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The tap was left dripping and the sink slowly filled until water began to splatter over the precipice. Onto the bathroom floor, then through the bathroom floor the drops kept coming. The carpet below was ruined, but more importantly so was my PSone. Pushing the button, nothing. Wiggling the plug, again nothing; I had to accept that my faithful machine had spun its last disc, and so my attention turned towards replacing it.
The task of replacing the irreplaceable was always going to be tricky, but I thought it only logical to buy the PSone's big brother: the PS2. It was, after all, capable of playing all my old PS1 games and it had to be reliable, being made by Sony. So I clicked my way to amazon.co.uk and being youthful and impressionable decided to buy the pretty silver one. After all it was special edition. After longing for my new toy to arrive at my door for three days, finally my wishes were granted. Imagine my excitement when I opened the box to reveal the metallic beast, clad in satin silver, smooth and sumptuous. The PS2 has modern, bold lines and edges, making it look like the king of machines. There has been a fair bit of criticism for the more sophisticated silver model on the internet, however this is completely unfounded. The machine really does look splendid, despite still having black ports for the controllers.
Back to my narrative: Having lifted the PS2 from its box, I laid it on the floor. Then, I picked it up, and laid it down again, this time standing upright. And so we reach the first selling point. The revolutionary design of the PS2 means it not only lies down, but horror of horrors, can also stand up. This is really an example of Sony breaking taboos and going against console convention! Ever the perfectionists, Sony have also made it so that the PS2 logo can spin, depending on the position of the console. To enable the machine to stand up, you will need a stand, which annoyingly is not supplied in the silver Playstation package. Though it is a great gimmick, I found the games more difficult to load into the tray when it was vertical, and so prefer to stick to laying it flat. You also are not meant to change the console's position while gaming, as it can cause a malfunction.
So I took my new console up to my room to install it. Having removed all of the neatly packaged wires and cables I was ready to begin. Naturally, being male, I did not bother to read the instructions. You plug the plug into the plug socket. No problem. You can either connect the PS2 to the TV with the supplied AV cable (the one with three connectors) or you can use an S-Video connection. Sorry about the anoracky details, but I thought they were needed! I have to admit that I swallowed my pride and had to consult the manual, as setting it up is not as easy as you might think. The manual itself is very easy to understand, with illustrations to accompany the directions. Naturally you will be eager to turn on the console, and see if you have connected it up successfully. If you have, you will discover a setup screen, where you give the date and time. Now, finally we are ready to get gaming.
I was a bit broke having shelled out for my new toy, so I could not afford any games for it. To quench my gaming appetite, however the package comes with a demo disc, which basically acts as an advert for the individual games. I didn't expect them to be very substantial, which indeed they weren't. Most of the games had time restrictions, and they really wont keep you busy for more than 10mins! Regardless of this, you are given a quick glance of what the machine is capable of. To load the disc, you simply push the eject button, and the tray glides out in a comforting, smooth manner.
My PS2 came with two official dualshock controllers, both of course dressed up in silver. I understand that the black version only comes with the one. The controllers are pretty much identical to the PS1 controllers; "if it aint broke don't fix it". The one difference is that these controllers are sensitive to how hard you push down on the buttons, which brings a different dimension to gaming. For example in Metal Gear Solid 2, you push down the square button gently to aim, and then you nail it to fire. This is great, though can make your thumbs quite sore. The controllers are very comfortable, the buttons are in the right places, and if your thumbs do get sore, you can turn to the analogue sticks.
I finally did by a game, in fact I bought two: "Metal Gear Solid, sons of liberty" and "Wipeout Fusion". As you probably know these are two very difference games. But they do have one thing in common: the need for a memory card. Again, we have a problem, there is no memory card supplied in the package (a reoccurring theme). I think this is rather silly of Sony, as you need one for every game, and they can cost up to £20 per card. I would advise going to play.com and buying the double pack for £25.00. Once you do go through the hassle of buying a card, it is very easy to use. You simply shove it into the port, and then can save up to 120KB of data (I'm sure there is someone out there who knows what that means!) The saving and loading speed is very quick, much quicker in fact than the PS1.
Of course the main selling point of the PS2 is its awesome gaming experience, and the power that goes into making it. It really is not surprising how impressive the performance is when you consider it has a 128-bit Emotion Engine processor and DAT-quality stereo sound. To be honest I don't fully understand what this means, but I can say that gameplay has always been smooth and fluent, with incredible graphics, similar to those you find on arcade machines. This brings me neatly on to the games.
