I’ve been gaming with my regular PS3 controller for as long as I can remember. It generally fits the bill for almost all my games (with the exception of my racing wheel tucked neatly behind my couch) so I’ve always had no problems comfortably playing whatever game came my way. But when it comes to fighting games, there are two sides to this coin. On one team are the players who can comfortably smack the living daylights out of you with a traditional controller. On the other team are players who live by their arcade sticks – massive controllers that are built to emulate the controllers found on the arcade cabinets of years gone by. I remember playing Street Fighter and other games in the arcades with that huge joystick and buttons and thought that this kind of controller layout would forever be enjoyed only in arcades.
Well the crazy minds over at Mad Catz are out to prove me otherwise, and sent over their latest toy, the Street Fighter X Tekken Tournament Edition Fightstick Pro for the PS3. Yes, that’s one heck of a name to go with one heck of a product. Even the box itself intimidated me, decorated intricately with artwork from both franchises. I gingerly open the box and the glorious fight stick peers back at me through the plastic window. I unpack it and the first thing I notice is that there’s no cable to be seen. A wireless model? Not really – there’s a nifty compartment at the back that lets you stow away the 4metre USB cable that is attached to the controller. That’s a fair amount of cabling, so it should suit most game setups. You’ll also find the Start and Select buttons nestled close to this compartment, which is a bit of an awkward placement if you ask me.
The Fightstick Pro has two different artworks on the faceplate – one is a ‘crossover’ design featuring Ryu and Ken battling Tekken characters, and the other design just features portraits of various characters from both franchises. The finishing on the artwork is excellent and very smooth, making it very easy to wipe away any blood, sweat, or tears that you may suffer during your matches. The unit itself has Mad Catz’s signature build quality, and while the unit may look quite large and heavy, it’s actually quite comfortable to place on your lap or on a table. If you do place it on a table, the rubber feet at the bottom and the slightly weighted base will help keep it in position as you pummel away to glory. The rest of the unit is a nice matte black color with a ridged design on the side to make the controller
There are a few key features that set this Fightstick from previous ones. This model features a large authentic Japanese-style Sanwa Denshi joystick, which is very comfortable to use and instantly reminded me of my arcade gaming days. While at first I thought the joystick was quite loose and in danger of breaking off, I found that this was not the case, and in fact the joystick was designed that way to allow players to smoothly execute their moves. The eight arcade buttons are large and spaced out just far enough from the joystick and are equally as responsive. Though I have to mention that both joystick and buttons were just a tad too sensitive for my liking – I often found myself accidentally switching through menu options at times, but I’m guessing that this extra sensitivity really makes sense when gaming.
On the top right of the Fightstick Pro is a control module with some rather neat features. There’s a ‘lock’ button which when activated prevents you from accidentally hitting the PS Home button on the device. There’s also a switch that toggles the joystick from emulating a left or right analogue stick, or the D-pad. Included in this model is a ‘Turbo’ button, which lets you assign a turbo function to any of the eight arcade buttons. This is useful for games such as Marvel vs Capcom where button mashing can quickly turn a match around, which isn’t always the case when playing Street Fighter vs Tekken. The Turbo mode was easy to activate and deactivate on the fly, and actually made the battles and combos a little bit easier to pull off.
The one suggestion I might have about the Fightstick is the placement of the eight buttons – they’re spaced out in more of a ‘fan’ position to emulate arcades, but I found that after a while of button mashing my fingers were getting a bit sore from being stretched out across all the buttons. I think it might have been an improvement if the buttons were at a more natural hand placement, but this may also be due to the fact that I don’t play with arcade sticks very often. In fact a friend of mine who tried out the stick had no problems at all, so I’m guessing it really is just a matter of preference.
The Street Fighter X Tekken Tournament Edition Fightstick Pro (phew!) is an awesome piece of gaming hardware that no real fighting fan should do without. If you think that you’re an ace with Street Fighter, try you hand at fighting with this thing and you’ll soon learn what true combat gaming is. With its appealing design and sturdy build quality, this is one fighting stick that we’re going to hang on to.
So you’re still hungry to get into the Diablo III Beta? Our Week II give away is done and there are still more keys to give out.
I think it’s become standard procedure to paint the future as bleak, depressing, and generally hiding some sort of evil and ruthless corporation that runs everything. Granted, this about covers most of the FPS games I’ve played as of late, and unfortunately Syndicate follows along these lines to bring a predictable shooter that hardly leaves a lasting impression.
