PC Batman Arkham Knight Woes

I know console games have their fair share of issues (… cough … Drive Club for the PS4 … cough …), but Warner Bros. suspending PC sales of Batman Arkham Knight has to be considered a huge disaster.

Drive Club’s launch and the lack of the striped dow PS+ version has been a PR mess for Sony, but a miss on a racing game doesn’t carry the same weight as a miss on a flagship title such as Batman.

Every time I consider PC gaming, issues like this (and patching, hardware expense, not having the same comfy gaming spot as my PS4, no large screen TV, etc), I always pause and say “no, thank you.”

One of these days I will do the Steam and iRacing thing …


FIFA 16 Pre-Order Madness

This year, EA is being generous with their allotment of FUT crack. FIFA your way … ? $59.99, $69.99 or $99.99.

I actually enjoy FUT, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see EA offering up FUT goodies in their standard edition, but I have to wonder if EA gimped the ‘standard’ offering in order to give something away for ‘free.’ After all, EA never gives away goodies without said goods being worthless. Case in point, this year all FIFA 16 tiers receive:

Up to two (2) brand new EA SPORTS Football Club Celebrations – The “KO” or the “Bailando Robot”*
*Celebration availability varies by retailer. Check local retailers for specific Standard Edition celebration offers

How generous of EA …

Back to FUT, it will be interesting to see the difference between standard, premium, and jumbo premium Gold packs. Has to be the number of cards, and their specific quality. Gold probably isn’t what it use to be, so with apologies to Prince

Everybody wants 2 sell what’s already been sold
Everybody wants 2 tell what’s already been told
What’s the use of money if U ain’t gonna break the mold?
Even at the center of fire there is cold
All that glitters ain’t gold, no no
All that glitters ain’t gold, no no

Sounds a lot like EA, no?

For anyone that isn’t aware, EA has a claim it or lose it policy with their weekly free packs. Buyer beware. It makes good business sense for EA; give ’em what they want, with a reason to come back weekly for fresh new shiny shit … err … virtual crack (forgot for a minute that this is a semi family friendly establishment). And hope each and every one of you spends some real-life duckets on some not so real virtual fantasy cards.

Count me in! Except for the spending real-life cabbage part. The last 2-3 years I did partake in the deluxe edition madness, but that is different right? I get one of those special Messi cards (5 games; use them wisely) to go with those weekly Gold packs. I call that the good gaming life … and of course the FUT crack causes me to come back weekly to check out my new cards. The cards with coins or ‘free’ packs are the best …

So I’m sure FIFA 16 will find its way into my PS4, but I doubt the super special, ultimate of ultimate, walks on water edition, complete with,

40 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (delivered one a week for 40 consecutive weeks)
Five (5) match FUT Loan Player items of Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, and Thibaut Courtois
Two (2) brand new EA SPORTS Football Club Celebrations – The “KO” and the “Bailando Robot”

… will. Still, if I play my cards right (that was bad), my virtual Calvert should be doing the KO and Bailando Robot at an online match near you.


2015 Le Mans – Porsche 919 Hybrid In Review

RACER posted an interesting article of statistics on the
Porsche 919 Hybrid from this year’s Le Mans.

Of the assorted facts and figures, I thought this one was really eye-catching:

The Porsche 919 Hybrid recuperated and used 2.22 kWh (8 megajoule) per lap. If it was a powerplant, a family home could be supplied with electricity for three months.

In my book, endurance, sports car, and prototype racing, are becoming much more entertaining than today’s contrived F1 (their rules have crippled F1 to the point where it is a parody of its once proud pinnacle of motor sports self).


Final U.S. Open Comments – Go Spieth

I’m not what anyone would call an avid golfer. I watch the majors (sometimes) and play a mean round of Hot Shots (Vita), Tiger Woods (PS3), or The Golf Club (PS4), but that’s about it for my golfing pleasure. I have been pulling for Jordan Spieth (native Texan, Longhorns fan), and enjoyed watching the Masters. The U.S. Open last weekend was great drama!

