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Sony and the PS3: Are They Really Going Beyond?
posted by: RJ Brooks
date posted: 02:40 PM Fri May 26th, 2006
last revision: 02:41 PM Fri May 26th, 2006

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Click to read.Nintendo has the buzz, Microsoft has the content and a one year lead advantage, and Sony has the largest install base of the three companies in the past two home console wars. Their overwhelming presence has been Sony\'s biggest strength, as well as their stressed ideology in the PS3\'s design, specs, and marketing. Ironically, the PS3 is also proving that size is not everything when it is up against innovation (Nintendo and Microsoft). What has been presented begs the question: While the PS3\'s tag-line reads \"Go Beyond\" is Sony really taking their own advice?

The best example of this is their redesigned PS3 controller. Last year, it was a boomerang - literally. Then Nintendo unveiled their controller at the Tokyo Game Show last fall. At the same conference, Sony immediately took their controller off the showroom floor and said they were still designing it. They finally revealed it at this year\'s E3 to be the same Playstation controller design that they have used for their last two consoles, with two notable additions and one deletion.

The first addition is a new button that is not only placed in a similar position as the Xbox360 Guide button, but will also implement the same functionality, allowing for users to control the power (on/off) of the system through the button.

Their \"originality\" continues with the second new addition - the motion sensor. Similar to, but not exactly like, Nintendo\'s revolutionary Wii controller, users will be able to twist and turn it, ultimately enabling that movement to be reflected in-game. Therefore, instead of pressing left on a directional pad to turn a car, you turn the controller left instead. The insinuation is that this ability will put it on the same level as Wii\'s controller, however, it does not. This functionality has been done before (ie- GBA\'s Kirby\'s Topsy Turvy), and does not allow for true 3D movement like the Wii controller.

The addition of these two new features has also been accompanied with the deletion of the Dual Shock feature. Whether a result of their pending lawsuit or because of the new functionality, the PS3 controller will not include the rumble feature.

Now the console itself. The system has grown in size since last year, mostly due to recently added ventilation shafts, making an already large system even larger.

The Playstation 3 will ship in 2 versions, an obvious reflection of the Microsoft Xbox360 campaign. One for $500 and one for $600. However, the version similarities between Microsoft and Sony\'s systems stop there. While Microsoft enabled people who purchased the cheaper version of Xbox360 for $300 to fully upgrade all of the features to match the $400 version, the PS3\'s $500 version eliminates so many features that it is impossible to fully upgrade the cheaper system.

The $600 version will feature a 60GB drive, WiFi, a memory card reader, and HDMI output support. The $500 version will feature a 20GB drive, but no Wifi, no memory card reader, and no HDMI output support. Sony has stated that owners of the cheaper system will be able to upgrade the hard drive, and add memory card readers, and WiFi adapters-- but the HDMi support will not be upgradable. What this means is that anyone who purchases this version of the system will not be able to use Sony\'s much touted Blu-Ray disc drive playing Blu Ray disc movies in 1080p High Definition - ultimately restricting it to being just a gaming system if the Blu Ray disc becomes a successful movie format.

Then there are the games. Cross platform games, specifically Madden \'07 and Sonic The Hedgehog, currently look better on the Xbox360. In Madden\'s defense, an EA Sports rep stated that the game is only 40% complete for the PS3 and 70% for Xbox360. As for Sonic, I did not get a confirmation of its two versions\' completion.

Games like Warhawk, Gran Turismo HD and Resistance: Fall of Man look good, but I cannot honestly say they look like games that are graphically impossible on the Xbox360. Warhawk\'s biggest innovation is its use of the motion sensors in the controller. However, while the game plays well, at this stage, it is very reminiscent of Xbox\'s Crimson Skies, which is not a bad thing, but just not enough to justify a $600 purchase.

Also worth noting is Tekken 6\'s new look. The new trailer for Tekken 6, because it is not playable yet, looks nothing like the trailer that was shown for PS3 last year at E3. While last year\'s screamed what Sony has been touting about the power of PS3, the new one, again, left a question mark about how powerful the PS3 really is. It looked like something the PS2 could do.

The best looking game for the system is still Metal Gear Solid 4. However it still isn\'t playable. Little is known about MGS4 in terms of gameplay, and it is becoming clear that this game is the main, if not the only, game Sony can rely on to truly show off what the system can do. Let\'s face it, though, Sony\'s promotion of MGS4 is getting old because Sony have been doing so since last year, and by now, consumers expect more reasons to want the system that are on the same level of quality. They have had an extra year of development before releasing the system than Xbox360, and with the system\'s graphical power and capabilities, should the games not be reflecting this rather than looking like its competitors or current system (PS2)?

Aside from MGS4 being released on the consoles only for PS3, Sony has exclusivity for both Virtua Fighter 5 and Tekken 6. They recently announced that Final Fantasy XIII will be an exclusive too. All great franchises, but they are also all sequels, which raises the concern of top-quality original content. Most of their must have titles are sequels, with the exception of the recently announced Resistance: Fall of Man. What has also been surprising is the absence of last year\'s E3 show stealer Killzone, as well as Devil May Cry 4 in recent PS3 updates/announcements. While they too are sequels, these were the main games that had people praising Sony last year.

The point is if Sony is asking consumers to pay the same price for their system that it would cost to purchase both of their competitor\'s combined, then they need to present reasoning more justifiable than sequels and \"me-too\" designs. What they have presented so far looks rushed and incomplete. The fact that every game that was presented at this year\'s E3 was either less than half complete or their release date was set for 2007 or TBA suggest the system really needs another year in development before it is truly prepared to enter the gaming arena.

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