My Game-Playing History
I've been playing computer games since the late 70's - here's a round up of my favourite games played over the years.
- The Early Years - In the Beginning
- Sinclair ZX Spectrum - Rubber Up
- Commodore Amiga A500+ - Music to My Ears
- Consoles Versus PCs - Weapon of Choice
- Desktop PCs - Roll Your Own
- Playstation 1 - The Game Changer
- Playstation 2 - Two's Company
- Playstation 3 - Third Time Lucky
- Playstation 4 - Four the Future
- The Future - Get Ready to Jump?
- Final Words - Not My Final Words
The Early Years
Ingersol XK-600B Games Console
This was one of the early 'pong' games - black and white and as basic as you can get for a games console. The highlight for me was the light gun. The target bounced around the screen and you had to shoot it, while the other player had basic control of the target and could speed-up, slow-down or change the bounce angle at will.
Visit the Pong Museum to view this awesome hardware in all it's glory.
- Introduced in 1977
- 1 or 2 Players
- 6 Games - Target 1 / Target 2 / Tennis / Hockey / Squash / Solo
- 2 Controllers
- Single-axis variable control knob
- 3 Buttons - Speed / Angle / Reset
- 1 Light Gun
Hanimex VC 4000 Games Console
The Hanimex VC-4000 console was one of the early, cartridge-based consoles. This machine had sound and colour!
I don't remember much about the games, apart from there was a basic 'Pacman' clone and 'Missile-command' type game.
- Introduced in 1978
- 1 or 2 Players
- 40 Games - Cartridge based
- 2 Controllers
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
The ZX Spectrum was my first 'real' computer. Although the vast majority of my time was spent playing games, owning a ZX Spectrum kick-started my interest in a new hobby - writing computer programs.
Initially, I learned Sinclair BASIC by typing in listings from magazines and modifying the programs to work in different ways. Soon, I became interested in making my code run faster, so I learned Z80 assembler and starting disassembling games, looking for "infinite lives" cheats and so on.
I never got as far as actually creating a new game, but I did manage to convert some tape-based games to use the "lifetime" floppy disk drive to load extra levels.
For the latest Spectrum news I was reading Crash magazine and Your Sinclair.
The competing hardware at the time was the Commodore 64 - my best friend had this machine and although I had to admit the games were graphically and audibly better, somehow I still preferred the Spectrum.
My Spectrum Hardware
I owned 4 different versions before the Spectrum reached the end of it's useful life:
- Bought the Original 48K model - Complete with rubber keyboard.
- Converted the original model into a ZX Spectrum+ - Reuse the same hardware, but with a new, shiny, hard-plastic keyboard and casing
- Bought a Currah Speech Synthesizer
- Bought a Kempston joystick and interface
- Bought a "Snapshot interface" - Attached a "Lifetime" 3.5 inch Floppy Disk Drive and a STAR LC10 printer to Snapshot interface
- Bought the new 128K model
- Bought the 'improved' 128K +2A - The built-in cassette player seemed like a small step backwards.
For a while I was interested in the Oric 1, but came to my senses before I parted with my hard-earned cash. Then I found myself considering upgrading to a Sam Coupe, but the Amiga came along and I went off the idea.
My Favourite Spectrum Games
I must have played hundreds of games on the Spectrum. I'll list the games that I had the most fun with - you can find information about all these games at World of Spectrum, which has a vast collection of Spectrum files and articles - you can now play nearly every Spectrum game ever created for free, using an emulator. Some emulators are even provided as a plug-in for your web browser.
As well as playing arcade games I was also into text adventure games - unfortunately, I cannot remember which ones I played and there are hundreds listed on World of Spectrum.
You can find videos of these games in action on youtube - if these games are before your time, just remember that they were cutting edge at the time, but very basic looking now.
- Academy - Brilliant sequel to "Tau Ceti". More options and better gameplay.
- Amaurote - Excellent presentation throughout. Brilliant intro sequence. Spooky in-game music.
- ATF - A 3D fighter jet simulator on the Spectrum and a surprisingly good game.
