Hardware Analysis: PlayStation 4

PS4_logo

 

Foreword

The Launch of a new generation of consoles is always an exciting time. Executives will give presentations at E3 showing off the feature set, hardware power and launch titles in an attempt to talk up their console as the undisputed victor of the new generation. The gaming industry has been around long enough with its eight generations for us to have seen everything. There was a point in time, years ago now, where consoles were individually unique and each had their own advantages and quirks which would not only make the purchasing decision a difficult one for consumers but would also seemingly endow the systems with their own personalities.

Today that’s not so true. Of the three one could only argue that the WiiU has it’s own personality and niche. While it’s sales haven’t been stellar there is something to be said for going your own way popular trends be damned. As for the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One the lines become more blurred. I’m not sure when exactly the homogenization of consoles became a thing but I think it had its roots in the Dreamcast, the first really modern console and especially the first Xbox with its use of modified off the shelf consumer hardware.

 

PlayStation 4

Sony’s 4th console release builds on a the same set of core design themes that have carried all PlayStations to commercial success. The biggest of which is a focus on multimedia functionality and making the PlayStation more than just a console.

Background

Sony’s 4th console is less of a revolution like it’s ancestor and more of what we saw with the PS2 and PS3, a deliberate evolution and refinement over previous models with the goal of keeping what made the PlayStation great and just improving on that. To continue accomplish this goal we see the return of a lot of core features such as the familiar Dual Shock type controller and an emphasis on not just being a gaming console but being an all around entertainment device for the living room.

Sony began development of the PS4 only two years after the release of the PS3 in 2008 in order to prevent the delays that plagued the PS3 from afflicting the PS4. By 2012 early  dev units were being sent out to developers and the console was officially announced at E3 2013 with the first markets releasing units that November.

During the development phase Sony worked closely with AMD to develop an x86 based APU to power the PS4 in order to improve the ease of game development. Something the PS3 suffered from early on due to its complicated cell architecture. Sony also worked with Bungie to work on updates to the dual shock controller family to make it better suited to FPS titles, another area that the PS3 had been weak in compared to the Xbox 360.

The end result gave Sony a much cheaper platform to manufacture with a straightforward architecture, much like the original PlayStation, that avoids many of the mistakes of the PS3.

Design

Sony’s console design approach has always been a consistent effort to make the PlayStation resemble its intended use as a multimedia device. From the very beginning, the PlayStation has resembled contemporary home theater appliances while also having a distinct and modern look. The PlayStation 4 continues this theme with a hybrid gloss/matte black finish and sharp angled lines. I think it Looks nice.

It's hard to deny the PS4 looks good

It’s hard to deny the PS4 looks good

 

Hardware

While the PS4’s industrial design is consistent with it’s lineage, under the hood is a different matter entirely. Gone is the expensive and complicated PowerPC Cell processor of the PS3. Now we have a much more conservative and conventional approach using an AMD sourced APU (Accelerated Processing Unit).

CPU

At the heart of the APU is an AMD Jaguar architecture CPU, or rather two of them. Jaguar is AMD’s current low-end/low-power architecture and has been on sale since mid-2013. Jaguar processors are at the most quad core devices and here Sony has taken the design a step further, instead of one quad core processor we have two arranged in a similar fashion to Intel’s early Core 2 Quad desktop CPUs with two separate cores on the same processor die.

APUs provide a distinct advantage to earlier solutions that involve discrete physical processors and chips. By taking these seperate components and placing them on the same die you can greatly reduce heat and power consumption but also connect the elements on their own internal bus that frees up the main system bus for other duties and reduces overall system latency.

A diagram of a single Jaguar compute unit (CU)

A diagram of a single Jaguar compute unit (CU)

Each Quad core processor is broken into a “compute unit” (CU) which consists of the individual cores as well as the L2 cache and interface. The 4 cores share a 2MiB level 2 cache and each have 32KiB of instruction cache and 32KiB of data cache. Jaguar cores, like all modern processors are full superscalar, feature out-of-order and speculative execution in order to increase parallelization and improve overall performance.

