I leave all my consoles at home so whenever I go back to Los Angeles for Christmas break, there’s typically the “big game” of the year that I can’t wait to play. For 2007, it was Halo 3 and Mass Effect. 2006: Gears of War. And so on. For 2008, I was expecting it to be Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Gears of War 2. However, lately I have become so weary of investing time into single player campaigns (and gaming in general) that I ended up playing none of these. Instead, Geometry Wars 2 and Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix were my games of choice this holiday when I did sit in front of the TV, both supremely excellent titles on Xbox Live Arcade.
But I’m here to talk about my first experiences with the PS3. When the Metal Gear Solid 4 bundles were first announced almost a year ago, I was excited about the PS3 finally having an appealing bundle/deal. However, I wound up talking myself out of buying the system. It wasn’t until Amazon restocked the limited edition Gunmetal MGS4 system for $200 off the original price that I was convinced and bought the PS3 in November.
I have to be honest — while it’s a common joke that people buy PS3s for Blu-Ray, that indeed is the main reason I got a PS3. The Dark Knight and Iron Man look incredible, and watching those Blu-Rays this Christmas was a major motivation for getting a PS3 now when I could have very easily waited until next year for a price drop. I initially thought I would play through MGS4 (my PS3 killer app, or so I assumed) during vacation, but I just couldn’t find the drive to start and finish that long adventure. My brother, who is a casual MGS fan but a huge supporter of MGS3, played through the first hour and a half of MGS4 and gave up from boredom.
I had several other PS3 games that I had picked up from Black Friday sales (Resistance, Heavenly Sword, Burnout Paradise), not to mention the Taiwan High Speed Rail simulator I bought summer 2007, but I wasn’t impressed. It’s probably my fault since I’m just not in the right state of mind to appreciate these games, but there aren’t any PS3 titles currently out which get me excited. Yes, I know I haven’t tried Uncharted, Little Big Planet, or the other PS3 mainstays, but I’m just not interested in playing those at the moment. PS3 fanboys, don’t get mad. I didn’t even buy Gears of War 2 yet.
I knew I would feel this way going in, and I still bought the system. Like I said: Blu-Ray.
However, the PS3 has completely blown me away with its video playback compatibility. Not just Blu-Ray, I’m talking about its ability to superbly play a surprising array of video codecs and formats. I’ve transferred many GBs of videos onto the PS3 hard drive and used it during my break to watch shows and video clips. I don’t know what kind of upscaling wizardry they’ve encoded into the PS3 or whether it’s the Sony Bravia HDTV, but I’ve never seen my videos look that crisp, clean, and dynamic. I read about installing some software so that I can stream videos off my computer and not have to transfer via USB, but I didn’t get around to trying that out. I definitely plan on using the PS3 as my primary video player in the future because the video quality looks incredible. I was browsing around online for 720p and 1080p videos to download just so I can gaze in wonder at the screen. Korean music performances, New Year fireworks displays, Vimeo home videos, you name it, I will watch ANYTHING when it looks this good!
My feelings after three weeks with the system: not excited about the games, but a few aspects of the PS3 impressed me. Video playback, especially, but also things like the ability to upgrade hard drives, the slick XMB (PS3 user interface), and the general presentation and technical prowess of the system. This was hardly a comprehensive test of the system obviously. Future PS3 games I am looking forward to: Yakuza 3 and Final Fantasy XIII, which I’ll probably get for PS3 since I’m assuming it’ll run better here than on 360.