Review by CaptnX

Reviewed: 03/21/04

The weakest of the next-gen consoles

It's a cold night in October of 2000. The night before the day of the PS2's launch. You're sitting down outside the BestBuy along with about a hundred others clinging to their jackets and sleeping bags. But you know the wait overnight will be worth it. You will finally have the PlayStation 2 you've been taunted about for years by Sony in your hands. You've had it on reserve for 6 months. It's gotta be worth it, right? Or is it? When you finally have in in your hands, you're unable to put it down, but you have the strangest feeling that something's, well...missing. Something's not quite right.

The PS2 is actually a pretty spiffy-looking console. It takes the shape of a rectangular prism. It can also be positioned either horizontally or vertically. This is practical if you want to save space. Even though it may be slightly large, it's much more conveniant than the Xbox. The controller, on the other hand, is a different story. The model actually fits most grips, which is a good thing. But the buttons are the main problem. Poorly positioned. They're way too crunched together. If the controller were slightly bigger, this would be less of a problem. The only reason so many buttons work on the Xbox is because the controller is rather large. And the size works for the Gamecube, because it doesn't have nearly as many buttons. The buttons themselves are symbols instead of standard letters on most controllers. You may have a hard time adjusting when a game commands you to press the triangle button or something like that. This is sort of confusing at first, but after a while you'll get the hang of it. But if you're accostomed to the PS1's controller, you'll feel right at home.

Games are always the first thing you take into consideration when purchasing a new console. The PS2 actually has the biggest library of all 3 next-gen consoles. However, the really good ones are fairly sparce in that giant pile. But mind you, there are some good ones. First off, there's the Final Fantasy series. These are definitely some of the more popular and entertaining RPGs this generation. In fact, most good RPGs make their home on the PS2! Other good choices would include the Grand Theft Auto series, Jak 2, and Metal Gear Solid 2. But that's about it. Many of the other exclusives are either sub-par or nothing we haven't already seen on another console. Others are multi-platform, so you could play them elsewhere. Plus, the multi-platform games don't run as smoothly on the PS2. But another quick highlight of the system is that it's backwards-compatible with the PSX, so you don't have to completely abandon old games. Probably the other major problem with the console are the loading times, which are far longer than those on the Xbox or Gamecube. Nonetheless, if you're a big RPG fan, the PS2 might be the system for you. But everyone else will look for something more.

When you compare the PS2 to the GCN and Xbox, the PS2's are definitely the weakest. Of course they're an improvement over the PS1, but Sony could have easily done better. Final Fantasy X's graphics are probably the limit of the PS2's graphical capacity. These may be decent, but they're easily blown away by the graphics in games like Halo and Metroid Prime. Of course, the PS2 being released earliest may have to do with some of this. However, even the Dreamcast had better graphics in most cases. But poor framerate is unexcusable, which is something I should also mention. Sonic Heroes would be a blast to play on PS2 if it weren't for its ability to move at only 30 frames per second, whereas the other consoles move 60!

Sound is something that's difficult to judge on a system alone, as it really varies from game to game. But I can safely say that the PS2 is capable of emitting fairly clear digital and surround sound. Nothing to complain about here.

Bottom line:
Just to let you know, I am in absolutely no way an anti-Sony person. I was actually a strong supporter of their first console. However, I couldn't help but feel the loss of magic when I got my PS2. It definitely had it's moments in the spotlight, but that was before the the Xbox and Gamecube were released. In turn, those are the superior consoles. In closing, if you're looking for a new console to buy, go with one of the other two systems. Only if you're really into RPGs will you find the PS2 a good purchase. Let's just hope that by the time the PlayStation 3 comes out, Sony is ready for both its gamers and the rest of the competition.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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