Jaguar features many improvements over AMD's previous Bulldozer architecture

Jaguar features many improvements over AMD’s previous Bulldozer architecture

Both CU’s run at a base 1.6Ghz and can throttle to an undisclosed higher clockspeed although there has been speculation it goes up as high as 2.5Ghz and as low as 1.9Ghz.

 

GPU

The GPU is as expected based on the Radeon GCN architecture that is found in consumer Jaguar APUs. Codenammed Liverpool, the GPU features 1152 Unified Shaders at a clock speed of 800Mhz. Being based on the GCN family Liverpool shares many features with AMD’s current 2xx line of consumer GPUs such as the HSA “zero-copy” Unified memory plan and support for AMD’s Mantle API.

Specs Shortlist:

  • 1152 Unified Shaders
  • 72 Texture Mapping Units
  • 32 Render Output Units
  • 800Mhz Core Clock Speed
  • 1.84 TeraFLOPS peak theoretical power
  • 25.6 GP/s maximum pixel fillrate
  • 57.6 GT/s maximum texture fillrate
  • 256bit wide GDDR5 bus with 176 GB/s bandwidth*
*note the PS4 uses a unified 8GiB of GDDR5 for both the CPU and GPU

In terms of overall performance Liverpool compares closest to the AMD 265 which is an updated Radeon 7850. The 265 also has a peak processing power of 1.84 TeraFLOPS and has similar texture and pixel fillrate as well as 179.s GB/s memory bandwidth.

 Conclusion

The PS4 is form Sony’s perspective a great improvement over the PS3. It’s cheaper to manufacture, didn’t have hardware delays, is easy to develop for and naturally continues the theme of newer consoles being more powerful and having more features but that doesn’t tell the whole story. it actually took me awhile to finish this article. Not because information was hard to find or anything like that, but because it was hard to motivate myself to write about such a boring topic. The Ps4’s spec sheet reads more like a cheap pc build on PcPartPicker.com then a dedicated  gaming machine. Both the PS4 and Xbox One suffer from this, they just aren’t interesting to talk about. Not to mention that relative to when they came out they aren’t nearly as impressive as the previous consoles were. The Ps3 and 360 were actually fairly powerful even by PC standards when they came out, I can not say the same for this generation. But the biggest problem by far, and this is outside the scope of this article and not just limited to the PS4, is there aren’t enough good games available for these consoles. 2014 was a parade of over hyped games that either didn’t deliver (Destiny) or games that didn’t work at all (Watchdogs, Assassin’s Creed Unity).

 

Weekly Mailbag: 2-27-15 Edition

In this weekly mailbag, Jon gives an update on what is happening on the site and shows off his pick ups for the end of the week:

– Dreamcast controller
– SNES controller
– NES controller
– Japanese space flight combat game (SAT)
– Ridge Racer Type 4 (PS1)
– Gran Turismo 2 (PS1)
– Daytona USA (SAT)
– NHL All Star Hockey (SAT)

 

 

As always, thanks for watching! If you enjoyed our video, please rate and subscribe for more quick looks and other video features. Check out our main site for videos, podcasts, written features and more! Look us up at:

http://www.thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

If you have and comments, suggestions or criticisms be sure to drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Sony Sells Online Entertainment Division

Announced today from John Smedley’s own twitter account, the sale from Sony’s Online Entertainment division to Columbus Nova. Though they own other technology companies such as Rhapsody, this is the first strictly gaming company the firm purchased. However with Jason Epstein as an executive, Columbus Nova won’t be a new boy in this industry. Naturally fans are curious what this means for games in production and the possible future for games released exclusively on Sony’s own Playstations. John addresses some fans directly. In response to H1Z1 development from now on:

jsmed1

John is an executive that is well known for keeping in good touch with fans. One such person asking if the DC Universe Online could make its’ way to Microsofts’ Xbox One. John replies again in a simple and direct manner

jsmed2

With this shift of ownership comes a new name, Daybreak Game Company LLC. With John Smedley to remain at the helm and he is not holding back his excitement to bring other games to Xbox One system.

