On the day I am writing this, it will mark one month since the PlayStation 2 was launched to the public. As everyone knows I was the only one on my staff (at least I think this) who was lucky enough to pick one up. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t consider myself lucky. In the month that followed the launch, I have seen nothing but disappointment for Sony’s new console, and it makes me wonder how the mainstream press continues promoting it over the Dreamcast.
I know that Sony was successful with their launch, as the initial 500,000 units sold out immediately. But how many of those units were purchased for personal use? Take a look at eBay and you’ll see tons of listings for the PS2 with prices ranging from a reasonable $400 all the way up to an insane $2,000! To many PS2 owners, the upcoming holiday season will be an easy way to make a quick buck.
It would make sense though, as the initial wave of titles has been less than stellar. Of the 29 titles available, I feel only two can be considered as "must buy" games. One of them, SSX, is an excellent snowboarding alternative to Tony Hawk 2 (and a game which would easily get 4 1/2 Gems), and dare I say, Madden 2001, is the other. I know I had bad blood with EA and their neglect of the Dreamcast, but I got to admit that this year’s Madden is actually pretty good. It still won’t beat NFL 2K1 though, and would probably only warrant 4 or 4 1/2 Gems.
The rest of the titles can range from average to unbelievably bad. I couldn’t fathom more than 5 minutes of Orphen without ripping open the drive tray and throwing it in the trash. And as for Ridge Racer 5, it’s nothing but the same old title with a facelift that I can do without.
Now before I get the old excuse of "well, it’s only the first wave of titles," consider Sega’s successful launch of Dreamcast. Right off the bat, a majority of their 19 titles were rated between good and excellent. Not only that, but three titles were AAA quality: Sonic Adventure, NFL 2K, and the godlike Soul Calibur. If Tekken Tag Tournament is the closest PS2 can come to Soul Calibur, then they got a long way to go.
While we’re at it, does everyone else agree with me that online play is greatly missed here? Look at how Sega came running out the gates with their online gaming network. So far I have been nothing less than pleased with it. Of the four titles I tested out: NFL 2K1, NBA 2K1, Quake 3 Arena, and Starlancer, I have enjoyed fast, fluid online gameplay which could rival T1 connections on a PC.
Sony plans on releasing a broadband adapter for the PS2 next year, but that’s a long way off. Not only that, but what about those who are stuck to using a 56K modem and can’t upgrade? Are they going to be screwed? Even the Gamecube is offering a 56K modem when it comes out!
Speaking of the 500,000 "screwed" reservations – that is, the people with late reservation who have to wait for a PS2 since Sony cut down their promised distribution of 1 million units – what are they going to do? Unless they are lucky enough to find a PS2, buy one on eBay, or win Howard Stern’s contests, where will they go as a result?
That’s right, they are going to defect to the Dreamcast, and I can tell you that they will not be disappointed. Why, you may ask? Simple: since September, I have never before seen such a vast array of AAA-quality titles as we have here. NFL 2K1, NBA 2K1, Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, UFC, Quake 3 Arena, Sega GT, Test Drive Le Mans, Ferrari F355, Tony Hawk 2, Virtua Tennis are just a few. The list just goes on and on.
As a matter of fact, just recently major retailers have changed their Christmas marketing strategy, and are now requested to promote the Dreamcast as opposed to the PS2 as their must buy for the holidays. And with plenty of Dreamcasts to go around, retailers will not have to worry about shortage riots similar to what happened at the PS2 launch in France! (That’s right, a full-blown riot broke out. Nice move Sony. You going to pay all those medical bills? It’s on your head.)
I know that I have been judged by many as a Sony-hating, Sega-biased, one-sided, sold out, and everything else (fill in the blank) reviewer. But if that’s true, I’m no more biased than the publications that praise the PS2 on fiction. I’m sorry if my opinion causes controversy, but I just believe the Dreamcast is the better purchase for the holiday, and you remaining 500,000 who were screwed out of a PS2 now have a second option. I suggest you look at it.