[Actual time according to a stopwatch—we're that nerdy.]
First impression: This thing looks badass! Just try to put those creepy baby-reverse-crying commercials out of your head. There's very little effort for physically setting it up; You've just got the main system, the Six Axis controller, USB cable for the controller, power cord, Ethernet cable and A/V cables. Since I have a router, there was no need for the Ethernet. They included an HDMI cable for press (a perk they are opting out of for the consumer). So, if you have an HDMI input on your TV, a separate cable will run you some more cash. But what's another $60-$100 when you're already swimming in debt from the $600 price tag?
It took me more time to clear a space on the shelf than to put it all together. I plugged in the HDMI, plugged in the power cord and that was it. Big ups for there not being a power brick, like the Xbox 360 and Wii, which just takes up space. Powering it on is also cool—barely touch the power button and it's on. That's how our not-too-distant-future toilet flushes.
After heating up for around 30 seconds, I plugged the USB into the Six Axis controller to charge it up and navigate the screens. (Note: The cord is short so if you sit across the room from the PS3 it could be a problem, especially if the battery starts dying midway through a game.) There's an idiot proof walk-thru for basic settings. If you've ever used a PSP you're in luck cause it's the same menu. If you haven't—and there's probably a bunch of you who never used one—then it'll take few minutes to get the feel down. Especially if you're dumb. Just scroll across the options and choose what you want.
Before playing, I wanted to check out the online aspect, which led me to the most time consuming and frustrating part of the whole set-up. There's an obligatory software update and the bar was crawling...1%........2%........3%........ By the time it reached 20% I was sweating. I wanted to play already, but once you start a Sony update you're in it for the long haul.
[IMPORTANT NOTE: During the update, do not turn the power off! This has the same updating system as the PSP, where an interrupted update will ruin your system. Seriously. Just let it go, don't touch anything and pray you don't have a power-surge or you're fucked. It's crazy that they didn't find a way to make this less life-or-death for guys who just want to play a game.]
The machine booted up and the software update took around five minutes to complete, restart and get me back to setting up an account.
Why is this only allowing me to register in Japan? Such an idiot! The PS3 was released earlier in Japan and online won't be available in the U.S. till the November 17 release date. (Check back for an update of the online play when we try it out!) I did get to go online, which would be cool if I didn't have a computer. By this point the controller was charged so I unplugged the cable and finally played a damn game.
Hardware and set-up verdict: With the exception of the software update, it was much easier than I expected. If I had raced, it would have been hooked up within 10 minutes. It ran very smooth and silent and the Six Axis controller is next to godliness.
Resistance: Fall of Man. This is by far the best game on the system. The moment it booted up, I couldn't put it down for the next hour and a half. It looks incredible and there wasn't a hiccup in the play, which was unlike anything the PS2 ever offered. Is my erection showing? Cause it should be.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance. The opening cut-scene really got me excited. It was a CGI wet dream. Like Toy Story 2. Playing it was a different story. It's a great game, but the graphics and game play were nowhere near as revolutionary as expected.
Tony Hawk's Project 8. Same thing as Ultimate Alliance. Amazing opening sequence before becoming another Tony Hawk game with much better graphics. Had a tough time telling the difference between this version and the Xbox 360.
Call of Duty 3. If you've ever played this on a PC or 360, then you'll be equally impressed. (Hate to keep drawing comparisons but it's the truth.)
Gaming Verdict: The games loaded quick and were fun, but without Resistance the PS3 would be completely screwed. The other games we played seem way too familiar at this point.
Some may think that Sony used the PS3 as an excuse to jam a Blu-ray player down everyone's throat. And, they did. From a realistic standpoint, there's no way anyone should be expected to re-purchase their DVD collections just because of a new format. (We're looking at you, UMD.) But, surprisingly enough, at this point the HD-DVD drive was more impressive than the gaming. The same way the PS2 was most people's first DVD player, this is definitely a gamer's first Blu-ray player. Sony is just praying it's not the last.
