April 04, 2006

Next-Gen to Prev-Gen

by psu

Originally, I bought the PS2 for a few specific games that were not available on my "main platform", the Xbox. At the time, I figured that me and my Xbox-live crew would naturally make the progression from Halo 2 on the Xbox to whatever was like Halo 2 on the Xbox 360. Between that, and the periodic Madden roster update sequel, I'd be all set.

Things never go according to plan. For various reasons, after a long run of a little more than a year, the Xbox live crew dissolved. It just became too hard to get everyone together at the right times and get them all playing the same game. As a result, my interest in online gameplay pretty much dissolved. Without a regular crew, you are stuck playing deathmatch against randoms. And random people on the Internet are almost always assholes. I don't know why, that's just how it is.

Microsoft didn't do themselves any favors by launching the 360 the way they did. You still can't walk into Target and buy a 360 Premium system (today my Target had two Core, aka "retarded" systems), and the games have been coming out in a slow trickle. To make things worse, the Xbox has been declared dead, so there is nothing to do on that machine either.

What Microsoft has done is make the original Xbox collect dust, and made it impossible for me to think of a reason to buy a 360, even if I could find one, which I can't. Great job.

Instead, I've been playing the PS2, and to my surprise, I like it more and more.

As a pure hardware platform, the PS2 really only has two things going for it.

1. It's small and cute and quiet.

2. The dual shock controller is the perfect controller, except where you want the long travel analog triggers that the Xbox has.

Everything else about the machine is pretty pathetic. It lacks raw processing power, lacks decent mass storage, and even the best rendering that I've seen on the machine combines a fuzzy sort of soft focus with a staggering amount of jagged shimmering aliasing in high resolution textures. It's truly horrible to look at.

The funny thing is, as I used the machine more, these problems receded into the background. I even found that I like the stupid memory cards more than I thought I would. Being able to back up save files is nice, even if juggling multiple cards is stupid.

I also noticed that even when playing older games, I started to subconsciously block out the horrible quality of the rendering, and instead I would see the game as it would be in my mind's eye. Almost like the way Neo decodes the gibberish characters of The Matrix at the end of the movie.

In any case, the games demand more attention than the hardware's technical limitations. The PS2 library covers arguably the widest variety of game types, and it thus allowed me to break out of my Madden and shooter world. From platformers to JRPGs to freaky horror shows to music games, I've played many more types of games than I had before. In particular, I never played action and platformer games on the Xbox because I found the controller to be tiring. Even the relatively light action in Jade Empire was painful. I find that these games are much easier to play with the PS2 controller. The size of the pad and the position of the buttons is just less fatiguing for me. Who knows why.

This expansion of interests inevitably triggered the final stage of every dork hobby addiction: collecting. The huge back catalog of PS2 games makes this almost irresistible. For example, various reissues let you follow the progression of the Japanese RPG from its inception all the way to the clothing-based battle systems of Shadow Hearts and Final Fantasy X-2. I got Silent Hill 2 for the PS2, and Pete showed me the original Silent Hill for the PS1 just in time for the movie. Every trip to the Target now brings with it the temptation to pick up some cheap title just to see it. I even picked up another Metal Gear game even though those never have any chance of being any good.

It does not need to end here. I have that old TV that isn't going anywhere, the perfect thing to hook up to an old PSOne, or Dreamcast, or SNES. Having never played any of the old games, I can probably iterate this process nearly endlessly while the waiting for the next wave of consoles to actually become worth owning.

Of course, things never go according to plan. I could always fall into Oblivion. Maybe the Target will have Premium systems tomorrow.

Posted by psu at April 4, 2006 06:42 PM | Bookmark This

It used to be that (before sticking the whole damn world to a rolly-ball) I'd happily point to Intelligent Qube as evidence that the PlayStation franchise encouraged a wonderful breadth in the nature of games available for the platform. It's also worth noting that I've never played any other game that made better use of a subwoofer. It's a PSone game - if you ever see a copy, it's worth snagging.

(If you don't, I can try to find mine.)

Posted by Goob at April 4, 2006 11:33 PM

I walked into a Best Buy and bought a premium today. Unfortunately?

Posted by Claire at April 4, 2006 11:55 PM

"And random people on the Internet are almost always assholes. I don't know why, that's just how it is."