As I have already mentioned the PS2 can play any of the vast array of PS1 games from the days of old. This means that you will not loose your old classics. Sony even claims that the new console can even improve the gameplay of these old games, which I have yet to notice. Of course owners of GameCubes say "our games are best" and likewise with X-BOX owners, but I don't want to get drawn into that heated debate. All I can say is that Sony has invested a lot of money into ensuring some of the most spectacular games released on the PS2. Here are a few examples;
Metal Gear Solid 2, sons of liberty: By now you should know that I have this game, so this is a bit biased. MGS2 does draw you into the story line. It has the old theme of a hero on a mission to save the world, but it is not dull as it should be. Completing missions, and sniping people has never been so much fun.
SSX 3: This is a new release that I thought I should mention. It is a snowboarding game with some sprawling pistes and stunning tricks.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: A good old fashioned, controversial, "let's cause havoc" game. Hijack cars and helicopters alike. Beat up people in the street, and complete gangster missions. All the ingredients for a great gaming experience.
This is just a small taste of what's available, and there are new releases streaming out into the shops. But I am not here to review individual games, but a games console. Or am I? You see the Playstation 2 does not just play games. It also plays audio CDs; just stick them in, and navigate your way through the tracks with the controller. As most of us know, this comes second to the machine's real strength: it can play DVDs. Is there anything this thing can't do? My PS2 seized the position of my old DVD player, which I now keep in a cupboard, dormant. To test the DVD function, I popped in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There was a great picture, and indeed high quality sound, everything you would expect of a good DVD player. I soon realised the downsides, however. The functions are really not very sophisticated. The fast forward is not very fast at all, and you can fall asleep finding the scene you want. I also found the control panel appearing on screen for no apparent reason, which was very frustrating. Using the controller to find your way through the film is a gruelling task, and so it would probably be wise investing in a DVD remote (not included in the package!) This will set you back another £10! The new model of PS2 has a built in infa red port, which is a useful feature for when using your new remote. The PS2 also boasts two USB ports, and a "rear expansion bay" which, with a network adapter, should allow you to play online! Apparently there have been a few other improvements to this newly released "new model". It is 30% quieter, is lighter than the old one, and can be turned on and off by remote control. Pretty impressive huh?
The price of the PS2 really can rocket if you do not restrain yourself. Sony tempt you with accessories and new games which can prove irresistible. To remedy the weakness of only having two controller sockets, there is a multitap, which enables 4-player. But why did I buy it? I hardly play on the PS2 with more than one friend. The initial price of my machine was £135, only ten pounds more expensive than the traditional black version, but with an extra controller usually costing £20. My two games came to another £20, the memory cards were £25, the multitap was £25, the stand was £10.00 making a grand, and terrifying total of £235. Ouch. Learn from my mistakes!
What else can I say about my PS2? At the moment it is sitting with its silver aurora urging me to turn it on. The grief for my drowned PSone rapidly subsided, and now this new machine has won my affection. Despite my overspending, I would say that the PS2 is worth the money. All of its features contribute to making it one of the most playable consoles on the market today. One can argue about graphics or processor speeds all day, though in my opinion a console is only as good as the games it plays. Fortunately for Sony's machine, the games are dazzling and remarkably easy to sit in front of and get absorbed in. I think I'll stick with this console for a while... probably until the PS3 comes out!
fantastic review I have to say the more I read about the PS2 the more I want to get one, This has taken me another step closer to buying one.
missixty 18.05.2005 01:41
Great op! I'm undecided about PS2s.....I loved them, and then I had a boyf who used to play them 24 hours a day (seriously) and complain that I was being unreasonable if I asked him to turn the sound down when he was playing it in the bedroom at around 4am everynight and I had to be up for work in 3 hours (it's just not the same without the sound up apparently) so I understandably went off them for a while...but recently inveseted in a Dance Mat and GameTrak and now I'm getting a bit more into it again....I think in moderation they're fun....as long as you don't spend as many hours a day on them as I do on Ciao lol x
werewolf 09.04.2005 01:37
What a great op. Explained all the features and all the extras needed to use a PS2. I still need a DVD remote and extra controller (bought the black one as silver one not available at time). Remembered to get a memory card but could have done with 2 - cos boyfriend uses it for his games more than me! Really enjoyed reading this op. Yvonne