Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some PS3 impressions for you

Didn't get to go to Diplocon until Sunday, and by then it was all over but the shouting. Still, hope everyone there had a nice time.

Anyway, let's move on with our thoughts on the PlayStation 3, or PLAYSTATION 3, as it apparantly insists on calling itself. As I mentioned in the post below, I went to a special Sony-sponsored media event in New York City last Thursday. Six-eight hours on the train to spend three hours playing games may seem a bit silly to some I imagine, but

Keep in mind these are initial impressions based on a very limited amount of play time. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

So then:

The console
As I'm sure you've read elsewhere, the PlayStation 3 sports an interface similar to that of the PSP, with a horizontal menu allowing you to move from games to video to music to digital photos without any real hassle. As with the Xbox 360, you can copy your CDs to the PS3's hard drive, though I don't know if you can change the soundtrack in any of the launch games.

Since Sony hopes to conquer at least a sizable portion of the online gaming world, it's no surprise a Web browser is included. It struck me as perfectly functionable, though rather bare bones, with the ability to have up to four different Web pages up at once.

The new motion sensitive controller, dubbed by Sony as the "Sixaxis," has generated some controversy. (hmmmm, what other console is coming out with a motion-sensitive controller?) The controller seemed pretty intuitive to me however, very similar to past Sony controllers, though much lighter and more comfortable. The only real notable difference is that the L2 and R2 buttons are actual god-honest triggers now, and not just buttons to press. That was a little wierd at first.

The good
"Resistance: Fall of Man" -- This aliens meets World War II FPS is slated to be the must-have PS3 game this season, and with good reason. It looks fabulous and controls really well for a console shooter. The only difficulty I had was that it's too difficult; I kept dying within five minutes of playing. Let's hope there's an easy mode.
"Lair" -- Designed to make full use out of the console's Sixaxis controller, this game has you flying a giant dragon and breathing fire on monsters and opposing armies. You control the dragon simply by tilting the controller. It takes some getting used to -- I kept reaching for the thumbstick and oversteering by tilting the controller too far in one direction -- but there's definite promise here, so long as the levels are varied enough to make the game seem like more than a gimmick and they include an in-game map.
"MotorStorm" -- Think "Flat Out," but much more fun. This is a racer where you pilot a variety of off-road vehicles across rocky terrain. The vehicles handle pretty well, and the levels, at least the one I played, seem well thought-out and entertaining. I'm looking forward to playing this one more fully next year.
"Tony Hawk's Project 8" -- Believe it or not, this seemed like one of the best games for the PS3 out of the handful I played. I love the way Activision integrated the Sixaxis into the gameplay, where tilting the controller can do everything from help keep your balance during a handstand to finessing your tricks. Very smart. Plus, it looks fantastic.
"Marvel Ultimate Alliance" -- I spent a good deal of time talking to one of the producers of this game (thanks Chris). Apart from some limited Sixaxis integration (shake the controller to escape Galactus' clutches!) and enhanced graphics, I doubt there's anything here you wouldn't see on any of the other versions. Still, this is a really fun game and I imagine it would remain so on the PS3.

The bad
"Sonic the Hedgehog" -- Man, why can't Sonic Team get their act together? Just about every problem I've had with recent Sonic games -- sloppy camera, awkward controls, too easy to plummit off the side of a cliff -- are here in spades. I'm crossing my fingers that this was an early version and that most of the problems will be rectified when the game comes out.
"Mobile Suite Gundam Crossfire" -- No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't figure out how the heck this game was supposed to work. Worse yet, neither could the PR rep. I did finally get something resembling a big robot game up, only to quickly perish. Looked a lot like "Chromehounds," but less colorful.

The meh
"Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom" -- Pleasant enough dungeon-crawling fare. A lot like past "Legends" games. Nothing here that screams "Spend upwards of $500."
"Genji: Days of the Blade" -- I liked the first Genji game and I liked what I saw here, though there doesn't seem to be any real difference between the two games. Those cut scenes look pretty sharp though.
"Call of Duty 3" -- Again, perfectly respectable WWII FPS title, but I didn't see anything here that would make it stand out from the other incarnations on the Xbox 360 and PC.
"Formula One 06" -- Apparently you can use your PSP as a wing mirror on this F1 racing game. I had my PSP with me and should've tried to connect it, but by this point I was bleary-eyed from my train ride and needed some fresh air. Looks like a fun racer though.

And there you go. I walked out of the building impressed with the PS3's potential and looking forward to titles like Resistance, Project 8 and MotorStorm. At the same time, there wasn't anything there that made me feel the need to wait outside my Best Buy in the freezing cold on Nov. 17. While some of the games look very, very nice, it's still nothing you haven't seen before. In other words, you're not missing out if you wait a bit longer.


At 12:07 AM, Blogger MegoSteve said...

Thanks for the notes on the PS3, Chris.

I'm not super-excited to get one, but I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually. I'm just not sure about the gimmicky sixaxis controller. It just seems to me that it was an afterthought Sony tacked on after the Wii got a lot of buzz for innovation on its controller.

Xbox Live had a downloadable demo of Tony Hawk's Project 8 and it reminded me so much of how I discovered the Tony Hawk series. It was at a kiosk at Toys R Us, and my friend and I were there, and we had so much fun playing it, especially when someone fell. I feel the same kind of fun in Project 8. I think it'll be the best Tony Hawk game since Tony Hawk 3 or 4.

I think for now I'm sticking with the 360 only until the prices come down a bit on the other two consoles.


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