Our favorite high-def console turns five today, and while it’s had its fair share of low points — a few detailed here, in case you missed it — it’s also done very well by us. It’s the exact reason that this site even exists in the first place, after all.
When the 60 GB launch model PS3 I bought off of a friend on a car forum arrived Christmas Eve 2006, I was visibly excited. But when I hooked it up to the HDTV I bought the month before to play Resistance: Fall of Man and the included Talladega Nights Blu-Ray, I knew that the next generation of consoles had truly begun.
That’s a personal memory, though. Let’s recap the ones that we all shared, together and in chronological order, just because we can.
In-Game XMB & Trophy Support, Hallelujah!
We take them for granted now, but it wasn’t too long ago when PS3 users were clamoring for both features, both having been available on the Xbox 360 in some form when that system launched in 2005. Wonderfully enough, both features came along in firmware 2.40 in July 2008, and what a glorious day it was!
First, the most practical feature that the PS3 has ever had patched into it post-launch. Sure, background downloading was a big deal when it arrived in early 2007 (also taken for granted now), but at least you could download a game or demo while you slept or went to work. The lack of an in-game XMB, though, denied gamers the ability to communicate with each other over PSN in a practical way, requiring them to exit a game to compose and read messages. To think that a feature like that took almost two years to implement is pretty laughable now, but when it finally came it was a huge weight off of everyone’s shoulders, and PSN was well on its way to being a respectable online service.
While the need for trophies wasn’t nearly as pressing as an in-game XMB was, that doesn’t make it any less essential. Seeing how addictive the 360’s achievements were, and how many people were opting to buy their multiplatform games on Microsoft’s machine as a result, Sony scrambled for a solution. People initially mocked the trophy system as a me-too feature, but the leveling system was a great twist that helped to differentiate it. Soon enough, PS3 users were as addicted to collecting the digital awards as 360 owners were to nabbing cheevos.
Simply put, 2.40 is one of a very select few firmwares that PS3 users actually looked forward to downloading. That makes it a shoe-in for one of the best moments in the system’s history.
LittleBigPlanet is the Cutest Killer App …
Obviously, a console is only as good as the software that you release for it, and there’s no denying that the original LittleBigPlanet was a watershed game not only for the PlayStation 3, but for all of gaming.
On the surface, it looked like a run-of-the-mill platformer with cute characters — you could burn through the wonderfully designed story levels in a few hours time — but deep down, it was one of the most hardcore experiences around. Media Molecule provided gamers with the tools to make levels that were every bit as engrossing as what a professional studio with years of experience behind it could.
Better yet was the ability to share all of these levels, which helped to cultivate one of the most unique online communities in all of gaming. Rather than putting 16 random players in an arena to shoot each other, players created their own little worlds in the hopes of making others happy and working with a few others to run through it. Happiness! Online! That’s goddamn nutso.
While this year’s LittleBigPlanet 2 was pretty much better in every way, it didn’t quite resonate the way that the original did. 2008’s LBP also helped spawn a couple of copycats, from EA’s Create and Sony’s own ModNation Racers. To me it’s the more important game, and that’s what really counts in this list.