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 …


The Night Before Greatness

Greatness awaits? Let’s hope. Thing #1 has been following Calvergames (and maybe my Google+ links), so word is out that the PS4 is incoming. Things #2 and #3 don’t realize that Greatness awaits.

Me? Baited breath. Waiting for UPS to update their site to show some movement for Doraville, Ga. Need For Speed Rivals has shipped and is due to arrive tomorrow. When was the last time a system launch provide 6+ titles day one? Assassins Creed, Killzone, Need For Speed, FIFA, Contrast and Resogun (via PS+). Sounds Shapes, Flower and Flow should also be available tomorrow or shortly thereafter.

Happy PS4 Day! Almost Here …


The Day Before PS4 Day

November 15 marks the release of the PlayStation 4. Anticipation is in the air. The boys don’t know that we have one on the way from Amazon, which was ordered within hours of pre-release sales back in June. I have happily watched the box via UPS tracking go from West Columbia, SC to Doraville, GA.

Earlier in the week, Killzone, Assassins Creed and FIFA 14 arrived, joining a Dual Shock 4, which was shipped from Amazon at the end of October. All are safely tucked away, awaiting the PS4; usefulness awaits. The newest Need For Speed is also scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The kids are oblivious; sure they hope, and maybe expect, but they know pre-orders have long been closed. Of course much like the arrival of Santa, they know Christmas comes in boxes and envelopes from Amazon.

I’m taking PS4 Day off; I haven’t done that in a while. Not since the PS2. Even though the PS4 isn’t scheduled to arrive until early afternoon, anticipation is still in the air.

What to play first? PS+ ‘free’ offerings Resogun or Contrast? Most likely Need For Speed or FIFA since they are safe for the whole family.

More to come. Wishing you and yours a happy Day Before PS4 Day!


Georgia Survives Florida

A win is a win is a win, however the Dawgs really had me concerned in the end, recalling the horrors of Nashville two weeks ago. In the end, GA’s 23-20 win over the not so mighty Gators gives the Bulldogs a nice 3-0 run in the series.

“We did have Coach [Vince] Dooley come by and speak to our team this week,” Richt said, referring to the coach who led the UGA program from 1964-88. “That’s one thing he mentioned. I didn’t know the stat, but he said if we win, it would be the first time we got three in a row in like 30 years or something. I was frankly kind of embarrassed that was the truth. But that’s where this series has gone. It’s nice to at least, to this point, get it turned around a little bit.”

In an otherwise lackluster football year, a win over the hated Gators is always a nice pick me up, but that crushing Vandy loss and all those injuries makes me wonder “what could have been” …


Atlanta Falls To 1-3

Ouch; 1-3 after a Sunday Night Football loss to the Patriots. 30-23, and it is debatable if it was really that close.

Do the Falcons recover from a 1-3 disaster? If Roddy White can ever return to form, will the Falcons start scoring? Of all the injuries that the Falcons are dealing with, a gimpy White seems to be the most significant.

What it means: The Falcons now find themselves in unfamiliar territory — on the outside looking in. Since 1990, only 9 percent of teams have made the playoffs after a 1-3 start. One of those 22 teams (out of 258) was the 2002 Falcons, who finished 9-6-1 and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a divisional playoff game after beating the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card game. But this Falcons team has a tall task, with teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, the Packers and the San Francisco 49ers still remaining on the schedule. And the Falcons were supposed to be a Super Bowl favorite. [Source:]

It is hard to figure how a team touted as a Super Bowl contender suddenly fell to 1-3. History says the odds are stacked heavily against the Falcons now. According ESPN Stats & Information, only 9 percent of teams that start a season 1-3 have gone on to make the playoffs since 1990. In order to beat those odds, the Falcons have to figure out a way to score touchdowns — immediately. Atlanta leads the league with 18 red zone drives this season but is fifth worst in touchdown conversion (38.9) on such drives, according to Stats & Information. [Source:]

As Mark Bradley of the AJC says, “When the Falcons see red, they stop and lose

Let’s hope that hosting the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets on MNF is just what ATL needs to get things going in a hurry. Now for the “if'” – if the Falcons can close out the Jets, they will go to 2-3 at their bye week. After that, there are winnable games at home vs. Tampa Bay, and road dates in Arizona and Carolina. Let’s suppose the Falcons manage to pull off four straight wins, which would bring them to 5-3 facing a pivotal home match against Seattle.

