PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Launch Software
We mentioned our early impressions regarding the first three PS3 games on our review plate, and we plan to deliver those reviews ASAP. But after taking a look at several more PS3 titles and getting a much better sense of the launch lineup in general, we'd like to offer our thoughts on the first PS3 software.
Whenever you have a new console, you tend to have overwhelming hype surrounding its release. And with the massive ad campaigns the Big 3 present these days, the level of expectations goes through the roof long before the actual release of any hardware or software. And as Microsoft's Xbox found out, coming out a year after your competition will present even more challenges; game critics have a frame of reference for the "next generation."
So the PS3 faces the same scenario: it's primary competition, the Xbox 360, has already been out a full year, and therefore, gamers and the rest of the industry have already had a taste of the that next generation...even though I suppose we should start saying "current" generation. This time around, Sony's machine doesn't get the benefit of being the first player on the scene; this time around, they've not only got to prove they can match the efforts of their competition, but they also have to excel beyond that.
But regardless of competition, you still need the software to sell your console. And more importantly, you need at least one - preferably two or three - really great games that solidify the launch lineup. For the PS3, it's a no-brainer that Resistance: Fall of Man is the flagship title, and from what we've seen so far, it's an excellent game.
There's a ton of fun to be had with Resistance, whether you tackle single-player, co-op, or online multiplayer, and it's easily one of the year's top titles. However, it does not live up to graphical expectations, and that R2 button (used for switching weapons) is problematic. The thing is, with all the hype surrounding both the machine and the game, it's hard to say that Resistance delivers on all counts. But nevertheless, it's an absolute blast to play, and that is what ultimately matters.
It's a worthy flagship title, to be sure. Behind it, however, isn't exactly the strongest lineup we could imagine. One of the top titles for contention of the coveted label of "must-play" would be Namco-Bandai's Ridge Racer 7, and while it's certainly entertaining and silky smooth, it's hardly something that will define this new era of gaming.
But despite its inability to elevate to "AAA" status, if we take it strictly on its merits as a simple and straightforward arcade racer, RR7 does its job. And again, it's really a lot of fun. If you pick up a PS3, it probably should be one of the titles you select. Looking beyond these two games, you've got the typical assortment of sports titles - none of which really stand out on the PS3 in comparison to the 360 - and a few intriguing, but not amazing, exclusive titles.
We got some time with the likes of Genji: Days of the Blade and Sega Golf Club, but neither really impress, even though the latter is borderline bliss if you're a Hot Shots fan. Genji just doesn't cut the mustard, no matter how you look at it, so don't expect a great review when we get around to going in-depth. In short, there isn't a lot to get excited about beyond either Resistance or RR7, but even though it's a multiplat, Call of Duty 3 is rock-solid in all respects.
And we actually have a sneaking suspicion that Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom might be a sleeper hit. If it's anything like the PSP version but more enhanced, it should be a lot of fun (right, Dark Alliance fans?)
But even if it does turn out to be better than expected, that leaves the launch lineup lacking. There just aren't enough titles to write home about, and while there are at least four or five that will be well worth your time, only one really stands out. But if we do a compare-and-contrast to the Xbox 360 lineup, it's not that much different. It's arguable that even one 360 launch title could be considered a must-own or "AAA" title, and that would be Perfect Dark Zero. Going on down the list, only Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo and Dead or Alive 4 were really solid games, and even they didn't have the patented "wow" factor.
Both the PS3 and 360 launch suffered from very similar big-name delays. The 360 lost The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and both ended up being top titles for this year. The PS3 lost Oblivion, F.E.A.R, and Sonic the Hedgehog; the former two delayed until 2007 and Sonic delayed until December. Overall, the two launches seem quite similar in almost every respect...and it's our opinion that Resistance is certainly better than any 360 launch game.
As for the Wii, we haven't toyed around with it, but early reviews - except for Zelda, of course - haven't been promising. Overall, we're a little disappointed in the selection of PS3 launch titles, but there is a ton of potential for the future, and there's one simple bottom line after playing the system for a couple days- we're excited. Very, very excited. The PS3 is bound to offer a lot of fantastic titles in the years to come.
11/18/2006 Ben Dutka