Holiday Guide: A walkthrough for your new PlayStation 3

Did Santa bring you a brand new PlayStation 3? Did you take advantage of all those holiday deals and purchase one for yourself? If so, we’d like to welcome you to the PlayStation family. Sure, the next generation of consoles is on the horizon, but it’s never too late to see what all the excitement is about. For PS3 owners, that excitement is all about the games; however, there is more to Sony’s black beast than great software. It features an expansive free online network, apps, Trophy support, the ability to play Blu-ray movies, and even watch some of those movies in 3D. If you are new to the PS3, we’re sure you have plenty of questions. We here at PlayStation Universe have been working hard to put together guides for new owners, and this final installment is all about the PS3. Use this as a reference and join our forums to take part in an active community full of PlayStation fans. If you can’t find just what you are looking for in this guide, our forums are a sure fire way to get all yours questions answered.

A brief history
As the name implies, this is Sony’s third PlayStation console. It launched in 2006 against Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii. Since then, all three consoles have found success, though it was a slower start for some. Now with Nintendo launching the first next-gen system with the Wii-U, both Sony and Microsoft are likely hard at work coming up with their new consoles; however, there are very few official details at this point.

Sony launched its PS3 with different versions, largely based on the size of the hard drive. It was an expensive purchase early on, but later models–including the PS3 Slim–were much more affordable. Sony didn’t stop by simply releasing a console, though. The PlayStation Move, released in 2010, was Sony’s attempt to capture the intrigue behind motion controls. Support for 3D movies and games was also added.

What you need
Your PS3 works extremely well right out of the box, but there are a few must-own items to enhance the experience. Make sure you own the right cables and pick up an extra controller to complete your purchase.

** Buy an HDMI cable: If your system didn’t come with one, which it likely didn’t, you’ll want to invest in an HDMI cable instead of using the included composite cable. As mentioned in our Accessory Guide, you can’t go wrong shopping for all your cables at MonoPrice.com.

** Buy DualShock 3 controllers: This wireless first-party controller from Sony features Sixaxis motion sensing and vibration support. The controller is charged through a mini-USB port, which you can plug into the front of your new PS3 to charge and sync with the system. Bring it to a friend’s house and sync it on his PS3.

** Get a good headset: Sure, in a pinch you can pass on this accessory, but as we pointed out in our earlier guide, there are plenty of great options for every budget. Use your headset to communicate with friends while playing online, or use it to keep the action going late at night while everyone else is sleeping. For diehard gamers, a good headset is invaluable.

Want more accessory suggestions? Check out our official Holiday Guide: Essential accessories for your new PS3.

What about the games?
Let’s get to the real meat and potatoes. You probably want to know all about those great PS3 games. The PS3 has something for everyone. If you like first-person shooters featuring an alien war, check out the Killzone series. Interested in family-friendly quiz-style games? You can never go wrong with a Buzz! Quiz World.

While there are more multiplatform games–that means games that are on more than one console–than exclusive titles, there are still plenty of awesome PS3 exclusives available. Heck, we wouldn’t be surprised if you picked up your PS3 simply for the Uncharted series of God of War III. Below are some excellent PS3 exclusives you should definitely check out:

** The Uncharted series: If there is one franchise that’s sure to cause a room of PlayStation fans to drool, it’s the Uncharted series. All three games–Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, and Drake’s Deception–were developed by Naughty Dog and they are all certainly worth your time. It makes sense to start with the first, Drake’s Fortune, but many would argue that Among Thieves was the best in the trilogy.

** God of War III: Kratos is one bad ass God killer. This warrior’s tale comes to a spectacular conclusion with God of War III. It’s an action-packed adventure and perfect for anyone thirsty for some violence in their videogames.

** LittleBigPlanet 2: This charming game is perfect for the family and it offers a terrific multiplayer experience. But there is a lot to sink your teeth into with the game’s deep level creation editor. Check out some of our weekly features highlighting some of the most interesting user created levels.

