PlayStation 3: Lost And Found
Those who have owned every PlayStation since the mid-'90s will probably agree that the PlayStation 3 represents the single biggest generational leap in terms of upgrades and changes. Many just accept them as a matter of course, but let's take a step back and see what the PlayStation console has lost...and what it has found. The question is, can every single one of these be considered "upgrades?"
Lost: Memory Cards, Found: Hard Drive
A fixture of the PS1 and PS2, the PS3 entered a new generation with a hard drive for saving games. Now, most will automatically call this a definite upgrade, and the reasons are obvious: you can fit far more data onto a hard drive (well, usually), and the addition of the hard drive allows the concept of "save points" to take a backseat to the new-age "save anywhere" system. However, I don't recall ever having a problem with any memory cards on the PS1 and PS2, except for one EB-branded card that corrupted 30 hours of Front Mission 3 data. Yeah, I wanted to scream. But in sticking with first-party Sony-branded cards, they always worked. And to be honest, having them didn't pose a problem, and I have one last question: if I get a new PS3 at some point in the future, how do I go about transferring the save data? ...I get the feeling it's not quite as easy as just popping in one of those good ol' memory cards.
Lost: Backwards Compatibility, Found: ...
Let's face it- nothing can replace the loss of backwards compatibility. It was one of the biggest selling points of the PS2 and early on, it was a huge factor for me concerning the PS3. My PS2 library is actually larger than my PS1 collection, and this is why I love my original 60GB PS3 that's fully b/c. Of course, I knew this PS3 wouldn't last forever and any new system I get in the future won't support PS2 games, so I bought a nice silver Slim PS2. But see, I didn't have to buy a PS1 with the PS2. Not ever. Still, I suppose having a PS2 hooked up next to the PS3 isn't really a huge inconvenience, and the truth of the matter is, the further we get from previous generations, the less we pay them any attention. Well, for most of us (I still love to play the old-school stuff every now and then).
Lost: A crappy Network, Found: The awesome PSN
Yeah, see what I did there? It's to make up for the previous one. I don't think anyone is going to say going online with the PS2 was the same as going online with the Xbox; Live pretty much defined online console multiplayer last generation. And in all honesty, I never really thought the PSN could catch up - and in some ways, even surpass - Live as quickly as it has. The content continues to flow at a steady rate, the redesigned Store is excellent, the PSN-exclusive titles have become some of my favorite games, the online servers are remarkably reliable (yes, even more so than Live's, based on my personal experience), and oh yeah, it's free. Toss in the unbelievable potential of PlayStation Home, and the growth and expansion of the PSN may actually be the most important generational upgrade.
Lost: Third-party exclusives, Found: First-party superiority
While it's certainly true that Sony lost plenty of big exclusive franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Devil May Cry, we've seen the emergence of first-party title superiority. We don't believe anything on the 360 will be able to stand up to MGS4, the Uncharteds, Killzone 2, Gran Turismo 5, God of War III, and Heavy Rain, and in looking at the PS2 generation, this was only partly true. The third-party exclusives were arguably as good if not better than the first-party exclusives on that system, and that has changed in this era. At first, everyone whined bitterly that certain names had gone multiplatform, but if we remain up-to-date, we've seen a replacement in the form of first-party achievement. After all, these days, third-party exclusivity is going the way of the dodo, anyway.
Lost: Standard definition maximum, Found: High definition
It's almost too obvious to even mention, but as Blu-Ray is such a huge selling factor for the PS3, and given its potential for game development, it has to be in the "Found" category. Both the PS2 and Xbox were DVD players - and neither was all that great - but this time around, while both are capable of high-definition, only the PS3 has Blu-Ray, which is the only high-definition movie format available. There's a reason you hear rumors of Microsoft considering a Blu-Ray drive for the 360 (even though it won't happen), and as the new format continues to rise, it will continue be a large benefit for the PS3. I was never a graphics whore or resolution hound...but I realize now that's because I was stuck with standard definition. I can't go back to that, and I won't. Well...okay, I will, but only when I go to play the classics, which fit the old format.
I'm sure there are more, so come up with your own if you like. :)
2/20/2009 Ben Dutka