|Sony Playstation 2|
|Home Theater Accessories Game Systems|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Sunday, 01 April 2001|
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Currently, there are 65 games available for the Playstation 2, but that number will increase dramatically as more people get their hands on the system. It has been rumored that Sega will halt production on their Dreamcast machine and will focus a large amount of their resources to developing games for the Playstation 2. To ensure that gamers will have a large amount of titles to choose from, Sony has made their new game system backward-compatible with Playstation 1 games. This means that all of the software that was created for the first-generation Playstation will not just end up in the bargain bin at the toy store. There are many good games for the original Playstation and it wouldn’t surprise me to see many people still buying these games to use in the Playstation 2. One fear that many people have about the Playstation 2 stems from early reports from game developers that it has been difficult to design programs for the system. The Dreamcast is Windows-based and developers have had a few years to learn the quirks of designing games for it, but Sony’s first system had a reputation for being difficult to design for and the Playstation 2 seemingly suffers from the same problem. The Playstation 2 is a very powerful machine, but harnessing and utilizing that power properly is the dilemma that game makers face. The large development companies have the resources to suffer through this learning curve, but this could end up hurting the system if Microsoft’s X Box or Nintendo’s Game Cube are easier beasts to tame from a design standpoint.
I had the following games to play with my test unit: Madden NFL 2001 (EA Sports), NHL 2001 (EA Sports), Dead Or Alive 2 (Tecmo), Star Wars Starfighter (Lucas Arts Entertainment), Smuggler’s Run (Rockstar Games) and Surfing H30 (Rockstar Games). Rather than go into specific detail about each of the games, I’ll say that there were some that really impressed me and others that seemed like a waste of time. For me, the standout of the group was Madden 2001. My favorite Dreamcast game is Sega’s NFL 2k1, and although I think Sega’s football game is a more realistic simulation of a true gridiron battle, Madden 2001 for the Playstation 2 is easy to play. The amount of detail that the designers have put into this game makes it in some ways better than NFL 2k1. Some of the incredible aspects of the game include different ways the sun reflects off of the players’ helmets (depending on how they are standing), the stadium’s P.A. system announcing things such as license plate numbers of cars with their lights on in the parking lot and referees who take the ball from players after they are tackled and toss it to other referees. Certain things like the poor sound quality of the announcers, voiced by Pat Summerall and John Madden, were a little disappointing and the amount of comments they have are quite limited, but the familiarity of their actual voices serve well to draw you into the game.
In the early ‘90s, when games were starting to become extremely graphically intensive, gameplay seemed to suffer, but now games are starting to bridge that gap. I didn’t find myself needing to religiously study any of the instructions and, to me, that is the sign of a good game. You can play it for what it is and have fun; by reading the instructions, you can take the game to the next level. Not everyone has a great deal of time to devote to playing video games and when a game is so complex that it requires a training seminar and hours of practice and training just to play, it’s tough for me to recommend it as a fun game.
Of the games I played, the one that I felt best shows off the Playstation 2’s potential, besides Madden 2001, is Dead or Alive 2. Based on the polygon graphic engine from Sega’s Virtual Fighter series, Dead Or Alive 2 is a hand to hand 3-D fighting game that takes the genre to a new level with incredibly detailed characters and backgrounds that are absolutely stunning. One scene takes place alongside a waterfall, and if a player gets knocked off the ledge, the other player jumps down after him or her. As the "camera" follows the player down, the detail of the background and the fluid movement are incredible. From a strategic standpoint, the game doesn’t feel as advanced as Sega’s Virtual Fighter series. Essentially this game is just a button masher. If you push more buttons faster then your opponent, you will probably end up winning. When playing the computer, the same holds true. You can end up winning a match by using the same kick or punch technique ad-nauseam until you achieve a knock-out. I have played similar games that seem to be smarter and actually adapt to your moves and strategies with artificial intelligence. This game seemingly lacks that, but it’s still a fun game, and with tag team mode, you and your friends can have an epic battle.
More than just a game system
With Sega’s Dramcast selling for only $119, you may be thinking that $299 is a lot to pay for a video game system. The sticker price of the Playstation 2 makes much more sense when you consider that this isn’t just a game system. Regardless of any games that you may play in this machine, it scores huge points for the fact that Sony has created the Playstation 2 to be a DVD player that can play DTS, Dolby Digital and AC-3 DVD-Vs. The DVD player is as good, if not better, then an average $200-$300 consumer-level player. The picture is bright and clear, and the sound is very good as well. It could possibly replace a DVD player in a small bedroom system, or could be used as a main DVD player in an entry-level home theater system. Of course, if you have an expensive high-end DVD player in your system, you certainly wouldn’t use the Playstation 2 as a replacement.