Review by Mr Norman

"A New Age of Gaming Begins"

On September 9, 1995, the Playstation was released. Most seriously doubted it would even have an effect on the market that until than was owned by Nintendo. They were wrong. With over 80 million Playstations in the households of the world, Sony has proven it is the best.

So, when the Playstation 2 was released, few believed it could live up to the Playstation's awesome reputation. So, did it?

Booting Her Up: First Impressions

A console needs many things in order to survive. A solid list of games is a must, comfortable controller design and great graphics and sound a close second. Thankfully, Sony delivered in all of these categories.
In the past year, I've had my share of ups and downs with my PS2. But nothing will be more vivid in my memory than plugging her in. After ripping open the box and bulldozing through anything in my way, it was plugged into the TV. Unlike the PSX, which went straight to the game that was in your disc tray, the PS2 goes to a browser-like menu, then the game starts in a puff of smoke and lighting effects. While impressive at first, this gets somewhat annoying after the tenth time you start a game up.

I started up a game of Final Fantasy X, and my jaw dropped. The graphics were the best I have ever seen, and the in-game graphics looked as good, if not better, than the FMV's of FF7. Wow.

The controller is exactly the same as the PS's Dual Shock, which is both good and bad. Good because you can hop right in with your hands finding their usual place on the controller. It's bad because, well, it just makes the whole experience a little less revolutionary than you thought it would be.(More on that later) Luckily, the system is a lot better on the eyes the the PS, and the black/blue color scheme looks awesome.

DVD Player, CD Player, Oh My!

Like I'm sure you have heard over hundreds of times, Sony put a DVD player into this little black box. It's not a very good one, mind you, but it's still a DVD player. The quality doesn't come in as good as other real DVD players, and if you want to play DVD-R's you have to fork over another $200 for the new model. Ouch. And I know this sounds trivial, but if you want to use the first party remote, you have to give up over one-fourth of your memory card!

Speaking of memory cards, that's another place Sony has vastly improved. Unlike the ''block'' system of the PS, the PS2 uses kilobytes of info. Most games take about 500 KB of your 8 MB card, so it holds about as much as the the previous Playstation. A hard drive would have been better, but according to Sony, one is supposed to be on the way.

The PS2 also plays CD's, but like most people, I've never felt the desire to use this feature.

What Really Matters: The Games

But does the DVD player or memory card capacity really matter? No. It's the games that determine if a system sinks or floats. In just a couple years, the PS2's library has grown to monstrous proportions. Yes, most of them are utter crap, but if you can sift through those to the great ones, you'll be rewarded.

All the companies that you loved on the Playstation have returned, and while some have had a lackluster showing on the new system, most are still coming out with some masterpieces. Games from Konami, Namco, and EA continue to amaze, and some new companies have even entered the fray.

And with online play now available, the games are just getting better and better. Sadly, Sony's few attempts at making quality first party games haven't quite been up to par.

What Sony Forgot

Now during this next section of my review I may sound like I'm bashing the PS2, but I'm just trying my best to tell it like it is, so please, go with it.

Now, one thing that has helped the PS2 destroy the Gamecube and X-Box in sales is it's release date. Released a full year before the competing consoles, Sony established a market long before Microsoft and Nintendo even entered the fray. The problem is, the the console was obviously rushed. Disk Read Errors, or DRE's, are constantly ruining people's Playstation 2's, and while you can send it back to Sony for free, you're going to have to go a month with out a PS2.

This is one of the main falling points of the Playstation 2, and where many people criticize it.

The Competition

Whenever more than two things are in a market, one of them has to have something better than the other to win. In Sony's case, they have games. Lots of games. But the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation lived peacefully together, right? Well, now a new competitor has entered, Microsoft's X-Box.

So, how does the PS2 fare in a fight to the death? Well, sadly, not to well. The X-Box is technically more powerful and has a much, much more solid online plan. Add a couple more awesome games to the X-Box's library an it'd be a fair fight.

But Sony has still proven to the world that it is the king of console gaming. With more PS2's sold than both the other next generation systems combined, Sony is a force to be reckoned with. Blame it on a head start, fanboys, or stupid consumers: The Playstation 2 is the best. I know I'm going to be playing mine for a long time.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/24/03, Updated 07/16/03

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