playstation steve

Here’s one post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time.  Because of the firmware updates that just came out yesterday, it kinda poked me to get around to it.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I got a Playstation 3 not too long ago.  That in itself isn’t really interesting news, but it is when you consider I haven’t had a game console in 25 years.  I grew up on the Atari, and man, *those* games were tough.  After that, our parents never let us have one again, though, so I never really grew up with the joys of crippled thumbs.

I do have a lot of computer games, though, I’ve always been really into those.  Monkey Island FTW.  The thing I don’t like about it so much is having to dual-boot between Linux and Windows in recent years.  For one, it makes my desktop a lopsided powerhouse that I never use.  I have a really nice nvidia graphics card in there that can handle any game thrown at it, lots of RAM and a good processor, and 95% of the time I just surf the web and do programming.  It would be kind of cool to have a dedicated Windows box that I could fire up just for games, but I already have too much computer clutter sitting around that I don’t wanna do that.

So, I’d been thinking for some time about getting a console.  The idea of having a dedicated machine specifically for games seemed like fun.  I wouldn’t have to worry about rebooting, waiting for Windows, patching Windows, finding Windows drivers, fixing Windows, and using Windows.  The best part about gaming on a desktop, though, is that you can usually save your game at any point.  I still wish consoles would allow that.

When I got my HDTV not too long ago, I really, really, really wanted to try out Blu-Ray to see what 1080p was like, and if it was worth it or not.  Sony had some nice Blu-Ray players on the market, but they were freaking expensive.  The one I wanted was $400, and I *almost* had grudgingly convinced myself to get it, when I read one review that mentioned how it takes a long time to start up, and how it had moving parts.  Well, moving parts, in my mind, means noise.  I’m extremely sensitive to noise so any whirring coming from my entertainment center makes me want to chuck an AOL CD at someone’s head.

The thing that was interesting was that at the same price point, I could get a PS3 that already had a Blu-Ray player.  Not only that, it already had a network card on it (both wired and wireless I quickly found out) so that it could do the BD updates.  It’d be future-proof!  So, I got one, not at all with the intention of playing games, but instead just to watch movies.

I was really impressed as I started to unbox the thing and learned more about it.  One thing I have always hated about game consoles in general is that they use custom, proprietary input connections that only their hardware will work with, forcing vendor lock in.  If your cat chews on your power cord or if your little brother flushes your controller down the toilet, you have to buy a new one from them.  Annoying.  The PS3 was totally different, though.  The power jack was the standard one that computer power supplies use, so I can swap out that cord at any time.  It has a normal HDMI output port on the back, so I could use my existing one right away.  The SPDIF port was standard as well, and if all that wasn’t enough, the controllers connect using USB!  I was pretty blown away.  In fact, the only thing that was non-standard was a cord connecting to RCA and Component video output.  I didn’t care about those, since I’m using HDMI, but man, that is awesome.

I remember I went out and rented two Blu-Ray movies that night.  One was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (best Harry Potter movie, evah) and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I’ve already written about my Blu-Ray experiences in the past, and so far, while it’s impressive, it’s not nearly as mind-blowingly amazing as I was hoping.  So, I still haven’t switched.  On a sidenote, though, I’m really tempted to get Sleeping Beauty.  It’s supposed to be finally presented in its OAR (original aspect ratio).  Plus, it’s about the coolest animated movie there is.  How often do you get to see an awesome dragon fight like that one has?  It’s classic.

So, Blu-Ray discs was pretty much out of the picture.  Oh well.  I started playing around with the PlayStation Store a bit, and that also blew me away.  How cool is it that you can sit on your couch and just buy video games directly from your console, download demos, themes, wallpapers and movie trailers.  Okay, so maybe themes and wallpapers isn’t an exciting point, but the demos is my favorite part.  I’ve gotten burned by a few game purchases in the past, that had I had a few minutes of checking it out, I never would have gotten it.  Strangely enough, that’s actually really rare.  I seem to either have a lot of luck in buying games that I like or something.

PS3 games are so expensive, so I decided that I was only going to buy the ones that I would get *really* excited about and want to play repeatedly.  Which, again, kind of goes for almost all my games … Hmm.  The first one I grabbed (and I don’t remember how .. I think I had a GameFly membership or something) was Dark Kingdom.  Then I got Burnout Paradise, and then Bladestorm.  Bladestorm was the freaking bomb.  I remember playing it non-stop for an entire week, staying up til like 4 a.m. each night.  That was the game that pretty much sold me on my purchase for good.

I’ve gotten a few more games since then, and they’ve all been great.  Overlord is freaking awesome.  Civilization: Revolution is one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played.  And last weekend I picked up Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Lego Batman.

Somewhere along the line, I also bought myself a PSP-2000.  That is also a lot of fun.  They had a firmware update come out just yesterday which I installed last night, which finally lets you access the PSN store directly.  It’s really cool, too, it was a bit of a pain having to connect it to my computer or my PS3 to get data.  I wish it had better multimedia playback support, though.

I haven’t found a lot, or any, good games for my PSP yet, though I really haven’t gone looking.  Right now I just have Mortal Kombat and Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (I have this passive goal to get every Star Wars game, ever).  Looking online, it seems like there are a lot I’d be interested in, but I never get around to checking them out.  It’s still a great little console, though.

Overall, there’s just a lot of things that make up what I like about the system — games in 1080p, wireless controllers, UPnP support, large storage device, multi-user support, etc.  Probably the best of them is that this thing has a network connection and can receive firmware updates.  In fact, I think I’ve installed three since I bought the thing, and it gets a little bit better each time.  In my mind, this is how a gaming console should have been years ago.  There’s a lot of potential for this thing too, it effectively fill a lot of multimedia and on-demand roles.  I’m curious to see where things go.

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