- Bobby Bearing - Enjoyable isometric 'marble madness' game.
- Bomb Jack - Slick, addictive gameplay.
- Boulder Dash - Simple game play mechanics, but many ways to complete the levels.
- Chucky Egg - Super fast and addictive platformer.
- Cyclone - This was the follow up to "T.L.L." and I liked this game a lot. Flying around rescuing survivors with your helicopter. Clever use of colour.
- Daley Thompson's Decathlon - Frantic keyboard bashing produces medal-winning performances.
- Death Chase - Very much inspired by the "Return of the Jedi" bike chase through the forest, this game was quite a challenge, though a little basic even by Spectrum standards.
- Death Star Interceptor - Fight your way to the Death Star and blow it up. This game gets bonus points for having speech - "Prepare to Launch".
- Driller - Very quirky game, but interesting once you've worked out what you're supposed to do.
- Glider Rider - In the same mould as "Amaurote". Great music.
- Gyroscope - Arcade trickiness. I preferred "Bobby Bearing".
- Hypersports - I preferred this sporting game to "Daley Thompson's Decathlon", though the button-bashing weight-lifting event could be a gruelling ordeal.
- Jet Set Willy - Simple and fiendishly tricky.
- Knight Lore - An isometric puzzle adventure.
- Laser Squad - Excellent turn-based strategy. The fore-runner to the X-Com series.
- Lunar Jetman - Simple but addictive (where's the trailer?)
- Micronaut One - Slightly baffling at first, then you realise it's brilliance.
- Minder - The TV series was popular at the time, and I enjoyed hawking my "boxes of fly-papers" around for a profit. Quite a few "dodgy geezers", in this game.
- Renegade - Very much inspired by one of my favourite arcade games "Double Dragon", this was one of my favourite Spectrum beat-em ups.
- Scuba Dive - Exploring underwater caves while avoiding the sharks - what's not to like?
- Sentinel, The - A really clever strategy game with infinite level generation.
- Skool Daze - "Grange Hill" was at it's peak of it's popularity - this game gave you permission to be a 'bad lad' at school.
- Star Quake - Massive map, great graphics, innovative platform game-play mechanics and funky music.
- Target: Renegade - This sequel to "Renegade" was even better than the original and allowed two players to play co-operatively.
- Tau Ceti - I loved this ambitious "Battle Zone" type game. Clever 3D with lighting effects on the Spectrum!
- Thrust - Now here was a game of skill. Hovering sideways, collecting a pod with your tractor beam while avoiding the missiles. Classic game.
- Tornado Low Level (T.L.L.) - An excellent isometric arcade jet game. Very clever use of colour.
- Uridium - Classic top-down space shoot-em up.
- Valhalla - Odd little stick figures interacting with each other. Seemed much more sophisticated than it actually was.
- Warlock of Firetop Mountain - Complex mazes with dead-ends, lockable barriers and odd-looking creatures. Weird keyboard arrangement requiring fast and nimble fingers. Frantic chase sequence if you accidentally discover the Warlock's lair and disturb him from his sleep. "Gone for a cheesecake?"
- Wheelie - Interesting side-scrolling game-play. Wheelie over bricks in the road, judge the bike speed to clear jumps over buses, race the Ghost Rider back home and avoid the hedgehogs?!
Commodore Amiga A500+
I shared the Amiga A500+ with my brother - it was a Christmas present. It was the "Cartoon Classics" package and came with 3 games - "Lemmings", "The Simpsons" and "Captain Planet".
My Amiga Hardware
There isn't much to say about the hardware - it was a self-contained unit with an integrated keyboard and floppy disk drive and a very hefty power transformer. What did annoy me was the additional hardware module that plugged into the back and provided PAL output for a TV - very ungainly.
Some time later, I was studying programming languages with The Open University, and needed a PC to run their Pascal course software - I couldn't afford a PC at the time, so instead, bought a 286 emulator that plugged into the port underneath the Amiga. While it wasn't exactly the most powerful PC in the world, it ran the OU software without a hitch and I was able to finish my course.
