Weighs as much as George Foreman, and it looks like one too

PlayStation 3 (2007)

I moved house recently, which brought with it all sorts of unforeseen issues. The time and costs involved in moving your own stuff out is fine – you can plan for that. But in our case, we went without Wi-Fi for almost two weeks and I know you’ll agree with me when I say that that is a major deprivation of one’s human rights. I would put a lack of wireless internet for two weeks right up there with having no food, water or shelter – it’s a frightfully tough thing to get over.

So in the evening times, when the working day was done, I was able to hotspot off my phone – nifty technology indeed. But when it came to entertainments, we were getting desperate. I had a woman to keep happy, and I’ve only got so much stamina down there. Boredom was coming for us, like a deadly tidal wave, and it was up to me to keep us high and dry. I looked around for something, anything that we could use, when I stumbled across probably the only Blu-Ray films I own – the Harry Potter collection, seven books made into eight films.

You know, an 11-disc Blu-Ray set like this with all the special features and other assorted rubbish will probably still cost you 70 odd quid to this day. I got this set for nothing, and I don’t even remember how I got it, nor could I see a use I’d have for it, until this fateful day of no internet arrived. Girls love Harry Potter, so it was a win-win. We stuck those on to while away the evenings, but it was a curious thing: although my eyesight is not destined to appear the Guinness Book of Records anytime soon, I don’t recall the Blu-Ray quality being any greater than that of a DVD.

We really are in the era of diminishing returns now when it comes to video quality, so you’ll forgive me if I’m not too impressed with 4K, or 8K or whatever number comes next. Mind you, I am bound to tell you that, for an embarrassingly long time, I used my PlayStation 3 not with the HDMI cable, a video transfer system which was entirely new to me as a Wii gamer, but with a SCART cable. I’m never gonna be able to live that one down, am I?

So, when I finally got a clue and changed those wires around, it was one hell of a jump in quality that even I could notice. Seeing everything so clearly comes with a price, of course, an incredible one: I know people who paid six or seven hundred quid for this beast, and then they’d have still needed some change left for a number of games. Again, perhaps I look like a charity case but I happened to pay nothing for my PlayStation 3, it was given to my brother, who gave it to me, which is quite a nice hand-me-down.

I suppose for the previous owners, the PS3 was just like any other George Foreman grill: good for a few weeks of use, but then the novelty goes and it gets stored away, left to gather dust. You couldn’t just leave it out in the open, anyway – of the many consoles I own, the PS3 ranks as both the heaviest and the bulkiest lump of a consol of all. It is absolutely colossal, and while there was later a “slim” PS3, i.e. a size 18 as opposed to a size 22, I’m stuck with a particularly fat one, which sadly lacks compatibility with PS2 games. Still, it can play PS1 games, and backwards compatibility for a gaming hoarder like me is always a plus point so the PS3 gets at least partial credit for that.

While the Wii was making us swing TV remotes and break televisions, the PS3 and the XBox 360 were bringing graphics to almost-real levels. The PS3 graphics probably still weren’t quite there in terms of realism, but it was starting to get close. You could even see it across the console’s considerable lifespan – earlier PS3 games can look a bit poor, but by 2013 we were playing or getting glimpses of Metal Gear Solid V, Uncharted 3, The Last of Us, Gran Turismo 5 and 6, and Grand Theft Auto V (not for the last time)

So many excellent, genre-defining games came out for the PS3. It was also obviously an incredible home for RPG games as well. And although the PS2 did have online capabilities, this is really where the PlayStation Network came to the fore. First and foremost, it was free. That hasn’t lasted, obviously, but it was definitely a plus over Xbox Live. Of course, the PSN was its own dedicated store. Probably Xbox Live had some cooler stuff – and yes, I’m thinking the likes of Uno and Geometry Wars and N+ here.

But being able to download many PS1 classics and some PSP titles, alongside many indie games and re-releases like Okami HD and Sonic CD, that was all a terrific buzz. Of course, it didn’t all have to be digital: you were able to pick up PS3 games for half-nothing. This was true even in 2010, when I got my PS3. Sure, it was a couple of years old by then, but top quality games were still coming out for it. It meant I was able to pick up the likes of Red Dead Redemption and Metal Gear Soliv V for 20 quid apiece. And in the case of something like MGSV, that 20 quid brought me 100 hours.

It was the same with a couple of Final Fantasy games, Kingdom Hearts, Gran Turismo, Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet – give it a couple of weeks and they’d be available for nowt. Insane prices, really, for incredible games. I have about sixty PS3 games, most of them winners, but most of them just bought on whims. You know, just to say I had them. Oh, Fallout 3 for a fiver? Well, my shelf would look bare without it, so why not? That kind of thing. If the game was lucky, I might even play it for 20 minutes before shelving it again.

This was really the period of my life where I was getting to just buying games for the sake of it, but never actually having enough time to sit down and play them. I suppose it happens to everyone who gets a disposable income but doesn’t lose their childlike appreciation for games. Still, even in this era of games being advertised as 80-hour stints almost being a drawback, everything about the PS3 was a step forward: the wireless controller, the improved trigger buttons, the greatly improved graphics (obvious even to a blind bat like me once I’d figured out the correct wire) and of course the online play, even though online isn’t really my thing.

In those days, you chose either thte PS3 or the Xbox Live, and most likely it complimented your Wii. I’m told PC gamers exist as well, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it. It was a great mixture though, the old WiiS3 or Wii60, because you could blend your colourful casual games with your hardcore, gravy-coloured games. Finally, I should note that the PS3 era was finding its feet just as social media, the internet and YouTube were becoming so much more mainstream. The beginning of the end, then. But we won’t worry too much about that – instead, we’ll play GTA5, Metal Gear Solid 5, Gran Turismo 5, and you can probably add another 5 of the greatest games ever on top of those.

The PS3 is one hell of a piece of kit then, don’t you think? It will do a lot more for you than any other George Foreman, put it that way. And the plug on your George Foreman at home won’t be region-free either. And if you want to even use the PlayStation 3 as a cheap Blu-Ray player, as a lot of people did, then you can be my guest. Me, I think I’ll stick to downloading. Little wonder why they wanted to starve me of internet for so long.

23 April 2021

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