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PonFarr Lured

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-09-14 00:40:30

Poor PonFarr...

It seems odd to me that a would-be statutory rapist is my wife's favorite Direman character, but perhaps he's lovable in an "Aww, that poor coyote will never catch the road runner" kind of way.

Also, PonFarr is allegorical of my Xbox 360 repair experience. UPS delivered it back to me today, and I giddily hooked it back up to my entertainment system. Just like PonFarr, lured by the promise of schoolgirl delights, I jumped into the arms of my beloved 360 only to have it promptly overheat and crash. It did, however, run long enough for me to be able to drop $10 on the Puzzle Fighter download, before crapping out on me. It feels like Microsoft is plundering my prostate gland with a tentacle.

So yeah, fuck, I'm going to miss out on Halo 3. I had my friends make a pact that we would play the campaign only when all of us were available for 4-player online co-op. Feel free to replace my spot and tell me spoilers while I play all the great games for the PlayStation 3. Oh right, there aren't any. Well, shit.

That was my smooth segue way into my PlayStation 3 hardware review. Physically, it's a beautiful machine. The only complaint about that is, like the PSP, the sheer glossiness of it tends to collect immaculate fingerprints upon every touch. It was simple to hook up: it works fine with my old PS2 cables and immediately recognized my network as soon as I popped in the Ethernet cable. I understand that it has built in wireless, but nothing beats an old fashioned physical connection. It also runs whisper quiet, especially compared to the jet intake noises my 360 would be making if it actually worked.

Here's where my experience began to deteriorate. The PS3 immediately prompted me for a firmware update which took forever to download and even longer to install. In general, download rates seem significantly slower onto the PS3 than on my computer or Xbox 360. As I write this, I just had to update it again. Apparently, firmware updates (each carrying the potential to brick your system) come fast and furious, so I'd just better get used to frequent and random intervals when the PS3 just hums to itself without Sony explaining what the fuck it just did to make my life infinitesimally better. Ever hear about patch notes, Sony?

Once the PS3 was done masturbating, it finally let me join in on the fun. As I explored the system navigation, I started to wonder what exactly it is about the crossbar that Sony fans enjoy. I thought it was an asinine way to explore music and photos on the PSP, and it remains so here. Unlike the 360 blades which offer a logically systemic means of browsing data, the PS3 crossbar simply shits files into a big pile. For example, all of your game demos and downloadable games are thrown together, with no way of alphabetizing or prioritizing them whatsoever. What annoys me most is when I'm trying to navigate sideways between files in the same crossbar category, and I end up in the next category over.

I spent the next half hour meticulously arranging the PS3 setup options. The PS3 has a labyrinthine series of nested menus (that resemble those little Russian dolls that live inside each other) leading to preferences so absolutely esoteric that I actually had to read the manual. I generally agree with the sentiment that options are good, but after looking up what "Cinema Conversion" and "Cross Color Reduction Filter" were (no onscreen explanation), I came to the conclusion that Sony had gone Obsessive Compulsive Disorder bat-shit crazy, which is awful for a guy like me who actually has OCD and absolutely has to have every setting precisely set.

The PS3 is able to access music and photos from my computer, including WMA files, which I found pleasantly surprising. It did take me awhile to figure out that you can play back music and do other things at the same time. The PS3 really is quite impressive, but Sony's lack of software savvy shows in every corner. Many of its abilities aren't obvious, and exploring the PlayStation Network store is reminiscent of floundering around the internet with Mosaic. (For you kids, that was the first major web browser.)

The Blu-Ray player itself is impressive, but not nearly the same leap in consumer electronics that DVD was over VHS. Nonetheless, videophiles like me are sure to appreciate it immensely.

Backward compatibility with older PlayStation games is solid (as long as you have the 60 or 20gig model). You need to purchase a separate adapter to transfer your old memory card saves over, but at least you have the option. I wish it had been that simple with the 360.

I dislike the controller. The Sixaxis tilt sensing is a clumsy gimmick and I sorely miss rumble. Sony finally added triggers, but they don't feel good - they don't have enough give. They still haven't improved the super sensitive analog sticks. They're fine for games that call for jamming the sticks all the way, but the precision required for aiming in shooters is touchy at best.

Now, it's this last bit that angers me the most: if a PlayStation 3 game runs natively in 720p (most of them do, it seems), there's no way to coax 1080i output from it. This may sound like gobbledygook to many of you, but if you have a high definition television that doesn't do 720p, it means that you can't get a high definition picture. The PS3 downgrades the signal to 420p.

That's right - I can't get a high definition picture from my Sony PlayStation 3 to my Sony fucking high definition television. I pre-ordered the PS3 version of Stranglehold (for the HD transfer of Hard Boiled), but it chafes me that the 360 version would look way better on my setup. Instead, I'm forced to play games like MotorStorm and Resistance in standard definition. Eventually, my 360 will work, but a huge chunk of PS3 games will always look like shit (relatively) on my television.

I'm reading over this text again, and wow, do I sound bitter. You can attribute some of that to my anger at Microsoft for their shitty hardware, but most of my bile toward the PlayStation 3 is earnest. I gave my reasons for buying a PlayStation 3 in a recent blog, and despite my complaints above, I'm content with my purchase. It does, however, make me miss my Xbox 360 all the more.

Now Playing - Bully (PS2)

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