As a late Christmas present to myself, I got something I’ve been after for a long time. A bloody big TV.
I picked up a 32″ Toshiba Regza 1080p LCD TV in the sales. And I was very pleased with it, until… I’ll get to that part when I get to it. Yes, I’ve got a bit of a story to tell today—and it does have a serious PES angle to it, too.
When I got the big new TV home, there was only one game I wanted to road-test it with. And it felt wrong to play BaL. I needed to play an orthodox 11 vs 11 match, and I did, and I liked it a lot. And I underwent an instant Damascene conversion to the wonders of big screens with lots and lots of lovely pixels…
Most of my gaming life from the 1980s through to 2007 was spent on 14″ portables of various types. In 2007, when I graduated to a PS3, I decided I had to get myself a HDTV of some kind. At the time, the really big TVs seemed prohibitively expensive. A 19″ 720p portable fitted the bill. And that was my gaming TV ever since.
I’d only ever seen the full next-gen console 1080p experience in shops. I’ve never actually sat for any length of time and enjoyed a game of anything on a screen larger than the 19″ of that portable HDTV (or the 20″ of my iMac). Ever. That’s important to bear in mind.
After a few minutes of playing PES2011 on a 32″ HDTV, I was as utterly gobsmacked as I’ve ever been whilst playing a game. (Despite PES2011 only being a 720p game, disappointingly.)
Later, after a few hours of Uncharted 2 at full 1080p, and a quick tour through my stack of old 1080p games—revisiting landscapes and graphical feats that I now appreciated in a different way—I was dazed. Final Fantasy XIII! Oh, Mother of God…
This might seem odd to those who have been happily gaming on big TVs for years. But it really has just passed me by for some reason. I somehow thought my 19″, 720p setup was perfectly adequate. Nobody yearns for something they’ve never experienced.
The big news for PES is that I’ve been drawn back into playing Master League on PES2011. This will last for a few days at least. I’ve already played enough to cover Monday’s post. I’m planning to play on for a lot longer, too.
I know, I know. I had switched to BaL, after shaking the dust of ML off my feet and moving on in disgust.
PES2011 on a 32″ screen gave me a football gaming experience that was like playing it for the first time, back when I thought it was superb, fresh, and exciting. I was taking time and finding space, constructing intricate passing moves, having wonderful passages of play—a PES fan’s ideal session, in other words. And that was followed up by another session, and another.
I know that it was a placebo. I know the overall experience was simply scaled up, that I was no doubt just as capable of playing this way on a smaller screen.
But placebo or not (it was a placebo!), I’m back playing the game mode I love the most—Master League—again, and planning to go on doing so for a while yet.
Sadly, there was a serpent in paradise. Make that two serpents, actually.
Here’s what I saw on my new HD screen after a while:
And here’s the problem in close-up:
Yes, the Toshiba had to go back to the store the next day. I’ll cut a long story short: the display suffered from dynamic false contouring, also knowns as ‘crawling moss’. It manifests itself as a persistent blue shimmer in random spots on the right side of the screen. Light sources in particular would be surrounded by a nimbus of blue.
(Oh, the sheer random expertise we accumulate whilst desperately Googling to resolve various problems, eh? Ask me anything about gamma levels and colour temperature and the effects of the universal LCD backlight, go on.)
I’ll say now that the Toshiba Regza was/is a bloody great TV, and it was a shame what happened with my individual unit. If they’d had a replacment for me at the store, I’d have taken it.
Yesterday morning (Thursday) I went through the great chore of boxing it up and taking it back. There were no more Regzas in stock, and I came away with a no-fuss, like-for-like replacement: a Sony Bravia. Same specs, right down the type and number of input ports. I was happy. Two store staff separately said to me that you can’t go wrong with Sony.
Oh dear. The damn thing buzzes. Loudly. No setting anywhere in any menu affects the buzzing.
It’s been less than 24 hours, so I haven’t had the same amount of time to research the problem, but it seems to be a power transformer issue. A symphony of buzzing starts up depending on whatever’s happening on-screen. During a sequence with lots of scene-changes, the buzzing is very annoying. It’s as annoying a problem as the crawling moss, really.
So I’ll probably be taking the Sony back too. I haven’t got time to do it until next week, so I’ll be using this TV at least until then. And kind of hoping that the buzzing will just magically go away.
Whilst playing PES2011, I barely notice it. So regardless of what happens with any TV, it looks like I am playing Master League again.
And so the year 2011 will feature meaningful time spent on its titular PES title. A week ago I’d almost have laughed at the thought.