I’m not going any farther with this guessing game; if ATL can’t pull off four straight starting this Monday night, I think they miss the playoffs. Even if they do manage to pull to 5-3, there are still no certainties. The playoffs are still obtainable, but unless Brees gets injured and missing significant time, the Falcons are not going to overtake the dreaded Saints.


Speaking of JRPGs (Atelier Rorona – Vita)

After just throwing up a link for Neptunia on the Vita, now we get Atelier Rorona for the Vita:

Gust just published a new batch of information, screenshots and artwork of New Atelier Rorona The Origin Story: The Alchemist of Arland, which is the upcoming PS3 and PS Vita remake of the classic JRPG Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and will hit the Japanese shelves on November the 21st.

It’s not as if I have every finished one of these fetch, mix and match some potions, etc. type games, but I like to pretend that I am much younger and have time for such indulgences. Of course I am not, but I digress …


NCAA Football Goes Code Blue

We already knew EA Sports’ NCAA Football franchise was code blue; now it is officially done unless you believe in reincarnation or some other form pagan-like rituals:

Shortly after Electronic Arts announced it would stop producing a college football game beginning next year, the video game company — together with Collegiate Licensing Company, which holds the licensing rights to the trademarks to the majority of the colleges and universities — filed papers to the U.S. District Court in Northern California that it had settled its case brought by former players.

This once proud franchise had grown stale in recent years, so while a part of me is sad to see it go, the gamer in me thinks the series needs a break and hopefully a reimaging in the not too distance future.


FIFA 14 Legacy Edition – Reinventing Roster Updates (Vita)

Apparently FIFA 14 Legacy Edition is just that, a Legacy Edition to last year’s FIFA 13, which was nothing more than a roster update of the original FIFA Soccer which was released when the Vita launched way back when, circa Valentine’s Day 2012.

At least EA had the balls to let us know this one was nothing more than some updated kits and roster revisions; so glad I waited and didn’t preorder.

Rather sad really; I wanted a solid soccer game for my Vita, but held off on the original FIFA Soccer (metacritic rating of 79% out of 45 critic reviews). I thought that maybe EA was rushed, and would do a better version next year. Obviously I was mistaken.

EA treated FIFA 13 (metacritic score of 57% out of 9 critic reviews) even more poorly than FIFA Soccer by not even bothering to offer some hit of an update.

And so FIFA 14 Legacy Edition enters the fray; too bad it will make a ton of cash off of unsuspecting consumers. Maybe I will eventually pick up one of the three Vita FIFAs on the cheap, but for now, I am moving on to other endeavors.


Falcons Complacency Continues

As I wrote last week, the Falcons have fallen into a very disturbing pattern of starting strong, and then going uncomfortably numb. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC has the same assessment:

The Falcons continued their pattern of strong starts blowing leads. In this one, they blew leads of 10-0 and 20-10.

The 27-23 loss to the Dolphins hurts because this is a game the Falcons clearly had control of and should have won. Except the coaches don’t seem to understand that you have to play to win the game, don’t play for field goals.

F — Special teams: Harry Douglas can’t let the punt hit the ground and then he can’t fumble after getting crushed after picking it up. The Dolphins went in to tie the game after having a short field. Also, kicker Matt Bryant could have change the dynamics of the final drive by making the 35-yard field with under 5 minutes to play. The depleted Falcons need a boost from the special teams and didn’t receive it.

D — Coaches: The coaches had the players believing that “next man” hullabaloo. The offense came out straight hardcore and the defense was attacking the pocket. But someone has to be accountable for not sustaining the massive early flow and for the not coming up with the correct call to stop the Dolphins’ march to victory on three third downs.

If ATL was playing for a TD on that final drive, Matt Bryant would never have been called upon to try to give ATL a six point lead. The game would have been out of reach, but this has been typical of the Falcons. They play it too damn close to the vest.

Next up, the Falcons look for their season to implode against New England. A 1-3 start may be too much to overcome …


Nanny, Nanny, Boo the NFL

Earlier this week, FOXBusiness posted a great article by Steve Tobak – “Will Nanny rules Break the NFL?” This is a fun read, and while Tobak may not be correct on all points, he is insightful enough to point out that the NFL may be endangering their brand by trying to protect its owners.