Be sure to check out more great game suggestions in our 10 great games for your new PS3

PlayStation Move
You may find PS3s for sale boxed with the PlayStation Move controller and PlayStation Eye, or even Move bundles that come equipped with games. It’s a worthwhile product as it adds incredibly precise motion controls to many PlayStation games. Some of those games are played strictly with Move controllers, while others have optional uses. Check out these essential PS Move games:

** Sports Champion: There are two installments of this excellent game and both come packed with entertaining sport mini-games, including volleyball, ping pong, and even sword fighting. You can check out our reviews of Sports Champion and Sports Champion 2 for more details, but you can’t go wrong with these games as they represent the precise 1:1 motion controls of Sony’s wiggle stick.

** Killzone 3: The Move motion controls work so well you can even use them in first-person shooters. One of the best examples is Killzone 3, a game we absolutely loved and one that really shows off how well Move works with shooters. While you are at it, you should pick up the Sharpshooter to complete the experience.

** Start the Party: While likely not the top of the list for the hardcore gamer, Start the Party is a perfect family game. It will get you and your kids off the sofa and competing in all sorts of mini-games. You can also play cooperatively, making this perfect for those with little kids.

Be sure to check out more with our Holiday Guide: 6 essential PlayStation Move games

PlayStation Network
The PlayStation Network is your online hub for your PS3. It has just about everything you could want, including movies, TV shows, music, and games. Through the PlayStation Store you can buy an assortment of digital products, or even try out demos of games. Here are a few key things you should know about the PSN:

** PlayStation Plus: For just $49.99 a year, you get a ton of cloud storage along with a ton of free games added every month, early access to betas, and other exclusive content. It’s well worth the money and PSU recommends it to anyone new to the PS3 simply for the content in the free games.

** Video services: You can download an app that allows you to run Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus, among other services. These are all free so long as you already have a subscription–Amazon Instant Video requires purchases for each movie unless you are a Prime member.

** It’s free: If you don’t want to spend any money on your online gaming experience, you don’t have to with Sony’s PS3. Sure, Plus costs money, but it doesn’t cost a dollar to get online and play with your friends. Just for buying your PS3 and having an internet connection you’ll have access to a ton of free content, apps, and of course have the ability to play online with your friends.

For more info check out our Holiday Guide: Must have PlayStation Network games, apps

The PS3 is still one of the cheapest and best Blu-ray players on the market. If you had no interest in Blu-ray movies, think of it as an added bonus. See that shiny, giant new HD TV you picked up after squeezing all those pennies? Well you should definitely see how Blu-ray movies look on it right away. Simply slide a Blu-ray disc into your PS3 and see the difference in graphics and sound. You can control everything through your game controller, so there is no need to pick up an extra remote control. It’s worth repeating that the PS3 plays 3D games and movies. Here are a couple Blu-ray movies you should check out right away:

** The Dark Knight Rises. Bid farewell to Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman and witness the stunning explosions with a copy of the Blu-ray disc. As one of the most thrilling movies of 2012, you owe it to yourself to pick this up on Blu-ray and enjoy the action.

** The Hunger Games. Another blockbuster from 2012, The Hunger Games is an interesting look into an alternate future–hopefully–and it’s filled with interesting characters and terrific action sequences. It looks and sounds so good on Blu-ray.

More Blu-ray picks are available here

The PlayStation Family

There is a lot to explore with your new PS3 and we’ve only scratched the surface here. PSU has a wonderful community full of helpful and enthusiastic PlayStation fans. So why not stay for a while and visit our forums. There is plenty to love about your new PS3, but your new community of gamer friends was likely something you weren’t expecting. Lucky for you, PlayStation fans are pretty loyal and almost always willing to offer a hand, but in most cases a strong opinion. Whatever you are looking for, PSU has something to offer. Welcome to the PlayStation family!