Monday, March 24, 2008

PlayStation 3 builds momentum

After a slow start, the PlayStation 3 is finally starting to show some promise.

In my mind, it's always been the best of the current-gen video-game consoles. Now sales are picking up, software production is ramping up, and Sony is ready to begin a major push for its machine this spring and summer.

Last week, Sony announced an online upgrade for PS3, called Profile 2.0 or BD-Live. It will give PS3 users access to downloadable video content, ringtones and games. The software update will also allow photo and music playlists to be copied onto PSP units.

"With Blu-Ray established as the high-definition optical disc standard, more consumers are ready to jump in and take advantage of everything the format offers," Sony Computer Entertainment vice president Scott Steinbert said.

The new upgrade will require a high-speed Internet connection and at least 1 gigabyte of local storage, available on some PS3 models' internal hard drives.

On April 8, Sony will release two BD-Live enabled titles on the network: "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and "The 6th Day." Both titles, the company said, will include content not available on the current Blu-Ray disc versions.

Other features coming with the new update:

• "Resume Play" will allow the PS3 system to start playing some Blu-Ray discs and/or DVDs at the point they were stopped, even if the disc has been removed from the unit.

• "Audio Output Device" will be a new remote play setting, allowing the PSP to serve as a remote control for music played through the PS3 console.

• The PS3's Internet browser's view speed is improved, even allowing video files directly linked from a Web page to be streamed (hello, YouTube!).

• DivX and WMV files larger than 2 gigs will be playable, and "mosquito noise reduction" will be added as a setting for improved movie playback.

REVIEW: Lost: Via Domus

I'm a big fan of the ABC television series and had high hopes for the game, in which you play an amnesiac professional photographer who is one of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.

The storyline and the enemies will be familiar to anyone who has watched the first two seasons. The goal is to piece together the mystery by interacting with other survivors. Flashback scenes, like those in the show, help some.

I think "Lost" fans will love interacting with The Others and seeing what kooky nicknames Sawyer has for them.

But the characters didn't look enough like the ones I see on TV, and the minigames were too repetitive. On top of all that, the whole thing is over too fast. Good rental, questionable buy.

REVIEW: Left Brain, Right Brain

In this latest Nintendo DS puzzler, you play 15 mini-games all based on speed and accuracy that challenge you to use both sides of your brain. There are games that make you use your strong hand and weak hand, and games based on speed and accuracy.

You can challenge friends or practice over five difficulty levels. And I couldn't get mad when my son wouldn't put this down. He says, "Dad, I'm learning to use my left hand better. That's why I'm still playing."

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