Other accessories I added to the Amiga, included a MIDI interface to hook-up a synth keyboard and stand-alone synth module, a second floppy drive to reduce disk swapping and various joysticks for better game playing sessions.
The Amiga Demo Scene
The Amiga had a brilliant sound chip. In my opinion, some of the best computer-generated music was created during the time of the Amiga. Nowadays, the game music is just a pre-recorded mp3 track, played in the background during the game, but in the Amiga days, a 4-channel "music mod" is being played using sampled instrument sounds.
You could get a lot of music in a relatively small file. I remember buying floppy disks full of mod files to play and enjoy - yes, they were that good.
Some early electronic bands started out by composing "mods" for the Amiga. Other groups were encouraged by the strong audio hardware of the Amiga, and began to push the capabilities of the Amiga graphics hardware - the Amiga demo scene was born.
Favourite Amiga Demos:
I've attached links to youtube so you can view them in action:
- Enigma - Phenomena
- Global Trash - The Silents
- Hardwired - Crionics and The Silents
- Mental Hangover - Scoopex
Things to bare in mind when watching these demos:
- The Amiga had no 3D graphics hardware
- The music is generated in real-time using sampled synth sounds
- Most demos fitted on a single floppy disk
My Favourite Amiga Games
For some reason, the Amiga games don't seem to have left such a lasting memory as the Spectrum games - perhaps it's because there was much more of a cross-over between platforms at this time. Games were being released on PC, Amiga and consoles at the same time.
I've added links to youtube for some of the games so that you can see them in action.
- Alien Breed - This is basically a top-down shooter based on the "Aliens" film. It has excellent presentation and music. It also had 2-player co-operative play, which became hilarious once the level destruct had been triggered and you both had to get the hell out of there! "WARNING: Destruction Imminent!"
- Desert Strike - This game reminds me of "Cyclone" from the Spectrum days. Lots of fun to be had.
- Knights of the Sky - World War 1 fighter plane simulation. Somehow, a much more enjoyable game than the fast "fire-and-forget" jet simulators.
- Lemmings - Frustrating and addictive at the same time. Some of the levels left you scratching your head for hours, then all of a sudden, you a "Eureka!" moment and it was on to the next.
- Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 - I loved this game. Great intro music. Offers 2-player split-screen racing.
- Pinball Dreams - A brilliant and addictive pinball game consisting of four tables - "Steel Wheel", "Ignition", "Nightmare" and "Beat Box". The production values for this game were excellent. The music was top-notch.
- Populous - Interesting "god" game - reward or punish your followers?
- Project-X - A side-scrolling space shooter 'inspired' by "R-Type". Had a "just one more go" quality to it.
- Sensible Soccer - I much preferred this arcade take on football. The simplicity of the game mechanics allowed for a much more fluid gaming experience than those games that insisted on complicated button combinations.
- Turrican 2 - Probably the best game overall on the Amiga. Lots of variety. Great music.
Consoles versus PCs
My next gaming platform was a desktop PC, but before I move onto that, I think the comparison of dedicated consoles versus general-purpose, desktop PCs is worth exploring.
Even though the Amiga was technically a home computer, in reality, it was console in a computer case - you couldn't really modify it in the way that you can with modern PCs. Games produced for the Amiga would run the same for every Amiga owner.
In the early 90s I was ready to buy my first PC - my Amiga was coming to the end of it's useful life and I was looking forward to playing games on my new PC hardware. It didn't take long for me to discover that the freedom to mix and match hardware components didn't necessarily lead to an improved game-playing experience.
Installing and configuring a newly bought PC game was often a tedious, long, drawn out process of trying to find the right settings to match your graphics and sound cards. You often had to turn "non-essential" graphic effects such as shadows off or reduce the resolution of the screen to achieve a reasonable frame rate.
The problem with developing games for the PC market was that in the two years that the game would take to develop, the PC hardware specification had moved on. So games producers had to make predictions about the capabilities of the PC hardware 2 years from the start of the project. The results were often hit and miss - if they underestimated, their games were criticised for not using the latest and greatest hardware features. If they over-estimated, their games would only run smoothly on the most expensive hardware.
