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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 11:35 GMT
PlayStation2 : The review
PlayStation 2: All-round home entertainment system
BBC games expert David Gibbon takes a look at the world-beating Playstation 2.

When Sony announced they were going it alone in the console world after a failed attempt to team up with Nintendo, few believed they would take over the games industry.

But when Playstation hit the shops in September 1995, sales went ballistic.

Five years on, the firm has sold more than 100 million machines - 6m of those in the UK - and has now launched its successor.

Following months, even years, of anticipation, the Playstation 2 is now on sale.

The machine is, quite simply, the most powerful system currently available to buy.

At 299, it is expensive, but you do get a good deal for your money.

Firstly, there is the gaming element. The system is powered by a 128-bit processor - four times the speed of the 32-bit original.


The 128-bit chip has been developed in conjunction with Toshiba, and has been created with gaming firmly in mind.

It offers an MPEG 2 decoder - for excellent image processing and displaying video footage.

Its 3D processing power is more powerful than a standard PC's and it can throw more 66 million polygons - the building blocks of 3D graphics - per second around the screen.

At the heart of the machine is the so-called Emotion Engine, which means game characters should be able to do everything from crying to smiling.

The console is built for network and internet access, but this option will not be available until next year.

Most impressively of all, it also comes with a DVD player.


This allows you to watch movies on your machine - transforming the console into an all-round home entertainment system, the true aim of Sony.

As with most DVD players, you can only watch region 2 discs - those produced for use in the UK.

Games firms are firmly backing the machine, with just about every publisher developing titles for it.

On launch day 33 games will be on sale, including Ridge Racer 5, Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2, Rayman Revolution and FIFA 2001.

But the game everyone in the industry is talking about is TimeSplitters from Eidos Interactive.

It has received rave reviews from critics and gamers, offering stunning graphics.


There are brilliant multi-player modes and nine levels of action.

Thirteen further games will be launched in December - and a further 50 will be out between January and March 2001.

While the Playstation 2 is easily the best machine on the market it has two main drawbacks.

The first is the lack of quality in its launch games.

With the exception of TimeSplitters and a game called Summoner, the others look like Playstation One titles.


A computer game today costs a company millions of pounds to develop and firms may have been nervous about putting those sums of money into the first batch of games.

Also, developers have not yet been able to fully exploit the machine's capabilities and it could be next year before ground-breaking titles are released.

The other problem Playstation 2 has is availability. With 165,000 entering the UK before Christmas, only a lucky few will be able to get their hands on one.

However, Sony are still confident of selling three million by 31 March.

Although there is no question that Playstation 2 is a superb machine and there are sure to be some truly amazing games for it in the pipeline, most of us will have to wait until next year to enjoy them.

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