1st PS2 Review - 1st Impression
Written: Oct 26, 2000 (Updated Nov 26, 2000)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Quality, DVD game capacity vs CD, plays PS1 Library, Expansion Potential
Cons:A/V jacks gone, Demo disk not with it, no external memory supplied, specification page lacks detail, 90 day warranty
This is a REAL product review, not speculation. We purchased the Playstation 2 (PS2) game console and "Ridge Racer V", as a test game, on launch day at a local retailer.
What you receive in the box
Besides the game console you get a power cord, audio/video (A/V)cable, one new analog game controller and a multilingual Instruction Manual. There is a coupon for a free "Demo" disk which has to be filled out and mailed in. Why the heck didn't they put the disk in the box? Free is free, isn't it?
The console itself, visually, is impressive. Appearance is more like looking at a small, expensive computer. There is nothing toy-like about it and it is quite heavy for its size in comparison to the very light PS1. The weight is substantial enough for vertical placement, but I would recommend one of the numerous and inexpensive vertical stands that are readily available, for added stability. This would insure that some over zealous kick boxer doesn't yank the controller cord too hard and topple this precious machine. Of course, a mature adult like me, would not have to worry about it. Not.
From the back you can see the addition of a small and quiet cooling fan, another indicator of quality. Some early PS1 consoles experienced overheating problems. This will give us some extra insurance. Also on the back is the detachable power cord, the A/V cable connector, optical digital audio out, and the main power on off switch, one of those 0/1 rocker type switches. There is an expansion bay door panel for a Hard Drive to be released in the future. Didn't open it.(Wimp!)
On the front, with the power on, the first thing to catch the eye are two distinctive and attractive power indicator LEDs, one green on the reset button and the other blue, on the disk tray button............. Spaced out there! Can't stop looking at it, its just too pretty. The reset button, when held for 2 seconds puts the unit into standby (off) mode and the LED turns red. Pushing either the reset button or the disk tray button will turn the unit back on. The disk tray is now powered to open and close as they do on a PC. Two controllers and two memory cards can be accommodated with front connectors that look exactly like the Playstation 1. For future use, there are 2 USB connectors and an "ilink" connector. The game console is equally attractive sitting either horizontally or vertically. I chose vertical.
Compatibility with Playstation 1
I tried my collection of PS1 controllers and they work fine. In fact, I own an "Act Labs" steering wheel with foot pedals and it too works fine. The PS1 Sony RF adapter was tested and also works with it. Doing so will take away your stereo sound since the modulator transmits mono only, just as it did on the PS1. Memory was stated as being compatible but there is an important catch. Your PS1 memory cards do work but with your PS1 games only. The new PS2 games require the PS2 memory card and will not save to the old style. This turned out to be a problem for me. We attempted to buy the memory card at the same time as the console, but the store wasn't shipped any.
** I was able to get the 8MB memory card on October 27 at Walmart. So remember to pick one up when you buy the console. Add another $34.99 to your purchase price. (My Sony 8MB memory review is under the Console>Accessories>Playstation2>Memory category.)**
My PS1 games play on the PS2. I found some adjustments for increasing the PS1 game performance. Here's how: From the Main Menu without a disk, press "Triangle" twice. Then adjust disk speed to "Fast" and Texture to "Smooth". The results on GT-2 are, slightly better graphics but much better speed for loading, saving and most importantly, you can now zip around the GT-2 menus. Some PS1 games can benefit from this but not all. This adjustment, if needed, must be performed each time the console is turned on.
What they did away with
The RCA type jacks (female) for audio left, right and video out, that were on the back of the PS1, are now gone. These were convenient for me, in the past, for connecting directly to my stereo amplifier. They were replaced with an A/V cable that connects to the same connector that is used for the RF adapter. One end of the A/V cable connects there and the other end of the cable has RCA (male) plugs for audio left, right and video input to a TV having the same. Therefore, you can not use the RF adapter and the A/V cable at the same time.
So how does the menu and a PS2 game look?
The opening screen has two choices, a Browser for option selection and System Configuration. When sitting idle on it, it plays the sounds of waves breaking on the beach. "I kid you not!" It has facilities to select language, date, time, daylight savings and such. The weird thing is, it came up on its own with October 26, 2000 as the date, which I can accept, but having my correct EDT time, to the minute, was eerie. Was this an incredible coincidence? I didn't change anything. You can also select 4:3, full screen and 16:9 displays for the type of monitor you are using.
Ridge Racer (this is not a game review, its a PS2 review)
Ridge Racer V graphic quality I'll give 90% on the reality scale. Other words, I sat back and said how close does this look to real cars racing around. This is quite an improvement over the Gran Turismo 2, PS1 game, which is the best I have seen on the PS1. Cars are realistic looking with building and trees that look like building and trees and they also reflect off the cars along with sunlight and shadows as they would in real life. Impressive. GT-2 concentrated on the cars dynamics more than the scenery, which was the more important as they approached system limits. The scenery on RR V is a drastic step up. I will leave the Dreamcast comparisons to those who own both systems. All I can say is that I'm pleased with the graphics on this 1st generation game, that was probably rushed for the PS2 launch date. Only better things can be expected in the future. Perhaps Gran Turismo 3, due out after the first of the year. What keeps it from looking real? I'd say it might be in the coloring. Like yellows are just too yellow, if you know what I mean. My Ridge Racer PS2 game loaded from the CD faster and during play, the screen changes seemed faster than the PS 1 games. Chapter changes have been less than 12 seconds.
I tried the DVD movie "Matrix". It played, sounded, and looked just as well as it did on my $260 Panasonic DVD player, bought about 9 months ago. All the same DVD menus and controls that you might be use to are accessed using the game controller. Optional remote controls are available out there from 3rd party vendors. For some reason, Sony did not make one. (See my Saitek DVD Remote review under Console>Accessories>Playstation2>Remote category) I quickly confirmed that an audio CD played in typical CD quality stereo. But I won't date myself by telling you what I played.
New Analog Controller
The controller is the same as the current PS1 Sony analog controller with the addition of analog push buttons for square, triangle, O and X. What this means, and I did try it, is that if the "X" button is your accelerator, the amount of pressure applied to it determines how fast you will go. Of course, if you choose, you can select the analog joystick to be your accelerator and brake, as it has been used in the past. The analog joysticks when pushed inwards are still the L3 and R3 buttons.
How did I get this on launch day?
No pre-order and a lot of luck. My wife (what a team) went over to my local Target at 5:00 AM, October 26, 2000, and joined the line as number 23. The manager came out at 6:00 AM and stated he had 28. He gave each person a numbered slip up to 28 and advised them to come back for the 8:00 AM opening. My son was equally lucky at a Best Buy in Boston. He and his girlfriend camped out overnight. They were number 5 and 6 for 100 available. They both got one. Unlike us, he was able to get the PS2 memory card. My wife and son were in constant contact with cellular phones. What a wonderful age we live in. Me? I went to work, came home and played with it, tested it and wrote the review.
I feel the quality of this unit, along with its US shipped configuration is a good deal for the $300 paid. This is the same price I paid for the PS1 at its launch years ago. But the PS2 now has a 300 Mhz, 128 bit processor with 32 Mb of internal memory and a combination DVD/CD drive. I'm very pleased with what I have bought here and hope it will serve me well for the upcoming years of game play. Playstation 1 owners, you WILL be happy with this. You've waited a long time for an upgrade and your time has come. Do I see me installing a hard drive in the future? I sure do.
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