Buying Guide - PlayStation 3
PlayStation 3 Interface
What is the PlayStation 3?
The PlayStation 3 is not just a games console but an entertainment system unlike its older models (PlayStation and PlayStation 2). It allows you to play PlayStation 3 games first and foremost but also allows you to play DVDs, CDs, Blu-rays (it has a built in Blu-ray player), listen to music, view pictures, stream media and backup media as well as interact online with others. For me personally, it acts as an entertainment device that provides the majority of in-house entertainment needs.
It eliminates the need for a separate Blu-ray player and a separate DVD player as both work within the machine itself via disc. The system is primarily disc based with the option to download other titles through the PlayStation Store (which I’ll come to later in the hub).
If you don’t have an internet enabled TV (which really can be quite expensive at the moment) then you can stream media using your PlayStation 3. For UK based consumers this means BBC I Player, ITV player, 4 On Demand and other catch up TV services. LOVEFiLM is also included as an App to be used and you can access your account and titles as well. For UK and USA you can access the appropriate version of Netflix relevant to the territory as well as Vidzone, a subscription free customizable music video channel which is great for parties.
For me the addition of Netflix is fantastic as I can watch a lot of movies without the hefty subscription charges. I also live in a flat (apartment) so cannot get cable TV which makes it invaluable for me.
Main Features include (320GB used as example):
- 320GB HDD for storing games, music, videos and photos
- High Definition Blu-ray player
- Internet ready with built-in Wi-Fi
- Two USB ports
- Cell Broadband Engine advanced microprocessor
- HDMI output for 1080p resolution (cable sold separately)
- PlayStation Network membership
- One PS3 controller
Everything in the box will make the console work. Unlike say a Nintendo 3DS where you have to buy a charger cable separately. However I strongly recommend buying an HDMI lead which I will go into more depth as to why later.
What Models of PlayStation 3 Are There?
I bought the original 60GB PlayStation 3 on launch day many years ago but there are other versions out now with bigger hard drives including:
- 12GB Flash Version
- 250GB Version
- 320GB Version
- 500GB Version
There are Slim versions and Super Slim versions. Depending on how much room you have available (I would measure the space beforehand if you are looking at putting it within a ready built TV unit) you can work out which one you would prefer. The Slim version is more than capable and would be cheaper to buy so unless you really do have limited space then the smarter decision is a Slim model.
If you get a ’bundle’ this usually includes an extra controller, PlayStation Eye or even a couple of games but generally speaking below is what most machines include as standard (i.e. not a bundle). Bundles can be better value depending on what you are looking for. If you have younger children you may want the PlayStation Eye (which allows you to play games virtually using an interactive wand and your movements) and no learning of in depth controls. Bear in mind you need a decent sized lounge or living room for this to be fully appreciated.
With the different variants my advice would be to go between for either 250GB or 320GB. For most gamers this would be more than enough to store demo’s, games bought online and any other media you wanted to transfer. It is doubtful you would run out of space. I would steer clear of the 12GB as in my mind it is overpriced for what it is but I can see it was released as an entry level machine to bring in new consumers.
Exclusive PS3 Games
The main reason many would pick up a PlayStation 3 is for the games and luckily there are some critically acclaimed games that are 100% exclusive to Sony’s system. Here are a few of my personal favourites as well as the genre’s they fit into.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (Stealth/Action)
- Gran Turismo 5 (Racing)
- God of War III, God of War Ascension (Action)
- Heavy Rain (Adventure)
- Infamous, Infamous 2 (Action)
- Killzone 2, Killzone 3 (First Person Shooter)
- Ratchet and Clank Series (Adventure/Family)
- Uncharted Series (Action/Adventure)
For an even bigger list of PlayStation 3 exclusive games you can see them here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:PlayStation_3-only_games
Once you’re all set up you can register for a free PlayStation account which allows you free online access to extra functions as well as the ability to access the PlayStation store. As well as being able to buy selected PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita games you can access a huge amount of free demos, game trailers, videos, themes, avatars and, more recently, access film rentals.
You can also find extra content to extend the life of some of your games of which a lot can also be free to download. You can either pay for this through your debit or credit card or if you have children and want to limit their purchases you can buy PlayStation Store gift cards which enable you to load the PlayStation online wallet with funds – it’s a good way to make sure you don’t get stung with a large bill but giving your children a little freedom too.
It’s easy to search for titles and navigate and will be the area where you can input special redemption codes often packaged with new games to access special content either before mainstream release to the public. With all of the extra content available, it makes sense to make use of the online benefits.
Whilst online you can add people who you meet online through gaming to your ‘Friends’ list. This means their user name is stored for you to view and you can request a game session if you are both playing the same game. Obviously it depends from game to game but it’s very useful for FPS games as well as fighting games. The main reason being if you have played some good games with people and are evenly matched, you want to store them for the future. It’s also useful as it shows you what games they are playing and may introduce you to new games if you know you have similar tastes.
