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Posts tagged ‘Sony’

24
Dec

Both Sony and Microsoft are holding big holiday sales right now


It’s just a few days until Christmas, and plenty of people will probably end up with an Xbox One or PS4 beneath the tree. Naturally, both Sony and Microsoft are offering a raft of game deals for people to load up their new consoles, and it’s worth taking a look whether you’re just getting a new console or have had one for years now.

On the Sony side, there aren’t many deals on brand-new to be had, but some of the best of the last couple years are on sale — including Shadow of Mordor (Game of the Year edition, $10.99), Star Wars Battlefront (Ultimate Edition for $27.99 or the standard edition for $9.99), Overwatch ($39.59) and the full Destiny collection ($39.59). You can also grab Bloodbourne for only $7.99, Grand Theft Auto V for $29.99 and the first season of Hitman $29.99. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens more games on sale. Note that all of these prices only apply if you have a PS Plus subscription — though all these games are also on sale if you don’t have PS Plus, they’ll just cost a little more. Sony’s deals are on through 12/27 at 8AM, though there will be another sale right on the heels of that one.

Microsoft has a similarly expansive sale going on through the 28th. Among the many games on sale are Battlefield 1, BioShock: The Collection, Dishonored 2 and Destiny: The Collection all for $44.99 each. Forza Horizon 3 is on sale for $38.99 and Forza Motorsport 6 is $29.99. If you want to pick up some games on the cheap, Batman: Arkham Knight and Star Wars: Battlefront are only $11.99 each. And if you want to get your hands on the latest from one of Microsoft’s flagship franchises, Gears of War 4 is on sale for $32.99. Microsoft is also having daily deals today through the 31st, and another sale will kick off on the 29th after this current one ends.

If PC games are more your speed, Steam is also holding its big holiday sale right now — it’s a good week to blow some cash on games regardless of what platform you prefer.

Source: Microsoft, Sony

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22
Dec

The best gadgets of 2016


A year ago, virtual reality felt almost like a pipe dream. But during 2016, we saw the launches of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Daydream, a new mobile platform from Google. VR is here, and it’s very much . . . well, real. We’re still waiting for more games to appear and for the price of truly immersive platforms to fall, but it’s an auspicious start for a category that’s sometimes felt overhyped.

Of course, there was even more great stuff this year beyond VR. We’ve seen the steady evolution of smartphones with Google’s Pixel devices, the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 line (with the Note 7 being the obvious exception). Both Dell and HP delivered some of the most refined laptops we’ve ever seen (sorry, MacBook Pro). And we can think of a few more standouts too. Find all of our favorite gadgets of 2016 in the gallery below.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

22
Dec

‘The Last Guardian’ gets its own companion book


While 2016 hasn’t been the best year for the world at large, it’s certainly been a brilliant one for video games. As well as giving us excellent titles like Overwatch and Uncharted 4, 2016 has also seen the release of two games that many thought would never see the light of day – Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian.

Now, thanks to the release of an upcoming companion book, fans will be able to get an insight into The Last Guardian’s problematic nine-year development cycle. Entitled “An Extraordinary Story”, the 256 page hardcover book will be released on February 28th, setting you back $39.99 (£27.99). Created by Future Press in collaboration with the game’s visionary creator Fumito Ueda, the book will contain a wealth of intriguing material from Team Ico’s archives.

As well as featuring never before seen illustrations, the book will also give readers new insight into the game’s story as well as revealing more about its troubled development through exclusive interviews with its creators. The listing also states that the book will double as a walkthrough, an essential addition for all ten PS4 owners without internet connections.

Developed by the visionary team behind PS2 classic Shadow of The Colossus, The Last Guardian was originally announced as a PlayStation 3 title at E3 2009. Yet after the excitement surrounding its initial unveiling, years went by without the world hearing any more on the project. With many fearing it had been quietly canceled, it wasn’t until E3 last year that the game resurfaced, with Sony re-announcing it as a PlayStation 4 title.

