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A Month of Sony; Wish List

I've been playing on my PS3 almost non-stop since I got it. I've amassed quite a few games for it (NO GAEMS, indeed) already, because there's a large amount already discounted heavily (or re-released in budget range), more so than even Wii titles that were released around the same time (Zelda is still 30!?).

I've said before, some games fair better than their review scores might indicate, some of them far worse (I've decided I hate Ninja Gaiden Sigma... with a passion. More on that at a later date, maybe). And any fears I may have had that I'm missing anything that's only on 360 have dissipated. Nope, not even GoW2 can win me over to that turbine.

Having said that, there are a few things SONY need to do to catch up with, or improve on the impressive (albeit depreciating value for money) MS Live service. None of these issues are major ones, and don't prevent me from enjoying it on the whole. They're just bloody annoying!

1 - Patches

Patches are a way of life. Anybody from a PC background can appreciate this. Sure, they encourage a quick testing and QA process, but I'd rather have a working game eventually, rather than never (or a re-pressing of disks in the case of Twilight Princess' Canon Room Bug).

My gripe is the way the PS3 currently handles patches. Everything stops : "Don't play your game, I need to update it". Why can't I play the game, whilst the patch downloads in the background, and then installs the next time I start it up, or before I shutdown (or any time I'm not actually playing it)? If anything, Sony have been consistent in their inconsistency. They allow the background download of game demos and the like, even when playing pre-installed games, so there's a lot of IO going on. Yet it puzzles me that for the majority of games, the first thing you'll be greeted with a screen demanding you download a 100mb+ patch.

2 - Latest Version Online

Something that will annoy you more than the un-hidable, unavoidable patching of games, is the fact that many of the games on the PS Store, are not the latest version. This is quite frankly inexcusable, and something I've only ever witnessed with the MS Windows OS ("Thanks for downloading SP1, now please wait while we download the real SP1", GRRRR).

PAIN is one of the better drinking games out there, and surprisingly skilful and addictive. I can't wait to start throwing the Hoff around. But after downloading it (200mb), Installing, and running it for the first time, I was informed that there are updates. At 300mb. 300mb is not something you should have to watch downloading. I would have rather have downloaded 500mb in the background. I know it must have something to do with the Sony approval/certification process, but I'm shocked if they charge developers to submit a more recent version of their product.

3 - Retry Signing In

It's cool that the PS3 will sign into my PSN account in the background, as soon as it detects a workable network. But why does it only try once? More often than not, I'll get a connection error during a game I've just started. It's because I have a separate Modem and Router. The router gets going, because I bought it myself, and isn't some crippled and fragile bit of kit like most ISP provided modems. So the PS3 tries to log on and declares there's an error with the DSN because the modem doesn't get a chance to connect.

I have to then (using the XMB) go sign in manually, which can't be hidden, or done in the background. Interrupting gameplay for a minute. Why can't it retry after 5 mins? This is network programming 101: Networks aren't always there. So why it can't try again in 5 mins, then give up after 3 or 4 tries, is beyond me. I can't imagine it would use a lot of resources.

In fact the annoying part is that my downloads will often start once the modem does its job, but it won't try signing me into PSN! I though a quick way might be to disable, then enable again the Internet Connection in the Network Settings; no, you can't do that, not without exiting the game. Well, it looks like I'm left with 3 options:

a - Turn on the modem 5 minutes before turning on the PS3
b - Wait five minutes after turning on both PS3 and modem to disable/enable the Internet Connection
c - Sign on manually, in the middle of a game

4 - XMB Limitations In-Game

Accessing the XMB in-game was a well welcome recent feature, but it could still go further. Part of the sign-in problem, is that you can't access certain settings from the XMB whilst doing anything but idling on the XMB. Why can't I just turn my internet off and on again? It's come in handy when my Downloads get stuck in pending and refuse to go any further.

I'm not suggesting letting me do something detrimental to the stability of the running program (like messing with the display resolutions), but it would be nice if the game was paused, and I could dip into the PSStore, or the web browser. They can't be such a burden on the mighty Cell, can they?

I know with the limited main ram (256mb, and 256mb graphics ram), it wouldn't be feasible to have loads of programs running at the same time, but one large (a game) and one small (web browser), or even a tiny one (adjusting a setting). At the moment it seems to be hit and miss as to whether the game you're playing will actually pause when you hit the PS button.

5 - Controller Number Assignment

I have 2 controllers, and 1 wireless (receiver plugged in to USB) keyboard. As the PS3 boots, the Keyboard is always set to Controller 1, and the dualshocks take a second seat. This is fine for most things, but there are quite a few games that will not register any controller but No.1, even though they have no 2nd player option.

It irks me a little that every time I start up GTA IV (and too many others), I always forget I need to hold down the PS button, and change the controller assignment to 1. I don't know why I need to do this (the only other player in GTA is over multiplayer), when it should just pick up any controller that is currently being used. I'm not sure if it's just to stop more that one controller tearing Niko apart in different directions, but I can't see how it became such a problem that they'd want to put an end to it. Games like Resistance, I can forgive: they have a splitscreen co-op.

This might be a problem that game developers need to be aware of, rather than the team behind the PS3s firmware, since you can't just permanently assign a No. to a particular controller: Setting all USB controllers to a higher designation would screw around with the Dualshocks as they charge.


Wow. That's it. Like I said, the PS3 hasn't got any major issues, with it, it's just those 5 that crop up on an almost daily basis. I'm not too worried. Sony have added some very cool features in updates over the last 2 years, and I'm sure even these problems will get sorted eventually.

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About JustLikeBuckone of us since 10:12 AM on 02.05.2008

I'm a PC gamer by nature, looking to see what's good on the console side of things (plus I'd rather not pay hundreds each year to upgrade). I love finding classic games, and will take any chance to tell you about an underdog.

I'm Currently Playing
PS3 - Mercenaries 2, Lair, Soul Calibur 4, SFII Turbo HD Remix
PS2 - Final Fantasy X, Digital Devil Saga, Haunting Ground
Wii - De Blob, Okami, Twilight Princess
VC - Donkey Kong Country

My Favourite Games
Planescape: Torment
Realms of the Haunting
Chrono Trigger
Shadow of the Colossus

I'm not a High-Def nut (Edit: Am now in High-Def, but won't go nuts over Brown and Gray, just yet), I think there's plenty of Low-Def stuff for me to catch up on for a good long while. So if you think I might like a particular game, tell me about it!