Should You Buy A PlayStation 3?

The PlayStation 3 got off to a slow start when the console first launched in 2006. Since then, it has picked up some serious steam and has come into its own. Is now a good time to take the plunge? Updated.

[This post was last updated on September 29, 2010, and will be updated if events, news, games, prices or acts of nature cause our opinion to change.]

Should I Buy A PS3 Now?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Yes, but be advised that the holiday line-up of exclusive games is weak for the PS3. Earlier this year, we cautioned readers to hold off on buying the PlayStation 3 because improved models of the console that had been offered to Japanese consumers had not yet been confirmed for North American release. Since then, they've both been confirmed and gone on sale.

Our enthusiasm is also tempered by a soft spring release schedule which saw PS3 exclusives LittleBigPlanet 2, SOCOM 4 and MotorStorm Apocalypse pushed back to 2011. The formidable Gran Turismo 5 is the PS3's lone heavyweight exclusive for the gall.

The PlayStation 3 isn't only about games. It features a Blu-ray player, giving the versatile console an edge as a living room's possible hi-def centrepiece. While the system launched with a Sixaxis controller that was shaped like a traditional game controller but could detect tilt, the PS3 will be getting wand-like motion controls, called the PlayStation Move, later this year. On June 10, stereoscopic 3D became available on the PS3, making the console 3D ready for games and TV sets that support that technology.

The PlayStation Network offers online play for the very nice price of free.

But What If I've Already Got A Xbox 360? Should I Buy One Now?

No. Well, unless you have money to burn, that is. One high-end system is probably enough, and more and more games are released on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3. To decide between the PS3 and the Xbox 360, it's best to decide on the console exclusives. If you feel that you must have titles like God of War III or Metal Gear Solid 4, then the PS3 is the console for you.

But What If I've Already Got A Wii? Should I Buy One Now?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Yes, you should. The Wii excels at many things, but hi-definition gaming is not one of them. If you own a Wii and are looking for another gaming console, by all means, pick up a PS3. Not only is the Wii missing DVD playback, it is also missing Blu-ray playback. The PS3 sports both.

Other things the Wii is lacking: a robust online network, high-definition support and true surround sound. The PS3 has all those, making it a viable choice for a second console. The PS3 also offers wonderful "casual" titles like ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet, but in beautiful HD graphics and sound.

If you have a Wii, you would be impressed with the precision of the Move wand, but Move software is not yet comparable to the best of the Wii motion games. We don't recommend getting a Move if you have a Wii.

What Else Does It Do Besides Gaming?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Tons. As previously mentioned, the PS3 is outfitted with both a DVD and a Blu-ray player, making it an ideal console for cinephiles. It used to do more, however. The original PS3 that launched in 2006 could play PS2 games and Super Audio CDs. The versions of the console currently on the market cannot. Until this year, the console did have Linux support. Sony decided to remove that feature due to security concerns. But PS3s are also still able to store and play music and photos, making it an ideal HD hub. There is also HD support for streaming services such as Netflix.

The PS3 has connectivity with Sony's portable gaming device, the PSP. Players can playback video content (and play some games) from their PS3 on their PSPs. There is also a virtual world called "Home" in which players can interact and mingle with gamers all over the world.

The PlayStation 3 also has a timed console exclusive with Hulu, bringing American customers a range of TV shows on-demand for the price of $US10 a month. You need to be a PlayStation Plus member, which is an added $US50 annual subscription.

If I'm Going To Buy A PS3, Which One Should I Get?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Honestly, the 2006 launch console is the best. It comes with an array of features - like Super Audio CD playback, built-in flash memory card reader and PS2 backwards compatibility - that were later deemed too costly by Sony. Since those consoles are no longer produced, the 120GB "slim" version is the way to go over the more expensive 250GB version as 120GB should be enough for most players. A 120GB PS3 slim is priced at $US300, while a refurbished 60GB launch PS3 is priced at around $US350.

The two currently sold models are:

1) 160GB selling for $US299.99. 2) 320GB bundled with the PlayStation Move motion controller, a PlayStation Eye camera (required for the Move) and a copy of Move game Sports Champions for $US399.99.

We recommend the 160GB model as we don't yet believe that the Move is a must-own and are not swayed by the added storage.

What Are The Best Games On The PS3?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

The PS3 has a good mix of multi-platform games and exclusive titles. The best PS3-only games include titles like adventure games Uncharted and Uncharted 2, which do a fantastic job of taking advantage of the PS3's hardware power. Likewise, games like God of War III and Metal Gear Solid 4 provide players with gaming experiences that they cannot get elsewhere. These are some of the biggest titles in big budget gaming. The console also has sleeper hits like the beautiful-looking Valkyria Chronicles and the notoriously hard Demon's Souls. Plus, the PS3 has many of the same games that are available on the Xbox 360 and PC. Titles include games like BioShock, Resident Evil 5 and the Call of Duty series.

