PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Report Card
One of the most appealing factors of the PS2 was its backwards compatibility, an unexplored feature for any other game console at the time. Therefore, it’s another major point for the PS3, which allows us to play both PS1 and PS2 titles; offering an instant combined library of around 2,500 titles. We’ve all heard the reports of those 200 PS2 games that don’t work on the PS3, but after our game testing, we couldn’t locate an incompatible title. As of now, we’ve taken a look at more than 20 PS1 and 30 PS2 games, and every one of them has performed almost flawlessly.
And in comparison to the competition, the PS3’s b/c program is certainly superior. The Wii does offer b/c for GameCube games and the capability to download NES, SNES, Genesis, and N64 titles, but as of now, that only includes some 20-odd titles. Besides, they’re going to cost you a bit of cash, and this doesn’t change the fact that you can’t exactly jam old cartridges into the Wii. The Xbox 360’s b/c program is downright terrible, offering compatibility with only certain Xbox games, and even then, you’re forced to download a patch online. Furthermore, that patch may or may not allow the game to function optimally.
We’ll get a better idea of just how functional the PS3’s b/c is when we get our hands on a memory card adapter; we’ve heard that some old game data is "un-transferrable," but like the rate of incompatible titles, it’s supposed to be rare. All in all, it’s a fantastic feature, and as of right now, possibly our favorite. The PS3’s backwards compatibility is indeed a great thing to have.
We really haven’t seen a stellar launch in quite a long time, and the PS3 is – unfortunately – no exception to that rule. It suffered through some early delays, pushing hot titles like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and F.E.A.R. to 2007, which sounds very similar to last year’s Xbox 360 launch that lost Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Oblivion. But even beyond those delays, the PS3 only managed to provide one super must-play title, and everything else was just kinda uninspired and unexciting. It’s just too bad, because it’s such a major drawback for any new console launch.
In comparison, the PS2 had a much better assortment of launch titles. SSX and Madden NFL 2001 landed some of the highest scores in gaming history, and Tekken Tag Tournament, TimeSplitters, Summoner, Ridge Racer V, Shadow of Destiny, and Summoner were all solid and diverse games. All we really have from the PS3, beyond the glory that is Resistance: Fall of Man is a good Ridge Racer 7 game, several very mediocre exclusive titles, and a bunch of multiplats, which are all essentially identical to their Xbox 360 counterparts.
No RPGs (unless you count Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, and I don’t wanna), no fighting games, no cool little adventure-like or unique games like Kameo or Shadow of Destiny, and no top-notch action title. If it weren’t for Resistance, it would’ve been a borderline failure. But thankfully, if you don’t have a 360, there are plenty of good games worth buying, and RR7 is quite fun. So it’s not a total loss.
Launch Console Availability
There’s always some shortages when it comes to new system launches, but this was a little ridiculous. First, we find out that GameStop/EB will only be taking an extremely limited number of preorders, which resulted in some very unhappy consumers who were blindsided by the sudden news. Next, the shipments are sliced down to a paltry 100,000 for Japan and a meager 400,000 for North America, which hardly inspired confidence for holiday availability. Then, the capper- less than half the U.S. shipments would arrive for November 17, meaning that even those lucky enough to land a preorder might not receive their PS3 on launch day.
It just wasn’t a good situation, no matter how you look at it. We suppose that if Sony sticks to their claim of shipping "1-1.2 million units by year’s end," there should be plenty of PS3s around, simply because none of those million systems would be preordered. And they were able to fill the second half of those preorders this past week (we think). But even so, the availability of PlayStation 3s on launch day was, of course, deplorable.
Obviously, this is going to be a work in progress, but as it’s always an issue concerning any launch, it should be addressed. Last year, the 360 suffered from a horrendous defective ratio, as the “red lights of death” assaulted many a frustrated gamer. The situation only worsened when Microsoft didn’t have nearly enough replacement systems available, thus forcing those with busted systems to wait many weeks before making good on the warranty. And given the problems the PS2 faced in 2000, we were very worried about our PS3. After all, if it went down in flames, we’d be in a bad spot, and you wouldn’t have gotten all this great coverage.
But clearly, you did get that coverage, which means our PS3 is still working fine. There was that one system freeze during the Store registration process, and we did experience the dreaded Disc Read Error a few days ago, but it’s been operating perfectly ever since. And if you hadn’t noticed, reports of defective PS3s haven’t been steamrolling the Internet. So far, and surprisingly enough, things seem to be going along just fine. Who’d a thunk it?
Grade: A- (pending)
11/25/2006 Ben Dutka