Syndicate was actually first released way back in the 90s, and involved sending a four-person squad of elite agents to eliminate certain targets in rival syndicates. You were also given the task of investing in research and development to improve your agent’s abilities and weapons. Fast forward to present day, and Syndicate gets a serious reboot as an FPS that only a few players will find enjoyable. This time Syndicate is set in 2069 where the world is run by Eurocorp, a mega-corporation that developed and released the DART chip – a neural implant that makes most other electronic devices obsolete. You play as Agent Miles Kilo, a bio-engineered and chip-augmented special agent, whose sole purpose is to protect Eurocorp’s interest by eliminating key targets in other Syndicates. You are equipped with the latest DART 6 prototype chip, and after a few test runs you’re deemed fit to continue with missions.
The DART chip is what sets the action apart from other FPS games as there are a variety of things that you can perform with it. The DART Overlay allows you to slow time down briefly and also gives you temporary increased damage and damage reduction, as well as giving you the ability to briefly see past cover to track down your enemies. The DART chip also comes with a series of ‘applications’ – these apps can be equipped and utilized during battle for a variety of tactical advantages.
The first two apps you get access to are Suicide and Backfire. The Suicide app targets one enemy and as the name suggests, causes them to go insane and kill themselves, harming or killing any other enemies nearby. The Backfire app will temporarily interfere with an enemy’s weapon, stunning them and making them easier to pick off. Lastly, the DART chip allows you to interact with and hack various points of interest – you can hack into an enemy’s armor to disable it, or hack into a console to gain access to a level, and much more. It’s executed quite easily with a simple tap and holding down of a button, so it doesn’t interfere too much if you’re in the heat of battle. Weapons are of a variety here as in most FPS games, with everything from a shotgun, laser-tag gun, and even a sweet minigun with unlimited ammo. Your DART chip can be upgraded with various abilities that can improve your health, reload times, and can also upgrade your applications.
What makes Syndicate initially frustrating is while the levels seem to have an open-end feel to them, the structure of the levels are quite linear, so you’re left running around to checkpoints and tracking down chips to retrieve from enemy targets. It’s a real shame, because some of the areas you’re in actually look like they’d be fun to explore. What also irritated me about the game was how forced some of the lighting was in certain areas – even adjusting the brightness didn’t seem to help, so watch out for ridiculously lit areas when you’re exploring the game. You also have the occasional boss fight, which rather than being an intelligent encounter where you use your skills and applications to win, boils down to running around to avoid gunfire, hack into an exploit, pellet them with bullets, and then repeat indefinitely.
While the single-player missions may seem a little mundane after a while, the game gets a much needed kick in the co-op missions. Rather than replaying the monotonous single-player story with just more people, the co-op mode puts four agents on a mission and throws them straight into the action. Missions vary from eliminating rival Syndicate leaders to stealing information, and working together as a team is absolutely critical. Should one of your teammates go down, you can quickly get close and target them for a ‘reboot’, which brings them back into the action. It’s a much, much better mode than the single-player, and I think it’s where the game’s true interest lies.
Graphically (apart from the glaring lighting), the game looks and runs quite smoothly. Character models are well animated and the seemingly endless levels look great. There’s also a fair amount of gore in this game, which is quite surprising. You unflinchingly can execute both enemies and civilians in a variety of way, and spraying blood and dismemberment seem to be the norm. There’s also a decent voice acting here for the characters, though the occasional DART robotic voice can get a tad bit annoying.
At its core, I’m sure Syndicate will appeal to gamers looking for a standard FPS game with a few thrills thrown in. The single-player campaign doesn’t excite much and can be finished without much effort. It’s the co-op missions that really give the game some replay value, and I suspect is the only part that is truly memorable.
While I’ve yet to formally get into (and understand) the fascination of Minecraft, a bit of news today made me sit up and pay attention.
Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, CEO of Mojang studios who created Minecraft, decided to distribute his $3 million after-tax earnings back to his fellow “Mojangstas”.
“Before tax, my dividends from Mojang for 2011 was about three million dollars. I chose to distribute that to the other employees.” Persson tweeted, much to the joy of his employees who responded with grateful tweets of their own.
While Mojang is still a modest company with less than 20 employees, clearly Persson understands that the 5 million in sales that Minecraft has enjoyed wouldn’t be possible without his hard working crew.
Let’s just hope that other CEOs take cue on this and recognize their hard-working crew (*hint* *hint*).
If you watch any movie with rival gangs in it, you know there’s going to be gunfights, territory face-offs, and a forbidden love interest.
And if it’s West Side Story, there’s going to be a lot of singing and dancing.
But did you ever think that Dance Dance Revolution would make it into a movie? I promise I’m not making this up, but an upcoming film “The FP” does exactly that. Rather than a gunfight or racing around the city, these two warring factions prefer to stop on arrows to show who’s the tougher cookie. Oh and they’re playing ‘Beat Beat Revolution’ – no similarity at all.
Prepare yourself and watch the trailer below: