Two days with a PS3 and this is what I'm thinking.
Price: OK, I jumped at the $500 sale price because I didn't want to get stuck at $600 this October once the cheaper editions are sold out. And I don't care too much about an extra 20gig and the inclusion of MotorStorm; and I guess I want the Emotion Engine. I also had a minorly beefy Circuit City gift card, so there you go.
I cannot recall fretting so much about an expense. I must have changed my mind back and forth a dozen times while walking to the checkout. It's a shitty price, and Sony has been complete wads about it since day one. So I kinda hate giving them my money... but the PS2 was home to so much of my favorite stuff that I do feel that pesky customer loyalty. And after this past E3, I felt like they finally had some games coming that I needed to get.
Console: Holy hell, is this thing every negative descriptor you ever heard back at launch. Gigantic, too-glossy, shaped like something wildly stupid. It's aggressive and alien. It's not going to fit nicely anywhere inside your entertainment center and Sony knows it. I swear I saw it inch its USB charging cable closer to the Wii like a dark tentacle bent on strangling smaller prey.
In fact, inside your cabinet is probably a terrible place for it anyway. The PS3 blows heat out the back like a car engine. I tried two different locations inside our big wooden armoire and both created oven-like conditions. The sweaty, snarling PS3 kicked itself into high-gear fan mode (there are at least two, maybe three, fan strengths) even when it wasn't doing anything other than downloading the Super Rub-A-Dub demo. Because it was so damned hot in there.
So here's where it ended up:
"Up" is right.
Controller: Sticking to the Dual Shock design was brilliant, if a little too easy. However, I would not be surprised if Sony did something different for the second-generation SIXAXIS controller that returns rumble to the mix... because the familiarity of the Dual Shock case is completely at odds with the dense black-and-chrome of the PS3's carapace.
The new L2 and R2 triggers are mushy and awful. Expect no game to ever use them, just as nobody ever used the shoulder triggers on the GameCube controllers. The MotorStorm demo uses R2 for gas and L2 for brake and it just feels weird, like your finger could slip off at any second.
The new cental system button - referred to by all official Sony manuals as the "PS" button - reminds me of that cheesy plastic that is used to make sticker earrings. It's like the Home button on the Wii Remote... shows battery charge, lets you quit a game and bail back to the system, and lets you power off.
The neatest bit about the SIXAXIS is the black plastic that seems opaque but is actually translucent if you hold it up to light. More evidence that the controller is not a design match with the system itself.
XrossMediaBar: The XMB would probably be a great idea if Sony could stick with it. But as you set up your WiFi, your PlayStation Network account, and download at the Store, you'll be met with varying degrees of UI compliance... and in many cases, none at all.
Like Windows, this UI is more concerned with showing you every possible option, even those that you will never, ever use. Do I really need to watch "Printer Settings" scroll past? Who in the hell is going to print from their PS3? Compare this to the jelly-like Wii menu system (or a Mac) where you just get what you need... and if you need more, you have to simply click in one level deeper.
Aside from a pleasant orchestral hit when it first turns on, the PS3 XMB menu has no background music. The only clue that your audio setup is working is the quiet click of option navigation. When you select a game demo, you get music - and a fullscreen background - from that game, which is quite nice.
The Hookup: Segue from audio mention. I was getting some terrible line hum on the PS3, made all the more noticeable since the damn thing doesn't have much sound when you're just scrolling through the XMB. I tried to simplify my entertainment center since the move, which means I busted everything down to an RCA router... which is as low-quality as you can get. That old router (it still has an N64 label on it!) seemed to be the source of the PS3's hum, so I switched it to s-video using my PS2's s-video cable (which only sort of fits inside the PS3's multi-out, by the way... it's not snug like it should be).
Our TV is just old enough that it doesn't have enough AV inputs for my modern tastes. When we finish off our basement and turn it into a Total Gaming Zone, I need to get a new, awesome, component input, HD, big-ass, flatscreen TV.
PlayStation Store: After all these months of regular Virtual Console updates, the PS Store seems anemic. Only a bare handful of retro games, but I have to give Sony points for having contemporary game demos available. (Hey Nintendo? Where's our DS Demo Download Channel?) The microtransactions are obnoxious... $6 to download New Goblin? $2.50 for the "Very Hard" Sonic levels? At the least, Sony had the balls to post prices in actual money, instead of fictional buzzword currency.
What I Downloaded: I queued up a bunch of files and then went back to play Okami on my PS2.
Heavenly Sword Demo - Pretty lousy. Looks great, but you mash buttons just like God of War / Devil May Cry / Anything Else. No longer interested in buying this one. The lead looks like a white Tyra Banks.
Super Rub-A-Rub Demo - Simplistic and dull Monkey Ball clone, clearly only around to show off the SIXAXIS's waggle. Why can't I zoom in to see how nice the ducks look?
Nucleus Demo - Ever since Geometry Wars, the world is afire with lame-ass latter day Asteroid clones. Already deleted this one.
MotorStorm Demo - I mean, wow, but, still just a racing game. Looks incredible though. I get easily annoyed with tracks that are more about keeping the damn car on the cliff than actually maneuvering against opponents.
Resistance: Fall of Men Demo - Not that I'm a big FPS-on-console fan, but this was a pretty sweet demo. Seemed hard at first, but I survived by playing like a chicken. As cool as it looked, after about a minute you forget to be dazzled by the clarity and then it's just like every other FPS you've ever played.
MGS4 Gameplay Movie - Fifteen minutes of narrated infiltration, showing off Snake's various attacks. I am super psyched. MGS4 looks just as good for early PS3 as MGS2 looked back on early PS2. An instant pre-order.
Ratchet & Clank Future Movie - I thought #3 was a bad-faith rerun and Deadlocked a non-contender, but the new hardware is enough to get me excited about a new R&C game. Not thrilled about goddamn Captain Qwark showing up AGAIN.
Resident Evil 5 Movie - Awesome. RE5 has this constant crazy lighting effect that demonstrates how realistic graphics don't have to all look like sweaty waxworks. Tell you what though, the Africa setting makes me itchy... one white dude shooting down waves of black people? I hope that's not the entire first half of the game.
LittleBigPlanet Movie - Every time I see this, I can't even imagine how the level creation tools are going to work. I have high hopes for this one.
Home Movie - "Infinitely more exciting than anything on other consoles!" God, how embarrassing. A good idea dressed up in bare bones boredom. Sony has not convinced me that I need to have this, and you'd think this is exactly the kind of thing I would dig.
GTA IV Trailer 2 - Easily the worst graphics of the bunch, but GTA has always sacrificed some pretty in trade for grand scale. Great trailer; it's more about atmosphere than plot, which makes it so much cooler than all the awful film trailers you get nowadays that spell out the entire movie... fuck it; I'm embedding this one.