Sony PS2 review: Sony PS2

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The Good Sleek; lots of good games; DVD movie playback.

The Bad Still waiting for hard drive peripheral; Xbox's graphic capabilites are superior; only two controller ports.

The Bottom Line The elder statesman of next generation consoles, the PlayStation 2 has the luxury of a year's head start and many solid games.

7.3 Overall

Editors' Note: This product has been replaced by an updated, slimmer PlayStation 2 design, as well as the newer PlayStation 3.

With a year's head start on Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube, the PS2 platform has one big advantage over the competition: a greater selection of quality games, though the gap is quickly narrowing, particularly with the Xbox. On top of that, it doubles as a DVD player right out of the box and offers online gaming to both broadband and dial-up users via its Online Adaptor accessory. So while it may not be the newest or the most powerful system, it's certainly a safe bet.

Home-theater flexibility

The PlayStation 2 can stand on its side or lie flat to fit any space. And once it is installed into your home theater, you'll be treated to a reasonably sharp picture and high-quality sound. The PlayStation 2, like every other console, has a composite A/V cord in the box, which you use to connect the console to your TV. However, S-Video and component-video connectors are also available separately if you'd like to improve the picture quality. For surround-sound audio, there's a built-in optical digital audio jack. With recent graphics library updates, the PS2 will soon support HDTV resolutions and 16:9 wide-screen setting as the Xbox does. One of the first games to take advantage of this higher resolution: Namco's Tekken 4, which looks utterly amazing. Its graphics are even a worthy rival to those of the Xbox's Dead or Alive 3.

When compared directly to the Xbox, the PS2's 128-bit Emotion Engine yields in-game graphics with more jagged edges. People playing on an ordinary TV aren't too likely to notice those flaws. But if you compare the two systems on a high-resolution, HD-ready set, the edges in Xbox games look significantly smoother. In some ways, even the little Nintendo GameCube graphically surpasses the PS2. Luigi's Mansion and Rogue Leader look exceedingly crisp on the 'Cube, and the animation in Batman Vengeance is smoother than it is in the PS2 version.