Should you buy a PlayStation 3?
Why would you? And would we? And wibbly woo.
Last week I was flicking through one of those rubbish free newspapers they've been jamming into my hands at the Tube station recently, and I came across a review of PlayStation 3. A review of a console. It advised me to wait until March and buy one, because the graphics look like real life and it's got a Blu-ray drive.
Comical, yes, but then what are the real arguments for buying one? There must be some. After all, people are complaining that there will only be 400,000 at the US launch and 80,000 in Japan - not that there's no point putting it on the market.
Well, first of all there's "faith". Yes - faith in Sony. Hard to imagine. But some people are just "Sony people". There was a chap in my house, earlier, fixing my boiler, who actually bowed down when he saw the PS3 debug perched on my desk. Yes I realise this is convenient, and I warned him he was making my editorial sound rubbish and unconvincing, but he was still amazed when I showed him Ridge Racer 7.
He didn't care about Xbox. There was a copy of Gears of War on my screen most of the time he was here and he didn't bat an eyelid. Absolute loony. And he didn't make a single comment about Cell, Blu-ray or price. As far as I could work out, he was more interested in an R-Type sequel that doesn't exist than Resistance: Fall of Man.
So we should perhaps qualify that as "blind faith", or simply "support". This isn't faith based on Sony's arguments. This isn't the sort of faith Kieron had to ponder with Neverwinter Nights 2 (do you review what's in the box, or base your conclusions on the promise of the tools?). This is more like supporting a football team - loving them through highs and lows. And there's nothing wrong with this. (Well, there is - but my friend from earlier did sort out the central heating, so let's tolerate his ways for today.)
But there's another sort of faith: faith in formats as a whole. A friend of mine posted bewilderedly on his blog around the time of the Xbox 360 launch demanding to know why people were whinging about it. He loved Project Gotham Racing, he said, and would inevitably want other games later on, so why not just do it now? Why the drama? Why does all the pre-release debate take on a religious level of fervency and factious quarrelling, he pondered? (Ineloquently, of course - I think I've missed out some "ZOMG" in my paraphrasing.)
And so I suppose that these are the best arguments that exist for buying a PlayStation 3 as soon as you can. It's not about what's in the box (logically enough, since without games and films it's just a shiny Darth Vader's lozenge that eats up your electricity bill), and it's only partly about what's on the launch line-up (Resistance may yet turn out to be brilliant, but so good you'd buy the console?). It's about knowing you'll want one later, and choosing to buy one now because it's shiny, it's new, and it's going to end up with lots of things you want later by default. Or it's because you're a demented zealot. But certainly, in both cases, it's because you can rationalise it on the promise of what's to come, and not on the evidence of what's in front of you.
All of which is a handy conclusion, tangentially, because I definitely didn't want to get into one of those sociological debates about what 425 quid is worth. Imagine how painful that would've been! Say all you want about writing tricky game reviews, but at least there you can assume the reader's already endorsed the cost and not have to spend half an hour pondering everyone's price-of-a-pint-of-milk. Phew.
Us? I tried to import one, but even Ridge Racer 7 didn't seem to be worth paying £500 for (it was a close one, mind you - I paid a pretty ridiculous amount for a PSP and Ridge Racers in December 2004). Rob tells me that he expects to buy a European one by next Christmas, Kristan says he'll blag one off Sony, Pat doesn't understand why someone would give people money instead of asking for it in exchange for ad-space, and Ellie's in Canada and ignoring my text messages.
One position with which we'll all be consistent, of course, is that of continuing to review games from a multi-format perspective. And it's really that which we lured you here to say. Because it's important. Of course it's important that you're informed about how Gears of War relates to Halo, but it's also important to know how Resistance relates to Gears of War. From our perspective, it would be jolly nice if you could get around to buying all the consoles one day - yes, even the PlayStation 3 - because then you're more likely to read more of our content. But we'll forgive you if you don't. After all, you might be sane.
And with that, I'm off to look for more COG tags. At least until MotorStorm turns up.