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Yeah, I know. More expensive than the Xbox 360 and wii combined. Yes, I know, all the "clued up" people seem to hate it. But I don't care. I bought a PS3. Sue me. Alternatively, understand that everyone's opinion is only that - opinion.
The main reason I parted with £464.99 (it came with 2 games of my choosing) for the PS3 was backward compatibility. Yeah, I could have bought a 360 for a fraction of the price, but that would put an end to my faithful old PS2 games, which I still love dearly. Secondly, controllers. I cannot thank Sony enough for sticking with the tried and tested formula (especially after seeing the boomerang shaped prototype they were considering at the start). Playstation veterans will have had the bones in their hands evolve to use this controller, and I for one just wouldn't feel right having to adjust to another controller - it's like cheating. That, and I hate the Wii. I don't want to wave my arms around like an idiot playing a load of gimmick games - video gaming is about chilling out and relaxing for me. There is a new addition to the controller - the sixxaxis capability. More on that later.
So yes, the price. It's the big thing, both literally and from a criticism standpoint. But after spending an hour playing around on it, you start to understand why. Seriously, I have never, ever encountered a machine which has such a limitless feel. The launch titles alone (I bought Virtua Tennis 3 and Motorstorm), just blow you away. These are launch titles, folks. If you've not seen the games in action, try and get hold of footage. This represents the beginning of the improvement curve for PS3 games. They will get even better than this. But the games are for another review (which I've also done). Onto what the machine itself is like.
Yes, you can play HD games. I can't really comment on this. HDTV is a bit outside my financial capabilities right now. For what it's worth, I've watched HDTV and I can't really say I was blown away by it. The main feature that had me thanking the lord above was that the PS3 can now work with wireless internet. Oh, the joy! The PS2 had to be plugged straight into a modem, which isn't always possible depending how your house is wired up. But if you have a wireless router in your house, you can go online. You can even play your old PS2 titles online.
Continuing on the topic of online features, you can also go into the Playstation website and download demos of upcoming games for free. This is a fantastic idea, as you get a chance to test a game before you buy it (titles range from £30 to £50, but ebay will usually come to your financial rescue). You can also download a couple of mini games. At the moment you can download (for free, I might add), Gran Turismo HD concept, and Tekken: Dark Resurrection. These are games that will give you a taster of what the full titles will be like when they are released in late 2007/early 2008. You can browse the internet as you would on a normal computer, although obviously, if you don't have the PS3 keyboard, this is a bit like knitting in mittens. Another new feature is Folding at Home. I apologise in advance if I don't get every little fact in here, but I am working from memory. Medical researchers do things like protein folding in order to help find cures for things like cancer. However, it takes a standard PC up to 30 years to do this. Because the PS3 is 10 times more powerful than a PC, PS3 owners can put their consoles online and lend their computing power to the process. A console that could help cure the incurable. Impressed?
Onto other features. The menu layout is identical to the layout you get on the PSP. If you've not seen it, you have a row of icons across the screen; music, photos, games, web access and so on. Sellecting each one will present you a vertical sub menu. It's all very straightforward. Admittedly, by console standards this ranks up there with brain surgery, but honestly, it's all very straightforward. The PS3 takes blu-ray discs, which I will admit, has a whiff of BETAMax about it, but you can also use regular DVDs as well. You can store your mp3s on there too. You could download them straight onto the PS3, or transfer them from an mp3 player via the 4 USB ports. Oh, if it's a shared PS3 you can also have your own password protected login a la Windows XP. This is necessary as there are no memory card slots here. All memory is internal - you get 60GB of the stuff, which should be plenty. Not sure if Sony offer an expansion pack, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did, or plan to.
That about covers the software. Yes, more educated folk could tell you about the processor and graphics chips and whatnot. All I know is it's 10 times more powerful than a PC, and 20 times easier to use. That's good enough for me.
So, the hardware. I will start with my biggest criticism so far. The PS3 makes the original Xbox look tiny. It weighs in at a hefty 7Kg, so if you decide to buy one, bring a car or someone strong. It is large in all respects. There is a lift up flap where you can use any SD card or smartmedia card, which is handy for photos, and the power on and eject buttons are both touch sensitive. Rather than a flimsy CD tray, now you can just feed the CD into the slot. Again, like the PS2 this one can stand on its side. You can even rotate the Playstation badge under the CD slot to match it's verticality. How sad...
Onto controllers. As mentioned earlier, Sony have stuck with pretty much the same design. However, it does have 4 new features. Firstly, it is wireless. Again, the joy. You plug it into the PS3 via a USB cable to charge it up, and once it's charged, off you go. You usually get a good 10 or 12 hours out of it between charges. You can use up to 4 controllers, as each controller has to be assigned wirelessly to a USB slot. The rear shoulder buttons are more like pedals now. Not entirely sure why, but it is a feature pounced upon by the Motorstorm team, as they have converted R2 and L2 into the accelerator and brake. Finally, you have a small "PS" button in the centre of the controller. This will take you to a default menu where you can see the battery power in the controller, reassign it to another USB slot, turn the controller off completely, exit to the main PS3 menu, or shut down the PS3 entirely. That's right, you now don't even have to get up to turn the thing off. The final new feature is sixxaxis. Much like the Wii (but apparently not as well done), sixxaxis allows you some element of control by waving the controller around. I have tried it on motorstorm, and you tilt the controller left to turn left, right for right etc. Can't say I was fond of it, but I'm a traditionalist. It will be interesting to see how games developers utilise this over the next few years, if at all (remember the pressure sensitive buttons on the PS2 controller that nobody cared about?).
And that leaves me with what I think is one of the most important aspects of the PS3 - backward compatibility. To the layperson, backward compatibility means you can play your old Playstation 2 and Playstation One games on the PS3. At first there was to be complete backward compatibility, as the PS3 would effectively have a PS2 sitting inside it. But because of this, the cost of production became astronomical, and so Sony decided to replace this with an emulator (which is a program that makes the console "think" it is a PS2 or PS One). This means that some PS2 and PS One games will not work on the PS3. There is a list on the Playstation website, but thankfully the major titles (Pro Evolution Soccer, GTA, Gran Turismo etc) seem to be fine. Still, there are some lesser known titles that may not work, so if you're thinking of getting one, it'd be wise to check first.
Continuing on the backward compatibility issue, the other problem encountered is that no memory card = no transferring your saves onto the PS3. You can create a "virtual" memory card that is stored on the hard drive (and you use this virtual card to save your network settings should you want to play your PS2 games online). However, for £10 you can buy a device you can plug into the USB port and transfer all the data over. Yep, it is more cost, but you do get the feeling that Sony have crammed as much as they possibly can into the PS3 already.
So, to surmise. I would recommend the PS3 to anyone who can afford it. It is worth the money, and with titles such as GTA IV on the horizon, I think it will take gaming to a completely new level. Yes, the 360 and Wii have the same titles coming out, but the PS3 will give you that much more out of each of them. I know I won't convert any Xbox or Nintendo fans, much like they couldn't convert me. But I have owned my PS3 for a month now and I really have had a hard time finding flaw in it. All the titles are amazing, it does pretty much everything except make your dinner. I know it costs a lot, and peripherals aren't cheap at the moment, but I promise, you won't suffer an ounce of remorse after just 10 minutes on it. It is hard to see how consoles can evolve past this.