The Video Game Critic presents the

Sony Playstation 3


Playstation 3 system
Launch Date: November 17, 2006
Manufacturer: Sony
Format: Blu-ray disc
Controller ports: 0 (wireless)
Save capability: Hard disk/memory card
Video output: composite/component/HDMI
Initial price: $499/$599

The original Playstation (1995) captured the video game market for Sony and the Playstation 2 (2001) further established their dominance. Seeking to expand their influence, Sony marketed the Playstation 3 as a multi-media device. Much like DVD propelled the PS2, Sony was betting that the new Blu-ray standard would carry the Playstation 3. In addition to a built-in Blu-ray player, the Playstation 3 included a hard drive, a built-in wireless interface, and a multitude of ports to support every kind of media.

It didn't really work out. Sony seemed to have overlooked one critical aspect: the games! The initial launch titles were not impressive and the high price of the hardware ($600) made consumers balk. Ironically, it was the ever-popular Playstation 2 that helped keep Sony afloat as the Playstation 3 hemorrhaged money in its early days.

It turned out those expensive Blu-ray discs were not ideal for games. While they could hold an unprecedented amount of data, their load times could be painful. It got so bad that Sony and other publishers began incorporating a mandatory installation process to make the load times less excruciating. Between these installs and tedious system updates, the system lacked that pick-up-and-play quality consoles had been known for. Worse yet, the PS3 hard drives would quickly fill, necessitating Sony begin shipping with larger capacity drives.

In 2010 Sony waded into the motion-sensing realm with its "Move" motion-sensing game controllers. A hybrid of Microsoft's Kinect and the Wii's motion technology, Move was well-received for its accuracy but never gained much support. Its highly-derivative nature made it look like Sony was simply copying off of the other companies, which of course they were.

Sony also stumbled badly in the online arena. While its online services were offered for free, they proved the old adage "you get what you pay for", and a major security breach leaked the personal account information of millions of customers. Sony was forced to settle in third place for much of this generation, behind Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Playstation 3 slim model
Playstation 3 slim model

Aesthetics: A-. The original Playstation 3 is an impressive piano-like beast with a shiny black shell giving it a "Darth Vader" look. Weighing in at a hefty 10 pounds, the system can be situated upright or on its side. Its shiny surface looks attractive at first but tends to collects dust like a crime scene. The front of the system is clean and uncluttered.

The disk port sucks in disks and a compartment reveals a set of ports for various cards you'll probably never use. The lower front edge is lined with four USB ports, mainly used to recharge controllers. The power and eject switches are flush with the top panel, and you need to hold in the power button to turn off the system. Unlike the Xbox 360, the power supply is contained within the unit, accounting for much of its weight.

Functionality: B. The Blu-ray drive is great for watching movies but slow to load games. This necessitates a tedious, time-consuming install process for most games - a trend that would sadly continue with subsequent consoles.

The ability to charge controllers by connecting them to the console is a great feature. The system has a built-in wireless interface but its reception is weak. Early versions of the system featured full PS1/PS2 backward capatibility via hardware, but in order to save money Sony opted for software emulation in later models. Eventually Sony removed the backward compatibility feature altogether.

I think it's worth noting that the PS3 makes for a terrific Blu-ray player. Part of the reason is its Blue Tooth remote which allows you to control the system without any of the pointing. My PS3 is my default Blu-ray player.

Reliability: C. My original PS3 bit the dust after about six years of use. I now own a more streamlined model that's held up quite well ever since.

Noise: A-. The Playstation 3 is very quiet when playing games, although a fan kicks in when playing Blu-ray discs.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2008)

Graphics: A. The high definition graphics of the PS3 are pretty much identical to those of the Xbox 360.

Playstation 3 controller
Playstation 3 controller

Controllers: C. The initial "Six-Axis" controller packaged with the PS3 was a disappointment. Lacking any degree of innovation, it is basically a wireless PS2 controller - except without the vibration feature. In 2007 Sony resolved the lawsuit and released the Dual Shock 3, which did have vibration, although its curved shoulder buttons are poorly designed. The fact that the controllers can be charged by plugging them into the console is probably their best feature.

Media: D. Blu-ray discs can hold a ton of information but most games can't benefit from the huge storage. The Blu-ray reader in the PS3 consoles is slow, and its long load times and require pre-installations can test your patience. With advancements in technology, Blu-ray may fare better in the next generation of systems.

Playstation 3 box
Playstation 3 game box

Pack-in Game: None.

Launch Titles: D. The 14-title launch lineup was sports-heavy with few original games. Need For Speed: Carbon and the first-person shooter Resistance: Fall of Man were probably the system's strongest selling points. Many of its more highly-anticipated titles (like Lair) were delayed.

Packaging: C-. Playstation 3 games are packaged in transparent boxes slightly smaller than normal DVD cases. The top portion of the box is hollow, which looks cheap and is a waste of space.

Killzone 3
Killzone 3 (2011)

Library: C. The PS3 library got off to a slow start but has grown healthy over time. Sony tends to get the most out of its system, delivering exclusive titles like Uncharted, Motorstorm, God of War, Little Big Planet, and MLB: The Show. The third-party titles are generally a subset of those available for the Xbox 360.

Twisted Metal
Twisted Metal (2012)

Collectibility: C. I prefer the Xbox 360, but the Playstation 3 has a good number of exclusive hits. If you want a good Blu-ray player, getting a Playstation 3 is a good idea.

Pros and Cons:
+ Built-in Blu-ray player
+ Quiet
+ Rechargeable controllers
- Expensive
- Many games require installation
- Uninspired controller

Next: Nintendo Wii U Console Review

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