Many have pointed to Sonys’ obvious financial difficulty as a key factor to push this sale. Last year alone they reported a loss of $1.25 billion. With the details of the sale not being released, and Sony still not reporting profit/loss for the last quarter, due to the data breach, this could raise eyebrows as to the real state of Sony.

 

 

Got a line on some new info in the world of video games? drop us a line at: solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Game Review: Tekken (PS)

tekken front

Tekken (PS1) North American Box Art

 

Game Title: Tekken
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Platform: Sony Playstation
Genre: 3D Fighting
Release Date: November 1995

 

(Editor’s Note: This game was covered playing a North American copy of Tekken for the Sony Playstation, all owned by the reviewer.)

 

With fighting games finally making the plunge into the third dimension, the gaming world has seen two major titles emerge from this landscape. With games like Battle Arena Toshinden and Virtua Fighter it is hard to deny that the future of the genre looks promising in terms of innovation. The next major step in this evolutionary ladder is most defintitely Tekken: The Iron Fist Tournament because it by far the more intuitive and accessible fighting games made to date. Tekken flourishes because of very responsive controls, sensible button combos, a nice variety of characters with differing styles, unique environments and a two soundtrack option that includes great arranged and original arcade music. With the exception of minor blemishes Tekken is a solid and well implemented fighting game.

 

Tekken takes place respectively in the modern day where there is an annual tournament known as the Iron Fist Tournament dubbed the Tekken. This event is funded by a financial group called Mishima Zaibatsu. Eight fighters are selected from around the world to compete to eventually face the leader of the financial group named Heihachi Mishima. The winner is crowned the King of the Iron Fists. All these chosen fighters have personal reasons for competing including plots of vengeance and aspirations of grandeur. The story is fine for what it is, but it is not anything terrible special.

 

All the characters follow national and ethnic archetypes that are clear references to pop culture icons. A great example is the fighter Marshall Law who is clearly a nod to the legacy of Bruce Lee. King is a Luchador wrestler from Mexico. Jack is not only a reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but is also a reference to the Terminator films because he is a cyborg. It is a neat way cobble all these various iconic identities and have them duke it out in a tournament setting.

 

For the most part, this version of Tekken replicates all the mechanics from the arcade version quite well. The controls to this game are most intuitive and technical of any fighting game to date. The face button layout controls the fighter’s limbs. The left and top face buttons control the left and right arms of the fight as where the bottom and right buttons controls the left and right legs of the fighter. It is a perfect control system, which requires no customization because it feels incredibly organic. Through combining adjacent punch and kick button will make your fighter attempt a throw or grappling move. Each fight has at least two grapple moves which are different depending on the fighter chosen. All the moves are at least realistic and believable. In other words, you will not be throwing fire balls and breaking the laws of physics.

 

All characters share a set of mundane moves and attacks, but also have their own sets of special techniques along with move combos that can be discovered. On top of this, there are solid mechanics for blocking, countering, and evading throw and grapples. Every fighter has moves that are so powerful that they are unable to be blocked. However, all these power moves take time to charge or do, so it is possible to attack an enemy and stop him or her from finishing the attack which is a great instant of balance.  Another cool trick is tackling the opponent and mashing the punch buttons and punching the living daylights out of the opponent. The fighting and visceral nature of it is incredibly satisfying.

All these elements are unchanged in the two player mode where two people can choose their combatants and compete in the same format as the arcade mode. A great feature in this mode is the ability to set handicaps for either player. If one player is far more advanced in the game than the other, he or she can set the handicap accordingly so that it will always be a fair fight.

