- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Nearly five months into the release of Sony’s greatest entertainment console, the PlayStation 3 (PS3), I am still scratching my head with its Sixaxis controller, wondering how long it will take to see some spectacular content.

No matter how much power is under the hood (3.2 gigahertz, to be exact), no matter its level of backward compatibility (with almost all previous PlayStation generation discs), and no matter its high-definition potential, the PS3 needs to get some creative gas quickly from games and digital video media.

Specifically, Sony has to get its third-party and in-house developers to produce games that look much better than the Xbox 360’s lineup. This is an obvious point that still eludes the media giant. Sony also must push Blue-ray Disc-aligned Hollywood studios to deliver revolutionary interactivity for viewers and not just higher-resolution picture quality with its movie releases. BD is a high-capacity, optical-storage disc in competition as the next-generation format for home entertainment.

The PS3 has incredible potential, and strengths lie in its use of a multitasking Cell processor, Bluetooth connectivity, upgradeable hard drive, a BD drive and its potential interaction with the PlayStation Portable.

However, the high price point ($599 for the 60-gigabyte version) and the need to have a high-definition television ($2,000 and more) to fully appreciate the PS3 makes it still not a viable purchasing decision for the average family, especially with Microsoft’s much cheaper Xbox 360 ($399) and Nintendo’s Wii ($249) already delivering the gaming goods.

Here’s a look at some of the titles from the two content categories that give the PS3 some baby teeth.

First, the best of the 30 or so games currently available and pickings are slim, folks.

The legendary third-person fighting game continues to shine as players use a lethal list of combination moves with 17 characters in warrior-versus-warrior matches. No multiplayer, but it does look marvelous. Unfortunately, some will argue, it still is a port of an arcade game (providing conversion to other software platforms) and does not look as good as Dead or Alive 4 on the Xbox 360.

The enormous free-form role-playing game will consume a coach potato’s life and already is available for the Xbox 360. However, it looks better on the PS3 and includes the Knights of the Nine expansion saga.

This great-looking first-person survival horror shooter, available only on the PS3, is distinguished by hot graphics and the ability for 40 players to battle freely online, but this type of story and action already has been explored ad nauseam by other developers.

The movie category is a bit more complicated. Blue-ray is one of the formats used for the next generation of high-definition digital films that will slowly replace the DVD format. Remember, standard Blue-ray players cost about $700 and do not play games. A features-loaded PS3 is just $599.

Unfortunately, of the almost 200 releases on store shelves, only a handful take advantage of the Blue-ray potential.

Here are a couple of the best.

Who could believe a feisty fowl from a mediocre computer-animated film could offer a breakthrough in the Blue-ray experience? Its first “never seen before” feature is a simple shooting game that is not just a lame and sluggish set-top challenge but a fun, simplified two-player version of Space Invaders.

More important, its Filmmaker Q&A; enables viewers, through an on-screen pop-up menu under the movie, to choose about 30 questions that either the producer or director answers in a video clip or commentary track.

In Ridley Scott’s film about an attack on American soldiers in Somalia, viewers can now watch an integrated documentary on the production as they decide which of its six parts, or all of it, to watch.


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