Now that it’s out, and apparently pushing the PS4 fairly hard, it seems likely that the game’s stunning art and intricate AI were simply too much for the PS3 to handle. But with little known about the process behind the game’s development, this companion book could provide some welcome answers as to what held up the project for so many years. Either way, it’ll have some pretty pictures of Trico. Win-win?

Source: Future Press

22
Dec

PlayStation 4’s YouTube app is slowly gaining PSVR support


We’re over two months out from the PlayStation VR’s launch and, well, new stuff is a bit sparse at this point. But hey, an update is rolling out that’ll put 360 degree YouTube videos on Sony’s headset. Before you get too excited, though, Reddit users (spotted by UploadVR) are commenting that the quality isn’t so hot. That’s likely due to the videos capping out at 1080p resolution, and how it has to stretch across a 100 degree field of view, at 360 degrees. By user morphinapg’s calculations, resolution equals out to around 354p.

In my tests, the update wasn’t available yet (I’m currently using version 1.08). But given that watching a Blu-ray via the headset’s Cinematic Mode isn’t the most ideal way to view a movie, and my experience with 360 degree videos on other platforms, I’m inclined to believe this isn’t going to look the best. We’ve reached out to Sony for more information and will update this post should it arrive.

Via: UploadVR

Source: Reddit

20
Dec

‘Until Dawn’ looked way different as a PlayStation 3 game


Until Dawn was my favorite game from last year. It had a rocky development history, though, starting as a first-person PlayStation 3 game that used the Move motion controller pretty extensively. And now, footage from an early prototype has surfaced online, showing off just what the game looked like as a motion-controlled PS3 title.

The shift to a first-person perspective is the most jarring difference, and Sony’s Move wand works both for controlling the in-game flashlight and for completing quick-time events. The doomed teens still convene at a ski lodge in the woods, but the setting doesn’t look nearly as impressive as the final, PlayStation 4, version given the PS3’s comparatively weaker hardware. Character faces have a distinctly mannequin-esque look to them, as well. Another difference? The live-action story sequences peppered about to fill in the narrative. Oh, and Hollywood actors Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek are nowhere in sight.

The game’s greatest strength was how much it felt like an indie teen-horror flick. And for all the changes from prototype to finished product, it’s interesting hearing that while the lines of dialog and character names switched, the quality of the script and acting were paramount from the beginning. But as much as I’d love a proper sequel, the franchise’s future isn’t clear. Sure, there was the PlayStation VR launch title Rush of Blood, but that was an on-rails shooter. Maybe developer Supermassive Games could tackle suburbia horror next, a la It Follows. That’s assuming Sony would actually market it next time ’round.

Via: VG 24/7

Source: PtoPOnline (YouTube)

20
Dec

Google Home now plays nice with Sony speakers and Android TVs


Google Home already allows you to control any connected Chromecast devices with simple voice commands, but if the device is really going to compete with Amazon’s Echo line, it’s going to need a bigger ecosystem to play in. Starting today, however, users with Sony speakers or Android TV sets can start taking advantage of Google Home’s voice commands to control music and video streaming without the need for a complicated smart home setup.

According to Sony, a firmware update for all its “Chromecast built-in” speakers and Android TV-equipped sets adds the missing support for Google’s smart hub and personal assistant. That means commands like “OK Google, play Spotify on my Sony speaker” will automatically route the audio to your desired speaker. Likewise, calling out, “OK Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on the TV” will also work with any of Sony’s Android TV sets like the Bravia line or its latest 4K HDR panels. Finally, for users with multi-room audio setups, you can use Google’s app to group together speakers or even sync the audio across any combination of compatible Chromecast devices including Sony equipment and the Google Home itself.

Source: Sony Newsroom

19
Dec

This was the year of VR, until AR stole it


This was supposed to be the year of virtual reality, but barely had 2016 started when Microsoft threw a spanner in the works with the announcement of HoloLens. Rather than taking us to a virtual world, Microsoft’s headset pulls virtual objects into our own. Microsoft calls these objects Holograms, much to the chagrin of hologram enthusiasts, but most people know them as tenets of mixed, or augmented, reality. It’s already being touted as the next next big thing.