The perfect control in Tekken is only complemented by the graphics music that are a significant leap forward compared to earlier 3D polygonal fighting games. The environmental layouts are all unique and are accompanied by their own theme music. Instead of having a ring in the stage in which both combatants have to stay within, every stage has no boundaries and goes on forever. One interesting thing to note about the aesthetics in the game play is that the camera is almost dynamic and changes angles when a special move is properly used. It is a great touch to add to the action and in the beginning of each match you have the option to press the select button to change the camera from a profile on profile angle to a top down angle. One would think the top down angle would cripple the game play with it being strictly direction based, but it works just as well as the other camera angle. All the character models are well detailed and unique. Whenever moves connect with the opponent plasma effects show the point of contact. This happens the same way that blood spray in the Mortal Kombat games behaves. The animations are also top notch and all the competitors are given a great deal of character. Some of the more advanced and damaging attacks show sparks of intense energy which is a flashy graphical feature. On top of this most of the fighters have two or more costumes that can be unlocked.

Other things that can be unlocked are stages and secret characters. These characters are great because they may have moves that, before, were exclusive to the original selectable fighters. It is awesome to unlock a fighter who may have moves from one to three of your favorite characters rolled into one. The extra stages are cool as well, but they used recycled music to fill the gap.

There are only a couple of minor problems with Tekken with one being more of a prevailing issue than the other. The bigger issue is that sometimes attacks will not connect even though the plasma effects indicate otherwise. It is a graphical quirk that can throw anyone off guard while the opponent takes advantage and hits the player with the same move. While this is only an issue with computer becomes more of an annoyance when playing on the harder difficulties. The other minor problem is that the menus and the navigation of them are very clunky.

Tekken may not be the first 3D fighting game ever, but it is one of the better iterations in the sub genre. This is a title that has found a happy medium as far as the control goes and it succeeds in being unique and not being a colorless imitation of previous 3D fighting games. The overall presentation and mechanical execution of the entire experience both culminate to make this into something truly special. If you have been waiting for the gateway game into the future of fighting games and 3D gaming on a console then Tekken is a title you should not pass up.

 

 

Rating IV-V

Weekly Mailbag: 1-5-15 Edition

Welcome back to the Weekly Mailbag series in 2015! In this edition I show off some neat cheap buys for the Playstation, N64, Dreamcast and the SNES:

– Shogo: Mobile Armor Division Strategy Guide (PC)
– Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3D (SNES)
– Race Drivin’ (SNES)
– Vortex (SNES)
– Resident Evil 2 (N64)
– WinBack: Covert Operations (N64)
– Sega Rally Championship 2 (DC)
– Critical Depth (PS1)
– Evil Zone (PS1) X2

 

 

As always, thanks for watching! If you enjoyed our quick look, please rate and subscribe for more quick looks and other video features. Check out our main site for videos, podcasts, written features and more! Look us up at:

http://www.thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

If you have and comments, suggestions or criticisms be sure to drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Quick Look: Tekken (PS1)

In this iteration of the quick look series, Jon Rivera takes another trip down memory lane as he plays through the classic fighting game Tekken: Iron Fist Tournament. The game that started it all for the franchise.

 

 

As always, thanks for watching! If you enjoyed our quick look, please rate and subscribe for more quick looks and other video features. Check out our main site for videos, podcasts, written features and more! Look us up at:

http://www.thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

If you have and comments, suggestions or criticisms be sure to drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Quick Look – Ridge Racer (PS1)

This time around, Jon exudes his nostalgia for the Namco racing classic Ridge Racer for the Sony Playstation.

 

 

As always, thanks for watching! If you enjoyed our quick look, please rate and subscribe for more quick looks and other video features. Check out our main site for videos, podcasts, written features and more! Look us up at:

http://www.thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

If you have and comments, suggestions or criticisms be sure to drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Game Review: Fade To Black (PS1)

Fade 2 Black front

Fade 2 Black North American Box Art.

 

 

Name: Fade to Black (F2B)
Release Date: June 28, 1996
Developer: Delphine Software International (Paul Cuisset)
Platform: Sony Playstation
Genre/Type: 3D scifi third person action adventure

 

(Editor’s Note: This game was covered playing a North American copy of Fade to Black for the Sony Playstation system, all owned by the reviewer.)

