PlayStation 3: Kikizo Hands-On Feature
As the world's first consumers pick up a PS3, we share our thoughts on the console we've been playing since pre-launch and include a bit of an obligatory photo shoot as well. And this time, we can even mention games...
Today, we're pleased to bring your our latest thoughts on PLAYSTATION 3, which thanks to Sony, turned up at Kikizo just in the nick of time on November 10 - the eve of the Japanese launch of THE most wanted console today.
As gamers, we've been treated to that moment of excitement almost too frequently in the last couple of years, with the arrival of PSP also particularly memorable. But for all the many, well-documented issues Sony has faced in finally launching PS3, the system has been perhaps the most anticipated new hardware arrival at Kikizo of all.
|It was smiles all around, as the wait for PS3 came to an end|
What our machine doesn't do - no Blu ray or DVD movies, no photo, video or music browsing, no backwards compatibility and limited online functionality. Debugs do, however, let us do cool things like change region settings, which always feels special! But this is a practical unit for getting to the point - testing games - but lacks the pizzazz of what you get in the final shiny box. If you're looking for amazingly 'new' information here, you might not find it, but we've done our best to tell you everything we know so far and drop in one or two unique observations where possible...
Of course, if you think limited debug functionality stopped us ripping the box open to get our first, unrestricted PS3 session going, you'd be mad. We've got plenty of impressions from this, our first 'PS3 at home' experience, but we'll of course follow up with fuller impressions from the final retail versions of the machine, once we have a slightly more complete picture of PS3 and some software is available beyond the launch day line-up. In addition, the games we received with our machine will be getting separate, in-depth updated previews shortly.
Perhaps it was the enormity of the moment unwrapping a PS3, that led to a few moments of panic once it was out of the box and ready to hook up. In the interest of reflecting the retail box experience, Sony only gave us a composite, standard-definition cable. This means that, much like when you buy any PS3 at retail, you'll only be able to hook your PS3 up with grainy, last-generation image quality. Once we verified that this wasn't a mistake, we looked for a solution. No way were we going to boot this up with a composite lead.
Redeemingly, PS3 does let you use the same TV cables you can use on a PS2, via the same multi-out socket on the back of the machine. Since you can get a component cable for PS2 that supports HD signal, we just needed one of these, but didn't have any hanging around... or so we thought.
Unbelievably, a company called Fire International had, completely by coincidence, sent us a box on the very same morning our PS3 turned up that contained a PS2 component lead, which immediately saved us a lot of messing about.
These guys had sent us a review sample for a new product called "Xploder HDTV Player for PS2", which lets you play games and DVDs on PS2 with a much cleaner, higher quality image, and this software comes bundled with just the cable we needed to get PS3 running properly. These guys saved the freakin' day, and for that, we feel obliged to tell you that this accessory for PS2 is OUT NOW and available TO BUY here (US) and here (UK).
|Component is going to be good enough for most PS3 owners|
Later however, we were able to test it with a HDMI to DVI cable. DVI is, in essence, HDMI without the encryption, and with the audio coming though its own cable branches. While HDMI will be required to get those lovelier high resolutions in Blu ray movies, DVI currently gives those same resolutions for games. Currently, VGA is the best available output on the 360. How does DVI compare? Sitting the PS3 version of a game connected through DVI along side the 360 version of the game connected through VGA (and yes, we did actually do this), a slight difference is apparent; while the amount of detail is identical, DVI certainly gave a slightly sharper picture. It was almost like comparing standard-def composite to standard-def component or SCART. Sort of.
After thinking that maybe we'd blown it up when the power button didn't respond, we realised that the unit has a hard power off switch one the back, like the PS2. After flicking that on to light the power LED red, touching the power symbol on the front of machine powers the system up proper, feeling suitably expensive with no actual button to 'push', but a touch-sensitive icon at the top reacting to your unworthy finger.
|Placing the disc in a bit prompts PS3 to swallow the rest|
Curiously, there is no soft reset button like there is on PS2, which means we have not yet found a comfortable way of changing from one game to another. Press eject, and like a PS2 game, the game continues playing. On a PS2, you could insert a new game and then press reset to boot it, but with no soft reset on PS3 we weren't sure what to do other than hard power down, then power back on. On the debug, there's no Xbox 360-style 'Guide' easy access via this controller's central PlayStation button on the controller either, so no option to change game there. Write us if you know what we're missing?
[Update] Sony says that if you hold down the PS button for about four seconds during a game, you get a screen with options to quit and return to the main screen where switching games is easy; along with options to assign which controler is player one, player two and so on, turn off controller, or turn off the system. Incidentally, the controller can also power the system up in the same way too, so like Xbox 360, everything is super-easy.