Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My First 24 Hours with the Playstation 3

Just some quick bullet points on my first 'REAL' Playstation 3 experience. Note that, yes, I did borrow my friend's PS3 a few months ago, but I never really delved into it (didn't make a PSN account, didn't go through patching, etc). So here's some impressions of the PS3 from an Xbox 360 veteran:

1. First time you start up is a bit different from the Xbox 360. Apparently Sony doesn't associate your 'game profile' with your Playstation Network profile. So when you first make a profile on the PS3, you have to make another profile on PSN and associate them with each other.

2. Getting my PS3 to play nice with my local network setup gave me a slight headache. For one thing, it seems I can't assign a static IP address to the PS3 when it's wireless. I think I can't, anyway. Well, it's hard to navigate the settings on the PS3 since there's so many options. And as I was trying to get it to play well with my local network, a bit later on it turns out that the PS3 was messing around (somehow) with my local router's settings via Wi-Fi. By that stage I had to reset my router and set up my local network (which has a special configuration) from scratch.

By that point, I decided to just make my connection to the PS3 a wired one. That way, I could assign it a proper IP address and give it a setting on the router which would let the Playstation Network access work properly.

3. A lot of the time when you start out with the PS3, and if you use it's online features, you'll be downloading patches, patches and more patches. If you don't want to think about online connectivity then this should be no hassle and you can just cancel at every prompt. But since I want to try online modes in some games, I had to sit through a lot of screens which said 'DOWNLOADING....'.

4. Loading up Little Big Planet for the first time, the first screen that greets you is some kind of 'Installing' screen. I think it installed something because it took a long time for it to end, and there was a warning onscreen saying that I shouldn't turn off the system or do anything or else my console will have problems. So there I was, waiting even longer...

5. Little Big Planet, at the outset, doesn't introduce itself well. For one thing, the first 'level' is like a long self-congratulatory credits / tutorial level. Granted it was creatively designed, but the developers' self-back-patting before I even appreciated the game was a little smarmy and off-putting for me.

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When the game DID get started (that's by level 3 or 4), the game started to build a much better appeal, and I was beginning to enjoy it. I did have fun with it by that point and the game became a far more pleasant experience by then. I just wish that they didn't go with the combined forced tutorial and credits during the first level of the game.

More Little Big Planet impressions soon....I had to mix work with christmas shopping with PS3 gameplay, so I have to gather my thoughts first, and play a bit more of the game, before coming up with a solid and reliable impression. I'm having fun by Level 3, and I hope it will get better from this point on; that's all I'll say for now.

6. Making my PSN ID was a pretty simple affair. I chose a US region, since this was the recommendation by many of my peers in Pinoyxbox.

7. There's a lot of content on Playstation Network that isn't on Xbox Live. Which is nice. One bonus is how the Playstation Network's Videos/movie trailers ARE NOT REGION LOCKED. I was able to download a couple of movie trailers. On Xbox Live I can't do this, because somehow Microsoft thought it was a bad idea for people out of region to start downloading trailers from the States....it's an odd thing that Sony can be more free about this than Microsoft.

8. Another nice thing about Playstation Network:

THEMES AND WALLPAPERS ARE FREE! Thank Goodness I don't have to pay for those!

9. I tried Playstation Home....wow, it reserves 3GB of your hard drive space??! There goes my 40GB. I have about 27GB left. Granted, that's a lot, but every time I do something on the PS3, this console seems to be eating more and more gigabytes.....

Another thing about Home---I was supposed to go exploring, but every option to visit other places required me to download the place, and each download was around 200MB or larger. For this reason, I didn't leave the first area in Playstation Home at ALL. I just stuck with navigating the regular Playstation Store interface instead of spending even more time sitting and waiting for downloads to finish.

10. Apparently Sign In is not automatic by default. So when you login in as user 'scytherage', you still have to log in manually as PSN user 'scytherage' separately. You could make it automatic on the PSN login screen, but it's just odd that by default the two 'accounts' exist as two completely different entities.

11. The PS3 has a weird bug where it 'thinks' I don't have an Ethernet Cable plugged in, but is still able to sign in to PSN and download patches/videos/etc.

Overall, my first 24 hours with the Playstation 3 is marked by surprises; I got so used to the smooth online interface on the Xbox 360 that the PS3's implementation is just alien to me. Granted, if the Playstation 3 is your very first game console, the things i've mentioned probably won't bother you. They're things that PC users have to deal with when they're trying to connect their PC to the Internet for the first time. But if the PS3 is your second console (and you've just used the Xbox 360's NXE interface), the 'style' of the PS3's online connectivity just feels old-fashioned and dated. A lot of it involves going through several menu screens and changing settings manually, then waiting and sitting through the interface and following instructions step-by-step. It just doesn't feel seamless and effortless enough, and I can imagine some gamers will just give up completely in the middle of setting up the PS3 for any kind of online connectivity.

Actually playing games (in particular, my experience with LBP) is just alright. Installation of things to the hard drive on the PS3 is NOT optional but mandatory, so when you start out whichever game for the first time, there's going to be a bit of waiting. But once the game gets started, it seems to work well; I haven't encountered much problems like waiting for a long time in between game levels in Little Big Planet. It's just that 'first installation' that happens when you first load a game which makes it feel a bit slower than the Xbox 360.

Sony's generosity on their Playstation Network deserves a bit of kudos, I suppose. It's good they're not charging for themes/wallpapers, and it's GREAT that their movie trailer downloads/etc are not region locked.

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