Let me start out by saying that I'm currently 56 years old and everything I know about video game consoles can fit on a fingernail clipping. A couple of years ago, my companion bought me a PS2, because she had recalled my mentioning in passing (after seeing advertisements for some pretty interesting sci-fi-themed games) that I was curious about what's going on in that medium. The game technology seemed to have progressed light years since I last paid attention, sometime in the late 80s, early 90s, which went something like this: you start out with some objective, and then the game play steadily quickens until you eventually lose against the computer. It was very dull. After she bought me the PS2, the only game I bought was Grand Tourismo 4 (she had given me with the console itself Superman Returns, but I didn't like it), with which I relaxed by racing the realistically rendered cars around some impressively detailed tracks, but never getting into the more sophisticated levels of the game. Then about four months ago, my son lent me Resident Evil 4. Of course, you gamers know this was a benchmark in game development, and can understand why I became completely immersed in it. It was truly a creepy experience. You weren't just WATCHING a horror movie; you were IN it. Here I was, at my age, suddenly finding myself lost for literally hours a day -- one weekend, twenty hours straight; my body ached -- then thinking about the game when I wasn't playing it, looking forward to the moment I could resume the story. After I beat it, I went through it three more times. Then I bought God of War II, quite by accident (I selected it for the price, a mere $20), unaware that this, too, was a hit game, and another benchmark. The graphics were so good, so stunning, so grand and sweeping, I played it six times. Again, hours seemed like minutes; I'd simply lose time. I was now addicted, and taking into account how good a PS2 was, I figured that the PS3 -- with its Blu-ray technology -- had to be out-of-this-world incredible. Four weeks ago, I bought this PS3 slim, and it has given me enjoyment that made it worth every penny, and then some.
I can't speak to the technical specifications of the PS3, or how it compares to other consoles. I'm writing instead to other middle-aged customers who might have stumbled on this page, perhaps shopping for some young relative -- son or daughter; niece or nephew; or grandchild -- to suggest that you should consider buying one of these babies for yourself. This is one powerful piece of entertainment technology. Not only does it exceed my expectations as a game console, it's also a BD player, and using the WiFi connection, it permits access to the PlayStation Store, for free demos and exclusive content; plus BD live material, and downloading movies and TV episodes; and you can import your CDs to the PS3's hard drive, to create playlists or just randomize the tracks for playback. It's become a virtual media center for me.
And the game play? Oh, man. The PS3 advances even further the features that make gaming so addictive. To those of you who snuff that it's a juvenile waste of time, I suggest you ask yourself, is it any different from watching sitcoms or reality TV? A video game requires you to REACT, to THINK, to ANALYZE. That is NOT overstating the stimulative benefits. While they are in fact merely games, game-play itself is a complete immersion in an experience, while requiring good hand-eye coordination and some mental agility. All the games I've played so far included puzzles as part of the story, and it's a very satisfying feeling when you finally solve a particularly challenging one.
If the middle-aged shopper I'm imagining I'm writing to is inclined to wonder if all that tapping on those buttons in specific patterns is difficult to learn, this is my honest answer: At first, yes, it is. But eventually your fingers learn what button is where, and it becomes second nature, like typing. To those even older, it's recommended by doctors that as you age, you need new stimuli to keep your acuity. You won't find a more fun way to do so than this. Ignore your previous misconception that video games are for teenagers. An article in USA TODAY from 2004 stated that ". . . the average age of game players was 29 and the average age of buyers was 36, with men making up 59% of the playing audience." So you can add about five years to those figures, making the average age of video game BUYERS about 40. I have spent untold hours on my PS3, and connected to my 47" HDTV, it's the ultimate entertainment. The graphics are sharp and clear, movement of characters is realistic, making it even easier to get totally engaged in the environments. I just finished Batman: Arkham Asylum
, a great game with easily mastered moves, some tough puzzles, and a very dark, decayed ambiance.
True gamers who are reading this are probably chuckling right now, because this is all pretty much a no-duh to them. Well, let me offer a hardy THANK YOU for supporting the industry with enough of your dollars to permit it to advance as an entertainment medium in such awesome bounds. This is the next step toward the future of the ultimate video game experience. Oh, what will the technology deliver? A virtual reality, perhaps?