Gaming

Like its fatter predecessors, the super-slim Sony PS3 is a very useful catch-up device and Blu-ray player, but let's not forget what it's primarily designed for: gaming.

The hardware inside the latest PS3 doesn't herald a new generation of heart-breakingly beautiful games – it's the same Nvidia RSX GPU powering the graphics, and the same mighty 3.2GHz Cell processor.

The only tangible performance advantage you'll find in gaming is in loading times. If you opt for the 12GB SSD model, that is.

PS3 slim 2

Next-gen gaming
wii u
Wii U review

Solid state storage blows the traditional mechanical hard disk out of the water when it comes to read and write speeds, which means whether you're installing a 5GB game or loading up a saved game, the 12GB super-slim PS3 will handle the task at hand quicker than both previous PS3 iterations and the 500GB HDD model.

So with the pre-existing graphics and processor, neither model of the new PS3 is going to win the graphics war against the Xbox 360 or the Wii U. First Party exclusives such as Uncharted 3 still look stellar, but in general the 360 is ahead in gaming visuals.

That comes down to the ease of programming on each platform - the 360 uses a bespoke version of the DirectX 9 programming interface shared with PCs. And since games are developed on PCs, it's a more natural translation than to the PS3's modified version of OpenGL.

When Wii U released, it was technically be the most powerful games console on the market, but its generation's a bit confused: it's neither a stablemate of Sony and Microsoft's current crop, nor a successor. Now that the PS4 has arrived, Sony really needs to focus on ease of development with its new hardware, to avoid this situation occurring for another six or seven years – which from all indications it has.

For online gamers, the PSN still doesn't quite offer all the knobs and bells of Xbox Live - then again, there's no subscriber service to play competitive multiplayer. The PSN does still go down for 'routine maintenance' with irritating regularity, though.

PS3 slim 2 controller

When PS3 first arrived, its six-axis controller prompted a bit of an outcry - why not supply a pad with dual shock and gyroscopic functionality? Nobody wanted to choose between the two.

That was ironed out long before the slim and super-slim models of PS3 arrived though - the controller you'll find in the box might not boast a touch screen interface or dual screen function as other gaming platforms do, but it's a sturdy and comfortable peripheral.

Sony wins back massive points for cross-play functionality with the PlayStation Vita, though. If you own Sony's handheld device, which is equipped with touchscreen, rear touch pad and gyroscope, you can use it to control an increasing volume of PS3 games. Some titles are using cross-play in particularly clever and imaginative ways that can't currently be paralleled by other platforms. Shadow Of The Colossus HD and LittleBigPlanet are highlights.

And no, this new slimmer model doesn't bring back the PS2 compatibility of the original 60GB PS3. But if you're into classic games, the ever-expanding PS One collection on PSN should go some way to making up for that.

Media

XMB folder view

Sony's call to fit a Blu-ray drive in the PS3 won the battle of the HD physical media formats, knocking the HD DVD into oblivion. As a Blu-ray player it's bristling with features too, enabling easy set up of multi-speaker audio setups and rendering crisp 1080p movies sans stutter.

Oddly enough, it's a wonderful DVD and AVI playback device too. It takes these less-than-HD-quality movies, slaps a bit of lipstick on them, toys with their hair and makes them look prettier than ever. AVI movies that would be a chore to watch on your PC look much improved thanks to PS3's clever Cell processor.

It requires no effort to use your PS3 as a media server, either. If you've got a PC on in the other room with the necessary sharing permissions ticked, you can browse and stream your whole movie collection without leaving the sofa. Or peruse your housemate's collection of 'alone time' videos. Your call.

Natively, it still doesn't support your off-the-beaten-track file formats such as MKV videos, and that's cause for annoyance. There's a workaround though, in the form of Homestream, a free program released by Sony that enables you to share a much wider variety of file formats between Sony devices. Including MKVs, praise be.

So while the Xbox 360 might just have the PS3 licked for gaming graphics and the allure of Xbox Live, there's only one champion in media terms. The new PS3's Blu-ray player and upscaling capability makes it a no-brainer.