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Review: PS3 Online a Work in Progress

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It's easy to praise the PlayStation 3 for its crisp graphics and multimedia capabilities: pretty much every PS3 video game features some of the best-looking visuals around. But there's one area where Sony Corp. definitely has some catching up to do _ online gaming. The PlayStation Network is painfully behind Nintendo Co.'s Virtual Console for the Wii and Xbox Live for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360. Both of those services already have strong online communities for gamers and a diverse, steady flow of new content that Sony hasn't been able to match yet. That's not to say the situation can't be remedied. The fact that it's online means the service can be updated and tweaked over time, and Sony has done a good job of continually updating the PlayStation Network with new features and fixes. But a few months since it was launched, there still isn't much to see or play. As a result, my online PS3 gaming has been mostly limited to interconnected battles in fast-paced first-person shooters like "Resistance: Fall of Man." It's the kind of title that's well-suited to playing with others, who you can even shout at if you're wearing a headset with a microphone. It's also the sort of gaming I've been doing on my PC and on Xbox Live for years now. There are just a handful of exclusive games (for mostly $5 to $10 each), some free demos you can download from Sony's PlayStation Store, and a paltry selection of movie and game trailers. So far, music isn't available, though Sony executives have said it would be possible. Getting the content piped onto my PS3 through my home wireless Internet connection was a problem unto itself. (For those without Wi-Fi, the PS3 includes a built-in plug for a wired connection.) Once the download process starts, you can't back out and continue surfing around _ you're stuck waiting until the entire file arrives. And if you happen to lose your connection at any point during the download, you'll have to start all over again. Considering some of these games are hundreds of megabytes in size, we're talking about a lot of time spent waiting instead of gaming. It's not all bad. The games I've sampled so far were quite good and continue the PS3's reputation as a visual knockout. (There's a definite emphasis on racing games, for some unknown reason.) A demo version of the upcoming off-road racer "MotorStorm" really showcased just how powerful the PS3 really is, with realistic physics as I bounced over boulders and, more often than not, hurled my motorcycle over the side of a dusty desert mesa. "GripShift" was another racer-style game where I sped around courses in desert and jungle settings that more closely resembled roller coasters than race tracks. Perhaps the best-looking game I've seen on the PS3 is a free game called "Gran Turismo HD" released exclusively online in December. There's only one track, but the mountainside background and the photorealistic race cars are truly stunning in high-def. As a bonus, you can post your racing times online and see how your lead foot compares with others. After so much driving, I was ready to try out something different. I chose a demo of "Blast Factor," an arcade-style shooter where I piloted a tiny ship and blasted viruses from cells shaped like hexagons. It took me only a few minutes to zip through the demo's three levels. I went ahead and picked up the full version for $7.99, thinking there might be more to the actual game. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and it quickly became a repetitive, tedious affair lacking any replay value. Sony's service also features some older "classic" games from the original PlayStation such as "Jet Moto" and "Crash Bandicoot." Strangely, you can't actually play them on the PS3 _ instead once you've downloaded one of these games they must be transferred via USB cable to one of Sony's PlayStation Portable systems in order to be enjoyed. And the bigger question remains: Why can't I just play the classic games on the PS3? It's these sorts of annoyances that continually marred my experience with PlayStation Online. I realize it's a new service and probably a massive undertaking, so I'm willing to give Sony a while longer to get it right. I'd even consider paying a monthly fee, if I thought it would help fill the content void. As it stands, this is one free service where you get what you pay for. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030100952.html



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Wow, what a idiot. Not you Xzbeat. Whoever wrote that. He's right on most of that but some of it are just downright attacks on the PS3.

It's the kind of title that's well-suited to playing with others, who you can even shout at if you're wearing a headset with a microphone. It's also the sort of gaming I've been doing on my PC and on Xbox Live for years now.
Really? I cant really think of any games that have built in voice that I've ever played for the PC.
Getting the content piped onto my PS3 through my home wireless Internet connection was a problem unto itself. (For those without Wi-Fi, the PS3 includes a built-in plug for a wired connection.)
Really? I had more trouble with my Wii.
Once the download process starts, you can't back out and continue surfing around _ you're stuck waiting until the entire file arrives.
Nice to see you dont mention anything about the solution to that that IS announced.
And the bigger question remains: Why can't I just play the classic games on the PS3?
Oh yeah, While on this subject. Did you ever hear of the software emulator comming with version 2.0? It's highly expected to be able to play PS1 games off the HDD in the near future. That guy amuses me.



