PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Report Card
While weíre on the subject of online functionality and options, letís examine the current state of the Network. So far, it appears to function just fine, as we had a blast playing both Resistance: Fall of Man and Ridge Racer 7 online. It doesnít take long to get going, although if youíre an avid player and would like to keep track of your gaming buddies, the PS3 doesnít offer a unified friends list to help you out. Supposedly, this will be fixed with a later system update, but for now, itís simply a negative that must be mentioned. Beyond that, there isnít much to complain about, but nothing to really get excited about, either. Those of you familiar with Xbox Live would probably find the Network to be quite similar, albeit without a few added extras youíre currently used to. At the same time, the Network is free, which may or may not become a major factor in the years to come (weíre not sure if Microsoft will drop that one-time Live fee, but itís doubtful).
We had no difficulty in our hours of online play; the speed was always optimum, the lag was just about nil (save one instance at the very tail end of a 22-player Deathmatch), and despite a few added minutes when searching for a "matched skill level" room, everything seemed right as rain. Itís simple, really- the Network, for now, does what itís supposed to do; no more, no less.
DVD/Blu-Ray Playback And HD Resolution
Obviously, high-definition makes everything come to life, and for the PS3, that means both movies and games. We examined games and movies (both DVD and Blu-Ray) on a standard 480p set and a full HD 1080p set, and if thereís one thing we quickly came to understand, itís that HD is the future of gaming. However, because many consumers donít yet have the option, we had to be realistic and attempt to notice differences between HD and Blu-Ray on both sets. We wonít get into specifics because thereís still some argument there regarding details, but either way, we donít really have a preference between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray at this point.
One thing we really dislike is the fact that the PS3 actually downscales games that arenít supported on the TV youíre playing on; in other words, if you have 1080i and the game only supports either 480p and 1080p, the game will be displayed in 480p. Itís just the way of electronics, but itís guaranteed to be frustrating for owners of slightly older HD sets. Furthermore, weíre hoping many future games support a variety of resolutions, unlike Resistance, which only supports 720p.
Overall, itís difficult to say if Blu-Ray will give the PS3 the edge in games; itís just too early. But as for the Blu-Ray/DVD player in the PS3, itís certainly fantastic, and clearly a better option than those uber-expensive Blu-Ray players. Finally, if thereís one thing the PS3 will excel at down the road, itís producing sweet-looking games in high-def. That much, we know for sure.
Everyone was all excited about that Remote Play feature, the option that allows PS3 and PSP owners to transfer all kinds of streaming media Ė videos, photos, music files, etc. Ė between the two consoles. It got even more press when we found out weíd be able to download classic PS1 games for play on our PS3 (a future update should allow us to play those PS1 games on the PS3 itself). Lastly, they announced the Version 3.00 update for the PSP that would finally enable the Remote Play feature and give us a chance to see if everything lives up to the hype. Unfortunately, while we definitely were able to see those pretty new icons and do a few interesting things here and there, PSP connectivity is still in its infancy stages.
Unlike the Store, Sony clearly wasnít quite ready to provide the full capacity of this feature for the PS3 launch. There still arenít any PS1 games to purchase and download, and even if there were, the system lacks the ability to make the transfer to the PSP at this point. Also, because the PSP canít access the PlayStation Store on its own, there isnít much you can do without a PS3. Itís got a hell of a lot of potential and itís a darn good idea, but thatís about it for now.
11/25/2006 Ben Dutka