Compare the above situation with games developed for consoles, which have a fixed hardware specification target - the developers have a single hardware configuration to get the best out of and every player is guaranteed the same game experience. When you read the review for a game produced for a console, you can be sure that you will have the same experience as the reviewer. However, when the game being reviewed was created for a PC, you cannot be sure that the reviewer's machine isn't considerably better specced than yours. What might have been a visual treat running at 60 frames-a-second for the reviewer, may be like watching a slide-show when installed on your particular PC hardware.
Online games are less likely to be hacked on the consoles. The customizable nature of PCs is an open invitation to the hackers and the tinkerers, who are only too happy to generate scripts for everyone else to modify their game. You're less likely to get a fair online game on the PC and even if your opponent isn't using a script to access "God" mode in the game, he may have spent 3 times as much as you on his PC and is literally able to run circles around you before popping a bullet between the eyes of your online avatar.
Consoles are designed to integrate with the existing hardware in your living room - PCs are either designed to be set up on a desk in the corner, or to be sat on your lap.
I will concede that there are certain types of games that are suited more to PCs than consoles - usually games that require mouse and keyboard for better control. But the latest consoles are offering alternative ways to control games now, and even the more complicated PC games can be found on the consoles.
Finally, a locked-down system, such as a console, is more attractive to games developers because there is less chance that the games that they produce, can be copied by players and passed around. No business is going to invest tens of millions of dollars/pounds/euros developing the next block-buster game for a platform where piracy is rife - it doesn't make commercial sense. There are those end users who feel that once they have bought their hardware, they're perfectly entitled to 'jail-break' it and use it in ways that are against the terms that they bought it under.
I disagree. I think locked-down hardware has it's place in the game-playing world and it's justified by the points I have made in the preceding paragraphs. The bottom line is, that if you don't want a locked-down hardware platform, then don't buy one. Some of us can see the advantages of owning a closed-platform and would rather that others didn't undermine our experience by opening up the hardware to the cheaters, the glitchers and the trolls, who come online and ruin the game for the rest of us and to add insult to the injury, a proportion of these online sociopaths don't even own a legit copy of the game like the rest of us!
So, being in full-time employment by this point, I was able to accumulate enough money to buy a new desktop PC. My new PC hardware was able to run much more sophisticated games than my Amiga, so in terms of gaming hardware, my new PC was now it.
This trend continued for several years - right up to the point that I bought my Playstation 1. From that day onwards, consoles would be my gaming platform of choice.
My PC Hardware
I didn't buy my first real PC until the early 90's.
I usually bought a PC based on price-point, rather than features and options. In reality, this meant I would buy an all-in-one package with the current Windows, trialware packages and sometimes full products pre-installed,.
So, in terms of Windows, I've owned Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows XP Home Edition - all came pre-installed on whichever PC package I had just bought. When I last renewed my hardware, I looked for "No O/S" brands (of which there are only a few), and saved about £120, which I would have had to spend if I had opted to have Windows 7 pre-installed.
Over the years, I've added all the usual PC peripherals - but nothing directly related to game-playing, apart from an adaptor to use Playstation controllers with PC games.
Since I've been running Linux-only machines at home, I've always bought Nvidia graphics hardware - Linux has the best driver support for Nvidia hardware.
My Favourite PC Games
- Blade Runner - Definitely my favourite point-and-click adventure of all time. This is one of the very few games that I have played though several times - key decisions throughout the game, will change the outcome at the end. I just wish they had chosen a different display engine - the voxel rendering looks really blocky on newer hardware.
- Duke Nukem 3D - I spent a long time playing this game - every level was packed with hidden rooms and secret weapon stashes. Love those laser trip bombs.
- Full Throttle - An impressive point-and-click adventure that seemed to be over all too quickly. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
- Half Life - I don't recall actually completing the single-player game, but I do remember playing on-line for hours against random people on home-grown levels. The one level that stands out, is set in a kitchen where all the players are scaled down to the size of a mouse. Absolute classic.
