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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Playstation 3 and Its Many Surprises

I recently bought a Playstation 3 for use as a Blu-Ray player. I never really intended to use the PS3 for games; I have an Xbox 360 with tons of great games. But it seems that my PS3 has more to offer than simply putting on high-definition moving pictures. It has games - and good ones at that! Colour me surprised...

Over the weekend, I spent quite a bit of time with LittleBIGPlanet. It's weird, it's wacky, it's hilarious, and it's quite addictive. I spent most of my time playing the single-player story. My wife did jump in and play a couple of the earlier levels with me. She did a pretty good job for someone who's never held a controller in her life. I was pretty impressed by how well she did.

My copy of LittleBIGPlanet was borrowed from a friend. I was going to return it today but was told to hang onto it a while longer and experience a little more of the game. I'm planning on finishing up the single-player story, downloading some user-generated levels, and building a level or two of my own. I'm not sure if it's possible to pick up trophies playing user-generated content; if so, I have some good design ideas to help me with a few of the trophies out there.

Speaking of trophies, you'll notice that I've now got a PS3 Gamercard (courtesy of PS3Trophies.com sitting in the right-hand column on my site (just below my Xbox 360 gamercard). I'll be keeping track of the trophies that I pick up and proudly displaying that information on this site. At some point, I'll have to redesign The Greedy Gamer to better reflect that I'm now playing both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

I downloaded a few titles from the Playstation Network over the weekend for fun and to help pad my trophy count.

Flower is a cool little game. Your job is to blow some flower petals around a landscape. As you encounter other flowers, their petals get added to your growing collection of floating petals. As you pass by more and more flowers, grass grows and other areas become unlocked for exploration. It's hard to describe and I've only just touched the surface of the game myself. The best part of Flower, in my opinion, is the sense of speed and flight that you get as you use the sixaxis controller to steer yourself across the landscape - especially when sitting less than ten feet away from a 42" screen. Oh! I forgot to mention that the game is only available for download via the PSN and costs a scant $10 ! Now that's a deal!

I also picked up Linger in Shadows for $3. I'm not sure what the heck it is that I'm supposed to be doing in this "game". But I've already picked up a few trophies so I'm happy. The visuals and music are strangely interesting. I'll likely "play" it a little more tonight and see if I can figure things out. For what it's worth, I believe I'm supposed to be looking for visual and sound cues. When I see a flash or hear something out of the ordinary, I believe that pausing the video and looking around is the prescribed course of action. For three bucks, I'm not going to complain about jack!

I also decided to go ahead and download Burnout Paradise and the Legendary Cars pack for my PS3. I really liked Burnout Paradise when I played it for my 360. I think Burnout Paradise best exemplifies the concept of gaming value by providing a huge game world, countless single-player challenges, a ludicrous amount of online multiplayer fun, and disgusting amounts of fresh, downloadable content. I discussed the DLC for Burnout Paradise in this post. Due to dreadfully slow PSN download speeds, I haven't yet played Burnout Paradise on the PS3. But I'm hoping to get the chance tonight!

Speaking of slow download speeds, I have to admit that a few things bug me about the Playstation 3. My problems don't rate quite as high as the Xbox 360's RROD "experience" but they are problems nonetheless:

  1. PS3 Internet Connectivity: I use a Linksys wireless router to connect my PS3 to the Internet. I'm sure many other users out there do the same. My download speeds from the Playstation Network are ridiculously slow. I'm going to try a quick fix this evening by disabling the media server settings in my router. I'm sure that won't work but it's worth a shot. If that fails to correct the issue, I'll need to investigate further. Why bother? Quite frankly, the Playstation Store has a lot of neat stuff available for purchase and download and I don't want to miss out!

  2. Playstation Store: The Playstation Store has lots of great stuff available to buy. It also has one of the worst user interfaces that I've ever seen. The PSN store makes the 360's original marketplace look like the most innovative piece of software ever written. Sony: please fix this nonsense ASAP!

  3. PS3 Home: I hear it cost a lot of money to make Home. And I hear it's awful. I'm not even going to bother trying it out until I start reading glowing reviews about Sony's biggest software blunder ever. For the record, I like the idea of having a trophy case sitting in your PS3 Home apartment. I hate the idea of having to pay for said trophy case.

  4. PSN Store Content Filtering: I'm not a prude. I've seen my fair share of everything the world and the Internet have to offer. But that doesn't mean that I want to see that same type of sh*t clogging up the PSN store. I was browsing for some free themes for my PS3 XMB (i.e. dashboard) and couldn't help but notice the preponderance of sexually-charged themes. I settled on the free Flower theme for my XMB after having passed pages of half-naked women. Maybe Sony could set up a separate section for non-family-friendly themes?

  5. PS3 XrossMediaBar: The Playstation 3's XrossMediaBar (a.k.a. dashboard) is a complete mess. It's hard to navigate, easy to get lost, and a useless waste of my time. Sony - please take a look at the 360's NXE (or even the original dashboard) and make the appropriate upgrades.

  6. PS3 Trophy Support: PS3 Trophies need to become more integrated with my PSN profile. I'd like to be able to see which trophies I've earned at a glance, online or prominently visible on XMB, and be able to display that information to friends and the Internet populace at large. Although I have a PS3 gamercard visible on my site, I'm forced to manually update my gamercard with any new trophies that I've unlocked. I know that the PSN network knows which trophies I've earned for the games I've played so why am I forced to jump through so many hoops here? Sony - please take a look at how Microsoft implemented gamerpoints and gamerscore. With that in mind, make the PS3Trophies system even better! You're Sony, creators of the PSOne and PS2, for crying out loud!
The one thing I won't complain about is the PS3 hardware. Controllers and console are all top-notch and super high-quality! I could see myself really loving my PS3 if Sony could just get off their asses, give up on the whole PS3 Home nonsense, and start focusing on the points I brought up above.

Have a great day everyone! I've got some LittleBIGPlanet and Burnout Paradise to play!

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