Also keep an eye out for LittleBigPlanet, a delightful side-scrolling game that allows players to radically remake it into all sorts of wild adventures. A sequel is slated for release early next year, though even the first game is worth checking out if only to check out the thousands of creative user-created levels available for download.

Which Ones Are Worst?

There are bad games on any console, and the PS3 is no exception. However, due to the high development costs of PS3 games, the platform is able to escape many of the cheaply produced titles that plague other consoles.

So I've Bought A PS3... What Should My First Three Games Be?

1) Uncharted 2, because not only the game itself is great, but so too are the story, the dialogue and the characters. 2) Flower, a download-only game, because it is a truly moving title that takes advantage of the PS3's Sixaxis motion controls. 3) Metal Gear Solid IV, because, yes, this game actually lived up to its hype.

Is the PS3 Backwards-Compatible?

It was. The original PS3 that launched in 2006 was able to play PlayStation 2 games. That feature has since been removed. All systems are still backwards-compatible with PSOne games.

What About Downloadable Games?

The PS3 features many exciting digital titles on the PS3, such as the PixelJunk series, Super Stardust HD and Flower. Sony has done a solid job of mixing mainstream games with smaller, more unusual titles.

Other standouts include Everyday Shooter, Critter Crunch, WipeOut HD, Echochrome and Bionic Commando Rearmed.

What About The Move? Should I Get That?

New question added September 29, 2010.

We've played all the launch Move games and reviewed most of them, plus previewed many more. Check all of our launch Move coverage, which is full of written impressions and videos.

The bottom line on Move is that it works very well - as well as the Wii Remote with Motion Plus, if not even better, but it lacks any games to brag about to your friends. The Move has show-off potential, but right now it's not worth picking up - not until we see some killer apps.

What's Wrong With The PS3?

Compared to the Xbox 360 (and the PS2, for that matter), the PS3 has largely been a well put together piece of hardware. The console's failure rates are not abnormal, so consumers can purchase one with the same confidence they would most other electronics. The biggest knock on the system had long been its price. It used to be significantly more expensive than the Xbox 360 and the Wii. Price drops have largely removed that problem.

There are some drawbacks when it comes to the ability to talk to people through the console while playing games online. Some players are dissatisfied with the inability for players to chat with each other while playing different games online. PS3s support Bluetooth and USB headsets, but the lack of a packed-in headset with new systems has diminished the likelihood that people with whom you play an online game even have a headset plugged in. That makes the online experience of the PS3 much less chatty than it is on the Xbox 360, for better or worse.

Are There Any Hidden Costs?

Answer updated July 5, 2010.

Unlike the Xbox 360's online service, the PS3's PlayStation Network is free and works out of the box. The PSN enables players to check out demos and trailers free of charge. Microsoft, on the other hand, now requires players to sign up for its paid services to download many demos.

Users can, however, opt in to Sony's PlayStation Plus service, which, for an annual subscription fee of $US50 gives players access to a number of free games and other exclusive content. It's far from necessary, as you can still download demos and play games for free, but those wanting the complete PS3 experience may see this as a hidden cost.

Another hidden cost would be, as it is with most consoles, the purchase of a second controller. The PS3 comes bundled with one, and most players will want a second one. Controllers typically cost around $US50. Thankfully, no batteries are needed. The controllers are charged by connecting them to the PS3 console via a USB cable. That means players will not have to constantly replace batteries like with the Xbox 360 controller or the Wii Remote (or buy a rechargeable pack).

But Wait, Won't The PS3 Be Replaced Soon?

Not anytime soon. When the PS3 was released in 2006, Sony said the console will have a ten year lifespan. Meaning? It should be good until 2016. No doubt, Sony will release PS3 redesigns, but according to Sony, the platform itself will be good for a good decade. It is important to note that even when the PS3 was released, Sony continued to support the PS2 with new games. So that doesn't mean the PlayStation 4 won't be released before 2016. It simply means that the console will probably continue to be supported.

Essential Facts About The PS3 Released in 2006

The PlayStation 3 is a home video game console sold by Sony Computer Entertainment. Its key gaming features are high definition graphics, surround sound, and the ability to play with or against other people over the internet. Its key multimedia features are the ability to playback high definition movies, connect to the internet, store and display media like photos and music as well as stream HD content.

Sony has positioned the PS3 at the high end of high-end home consoles. It is targeted at 18-40 year-old males. The upcoming release of the PlayStation Move motion controller Move should widen the console's appeal to more kids and less-experienced gamers.

