The PlayStation 2, however, not only flourishes on older televisions, but in some cases even supports newer sets with a 16:9 screen size and offers 480p resolution on some of its most popular titles, like God of War. The PlayStation's DVD functionality also supports 16:9 as well as progressive scan playback, allowing movies to look rather good on almost any modern television, especially those under 40 inches.
While the television issue might not bother all gamers, the bad news doesn't end there for our fiscally-challenged gaming brethren. Online multiplayer, downloadable content, and streaming media are some of this generation's most heavily promoted features and gamers are now expected to have their console connected to the internet. While it is hard to deny some of the truly cool advancements this has led to, all of them are useless to anyone who can't afford or doesn't have access to high-speed internet.
To salt the wound, modern games' reliance on online multiplayer can cause a whole other set of problems. Lengthy single-player campaigns, especially in first person shooters, are often sacrificed in favor of a robust online component. Online multiplayer may extend the shelf life of games like Homefront (which has a notoriously short single-player campaign), but this will come as little comfort to the budget gamer that can't get online. This can often lead to frustration as hard-earned money is spent on a game that may only provide five to ten hours of offline entertainment.
This new-found focus on online multiplayer has also led to issues for those seeking to share gaming with their friends. Trying to find something as simple as a two-player game that doesn't require an internet connection on the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3 is a herculean feat. It has been increasingly rare to find a game that supports any sort of local multiplayer, even in genres such as racing and shooters where split-screen gameplay was once a staple.
So while an Xbox 360 can be picked up for $200, it has to be asked how much of the Xbox experience is actually being purchased? Will it result in a stripped down, second-class gaming experience because it wasn't designed with the income-impaired in mind? For many that could very well be the case. If a gamer is looking for a new system and happens to be a little light in the wallet, they would be doing themselves a great disservice if they neglect to consider the PlayStation 2. Whether looking to get into gaming on the cheap, a good starter system for a child, or even something to fill the time until Mass Effect 3 comes out, the PlayStation 2 is an ideal system for any gamer on a budget. So go forth, my cash-strapped brethren, and enjoy a true icon in the videogame world.
Carl is a life long fiscally challenged geek and a contributing editor at GuerrillaGeek.com. He enjoys Buckaroo Banzai, comic books, not leaving the house and Mystery Science Theater 3000. He can be found online at his website and on twitter!