Of course, 2016 was full of VR. With spring came the retail launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Valve-endorsed Vive. Both require two things: a lot of cash and a lot of power. The Rift costs $599 while the Vive is $799 (including controllers and tracking accoutrements). But then you need to factor in the price of a PC that can support the high-fidelity, high-speed visuals VR requires. A typical all-in price started from $1,500, putting it out of the range of all but the most ardent of gamers. That price has dropped and will continue to drop as cheaper, better graphics cards are released.

There are no firm figures for how many VR kits have been sold. Steam statistics suggest that just 0.34 percent of its users in November had a headset. Even counting gamers who don’t use Steam, that would likely put the total figure sold across both Vive and Oculus at well under a million. That estimation is in line with VR analytics group SuperData Research, which projected around 450,000 HTC Vive sales and 355,000 Oculus Rift sales for 2016.

Just as Oculus and HTC should’ve been dominating the news cycle, Magic Leap, the secretive Google-backed mixed reality (MR) startup, finally broke cover with a Wired feature. Magic Leap is basically promising to do the same things as HoloLens, but better.

Details are scant, but rather than projecting images onto a portion of a giant helmet (like Microsoft’s headset), Magic Leap will beam light into your eyes, using a system called Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal to give these objects depth and solidity. The company has yet to show off any hardware or software or even suggest a year when its tech will be ready, but it’s nonetheless one of the best-funded startups around. Wired’s Magic Leap feature came in April, within weeks of the Vive and Rift launches. The timing was obvious, and the message was clear: There’s something better around the corner.

In the meantime, an ex-Google startup with a couple dozen employees was preparing to steal everyone’s attention with a mobile game. I’m talking about Niantic, of course, and Pokémon Go, which was undoubtedly the hit game of the summer, if not the year.

Somewhat erroneously referred to as an augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon Go is better described as a location-based game, like geocaching, with a pervasive layer on top. Definitions aside, there can be no doubt that AR has been a big part of its huge success. When catching Pokémon, players are shown a live feed from their device’s camera with a monster overlaid. Hundreds of thousands of people shared these images on social media, helping spread intrigue about the game.

pikalens.jpg

Before long, packs of Pokémon hunters were roaming New York, London, Paris and other locations around the world, searching for new monsters and using an AR system to help catch them. Unlike Niantic’s last game, Ingress, this wasn’t just geeks and gamers. I can count on one hand the number of Ingress players I know. With Pokémon Go, I can count on one hand the people I know who didn’t play it. My 64-year-old mom played. My 10-year-old son played. It felt like, at one point, almost everyone gave it a shot. By the time Niantic announced an Apple Watch app for Pokémon Go, the game had already been downloaded 500 million times. That’s a ridiculous number.

Of course, crazes rise and fall, and it’s safe to say that Pokémon Go is, if not gone, seemingly on its way out of the public’s imagination. But its impact remains. My colleague Kris Naudus referred to Pokémon Go as AR’s aha moment, and I agree. For a fleeting minute, the game brought a little Pokémon magic into our world. It’s one of the most basic implementations of AR around, but we found it compelling. That should be encouraging for Microsoft, Magic Leap and any other company that’s planning a mixed or augmented reality product.

So where does that leave virtual reality? Well, there are still plenty of headsets out there, and VR is not going away anytime soon. Sony launched the PlayStation VR just a month ago, and it’s expected to equal Vive and Rift sales combined by the year’s end. It’s not that PSVR offers a better experience than its PC-based cousins. It’s just a lot cheaper — $399 to $499, depending on your needs — and has a way bigger reach. Steam stats suggest little over 10 percent of PC gamers have a VR-ready computer. Every PlayStation 4 owner can plug in a PSVR and get started. That gives Sony somewhere between two and four times the potential audience.

And even PSVR’s prospective audience is dwarfed by the potential market for smartphone VR. Google has sold cheap Cardboard viewers for a couple of years, but this year the company announced Daydream, a new initiative to bring a more premium VR experience to mobile users. Daydream View is a $79, comfortable headset sold with a bundled motion controller. At present, only Google’s Pixel and the updated Moto Z are Daydream-certified — a side effect of the high standard of experience that Google is hoping to maintain — but you can bet that many Android phones will support the standard in 2017.

