Category: "Video Games"

Lego Dimensions Beetlejuice Fun Pack Review

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The Lego Dimensions Beetlejuice Fun Pack includes one figure and one vehicle. The figure, as if you couldn't guess, is Betelgeuse, and he is accompanied by Saturn's Sandworm.

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Lego Dimensions Teen Titans Go! Team Pack Review

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The Lego Dimensions Teen Titans Go! Team Pack includes two figures and two vehicles/accessories, plus an "exclusive episode" of the series. The figures are Raven and Beast Boy, and they are accompanied by Raven's Spellbook and the T-Car.

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Lego Dimensions A-Team Fun Pack Review

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I've been reviewing the various Lego Dimensions Ghostbusters items on Spook Central, which leaves a lot of Lego Dimensions stuff to review here on The Corner Penthouse. I'll start small with the Lego Dimensions A-Team Fun Pack.

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Resign Xbox 360 Game Saves & Convert From PlayStation 3

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Okay, I will be covering two separate topics in this article, both of which involve Xbox 360 game saves. For both topics, you will need a Windows (XP or greater) program called Horizon, which can be downloaded from my Xbox page. Before I continue, I am going to assume you know how to transfer game saves between your Xbox 360 and computer using a USB drive, and that said USB drive is already configured for use with your Xbox 360. If you have all of that, let's proceed...

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Sony PlayStation 3 320GB Uncharted 3 Bundle Review

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This review was originally written on November 14, 2011
Excellent System, Great For Blu-Ray & DVD Playback / Needs A Front Panel Display, Disc Tray, Longer USB Cable, Printed Manual

Most people who review the PlayStation 3 (320GB Uncharted 3 Bundle) will probably focus on the games. I'm going to focus on everything else, especially some of the little details that most reviewers won't mention. Hopefully I'll mention a specific detail that is important to you so my ramblings and notes won't be in vain :-)

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) system that comes in the Uncharted 3 bundle is 320GB, model CECH-3001B. It comes pre-installed with v3.66 of the system software/firmware. You will be required to update it in order to play the Uncharted 3 game that is bundled with the system. I updated it to v3.73 on November 10, 2011 and the game played without a problem so far. Due to the required update, it can be said that the Uncharted 3 game doesn't truly work "out of the box" :-) Although I will be specifically reviewing model CECH-3001B, some of my information will be applicable to other models.

After I took everything out of the box and looked at the contents, I noticed that the system does NOT come with an owner's manual. There's a small fold-out Quick Start guide, a Safety and Support book, an ESRB Ratings sheet, and that's it. The PlayStation 2 that I bought 10 years ago came with a manual in the box, and I expected the same with the PS3. Looking over the PDF manuals Sony has online, it appears that they didn't even make one for the new CECH-3001B model. They only have manuals for some older models: CECH-2001A/B through CECH-2501B. I'm sure that the majority of the information in the 320GB CECH-2501B would be applicable for my system, so at least I have that for reference, but at 50+ pages long for the English section, it's too large to print out and keep as a hard copy. (There's a constantly-updated online manual, but it's useless for offline reference.) I do feel rather cheated that I paid $300 for the system, only for Sony to be too cheap to include a real manual in the box.

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Also amongst the scant printed documentation is a card with a code granting me a 30-day free PlayStation Plus membership. According to the site, PlayStation Plus gives you free games, huge discounts, exclusive features, early access to demos and priority beta invitations, and full game trials. The catch? In order to activate the free trial you must give them your credit card information. The reason? After your 30 days are up, they're going to automatically start billing you for a regular membership unless you call them to cancel beforehand. No thank you, Sony. I don't fall for this scam when other companies do it, so I'm not going to fall for it with you. Sony will NEVER have my credit card information as I never intend to buy anything online from them through the console. I only buy goods that I have unfettered ownership of.

Powering up the PS3 and going through the setup routine was quick and easy, though I had to press the small reset button on the back of my DualShock 3 controller because it somehow got misregistered to the system (I think I was supposed to plug it in after powering up the system for the first time). I got quite a scare from this, but thankfully it didn't take long to get everything working perfectly. I knew that the Ghostbusters Blu-ray included a Ghostbusters PS3 menu theme, so that was the first disc I put in the system. That theme is now installed on my system and I have no plans to ever change it :-)

The reason I just purchased a PS3 was, primarily, to replace an Insignia Blu-ray player. (Insignia is Best Buy's brand, in case you don't know.) My Insignia TV does all I would expect of it, but the Insignia Blu-ray player is, in a word, crap. Every firmware update might fix one thing, or nothing perceivable at all, but break several other things. I won't go into details, but in short, DON'T BUY AN INSIGNIA BLU-RAY PLAYER FROM BEST BUY.