Currently available models: PS3 Slim 120GB ($US300)*, PS3 Slim 250GB ($US350), PS3 Fat 80GB Refurbished [4 USB ports]($US300), PS3 Fat 80GB Refurbished [2 USB ports]($US270), PS3 Fat 60GB Refurbished [Backwards Compatible]($US350)*, PS3 Fat 40GB Refurbished ($US250), PS3 Fat 20GB Refurbished [Backwards Compatible]($US300)[recommended models marked with an asterisk] Price of PlayStation Plus Subscription: $US50 for 12 months, $US19 for 3 months Price of new games: $US60 Price of PlayStation Move: $US50 for controller, $US100 for bundle including Move, PlayStation Eye camera (required for Move play) and one game Discount line of games: PS3 Greatest Hits ($US20-$US30)

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Comments

    "the 12GB “slim” version" might need to be amended.

    But wait, aren't playstation going to start charging for their online service?

      No, they're not going to start charging for their online service.

    failed to mention:
    can stream HD content, music and photos over your own network with complete ease.
    can access websites from built in browser.
    can buy playtv and turn it into a pvr, or the ultimate home theatre hub.
    supports 3rd party accessories.
    supports ANY 2.5" hdd to swap out the original for a decent size at the cheapest price you can find.
    ability to backup your game saves.
    ability to backup the entire system.
    waaay less squealing unsupervised children reminding you youre a "scrub" and a "n00b" after "pwning" you in a game.

    i could go on for days. but, i think you get my point.

      Also failed to mention that the PS3 can upscale DVDs to 1080p much like those fancy $500 DVD players - something that always seems to be overlooked...

        That dvd upscale thing does not get advertised nearly enough. I don't even bother with my dear old dvd player anymore. Now the ps3 does everything for me now.

      Yeah, I don't know why they are saying don't buy one because a model with a larger HD will be available (in Japan), when anyone can easily replace the HD for cheap.

    I am not really into online multiplayer (probably cause I dont like being someone else cannon fodder) so I think it makes the PS3 good value for me. However I am looking forward to the "Should I buy an Xbox if I have a PS3". It's something I have often thought about.

      Is there a 'Should You Buy A Xbox' version of this?

    This hidden cost of additional controller is not valid, because that applies to Xbox360 and Wii as well (and it is not listed in Xbox360/Wii's hidden cost section)

      They had to say something negative about this truly flawless console lest the fanboys say they are biased...

    Also, it is quiet enough to sit under your TV and not be noticeable.

    It's a good option as your "Media Player gadget", and ours probably gets more use as that than anything else. Bluray, DNLA to stream from my PC, PlayTV is a nice cheap little PVR. PlayTV can't compete with more expensive dedicated PVRs, but it does the job.

    And you can often get one free with Sony Bravia TVs. Sony offered the deal before Christmas last year, and they are doing it again now, and I'd expect them to do it before Christmas this year.

      Yes! I'm not the only one who thinks PS3's are quite! My friend rants that PS3's are so loud. Now I can't actually say anything, because I've been used to my PS3 making noise. But last night, another friend bought his 360 over and it was quite loud. It actually got distracting. Sometimes enough for the volume to be increased =\

    Why should I bother buying a PS3 when I still have dozens of PS2 games I haven't finished playing yet? I'd consider it if it was still backwards compatible, but without that function I'm just not interested.

      I agree, a HUGE problem for me. I would buy an older model from eBay before a newbie.

        I should add, PS3's have the ability to create internal PS2 memory cards (i.e. parts of the hard drive where you can save PS2 data).

        If Sony didn't have any PS2 Backwards Compatibility, this would not be able to occur. Obviously, Sony can do PS2 BC with games (hence the HD remakes of God of War 1 and 2). Also, a leaked Sega memo mentioned Sony had something like this in the works. Plus, Sony knows having digitally-downloadable versions of PS2 games on PSN would be a huge money spinner.

        Basically, Sony already has the ability to make PS3's backwards-compatible with PS2 software. Sony is just still deciding how it wants to implement it and when they're going to do so.

        Since the PS3 launch was disastrous and Sony lost all the profits they made on the PS2, they're probably going to make their users pay for it. I'd expect that Sony (who are trying to fix their public image after the disaster that was the PS3's launch) will launch some form of downloadable software emulator which will cost money to purchase. If they're feeling extremely non-dickish about it, they'll offer a trade-in deal where people bring in their old PS2's and they get, say, a discount off the emulation software.

        The other option is Sony will make people pay to re-download every single PS2 game they own, downloading digital versions off the PSN. If they did this, and didn't allow disc-based BC, this would be a HUGE PR disaster. It would in effect force people to buy PS2 games a second time.

        It would also defeat the purpose of Sony still claiming to champion physical media against Microsoft's pushing of digital downloads.

        So, I think Sony do have a PS2 emulator and will eventually allow PS3 owners to download it for a one-time fee which will enable disc-based PS2 BC on PS3's. They'll probably demand in the realm of 30 to 50 dollars.

