Monday, August 20, 2007

Gaming Part 3

So the PS2 was a huge gaming venture for me, but gaming became difficult in 2001 when I had my first child. It's funny, at the time I was 27, a professional in my career, but loved video games as a release and still roleplayed with friends once a week (more on that in another post) yet felt completely unprepared to add this child to my life. The first year we had our son gaming didn't change much, I was still able to play quite a bit, in fact I remember that my best friend used to come over every Saturday and we would play through Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance in co-op until we finished it three times (hey we had to unlock Drizzt Do'Urden!). It wasn't until year 2 of his life, when he wasn't content to just sit in a chair (facing away from the TV!) and watch daddy as he plays games that my time available decreased. Hey, don't get it in your head that I sat in front of my TV (ignoring my son)and played games for 6 hours a day after work...I probably averaged 1-2 hours a night and 4-5 hours each day on the weekend. This was slightly less then before kids, but better then I could have hoped. By year 2 I was lucky to play for an hour every few days and 1-2 hours on the weekend. year 3 of his life things got better and I snagged an Xbox (finally), specifically I got it just to play Knights of the Old Republic and the forthcoming Jade Empire (love the Bioware). I swiftly had it modded so I could play DivX movies on the console (divx dvd players weren't everywhere yet!), I quickly built up a big catalogue of XBOX games and as much as I am a Sony fanboy it was quickly obvious that crossplatform games looked better on the XBOX and generally had surround sound enabled in most games. This was a tough gaming time for me (in a good way) I had very little time and way too many games, I was also turning my back on a beloved gaming platform - the PC (more on the PC in the next post, PC gaming was ingrained in me for so long it needs its own entry). Regardless I pushed on and played/finished many, many games.

Things began to change again about 2 years ago I started to get really excited about the PS3 and next generation gaming, but I had a huge problem, My old faithful TV set, a 27 inch Sanyo CRT, really would not cut it anymore. I had never experienced surround sound at home (relied on the 'stereo speakers' on the TV), had no idea what high definition video looked like and had no clue. So I researched and researched, and finally settled on a plan:
-For speakers I would start of by buying a home theatre in a box, specifically the Sony Dream System, this would give me starter speakers and surround sound till I could afford a proper receiver.
-For the receiver Sony again, I know I sound like the fanboy of the month, but the Sony STRDG800 is on of the highest rated midrange receivers and features 2 hdmi, 2 component, oodles of composite, 4 optical, and 2 digital coaxial inputs. It will also upconvert composite signals so they can all output on a single component cable. VERY cool. I needed this overkill of inputs as I had a PS2, Xbox, DVD player and digital TV receiver to connect.
-For the television...at the time (2 years ago) it was a tossup between the Panasonic TH-42PD50U and the Hitachi 42HDS69, these decisions were based on my very limited knowledge of audio visual technology...what I did know was that anything would be a quantum leap over the current 27inch CRT I had. Things changed...drastically!

A friend of mine who knew more about speakers and receivers cautioned me to look at the OHM rating on the speakers and receivers, if I bought the theater in a box and it's OHM rating was off from the receiver, I would be in trouble, the receiver could get blitzed by the inexpensive speakers...sure enough I checked and the Dream System ran at 3 OHM and the Receiver at 8 OHM, YIKES, going with my plan (which by the way was designed to give me high definition audio first, high definition video second as the TV would take longer to save for) would have tanked my new receiver. Time to re-evaluate, the receiver is still great, speakers need to be reconsidered...I ended up buying Polk Audio RM 6005 speakers on Ebay. They are great little speakers, had some issues with speaker wire and eventually tore it all out and went with a large spool of 16 gauge and all seems well with them. Just getting the receiver and speakers was expensive enough, but I had to (of course I had to) get 3 optical audio cables (Ps2, Xbox and Digital Cable), 1 digital coaxial cable (DVD Player) and an audio HD adaptor for my Xbox. Yeesh, but after it was all setup and I ran the snazzy auto calibration and BAM I had surround 5.0 audio (no subwoofer yet). I loved it, movies sounded great, XBOX and some PS2 games took advantage of it, I was in love.

About 9 months went by and I was steadily paying off debts to afford the TV and the most bootiful thing happened, the new generation Sharp Aquos, specifically the Sharp LC 37D62U was launched and priced to kill! This was one of the better LCD 1080p sets on the market, it has a killer image and amazing options, blacks and is drool worthy. The boss (my wife) approved the purchase and it became mine. Of course as was the case with the receiver the TV wasn't the end, I had to (of course I had to) get a high definition cable terminal, an HDMI to DVI cable (for the HD cable), an Xbox HD adapter (with component), a PS2 HD adapter (with component), 4 component cables (DVD player, Xbox, PS2, component out). But it was awesome, I was playing PS2 games where available in 480p, Xbox in 480p and 720p, movies in 480p. I was happy. But as you can probably tell I never stop. A month ago (as you know from an earlier post) I got a PS3, and I had to (of course I had to) get 2 HDMI cables (PS2, HDMI out), blu-ray movie (Superman Returns) and a Game (Resistance: Fall of Man).

Sheesh...so now that I am NEXT GENERATION, what do I play most? Rogue galaxy and Final fantasy XII of course. But that will change soon with the launch over the next few months of Heavenly Sword, Lair, Warhawk, Playstation Home, Folklore, Eye of Judgement and Assassin's Creed, let's not forget PSP games like Jeanne D'arc, Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue Squadron, D&D Tactics, Disgaea. I won't even talk about the only two games that I want an Xbox 360 for - BioShock and (drool) Mass Effect...God I love/hate bioware.


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