"The future looks bright...hopefully..."

After a decade of home console dominance, Sony has entered the next-generation battle with the PlayStation 3. While it is currently bringing up the rear in a race with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii, there are many indicators that point towards this machine helping to further solidify Sony's standing as the home console king. But at the same time, you're left to wonder if those indicators will be fully put to use...

Pros

The machine itself looks sleek and sexy. You will find yourself rearranging media centers in order to get this thing out in plain view. Much like the PSP, the PS3 utilizes a black and sliver color scheme (more profound in the 60GB version) to clearly get the across the point that gaming machines are not just for kids anymore. Unfortunately, this does make the PS3, just like the PSP, a fingerprint magnet. Luckily, you won't find yourself touching the entirety of the PS3 all the time, so this won't be a major issue.

If you are familiar with the PSP, you will be right at home with the system's main interface. And even if the PSP is a foreign object to you, there won't be a problem, because everything is clearly labeled and utilizes nice, big icons to help lead the way. You can play music, watch movies, view pictures, surf the web (albeit slowly and awkwardly), and much more. You will initially be left with the feeling that the PS3 is helping inch consoles ever closer to home computers, even more evident in the fact that you can install Linux on it.

The PlayStation Network is free of charge, and though it is not as robust as the online services offered by other consoles, it still gives you plenty of stuff to play around with. You'll create a universal network nickname, get to collect gaming friends, and send and receive messages. In the “Store,” there are a number of PS3 demos to install, movies trailers to view, and PS1 hits to download (at a price) for play on your PSP. It can be a tad frustrating downloading content when the PS3 is connected to a network wirelessly (the 60GB version has built-in WiFi, incase you weren't aware), so if it is a viable option, utilize the enclosed Ethernet cable.

Considering that a system's early titles are rarely able to take advantage of its raw power, one can only imagine what second, third, and beyond generation titles will look on the PS3. For those of us who could never imagine sinking $1500 and more into a gaming computer, Sony's latest offering certainly appears to be a good compromise. Though I miss rumble support, I do like the fact that the SIXAXIS is just further refinement of the familiar and comfortable PS controller design. I have yet to see anything besides “gimmicky” attempts at utilizing its motion-sensing technology, so the jury remains out on that aspect of the PS3.

Cons

Trading in a company's older console for credit towards its newest one is a fairly popular practice, considering the innovation of backwards compatibility. And while the PS3 does indeed allow you keep on playing most of your favorite PS1 and PS2 titles, there are a few major issues to be had:
- Hundreds of titles have reported issues, ranging from not always recognizing the network connection to not being able to advance beyond the start screen. One can only assume that many older and not-so-popular titles will never work on the PS3.

- Depending upon your television set-up, there is a good chance that the graphics of PS2 titles will look extremely jaggy. People have developed some semi-fixes to get around this, but you wish you didn't have to use them.

- The biggest evil concerning backwards compatibility is how Sony has handled transferring old game saves from PS1 and PS2 memory cards to the PS3. Considering its price tag and impressive array of features, you would think that Sony would have included an adapter of some sort on the machine. They didn't. But for $15, you can buy one…if you can actually find one. It's only $15, true, but that's just $15 too much for something that should have been included in the deal, and that you will essentially use one or twice. You cannot actually utilize the adapter to save further data to the cards, because the PS3 itself creates “virtual” memory cards on its hard drive. Thus, this adapter is merely for data dumping purposes.

The two versions of the PS3 are priced quite steeply ($500 & $600), considering that one might actually want to buy other things (replacement plans, games, controllers, HDMI cables, etc.) during the initial purchase. I can understand why people are experiencing sticker-shock when it comes to this system. I can remember a time when a couple of hundred dollars got you a gaming console, games, an extra controller, and what not. In the end, though, there is a difference between “expensive” and “overpriced.” You get what you pay for with the PS3. Whether or not the market is willing to pay for what you get with the PS3 remains to be seen.

That leads me to the final criticism of this system's infant stage. First and foremost, Sony's console is meant to be “played,” and frankly, there isn't much to play on it at the moment, which leaves one wondering if everything inside that wonderful package is worth paying for. I find it hard to recommend purchasing the PS3 at this time, because there really isn't much to do with it game-wise. Resistance, though quite unoriginal, pools together the experiences of various first-person shooters and refines them very well. Outside of that, though, we have a few rushed ports and multi-console games that do not impress anyone. Of course, there have been few launch line-ups that can actually be labeled as “impressive.” Sony merely has to hope they can keep their heads above water long enough for highly touted exclusives, like Metal Gear Solid 4 or Devil May Cry 4, to hit the market.

Final Verdict

The PlayStation 3 has its faults, but most consoles do in their infancy. There are numerous aspects of the machine itself that leave unbiased individuals with the feeling that, with an adequate library of games, Sony's latest offering will quickly turn the console race back into a three-horse affair. That's why I'm giving the PS3 a 7/10, but Sony is going to have to work damn hard to get those other 3 points.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/19/07


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