Because they think they can hide... something about the anonymity seems to do that to them. Age makes no difference, either. *eye roll*

Posted by Kat at April 5, 2006 05:48 AM

I'm almost going through the same thing, and yet I own a 360. Only Oblivion has stopped me from more drastic measures. The thing is, after the real high that increased draw distance gives you for about a month, you realize that so far you're paying more to play what you enjoyed just fine on your far cheaper Xbox. And the whole debacle of backwards compatability makes your old Xbox seem more foreign than ever. I could basically play through the massive and diverse PS2 back catalog until the PS3 is a value to normal humans, and then take my library to my next system. I'm realizing now how big that is. 2 other warning spots...

-Oblivion is easily the best game on 360 and yet is a better value on PC's that can run it since you can mod it and aren't locked into Bethesda's current plan to screw you on downloadable "armor for your horse".

-The 2nd best game is Geometry Wars. Which is great, but doesn't seem right for a $400 system.

Tread carefully at your local Best Buy is my advice.

Posted by arlovegas at April 5, 2006 10:50 AM

As far as crappy rendering goes, I have to respectfully disagree (a bit). I agree that games with largish worlds filled with many objects, like "Shadow of The Colossus" and "Resident Evil 4" can look rough. Combine a big line-of-sight with poor texture selection and you can get the fizzy, swimmy moire patterns that drive you so mad.

However, I've seen some FANTASTIC quality graphics on the PS2. For example: "God of War", "Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal", and "Destroy All Humans." These games look great; as good as anything I've seen on the 360 so far: bright colors, well-chosen textures, good models and exciting and fun SFX (particles, dust, explosions, etc.)

Posted by jeff at April 5, 2006 12:39 PM

The PS2 is home to a few more developers that value smooth animation and 60fps as well. High-Def is bringing the animation issue to bear in a nasty way. But clean images and draw distances are sexy too.

Posted by arlovegas at April 5, 2006 12:48 PM

God of War and Ratchet look OK, I guess. For PS2 games. Same for Devil May Cry... but really if you stare at the it's the same old PS2 jitters.

The best comparison I know of is GT4 and Forza Motorsport. Forza is smooth and clean and detailed, and GT4 is a shimmering mess.

Posted by psu at April 5, 2006 01:39 PM

I didn't much care for GT4 and loved Forza, but GT4 was also 60fps as opposed to Forza's 30fps. Sometimes that's an issue with people and racing games.

Posted by arlovegas at April 5, 2006 02:18 PM

The huge backlog of great PS2 games is what is preventing me from buying an Xbox 360. I did not buy too many games last year for the PS2 in anticipation of the 360. When I could not find one in stores I decided to spend my time catching up on all the PS2 games that I missed last year. God of War, Resident Evil 4, Metal Gear Solid 3, Dragon Quest VIII, the list goes on and on. Now I look at all the great PS2 games that I still have to play and I don't think about missing out on the 360 at all.

Posted by Kevin at April 5, 2006 03:07 PM

Besides the smaller analog radius that you mentioned, the other thing that I really hate about PS2 controllers is the convex thumbpads. If I'm playing something where I have to hold down in one direction for an extended period of time, my thumb will invariably start to slip off. Thankfully, this only happens in games where I have a CHARACTER THAT MOVES.

(We started getting a large amount of Premiums down here, and I'm actually loving the 360 so far. Mostly for Oblivion, but as a whole I find it a very solid system with the most comfy controller I've ever used.)

Posted by Adam Rixey at April 5, 2006 07:34 PM

I love my ps2 game library and will be thrilled if they really play on the ps3. Since you guys seem new to the ps2 world.. if you happen to like racing games you MUST get a logitech driving force pro wheel. Also for flight games get the logitech force feedback flightstick... the immersion quality is fantastic! Also.. don't forget all the great music and eye toy games. They are fantasticly fun. Here are some of my favorites.. you can tell I like racing, flying and party games:

Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies PS2 Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War PS2
Aero Elite Combat Academy PS2 Dance Dance Revolution Extreme PS2
DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution PS2 Eye Toy: Groove PS2
Eye Toy: Kinetic PS2
Eye Toy: Play PS2
EyeToy: AntiGrav PS2
F1 Career Challange PS2
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec PS2
Gran Turismo 4 PS2
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas PS2
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City PS2
Guitar Hero w/ Guitar Controller PS2
Heroes of The Pacific PS2
Jeopardy 2003 PS2
Karaoke Revolution PS2
Karaoke Revolution Party PS2
Manhunt PS2
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 PS2
NHL 2k6 PS2
Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal PS2 Resident Evil 4 PS2
Sega SuperStars PS2
Sky Odyssey PS2
Spider-Man 2 PS2
Taiko Drum Master PS2
TOCA Race Driver 3 PS2
We Love Katamari PS2
Wheel of furtune PS2

Posted by traderwinds at April 13, 2006 08:04 AM

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