PlayStation 3 Hands-On: Report Card
As we come to the one-week anniversary of the PlayStation 3 launch, we have now had sufficient time to examine, analyze, and break things down, so here is our final word on the issue: the PlayStation 3 Report Card. It encompasses the launch, obviously, but it also looks down the road as we grade the console’s potential, which is certainly the most important factor when determining the success of a new system. Some of this is well-documented, but here, we also offer our own thoughts and opinions regarding both the current and future PlayStation 3 situation.
We’ll start with the basics; no detail goes uncovered!
Packaging And Aesthetic Appeal
Well, despite how trivial it may seem (oh heck, we know it is), there’s something to be said for the cosmetic design of electronic hardware. In fact, it’s something many large companies spend a ton of money on every year, and no doubt Sony spent a great deal of time devising the look of their new console. So first off, let’s just say this machine looks a damn sight better than either the PS1 or the PS2. The former wasn’t anything special and the latter was – let’s be honest – truly ugly. The PS3, on the other hand, is sleek and refined, and sports a very clean look. Sure, it’s a beast, but it remains quite pleasing to the eye.
As for the packaging, many people have made a big deal out of the lack of HDMI cables. One of the biggest selling points of the PS3 was supposed to be its high-definition capabilities, and some consider the omission of any HD cables in the box a big mistake on Sony’s part. And while it certainly would’ve been nice, Sony was already set to lose money on every console sold, and they were already including the necessities that couldn’t be replaced: power cord, AV cable, Ethernet cable, Sixaxis controller and USB hook-up, instruction and user manuals, and for the first half-million PS3s, the Blu-Ray movie of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
In short, the PlayStation 3’s packaging was nothing more than standard, and probably expected. And as far as aesthetic appeal goes, the PS3 is easily the prettiest Sony console to date.
Ease And Accessibility Of Start-Up
Rumors went wild a few days before launch, as some unconfirmed sources began reporting outlandish claims that the PS3 took more than a few minutes to turn on, thereby exponentially increasing the length of time from power-on to actual play time. There were also supplemental reports of a longer-than-anticipated registration and overall start-up process with the PS3, so we were apprehensive when we first hit the power button. Come to find out, there’s a reason why the aforementioned claims were “unconfirmed,” and why Sony never bothered with direct responses just before launch.
It takes only about 7 seconds to go from power-on to the menu screen, and maneuvering through the menu is both straightforward and very quick. Everything is laid out as expected, and most gamers wouldn’t have any trouble fiddling with the myriad of setup options for audio and video. However, it did take us longer than we wanted to register for the Store, as we were forced to scroll down through massive user agreements that would take around 45 seconds, and fumble with the controller to input our e-mail address. The system also froze when doing this the first time, and although it succeeded the second time after a quick restart, it wasn’t a fun experience.
But that’s all one-time stuff; the PS3 starts up pretty darn fast. Once you have everything set, the amount of time you spend from power-up to game-on is very short, and easily comparable to the Xbox 360 or Wii (and faster than the PS2). Everything you need to do is right at your fingertips, and despite a little extra new-user time, we are quite pleased with this category.
It was a necessary addition to this PlayStation installment, due to the ever-increasing number of gamers online and their demand for extra content. And of course, with the Xbox Live Marketplace doing so well, Sony couldn’t very well afford to lag behind in this category. And speaking of the Marketplace, all early indications for the Store are easily explained: it’s essentially identical to the Marketplace, only without that bizarre Points system used for purchase (everything is in dollars and cents, thank God). Another bit of good news is that this wasn’t a "just-you-wait-and-see" feature straight out of the box like PSP connectivity; the Store was up and running on November 16.
They included two full arcade titles for launch day (Blast Factor, pictured here, and Cash Carnage Chaos), a bunch of trailers (Lair, Warhawk, Calling All Cars!, etc.), and several playable demos, including a solid stint from Resistance: Fall of Man.
It’s easy to get into the Store and move about, the prices for those little arcade games are reasonable, and the free trailers and demos are most satisfactory. We just hope to see some additional downloadable content to support upcoming PS3 titles fairly soon. One significant downfall- you’re forced to sit there and wait while the often lengthy downloads run; the PS3 doesn’t offer the ability to do anything else when downloading, like the 360. This could be annoying at times.
Further, we would’ve liked to see a little more content, but all in all, things are certainly off on the right foot.
11/25/2006 Ben Dutka