Over the weekend, we got a full dose of complaints, mostly along the lines of how much the course stunk (and was a complete disgrace to the U.S. Open). So it is nice to see some statistics to backup the notion that the Chambers Bay course wasn’t a disaster:

The 25 sub-par scores on the first day were the most in the U.S. Open since 1992. There were eight players who finished under par for the tournament. Louis Oosthuizen tied a U.S. Open record by shooting 29 over nine holes during his final round. And the final-round scoring average of 71.29 was the lowest for any round in 115 years of the tournament.

Was the course that bad? Maybe. The reality is everyone had the same conditions. We are still talking about it … so that should be worth something.

Will I now what the Open in three weeks? You bet! Hook ’em, and go Spieth!


Is E3 Still Relevant?

Monday night my boys and I watched the Sony E3 press conference via live streaming over the PS4. I came pretty close to skipping the event in favor of watching whatever Andrew Zimmern was going to digest next in the newest Bizarre Foods. Ultimately the boys were so excited over E3, I decided to watch.

Of course there was a time when I was equally excited, and dare I say enthralled with everything E3 related. Getting “press” credentials when E3 visited ATL for a couple of years in the 90s was certainly a highlight. Back in those days I eagerly awaited each tidbit of news, and wrote countless diatribes on the state of the industry, discussed the next big game, and so on and so forth. E3 was an important part of my gaming life, usenet was a popular means of communication and the web as we know it today was very much in its infancy.

These days, while gaming is still an important part of my life, it is certainly not as consuming, and as I mentioned in the opening, I came pretty close to picking watching the consumption of the latest cow balls dish, over Sony’s E3 press conference. I guess that says a lot about the relevance of E3 to this older gamer. Besides, it’s easy enough to follow E3 news and trends; thanks to the rise of social media, you do not even have to be there to be there.

During this year’s long PlayStation advertisement, err, press conference had a few things that stood out …

Gran Turismo. I was bitterly disappointed that we learned nothing about the next title. Surely it has to be in development.

Vita. I have written enough about Sony screwing the pooch and completely missing the mark with their wonderful gaming system. Disappointing does even begin to describe my feelings.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix). As soon as the video started, I told my boys to watch for the crowd go ape shit. I’m really looking forward to this one, but Square Enix has to be in a no win situation. This is the game that all FF VII fans want, so it can never live up to expectations. No matter which direction the game takes (remake, reimaging, same script with updated graphics and similar gameplay to the original PSOne title) some faction of the FF VII fan base will fume over Square Enix messing up their beloved title.

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games). This new IP looks very promising. I like the concept; a nice mixture of low tech and high tech concepts. One of my first thoughts was that Horizon was Gamma World ish … maybe not exactly, but robotic dinosaurs based in a future earth setting looks solid enough to me.

Dreams (Media Molecule’s). Who knows which direction MM will take their next sandbox game, but I can only imagine that it will be a great creative outlet for fans that were disappointed with the last LittleBigPlanet.

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games). Fantastic infinite universe concept, that pays homage to Elite (at least the version on the C64 that I loved ages ago). I can see this title getting dismissed due to poor, or at least inferior graphics. Similar to RPGs, I love concepts where I can take my time exploring a well-crafted gaming universe; I just can never find enough time to sink my teeth into these types of games

Uncharted 4. Good clean fun for the whole family. It is hard for me to say “system seller” because I think die-hard fans of the Uncharted franchise would pick up a PS4 sooner or later. The real trick is getting someone sitting on the sidelines of this gaming generation to take interest, and buy a PS4 in 2016 just to play this Sony Exclusive.