 

Fade to Black is an ambitious title that takes one of Delphine Software International’s successful previous works and attempts to present a proper sequel and/or successor. This game brings the world and main character of Flashback: The Quest for Identity and brings it into the third dimension, while trying to retain the core tenants of the original. Unfortunately, Conrad Hart’s transition into 3D gaming is not as graceful as fans of the original adventure would like. While Fade to Black has is to be lauded for its graphical presentation and high production values, substantial technical issues and counter-intuitive design choices prevent this bold game from being the masterpiece it could have been.

The plot of Fade to Black picks up right after the events of Flashback, where Conrad B. Hart is in a state of cryogenic sleep after successfully destroying the antagonistic alien race’s home planet of Morphs. He drifts aimlessly through outer space for half a century before being found by a space vessel. Conrad is jolted from his slumber only to find that he is back in the clutches of the Morphs, as they are now identified as. He is then transported to the lunar prison of New Alcatraz. He is offered help through a mysterious man known as John.

The game’s story picks up from that point. Fade to Black’s overall story line is yet another amalgamation of late 80’s science fiction action movie tropes, much like Flashback. The premise of this game hinges itself on the element of a rebellion or underground resistance movement on part of the humans, unlike its predecessor’s plot that has more to do with self discovery and mystery within a well realized scifi world. Though it does not match the luster of Flashback’s story and can be a little predictable at times, Fade to Black makes a decent attempt to give itself a solid thematic framework that helps to drive the player to continue on through the game to uncover more of the adventures of Conrad and his ongoing struggle against the Morphs and the threat to humanity they represent.

Fade to Black makes a bold move by doing something that has been seldom done with other storied franchises; it makes the transition from a 2D sprite based cinematic platformer to a 3D third person action adventure game. It is a drastic change to this series and Delphine makes an attempt to make this a vastly different experience, while preserving the core aspects of the original game.

Like Flashback, this game revolves around Conrad traversing the environment in order to accomplish certain objectives while avoiding dangers and combating a plethora of enemies using gun based combat. These objectives often require finding important items and solving puzzles. Drawing from the influences of other Delphine titles like Flashback and Out of this World, this game preserves the notion of blatantly poor actions resulting in instant death and requires this experience to be tackled with a very slow and deliberate pace. This may be a turn off for players expecting more of an action oriented game. However, this title’s mechanics are cleverly framed around this pacing.

With Fade to Black’s plunge into 3D gaming, the game play no longer uses extensive platform mechanics because all environments are constructed as single floor areas. With levels containing multiple floors, teleporters and gravity lifts are used to enter new floors. Level traversal simply involves Conrad walking and running and occasionally hopping forward to avoid pitfalls and environmental hazards. However, many of the traps and hazards are now designed around this change. Also, littered about the levels are lockers that contain key items and other supplies that are crucial to Conrad’s survival like ammunition upgrades and shield recharges, among other necessary and useful items. This is an incentive to thoroughly explore all areas.

The control agency of this title has also significantly changed to account for this alteration in design. You control Conrad from a third person behind-the-back perspective that mostly stays this way when moving him about the environment. He can walk, run, strafe, hop forward, duck, peek around corners and perform 180 degree turns. When engaging in combat, the camera zooms in to give a beveled angle to show exactly where your gun is pointed. This is put in the place of painting an aiming reticle. Other camera changes involve cinematic omniscient views when Conrad opens lockers or steps on floor panel switches.

Conrad can also wield a pistol that has interchangeable ammunition, as well as explosives to combat enemies. In these encounters, a reticle will appear, showing where an enemy is and blinks when it attacks. When in combat mode, Conrad can fire his weapon and throw explosive mines if he has any. He can also dodge fire by ducking and can sidestep along with being able to step forward and backward. Your character moves slower when in combat as opposed to when just moving normally, so planning a fight strategy in advance is crucial.

Humanoid enemies also move in this slow fashion as to make the gun play balanced, much like how the gun play is balanced in Flashback. The AI that governs the enemies’ movement is another challenging aspect. The Morphs run to cover, sidestep to dodge your shots and even turn into a gelatinous form to evade your attacks. It is an understatement this, in conjunction with other hazards and instant death traps, makes Fade to Black an incredibly difficult title.