The PS3 has perfectly played every Blu-ray and DVD that I've put in it. Everything displays in the proper aspect ratio, be it 4:3 or 16:9, and all discs play quietly. The few that were noisy or vibrated like crazy in the Insignia Blu-ray player might be a little noisy on boot-up or while on the menus, but are quiet when the actual video is playing. Picture quality is top-notch for Blu-ray discs and upscaled DVDs (source depending, of course). It even shows timecodes for DVD videos that don't have timecodes encoded on the disc, such as video encoded as menus (see trailers and bonus features on early Columbia/Tristar DVDs), and the "My Generation" bonus song on the Billy Joel: Live At Shea DVD (as one example). However, the videos encoded as menus can not be paused, rewound, or fast forwarded, like they could on the Insignia Blu-ray player. It plays the DVD-Rs I record without a problem, so far, but I'm not sure if it plays mini-DVD-Rs or any mini-discs due to the use of a disc slot instead of a disc tray. It can not play Video CDs, which was the 1990s CD-based video format that preceded DVDs, but I would have been surprised if it did. Only my old DVD player from 2001, and my computer software player, can play them. Also, putting a disc in the console while it's off will instantly turn it on, but the disc will not autoplay. The console must be on first, THEN the disc inserted, in order for it to autoplay.

My only major issues with the PS3 are hardware related, not software related. I don't like the disc slot (I prefer a disc tray) and I would love for there to be a front panel on the PS3 showing elapsed time, chapter number, and title number. You know, what a regular Blu-ray and DVD player has. Other than these two issues, I love the PS3 for Blu-Ray and DVD playback. Every disc I put in it played perfectly, and Blu-ray discs loaded up a bit quicker than the Insignia Blu-ray player.

I have two Blu-ray discs that I know saves data to the hard drive: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (Disc 1) and "Monsters Inc." (Disc 2). Snow White welcomes me back when I view the disc again after the first time, while Monsters Inc. lets me continue my progress on the Roz's 100 Door Challenge game. Neither disc would do that if it weren't saving data on the PS3 hard drive. Yet, when I go to the PS3 menu option Video - BD Data Utility, it says that "there is no data". Also, when I press Triangle on "BD Data Utility", there's a "Delete" option, but it doesn't actually delete the item. I e-mailed Sony about this and they told me that this behavior is a "perfectly normal function with the PlayStation 3 system. It is normal for movies to pick up where was left off on features, even though no BD Data is showing. Also it is perfectly normal to delete the BD Data Utility, as this would only delete information movies have stored on the system, not an actual system function. The next time the movie is played, the movie will reinstall any BD Data that is needed." I would have replied further to reiterate my point that both Snow White and Monsters Inc. *ARE* saving information to the system, but I doubt it'll do me any good to continue dealing with low-level customer service reps. I just hate knowing that data is on the hard drive that I can't see or even delete. I wish there was a way for the user to view a list of EVERYTHING saved on the hard drive. I don't mean individual items in the various menus (like game saves, trophies, etc.), but a full list of everything in one place. I'd like to see exactly what's being stored on my hard drive, how much space each file takes up, and delete items that I know are no longer needed.

The online and PDF manuals both say something that has me a little scared: "You may have to renew the AACS encryption key to play content such as movies on commercially available BD video software (BD-ROM). If a message indicating that the encryption key needs to be renewed is displayed, update the system software to the latest version. The encryption key will then be automatically renewed. AACS (Advanced Access Content System) is a copyright-protection technology that is used on Blu-ray movies. The copyrighted content is protected by setting an encryption key on both the disc and the device used to play the disc. An AACS encryption key expires in 12 to 18 months and must be renewed. There may also be other times when the key has to be renewed." (source)

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I don't keep my PS3 connected to the internet and may never even create a PlayStation Network (PSN) account as I really don't have time to play games online. PSN accounts are free (it only costs money and a credit card to buy things or to have the Plus service), but a PSN account is not necessary for offline use, system updates, or to browse the internet with the built-in web browser. If I don't buy any new games (some new games require system updates), and everything on the PS3 works perfectly with the firmware already installed, there's no reason for me to update it. I don't think the Insignia Blu-ray player required AACS encryption key renewals. It didn't mention anything in the owner's manual about such a thing. Let's think worst case scenario for a minute. What if I end up cancelling my home internet service and never get it again? Will all of the Blu-ray discs that I own, which currently play perfectly, no longer be playable at all in my PS3 at some point if I'm no longer able to update it? If I were to call Sony, what are the chances they'd send me free firmware upgrade discs every 12 to 18 months? That's the worst case scenario, of course, but the fact of the matter is that I shouldn't be forced to do upgrades so the system can continue to perform one of the functions it was designed to do, that it was already doing perfectly.

Speaking of system software updates... Some of you reading this might want to know a little more about them, so let me give you the quick rundown. You can update the system software by any of the following methods: (1) Via the console's System Update feature. (2) Download update data using a PC, save it on a USB storage device, and insert that USB device into the PS3. (3) Update using disc media, such as a game disc that includes update data on it. For method #2, download the PS3UPDAT.PUP file from Sony, and put it at \PS3\UPDATE on the USB drive.