One thing that is not supplied with the PlayStation 3 is an HDMI cable. You may be thinking that you don’t need one because everything works without one. However, if there is one thing I urge you to consider getting it is an HDMI cable. There are many reasons for this. It improves the sound quality and allows games that support 1080p to be viewed in a much clearer and crisper way. Make sure you have a High Definition enabled TV (and now most are to be honest) and you’re good to go. It genuinely makes such a difference. To give you a personal example, for Virtua Fighter 4 it made the menu text clearer, there was less latency (i.e. the time it takes for the screen to recognise the button inputs) and graphically everything became crisper, colours were deeper and I was pretty blown away by the difference. Essentially not getting an HDMI cable means you are not seeing the true potential of the system and that would be a real shame in my view.
Tip - You DO NOT need to pay lots of money for an HDMI cable. You will see cables that cost 60 dollars and above stating that they are superior and give the best possible performance. The fact is while some may be built in a sturdier way you will get the same experience from a 5 dollar cable to a 100 dollar cable. I bought an HDMI cable when the PlayStation 3 launched 6 or so years ago for £3.00 (5 dollars) and it still works perfectly. Try to get one that isn’t too long if you can – the shorter the lead the better. Less tangling and a shorter distance for the signal to travel basically.
This is not at all necessary but can certainly enhance your gaming experience and also introduce new gamers who may not be that interested in learning how to use the controller. In essence it is PlayStations answer to the Wii. It allows your body movement’s to be recognised by certain games using the PlayStation Move wand. This allows you to interact with either new games or even some old favourites that happen to be PlayStation Move supported. The PlayStation Eye (a webcam essentially) helps track your movements and works with the wands. There are PlayStation Move starter packs which have all you need to get going with it.
Many PlayStation Move games are catered towards a younger audience because of the simpler interface. As the name suggests it’s all about moving your body with the tracking wand to interact with the game. From shooting an arrow to swinging a sword or even painting or drawing. There are a variety of games to try. The wand’s come with straps so you won’t accidentally throw it across the room if you lose your grip and can be charged through the USB ports of the PlayStation 3.
I like the sports games available but also some fitness games. If I lose the motivation to go to the gym, I’ll put on a workout game which can genuinely be quite tiring but fun as well trying to punch the floating targets or using full body movements which all get tracked through the PlayStation Move enabled game. Many workout games come bundled with a heart rate monitor too. It’s a great addition to get kids moving and exercising without them really knowing it because of how fun it is. Introducing them to light exercise at a young age can only be beneficial and great for a rainy day.
PlayStation Plus is again an added extra but one I am finding more and more useful as the months roll on. Initially when it launched it was not anything to shout about. However, Sony realised this and genuinely listened to feedback from gamers. It now stands as an almost ‘must have’ because of the sheer amount of content you can get Vs the cost. It is a subscription service which you can either pay for monthly, quarterly or yearly. For the UK it works out around £40 or around 60 dollars for the USA for one year. The benefits are many:
- Access to Full game trials allowing you to experience an hour of many top games to try and see if you like them,
- Exclusive discounts on many items within the PlayStation Store
- Ability to backup game saves via the Cloud
- 3-4 completely free games to download every month to keep while you are a subscriber of which many of huge titles. This is the biggest draw.
I experienced many games I wouldn’t have known about as well as play some amazing games which I would have ordinarily paid full price for. It also allowed me to try games I thought I would like but actually didn’t... saving me money.
Tips for Caring for your PlayStation 3 and Games
Nobody likes it when their equipment breaks or their games don’t work. Things can happen but here are a few tips to extend the life of games and the PlayStation 3.
- When shutting down the PlayStation 3 always make sure you hold down the central button on the controller and select ‘Turn off system’. Never just turn off the outlet while the system is running as this may corrupt data or you may loss progress. It will go from a green light to then a red light. Once it shows the red light you can switch off at the wall as it is safe to do then.
- Dust can be a bit of a killer over time and can build up around the USB ports around the console. It was more of an issue with older models which were a little more exposed though. Either way I suggest gently wiping around with a dry piece of kitchen roll to remove any dust build up. All that the dust build up does is that it can make the PlayStation 3 work harder as blocks off vents for the air to escape. The internal fan regulates the temperature and the dust essentially means the fan has to work harder and louder.
- Always place the game discs back in their boxes. If they aren’t protected in their boxes not only do they risk being scratched more easily but if you ever wanted to sell them on to a 3rd party, many shops check for scratches and won’t accept them if they have lots of visible scratches (even if the game works). It’s the same with any disc based medium but considering you may pay up to 60 dollars for a game or more it’s worth taking care of them and protecting an investment.
So I hope this has helped people learn lots more about the PlayStation 3 - it took me while to do!
If anyone has any questions or are unsure of certain things feel free to message me or comment and I'll help as best I can:-)