- Star Wars - Dark Forces - Very a much a "Doom" clone in "Star Wars" livery and I loved every minute of it.
- Transport Tycoon - Like playing with an enormous train set - what's not to like?
- X-Com: Terror From the Deep - A very absorbing game that expanded on the play mechanics of "Laser Squad". Even though the gameplay is turn-based, the tension really heightened when an alien popped into view then disappeared behind an obstacle.
When I saw Ridge Racer running on a friend's PS1, I knew then that dedicated games consoles were going to match anything that you could find in the arcades and so it was an easy decision to make the Playstation my gaming platform of choice - I went out and bought myself one, the very next day.
As well as buying quite a few games, I also rented many from the local Block Buster video store - "try-before-you-buy" certainly paid off in the case of PS1 games.
My PS1 Hardware
I've not much to say about the Playstation hardware - I bought the usual accessories and a couple of specialised controllers:
- Mad Catz steering wheel and Pedals - The wheel wasn't that precise and the pedals felt a bit too springy.
- Twist controller for playing Wipeout - I just couldn't get used to it and found the twist mechanic had too much resistance for prolonged gameplay - I seem to recall suffering physical pain after playing for a couple of hours with this controller.
Favourite PS1 Games
- Bushido Blade - Very atmospheric sword-fighting game. Quite brutal, but satisfying.
- Disruptor - A much better quality FPS than the PSX "Doom" conversion. Includes live action video cut-scenes.
- Doom - Not a great conversion but still playable and as addictive as the original.
- Driver - Recreate your favourite car chases from all the films you saw as a kid.
- Duke Nukem - Time to Kill - A great link-up game if you have two machines, two TVs and two copies of the game. The laser trip bombs could be placed in some truly evil places.
- Everybody's Golf 2 - Very addictive multi-player golf game. Funny characters.
- Final Fantasy 7 - Offers a great variety of gameplay styles and a very long story-arc. Lots to do.
- Gran Turismo - Amazing graphics for the time, lots of cars to drive and lots of challenges to complete.
- Hogs of War - A great two player game with some hilarious voice characterisations by Rik Mayall.
- Medal of Honour - Amazing atmosphere helped enormously by the top-notch music and sound effects. Memorable moment: infiltrating a secret base and being asked to surrender by a German officer speaking over the P.A. system.
- Micro Machines v3 - Fun little racing game around the house.
- Porsche Challenge - Not a great racing game, but very well presented.
- Resident Evil - Super atmospheric sound and visuals. Many creepy locations and sequences.
- Tomb Raider Series - Amazing adventures - almost like playing the female version of "Indiana Jones".
- Tony Hawks Skateboarding - Super smooth tricks and visuals.
- True Pinball - From the same team that created "Pinball Dreams" on the Amiga. Again this is a brilliant pinball game consisting of four tables - "Extreme Sports", "Vikings - The Tales" (my favourite), "Ricochet" and "Babewatch".
- V-Rally - Not a true rally simulation, but rather an arcade rally racing game.
- Wipeout 2097 - This was one of the Playstation 'signature' games. Very slickly presented with some top music acts providing the soundtrack.
While I was a little late to the game (no pun intended) with the PS1, I made the decision to buy the PS2 on the launch day. I seem to recall that there was a very limited selection of games on offer - I think I bought "Smugglers Run", "SSX" and "Ridge Racer 5". As it turned out, "SSX" still remains one of my favourite PS2 games. "Smugglers Run" was notable for it's large, sprawling levels with impressive draw-distance and "Ridge Racer 5" for it's complete lack of anti-aliasing.
My PS2 Hardware
Again, there's not much to say about hardware except the PS2 was important to me because it was backwardly compatible with the PS1 and therefore I didn't have to have both consoles sat under the TV and it also enabled me to watch DVDs on my TV rather than my using my PCs DVD-ROM driver and monitor.
I also bought a dedicated DVD remote control and a widget to unlock all DVD regions - I had a dozen or so region 1 DVDs and I was determined to watch them on the PS2.