There is an element of intimacy with the combat, where you are essentially in a gun duel with the enemy and when fighting one or more alien hostiles. These battles are extremely tense, but satisfying when you emerge victorious and unscathed or with little damage taken to your shield (Conrad’s life gauge). Puzzles involving accessing new areas and accomplishing objectives are given little to no hand holding, but do offer subtle hints to their solutions. The thrill of resolving these problems is also very satisfying coupled with being able to push the story forward.

Another aspect of this game that pushes the player to progress throughout the experience is the overall graphical presentation and the atmosphere it helps to set. The 3D visuals of Fade to Black look fantastic and the environments are well wrought. There is a large variety of locations that range from high tech space facilities to organic structures to ancient temples and the game’s 3D graphics technology along with the artistic design helps to realize these levels and their unique motifs. The level that takes place on Pluto is especially interesting because of its color palette and object design that give the level an organic look. There is some inconsistencies between 3D objects and character models. While the models are textured, some of the object are just made up of flat shaded polygons. Though this is the case, all of these objects are well rendered from a geometric standpoint. When these visuals are married with the objectives and puzzles it helps to keep Fade to Black fresh from one level to the next. Aside from the set pieces, there even segments of the game where Conrad has to pilot a space ship and engage in space flight combat segments that offer something new. The game play is punctuated with CG cut-scenes that advance the game’s narrative and also show how Conrad meets his demise whenever he dies in game and they look very impressive for what they are.

The music and sound design are two core elements that compliment the aesthetics. The sound effects are appropriate and have a punch to them, helping to solidify the scifi vibe and offer the combat and hazards an intense gravity. Part of what makes the sound so superb is that they are dynamic and range in volume depending on how close Conrad is to the source of them. Anticipating a potential hazard or firefight is easy and possible with this sound design. The music is another high point of Fade to Black, as it greatly add to the game’s atmosphere. It is a large soundtrack with songs ranging from melodic themes to ominous ambient tunes. With a wide range of tracks, the music will change on the fly when entering new rooms within the same level. The music is also dynamic and changes from the room theme to a bombastic swelling of music when you are confronted by enemies. Messages received within levels and the dialogue in cut-scenes are well recorded and voiced. It cannot be understated how the experience is heightened by its audio prowess.

The graphical and audio presentation of Fade to Black is an incredible display of high production value that makes it feel like you are playing a certified scifi film classic. It is very unfortunate that all of these great features are almost completely ruined by technical issues and design choices that make this game absolutely frustrating to play at times. These issues have to do with the collision detection, character control, the camera, performance inconsistencies and poorly implemented features.

While the 3D world of this game looks fantastic, it is not fine tuned with regards to collision with wall and objects in the environment. No matter what, you will manage to get caught on objects and corners of walls instead of just glancing off of them. This culminates into a perfect storm when trying to avoid fights with aliens or fire from automated gun turrets. This leads to plenty of unfair deaths.

The movement control over your character is one of the bigger areas where Delphine Software dropped the ball. By using the default control scheme (the only scheme documented in the manual),it is impossible step forward in minute increments. Just tapping up on the directional pad makes Conrad take a big forward step. This can make it unnecessarily difficult to approach hazards with caution, causing you to touch electrified floor panels or attract heat seeking mines by accident resulting in instant death.

Not only is this a crippling factor, but this control scheme lacks any of the more advanced control features that allow Conrad to peek around corners, make small steps and perform quick turns. Fade to Black makes the awful decision of making the most limiting control layout the default. Worse still, the schemes that have these feature have nonsensical button mappings; mappings that will require a couple hours and plenty of deaths for the player to acclimate to.

One poor design choice has to do with the camera. It is regarded as a solid entity and always gets shifted toward the character’s back when up against a solid wall. This will often leave you only able to see the back of his head. This also proves to be problematic when avoiding hazards in close quartered environments, of which there are many. Your view can even be obstructed by pillars and other tall environmental objects. The only way to shift the view is to turn your character in a different direction. Sometimes this is not an option if you have to jump over a hazard in that direction, forcing you to take a leap of faith and risk instant death via something you were unable to see.

