Well it finally happened. It was quite an Odyssey: I missed the delivery person and had to drive out to the industrial center near the airport. I had to stand in line, in the dark, with a group of other equally exhausted and frustrated people. I had to finesse the car down the freeway, taking the turns ever so gradually and braking ever gently to protect my precious cargo.
A quick tangent: the UPS customer service center/warehouse and shipping location was a fascinating place. A huge number of people work there, as the parking lot for customers was dwarfed by the employee lot. The customer service center was basically at the end of a long road that runs parallel to the airport, presumably to make it easy to offload the cargo of UPS planes. As far as the kinds of people waiting to pick up their package at 9:00 pm, it is somewhat like the DMV: all shapes, sizes, ages, cultures, creeds, and classes are represented. No one really wants to be there, and there is a grim understanding between the line-standers that we're all at the mercy of a shadowy bureaucracy. Ah the parcel business, the great leveler.
But enough of that, the big news is that I got my grubby mitts on a PS3. I've had it for about twenty-four hours now, so I thought I'd offer some initial impressions and a few pictures of the unboxing (people seem to like that sort of thing).
Let's start with the bad news.
Things I dislike:
"1. Can I play yet?"
The set up process begins with a huge firmware upgrade right out of the box. Even though my PS3 is the most current hardware revision, I was forced to download and install this massive update before I could really do anything with the machine. It probably took about an hour to get everything set up. This stands in stark contrast with the Wii, whose setup was reminiscent of baby giraffe: that thing was up and running in minutes. Sony is serious when it calls it a "computer entertainment system:" I basically had to install an OS!
2. "Hey PS2! Where do you think you're going?"
Although it may be quieter and more energy efficient than early hardware generations, my PS3 suffers from a lack of PS2 backwards compatibility. In my mind, this is nothing more than laziness and greed. Either Sony couldn't be bothered to manufacture their systems or create emulation software capable of running previous generation games, or they simply want to ruthlessly milk the PS2 until the world ends. Either scenario annoys me. My philosophy is that if you aren't making significant changes to the controller, then there is no reason to drop backwards compatibility. If the method of input doesn't change, why should some games stop working?
3. "It has me on short leash."
The USB charger for the wireless controller is laughably short. I have to sit right in front of the screen if I'm running low on juice. I also purchased an extra Dualshock 3, and was rudely surprised by the absence of a USB cable. That's right, you have to buy it separately. How petty.
4. "I must be getting old, could you read that to me?"
I have a decent size TV screen, but I roll old school: in standard-definition. The text for the PSN and for many games is ridiculously small. Would it be too much to ask for better standard-def support?
But enough of that, let us move on to happier topics.
Things I like:
1. "It's a beautiful thing."
I cannot help but be impressed by the design of the machine, and the experience it promotes in general. The curved, glossy surface gives it a kind of elegance that suggests a quiet confidence. The power source is inside the console, circumventing the existence of a external power brick. Clearly Sony's engineers and designers spent a significant amount of time making this thing come together. This attention to detail is carried over into the user interface. The PS3 has an impressive, mature, yet understated look that does not draw unnecessary attention to itself.
2. "The XMB is Xcellent."
Building on my previous point, I must admit (somewhat begrudgingly) to my admiration admire of Sony's XrossMedia bar. Having a unified menu system that can be accessed at any time (even during gameplay) is quite slick, and it makes the whole thing a unified experience. Although the Wii menu system may be a bit clearer and easier to learn, it is not as accessible. In comparison to the Xbox 360, I much prefer XMB to the flashy, cluttered blade menu system.
3. "Honey, I'm off to the store!"
My initial experiences with PSN have been overwhelmingly positive. It was quite easy to set up my "wallet," and I was able to buy PixelJunk Eden within minutes of entering the store. I also appreciate that the transactions take place in dollars. I am somewhat resentful of the "WiiPoints" and "Microsoft Fun-Bucks" (or whatever): they seem to be transparent ploys to separate people from the reality of spending money. With PSN, there is no pretense. As an adult, if I wish to spend legal currency, I can choose to do so without having to convert it into monopoly money.
4. "Sackboy is going to ruin my life."
The PS3 is my the machine that will allow me to play LittleBigPlanet. 'Nuff said.
Overall, I am quite satisfied with the purchase. The machine seems like a solid piece of electronics, and I truly believe the upcoming years will see some very impressive offerings for the PS3 (*cough* God of War III *cough*).
Most importantly, your faithful Experience Points editors now own all three current-gen systems! What more could anyone want?!