The Sony PlayStation 3 – Amazing Hardware, Blu-ray Movie Playback, Average Software!

PS3After enjoying the absolute in adventure gaming with the legendary Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and bathing myself in Blu-ray movies, there is one thing that is annoying the hell out of me and it hasn’t passed yet. The software setup on the PlayStation 3 is so behind the times!

Let me clarify before I go any further. The PlayStation 3 is a visual power house. The PS3 has already triggered jaw dropping sensations, but it sits there in its quite ugly black box (I have it laying down horizontally) with the most dismal online layout. Remember I am comparing this to my Microsoft Xbox 360, which has connectivity with the community as its core principle and I miss this completely when using the PlayStation.

This is not a rant to prove to myself and others that the PlayStation 3 is a mediocre console and should hang its head in shame, in fact quite the opposite. I love the PlayStation 3 for its graphical splendour and a selection of cracking games. This instead is my moment to tell you the reader why Sony is so close to impressing me thoroughly, however is just missing out on the one important trait that any new gaming entertainment machine needs and that is the consistent online environment.

There is nothing wrong with it as such, but times have changed dramatically since the original Xbox. In this new high definition era, you can’t concentrate on just a few areas and hope for the best outcome, you need everything. The Xbox 360 is always there to inform you of your friends list, messages, what people are playing, whether you can join them, their gaming highlights and the list goes on and on. The PlayStation 3 feels like the original Xbox where you are disconnected from your online buddies every time you change the disk or dare watch a movie.

PlayStation 3 XMBI hate this sensation. Maybe if I hadn’t experienced the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, I would be far more forgiving and would compare it to the PC online drudgery, however I have tasted near perfection so I am going to be far harder on Sony in this area. You may disagree with me and of course this is your right, but something really needs to be done if Sony are as interested as they suggest in making the PS3 a true next generation console that has it all.

The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) also has the opportunity to list your friends, but it doesn’t! Why on earth not? Why can’t I log in with my PSP and see who is online, what system they are on, send them a message etc. Madness! The Xbox 360 doesn’t have a portable companion, yet the PlayStation 3 has, but haven’t maximised the potential here either.

Hints are already appearing on the Internet that they will indeed add a feature to check friends online and messages when hitting the PS button sometime quite soon, but I just hope it isn’t just a token gesture to keep us all happy a little longer. Yes your service may be free and of course we all love free, but Xbox Live isn’t exactly breaking the bank either and as far as community and online connectivity is concerned, the Xbox 360 has it in the bag unless something drastic can be achieved.

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.

  • wooh!

    Relax son. That was the PS3’s first year – hell it hasn’t even been a year in EU yet.

    The monster titles are all coming out this month in 2008.

    Enjoy your PS3. :d

    Not to mention “Home” will be bringing in lots of features to the PS3. If you haven’t seen it, check it out … along with the 3D aspect, it should bring the In-Game XMB aspect you’re talking about, along with custom tracks, video chat, etc.

  • Sprigger

    I view it this way. Live is like this amazingly pimped out car with GPS, gold rims, Sat-radio, leather seats, everything. It looks great and has awesome features there sitting in the garage. But when you drive the thing (play games online), it rattles from time to time even on the most traveled roads (Halo 3 and Gears anyone?), and just plain stalls for periods of time (Christmas 07 anyone?) You pay a toll to drive on these bumpy roads.

    PSN is a stripped down car with roll up your own windows, standard features, but runs smooth as silk when you drive it. Sony doesn’t make you pay a toll to drive on it’s roads.

    —————

    The thing that irks me about Live is lag. Not on some small lower prfile game, but on their best games. Gears of Lag, and Halo 3 for example don’t have dedicated servers. No games do.

    Sony themselves have installed dedicated servers for their top tier games. What does that mean? That means I have played hundreds of hours of Warhawk and Resistance online without anyone having host advantage or zero lag.