I’ll wrap things up by mentioning PlayStation Vue. The concept of a la cart is very appealing, but even with PS+ discounts, I think the pricing could be high. While I have a gazillion channels with Charter, I truly only watch a select few, but the problem is the wide variety: Fox Sports 1 and 2, ESPN, NFL and NFL Red Zone, NBC Sports (for Formula One and soccer), Discovery, History Channel, Travel Channel (Bizarre Foods), and during football season, whichever channel offers up the Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs and Texas Longhorns. Even if everything I want to watch is offered, I doubt a la cart pricing will work for me.


EA Set For Post Tiger Golf

It should be interesting to see how many patches EA will need to make the game playable, and if any of the trophies will be glitzed, unobtainable, or otherwise broken.

I’ll still pick up EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, but I’ll have to upgrade my PS4 HDD first …

With Tiger booted, I’m not sure why EA felt compelled to need an athlete in the title. PGA would have worked fine …


Windows 10 Gaming Platform?

I rarely write about anything Windows related, and only occasionally touch on PC gaming related topics, but why not mix it up for a change. With the launch of Windows 10 only a few weeks away (July 29), there are a couple of tidbits that could impact PC gamers.

Somehow I doubt that MS can turn their Xbox assets into a vehicle to push Windows 10, but it sure likes like they are trying their level best …

Although there has been some speculation that Microsoft would sell its Xbox division, it’s clear now that won’t happen. Microsoft has said that Xbox will play a critical role in Windows 10, giving users an array of features, including the ability to get onto Xbox Live, to record game play and to stream games from Xbox One to a Windows 10 device anywhere in the home.

It is also odd to me that MS is looking to kill off DVDs:

In an odd twist, Microsoft has said that DVD support will be somewhat limited. While the operating system will readily handle DVDs as storage devices, those who want to use DVDs to play back videos will need “separate playback software.” A key reason is that Windows 10 lacks Windows Media Center or another platform that would allow for playback. So, if users are looking to watch DVD movies on their Windows 10 boxes, they’ll need to get other software before doing so. An end of an era, perhaps

Oh, MS finally killed off IE, which no one finds odd. Joy …


Calvert Games Re-Launch (Kicking and Dragging My Feet)

I am probably the last person this side of the Mississippi to actually use Facebook, Twitter and the whole sundry of social media tools, apps and gadgets. I could just care less; I’ll call friends and family if they need to know what I am up to at any given time.

Over the last few years I have experimented some with Twitter on my Vita, I posted random tidbits of info via google+, and as far back as 2010 I setup a CalvertGames Facebook (FB) account with the intentions of doing something exciting, dare I say glorious. Ultimately I disabled the page due to lack of interest at the time and privacy concerns.

Setting up the FB account was kind of a WTF moment – as in WTF is wrong with me for even considering social media? Whenever I would turn on my FB profile, I would get ‘friend’ requests … so I ultimately ignored the socialization of society (my derogatory term for my disdain of social media’s prevalence in our culture), and went my own way.

Times have changed. My sons are almost 17, days away from 13, and 8. My eight year old uses Instagram, among other apps. I can’t keep up, and honestly don’t intent too, but I also can’t do the head in the sand thing either.

While I’m still not a fan of media socialization, and I’m even less of a fan of FB, I am now reluctantly providing my own mea culpa moment. My FB account is active, my Twitter feed has a few tweets other than earning some PlayStation Trophy this or that and I am even enjoying pinning via Pinterest. One of these days, I may actually get around to turning on my calvertgames FB page (it is currently under construction), but that can wait for another time and place …

The irony is that my two older boys are not fans of FB; I guess it is not cool to use the same apps as your parents or in some cases grandparents! They go for super quick hit media apps like Instragram.

Most of these activities brought about the facelift to The Recycle Bin. After 19 months without a post, I recently spent some time overhauling the site, cleaning up the pages to have a more polished look, all the while making sure the site is responsive (apps galore render the site nicely thank you very much).

