It’s that E3 time of year again and Sony has predictably stolen the limelight by finally revealing the release date, pricing and revised controller design for the PlayStation 3.
Let the agony be over: 11 November (Japan), 17 November North America, Europe and Austrasia, 499 euros (20GB HDD), 599 euros (60GB HDD). Darn that splurge felt good, but I’m not surprised in the slightest that the price suggestions Sony recently shot down were exactly on the money.
The official announcement means that the PS3 (sporting its official ‘Clear Black’ (!) paintwork) is going to hit hard on the pocket, but sadly that is only half the story. The reason I say this is if you dig a little deeper into the Sony press release something rather disturbing is revealed: effectively you’re going to have to buy the 599 euro version.
It turns out that 40 gigabytes of storage is not all the 499 euro model is lacking in comparison with its (even) more expensive big brother. Add to that list no MemoryStick / SD / CompactFlash memory card reader, no wireless and no HDMI output. Missing the first two features is scandalous enough but losing HDMI and therefore restricting displays to analogue output destroys the entire point of High Definition gaming.
Slightly better news at least comes with the announcement of the revised PS3 controller. Rather sensibly (or boringly – depending on your perspective) it looks identical to the existing PS2 model. That said it sports a number of funky additions.
Most notable among them are motion detection (just like the controller that comes with the Nintendo Revolution - it’ll be a few more months before I can accept calling it the Wii) and a wired or wireless connection over Bluetooth. The L1, L2 and R1, R2 buttons have also been slightly enlarged and overall sensitivity increased. On the downside Sony has Dual Shock functionality saying it interferes with the motion sensor technology, but that didn’t prove to be an issue with the controllers for the Wii (there, I said it).
So overall, a mixed bag. I’m not impressed with the price or clear agenda Sony has in forcing users to go for the more expensive model. On the other hand I’m actually pleased that the controller design remains largely untouched - albeit with useful enhancements - meaning we’ll all be able to pick up and play within minutes. Still darn, if 599 euros ain’t a lot of money…