PlayStation 3 Playtest

PlayStation 3 Playtest

PlayStation 3 Playtest

Our sister consumer magazine PSM has published a hands-on playtest with finished PS3 system and some of its biggest games. Click through for the verdict…

This feature is an abridged version of an extensive playtest published in the new issue of PSM on sale now.

Years of waiting, and then it’s right there in front of you; not behind a glass case, not in a photo. It’s hard to describe just how cool the PS3 looks when you first see it in person, but when you unbox yours on November 17 (here’s hoping you can land one), you’ll feel like you just bought an exotic sports car (and not just because of the price).

We’ve had our first look at a finished PS3 and we’ve also played with the games that will hit store shelves alongside the system (and some that will release a bit later). We also examined the machine’s many features. We’ve got unprecedented access to a finished PS3 console, to play around with its bits and bobs so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Let’s Talk About the System

PS3 is not small (think Xbox 1). However, its designers took its bleeding-edge tech and — instead of just shoving it all into a box — have worked hard to make such a hefty system look cool. The result: lots of curves. Plus, the 60GB model is fancied up with some really striking chrome details.

While not small, PS3 is a lot lighter than we expected. The PS3 actually feels lighter than the original PS2 units, and, more recently, the Xbox 360. So, if you’re going to be lugging it around, rejoice. Just remember to wear some white gloves and carry the planned “clean & polish kit” with you; the thing picks up fingerprints and dust even faster than the PSP.

PS3 is the strong, silent type. It has cooling vents out the wahoo, so we were amazed at how quiet it is, even when it’s accessing data from the disc in the Blu-ray drive. You’d barely know it was on, which is perfect for those who like quiet home theater environments.

Turning it On

Over the years, the initial thrill of seeing a game system boot up for the first time has lost a lot of its charm, for whatever reason. Like the physical design of the system, the user interface is simple, understated, and elegant. Touch the power icon (it’s a body-heat sensitive switch) and the system wakes up, greeting you with a horizontal band of flowing “smoke” on a black background as the familiar words “Sony Computer Entertainment” quickly come and go. As we previously reported, PS3 features the Cross Media Bar (XMB) menu system that’s used in the PSP and several other Sony products, such as the Japan-only PSX.

The slot-loading Blu-ray drive is nice and quiet, just like the rest of the system. We touched the eject icon (again, heat sensitive) and the disc was promptly ejected. If you press eject when there’s no disc in the system, a couple of quick beeps sound to let you know you’re being foolish.

A couple of other cool tidbits:first, the console can be powered on by pressing and holding the PlayStation logo button at the center of the PS3 controller. If you press and hold it again while the system is on, you get a screen that shows the charge level of the controller’s battery, and options to shut down the system or put the controller to sleep. Plugging the pad into one of the four USB ports on the front of the console charges it, and the PlayStation button lights up red as an indication that it’s connected.

We also poked around under the “trap door” on the front of the 60GB system. It flips open to reveal Compact Flash, SD card, and Memory Stick slots. Not exactly mind-blowing, but it’s nice that the system was designed to let you pop them in, close the hatch and not have to look at them messing up the sleek lines of the PS3.

So, that’s the console itself. We have to say that, while we’re still not big on the price of the PS3, the thing seriously looks like it’s worth a lot of cash. When you get your hands on it, you can tell that the overall build quality is of a much higher level than other consoles or consumer electronics. It’s seriously cool.

Is it Worth $600?

Yes, we’ve asked ourselves that again. The price is still an issue, but after playing all of the latest versions of the games, we’re definitely a lot more excited about PS3 in general. There are some truly must-play games with experiences that you’re not going to get on PS2, and these titles are good enough to make that $500/$600 more of a speed bump than a full-on roadblock. More than anything, we’re seeing real proof that PS3 is going to be as powerful as promised, and that it will be home to some amazing games that you’re not going to see on any other system. That’s always been a strong point of the PlayStation lineage, and PS3 is off to a great start in continuing the legacy.

NEXT: GAMES