I plan to continue to evolve the site, adding new features here and there, and of course continuing to write about my passions – videogames, Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs, and not necessarily in that order. As I have grown older, my gaming time has diminished; work and family life (two boys playing travel soccer) take top billing. My passions also wax and wane; Beeman urban squirrel posts may be a thing of the past, while Japanese Moe themed PVC figures may make an appearance. To that end, I collapsed every article prior to May 31, 2015 (all 2,480 of them) into a single archive, and made new categories for June 1, 2015 and onwards – videogames, sports and stuffs (for all the random crap that doesn’t fit anywhere else).

The point being I no longer have time to nitpick a game, write 2000+ word reviews, and concentrate on all that is good, wonderful and downright dreadful in the world of simulation based racing and sports games. Besides, the heyday for that sort of thing has passed; everyone wants their reviews and takes 140 characters at a time.

To that end, for the time being, I am growing old gaming …


U.S. Gold Cup Prep (Down Goes Clockwork Orange)

After today’s U.S. 4-3 come from behind win over the Netherlands, Team USA gives us some hope for the future.

I was at work, so didn’t get to watch the match, but after watching the highlights, I’m encouraged to see our boys never gave up hope. Sure it was just a friendly, but overcoming a 3-1 deficit shows a never die attitude.

Team USA improves to a lukewarm 3-1-2 record in 2015.


EA Continues to Hose the Vita

In a move that was neither surprising or unexpected, EA tossed aside the Vita. Disappointing move …

The poor Vita is a victim of poor timing (rise of $0.99 mobile games), awfull marketing by Sony, and a colossal blunder – anti piracy memory card prices are the Vita’s boat anchor. I love the Vita, but Sony never gave it a fighting chance, so why should EA or any other publisher?


EA Skimps On FIFA 14 PS4 Features

I’m not sure that EA is really the worst company in America, but they are sure doing their best to alienate long time FIFA fans by removing traditional and dare I say, common features from their newest versions of the next generation releases of FIFA.

According to EA, Tournament Mode just wasn’t that popular …

“For the new generation of FIFA 14 on Xbox One and PS4, we decided not to include Tournament Mode, which accounted for a very small percentage of games played in FIFA 13, in order to focus on the most important areas and modes in the game. We took those resources and budget, and focused on many other new areas of the game, including Living Worlds and Stadiums, Career Mode, and expanded Online Seasons.”

Strangely enough, it was popular enough to offer in the FIFA 14 releases for the 360 and PS3. There is a very outspoken vocal minority that is crying foul, but only time will tell if EA will actually listen, or if they are gunning to get their status as worst company in America.

FIFA 14 Next Gen – Exclusion of current features! MUST READ!

No tournament mode on PS4 fifa 14? Also, there is no way to play 2v2/3v3/4v4/ online with my guests?

REPLY from EA Sports regarding the removal of Guest Play on all online modes


Dawgs Hobnail Boot Moment …

Awful sports day for me, with my 1A (Georgia – my first love) and 1B (Texas – my mistress; I’m a native Texan) both going down. Texas was completely and utterly (and how about absolutely) shellacked by the Cowboys of Oklahoma St.

Things actually looked just as awful for Georgia, except that they did manage to come from 20 points behind in the fourth quarter, only to have their very own hobnail boot moment. Unlike the Longhorns, the Dawgs showed some pride and an unwillingness to give up.

I can’t imagine what short of description would have come from Larry Munson’s pipes after Auburn’s miracle play.

Unlike Georgia stomping a hobnail boot on Tennessee with a well-executed goal line play, Auburn was lucky, simple as that, but sometimes you need to be lucky instead of good. I find it a little disingenuous that Greg Ostendorf didn’t describe it as such:

“It was a play for the ages. Marshall launched it about 50 yards in the air, and it look destined to be an interception. However, it was tipped by one of the two Georgia defenders who were in the vicinity, and Louis snuck past them, caught the tipped ball and ran into the end zone.”

