Thursday, December 07, 2006
Grading the PS3
I've had a week to put the PS3 through its paces and still haven't found all the little tricks the machine has up its sleeve. Juggling the 360 and the PS3 is like having two girlfriends that don't know about each other (if my 360 reads this, I am so screwed). But for the sake of fairness, here are my initial impressions of the PS3 after 7 days.
You take the good
- Fabulous Moolah: There are three words that I love: "yes", "Doh!" and "free". You'd think with the its pricepoint that the word "free" and PS3 are antonyms but you'd be wrong. The PS3 is WiFi ready right out of the box (with the 360 you have to buy a $100 accessory) and its online service is free and runs as smooth as butter. This truly surprised me. I figured that since it was free and Sony said bupkis about its online service that it would be laggy and suck but it works great. In fact in some games, it runs even smoother than the Xbox 360.
- The Net: Browsing the web can also be done from your TV using the PS3. Sites with a lot of links are a no-no (like ESPN.com) but most places I went to I could navigate easily.
- Wired for Sound: One of the best things about the PS3 is how quiet it is. It makes the 360 sound like a lawnmower in comparision. A few times, I've even forgotten that I have it on. After spending a year with my noisy 360 and the even louder cooling fan I bought to prevent it from overheating, the PS3 is like having the house all to yourself after your kids have gone to sleep.
- Blu-ray group: I have no idea who (if anybody) will win this whole Blu-ray/HD battle and to be honest, right now I could care less. I'm in no hurry to trade in my DVD collection. What I do know is that I like having a $1000 Blu-ray player in my $600 console. Would I have bought it as an add on like the 360's HD player? No, but its nice to brag about having one. Sure, it may turn out to be as useful as a laser disc player but at least it plays DVD's as well.
You take the bad
- No killer app: Notice in the above section I didn't say anything about games. Unfortunately for the PS3, it just doesn't feel like a very unique gaming console. Aside for "Resistance: Fall of Man", the PS3 doesn't have any games that you might consider getting the console for and even that game is probably a B or B+ game at best. The PS3 doesn't have a Halo that gamers will want to move up from their PS2's. Add the fact that 360 games look just as good as PS3 games (At least for now. Will the PS3's greater power eventually be untapped?) and what you have is an Xbox 360 thats $200 more expensive and has a new DVD format that looks the same as the old format.
- Online: While the online service is free and the browser is cool, the menu for it blows. Xbox Live is nice and neat and easy to use. The PS3 service doesn't even have a name for itself. Not that I could find it if it did. While I did use the browser, it took me awhile to learn how to use it and won't allow me to go to certain sites. And is it really that convenient to use my TV as a computer? Not really. While online play is smooth, I can't talk to anybody because there are no headsets. While I appreciate not getting cursed at (hello Halo 3), I would at least like to be able to trash talk a little or talk to friends.
- Ice, ice baby: I can personalize the 360 to my hearts content. I can download themes, I can put my own pic as my avatar, I can change my faceplate and I can brag about how great of a gamer I am through Achievement Points. I can do a bunch of stuff to make my 360 as unique as I am. The PS3 doesn't allow for that level of individualization, which it makes it feel a little cold and impersonal compared to the 360.
- Wimpy: I don't like the new controller. Its way too light, feels cheap and doesn't have a rumble feature. I appreciate the fact that they kept the dual shock configuration and its wireless but unless the motion sensor idea turns out great, I prefer the dual shock.
And then you have...the grade
The PS3 earns a B-. Its a beautiful looking machine. It has way more memory than a 360. It plays most of the same games as the 360, the free online service works great and it has some new technology (Blu-ray) that could possibly make it a steal at $600. It also has a ton of potential.
Where it loses points for me is in its lack of originality. Its main and online menus are very generic looking. The controller doesn't pack any punch, I can't trash talk (or talk at all) online, its launch titles are incredibly weak with games I can play somewhere else, there's no killer app and I may very well have this generations Betamax player.
If you have a PS3 and only a PS3 you're probably pretty happy with it right now but not elated. You're wondering when you're going to have a game that will make your 360-owning buddy envious and a movie that will make him cry. If you're a 360 owner wondering if you're missing out on anything, the answer is No. Xbox 360 owners enjoy your system because it has a slight edge, but who knows what the future may bring.