        It is probably too optimistic to hope for a trade-in program, and I think if Sony demanded every PS2 owner re-downloaded digital versions of their software collection then they'd face a huge backlash.

        So, I don't think PS2 BC is actually dead.

    Region free gaming anyone?

    NEWSFLASH

    extra controllers cost more money! Shocked? I know I am! Who woulda thunkit?

    I'm not pushing ps3 over any other console here but there are a few things missing from the article.
    So stuff maybe worth mentioning for what it does:
    PlayTV add on if you don't have PVR ps3 can become one.
    Web browser that does flash well enough to do ABC iView in aus, and probably other similar offerings in other parts of the world.
    USB and/or bluetooth keyboards & mice work.
    Wireless networking is part of the standard box, no extra to pay.
    Any 2.5" SATA harddrive (ie modern laptop harddrive) can be fitted to it, you're not paying extra to replace or upgrade the way you do for for some consoles.
    Can play UPnP media server content if you have a pc with something like mediatomb for movies, music, photos.
    Does video chat with certain webcams but only to others with PS3 on the PS network, (ie won't do skype, jabber/google talk, msn, yahoo etc which it could and should -and used to with linux installed).
    There's a stupid email thing to others on the PS network. Does NOT do real email except via the web browser using gmail, hotmail etc.
    Bluetooth wireless headphones & headsets supported out of the box if you need to game quietly or bark orders to the squad and hate the wires.
    Some of the games you can chat to your friend you're playing with even if s/he's moved to the other side of the world. Not as good as being on the couch beside you but for games that support it, eg Little Big Planet, it's a killer feature and why I own a console at all.
    It's a decent bit of kit although it's not as good as it could and should be. Consider the non-gaming features of this and the xbox360 which also has some strong points when you make your call for a console/media center.

      Actually, the PS3 doesn’t support stereo audio over Bluetooth. So no bluetooth headphones, only bluetooth mic/headsets.

    You know honestly, the fact that I can't play PS2 games and that Sony have consistently denied the option in later models just turned me off from day one.

    Granted they are much less expensive these days, but finding a decent refurb of the 60GB or one in decent condition is looking bleaker and bleaker as time wears on.

    I was such an Sony fanboy for years. They have methodically and thoroughly stimied my interest and sales through poor management decisions over the past 5 years.

    Its such a bloody shame.

      Actually, the PS3 doesn't support stereo audio over Bluetooth. So no bluetooth headphones, only bluetooth mic/headsets.

        Could be just me but why would you wanna play PS2 games anyway?

        I thought I'd play San Andreas on PS2 the other day for kicks and its so dated its just not fun anymore...

    "All systems are still backwards-compatible with PSOne games."

    Is that true? This is the first time I've heard this...

      Yeah :S They dropped PS2 support, not PS1. Played Ridge Racer on it the other day for kicks.

      It's true.

      Chuck a PS1 disc in there and it should work. Of course it's game dependent, but I've never had any not work.

      There's also a virtual memory card feature which allows proper saving and such for PS1 games.

    I have never understood why Xbox fans bemoan the lack of cross-game chat on the PS3, mainly because I can't think of anything more distracting from what I'm currently doing (ie, trying to shoot or hack people) than someone gabbing at me about something completely irrelevant to the task at hand.

    Maybe Xbox users are just better at multi-tasking :P

    I'm getting a PS3 next week. I'm certainly not going to wait the X amount of months before we get them in Aus just to get a 70Gb larger hard drive. I'm getting mine purely for PlayTV and exclusive titles like Demon's Souls and ModNation Racers.

    Unless you really want a white console, and don't know how to hook up extra hard drives to the PS3 then waiting should certainly not be recommended. The only benefit of waiting, would be the inevitable price drop for the older models. But I'd prefer to have a PS3 months earlier for an extra $50-$100.

    Now that I've said all that they'll rush shipment and we'll have them in next month :S

      enjoy it!

      I've had a PS3 for 2 years and they're awesome. It's certainly become the main hub for entertainment in the house.

    I don't think Sony introducing a model with a larger hard-drive should be a reason to hold off a purchase, considering how easy it (supposedly) is to replace the original drive with a larger one. And unless you'll be storing a heap of movies and music on there, there doesn't seem to be much of a REASON to have a larger hard-drive.

    The other negative not yet mentioned is the DVD region coding.

    I'd upgrade my home theatre to a PS3 if only it supported multi-region DVDs. I have a swag of imported titles that I just can't use on a PS3. Why?

    Does anyone know if there's an external USB DVD player (ie, multiregion) that can be added on to the PS3?

    By the time that the PS4 is released the PS3 will have given up so many feature that the most notable of those remaining will be: being a novelty paper weight

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