PlayStation 3 – A First Impression
Two talented young gents recently set off on a journey of self-discovery. Much like Che Guevara riding about on his little bike or a soft core pornography account of a young woman’s first experiences with sexuality, here is their storyâ€¦ except this has nothing to do with communism or lesbianism. This is Playstation 3-ism. This is Livingâ„¢
Matthew: The PS3 has been out here for a little over a year now. It’s finally got a pretty decent library of games and with the release of MGS4, along with me wanting a Blu-Ray player; I reached breaking point and decided to shell on a pre-owned 60GB.
Colin: The ultimate reason for this purchase was fear. Frankly I wanted to get a PS3 that had all the most features (full backwards compatibility, all memory slots, decent sized hard drive etc) and the fact of the matter is that the high end PS3 models have been/are being discontinued. Just out of luck I managed to pick a 60GB one up second hand and I figured I wouldn’t get another opportunity again, and that is as they say that.
Matthew: The PS2 backwards compatible 60GB should be a no-brainer here. Not almost fully BC like the NTSC version (which had the Emotion Engine CPU) the PAL version of the 60GB instead uses software emulation. Whilst not every PS2 game runs flawlessly, most of the games (around 75%) run without any noticeable glitches. Software updates have improved the compatibility and these will continue in the future. The games are also up-scaled up to 1080p. It is worth noting that the 40GB will still play PS1 games.
Other features missing form the 40GB version include no flash memory card slots; two less USB ports and no Super Audio CD support although literally nobody cares about that.
Many games require mandatory installs when you first play and some can be up to 5GB or more. Once you have built up a reasonable collection of games the 40GB will begin to fill up pretty fast so obviously the 60GB is the better choice in this.
Unfortunately the 60GB was discontinued, basically because Sony had a hissy fit about people buying more PS2 games rather than PS3 games. Finding one new will be quite the task but they can easily be found pre-owned in places like Game or Gamestation for around £325 or on eBay for a little bit dearer.
Colin: Like Matthew says if you had the option why wouldn’t you get the 60GB one? If not for the features just think about the more and more games coming with their hefty installation sizes (more on this peach later). While backwards compatibility isn’t a major thing for me usually my old ps2 was on its last legs when I retired it to a cardboard box in my cupboard so the ps3 has given me a new lease of life with my old ps2 games (again this is a new thing for me â€“ I have never stuck an xb game in my x360) and as such MGS3 has finally been completed â€“ next up, GODHAND.
Matthew: First of all, if you have a HDTV (which you really should) then a HD-enabled cable is a must-buy – whether it be HDMI, DVI, component or VGA. For some reason known only to Sony, they decided not to ship their HD gaming, Blu-Ray equipped machine with a cable capable of carrying a HD signal. It only comes with a bog-standard composite cable (ouch!) with a scart connector block (erk!)
Next, you’ll be wanting rid of that light-as-a-feather, fragile-feeling Sixaxis. Rumble wasn’t included since it was deemed a â€œlast-gen featureâ€ by Phil Harrison and that it would interfere with the motion control. The real story was that they had been sued for patent infringement and couldn’t yet include it. Since that has blown over the rumble-enabled DualShock 3 is now available everywhere â€“ except Europe of course! Despite this they are easily available from places like Play-Asia and the Amazon Marketplace for around £30.
Like the HD cable, there is no headset bundled in with the console. Any USB or Bluetooth headset can be used for voice chat.
The official Blu-Ray remote control, while not essential, is an option if you don’t like the awkwardness involved with using the pad as a remote. Usually costs around £15.
Since the PS3 doesn’t have any memory card slots for the PS2, then a PS2 to PS3 memory card adapter is an option if you want to transfer over your saves. Obviously this only concerns 60GB owners. These can be found for under £10 and if you have a few 60GB-owning friends you could all chip in for one and share it.
One final option is to buy a new hard drive if you are after more space. The PS3 is compatible with almost all 2.5â€ SATA notebook HDD. A USB HDD is also compatible.
Colin: Forget the fact that Sony made a motion sensitive controller when the Wii came out. Forget the lame reasons for not having rumble in the pad. Forget the extra 3 axes that Sony just invented. The Sixaxis controller is fine. While the nubs of the sticks are a bit slippy it’s still good to use and as such I’m now used to the light control pad and don’t really see myself getting a Dualshock right away. Down the road however I can easily see myself purchasing a new internal hard drive and slapping it in on the cheap (put that in your pipe Microsoft).
The only other accessory to mention would be the Playstation Eye (webcam) and pretty much the only people that have one is for playing the eye of Judgement (lol at). Now that the PS3 does support many other webcams â€“ even the XBL camera – this would more than do me for any video chat needs. I would like to make one recommendation â€“ the Wii and x360 all have either officially or unofficially some kind of removable rechargeable battery pack for the control pad, but this is not possible here because the battery is inside the pad, as such if your pad dies you have to plug it into the PS3 to recharge while playing, a minor grievance but a grievance none the less. Oh and any old cheap Bluetooth headset FTW (whores need only fork out for official MGS pap).
Recommended games (current)
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune â€“ An action/adventure with some platforming thrown in. If you are a fan of Gears of War, Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia then this is recommended.
Resistance: Fall of Man â€“ FPS set in an alternate history involving an alien invasion rather World War Two. It allows for 60 player online games, which are a bit of a riot.
Heavenly Sword â€“ Hack & slash game and home to some of the best graphics on the PS3. It’s rather short so I’d recommend getting this pre-owned.
Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Online â€“ Available from the Playstation Store for £14.99, this solid beat-em-up is still one of the best fighters out there.
Unreal Tournament III â€“ Multiplayer-focused FPS. The big thing about this is that you can download the maps and mods created for the PC version.