Daddy, what’s a kickoff return? In 2011 NFL owners voted to move kickoffs from the 30 to the 35-yard line, apparently to reduce the number of kickoff returns that result in injuries. But kickoff returns are exciting. Fun. I miss them. It’s the same thing with parents not letting their kids go out and play because they might hurt themselves. It’s nuts.

A lot of things the NFL is doing with rules right now are nuts, but for this season; I’m still a five seat season ticket holder. Not sure how long that will last. Besides the ever changing game rules, there is that looming new stadium in ATL, which will no doubt result in PSLs, which will certainly price me out of the game.


Commonsense Prevails

I doubt I will be pulling some NAPA knowhow anytime soon, but I sure do respect NAPA for taking a stance (it’s always about the money) on the shenanigans pulled by Michael Waltrip racing at Richmond.

A statement from sponsor NAPA on Thursday read: “After thorough consideration, NAPA has made the difficult decision to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing effective December 31, 2013.

“NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR. We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.”

Team co-owner Michael Waltrip insisted that his team was not immoral following the penalties.

Keep on believing that Michael Waltrip … it doesn’t change the fact that your team was caught cheating, and trying to screw over Jeff Gordon, which was not really appreciated by Gordon’s fans.


Falcons Pattern of Content

I probably should have titled this one ‘Falcons IR Report’ but more on that in a minute. For now we will focus on everything negative about the Falcons 31-24 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Dating back to last year’s playoff, the Falcons find themselves in a pattern of building a lead, only to throttle things back and either hold on for a win, or cave in for a defeat. Seahawks, 49’ers, Saints and now the Rams. It amazes me that the Falcons jumped out to a 21-0 lead only to let the Rams crawl back into the game after the Falcons offense went almost 23 minutes into the second half without a score. Just plain ridiculous.

While I love winning more than losing, and would certainly not call for Coach Mike Smith’s head, at some point you have to say that the team has taken on the nice guy mentality of their head coach. As an example, right before the half, the Falcons were moving for another score. With the game at 21-3, the Falcons could have made a statement by going for a TD. Instead, on second or third down (I forget which) and 14 seconds left and no timeouts, the Falcons opted for a field goal to put the game at 24-3.

No matter what, Coach Smith will get second guessed. Go for the field goal, and armchair QBs (cough … writing this article … cough) criticize for not going for a TD. If the Falcons when for a TD, and Ryan was sacked or turned the ball over, everyone is up in arms for not putting the ‘safe’ three points on the board. When in the Dome, I would rather try to get the TD and fail, instead of sitting back, accepting the field goal, and then going scoreless for 23 minutes. Championship teams have a finishing mentality; the Falcons are still not able to close out games.

The AJC had some pretty harsh grades for the Falcons running backs and o-line; of course I agree with the assessment.

F – Running backs: The running backs rushed 16 times for 36 yards for a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. “We ran the ball six times in the first half; we weren’t very successful at it,” Smith said. “The way the team tried to defend us is going to dictate how we are going to attack them.”

F — Offensive Line: The line didn’t protect Ryan again and didn’t open many holes in the run game. He was sacked twice and hit on eight other plays. They are getting Ryan hit on nearly 25 percent of every pass attempt. Against the Saints he was sacked or hit on 9 of 38 (25.7 percent) drop backs and 10 of 43 (23.2 percent) against the Rams.

The lack of finishing knowhow and the F grades really weren’t the low points. That honor belongs to the IR report. The Falcons suffered a rash of injuries; losing Jackson and Ewing seemed to put the Falcons off balance, ultimately abandoning all attempts at a rushing attack:

Here’s how long the injured players lasted against the Rams — Fullback Bradie Ewing played two snaps, running back Steven Jackson played nine snaps, cornerback Asante Samuel played seven snaps, Weatherspoon played 31 snaps and linebacker Kroy Biermann played 30 snaps.

Unfortunately Ewing and Biermann were lost for the season. For Ewing, it was the second season ending injury in as many seasons. The loss of Ewing will be a blow to the Falcons plans to have some semblance of a ground game; Ewing is a tough blocker and can catch out of the backfield. Losing Biermann is going to be a bitter pill to swallow; ATL could ill afford to lose anyone on an already suspect defense. The d-line has been woefully inadequate, and now it will fall to the depths of being downright pathetic.

