I don't think I could ever be a parent, because I could never pull of that tactful "I love you both the same" line that moms utter whenever one child accuses them of preferring the other. The simple truth is, though I own both an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3, I just plain like my 360 better. The 360 has Achievements and a Gamerscore and faceplates and downloadable content and Xbox Live Arcade, and oh, I do love it so. Silly reasons, perhaps, but reasons I have a deep affection for a hunk of metal and plastic, just the same.
This weekend, as I looked at my PS3 languishing, forgotten and forlorn, in my entertainment center, it occurred to me that I wasn't really giving the poor thing a fair shake. Virtually every game I enjoyed on the 360 is also available on the PS3, and while it doesn't have exactly the same set of attributes as my 360, it certainly comes close. It even has a Blu-ray player built right in. Convinced that my PS3 apathy was unjust, I resolved to regard my console with fresh eyes. Its excellent design and implementation of technology had already earned my respect, but it was time to give it a second chance to win my heart. And what better way to start than by watching a mediocre kids' movie?
Launched during E3, the PlayStation Network's video store is a virtual carbon copy of its analog on the 360, right down to the movies and TV shows in its library. The Xbox Marketplace certainly has a larger selection - as it should, given how much longer it's been up and running - but when it comes to newer movies, just about anything you find on one, you'll find on the other. I'm a big fan of the Video Marketplace on Xbox Live, and use it quite frequently. I figured having a similar experience on my PS3 might therefore be the start of a beautiful friendship.
I dug out the remote control from its hiding place under an old issue of Geek magazine and fired up the PS3 only to find that I had to wait for a rather enormous system update to download and install before I could even think of browsing the PSN's video selection. Not a good start to restoring the PS3 love, certainly. With a shrug and a sigh, I picked up a newer issue of Geek and settled in for a lengthy wait. Sadly, it was not to be my last of the day.
Two feature articles and three reviews later, my console had updated and finally allowed me to add money to my PSN wallet and go shopping. I settled on one of the few movies I hadn't seen, The Spiderwick Chronicles, which I figured would be predictable, cute and easy to digest. I could rent the HD version for $4.99 or standard-definition for a dollar less; my one and only experience with downloading an HD movie was that it took about as long as my college roommate Kimmy did to get ready for a date, which is to say just shy of forever. Standard def it was.
After making my selection, I was presented with yet another option: Would I like to begin watching my movie as it downloaded, or perform the download in the background whilst I did other PlayStation-esque things? As I had no other pressing PlayStation business to complete, I chose to watch my movie immediately and was promptly greeted with images of David Strathairn in period costume hurrying his way back to an enormous house. As wind and other, creepier things howled, he added his seal to a blob of wax on the cover of some kind of notebook, and -
Buffering, please wait.