Time to be blunt – the launch of the latest and anticipated firmware 3.0 update for the PS3 seemingly hasn’t gone well. Since its launch, reports have already been surfacing about game freezing and controller issues, which has led to unwanted aggravation for some gamers.
These minor issues aside, the update has promised it has a lot to offer, but was it worth the biblically long downloading time?
Firing up your system will reveal the first notable change, as the start-up sequence has been updated to the version that graces the newly released PS3 Bulimic. Not much has changed here – the screen still gracefully fades to the XMB as the music, or God’s orchestra as I like to call it, chimes triumphantly and the newly embedded PS3 logo shows its presence. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from here upon the realisation that this once clear and clutter free navigation system has been sprinkled with a sickly sparkling effect. Swarms of gimmicky glitter litter the background and foreground area, but thankfully they can be terminated – I swiftly obliged. Sadly, this is just one of the new features that led me to think “why oh why did they do that?”
There are some improvements to the revamped interface, such as the new status indicator which places vital information, including the number of friends online and any impending messages, into one orderly spot in the right hand corner. Mercifully, the infamous battery level glitch has even been fixed and a handful of other minor tweaks are in place, such as a shortcut for BBC iPlayer and the ability to intuitively fast forward videos by using the analogue stick.
Unfortunately however, this is subsided by the fact that the navigation system has had an unforeseen increase in font size, making things distractingly chunky compared to before. It’s quite feasible that this was done for those who still live with a cumbersome 90s television that doesn’t support HD, which is fine, but there is no option to revert the font to its original size for the rest of us. Why oh why did they do that?
The real meat of update is derived from the extraordinarily exciting “what’s new” function, designed to replace the old information board which nobody ever seemed to care for. In fact, it’s so keen to make itself known to you that it glares in your face on start-up by default – I am filled with joy at such a prospect. All it does is present you with the latest happenings in the Playstation world, such as news stories, games, features and even the last game you played, all of which are neatly displayed in an interactive, swirling grid thing with a glossy finish. This is also applied to the Playstation Store, but how lazy would you have to be not to just check the store in full yourself?
The much touted dynamic themes also make their debut here, but sadly they come at a price – yes, Sony actually expect us to part with our cash just to see a smiling Sackboy run across your interface. There are hardly any of these premium themes available either, as we are restricted to the choice of LittleBigPlanet and a free Afrika theme which is exclusive to Japan at the moment, which is hardly a satisfying initial demonstration. These innovative animated themes were potentially the only worthwhile feature to be implemented into 3.0, so it is disappointing that we are having to pay for them, particularly when, if you think about it, the average user probably doesn’t spend an awful amount of time aimlessly lurking around their XMB. Why oh why did they do that?
And then there’s the overhauled friends list. For whatever reason, Sony felt the need to dress your friends with overblown overcoats in the form of garish grey bars that surround every friend’s username and avatar. Before, the friends list was simplistic and sleek, and was a feature that really wasn’t asking to be altered. Now it just looks needlessly tacky and frankly godawful – why oh why did they do that?
The step into the figure of 3.0 should signify an update of major importance and significance, but that really wasn’t the case here. It set out to address things that simply didn’t need tending to and simultaneously made them worse in the process. Hopefully we will soon start to see some interesting dynamic themes up for download in the future, but in the meantime it would be nice if Sony could kindly give us the option to revert some of these changes on demand.
Oh, and please leave Uncharted alone!