Many of the reviews I've read about the PS2 rip it for not being available or for not having the greatest game selection as of right now. I think that is an unfair shot at the PS2, because most people who I know who really want a PS2 have one, and it's not Sony's fault that game developers haven't mastered game design on the PS2 yet.
If you want to review the PS2 for what it really is, you have to look just at the PS2. I have one sitting in my home. I managed to snag one off of Walmart.com one day. Two of the best games for the system so far, Madden 2001 and SSX, just so happened to come in the bundle I bought. How do I like the PS2? Very well, thank you.
I'm into games, but not like some people. I've had an Atari, a Sega Genesis, a PSX and now a PS2. I never got any type of Nintendo system because I felt most games were aimed at a younger crowd, and I didn't get a Dreamcast because I was happy with my PSX at the time, looking forward to the PS2, and didn't feel I really needed two systems at once.
The PS2 has been a welcome step-up from the PSX. For one, it replaced my PSX. I can still play all of my original games. Yeah, people say it's no big deal because most people don't just throw out their old system, they still have it to use. But now I don't need to dig out the PSX from the closet to hook it up if I feel like playing Tony Hawk 2. Is that a huge bonus? No, not really, but my software library is still intact and playable, not in a cardboard box packed away waiting to be rediscovered in six months.
Secondly, it has a DVD player. I like movies, but I don't buy them. I probably have 2 VHS movies, and I rarely watch either of them. I did not have a DVD player before the PS2. Therefore, to me, the DVD option is a huge plus. If I go to Blockbuster and rent a DVD, I can watch it now. So what if it doesn't have slow motion or any of the more hi-tech features? I can put the movie in, play it, watch it, pause it to get some popcorn, and then watch the rest of it. That's all I need my DVD player to do, and it does it just fine. I'm happy with the quality and sound output, and the controller, though kind of clumsy, can control all of the options I need it to.
The controllers of the PS2 are what makes it shine above all systems. There's three prongs on the N64 controller, but I only have two hands. I still haven't figured that one out. The Dreamcast controllers feel cheap and light. PS2 controllers are heavy, comfortable, ergonomically sound, and work well. Plus they didn't change their design from the PSX, just added new features, like analog buttons -- the system knows how hard you are squeezing the buttons. Not all games use that feature yet, but it works very well in Madden 2001.
The PS2 offers a sort of operating system to it. When you turn it on, you can set options on it, like how to play PSX games, the time, DVD options, etc., and it saves them on your memory card. Games can now have time stamps, so if you save a game, there's a time and date associated with it. Just like the PSX, you can fiddle with your memory cards and copy and delete files, plus you can play regular music CDs. If you have your PS2 hooked up to a stereo, you probably already have a multiple disc CD player, so the PS2 isn't going to replace any hardware with that function.
The memory cards are great. Gone are the 15 blocks of memory. Now you store info by the KB. I have a franchise in Madden, a season in NHL, the system save, plus saves and settings from 4 other games and I've only used about half of the card.
Game selection on the PS2 right now isn't exactly diverse. But the system is only two months old, so what do you expect? Most games are targeted at the late teen to 20-something age group, which is just what the PSX aimed for. People compare available games to the Dreamcast, but that system has been out for a year. Give the PS2 about a year and then check back. The two main gripes from people (game selection and system availability) will be solved.
The PS2 also has lots of room for expansion. There's a USB and Firewire slot on the front, plus other options on the back. What are they used for now? Nothing. But the option is there for internet play, networking, etc. and like I said above, check back in a year and see how it's doing.
You may be wondering why I didn't give it 5 stars. There's a couple minor things that could have been included or fixed to make the PS2 even better. I realize Sony wants to stick with broadband internet gaming with the PS2, but since there isn't any plans for that in the near future, it would have been nice to offer a modem at release. Let us get some kind of online gaming while you work on the expanded abilities of it. Also, there's that 2 vs. 4 controller port issue. Yeah, it costs more to put 4 controller ports on it, and Sony says that once online gaming is up and running you will have no need to stuff four people behind one TV. But as I stated earlier, online games are not in the near future, and Sony is making us pay $35 to play with 3 or more people at once. Now, if you want to play eight player Madden 2001, you need a PS2 ($300), the game ($50), 1 memory card ($30), 2 multi-taps ($70) and 8 controllers (about $280!) for a grand total of $730. Online gaming better hurry up and get here...
Overall, I'm happy with my PS2. If you don't want to pay $300 bucks for one, just wait. The price will come down. The original PSX started at $300, and I think it did just fine. The DVD works great for those that want a basic DVD player (like me). And knowing that the PS2 has the largest and most talented selection of 3rd party game developers mean there will be some great games coming out for this console soon.
Hang tight. The ride is just beginning.
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