So I had my first hands-on bash at the near-legendary (for both good and bad reasons) PS3 last night, thanks to the indulgence of a friend who decided to burn the cash on one; and thought I’d post my initial impressions. This is only based on a few hours so it’s highly gut-influenced.
Firstly, as a physical lounge item it’s far too attractive for its own good. You want to touch it immediately, but you know you shouldn’t. It looks far too expensive (and shiny - oh so shiny) for a mere mortal to be transferring their secreted finger-grease onto it - rather, it feels like you should be behind a velvet rope, staring at it through toughened perspex. Which is of course possible since the controllers are wireless now - should you feel the need to go to such extents.
Secondly, it’s surprisingly quiet. Anyone who has stood next to a 360 whilst in the middle of a demanding game knows the benchmark here, and it’s nice to see the PS3 getting under it quite easily. It’s even quieter than the Wii in fact, whose drive can be a little noisy sometimes although it has nothing on the jet turbine that is the 360 cooling system.
Last physicality comment - the controller feels cheap, not because it’s built poorly but simply because it’s so light. It sounds a daft thing to complain about (why would you want a piece of electronics to be heavier than it needs to be?) but it makes the controller feel a bit fake. No doubt the rumble is the missing component which would make it feel more solid.
Visually the hi-def output is very nice of course, a little crisper than my experiences with the 360 but that’s probably because of the HDMI / 1080 output (I only saw the 360 at 720 - yes I know it does 1080 now and that MS is releasing a HDMI version soon, thanks). Not enough difference that you’d really care a huge amount about when playing but you can actually tell, which I wasn’t sure if you would be able to.
Games-wise, the full-pricers I played were Resistance: Fall of Man and Motorstorm. R:FoM I could take or leave - as some others have said it feels very much like Call of Duty with aliens. I also still can’t stand dual-stick input for first-person shooters, no matter how well implemented it just feels clumsy to me. I’ve just been used to the speed/precision of a mouse for too long - if I was to play something like this, a bluetooth mouse & keyboard combo would be essential. But to be honest, I wouldn’t buy a PS3 to play FPS’s, there are more on the PC than my attention span can cope with anyway.
Motorstorm I liked a lot more. It was genuinely different to any other racing game I’d played and a lot of fun besides, particularly on the motorbikes. I generally don’t enjoy serious racing games (of the Gran Turismo / F1 kind) so Motorstorm was just up my street - very arcadey, a bit off the wall and fun taking precedence over simulation.
I had a quick go at online play on both games and they both worked very well. Sure it doesn’t have all the surrounding services of Live yet but the core experience of play worked just fine right off the bat, which is the most important thing. Oh, and at least you get a built-in wireless connection just like the Wii - I really can’t believe you have to pay an extra 40-50 quid for that on 360. Don’t they give wireless chipsets away in cereal boxes these days? Daylight robbery.
Overall it feels like a very solid console. Motorstorm I could seem myself playing a lot, and I’d quite like to play Virtua Fighter 5, having enjoyed the arcade games in the past. But there’s certainly no killer app that would make me buy one right now, which is precisely where 360 left me when it was released (and still does). Graphically it’s very nice, but you have to say that it doesn’t really look much better than what my current rather modest spec PC can kick out, so I’m not going to upgrade just for hi-def gaming any more than I did for 360. As always, it’s all about the meat of the games and neither 360 or PS3 has anything that says ‘buy me! buy me!’ yet - for me, anyway. I’m going to bide my time and see how it pans out. Whilst shamelessly freeloading my way into a few games on other people’s machines in the mean time of course 😉