The next PlayStation firmware update (numbered 2.4), due to be released tomorrow, is much awaited by PS3 gamers, so let's have a look at exactly what is actually going to change in your gaming experience this week.
"It's a welcome, and long overdue, update that brings PS3 level, if not ahead of Xbox 360's Live service - only for *free*, not £30 odd," claims PSM3 magazine editor, Daniel Dawkins.
The detail you crave
"The headline features - trophies, in-game chat- are functional enough, but it's the 'hidden' features that catch the eye," adds Dawkins.
"Quick Google search on the XMB bar? Sensible. XMB Clock? Handy, since I do most of my gaming late at night and worrying about the time is a real issue, especially with work the next day."
Increase your friends network
The PSM3 editor also picks up on another oft-cited bugbear with the PS3 online experience: "Friends cap? Increasing the limit to 100 is great, especially for a magazine like ours, since we've had to arbitrarily refuse people in the past due to the 50 person limit."
Buy yourself trophies?
What of the new PS3 Trophy System, which we informed you about yesterday? "It sounds slightly elaborate, but no more arbitrary than Xbox's Gamer Score - I think people will be more concerned with their 'Level', rather than individual awards, due to the complexity.
"Trophies might come into their own when Sony's Second Life-aping, virtual real estate-led, Home launches, where you'll be able to see people's achievements physically in, say, their 'expensive' glass-plated trophy room.
"Though I'm slightly opposed to the idea of virtual economic snobbery, where rubbish, rich gamers buy their way to virtual prestige - it goes against everything democratic that games used to represent," notes Dawkins.
Dawkins is also unconvinced about the validity of personalisable in-game soundtracks, noting that:
"In-game soundtracks, while welcome, make me a bit sad, too. Given the choice, many people stay within their preset boundaries as opposed to the 'uncomfortable' absorption of new ideas. For example, someone might be listening to say, Generic Rock Noise 7G, or Angry Rap XXX, rather than - to give a historical example - Billie Jean the first time they step on the bike in GTA: Vice City. Ico with a soundtrack? Eugh.
"It sounds arch, but I think a lot of games are better for their didactic nature. GTA's soundtrack might be eclectic and 'random', but every track is carefully selected, and I'm willing to bet a lot of gamer's gave country music, or hip hop, a second listen after GTA: San Andreas.
"The music *makes* key moments like Big Boss saluting the grave in MGS3, and I'm almost sad people will have the option to experience the moment in a different way to that which the creator had intended."
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