Product: Sony PlayStation 3
Price: $499 or $599
Overall: The PS3′s price does seem a bit out of whack, but remember that it includes Blu-ray, a hard drive, a web browser, the ability to boot Linux and a kickass graphics card. The online gaming features are still playing a bit of catchup to Xbox Live, but the system is otherwise solid.
There were a few minutes after I installed and booted up Genji on the PS3 when all I could say was, “There’s friggin’ fire on my TV!” After that, the initial thrill of the system’s amazing particle effects was gone and it was game-on as usual. Unfortunately, Genji is a pretty standard sword-slashing game that gets dull after 30 minutes. Of course, one game does not a system make.
Resistance: Fall of Man proved that a game can look great and play well, while including much more detailed environment damage. Shoot a window in Fall of Man and the bullet hits that exact spot and cracks around it. Shoot it a few more times and the window actually breaks into pieces according to the bullet damage instead of some predefined pattern. Impressive.
Jaggies, those annoying little square corners and odd borders between colors, have almost been eliminated, and human characters now have nearly complete feature depth instead of an outline with a shaded skin overlay. It certainly makes for more realistic characters, yet they still have a bit of rubber robotic action in them.
The PS3, which looks to me like one of those old, cassette-playing telephone answering machines, is packed with PC-style features, including the ability to run Linux. Yep, it’s a friggin’ dual-boot system. I likely won’t use it that much except to maybe find a hack to install Windows XP without any slowness issues. Now wouldn’t that piss off Bill gates?
It has 7 USB ports, which means you can stack on a keyboard, external storage device (I suggest flash thumb drives) or more wireless controllers. Each controller as an internal rechargeable battery must be charged using a short USB cable, so you’ll play face-to-screen for a little while.
The PS3 menu system is set up exactly like the PSP, with mini icons that open drop down menu items and make the same sound effects. You can also wirelessly sync the PSP to the PS3, but it requires that you upgrade to the latest PSP firmware. To get to image, video, and audio files on a removable card or device, plan to tunnel down a little to actually play them. Also, it’s a bit picky about proper encoding, so don’t expect every file to work on the first try.
The PS3′s wireless controller is nearly identical to the PS2 controller, except it lacks the drag caused by the lengthy wire and the bottom trigger buttons are easier to press, thanks to some removed plastic. Sony did toss in 6-axis motion sensitivity but it’s doesn’t even come close to the quality, precision and ease of the WiiMote.
There’s been a small fuss made over the PS3′s incompatibility with 200 PS1/PS2 games. After doing the math, that’s less than 2.5% of all the available games, it’s unlikely you’ll much care. The most annoying backwards compatibility issue I have is with the controllers and memory cards. To get the saved data from your PS2, you’ll need to buy a Memory Card Adapter and then save it to a virtual Memory Card on the hard drive. The Virtual card, however, works like a charm, cutting down save/load times to a quick blink. The controllers, however, are completely incompatible, so plan to either make your friends buy their own or drop a few more greenback Grants.
There is also the small issue of a very, very lengthy system update you will need to perform. To use the online features, such as online multiplayer (which works well for PS3 and PS2 games), plan to watch a load bar crawl along for quite a while. Although you can perform the update from a game, I suggest doing it through the online connection since that will be the most up-to-date version to avoid conflict errors.
Sony has attempted to cut back the load times not only with a faster processor, but also by allowing you to pre-load chunks of the game. Of course it does not eliminate load screens altogether but they are much shorter than on the PS2.
The PS3′s price does seem a bit out of whack but remember that it includes Blu-ray, a hard drive, a web browser, ability to boot Linux and a kick ass graphics card. The online gaming features are still playing a bit of catchup to Xbox Live but the system is otherwise solid.