100% agree that it was a play for the ages, but Louis was damn lucky. Period. A much better description of the play can be found at the AJC:

“Though wide receiver Ricardo Louis was well-covered by Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews, the two safeties both reached for the ball at the same time. The ball deflected off Harvey-Clemons’ hands — Matthews appeared in position to intercept it — and over Matthews’ head. Louis continued down the field and, as Georgia’s defensive backs fell to the ground, he hauled in the deflected ball and ran untouched into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown with 25 seconds remaining.”

Although Chip Towers covers the Bulldogs, his outline of the play points out the same miracle, but actually describes what happened. Lucky was good enough for the Tigers on this night, but I think they will need more than luck to Roll past the Tide …


PS4 Day One (Reinventing The Vita)

The wait was long, but once the UPS guy arrived a little after 2PM, the unboxing begun. I’m not going to upload pictures or video, or give impressions of the packaging, system or Dual Shock 4; plenty of that to be found on YouTube and elsewhere.

Sony decided to include a threefold day-one pack-in for early PS4 adopters: one free month of PS+, one free month of Music Unlimited, and a $10 PSN voucher. It was nice getting the vouchers for 1 month of PS+ and Music Unlimited, but since I already subscribe to both, and Sony’s official’ish PlayStation blog said they don’t stack, they are not much use to me. I understand Sony wants to help hook new subscribers, but a +1 month add-on for current Sony services subscribers would have been very well received. I did appreciate the $10 PSN voucher; that was a very nice throw-in by the Sony brass.

My TV has two HDMI ports; I forgot that the one not reserved for my PS3 is used for cable. So for now, I have to manually switch my PS3 and brand spanking new PS4. I have a Portta 3:1 HDMI Switcher from Amazon and an extra 6 ft. HDMI cable via Amazon; both are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday and only set me back an additional $15.25 including tax.

Before I could jump into any of that Greatness that Sony promised the whole damn lot of us, I had to download the firmware update. ~53 minutes to download, which as I understand it, was lucky for me because a lot of users were having problems getting the update file to download. So I switched over to the U.S. vs. Scotland friendly, putting Greatness on-hold until my new PS4 system could do its thing.

I should add that my internet connection is wireless, not overly fast, and not too terribly slow. I have noticed that my PS3 always seems to download a little faster than my kids’ PS3, but that could be proximity to the wireless router. At any rate, I don’t have a base point to compare my ~53 minutes download against; would love for someone to post their experience with their firmware download time.

PSN Goes Down
After getting my firmware updated, it was time to hook up my jcalvert PSN account to my new PS4. No go. Errors, timeouts, you name it. The PSN was hosed. Sony should be embarrassed and appalled. Apparently the final folks at PlayStation network services were not actually expecting the volume and onslaught of the new PS4 traffic to impact their now paid for (via PS+ online experience) server farm. Funny since the day-one patch was pretty much mandatory. It took ~3-4 hours to actually get my PSN info setup; ouch.

PS+ Resogun and Contrast
Once I got connected, I quickly jumped into the Store to pick up my free games. There was also some DLC for another game – Warframe or some such. I haven’t read anything about this one, but it looks like a free to play title. It may or may not be a beta, but still something else free to mess around with (as if I have time).

I started the download process for Resogun and Contrast, then left the store to start some gaming fun …

FIFA 14 and Need For Speed: Rivals
My boys and I actually played these games before getting our PSN info setup on the PS4; we just couldn’t wait. I’m going to save any serious impressions for latter … I want to get in some gaming this morning!

I took a spin with Need For Speed first. My oldest son and I took turns doing the racer and cop tutorials, which opened up the wider game. My oldest son and I each earned a trophy; the trophies did sync correctly to our accounts, once we were able to get our PSN info sorted out correctly.

My son and I both had the same observation – there is a lot going on at one time, and it gets confusing on what missing you are doing. This was especially apparent once I was on the PSN. Connected to a group of 8 (I think) gamers, and trying to do race missions while a human cop is doing their own copy missions was fun but disconcerting trying to figure out what I was actually supposed to be doing. If there is a way to connect to a group of friends, this one could be a lot of fun.