COD4 â€“ One of the best FPS games around. Single player is very short and a tad average but it has by far the best online multiplayer in the genre.
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction â€“ I love the R&C series and this is pretty much what I would come to expect. While the other games have evolved bit by bit this one pretty much only brings pretty visuals to the table â€“ but what it sticks with is the fun I’ve come to know and love.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma: Even though I did have NG on the Xbox I am still enjoying playing again â€“ more so than Ninja Gaiden 2 actually.
Lemmings HD (PS store): Hey its classic, its God dam gorgeous and why it isn’t on XBL I have no idea.
I would like to add in a side note about the PSone games available to download for play on the PS3/PSP. I think they’re fab and I hope more are on the way at £3.50 (real money remember) they’re a steal.
There are a lot of games on the horizon such as Resistance 2 and Killzone 2 which are looking particularly impressive, especially the latter. Little Big Planet also looks like it may be something special. Oh, and new Zone of the Enders please!
Colour me pessimistic but I am afraid I am not seeing much in the way of future releases. A new (non Hideo Kojima) MGS would surely make it out this gen (speculation). Final fantasy XIII and the weird spin off things they are doing will get my attention. Don’t forget the Final Fantasy 7 remakeâ€¦ yup its definitely coming and I’m not deluding myself.
Matthew: If you are a 360 owner, the first thing that will strike you is how barren the Playstation Store is compared to the Live Marketplace. It can also be a bit awkward to navigate as well since the interface can seem a bit confusing. The process of buying things from the store is similar to that on Live. You input credit card details which are stored in your account and charged whenever you make a purchase. However, unlike Live, everything is priced in real money rather than points which perhaps make things easier since you are seeing how much you are actually paying for them.
Colin: I really like the PS store. Well I did at first but now it does seem a tad desolate. It definitely has potential and for some reason seems a lot slicker than XBL (kudos for actually selling stuff to us in real money Sony). If Sony gets the finger out it will really become something special. No Syphon Filter 2? Get with the program fellas. Much like the full games that you can download, any demos that you download are required to be installed too â€“ a process which can take as long as the download. Boggles the mind why this happens here but not on live. I will however say that the unique â€œarcadeâ€ games do look better than the unique XBL games out just now.
Matthew: While the Playstation Network does bear similarities to Xbox Live, there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made before it can compete. Only a maximum of 50 friends can be added to your list. The way you can invite friends and join them seems to vary from game to game. There is a lack of voice chat during online games due to the lack of a bundled-in headset. Also, if you receive a message while playing a game, you have to quit out the game to read. That is rumoured to have been fixed in the upcoming firmware update, along with an increased number of friends that can be added.
Colin: As I have said I don’t really have much desire to use my PS3 for anything other than exclusives. If a really good exclusive MP game came out then I would be tempted to give online a serious bash but for now all I’m interested is the online store. The experience I have had with text messaging friends (no voice msgs yet) is nowhere as good as the x360 but then again only a fraction of friends own a PS3 compared to the number of x360 owners. When HOME comes out I’m sure it will encourage more people to get online and sociable but quite frankly if its going to be as like Second Life as they describe â€“ I wont be touching it with a ten foot barge pole. A great point of praise Sony deserves is the internet Browser. Just faffing about on the web in HD is really quite accessible, even if you are just using the pad, granted my only comparison is the non HD crappy-o-vision browsing of the Wii’s browser, but still at least it’s trying. A few more updates that will allow you to save pictures and allsorts from the internet to the PS3 hard drive and we’re laughing.
Matthew: I must admit that when the PS3 was first released I wasn’t taken to it at all and couldn’t see myself buying one. I was very happy with my Xbox 360 and Wii but due to various factors – such as the failure of HD-DVD and the no-chance-in-hell of MGS 4 coming to the 360 â€“ I gave in. Comparisons with the 360 were my first thoughts. The PS3 is a hell of a lot quieter, it looks a lot better sitting under my TV and the over-all build quality feels much higher than the 360 â€“ especially the touch-sensitive disk eject and power buttons. However, due to the glossy piano black, it does attract greasy fingerprints like a mother trucker. Would I recommend buying one? It depends whether you already have a 360 or not. The PS3 has its system-sellers e.g. MGS4, Gran Turismo 5 and (spits) Final Fantasy XIII. But it gets the short end of the stick when it comes to multiplatform games; the PS3 version is usually inferior to the 360. Blu-ray may also be something to think about if you are a big movie fan. If you can afford it then go for it
Colin: Hear that? Silence! Well not quite perfect silence, but no where as loud as an angry gerbil shagging another angry gerbil very loudly inside your console. I am not bias towards the x360, after all mine was sent away 3 times for repair in the first 18 months, but you cannot argue with the strength of its games library. The x360 has many quality titles and the x360’s features like custom soundtracks are carried over onto multi platform games. The x360 is also quite a bit easier to navigate (the dashboard) and you cannot possibly argue with the ease of its messaging system and communications in general. They tell me that the blu-ray payer is nice â€“ but I’m giving them a few more years before I start buying. There’s no arguing that some of the games available are particularly gorgeous (playing MGS4 now) but at what cost? Multiple installations? Hard Drive filling up quickly? I would have to argue that few games are taking full advantage of the machines power (x360 as well for that matter). If you already have an x360 and also a HDTV (not because the PS3 requires an HDTV but it’s just better to own a HDTV in general than a PS3) then you should buy a PS3 – if you can afford it, unless absolutely nothing about the system appeals to you and you are a complete Microsoft Fanboy (fanny). Oh and I’m assuming that you already have access to a Wii from your daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife, mistress, mother and granny but if not, it doesn’t really matter.