Tuesday’s PlayStation 3 impressions article was very much of a quick once over of the upcoming console’s features. On Wednesday night, Sony finally turned the lights on their Playstation Network, opening up the PS3’s version of what Microsoft has been doing with their Xbox 360’s Xbox Live service. Here are our initial impressions of the network before the console officially goes on sale on Friday (for the very lucky few of you who will be able to get one).
First off you will have to establish an identity on the Playstation Network, which means going through menus that will make you fill out your name, birthday, address, email, password and your Playstation Network identity (mine is JCalFS). If you have a USB PC keyboard, and if you are reading this that’s a good assumption, I suggest you plug it into the PS3 to type this info into the interface; otherwise you will find that it’s very time consuming if you use the SIXAXIS controller and the PS3 text interface. You also have the option to put in credit card info if you want to download new paid games, content expansion and other content that will be made available in the PlayStation Store, but it isn’t mandatory. You also get an option to get info on “special promotions” from Sony and other third party companies; thankfully you can say no to this. You get a last chance to look over what you have typed in before confirming the info and establishing your Playstation Network account. You then encounter an optional survey that tries to find out why you are purchasing a PS3 and what will you be using it for; again you can bypass this if you want.
You also have a chance to pick out an avatar for your PS3 online identity. Sony provides over 100 symbols to choose from; some are recognizable Playstation game character profiles (I picked Kratos from God of War) but a lot are just weird art symbols. Of course, your tastes may vary. Finally you see your new avatar symbol on the main PS3 media bar. You also see avatars for sending messages to other Playstation Network members along with putting them on your buddy list.
Of course, most people who establish their Playstation Network identity will likely check out the online Playstation Store, which has all of the new content available for download. The interface works something like a web browser with the PS3 controller moving a cursor around the store interface and hiting the “X” button to highlight which section you want to select. You can also hook up a standard PC mouse into one of the PS3’s USB ports and use it to move the cursor around. The store is divided into Movie Trailers, Game Trailers, Game Demos and Downloadable Games (as of this writing there is no sign yet of the promised downloadable versions of older PS1 games). Some of that content is free, such as the Motorstorm demo that we downloaded first, which will give us a taste of the upcoming off-road racing game from Sony.