Review by plumpwonton

"Sony returns with yet another strong offering"

Another generation of gaming has started, and with it comes Sony's new console, the PlayStation 3. Having ridiculously dominated the last two generations, Sony entered this current one playing catch-up from the start. The high cost, production shortages, and average game lineup have drawn controversy and backlash from the gaming community. Nevertheless, the PS3 is an excellent gaming machine, and yes, one that is worth its steep price tag.

Design
Sony never made the most eye-pleasing consoles, as evidenced by the bricks that were the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. This time around, Sony has created a beautiful machine; with a shiny black exterior, curved design, chrome trim, touch-sensitive reset and disk eject buttons, and a disk loader that requires you just to slide the game into the little slot.

Overall the PS3 is a spectacular looking console, and it looks great sitting in my entertainment setup, something I couldn't say about my PS2. The only drawbacks are its large size and weight, and the ease by which it attracts fingerprints. As long as you're not constantly moving your PS3 around, you shouldn't really have a problem with either of these.

Controller
Thankfully Sony decided to keep the standard PlayStation controller design for the PS3. If you've played a PS1 or PS2 before, the controller will instantly feel familiar. There are a couple differences though, besides being Bluetooth wireless. The L2 and R2 buttons are now more like triggers than actually buttons. There's also now a button in the center of the controller with the PS logo. This new button does a few things: you can use it to turn the controller on/off, turn the console on/off, switch your player number, exit out of a game, etc.

The new motion sensing capability will be a great feature for some games, but for most others it feels like an awkward tack-on. Be aware that there's no rumble either, but Sony is supposedly releasing a PS3 controller with rumble in the coming months.

Features
Fist and foremost, the PlayStation 3 doubles as a Blu-ray disc player. BD movies look spectacular on an HDTV, and you'll probably want to pick up one or two when you buy a PS3. Of course, the PS3 will also play your standard DVDs and music CDs. You can even copy your videos and music onto the hard drive to access them straight from the system. One of the new software updates even allows you to connect wirelessly with a PC and play media that's stored on the PC through the PS3. You can also view and store photos via any of four storage formats (USB drive, CompactFlash, SD, or Memory Stick).

The PS3 utilizes the XMB, which can be found on several other Sony products. There are about 8 different main sections of the XMB, such as Games, Movies, Settings, Network, etc. You have even more options within those categories. It's all very simple and easy to use. You can attach a USB keyboard and mouse to your PS3 to make things such as using the web browser easier. You also have the option of installing Linux to make your PS3 more like a computer. This is something I don't ever plan on doing, but it will appeal to some for sure.

Games
So far, Resistance: Fall of Man and Warhawk are the only must-buy game that every PS3 owner should have. There are also a handful of other great games such as MotorStorm, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Rainbow Six Vegas, the Darkness and Virtua Fighter 5, but the games coming out in the following months is really what we're supposed to get excited about. Heavenly Sword, Haze, Unchated, Ratchet and Clank, and Killzone 2 are all exclusive to PS3, and then you've got amazing multi-consle games like GTA4, Assassin's Creed, and Resident Evil 5 as well. Not to mention Sony's big guns, Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Final Fantasy XIII (*drool*), are coming around the corner.

The PS3 lineup isn't exactly making any jaws drop at this point, but the potential is here, folks. You can also play your PS1 and PS2 games on your PS3, as it's almost fully backwards compatible.

Online
Sony has named their new online service PlayStation Network. Creating your online account is simple and easy. You can add other gamers to your friends list, and chat using text, microphone, and/or camera. Although a microphone does not come with the PS3, any Bluetooth headset like the one you use for your phone will likely be compatible.

The online gaming itself is smooth and completely lag-free. Having played online since January, I have not experienced any slowdown whatsoever, which is a great surprise. Most important though, PSN is completely free! You can play online as much as you want without every having to pay a penny.

Another important aspect of PSN is the PS store. Here you can download free game demos and movie trailers. You can also buy full PSN games for around $8, PS3 game add-ons, and certain PS1 games. Keep in mind that Home is coming soon, which will make PSN an even better expierience.

Final Score: 9/10
$600 is a tough pill to swallow no doubt, but for what I got in the box, I have to say that the PS3 was a great purchase. Although the first several months of the PS3's life were pretty lackluster, it does have a strong holiday lineup, superb multimedia features, and bright outlook in 2008. This is a worthy investment for anyone.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/04/07

Game Release: PlayStation 3 (US, 11/17/06)


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