    It’s funny how people have knocked some PS3 ports of 360 games because of framerates, and yet they don’t seem to be bothered by more lag, which effects a game even more severely.

    You get my point.

  • gam3raxis

    Absolutely,, and i’m not trying to start this war (any more then ^him… but he’s absolutely right. As far as connection goes sony has it made. I used to have a 360 and 25 times out of a hundred i would experence lag, with psn, NONE. Not to mention sony is giving us more in terms of dedicated servers. You think microsoft would give their customers dedicated servers since of the fee they are charged??? As far as software goes i can forgive a little seing all the good they have done recently and knowing it will eventually get here i ask, what will this guy write about next??

    First and foremost it seems live went out of order alittle bit.

    1. Make sure connection is FLaWLESS
    2. Through ALL the awesome features in
    3. Marketing
    live went 2,1,3 Psn is going 1,2,3

  • LastDance

    You need to stop worrying so much about your virtual friends and go out with your real friends.

    And go play shadow of the colossus or metal gear and learn what a real game is.

    Graphics are skin deep.

    When your older you dont remeber how good the graphics were on a game or how wicked the online was.
    You remeber stories that impact your life.

  • You need to stop worrying so much about your virtual friends and go out with your real friends.

    Interesting comment! Especially as many of my online friends have become people I have met up with and have quickly become ‘real’ friends as you put it. Started by this simple online connection.

  • Noah

    Anyone claiming the PSN is lag free is either really lucky or just a liar. I see lag in many games(Warhawk, RFOM, UT3) and what many miss is that PSN does NOT use dedicated servers for all their games. They have some that use them, as does XBL but not all are dedicated.

    PSN has a long way to go and when you look at the software libraries for both the 360 and PS3 why as a gamer would you want a PS3? I question Sony’s commitment to online gaming when their console doesn’t even come with a headset. If my PS3 hadn’t of been a gift I still wouldn’t own one.

    I don’t want to completely slag the PS3 as it is a decent game console but I just enjoy the 360 more.

  • Why would someone write on a gaming website “You need to stop worrying so much about your virtual friends and go out with your real friends.”

    It’s like going to the Arctic and complaining about all the snow.

  • DunnyCT

    The thing you are forgetting Mr. Woodcock is that the PSN is a FREE service. You dont have to pay for it unlike Microsoft and it’s attempt to charge you for everything under the sun. Plus you are forgetting that PLAYSTATION HOME is coming out. When it does, it is going to be a virtual avatar based SIMs on your PS3, and will bring media and gamers together in all its splendor. I’d rather have an average set-up for now, then buy an xbox 360 that has a life expectency of 6month to a year, not to mention paying for online pay every month or every year. the 360 is just a waste of time and money if you ask me.

  • @wooh: I am enjoying my PS3, a lot actually :) My post is more to illustrate how close Sony are to pleasing me totally with the experience they provide.

    @Sprigger: I agree about the lag factor, but then again you are not limiting which part of the global community you are playing with on the Xbox 360. MotorStorm for example you select the region (Europe in my case) therefor you are always going to experience better performance. I love playing Call of Duty 4 online on the Xbox 360, but during the day it can be a mixed bag of lag and lag free.

    @DunnyCT: When did I forget that PSN is free? :) Free is no excuse when you have a console competitor who has community features spilling from every port. Sony made a big deal at an E3 presentation before the console launch about how the PS3 would feature all the wonderful things similar to the Xbox 360, however although they have the features, they don’t work in every game (yet maybe!) and Home is taking you away from the gaming world, so not really what I am trying to reflect in my post. I want to see consistency throughout the experience.

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, in fact far from it :)

  • Rubbing_hood

    omg ugly black box!!!! Best looking poece of kit I have ever owned. Its all opionions. Psn is not perfect nor is xbox live when home is out and running it will be a better battle.

  • It isn’t when it’s standing vertically hence why I put horizontally in brackets, but due to the space I have, that is the best position for me alas.