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Christmas Gift Guide
Gaming

PlayStation 3: Hands-on with Sony's new console

Crave was drooling so much that we had to wear our rubber boots for fear of electric shocks: we'd finally got our hands on the elusive Sony PS3. But what, dear reader, was it like?

First up: the PlayStation 3 does look very pretty. Product shots we'd seen had made the unit seem rather big and bulky, but in real life it's a willowy little thing and the curves on the casing will make it blend nicely into any AV setup. Unlike the Xbox 360, there's no bulky power brick. Unfortunately, the glossy finish is a real fingerprint and scratch magnet, but you'll probably be wearing white gloves whenever you touch it, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Setup was a cinch: HDMI in, power cable in, power on, a few settings, and we were ready to play. The good news first: the PS3 runs silently, no fans to be heard here. Crave likes to play online but we had to lie through our teeth to get this baby going. As the PS3 won't be out in Europe until March, the online sign-up screen only gives you the option of an address in the US or Japan, so we got all New Yorker on it, and it was worth it. The PlayStation Store offers downloadable demos, as well as some great fully downloadable games, such as Cash Guns Chaos (a 'tribute' to arcade classic Smash TV), a snip at a mere $7.99 (£4.10).

The first 'proper' game on disc we tried was Resistance: Fall of Man. If you want a first-person shooter, with plenty of jumpy moments and great weapons, you'll not be disappointed. We loved the atmospheric in-game music and the two player co-operative cost us many precious hours. Online multiplayer was even more fun: we joined a 20-on-20 battle that showed no sign of slowdown.

On to the much-loved driving franchise in which ridges are raced upon. Ridge Racer 7 was exactly as expected: nice shiny graphics and that all-important exaggerated drifting around corners. It felt very similar to Ridge Racer on the PSP, but pumped up for the big screen. There's a lot going on in the background and great attention to detail.

Then came Motor Storm, available as a demo from the online store. This adrenaline-fuelled racer has the best graphics we've seen on the PS3 (check out our video of it). You can race on motorbikes, buggies or in the much easier to handle trucks. Motor Storm also had us twisting and bending around with the new controller.

Now comes the bad bit. That controller... the 'SixAxis' technology senses the tilt on the controller for steering and the pitch of your vehicle when landing. It's perfectly functional, but it's lighter than a feather, and feels cheap and nasty. The tilting is something of an afterthought, clearly there to steal limelight from Nintendo's truly innovative Wii.

Crave's verdict? We love the console's hardware and online experience, but we hated the lightweight controller. The graphics for the launch titles are a treat and some great games are on the horizon. The tricky bit now will be figuring out how to get a unit home in time for Christmas.

You can check out our in-depth review of the PS3 here. -DC