PSN ID: Kwaad


I fly this flag in victory!

He does make a few good points though. And Kwaad...I'm pretty sure there are tons of PC games with voice...plenty of FPSs anyway. There's good and bad things about PS3's online service...I'm sure most people agree the Wii isn't exactly doing the best job with its online service either...both systems will get improved.



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Very good post. I agree with just about every point made, except that I would say that while the VC is vastly superior to the Playstation Store, the fact that some PS3 games have online multiplayer, however inferior to Xbox Live, brings it back on par with the Wii.



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The things that I quoted. Are what I was meaning was stupid. You have to admit that some of those are far fetched. My PS3 hooked up so much easier than the Wii. Same with my brother. (I hooked his PS3/Wii up for him) He runs security on his network. The Wii took almost 30 minutes to get hooked up. The PS3 was done in about 5-10. There's a *few* FPS that have Voice. But 90% of it is done through 3rd party servers. Not the game server. So you actually have to signup through someone else to get the voice. Not like the PS3/360. Griping about the download stuff is just an attack on the PS3. Download it at night. Download it before you go to work. Ya'know. Not hard to do. And here in 1-2 weeks v2.0 is sposed to come, and fix that. And the PS1 games on PS3 is something that is expected to come in the near future. Most everything else he said was true, but was said in a very negative way. Notice the only thing he says good about it is graphics. Dosent compliment the gameplay, creativity, art or anything. Just attacks it. And puts a few 'dummy' compliments saying the graphics are good... (wich everyone knows means nothing) I'm just saying. He praises 360 and Wii more than he does PS3.



PSN ID: Kwaad


I fly this flag in victory!

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Kwaad said:Most everything else he said was true, but was said in a very negative way. Notice the only thing he says good about it is graphics. Dosent compliment the gameplay, creativity, art or anything. Just attacks it. And puts a few 'dummy' compliments saying the graphics are good... (wich everyone knows means nothing)
What creativity? What unique art? What amazing new gameplay? I have yet to see any of those in PS3 games released thus far.



Leo-j said: If a dvd for a pc game holds what? Crysis at 3000p or something, why in the world cant a blu-ray disc do the same?

ssj12 said: Player specific decoders are nothing more than specialized GPUs. Gran Turismo is the trust driving simulator of them all. 

"Why do they call it the xbox 360? Because when you see it, you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away" 

Creative Gameplay - Flow Unique Art - Flow, GripShift Amazing New Gameplay - Motorstorm, Flow. Yup. I'm just saying. He says everything horrible about PS3 online. And fails to mention the perks. except the graphics.



PSN ID: Kwaad


I fly this flag in victory!

I think where he is on really thin ice is comparing the PSN to the Wii's store. Yes, on the Wii I can buy the games I played years ago... but, um, I already played those games and have them in the closet somewhere. And if I didn't, I can get them on Gametap or just via emulation. Well, some of them. For people that never played them...I just don't think they'd cut it. We like these 'retro' games because of the nostalgia. And of course, so far, no online multiplayer on the Wii. The PSN can't compare to XBox Live and XBox Live Arcade, though. At least not yet. Well, except in one area... you can't buy anything like Tekken 5 on XBox Live. Nothing that substantial. And yeah, there's the argument that PSN is free, but really, the cost of XBox Live Gold for a year is pretty cheap. (For the record, I own a 360, Wii and PS3.)



Kwaad said: He runs security on his network. The Wii took almost 30 minutes to get hooked up. The PS3 was done in about 5-10.
Huh? 30min? To do what? We run security on our network, and it only took a few minutes to get everything running... :? And I can't imagine that entering WEP keys would be FASTER on a PS3 than it would on a Wii? The longest part for us was working out whether we should put the sensor above or below the TV... (above won in this case).



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FWIW, I run WPA and filter out foreign MAC addresses and it took me just a few moments to get the Wii online. With the PS3 I used a cable since I actually play games online with it (same with the 360). But since the Wii doesn't have an ethernet port I didn't have any alternative but to go wireless, or spend another $30 on an ethernet adapter.