I didn’t dive into it deeply to see how Music Unlimited is integrated with the PS4, but it was nice being able to stream some playlist instead of listening to the Need For Speed default music.

I watched my 11 year old and 6 year old play FIFA 14. On the surface it looks like the same game as the PS3 version, only it is more polished. I’ll play some this morning and see if I can carry over some of my PS3 FIFA 14 info.

My one observation was that it was neat seeing real people in the crowd. This may sound stupid, but everyone watching thought it actually added to the game atmosphere.

At some point while we were doing something else on the PS4 – either poking around, deciding what to play next, or setting up our PSN accounts, I received notice that Resogun was ready to install and that a FIFA 14 patch had been downloaded.

Music Unlimited
I mentioned playing my Music Unlimited playlist while playing Need For Speed. Last November, Sony ran a PS+ special. 1 year of Music Unlimited for $12; this was an exceptional deal. I have been debating renewing my subscription, but not at the full price. Last week I received some sort of sale offer; I was able to stack another 3 months for $3. So I am good for another few months.

Because of current MP3 and media server limitations with the PS4, Music Unlimited may become a must have service, which is probably part of Sony’s strategy. See how many folks they can pull in as new subscribers.

Remote Play
I’m only going to touch on this briefly … want to get back to PS4 gaming goodness. I have posted in the past about the black magic associated with Remote Play. It never really worked well for me on the PS3 with my PSP or Vita; it was an interesting concept, but there was always too much lag or my PS3 would randomly turn on or off. It looks like Remote Play is purpose built into the PS4 with the Vita, so hopefully this time is the real deal.

Getting Remote Play up and running was a snap. My Vita already had the PS4 Link app via the most recent firmware update. The PS4 (or Vita – I can’t remember which one) provides step-by-step instructions. Once I entered a code on my Vita, I was connected to my PS4. This whole setup process took all of 2-3 minutes.

It was an amazing experience listening to my Van Halen playlist, on my Vita (via my PS4) while playing Need for Speed. I’ll have to play around some to see if I am better off playing music directly from my Vita or streaming from the PS4 during Remote Play.

When playing Need For Speed, it was hard to keep up with what was going on, which wasn’t any different than my PS4 experience. There were some slight framerate issues here and there, but nothing really game breaking. The controls were awkward controls, but manageable. The rear touch pad was used to accept missions, while the shoulder buttons were used for acceleration and braking. I would have rather used the right analog stick; maybe there is an option to change controls, but in my limited time, I didn’t see where controls could be mapped differently.

Think about this for a minute. Remote Play of Need For Speed, while online playing other PS4 gamers, so of which may have also been using their Vitas, while streaming Music Unlimited. That is balls out cool with tons of possibilities.

Nightcap Resogun (via Remote Play)
As a final night cap, from the comforts of the bed room, while my better half was fast asleep, I connected to the PS4 and played Resogun. Minimal slowdown, but I was really too tired to beat the final boss. I know, excuses, excuses.

The new PS4 trophy system was nice enough to show me that my “How do I stop this thing?!” (Kill 50 enemies with one boost) was ‘ultra rare’ at the time it was earned, but is now ‘very rare.’

What’s Next?
For starters, I haven’t opened Killzone or Assassin’s Creed. My 15-year old and 11-year old boys are dying to play both, but my wife and I are usually pretty restrictive when it comes to games where people kill people, but that is a story for another day. So I need to check out both games and besides playing for my own benefit, I need to do the parental guidance thing.

I have only barely touched Need for Speed; same for FIFA and Resogun. Haven’t look at Contrast, and I should be able to get Flower and Soundshapes for free, since I have previously purchased each. Same for flow, once it is released.

Thanks to the PSN problems, I didn’t really have time to dive into any of the new PS4 features, so between gaming, and today’s slate of college football, I’m sure I will be doing some of that as well. I also play to explore Remote Play more over the weekend so see what sort of limitations and boundaries are in place.

Greatness Awaits …