Secrets of the PlayStation 3May 21, 2009
When Sony first introduced the PlayStation game console to the world, there was a great deal of excitement. Games such as Final Fantasy VII raised the bar with its expansive world, well-crafted gameplay, and compelling characters and storyline. Not only could the player pop in a CD of a game, but one could play music CDs as well. Having a controller that vibrated was a real treat. The only thing I could envision for the future was to have my gameplay graphics one day match the quality of my cinematic cutscenes.
I was first in line to purchase my PlayStation 2. With better graphics, backwards compatibility for my PSOne games, and the ability to play DVD movies, I was more than satisfied. With the introduction of online gaming, one’s gaming world was expanded considerably. The only improvements I looked forward to with the PlayStation 3 would be enhanced graphics.
When I finally broke down and picked up my PlayStation 3 about three weeks ago, I was shocked to see all the new improvements that Sony had so thoughtfully integrated to make my console a true multi-media entertainment system. Given the fact that GameStop offered an instant $100 off with a trade-in of my old PS2 and a few old game titles, I could not think of a reason to hold off any longer. If my third generation system were backwards compatible with my old PS2 games, I would be in complete bliss. However, discovering that my system was backwards compatible with my favorite PSOne games and that I didn’t need to worry about a memory card given the built-in hard drive, I was thrilled. Now I could play both PS3 and PSOne games for the price of one system. Waiting three years to buy my PS3 gave me the added bonus of picking up some great titles and bargain basement prices.
And there are some fantastic games out there. Having just finished playing through Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction, I have delved into both of Insomniac’s Resistance games, Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, Fallout 3, and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Next year will even give owners of the PS3 more to be excited about with the introduction of God of War 3 and Final Fantasy XIII. Even this year there is the highly anticipated Batman game, Sucker Punch’s Infamous, and the Ratchet and Clank Future sequel. With Internet connectivity, there are even a handful of downloadable games that look appealing. And many games offer online multiplayer capabilities and interaction with one’s PSP handheld gaming device.
The wireless motion sensor controller that still offers that great vibration feature takes the system to a whole new level of gaming experience. Add to that the fact that the High Definition gameplay experience of 720p and even 1080p full HD with its accompanying eye candy visuals and aural heaven, I have never been more excited about playing games. However, now I am saving my pennies to buy a high definition television to compliment my system. But even on my old rabbit ears TV set, the games look stunning and are fun to play.
But the PS3 does more than play games. Much more. Not only does the Blu-Ray drive play high definition Blu-Ray movies, but one can still watch good old DVD movies and play music CDs. See that USB port at the front of the console? It will become your new best friend if you have a Fat 32 formatted external hard drive. Western Digital now offers a whopping 500 GB external hard drive the size of my iPod classic for only $119. With that kind of size, I can have an entire DVD library (remember those digital copies they offer with most DVDs these days?) at my disposal.
To play your digital movies, simply plug in your external hard drive to your PC computer and make sure they are in MPEG-4, avi, or DIVX format. Unfortunately, QuickTime and MKV files are still not compatible. Even raw avi files shot from one’s digital camera will play on the PS3. When you are done transferring your movies from your computer to your external hard drive, plug the drive into the USB port of your PS3. On your TV screen, choose the Video menu. Your hard drive will pop up. Make sure to hit the triangle button and select the Display All feature. If you have organized your movies into folders, you can go into those folders and you will see the title of your movie. Not only can you quickly rifle through your movies, but the load times are amazingly fast. Of course you can pause and fast forward through your movies as well.
Do you own an iPod? If so, then you will probably have a good selection of mp3s to choose from. If not, download the free iTunes program from Apple’s site and start ripping your CDs to mp3s. I suggest ripping them at 320K to get the highest quality sound with your high definition sound system. Now you can throw out your CD player and listen to tunes on your PS3 while you clean the house.
But there is still more. Load on all of your jpg image files and you can quickly view family photos and photos of your latest trip on the big screen to show to family and friends. Are you into the digital comics scene? If so, you can read your digital comics on your TV as well. Most digital comics are in a format known as CBR or CBZ. With a PC, the comics are read with a variety of software known as comic book readers. By downloading an open source free program known as 7-Zip, you can extract these compressed files to jpg images. Keep each comic in its own folder, preferably named the title of your comic and the issue number, and you can now read them on your TV thanks to the PS3. As with the PS3 controller functionality, it is easy to zoom in and out to get an overall view of your comic page or to zoom in to read text.
With all these enhancements to the PS3 from the PS2 console, I cannot even envision what Sony has in store for us in the future with the PlayStation 4. Whatever it is, I am confident that I will not only be pleased, but awed. If the technological trends follow their logical course, I can guess that we will see price drops, slimmer consoles, more hard drive capacity (most likely in solid state form), and even the ability to have full Internet access. Given that Blu-Ray movies are starting to offer free digital copies with the discs, I can see Sony making compatible hard drives that play files larger than 4GB. Currently, the NTFS format is not compatible. So what are you waiting for? Go out and buy your PlayStation 3 today. You will not regret it! Without PS2 backwards compatibility, I give the system a 9 out of 10.
– Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief, Phoenix Genesis
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