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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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PS2 headsets, hard disks and network bundles

Stations get more expensive.

Apart from a bunch of big name sequels, a new price point and a new gaming portable, Sony had a pretty quiet E3. Chortle. Actually, they announced a couple of other things which haven't had as much press, all centring around the online service - something that can only stand to benefit us third rate Europeans in the long run.

For example, having cut the price of the "old" PS2 in its naked, networkless form to $179, this summer Sony will return to the $199 price point with the latest model PS2 (new from Japan) along with a bundled network adapter. Then in Q1 2004, Final Fantasy XI will finally launch on the system along with the hard disk adapter - presumably sold separately.

In the meantime though, Sony is fully embracing the USB headset technology that proved popular with SOCOM (and Xbox Live obviously) and flogging it as a $29.99 add-on. For that you get a USB headset which utilises Voice Over IP (or VoIP if you like that sort of thing) to provide comms in SOCOM II, Syphon Filter and various sports titles from Sony and EA. Presumably if you have one of the old SOCOM headsets that'll serve just fine.

All of which reminds us what a good deal the Xbox turned out to be. At £129.99 / $179.99, you get virtually everything Sony is just starting to bundle and flog separately, with an online service you can already access in Europe, and no hidden memory card-shaped extras. If it had wireless LAN support we'd probably marry it.