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PSWii: A firsthand compare/contrast

June 29, 2007
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I’m digging my PS3 and Virtua Tennis, but most people have no knowledge on the specific details of the monster console aside from “it costs a lot” and “it has no games”. Just to fill you in some, here are my observations.

First, the interface. PS3’s cross media bar is roughly half as simple as Wii’s channel guide, but twice as styilsh. There’s a prominent, wavy, silky-looking type of flowing thing that sets the classiness meter high from the start. With a game disc inserted, you get a little square window of preview footage of your game (like Wii, but with in-game footage on a loop), and when highlighted it does a picture-in-picture effect with contrasting video and images. Basic duties for the hardware i imagine, but spectaular nontheless. The background color changes depending on the time of day, ranging from soft turqoise tones in the morning to dim yellows in the afternoon to black in the evening. This gives off the illusion that the console lives with you, constantly changing. A nice touch that also establish the system as your entertaintment hub.

Vast media options are a big selling point of the PS3 for tech heads. There are 5 USB ports on the front and the disc slot takes most discs you can throw at it, barring HD DVD of course. It almost functions like Wii’s, but it waits till you’ve inserted a disc half of the way in till it sucks it down. Music CDs and movie DVDs play wonderfully on the thing, and the controls are greatly improved over what the PS2 could do. Fast-forwarding, rewinding, pausing, stopping, returning to menu — it’s all instant on PS3. There’s hardly any delay between your button press and the action taking place. The PS2 was always my primary DVD player, but in its twilight, this is a more-than-solid replacement. Not to mention once Blu-Ray takes over, which it probably will if we’re all still using discs for movies in 3-5 years, i’m ready for that as well. The system takes most memory cards you can think of, however i was disappointed that they didn’t include at least one memory card port that handles PS and PS2 data. It’s possible to buy an accessory to tranfer your saves, but Wii wins this one.

The hardware itself is very grandstand-y and elegant, and Sony paid careful attention to make it an evolution of the PS2 and keep things recognizable. You turn it on my brushing your finger against the touch-sensitive front panel by the disc slot, same for ejecting. The controller doesn’t have any drastic alterations, but it wasn’t really broken to begin with. The Sixaxis the is very light due to a lack of rumble motors, but this weight loss actually helps the immersion factor. Rumble is good, but not generally essential. Wii pulls it off better than anyone, although even that isn’t typical rumble seeing as it only rumbles in one hand most of the time. Four controller port indicators are up top next to the mini-USB port, low-key and out of sight during gameplay so as to not distract you in the dark like the bright blue lights of the the Wii remote do.

Bluetooth is much more effective than the Broadcom wirelss tech in Wii remotes, and the system syncs up with new Sixaxis controllers much faster than Wii does. You can sync up 7 at a time, a feature i’m hoping will get used in the future for some massively multiplayer offline gaming. Being able to charge my controllers is a no-brainer in 2007; really makes me wonder why i have to have a 20-pack of Duracells handy when the Wii gets some play. As far as Virtua Tennis goes, the Sixaxis tilt sensors are a joke. Basically restricted to vehicle based gameplay, the tilting doesn’t do much in a tennis game. Sliding the controller up and down, left and right to perform intricate shots is not ideal. Wii wrote on the book on motion-based controllers, and Sony did not read it. Not even in paperback.

The controller is semi-transluscent on the two ends of the face where the buttons are. The buttons themselves are much better built this time including the sticks, and the conversion of the R2 and L2 buttons to triggers was in part lifted from the Xbox, but smart. Each button has a better feel over the PS2 pad overall, and they feel more resilient and comfortable for longer play sessions. The PS button in the center is a glass-like circle similar to the big A button on the Wii remote, but acts like a more functional Home button. Using it to turn the system on/off, quit a game, assign controller ports and turn off your controllers is very useful. Going from disc software to system UI takes seconds.

Similar to Wii, the games aren’t really there yet if you’re looking to have a large library of quality games from the get-go. But if you’re into sports, shooters, racing, RPGs, adventure, fighting, action, and other typical genres, you’ll find at least one game to suit your interests. I’m loving Virtua Tennis 3. Sucks that there’s no online in the PS3 version, but i’ll live with offline multi until the next edition. If that doesn’t fill your cup, the downloadable software is starting to pick up and PS2 games are still nabbing solid reviews from month to month. Like all systems, you’ll have to wait till the end of this year to see a good number of propietary titles come out before the PS3 section has a really decent selection. August will see both PS3 and Wii finally receive a highly anticipated game in the form of Lair and Metroid Prime:Corruption. Good for them. 🙂

Honestly, the price of the console wasn’t nearly as troublesome as the price of games. I can’t bring myself to spend $60 on a game, especially if i’m not getting all i can out of them playing them in high-def with surround sound and all the bells and whistles that make publishers bump up their prices. $50 and below, we can talk. (VT3 was $50.) The hardware, though, can produce some killer visuals. Players in Virtua Tennis look realer than real. The biggest drawback of the system for me is that all that muscle is very demanding on the power supply. You can tell by the heat that comes off the system. Another Wii advantage. Might just solar power all my consoles then.

I can’t speak for the online yet, but i imagine it’s good enough to put Wii’s to shame. Other than that, i don’t know what else i can tell you. I like the system, but it has a ways to go and much to do. Whereas Microsoft seems content on getting as many hardcore type games as it can and searching for a way to get a piece of the casual pie, i think Sony has some really intriguing plans for software, online, and hardware up their japanese sleeves. I like the pairing of the PS3 and Wii, and i think they complement each other well. As far as new-gen gaming, i’m set.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    June 30, 2007 12:34 am

    Now you just have to get yourself a PSP so you can lay in bed and stream your media from your PS3 to it.

    I will likely pick up a PS3 one day. I like games too much not to own all three systems. Little Big Planet may be the tipping point for me, if it plays as good as it looks like it does.

  2. June 30, 2007 1:54 am

    That game is interesting, but it doesn’t really speak to me. I bet they’ll release a PSN demo during E3 week. I’ll let you know how it goes, if i can.

    I’ll get a PSP once the redesign hits, costs $150 or less, and the games get better.

  3. July 1, 2007 1:43 pm

    Great review Rollin… I may not have to write a review myself and instead link everyone to your review ^.-

    I agree, I’ll get a PSP when the price is right and the games are better. I think it’s more of a PDA/MP3 player than a game system at this point. Only time will tell.

  4. July 1, 2007 2:23 pm

    Thanks, please do. We could use some of your traffic.

    To follow-up on the online part of the review: i downloaded a buncha demos off the PS Store and one of them — Full Auto — lets you play it online. It plays really well, but the game’s not my thing. As long as it works for the future, that’s all i need. There was some ghosting, but nothing too serious and it rarely happened.

    Resistance felt weird, but they had a buncha stages you could play. Demo cooled me off from buying it full, though. Blast Factor was decent, but short. I got Gran Turismo Concept HD in full for free, and that is sick. Haven’t played it yet, but free works. Gil was right about the hard drive space going fast with all the downloads. I’m down to like 38 gigs with 10 or so downloads pending.

    Wifi though is great. Always being signed into the network is fun.

  5. July 2, 2007 1:14 pm

    This is probably the only honest comparison of Wii and PS3 side-by-side I’ve found so far! Usually all comparisons are made by people who only own one of the systems or by someone clearly biased towards Nintendo or Sony, so the comparison quickly degenerates into a rant.

    Thanks, Rollin!

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