By EthanML 20 Comments
So on Tuesday I finally got myself a Playstation 3 along with MGS4, Infamous and LittleBig Planet - oh, and some fancy looking bundle pack with an HDMI cable, bluetooth remote and Casino Royale on Blu-Ray.
Speaking of which: the console comes with no form of HD cable at all? Really? I was pretty stunned that Sony would ship this thing not only without even component (frankly I expected an included HDMI cable, given theres a port for it) but with a bog standard SCART cable that appears at a glance to be the same one used for the PS2.
Whiney cable rant aside, (and I'm sure that argument's been made roughly 47 trillion times before given how late to the PS3 party I am) let's discuss the really important stuff.
First thing I did was actually explore everything contained in the dashboard ('scuse my 360 lingo, does this thing have its own name?). The console's Media Center functionality is impressive, so far its been simpler and fairly effortless in comparison to the 360's. I do however get significant lag when opening music/video files and even just browsing media on the network. I don't know if that's a problem with the console, the software I'm using, or my network, but hopefully I can get it sorted because the thought of effortlessly playing all my movies/music from my Macbook on our living room LCD with surround sound is pretty mouth-watering.
Next was the internet browser, which also impressed me. Support for standard USB keyboards is a great future. Even better is full support for embedded video players - meaning you can watch the likes of BBC iPlayer or similar online TV services in your living room rather than hunched up in front of a computer. This feature coupled with the media streaming definitely helped win my family over.
I also downloaded Home, explored it for about 5 minutes, then quit...I doubt I'll be investing any time at all in that app, it just seems pretty pointless to me unless you're in the market for a shiny 3D Habbo Hotel.
As for negatives so far, I can't think of many but.....I did notice that (as far as I can tell) you can't play your music while you do other stuff, including playing games while still hearing the SFX from said game. That's a feature the 360's had from its launch so it should really be in here. And maybe it is, I haven't really looked that hard.
...and I think that's about my only problem with it so far. But we haven't gotten to the real meat of this BMT yet. For those unacquainted with genius Subway metaphors, that is:
A nice, feature-packed OS is all well and good, but how much did I enjoy actually playing games on this thing? Well, that varies. So here's a look at each game (based on what I've played so far), and in no particular order.
The only relatively new game on my list is Sucker Punch's critically acclaimed product of the company's resolution to stop making silly games about thieving racoons:
To summarize, it's your average open-world sandbox-ish adventure in a big city consisting of various islands and gangs and cars and hidden packages and.....yeah, sounds pretty familiar doesn't it?
Oh, and lots of moral choices. Though its gotten to the stage where decisions between doing good and evil in an action adventure game is about as fresh as vehicle sections in an FPS.
Bitching about lack of innovation in the industry aside, I think Infamous in a pretty great game. Traversing the city is fun and easy thanks to protagonist Cole's Altair-esque parkour moves, and the superpowers are fun to use and feel appropriately deadly and satisfying to fry bad guys with. And there's plenty of bad guys, in fact the game can be fairly challenging at times, and I found myself dying surprisingly often...unfortunately that also leads me to one of the game's minor but annoying problems.
It can occasionally be pretty buggy. For me it was most often a case of trying to dive into something like an upturned car for cover, instead finding myself magically phasing through said car, and coming out the other side to be greeted by the pleasant tingling sensation of my body being riddled with more bullets than all of G-Unit's members combined. This only happens a small amount of the time of course but it's still extremely annoying when it does.
The games visually striking inky-looking comic book-panel style cut scenes are nice to look at (reminded me a bit of the art in Watchmen at times) even if the story telling in the scenes leaves a bit to be desired - it seems a little rushed and unnatural, and your character says stuff like "all of a sudden I just knew [important plot point here]" when sometimes its unclear how exactly he discovered this all of a sudden. Couldn't he fill us in with a bit more dramatic narrative maybe?
The visuals in the game itself do the job fine but are unremarkable, and characters' faces tend to look unnatural and emotionless. I never saw anything that made me stop and think "Wow, that looks terrible", but I never noticed anything really good looking either.
Who knows, maybe as I play more whatever hidden genius is in this game will reveal itself to me.
Here's the big 'un. Probably the biggest reason behind me buying a PS3, like so many others. As such, I was desperate to love it.
So I was pretty infuriated when about 3 and a half hours into the game, I was just not having fun. It was just frustrating. I kept trying to be stealthy and failing, then the combat felt like crap, then I discovered it was all pointless since you can just run gung-ho straight to the exit of an area and the alarm will end once you're in the next area, which kind of totally removes any incentive or tension from being stealthy. I was desperately holding out for some jaw droppingly awesome cut-scene to win me over, but all I got was abusively long sequences of dialogue and pointless child characters frying eggs irrelevantly. It made me want to go back and play The Twin Snakes, at least it had awesome over the top Matrix action sequences.
After the first act, everything seemed to get more fun. And I'm not even sure why. Maybe I got more used to the mechanics and just got better at the game, or maybe the jungle environment of the second act is just much better suited for being stealthy than the opening Middle East area is. But I'm getting enjoyment out of the game now anyway.
The visuals are stunning as you'd expect. But as for the controls, particuarly in combat, I still think they feel clunky and don't always do waht you need them to, despite what reviewers have been saying about it handling like a proper action game now. Ultimately, Splinter Cell does stealth a lot better (and has done since its very first iteration waaaaay back) and any number of games do combat a lot better. But despite this it's still an extremely unique and undoubtedly great experience, even if its not always apparent why.
This is a game I really need to play more of to give a proper review, and I'm greatly looking forward to what it's got in store.
----------------------------------------------- And that's my overall experience of the PS3 so far. In a way longer form than I intended.
So what to buy next?