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PS2 Reactions

With nearly a week gone, what to the American public have to say for themselves?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Despite the PlayStation 2 now being firmly engraved in the minds of the media thanks to all the buzz surrounding its launch, shortages, and the recent eBay bidding for up to several thousand dollars per unit, reaction from gamers seems to be surprisingly hard to find. The best we've found around the web seems to be GameCenter's selective developer soundbites from the likes of Trip Hawkins and Todd Vaughn, all anxious to tow the company line no doubt. So the question is, just what do people actually think of the PlayStation 2 in America? In an effort to find out, I contacted all of my various friends in different corners of the US and discovered that six of them had managed to get hold of a PS2. When asked what games they all bought with the console some of them were a little reluctant to admit atrocities like Madden NFL, but SSX, Unreal Tournament and (a staff favourite here) Smuggler's Run all proved hits. Another popular title is Ready 2 Rumble Boxing 2, which seems to have impressed universally. Todd Graham, from California, commented that he felt the console was "rather too chic for a kiddie's toy" and that the vertical stand position was "perfect for my bookshelf next to the TV". When asked about the more practical aspects of the console, its DVD playback, the controller and other issues, he claimed that "I would never watch a DVD using that console, I have a full A/V media system for that". Each to their own I suppose, but his pal Jason Bradley also from California pointed out that "the DVD playback is rather upsettingly jumpy at times, particularly with films like The Matrix. Moreover," he said, "my old third party PlayStation joypad has been giving me a bit of trouble, with unresponsive buttons and such, whereas the official PSX pads are fine". That, of course, is another thing; what do people think of the console's backwards compatibility with the PSX? Brad Hernshaw from Texas was next. "I've got in the region of 50 PlayStation games; although some are obviously gathering dust by now, so the backwards compatibility was very important to me. I sold my PSX without even questioning the possibility that there would be limitations and now I'm paying the price." According to Brad, several of his oldest purchases are giving him trouble. This doesn't come as a complete surprise though; as early as February of this year prior to the Japanese launch Sony were admitting that there were inherant problems with games "not written to Sony standards" (quote from Kenichi Fukunaga, SCE's director), or to give a more detailed explanation, games that bypassed the PlayStation's APIs and wrote direct to the hardware, a technique which will produce problems for users of the PS2 as the games simply won't know what to do with its graphics engine. That wasn't Brad's only problem. According to his wife, Mary, Brad has spent more time playing Zelda : Majora's Mask on his N64 and MSR on the Dreamcast since he bought the PS2 than before! When quizzed about this, Brad commented that "the first batch of games [for the PlayStation 2] have been varied, but not necessarily brilliant. I'm waiting for some of the truly exceptional titles before I drag myself away from classics like these." One gamer who thought the backwards compatibility was useful was John Banks from Minnesota. John's long been a fan of Gran Turismo and its sequel, and thought he'd give them a go on his new unit. "After fiddling around for a few minutes with the system's options menus I discovered stuff relating to the original PlayStation, and was delighted to find that you can adjust Disc Speed and turn Texture Smoothing on. The former is supposed to affect load times, and does, although GT2 still takes an age, whereas the latter smooths off the graphics and gives everything a slightly nicer tinge. All my PlayStation games look like I imagine them when I close my eyes again - why couldn't the PlayStation do this in the first place?" Well quite. So what's the general reaction? Well the concensus is that the games are varied but not quite as good as we'd hoped, whereas the DVD playback is functional rather than impressive. As for the backwards compatibility, assuming you don't have too many games which fall into the grey spot of incompatibility, you should be fine and more than impressed with the results. Roll on November 24th when we'll actually get to sample this for ourselves!

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