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PS3 Firmware

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-09-07 09:02:54

Firmware Update

Every time I need to update the firmware on any of my consoles, I'm stricken with a small twinge of dread that the power in my home might flicker and the machine will turn into a doorstop crafted of plastic and expensive circuitry. In particular, the PlayStation 3 gifts me the most paranoia and dread in this regard. It seems like it demands an update every other time I turn it on.

I got Batman: Arkham Asylum but I was short on time that day and just wanted to check it out for maybe half an hour before I took off. Sure enough, my PS3 urges me to update its firmware. That took something like 15 minutes. Next, the game forces an install. More precious minutes. Now, the whole point of getting the PS3 version over that of the Xbox 360 was the exclusive Joker DLC. The game menu has an option for Downloadable Content, but it just instructed me to go to the PlayStation 3 store. I quit out, hit the store, and download the content. I load up the game and I don't see any changes. After fumbling around for another minute, I discovered that the DLC has to be MANUALLY INSTALLED from the main PS3 menu.

As it turned out, I couldn't access the DLC until I'd opened up the challenge modes anyway, but this is the sort of nonsense that makes me despise Sony. I couldn't simply pop in the disc to mess around with it for a few minutes or auto-download/install the extra content via the in-game menu, but had to endure this rigmarole. Now that Microsoft has apparently corrected the one glaring problem with the Xbox 360 as of the Jasper units, I've come to loathe jumping through these hoops. If only Micro$oft would stop charging for Xbox Live, their victory would be complete. Even chatting with friends is a pain in the ass on the PS3; without an overarching system in place, you have to get in the same "space" as your buddy to set up voice chat. And that's assuming the other guy even has a headset.

PlayStation 3 only users might wonder what I'm griping about because none of these issues are particularly vexing if taken into consideration separately. However, they DO grow tiresome as a whole. It's easy to take the elegance of Xbox Live and the front end of the Xbox 360 for granted. It just works (as long as the hardware holds up).

The new PS3 firmware looks like it was intended to close some of that gap in functionality. That's fine; better late than never. Unfortunately, it is also causing some PlayStation 3s to crash while playing Uncharted (one of the very few terrific exclusives to the system) or causing controllers to stop functioning. I've experienced neither of these issues, but it never feels like a big deal until it happens to you. To me, "Red Ring of Death" sounded like other Xbox 360 users simply weren't providing sufficient ventilation for their systems - my launch unit held up for over two years of intense use (and when it did finally break down, it was an E74 issue, not RROD). Of course, now I'm on my sixth 360 so I have a different perspective. If my PS3 controller had quit on me, I'd have ragequit the system at least temporarily. You might have been reading a post to the effect that I would hereafter be only writing 360 and Wii reviews. I swear, these "next gen" systems are like abusive significant others. They're all charming and sexy one moment, and inflicting naught but suffering the next.

BTW, thanks Sony, for the new sparkly visual effect in the menu. Because that's exactly what I was thinking would win me over to spending more time with your system over your competitor's :P

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