Some of the later games were offering on-line play, so I bought the network adaptor too - the only games I can definitely recall playing online were "Killzone", which was brilliant and one of "Time Splitters" games, which wasn't so good.
I did contemplate buying a hard drive and a back-up utility - and yes, this was for legitimate use with my existing game collection and not a way of renting and copying games. In the end, I decided that the cost of the extra kit versus slightly quicker loading times for games, wasn't worth it.
My Favourite PS2 Games
- Baldurs Gate - Dark Alliance - Great two-player co-operative gameplay.
- Beyond Good and Evil - A weird story-line, but an enjoyable adventure.
- Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon - A welcome return to the point-and-click adventure makes a change to all the free-roaming environments offered in other games.
- Burnout Series - The highest quality arcade racing games. These games offer 'twitch' driving at break-neck speed - obviously this inevitably lead to crashes and these games do crashes with style.
- Freedom Fighters - An interesting story with an emotional soundtrack and excellent, varied gameplay.
- Gran Turismo 3 - Lots of cars. Lots of tracks. Lots of race events, goals and rewards. Cutting edge graphics and amazing race replays.
- GTA - Vice City - Offers a massive sandbox environment to play in, littered with varied set pieces and held together by a great story. This is gaming heaven for an 80's junky like myself and unsurprisingly, there is some great 80's music to underline your best ganeplay moments.
- Killzone - A late arrival that delivered cutting-edge graphics and special effects. This game has one of the most memorable and atmospheric opening cinematic sequences. There's an option to let you practise against bots (I wish more games would implement this) in preparation for the amazing online play.
- Lego Star Wars / Lego Star Wars 2 - An enjoyable (if simple) two-player co-operative game offering sick graphics, authentic themes and boasting the original music soundtrack.
- Micro Machines - There's lots of fun to be had speeding around the quirky race environments. Atmospheric ambient sounds.
- Need for Speed – Hot Pursuit 2 - Slick graphics complement the frantic racing over the varied race tracks.
- Project Eden - An unexpected treat with an absorbing storyline, varied gameplay and problems to be solved by teamwork.
- Ratchet and Clank 3 - An enormous, fun, varied, laugh-out loud adventure with lots of wacky weapons, levels and enemies.
- SSX - Super smooth snow-boarding action with lots of tricks to master, varied courses and funky sound-track ("Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya!")
When it comes to playing games on the PS3, it's definitely quality over quantity. I've spent a long time playing the "Call of Duty" games, the "Assassins Creed" series and "Fallout 3". I have other games, but they haven't held my attention half as much.
As well as playing games, I also spend quite a bit of time watching Blu-ray films and youtube videos - there are thousands of excellent tutorials for the latest development technologies and methodologies. Also, the latest games reviews and film trailers are easily accessible.
The various TV catch-up applications are also present on the PS3 and all work very well - the BBC iPlayer is especially good.
My PS3 Hardware
My PS3 came with a 40GB hard drive - I've recently upgraded it to a 320GB drive and it's made a big difference. I have to say though, that despite having a large capacity drive, the PS3 media players are rather lacking in there ability to organise media. There's very little beyond album tagging to help you organise music and videos.
My PS3 isn't one of the early models that can play PS2 games - this was a big disappointment when I realised that I had to keep my PS2 if I wanted to replay any of the PS2 games. On top of that, Sony has said there are no plans to release a PS2 emulator. I've recently noticed that there are a selection of PS2 games available to download to the PS3 - in the game details it explains that the games are emulated and that some of the original features may not work. It's obvious that this is the real reason behind Sony's reluctance to release an emulator - they want to continue making money from the PS2 back-catalogue by re-packaging them with an emulator and offering them as PS3 downloads.
As well as original PS2 games being available in emulated packages, there's also PS2 games that have been re-worked in HD - from what I can tell, these are also emulated, but the emulator has a high-definition rendering engine. Either way, if I wanted a PS2 game, I would rather play the original game on the original hardware than make-do with re-hashed emulated versions.