VR, AR, MR and every other “R” need to coexist for a while. For now virtual reality is the easiest to pull off — software and hardware makers have the fewest things to keep track of and complete control of the virtual environment — and also the most developed. It’s fairly easy for a developer to build a VR app or for a manufacturer to make a VR-ready phone. Mixed reality is clearly harder.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is effectively a wearable computer, making thousands of calculations every second just to understand its environment. And its limitations, such as field of view, are way more apparent than those of a VR headset. The virtual objects of HoloLens have to be small enough — or faraway enough — to fit into a small square in the middle of the headset. You simply can’t see the whole illusion. Perhaps Magic Leap already has the answer to that problem, but given how many years it’s been in development — and how little it’s shown so far — it’s likely not a simple thing to figure out.

In 2017, Microsoft’s partners will release a handful of $300 VR headsets for Windows. Rather than competing with existing VR products, these headsets are more like a diet HoloLens. You’ll get the same experience, interface and apps as HoloLens, but your entire environment will be virtual. Think of it like a gateway drug for mixed reality. In one swoop, it’s getting both developers and users ready for MR, without the tribulations of dealing with first-generation, hyper-expensive headsets.

At the same time, Google is currently working on a device that uses cameras and algorithms to display mixed reality inside a virtual reality headset. It’s essentially going to be a combination of VR and Google’s Tango computer vision efforts, with a lot of extra smarts added on top. Again, the project seems almost like a stepping-stone toward a more complete mixed reality experience. The device has yet to be announced, but sources familiar with the matter say it’s of great importance to the company.

The dark horse in all of this is Apple. As is tradition, there’s been a lot of speculation and questions asked about the company’s plans for virtual, augmented and mixed reality. CEO Tim Cook has said that AR is more interesting than VR, as it’s less closed off and more social. The company has already acquired an AR company, and it has experts in the field within its ranks. Its iPhones clearly have the power and sensors to pull off a Daydream-like VR experience immediately, but it’s obviously waiting to offer something more compelling to its users.

nextgenpika.jpg

There can be no doubt that ‘virtual reality’ headsets like the Vive, Rift and Daydream View are just a stopgap until mixed reality is ready.

There can be no doubt that “virtual reality” headsets like the Vive, Rift and Daydream View are just a stop-gap until mixed reality is ready. That probably sounds like a bold statement, but it’s easy to justify. Mixed reality headsets will, at some point make virtual objects appear solid. HoloLens isn’t there yet, sure, but Magic Leap claims to be, and you can be sure Microsoft is working on it.

Once these headsets are able to display opaque objects and cover our entire field of view, developers and creatives will have total control over what we see. They can decide to mix or augment our surroundings, like we’ve already seen with Magic Leap and HoloLens, or completely scrap that environment and put us in a virtual space, like with a VR headset. It should only take a few taps to send us to an augmented reality, a virtual one and back to our own.

This year showed millions of people how fun it can be to see a digital creation entering their world. And maybe 2017 won’t be the year, but as technology catches up to its aspirations, we might soon be able to see how fun it is to have millions of digital creations do the same.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

17
Dec

Sony’s Xperia Ear is not the hands-free assistant I wanted


In theory, Sony’s newest wearable sounds promising. The Xperia Ear is a single Bluetooth earbud that lets you dictate messages, get weather updates and smartphone notifications, and carry out other little tasks just by talking to it. It’s like having an Amazon Echo in your ear, except with far fewer skills and third-party integrations. Sony also promises a long-lasting battery that can endure a full workday of talk time with the included charging case, so you can have the assistant ready for your commands all day. Unfortunately, the Xperia Ear simply doesn’t do enough to justify its $200 asking price.

Hardware

The Xperia Ear is a single black wireless earbud. The thumb-sized, round-rectangular device has a slightly protruding speaker to help it latch onto your ear. There’s also a semi-circular hook-like extrusion above the speaker, which doesn’t appear to serve a purpose (other than perhaps helping it maintain a firmer grip on your ear). On its gray outer surface is a physical button that you can press to trigger the assistant, as well as a blue indicator light.

Inside, the earpiece houses a host of sensors, including a gyroscope, accelerometer, Bluetooth radio, NFC transmitter and proximity sensor. It also meets the IPX2 standard for water resistance, meaning it can survive light splashes or rain. I did not encounter wet weather during my testing period, but the Ear did survive the drops of water I splashed on it.

Importantly, the device comes in a sturdy, pager-sized holder that charges the core unit when you stow the latter in there. This case was small enough to carry in even my tiniest of purses, which I appreciated.

In use

Getting started with the Ear is simple. But first, know that it’s only compatible with Android, so if you’re an iPhone user, you should probably stop reading this review. Sony says it is “currently focused on creating the Xperia Ear host app for Android as it’s powered by Sony Agent Technology, which is specifically designed and currently only available for Android.” The company declined to comment on whether iOS compatibility is on the way, so don’t hold your breath.

On your Android device, your first step is to download the Xperia Ear app and then pair the Ear with your phone over Bluetooth. You can also smush your phone together with the earbud if you have an NFC-enabled handset, which makes connecting them a cinch. I paired the Ear with the Huawei Mate 9, and the NFC handshake between both devices was indeed quick.

Once I was all set up, I put the earpiece on and went about my business. The Ear felt surprisingly secure, and didn’t fall out even when I shook my head vigorously to test just how well it would stay put. Wearing the Ear was comfortable until an hour later, when I started feeling a dull ache on the side of my head. It wasn’t super painful, but I didn’t always feel like putting up with it either. Taking off the earbud made the discomfort go away, and I ended up having to periodically remove the device during my review.

Most of your interactions with the Ear are going to involve you pressing the device’s button, waiting for it to say it’s listening and waiting for its three-tone chime (like the beep after a voicemail greeting). Only then can you ask your question. If that sounds tedious, it’s because it is. Sony could remove two steps from this process by getting rid of the redundant chime and the button push; the resulting speed gained would make the Ear feel much more responsive.

I really want the Xperia Ear to always be listening for a trigger phrase, because pushing a button against my ear repeatedly makes the side of my head feel slightly sore over time. Plus, it’s not really a hands-free experience if you have to use your hands to get some help. But that function would come at the expense of battery life, so this is a tradeoff I’m willing to accept.

You can set up the Ear so that a long press of the button activates OK Google, allowing you to use an assistant you’re probably already familiar with. But by default, you’ll be working with Sony’s unnamed helper, which is very new compared to existing offerings. And with that youth come some quirks that, together with its one-sided, Bluetooth-headset-inspired design, make the Xperia Ear feel dated.

Talking to Sony’s assistant feels like I’m interacting with a “futuristic” machine from Demolition Man. Its voice sounds artificial, robotic and disjointed, especially compared to Siri, the Google Assistant and Alexa, which have human voices with more natural inflections. Ear pronounced my name the same way Engadget’s Southern-bred editor-in-chief Michael Gorman does — as in, “Churl-lynn,” with a hard “ch.” Thanks a lot, Sony.

That’s an understandable mistake, considering my name is quite uncommon, but the Ear made the same error when reading a news piece about actress Charlize Theron. It took me a few seconds to realize who the assistant was describing. It also mispronounced the word “cleanses,” saying “clean-suhs” instead of “clen-suhs.” For the most part, though, the Ear is easy enough to understand if you’re paying attention.

The reason I was talking about Charlize Theron, by the way, is because whenever you stick the device in your ear, it greets you and starts rattling off the time, your agenda for the day and news headlines since you last put it on. The actress was the subject in one of several headlines that Sony pulled together. You don’t get to pick the news sources you prefer; instead, you can only decide in the app settings whether or not you want to hear headlines at all.

You can also choose to get voice alerts from apps such as Calendar, Email, Gmail, Hangouts, SMS, Twitter and Facebook. This causes the Ear to recite your incoming notifications as they arrive on your phone, which can be distracting. I happen to be excellent at tuning out noise, though, so this didn’t bother me. You can also dismiss each alert at any time by pressing the button on the earbud. I actually appreciated having someone read out my new emails to me, since it means I can multitask even more effectively.

Instead of having to go to my inbox whenever I saw a new message, I could simply listen to the Ear narrate the entire email and decide if it was worth an immediate response. It was also adorable when the Ear read managing editor Dana Wollman’s email that opened, “Good news, bad news (mostly good news, I think),” but slightly less funny when it read out every last detail of each sender’s email signature, down to their zip codes. Still, with some software tuning, this feature could become truly useful for hardcore multitaskers like myself.

There are a few other things that Ear can do, including setting timers, reporting the weather, answering calls, streaming music from your phone and sending text messages. The earpiece’s dual microphone, noise suppression and echo cancellation worked well, and people I spoke with using the Ear heard me clearly despite my loud Netflix video in the background. Because it’s a one-sided earbud, the Ear isn’t a good option for listening to music, but it works in a pinch. Just don’t expect great audio quality here; songs generally lack bass, with vocals sounding the clearest against tinny background instruments.

One of the most nifty uses for the Ear is using voice dictation to compose messages. In general, the device accurately relayed what I said, but it spelled my name wrong. Again, given that I have a unique name, this isn’t a big deal, especially since most other words were spelled correctly.

Now, talking out loud is a rather conspicuous way to interact with any device, especially if you’re in an open office or walking outside. For those who want to be more stealthy, Sony built in an effective way to communicate non-verbally with the Ear. You can nod or shake your head in response to yes or no questions. This is a limited application, yes, but useful nonetheless for quick, discreet reactions. The device correctly interpreted my gestures (acknowledging them with a satisfying chime) when I answered its questions about whether the message it transcribed was correct and if I wanted to send my text.

That’s impressive for a first-generation device, but the Ear has its glitches. For instance, the earpiece would start reading out its greeting and list of headlines any time it got moved or bumped, even when I wasn’t wearing it. It was also inconsistent in delivering my alerts — I randomly received alerts about two really old unread Hangouts messages on my first day wearing the Ear.

Another gripe I have with the Ear is its inability to reconnect seamlessly with the synced phone after I leave and reenter Bluetooth range. That means, when I go to the bathroom or leave the phone in a different room, the Ear stops working, only saying, “Device not connected.” When I get back to the phone, I have to press the button on the earbud to re-sync the devices. This should happen without any action on my part.

Like any other wireless earbud, the Xperia Ear’s battery life varies wildly depending on how much you use it. On my first day testing the device, which included a lot of email alerts and nearly an hour of song streaming, the Ear conked out (from a 60 percent charge) after a full day’s work. Another time, on a full charge, the Ear dropped just 60 percent of its energy after two days of testing, which included five to 10 minutes of music playback and multiple phone calls, text message dictation and other small tasks. You can extend that runtime by activating Sony’s Battery Care mode via the companion app.

Speaking of the sort, recharging the Ear is easy — just put it back in its carrying case. The holder has two indicator lights: the top shows you by flashing red, yellow or green how full the earbud’s battery is. Another LED on the bottom indicates the amount of power left in the case, which you can plug in via micro-USB. It took about a week for the container’s charge to go from green to red, after it recharged the earbud a handful of times.

The competition

The Xperia Ear is a unique device — nothing else on the market claims to do exactly what it does. The thing is, though, you can get a similar experience with some of today’s wireless earbuds that let you tap your phone’s digital assistant. Case in point: The $250 Bragi Dash lets you tap your cheek to talk to Siri. You can also activate Siri with your existing Apple earphones with a long press on your remote control. Android owners don’t have a similar wireless option, though.