The camera in combat mode is a problem as well. The beveled angle that the camera assumes in combat makes it impossible to see enemies from long distances. You have to get within relatively close proximity of the enemy in order to see its whole body in combat and you can possibly sustain a couple cheap hits when trying get within proper range. If you step on switches while in combat the camera will still change to a cinematic perspective, but will not revert back when the switch is depressed. If this happens while fighting an enemy it is virtually impossible to see, in which direction, you are aiming. You have to holster your weapon and then pull it back out to reset the camera. In this time, you could easily get killed by an adversary; another unfair death. With all the attention to detail in the stages, the frame rate will sometimes bog down to the teens and make the clunky controls feel worse. Throw combat into the mix and, more often then not, it can make for needlessly difficult firefights that mostly end in death.

When Conrad dies you are presented with a death/game over cut-scene that shows exactly how he dies. It is jarring and flashy at first, but this feature becomes very annoying after just a few deaths. This is especially the case because the game has to load the cut-scene which takes time. If you are trying to get past a difficult section and keep dying it is frustrating having to wait for all that time; even more so when the section, if not done right, results in instant death.

After dying, you restart at the beginning of the level you are currently playing through. Fade to Black supports both a password system and memory card saves where you can record your current location and progress at any point in the game. However, you do not leave off at your last save point when you die. You simply restart at the beginning. This design choice further exasperates the issue of having to wait for too long before starting where you truly left off. This was not an issue with first game. It is a shame that this title is plagued by these factors. Had these problems been addressed then this game could have been an fair challenge to the player from start to finish.

It is hard to deny the ambition of what Fade to Black aspires to be from the outset. The visuals are well conceived, presenting interesting environments wrought in a way that offer some incredible set pieces. the audio from both a musical and sound design perspective is equally well done, feeding into the atmosphere and tone of the game. When it is performing at its best, this is an intense and profoundly entertaining experience with its intimate combat and puzzle solving. The story is not bad either, though it is not as fresh as that of its predecessor. Technical shortcomings negatively impact the game play and can be infuriating at times, as they often take away from this game’s overall presentation. The control layouts and poor conveyance toward the various scheme layouts helps to make it abundantly clear that Conrad Hart’s transition into 3D is not as graceful as it could have been. Despite these problems, it is still a fun game that has a unique feel and game play that is unlike other entries in the genre. With that, if you are a fan of Flashback or have a taste for scifi action adventure games with high production values and are willing to overlook these flaws then Fade to Black is an interesting title you may enjoy.

 

 

Rating III-V

Quick Look: Fade To Black (PS1)

In this installment of Solid State Gamer quick looks, Jon Rivera takes a gander at the early generation 3D action adventure sequel to Flashback called Fade to Black and remembers what he always liked and disliked this title that is ambitious, yet rough around the edges. Check it out to see this classic in motion!

 

 

Thanks for watching. Please rate and subscribe to our channel to stay tuned for more video features from The Solid State Gamer!

Check out our main site for new written features, videos, podcasts and more @: thesolidstategamer.wordpress.com

If you have and comments, suggestions or criticisms be sure to drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com

Proto Watch: Resident Evil [8-4-1995 Alpha] (PS)

Welcome to a brand new Solid State Gamer original video series called Solid State Gamer Proto Watch. In this series, Jon Rivera (Lead Reviewer, Host of the Romcast, Solid State Gamer) plays through video game prototypes and reveals how these builds play similarly or differently from their commercial release counterparts. In this first installment of SSG Proto Watch Jon takes an in depth look at the Aug 4, 1995 prototype of Resident Evil for the Sony Playstation. The initial ingredients of the resurrected survival horror formula are there, but there also exist differences and features that do not appear in final version. Check it out and see this prototype in motion!

 

 

As always, Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed this edition of SSG Proto Watch be sure to rate and subscribe to our channel for more video features. If you have any comments or suggestions for future video features, drop us a line at:

solidstateromcast@gmail.com