|Sony Playstation 2 is Here!|
by Jason Vogue
After months of speculation and media attention, PSX2 has finally been released, and so far I'd have to say it delivers on all the hype. I was fortunate enough to get one of only 4 units shipped to my local Circuit City, so now all the people who laughed when I told them I'd be camping out for it have pretty much shut their mouths and come on over for intense gaming action. The system is already garnering rave reviews from fans and industry people for its ultra-realistic visuals and slammin' sound. I thought I'd weigh in with my initial impressions and game commentary, plus a look at what's on the horizon for PSX2 fans.
First off, to dispel a few rumors: the console does NOT come with virtual reality gloves, and the demonstration disc does NOT feature "hidden" pornographic material (believe me, I checked). Also, PSX2 does NOT receive shortwave test signals of coded spy messages that you can listen in on (boy, the Internet sure spreads some wild rumors). What it DOES do: kicks ass! The sound is unbelievable, and the graphics are beyond description. I bought three games, German Future Hockey, Endless Barbarian II, and Manute Bol's XXX Basketbol Gigantica 2001, and all three look like you're watching a movie. No, they look like you're watching actual stuff happen right in front of you! When you score a goal in German Future Hockey, a buzzer goes off in the PSX2 box that literally shakes the room. My mom actually came into my room twice to tell me to turn it down. You can't actually adjust the volume, though, in keeping with the realism Sony is striving for. In fact, you can't stop the game at all, and with the heart and blood monitors that you must use to start the system up, you actually get as sweaty and exhausted as the players in the game. When you get a penalty, you actually have to sit for seven minutes and watch while the system autoplays. It's in some ways quite frustrating, but in other ways it is a whole new level of gaming.
Endless Barbarian II was, and continues to be, life changing. Not only does it improve on the original by like 5000%, it has a number of unique features that count it among the most groundbreaking games ever released, right up there with Dark Blindness and the much beloved first release of Wyzyrd. Some of the more amazing aspects of EB2 include: multiple, realistic power sword maneuvers; 24 different dragons with increasing skill and power levels; special in-depth screens where you can explore the ancient power runes; and the literal, real threat of decapitation. You heard me right: at the game's start, you encircle your neck with a bladed choker (provided) that is synchronized with the battle action within the game. If an opponent strikes you in the neck, you feel the pain and if your character in the game is beheaded, you are too. Talk about intense!
The only somewhat disappointing game I got was Basketbol Gigantica 2001. It is too much like MB3XBGY2K, with not enough new features. True, the 38-player mode is pretty amazing, but you have to buy an expander port to accommodate all the extra controllers, and at that point the expense far outweighs the fun factor. That said, it still is an incredible game, though by now so many other games have ripped off the idea of 10,000-foot-tall basketball players towering over the world's major metropolitan cities, locked in battle, and some have done it better (like ÜberNinTenDo's Anfernee Hardaway Vs. Mechagodzilla Firebasketball Combat Æterna 2000, still unreleased in the US).
One of the most uncanny characteristics of PSX2 is that when you power it down, it actually displays 3-D footage of you doing what you are actually doing at the time. I even opened the thing up but I could not figure out where they put the cameras. Strangely, even if you are out of the house, it records your every move. The cool thing is, you can tape it and utilize the footage as a customized game, literally changing the course of what you actually did that day. For example, two days ago I was at school and this kid Jacob knocked a book out of my hand right before Earth Science. At the time, I didn't do anything except pick up the book and go back to my seat, shooting him a mean glance. When I got home, though, I loaded the footage into the PSX2 console and replayed the event, this time using a flamethrower to turn that f***ing faggot into a blackened corpse straight out of fucking Dachau. And the weird thing: the next day at school, it turned out that the game had changed reality, and I had actually somehow killed Jacob! Kids were shocked to see me at school, thinking I would have been arrested. It was really bizarre.
Beyond these amazing gaming capabilities, though, are the many additional things that PSX2 can do. It functions as a DVD player, therapist, and pinball machine, and can store up to 80MB of MP3s or 40 cubic feet of food. There is talk of Sony making an expansion unit available that will convert PSX2 into a Kawasaki Ninja/EX500 Streetbike, which would far eclipse the current unicycle attachment that comes with the console. The various controllers that Sony has announced for first quarter '01 look very promising indeed, especially the form-fitting wetsuit that synchronizes with the forthcoming Extreme Windsurfing 2001 and the 6-foot totemic joystick that can be used for both Galápagos Native Hunter III and Puritan Maypole Fighter 2001. Choice games I'm really keeping an eye out for include Extreme Boston Marathon, Señorita Tijuana Dance Machine, and King Diamond Kastle of Hideous Extreme Horror 2001. I'll be sure to keep you posted with regular reports from the world of PSX2, which is truly gaming as real as real life, if not more so.