Sony’s copycat problem

I just got the new issue of PSM magazine, and what’s the big exciting cover story about the new big exciting PlayStation 3 game? Saints Row.

That’s right, the same Saints Row that came out on the Xbox 360 five months ago.

Saints Oh, but please don’t think you’ll be spending $10 extra for the game and $200 extra for the system just to play the same old game. No! This is a new and improved Saints Row. So tell us, PSM, what are all the extra goodies? “First and foremost are two new multiplayer maps.” Oh. Uh, crazy! What else?? “Two new cars are also included.” A whole two? Anything else? “There are also 70 new customization options for the player.” Sweet! I’m definitely spending $600 for a PS3 so I can give my Saints Row dude a samurai helmet. Well, at least this will all look a lot better on the PS3, right? Take it away, Rob Sheppard of THQ: “The PS3 version of the game will very much look like the 360 version of the game with some subtle differences where shaders have changed or evolved to fit the hardware.”

Okay, I give up.

This ridiculous 14-page cover story says so much about what’s wrong with the PlayStation 3, not to mention with video game magazines. Fourteen pages for a game that’s been out since last August; that’s not even that great to begin with (though the next Grand Theft Auto better have Saints Row’s automap feature, which draws the route to your next target on the little map on screen so you know where you’re going); that you can get for $50 on Amazon for the 360, and no doubt cheaper used at Gamestop.

If this is the best the PS3 has going for it, who in their right mind would get one? A recent issue of PSM had a cover story on Army of Two — which will also be coming out on the 360. Yes, most 360 games will also be on the PS3, but that’s not as much of a problem when your system costs $200 less (and already has Dead Rising, Table Tennis, Lost Planet, Gears of War, Viva Pinata — exclusive games out now). PSM has a rundown of four big PS3 exclusives, but only two look somewhat unique (Heavenly Sword and Lair), while MotorStorm and Warhawk look like fairly pedestrian dirt racing and flying games. (Plus some games that have online play on the 360 don’t on the PS3.)

And what self-respecting magazine gives up this kind of real estate for a retread game that they know is essentially the same as the 360 version? The faux excitement throughout is palpable and pitiful. Instead of just saying “the game won’t look better than on the Xbox 360,” here’s how they deliver the news about the graphics:

“As the graphics whores among you are no doubt asking, will we be able to see a visual improvement with the PS3 version of Saints Row? In its unfinished state, that much is still unclear; however we were able to get this statement from the game’s producer at THQ, Rob Sheppard. ‘Given that the hardware is very new and a significantly different architecture, the team is constantly learning how to take full advantage of the new features. The SPEs (Synergistic Processing Element) offer a unique opportunity to run specific processes independently from the main processor and we are utilizing them for processes such as physics. The PS3 version of the game will very much look like the 360 version…’ “

Absolutely pathetic.

— February 7, 2007

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