Favourite PS3 Games
- Assassins Creed Series - Intriguing storyline, superb effects and glorious architecture throughout.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Probably the most addictive game I've ever played. I've never learned as much about guns as I did from playing this game. I can even recognise certain guns when they appear in films.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - More of the same, but still as addictive as the previous game. I didn't buy "Modern Warfare 3" for the reasons outlined in this article.
- Fallout 3 - An amazing amount of detail crammed onto one disc. You can play this game for months and years if you so desired. It is slightly let down by glitches - unfortunately, I cannot complete it because of a glitch, but I still had a great experience up to that point.
- Metal Gear Solid - You can always rely on a MGS game to get the most out of your hardware and this game doesn't disappoint.
- Zen Pinball - Probably the best pinball simulation there is.
The PS4 is a step away from previous incarnations and is a lot closer to traditional PC hardware. While this should improve the lives of the games developers and ensure that cross-platform titles are much closer on a technological level, it does mean that the new Playstation has zero compatibility with the previous versions. Nothing you have purchased up to this point for your previous Playstations can be carried forward to the new hardware - your controllers won't work and neither will any of the games from your collection.
Also, you now have to pay to play online. Up to this point, online gameplay on the PS3 was free.
I do like the new ability to create videos of your gameplay or broadcast live to the internet.
The PSVR launched in October 2016, and has sold over 1 million units as of June 2017 - I'm not as excited by the prospect as I hoped I would be. Perhaps I'll wait for the second iteration.
The PS4 Pro launched in November 2016 - it seems that Sony's hardware strategy going forward is to release incremental updates to the hardware to compete with the PC gaming market. For me, this is a mistake and will lead to a fragmented game library optimized for the current hardware iteration and will ultimately lead to a situation where owners of older hardware will see reviews for the latest games running on the latest hardware iteration, but will have to be content with a version of the game "turned down" so it can run reasonably on their (older) hardware - or even worse, the game running with issues or with certain features missing.
Owned PS4 Games
I haven't fully embraced the PS4 - while I recognise that the hardware can deliver improved games, I'm still fully immersed in the PS3 games scene (PS3 triple-A games cost next to nothing now).
- Drive Club - This game came with PS4 bundle and was missing several key features - over the months and years, several updates have added those features into the game, but it lost momentum for me, so rarely gets played
- Far Cry 4 - Bought, but not yet played
- Fallout 4 - Bought, but not yet played
- No Man's Sky - Another game that was launched with major features missing. I didn't buy it at launch, but I did buy the major updated edition (1.3) on digital download over a year later. It's a good game, but not as deep as I hoped it would be.
I did think about getting a different gaming platform - android consoles were the thing before the PS4 launched, but they didn't take off in the way I was hoping. A steam machine is still a viable alternative to a traditional console or gaming-PC.
I suppose you could say I've been lucky to have been around when the whole game console industry was just getting started - it's really quite astonishing how the hardware and the games have developed over the last 30 years or so.
What you might find surprising (or not) is that, in my experience, the level of fun to be had playing games IS NOT directly proportional to the number of polygons you can get on the screen - the early games developers had very rigid hardware specifications to work with and in a sense, that set them free to work on the game playability and mechanics. The problem with today's hardware is that a lot of effort has to be put into the sound and visuals because the players demand it.
To deliver these immersive gaming experiences takes a team of several hundred individuals and unfortunately, more often than not, the end products have a certain something missing. The corporate environment can knock the life out of a project and developers should take a step back every now and again and wonder if they have got the balance right - their latest masterpiece might be visually impressive and draw admiration from the company directors, but will it hold my attention for more than 10 minutes?
Finally, home-grown games have been written since before the Spectrum days and now, with the advent of the open-source game engines on the internet and the cost of hardware being so low, I think the small teams may be the ones to really push innovation forward in the gaming industry.
I shall be watching current and future developments with a keen interest and may find myself jumping off the good ship Playstation and setting sail for an altogether different gaming paradise.
Richard Gunn, August 2013 and October 2017 (update).