My Love-Hate Relationship with the Playstation 3

I like to say I’m an equal opportunity gamer. While I’ll always be a Nintendo fanboy at heart, I’m also willing to spend money on different systems, depending on what the best games are. I owned a Super Nintendo and a Genesis. I bought both a Playstation and a Saturn, and right now I own an Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and a Wii. I follow the games, and I hate the fanboy arguments. However, over the past six years I’ve been stuck in a dysfunctional relationship with my Playstation 3 that I can only describe as love-hate.

The Playstation 3 and I got off to a very bad start. When the system launched, it cost $600. This is a completely ludicrous price point for a video game system, especially considering that Playstation’s competition cost at least $200 less at launch. In addition, Sony launched their system at the same time as Nintendo launched theirs. While I don’t mind buying multiple systems in close proximity, it’s still hard for Sony to compete with my old loves: Nintendo and Zelda. As such, I decided to wait for a price cut and the release of more games before throwing down the cash.

I went all out when I decided to buy the PS3

I can’t stand seeing games get great reviews while I have no way to play them. So, with the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, I decided to take the leap. I wanted to love both my Playstation and Metal Gear so much that I sprang for the gunmetal gray special edition Playstation that included Metal Gear Solid 4. Along with the system, I picked up two of Sony’s most highly rated exclusives: Resistance: Fall of Man and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction. However, I was disappointed almost immediately. I didn’t enjoy any of the games I purchased, and I found that I was  playing my Xbox almost exclusively.

My issues weren’t just with the games. The constant firmware updates and slow install speeds were infuriating. Because I wasn’t playing the system regularly, every time I turned on the system I’d have to wait for an update to download and install, then I’d have to install the game. It seemed like I’d been waiting half an hour before I could even start enjoying the experience. Trying to play online is another exercise in frustration. The PSN can’t hold a candle to the features Xbox Live provides. The lack of cross game chat and party mode makes seamlessly chatting with friends while playing a game completely impossible. I’ve often resorted to booting up Xbox Live and using that to chat while playing games over the PSN.

Nearly unplayable on the PS3 at launch...

One of the supposed benefits of the Playstation is its technical advantage over the Xbox. Unfortunately, in cross-platform games, this advantage is rarely apparent, and in multiple cases, the Xbox version outperformed the Playstation offering. Even recently, Skyrim has encountered a wide assortment of problems on PS3 that were not present on the Xbox version. While this is most certainly not Sony’s “fault,” it’s apparent that developers are treating Microsoft’s system as the lead when creating their games.

Another issue I’ve had with Sony for a while now is their lack of innovation. My first and main concern is with the controller. Ever since the original Playstation, Sony has simply been tacking on buttons and analog sticks to their original design. The Frankenstein-like beast we’re left with today is terribly uncomfortable. The Xbox controller completely blows it out of the water, and I feel that even the Gamecube’s controller was more comfortable in your hands. In short, Sony’s pad is long overdue for a redesign. Speaking of a lack of innovation, the Move was a complete waste of time and resources that could have been dedicated to hardcore games. Obviously Sony was looking to attract some of the casual audience that Nintendo was able to make boatloads of cash on with the Wii and Microsoft successfully tapped into with the Kinect. Sony has sold over 10 million Move controllers, so it’s obviously been a success, but it reeks of a me-too money grab.

One of the Greatest Games of this generation (ever?). Only available on the PS3

Because of the crappy online service, my Playstation has been relegated to playing Blu-ray movies, DVDs, and the occasional must-play single-player game. About those games, though! Some of my favorite games–Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, Final Fantasy XIII, and Pixel Junk Monsters would all fall into my top 25 of this generation. All of these games are great and completely justify my purchase of the system. It’s amazing what great software can do to wipe away the blemishes of a system. Despite my laundry list of complaints, those five games redeem the purchase in my eyes.

Of course I’d love it if there were more games that made it onto that list. Unfortunately, I’ve been incredibly disappointed in Sony’s exclusives. Metal Gear, Ratchet and Clank, and Little Big Planet didn’t live up the hype in my opinion. Also, I’ve had no interest in their exclusive shooters, Resistance and Killzone. Last, one of PS3’s best-reviewed franchises, INfamous, didn’t appeal to me. I admit these are all well-reviewed games and may appeal to other players, but they didn’t speak to me for one reason or another.

Blu-ray is a huge selling point

A huge benefit of the system that should be mentioned is the Blu-ray player. The Playstation has completely taken over as my main movie player in my house. Compared to my Xbox (which sounds like an airplane is taking off every time I boot it up), the Playstation is almost silent when playing a game or movie. It’s also worth talking about the system’s durability. While I’m on my third Xbox (and the one I have is currently dying), I’m on my original Playstation 3. Microsoft has rectified this problem with any new system you’d buy, but this fact cannot be ignored in any cost-benefit analysis of the system.

It’s obvious that looking back on this generation of video game systems I’ll have played the Xbox much, much more than the Playstation; however, overall I think the PS3 is a very good system. More than anything I think it complements the Xbox 360 very well. It works great as a movie player and does provide the occasional must-play game. My hope is that moving forward Sony can provide more of those types of games on a more consistent basis. If you don’t currently own a Playstation 3 and are thinking of picking one up, my suggestion would be to do so only if you know what you’re getting into. If you’re looking for a durable system to play the occasional great single-player game and watch Blu-ray movies, do not hesitate. If you’re looking for a straight gaming machine and don’t already own an Xbox, buying a PS3 may end up being more trouble than it’s worth. Microsoft’s system provides the more stable relationship.

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