stuff your guy cannot figure out how to pick some plants. The game has 6 main classes (warrior, ranger, cleric, knight, mage or rogue). I started out as a rogue, but I'll probably add either Knight or Scout when I get the chance. I haven't had a chance to do any PVP yet but that is part of the game as well. There are opportunities to spend money in the game, though they are not necessary. You buy "diamonds" from the website which are pretty reasonably priced (100 for $4.99), then you trade them for in game items or services, like costumes, special mounts, etc... I dont know that i'll necessarily be buying things in game but we'll see. If I end up playing this enough perhaps I will. Overall, I'm having a lot of fun with the game and with no monthly fee there is no reason not to play, really. Check it out.

OnLive – Is this really possible?

onlive-microconsole Yesterday at GDC the OnLive service was announced. Basically, this service takes input from your controller be it a gamepad or keyboard/mouse renders the next frame of the game on the OnLive servers and sends the video back to you of you playing. According to CEO Steve Perlman (creator of Quicktime) the new video compression system they've developed has a delay of only 1 millisecond so to the user the inputs feel instant. The user will connect to OnLive either by downloading a browser plugin on their PC or Mac, or  hooking up the micro-console (pictured above) to their TV.  With a required connection speed of 1.5MB for SD and 5MB for HD the service should already be doable with today's cable providers, though for those of us with bandwidth caps it sounds like this will be able to chew through those with ease. On Gizmodo today they have a video of the press conference as well as examples of it in action. By action I mean a Dell mini 9 notebook playing Crysis. If this OnLive thing actually works like it says it will the landscape of videogames is going to change forever. I can't imagine that hardware manufacturers will like this.