October 30, 2000
Okay fellow troopers, heres the deal on the PlayStation 2. Weve been
flooded with mails here at GF! asking about details regarding the PS2s memory,
processing power, rumored bugs, and a lot more, but most often people have been wanting to
know the simple, practical bits of info: Does it come with a demo disk? (No.) Does it come
with a memory card? (No.) Will my old multi-tap work? (No.) While the technical details
are interesting and provide fodder for those late-night debates about what system will be
number one by what month and whose momma could whoop who at Tekken, its those more
practical questions that will hang you up.
First, the shortage of PS2s has everybody scrambling to get a hold of one. On
October 26, PS2 launch day in case you forgot, systems fetched between $1500 and $2000 on
Ebay. Holy cow. You could buy a brand new PC and install DSL for that kind of money
(not that a brand new PC would even come close to being as incredible as the PS2). I
witnessed, with my own eyes, grown men who had pre-ordered, but not early enough, drop
$250 on memory cards, controllers, and games, knowing full well they wouldnt own an
actual system for at least two weeks. At least Hastings and Blockbuster already have their
rentals fired up
Because of the shortage, many stores are charging above the MSRP of $299 for the
PS2. Most of the big chains are charging at least $329, and many require you to buy two
games with the system. So if you think youre getting into a fleshed-out game system
for under $400, think again. Also, it helps to save your game, and the 8 MB PS2 memory
card will put a $35-$40 dent in your pocket. Games are reasonably priced at $49.95, which
makes buying the actual titles the most rewarding part of the whole procedure. And if
youre stoked about Unreal Tournament and four-player action, take a deep breath.
Your old multi-tap wont work.
You could pay $15-$20 bucks for a stand (it costs more for the vertical stand),
but why? If theres one thing Sony dropped the ball on this time around, its
the design of the PS2. Cmon, everybody knows this is the ugliest little box to ever
disgrace an entertainment console. First: The PS2 logo what gives? Cheesy gradient;
blocky 70s style lettering? Didnt anybody look at this before approving it? Also,
the pseudo-heatsink ridges on the front of the machine make it look like my dads
Harmon-Kardon amplifier from 1973. And you cant tell me these things are going to
help with overheating thats what the big ass fan on the back of the machine
is for. No, what those anachronistic ridges will do nicely is collect dust a lot of
it. To top it all off, they try to sell you the stands to make it look nicer. Well, why
didnt Sony fix that lopsided design? And why do I need a stand when the PS2 has
feet, both on the bottom and on the end so it will stand vertically? I guess well
never know. At least you can rotate the little PlayStation logo on the front so it looks
right, even when the unit is in the vertical position.
Now, now, dont get me wrong. You cant judge a system by its case,
and the PlayStation has what some might call a "sweet spirit." Its not
much to look at on the outside, but whats inside is oh-so-nice. The PS2 pushes the
graphics envelope just that much further. Yes, the graphics are nicer than the Dreamcast.
But, as Ive noticed in the few days weve been working over our machine, casual
gamers wont notice much difference. The Dreamcast did succeed at taking some thunder
away from Sony in the visuals department. Still, the PS2 has incredible capabilities, and
almost all of the launch titles focus on reminding you just how much power the PS2 has.
Games like Dynasty Warriors 2 feature battle scenes with dozens of active participants.
SSX revels in the PS2s ability to render particles not only do they create
beautiful snowscapes, but they add fireworks around almost every bend.
Unfortunately, the really unique stuff is still in production. Titles like
Gunslinger will show us what new things the PS2 can do, and it will be a major change for
gaming. Were beginning to see some innovation in the second generation DC games, but
the titles out for PS2 right now are pretty much the same types of game you get on the PSX
brawlers, fighters, RPGs, sports titles they just look a whole lot nicer.
Just as we said when the DC was released, dont let the pretty pictures fool you.
While there are many titles in the PS2 launch that are definitely must-plays, they are not
going to change your world.
And if you didnt get in on launch day, dont feel bad. Okay, if you
stood outside Wal-Mart for four hours in the foggy pre-dawn of a cold, Moscow, Idaho
morning and still didnt get a PS2 you can feel bad. A little. Sony is committed to
getting the PS2 out in force. Youll probably be able to get a hold of one by the
Holidays, and hopefully the price will come back down to where it is supposed to be by
then. In the meantime, Blockbuster, Hastings, and many other video rental chains have
units for rent. Check it out, enjoy the glory, and wait for more shipments.