Our Revels Now Are Ending Pt. 3: The Curtain Closes with the PS3

As they say, all good things must come to an end. The question is, how was the ride?
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So, here’s a quick recap for those of you out there following along at home.

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Over my last two posts, I’ve given my personal impressions about the successes and failures of the Xbox 360 and the Wii. I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible without being overly indulgent with my analysis, including everything from the systems’ quality of graphics, their game selections, and their comparative online systems. If you haven’t already checked these articles out, well…suffice it so say, I recommend it.

With Nintendo and Microsoft’s 7 Gen pet projects already covered, that leaves us with just one more console to discuss. In fact, it’s a gaming console that needs no introduction…

So, let’s talk about the Sony PlayStation 3

Before we get into the major details about the system, however, we need to talk about the console’s launch. Now, I know that my accounts of the sheer insanity that surrounded both the 360 and the Wii launches were absurd, but in comparison to the lunacy that the PS3 inspired, these stories seem like a nice day lounging on the beach with a Bahama Mama. The 360 and Wii launches are to zip-lining as the PS3 launch is to base jumping: both are pretty intense experiences, but you have a much greater chance of injury with the latter.

Supposedly, Sony didn’t meet it’s shipping quota in time for the launch date in the States (November 17, 2006), and as a result 40% of the expected consoles weren’t on the shelves when retailers opened for the influx of gamers eager to get their hands on the system. There were accounts of shootings, robbery at gunpoint, 60 person brawls, and just general mass hysteria. Oh, and let’s not forget the uber-trolling of guys like the ones in the video below.

In short, the PS3 got off to a riotously good time!

Once the debacle over the launch died down, however, people started to see the PS3 for what it really was.

At the time of its release, the PS3 was greatly anticipated among hardcore gamers; within the the world of the casual gamer and simple consumer, the system was simply seen as the cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market. Cheap might be a misleading word, though, as the console initially did set you back about $400 for the basic model, or a whopping $600 for a version with greater hard drive space. True, there were some cool new innovations like the motion-sensitive Sixaxis Controller, but those features were unfortunately widely overlooked.

Yet, the cost wasn’t the only initial setback. In comparison to the forthcoming PlayStation 4, the list of launch titles for its predecessor was rather paltry. True, we got a couple of good ones in Resistance: Fall of Man, Call of Duty 3, and Tony Hawk’s Project 8, but those three titles made up one-fourth of the entirety of the console’s launch game. Sony seems to have remedied this problem with the expansive amount of games–around 40, by my calculations–that the PS4 will offer at its release.

This lack of games wasn’t just something that marred the success of the console’s release. For the first couple of years, one of the chief complaints among Sony fanboys was that the system just wasn’t producing enough quality games. Sony took note of these complaints, and re-dedicated themselves to producing high-quality games for their fan base. The result? A not-too-shabby list of original titles that included the Uncharted franchise, a continuation of their God of War franchise (I mean, seriously, how awesome was God of War III?!), and the innovative Little Big Planet, just to name a few.

Sony also joined the online gaming community with its PlayStation Network

I’ll admit: the PlayStation Network is not the most polished, nor the most accessible of online communities. That being said, it is still an acceptable network, and above all it is free. Can you believe it? Free, as in “no money necessary.” 

While at first it didn’t garner the same usage as Microsoft’s Xbox Live, the draw of not having to pay a monthly fee for usage eventually won over a good number of gamers. And when Sony had the gaming world’s attention, it unleashed the PlayStation Plus, which has by and large been a smash hit with both the gamers and the company itself. Everyone wins with the PlayStation Plus: Sony cashes in with subscriptions to the pay-to-play network, and gamers get monthly additions to their “Instant Game Collection.” What’s not to like about that?

If you think about it, the PS3 is an exact foil to the 360: where Sony started the 7th Gen off poorly–barely limping along for the first few years–and then eventually rose phoenix-like to the peak of its popularity in the later years of the gaming cycle, the 360 started out strong, had some immediate success… but unfortunately became bogged down with issues that hampered its overall success. I’m not saying that either console is necessarily better than the other by any means, just that the arch of their developments are the inverse of one another. For whatever that’s worth.

So, with all these systems reviewed, where does that leave us?

To conclude the allusion made in this article’s title: “These are the stuff that dreams are made on.” Shakespeare wrote those words over 500 years ago for what many scholars argue was his last play, The Tempest; and yet, they are piercingly pertinent to our current situation. 

In a way, the Xbox 360, the Wii, and the PlayStation 3 have been to us what a great actor was in the Bard’s time. They have provided us with innumerable hours of entertainment, making us laugh, and cry, and occasionally shake with rage; they have immersed us in worlds unknown, giving us reprieve from our personal realities in favor of more exotic, more awe-inspiring locales; they have sparked new ideas and novel perspectives within us, while simultaneously making us question some of the biggest parts of our lives.

Like with any old, tried-and-true friend, saying goodbye will be difficult. We’ll still get to see each other every once in a while. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy another run through Super Mario Galaxy, Halo 4, or Uncharted 2? But still, we, the gaming world, will inevitably move on for newer, greener, more graphically capable pastures. We will always remember the 7th Gen though, and as the curtain begins to close on their time of fame, we bid them all a fond, fond farewell.

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