If the Ewing and Biermann announcements weren’t bad enough, Sean Weatherspoon will be out until week 11, which may be the one blow to the defense that is too difficult to overcome.

Up next; the Dolphins in Miami. Go Falcons!


NASCAR Pushes Chase To 13 – Gordon Makes The Chase

So now what? NASCAR has decided all the shenanigans at Richmond last weekend completely hosed Jeff Gordon out of the Chase. So Gordon is in, but not at the expense of Logono or any other driver. Instead, we now have the Chase + 1, and JJ is none too pleased:

“Of course I am very happy that Jeff’s in the Chase,” Johnson said. “In my opinion, though, I think there should be 12 cars. One in, one out should be the deal. It’s not. There’s a lot of things to consider. It’s been an interesting week to say the least.

“As a competitor, one of the 12 in the Chase that was in the Chase, you just changed the odds and the ratio tremendously adding a 13th car. I feel Jeff should be in, so I guess the 22 [Logano] would be on the outside looking if they removed one. That’s a good team. They won the championship last year with the 22 car, and Joey is doing a great job and earning a lot of points. It changes the dynamic of the Chase quite a bit with 13 cars.”

I actually agree with JJ, but I am of course happy Gordon has made the Chase. The problem with NASCAR continues to be the subjective way rules are or are not applied depending on which direction the wind is blowing. If the NASCAR brass had any balls, this off season they would throw out the current rule book, and re-write things in such a way as to avoid what just occurred last weekend at Richmond.

A good starting point would be to keep the current Top 10 + 2 Wild Card format, but the actual point system should be revised. Give bonus points for wins once the Chase starts; that makes sense. For the Top 10, give them bonus points as well, similar to a F1 style race finish (i.e. 25 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, etc.). This would prevent Bowyer style “itch scratching” because there would be too many bonus points at risk. This format change would also make the regular season relevant (similar to the pre Chase days) while still awarding for wins and consistency.

A lot of people, myself including, were really turned off by the WWE style antics that occurred during the Richmond race, and the circus style rules changing that occurred afterwards. NASCAR can say what they want, but there was enough evidence to doc Bowyer enough points to knock him out of the Chase, which would have put Gordon in without resorting to an unlucky #13 format.

If anything, maybe bad press is good press, which will result in a positive ratings increase due to the interest around booing Bowyer, but the other risk NASCAR runs is that they will alienate their fans due to NASCAR’s seat of their pants rules enforcement. I for one am a little bit jaded.


NASCAR Pushes Limits …

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying …” and of course everyone also knows that “It ain’t cheating unless you get caught.”

Well guess what? Michael Waltrip Racing not only blatantly cheated, attempting to manipulate the outcome of the final Chase standings, but they were caught. Punishments ensued, but as Ed Hinton pointed out, Jeff Gordon was still hosed in the process.

“Gordon also lost enormously to the spin, lost a Chase berth via the point standings, to Joey Logano, by a single point. Now questions have arisen whether Logano’s Penske team might have gotten help in track position from another Ford team, Front Row, and David Gilliland, at Gordon’s expense. NASCAR continues to investigate.”

While I do agree with Mr. Hinton, I will also point out that Jeff Gordon put himself in this position by not being able to win a race leading up to the Chase.

Ryan Newman makes it on point penalties applied to Martin Truex, but what about Jeff Gordon? He was in a position to make the Chase (by 2 points if I am not mistaken) at the time Bowyer decided to “scratch his itch.”

When asked about his team allegedly talking in code during the race, Bowyer said that he had poison oak all over his arm from cutting down a tree last week. His crew chief had inquired about his arm right before the spin, at one point saying, “I bet it’s hot in there. Itch it.”

NASCAR could prove only one action — radio communication between Norris and Vickers in which a confused Vickers was told to pit as the field went green with three laps to go. The request was made in an effort to give Joey Logano position on the track to pass Jeff Gordon in the standings and knock Gordon out of the Chase so that Truex could gain the wild card.

But it is all good; at least we know that Michael Waltrip Racing is not immoral:

“We’re not immoral, we’re not irresponsible. Decisions were made just based on circumstances. As we look back, we would’ve been smarter and done things differently.”

I guess smarter means not getting caught. Oh well, I’m done with NASCAR for this year.