That the PS3 can play PS3 games is the "bonus" for me, since I already purchased two games prior to actually owning the system! Those two games are "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" and "Grand Theft Auto IV & Episodes From Liberty City: The Complete Edition" (Target was selling it for $20 brand new, so at that price I had to get it in spite of not owning the system at the time).

The DualShock 3 wireless controller that comes with the system can be used as a wired controller, but the USB cord is woefully short. It's only 4.5 feet long, whereas the PlayStation 2 controller's cord is 8 feet long! The PS3 cord is just barely long enough to reach where I need it to. This is easily remedied by buying a 10-Foot USB 2.0 A/Male to Mini USB B/Male 5-pins cable or Sony's own PS3/PSP USB 2.0 10-Foot Cable 2-Pack. At least the wireless controller has a built-in rechargeable battery and doesn't use regular insertable batteries (like AA or AAA), which is the primary reason why I dislike wireless controllers.

The PS3 also allows you to copy PlayStation 1 & 3 game saves to/from the system and a USB storage device, which can then be transferred to a PC. This is a big improvement over the PlayStation 2, which needed a third-party device (such as CodeBreaker cheat device) to allow transferring saves to/from the console and a USB storage device. Copied PS3 game saves are stored on the USB drive in \PS3\SAVEDATA. Each game save is comprised of a few files in its own subfolder, not a single file. Copied PlayStation 1 (PS1) game saves are stored on the USB drive in \PS3\EXPORT\PSV. Each game save is a single .PSV file. You can submit your saves, or obtain other people's saves, from the popular video game information site GameFaqs. Usable PS3 saves are listed on the site as "PlayStation 3 Game Save Directory (ZIP) (North America)", and usable PS1 saves are listed on the site as "PlayStation PS3 Virtual Memory Card Save (ZIP) (North America)" (each zip contains one single .psv file). There is no way to easily convert the PS1 game save DexDrive .GME files at GameFaqs to .PSV so they can be transferred to a PS3.

I also bought the newly-released Sony PS3 Media/Blu-ray Disc Remote Control to handle Blu-Ray and DVD playback on my newly-purchased PS3. The remote handles this task perfectly, and that's all I really want it to do. I looked over pictures of both the new remote and the old version, and found that the new one included a few more buttons. Not only does it have the new TV and amplifier specific buttons - Volume, Channel, Input, and 3D - but it has two new buttons for PS3 Blu-Ray and DVD playback: Instant Back & Instant Forward. These two buttons take you back or forward 15 seconds in the video you are watching. Good for catching missed dialog in a movie, or instantly replaying a favorite moment. These buttons do not exist on the previous version of the PS3 remote.

You turn the PS3 on and off via the remote by pressing the "PS" button. To turn it off, hold the button for a second, select "Shut Down The System", then "Yes" from the on-screen prompts. The "Pause" button acts as Play/Pause, while the "Play" button only plays. Some buttons on the remote duplicate the same functions as other buttons because the remote also includes the controller-specific buttons. Square/View is Pop Up Menu, X is Enter, Select is Display, Start is Pause/Play, L1 is Prev, R1 is Next, L2 is Scan Back (Rewind), and R2 is Scan Forward (Fast Forward).

You must use the Options menu for Go To, Disc Volume Control, and AV Settings as these are the only options that don't have buttons on the remote. For time/chapter/title search, press Triangle/Options and select "Go To" from the on-screen menu. Move the highlight to Title, Chapter, or Time (default), press Enter. Enter the digits (you can use the number buttons or up and down buttons), use left and right to switch digit places. Press Enter twice to go to that spot. Then press Triangle/Options to take the menu off the screen.

I programmed the remote to control my Insignia TV (I have no amplifier, so that's a non-issue), and it handles the basic TV functions - power, volume, mute, channels - but that's about it. The Audio button switches between Stereo, Mono, and SAP (I always leave it on Stereo); and the Subtitle button switches between Closed Caption options (I always leave it on CC While Mute). Pressing the Top Menu button will open up the TV settings menus, and I can even navigate them using the 4-way directional circle, but I really don't need for the remote to access the settings menus (once they're set, I have no need to change them). My major complaint for TV operations is that for an Insignia TV, the Input button doesn't do anything. It should switch between inputs, but doesn't. I need to use my TV remote to switch from TV input to HDMI (PS3), but can easily use this remote to go back from HDMI to TV by pressing Channel Up or Down. Someone with a much more complex setup than mine will probably need to keep their TV remote handy at all times.

I don't know how much game playing I'm going to be doing on the PS3. I have three games so far - the aforementioned Ghostbusters and Grand Theft Auto IV, along with Uncharted 3 that came with the system - but I might pick up a few more if I can find them cheap (I won't pay $60 for a new game). So far I have been enjoying the PS3 and don't regret the purchase at all.