Review by Gruel

"I am very impressed, Sony"

Sony's first attempt into the video game console market, the original Playstation (first released in the US in 1995), was a success. No questions asked. But as time went on the PSX aged, and the competition grew intense with a strong first showing from Sega's new Dreamcast console in September of 1999. And with new game console's also on the horizon from Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony had no choice, but to release a new system to keep with the competition. It came out with the Playstation 2 in October of 2000.

The launch went great and smashed the old console launch record set last year by the Dreamcast, but not problem free did this event occur. You see, for months Sony promised that a million units of the Playstation 2 would be shipped by launch day. So demand was high, and dealers thought with Sony's word that they can give out more pre-orders than usual. And so pre-orders exceeded 600,000 when Sony told dealers to stop giving out pre-orders. Because just a shy three weeks before launch, Sony announced that there would be a shortage of consoles on hand at launch, with the initial shipment being 500,000 instead of 1 million units. So immediately on launch day, all the PS2s were sold out. And as a matter of fact, with only stores getting a few PS2 units every week, the PS2 units themselves didn't become regular store stock until March of 2001 because of the high demand.

The Playstation 2 is a 128-bit platform. Which is obviously a vast leap over the 32-bit PSX. It runs on a 300MHz processor, has 32mb of system RAM, handles up to 75 million polygons a second, and has a cd-rom speed of 24x (4x for DVD). All this combined makes a pretty nice running system. The only exception to this is that the PS2 features 4mb of Video Ram (the hardware that gets rid of those jagged edges during game play). Now the Dreamcast has 8mb of Vram, and the 5 year old Nintendo 64 has 4mb (if equipped with an expansion pak). What this means is that a good chunk of games will have jagged graphics which can distract the gamer from playing the game. But as I write this developers are always finding newer ways to improve the visuals of the game and make efficient use of the lack of Vram. The sound is CD-rom format, so you have the highest quality of sound you can get, and if you have your PS2 equipped with a decent surround sound stereo system, you can have your own in home theater.

The PS2 plays a wide variety of disc formats. It plays the standard PS2 games in either regular CD or DVD format, the difference between the two is the amount of size allotted on the disc, for example, remember the usual two or three disc cases of some PSX games? Well, those old PSX games were all on CD-rom format, and your average DVD-rom can combine the storage of three CD-rom discs on just one DVD-rom disc, which makes it a lot more convenient for us. The PS2 can also play any (with the exception of about 20 to 30) of the old library of 500+ PSX games. Not only does it do that, but you also have the option of enhancing the graphics and improving the load times. It only smooths out and makes the graphics a tad shinier, and only shaves off a few seconds of the load times, which may not sound like much, but once you play the game is when you realize how nice this feature is. The PS2 also plays any audio CD, and finally it has built in support to play DVD movies. DVD's are the new standard for home movies with already over a thousand of DVD's on the market. I have found one minor glitch though on the DVD playback on the PS2, and that is the audio lip synch for the movie is a tad off once you start watching the movie. At first I thought it was something wrong with my PS2, but I checked with a few friends about this and they say it happens to them too.

The PS2 launched with 20+ games from a wide variety of genres, and as I write this review over a year later in December of 2001, it now has near 200 games in its library, with literally dozens coming out each month. Also the PS2 seems to justify each genre of games with a decent amount of good titles. Here is a combination of my recommendations and games that garnered rave reviews of the following genres:

Action

Metal Gear Solid 2, Twisted Metal: Black, Grand Theft Auto 3, Dark Silhouette

Survival Horror

Resident Evil - Code Veronica X, Devil May Cry, Onimusha Warlords, Silent Hill 2

Fighting

Tekken Tag Tournament, Dead or Alive 2, Guilty Gear X

Role Playing

Dark Cloud, Final Fantasy X

First Person Shooter

Quake 3 Revolution, Timesplitters, 007: Agent Under Fire

Puzzle

Fantavision, Tetris Worlds

Racing

Gran Turismo 3, Midnight Club: Street Racing, Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero

Sports

Madden, NFL 2K2, NHL 2002, NBA Street

Extreme Sports

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, SSX, SSX: Tricky, Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX

Miscellaneous

WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It, Time Crisis 2

So there is a sampling of some great games already that just came out within the past year. And if you recognize any of the above games, you can already see that Sony has most of the third parties in the bag. Look at the line up, we have most of the powerhouses here like Capcom, Squaresoft, Activision, Electronic Arts, and Konami. And then we have just about the rest of the third parties that matter supporting the PS2 like THQ, Ubi Soft, Crave, Infogrames, Rock Star, and the list goes on.

There are already an amount of must own accessories for the PS2. Since the PS2 is just like the PSX where it has only two controller ports built in, you are going to have to buy another multi tap. Interact has released the PS2 version of the Game Shark where you can get any type of code for nearly all games without going through the hassle of beating the game for the lazy gamer. And don't forget about the DVD remote for DVD movies, trust me, you'll need it because playing movies with the controller is just a pain. Also sometime next year Sony plans to have its online game network ready to go, which means you are going to have to buy a network adapter and hard drive.

In Brief

+: Backwards Compatible with the 500+ PSX game library, Plays DVD Movies, Already has about 200 games from nearly all third parties

-: Lack of Vram means more jagged graphics, Lip Synch is off during DVD playback

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphic Abilities: 8.5
Sound Abilities: 9.3
Variety of games: 9.8
3rd Party Support: 9.9

Overall: 9.3

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9

Comments

I was never really a fan of the original Playstation, but right now I have to say I am very satisfied with my PS2. For people just wanting one system that does it all, I am going to have to recommend the PS2. Besides the near 200 games that are already out for the system, it plays the entire 500+ Playstation library, audio CD's, and DVD movies. As for the rest of the people who just want a system for games, I'm going to leave that decision up to you because the PS2 already has many great games for it, but the Gamecube and Xbox have many anticipated titles on the way.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/15/01, Updated 12/15/01


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