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Shoot from the Lip: Playstation Free

Sony

As reported a few days ago, the new Sony Playstation 3 will retail here in ol’Blighty for a mere £425. That’s £155 more than Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which will surely undergo a slight yet significant price cut before Christmas to further entice gamers away from the clutches of Sony. It’s also due to be around double the price of Nintendo’s Wii, due near the end of the year, if the GameCube’s pricing strategy was anything to go by. Much like the 360, the PS3 will come in two flavours; one with a 20GB hard drive (which can be upgraded) without WiFi, a memory card reader or HDMI output, and another with a 60GB hard drive (again, upgradeable) with all the stuff removed from the cheaper version. But here’s the catch; living in the UK means we only get the 60GB version, and pay more than those overseas ($599 equals £319!). Ripped off? Certainly so.

It may seem of late that we’ve (ahem: I) started bashing Sony a bit here on Thunderbolt Games, but even you have to admit that they seem to be up their own arses over this next generation war. Their new format, Blu Ray, is sitting in on a knife edge. The last time Sony made their own format, the UMD, it flopped. Studios in Hollywood have cut their release charts dramatically or, in some cases, all together. And by basing a new system on something that no-one else has access to, it’s going to take some time for developers to get to grips with the discs, as to how much data can be crammed in without harming the gameplay. It always takes time to play around with what tools you have, but some, including me, believe that this time it will take even longer.

Our US Deputy Ed, Matt, pointed out that Blu Ray will be mass produced and individual players sold, like DVD. To be honest, I still think this is on a knife edge; Hollywood is quite simply seething at the demise of UMD, and I think are adopting a cautious approach to any new formats.

Let’s take a look at the controller; Nintendo and Microsoft come out and sing the praises of their own joypads, ignore the criticism and allow gamers to get used to what they’ll be holding in a few months time. Sony release shots of something resembling an alien toy, get flustered when the questions start flying, tell everyone it’s not the final design then refuse to neither confirm nor deny its existence. Spitting the dummy out? You bet. Since then we’ve learnt that we’ll be holding the same controller that we’ve all been holding for the last 10 years. What’s more, having seen what the opposition have in store, have dropped the rumble feature and instead included features to sense rotational and translational acceleration to allow for a full six degrees of freedom, further fuelling the rift between themselves and Nintendo. There’s also been further adjustments to the design to incorporate a jewel in the centre of the controller, much like (drumroll) the 360’s pad, and then we have the L2 and R2 buttons repositioned to act more like triggers, which can be found on (drumroll once more) the 360 pad. Talk about insecurity!

And then, most importantly, we come to the games. If you’ve been reading our news section, you see that we reported about the doubts over Assassin’s Creed’s exclusivity after it was seen being played on an Xbox 360. Furthermore, Rockstar have announced that GTA 4 will not only be released simultaneously on both Sony and Microsoft consoles, but will also have content made exclusively for the 360. Admittedly, this could be just custom soundtracks, but thanks to Microsoft’s insistence that all games take advantage of Live, we could be in for a treat. That’s salt in very deep wounds. The reliance on Killzone, which was a very average shooter hyped to the max, seems to be a dieing cause, especially after “footage” released was actually a rendered movie and not gameplay. We’re being lied to, folks.

That’s enough doom and gloom. Metal Gear Solid 4 will be exclusive to the PS3 and you’ll be able to play the huge catalogue of games from both PS2 and PSOne eras on your spanking new console. And after all, if Blu Ray does kick off then you can expect Sony’s console to start pushing its weight around, and after the evidence of the last two machines we can easily expect some fantastic games.

But there’s that element of danger which for me seems to be far too high and risky. If the PS3 pulls it off as a great success, all credit to them. But I can guarantee it’ll be a struggle.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

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