Mission Impossible: Ultimate Missions Collection. It booted up quick, and the picture and menu navigation were pretty goddamn insane. We checked out select parts of each Mission Impossible movie before watching MI3 straight through and were sold immediately on the quality.
Black Hawk Down. By far one of the best war movies since Saving Private Ryan, this looked so real it was as if we could punch Josh Hartnett in the face. We managed to restrain ourselves.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This was packaged in the box with our PS3. Not sure if it's in all the boxes, but it's pretty awesome.
Blu-ray Verdict: Until the games catch up, this is the part that surprised us the most because the movies looked and sounded ideal. Since Netflix is renting these out, it might just be worth it. As far as remotes go (there isn't one included) it's not necessary. The wireless Six Axis controllers are actually more convenient than a typical remote.
Stuff we didn't try out yet
- The online play. We had to write this before the online network was live, but we'll keep you posted.
- Being able to play old PS2 games on the PS3, or as nerds say, backwards compatibility. But, from what we've heard, it's not as seamless as it was from the PlayStation to the PS2.
- Amazing design. I'm not much for giving a crap about style and junk, but this thing looks good. So good that we'd date it if we weren't nailing that slutty Nintendo 64. (She's so dirty.)
- No power brick. Just a cord that goes right into an outlet. Seems minor, but it's a lot better than the Xbox 360 power brick, which still takes up way too much space.
- The futuristic buttons on the system were awesome, and the fact that the system runs so quietly was a relief. (Our PS2 sounded like a Thai hooker caught in a turbine.)
- HDMI connection. Just one wire to the TV and you're set.
- Best…controller…ever made even better. The Six Axis also allows you to turn the system on and off without getting off your ass. Pretty hype, yo!
- It's a great deal on a Blu-ray player. If you bought one of these solo it would run you $1,000. However, Sony didn't really ask if we wanted one or not. (See below for some complaining about that.)
- Fast-as-hell game play.
- The price is insane. $600 is a ton for something that doesn't cook meals and do laundry. But, let's put this into perspective: When I bought the PS2, I was forced to buy three games, a memory card and a knock-off controller. The whole thing ran me over $500. New electronics are always expensive when released for the first time. (Remember $20,000 plasmas?) All that said, $600 is a fuckload of money for anything short of a new liver.
- Without an HDTV it's worthless. Seriously, if we see you on a message board complaining that it doesn't play well on your crappy 19-inch Magnavox from '94, you're an idiot. Save your money and buy the TV before considering buying the PS3. Or just stick with the PS2 for another year until you upgrade your equipment or the price goes down.
- Systems always launch with games that barely satisfy and this is no different. (When I bought the PS2 I was forced to buy Real Pool.) But, Resistance is a great start, so there's hope.
- No HDMI cable included and a good one is pretty expensive.
- Feeling Blu, Ray? The reason this thing is so expensive and in such short supply is because of the Blu-ray player. If Sony would have released it as a gaming machine, and added a Blu-ray addition for $200 when they're available rather than forcing it on us, it would have been a great solution. We'd rather sit the war between Blu-ray and HD-DVDs out till there's a winner because we don't wanna be stuck with the HD Betamax.
- Sony's pretty arrogant and the hype will hurt the PS3. This is a great system, but at this point it's not nearly as revolutionary as Sony claimed when it was first announced. Then again, if Sony had hyped the first moon landing most people would have been all, "Meh?"
- You can't find one even if you wanted to. Sony made the same assy mistake with the PS2. But once it was readily available no one cared anymore. Yes, it sucks that Sony completely dropped the ball on the launch, but you can pick up a Wii and save up for the PS3 when you can find it. By then they'll also be some games worth playing.
Despite our complaints about price and the need for better games, the PS3 is amazing. From the moment it showed up it has controlled our lives on all counts: the look, the speed and the possibilities. It just needs more time to become the future of gaming rather than the not-too-distant future of gaming.
Want more gaming info? Check out what Stuffmagazine.com had to say about the Wii!