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Armored Core 2
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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

The PS2 Deal

October 30, 2000

Okay fellow troopers, here’s the deal on the PlayStation 2. We’ve been flooded with mails here at GF! asking about details regarding the PS2’s 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, it’s 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 wouldn’t 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 you’re 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 you’re stoked about Unreal Tournament and four-player action, take a deep breath. Your old multi-tap  won’t work.

You could pay $15-$20 bucks for a stand (it costs more for the vertical stand), but why? If there’s one thing Sony dropped the ball on this time around, it’s the design of the PS2. C’mon, 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? Didn’t anybody look at this before approving it? Also, the pseudo-heatsink ridges on the front of the machine make it look like my dad’s Harmon-Kardon amplifier from 1973. And you can’t tell me these things are going to help with overheating – that’s 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 didn’t 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 we’ll 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, don’t get me wrong. You can’t judge a system by its case, and the PlayStation has what some might call a "sweet spirit." It’s not much to look at on the outside, but what’s 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 I’ve noticed in the few days we’ve been working over our machine, casual gamers won’t 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 PS2’s 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. We’re 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, don’t 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 didn’t get in on launch day, don’t 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 didn’t get a PS2 you can feel bad. A little. Sony is committed to getting the PS2 out in force. You’ll 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.

Shawn Rider

 
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