Compared to other wireless earbuds, such as the $200 Samsung Gear IconX and the $250 Jabra Elite Sport, the Xperia Ear is expensive, especially since it only covers one side. Plus, the Samsung and Jabra devices are geared towards fitness users, and offer more features (and two earbuds instead of one) for less than twice the price of the Xperia Ear. They also deliver better audio quality than the Xperia, although Sony’s device offers longer battery life. Still, neither of these let you control an assistant yet, and the Ear retains that advantage over the competition, at least until its rivals add that feature (which, let’s be real, is inevitable).

Wrap-up

I was excited about the Xperia Ear and what it promised, until I realized that, as it stands, the device does nothing different from Siri or Google over wired earbuds. In particular, the fact that it requires you to use your hand and press a button to use it makes me question the device’s existence in the first place. What’s the point of getting a whole new gadget for an assistant in your ear if not for the convenience when your arms are full? It’s not like this is a cheap purchase either.

Still, this is a first-generation device that has potential to become truly useful, if Sony tweaks its software. That’s an easy enough fix. The trouble is, makers of other wireless earbuds could almost as easily offer the same features, by tapping into Siri or the Google Assistant. If, or when, they do, the Xperia Ear risks becoming a completely forgettable device.

16
Dec

‘Battlezone’ Classic Mode fulfills the promise of ’80s VR


It’s been 36 years since Atari released Battlezone and effectively created the first-person shooter in the process. The game’s immersive periscope viewer and vector graphics influenced decades of game design and provided arcade goers with an early glimpse of what a virtual reality world could look like. While we’ve argued here that Battlezone’s PSVR reboot is the ultimate fan service and a great first leap into VR gaming, it was still missing one key thing: the old-school, glowing green cathode-ray tube vibe of the original. That’ll change next week, when Rebellion Studios adds a free Classic Mode update as their “faithful homage” to the title that arguably started it all.

According to Rebellion Studios lead programmer Richard May, making something new feel retro is more complicated than it sounds and “recreating the glowing green lines using our modern in-house engine required some workarounds.” The controls, on the other hand, were a little simpler to rebuild since the team had already built out the two-track control system of the original arcade cabinets. And one more thing that’s not changing: you still can’t get any closer to that danged volcano in the distance.

In addition to Classic Mode, the free Battlezone update also adds new missions, levels and a game codex. The whole thing rolls out on December 20th.

Source: PlayStation Blog

15
Dec

Sony’s new high-end wireless PS4 headset coming on January 17


Sony has unveiled the Platinum Wireless Headset aimed at PS4, Playstation VR, and mobile users. The model has hidden noise cancelling microphones and, like the Gold model, supports 7.1 virtual surround sound. However, it’s also equipped with the 3D audio tech used on the PlayStation VR, meaning you’ll be able to get the same surround-sound effects from a regular PlayStation 4 console. Though no PS4 games currently support 3D audio, Naughty Dog will release a patch that brings it to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

A couple of other games will also support the 3D audio tech later on: MLB The Show 17, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Days Gone, with more to be announced later. In a similar way to systems from Dolby and others, it “simulates the effect of audio arriving at your ears from different directions and distances to mimic the behavior of sound in real life,” according to the PlayStation Blog.

The wireless part only works on the PS4 (via a wireless adapter) — for the PlayStation VR and mobile, you’ll need to use the included 3.5mm audio cable. However, Sony has noted before that 3D audio only works on wired headphones for VR, and confirmed that it won’t work in wireless mode on the PS4 either. So for regular PS4 games you can go wireless, but to get 3D audio, you’ll have to plug in which, frankly, is kind of stupid.

For titles that don’t support 3D audio, Sony said in the comments section of the post that the headset “has an enhanced version of 7.1 virtual surround sound. So even in games without 3D audio, the Platinum Wireless Headset will have better virtual surround sound.”

However, the fact that Sony uses its own proprietary 3D audio makes choosing a sound system a bit awkward. The Xbox One, for example, will soon support Dolby Atmos surround sound, and while that’ll only work for Blu-ray playback, at least you can run the audio through a Dolby Atmos receiver to get the full effect. So if you’d rather blast games through your home theater system rather than a headset, it doesn’t appear that you’ll get the full 3D audio effect.

Source: Sony

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