In the five+ years that PlayStation 3 has been on the market, Sony’s black box has delivered some truly memorable videogame exclusives, plus, packed a boatload of snazzy features under the hood to boot. However, it’s not all been plain sailing. Hype, exorbitant price tags and poor implementation have resulted in some proper eye-watering disappointments, and it’s these colossal let downs that we’ve decided to scrutinize in our latest feature.
So, take off those rose-tinted specs and join us now as we detail PS3's top 5 biggest letdowns.
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The first of two PS3-exclusive flops in our list, Lair was the poster child for much of the PS3’s early media coverage, used primarily to flex off the console’s ample graphical muscle. To be fair, gamers had reason to get excited initially; especially when one considers the pedigree of developer Factor 5. The concept sounded intriguing enough: guide a massive Dragon around lush environments with your Sixaxis while flaying bad guys alive. Sadly, due to poor application of said motion controls and some horrible design decisions, Lair didn’t take you on a majestic fantasy flight, but, instead dropped you out of the sky like a lead zeppelin. Manipulating your scaly beast is an exercise in pure frustration, with controls so imprecise that it makes everything from navigation to combat a struggle in itself. While a patch allowing you to control the Dragon using the left analog stick was released, this didn’t do much to alleviate some of the fundamental gameplay issues; namely, the poor camera, generic mission design, and general monotony that accumulates from repeating the same process over and over again. Indeed, if anything, Lair proved once and for all that stellar production values and a top notch soundtrack aren’t enough to sell a game.
Poor old Free Radical. After cobbling together some of the finest shooters of the last generation – that’s TimeSplitters in case you didn’t know – the venerable British studio polished off a right dud with its PS3-exclusive blaster Haze in 2008. If that wasn’t bad enough, the game was hyped to almost insurmountable heights, with some media outlets even going so far as to trumpet the shooter as PS3’s “Halo Killer.” If only. Sadly, Haze turned out to be something Master Chief would likely scrape off the bottom of his boot than cower in fear at. Aside from the bare bones campaign and poor storyline, Haze was notorious for its many glitches, including incompetent AI and buggy visuals. Above all else however, Free Radical’s shooter is a strikingly mediocre rollercoaster of FPS clichés and cardboard cut-out military grunts, while the set-pieces fail to offer any form of excitement. It certainly had ambition on paper, but this ultimately failed to translate into the final product. A missed opportunity if ever there was one, and undeniably one of the PS3s biggest disappointments to date.
The toe-curling antics of Sony’s E3 2006 presser still brings us out in a red rash to this day, and while it’s easy to poke fun at Kaz Hirai’s shambolic speech, at the time, it wasn’t a laughing matter when it came to the launch price of PS3. Sony’s new console was to launch later that year, and if you wanted one, you’d have to fork out $599 – or at the very least buy a $100 cheaper model eschewing some key features. These days, you could purchase almost three PS3s for the same price – that’s how expensive it was. Back in 2006, Sony had to use E3 to convince the game-buying public that they should part with their trusty old PS2s and invest in its latest piece of hardware. While they left a lasting impression, it probably wasn’t the one they intended. Sceptics had a field day with the price point, and many gamers were incredulous at how Sony expected them to part with their hard-earned cash for an expensive new telly box that hadn’t really proven its worth yet. Back then, they didn’t have the likes of Uncharted, God of War III or even Metal Gear Solid 4 to wow punters with next-generation graphics and gameplay. Sure, it was obvious PS3 was packing some muscle under the bonnet, but $599? Fortunately, Sony has since learned its lesson with PS Vita and made things a bit more affordable – let’s hope they follow suite for PS4.
NO CROSS-GAME CHAT
Online is a core part of Sony’s strategy for PS3, and has been since day one. PSN has built up a massive user base and has delivered some of the most unique, quality experiences in the digital download space, but one thing has been conspicuously absent from the off-set – cross-game voice chat. A huge chunk of us game online nowadays, and one of the best features available on other formats is the chance to have a chinwag with our mates, even while playing different games. Unsurprisingly, PS3 owners were pretty miffed when it transpired that Sony’s flagship home console didn’t offer this feature, and from the sound of it never will. Apparently, it’s all due to memory restrictions, says Sony, which makes the functionality a tricky business on PS3. We won’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the console’s innards, but there can be no doubt that the lack of cross-game chat has upset a lot of punters, and as a result, has become one of the biggest let downs the system has seen.
POOR THIRD-PARTY PORTS
One of the earliest disappointments to befall Sony’s black behemoth was the deluge of sloppy third-party ports of Xbox 360 games. Back in the early days of this generation, the majority of third-party developers stuck with Microsoft’s machine as the lead platform due to its inherent similarities with PC design, as opposed to PS3, which was notorious for its fiddly architecture. However, this meant that ports of many big-name titles suffered from a plethora of issues, from choppy frame rate, visual hiccups to lengthy load times. The list of games that fall under this umbrella are too numerous to name them all, though some of the worst offenders turned up as late as 2010, and included Platinum Games’ Bayonetta. Due to these issues, PS3 quickly developed a reputation of hosting sub-par versions of third-party games, and many reviews highlighted the superiority of their Xbox 360 counterparts. These days, things have turned around, fortunately, though we sincerely hope that PS4 early adopters won’t have to put up with the same issues. Of course, if rumors are to be believed, Sony won’t be utilizing a successor to PS3’s Cell tech in its new console, so hopefully we’ll be looking at hardware that is far easier to pump out games for.