301: Playing for Pennies

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Playing for Pennies

When it comes to getting the most out of your gaming dollar, it's hard to beat the huge library and lower tech demands of the wallet-friendly PlayStation 2.

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As consoles go, the PlayStation 2 is definitely the closest to a current-gen experience you're going to get for almost nothing. You have to wonder, though: Why would someone buy a console at all? Assuming they have a computer strong enough and connected enough to read The Escapist, I'm sure there's a plethora of older games for PC or Mac they could purchase and get just as much enjoyment out of for much less money.

Wait, this article had nothing to do with Gordon Freeman. I feel totally cheated (/sarcasm).

OT: Excellent article, I've never really been one to favor the PS2. But the sheer size of its gaming library and number of units sold is nothing to scoff at.

Carl Watkins:
The PlayStation 2, on the other hand, is nearly minimalist when it comes to accessories. No need to buy an HDMI cable, hard drive, or wireless adapter. In most cases all you need to enjoy the PlayStation 2 is a controller, a memory card, and a game; all of which can often be purchased for $15 or less.

You don't really need to buy those for an Xbox 360 either. An Xbox comes with a controller and a video cable (not HDMI, but an Xbox 360 without HDMI has better video quality than a PS2 anyway). You don't need a hard drive unless you plan on downloading a lot of stuff. You can also connect an Xbox 360 to the internet without a wireless adapter, and even if you don't you're still getting just as much online functionality as you'll get with a PS2.

Also, HDMI cables cost $5 or less unless you're dumb enought to buy them at a brick and mortar store.

Carl Watkins:

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?

No, actually, it won't. The Xbox 360 was designed to be playable with just the basic model. You can buy any single player game for an Xbox 360 and play it with no penalties with an out-of-the-box arcade model. The "stripped-down, second-class gaming experience" still provides everything that a PS2 will and more.

Carl Watkins:

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.

Uh, Halo? Gears?

The author of this article seems to have little fiscal sense. Alternatives should be evaluated based on their actual cost vs. value, not their potential cost if you buy a bunch of extra stuff vs. their value if you don't buy that stuff. A product that offers X + 1 is more valuable than a product that offers X, not less valuable because it could potentially offer X+10 if you spend more money.

Maybe I might go back and get Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 after all. 2005 seems so long ago now. *sigh*

Not to mention that you have the entirety of the Playstation library on hand as well as the PS2. Thats a hell of a lot of games. I don't think I'll ever sell my PS2. It gets just as much use as, if not more than, my 360.

BloodSquirrel:
*snip*

I think you missed the point of the article, which is about getting the most out of a low budget. For the price of the minimalist Xbox package(say, 1 controller + 1 game), you could get a PS2 with an absolute crapload of accessories/games. Obviously the 360 is going to look better, but with a limited amount of money, I guarantee the PS2 is a better option.

I took this advice the year after the new console generation hit. I bought a PS2 and have been stocking up on games for a while now, I play a lot of them in my downtime between big games that I buy, which are few and far between thanks to the big price tag.

So far, I've accumulated God of War I/II, Kingdom Hearts, FFXII, Guitar Hero 2&3, and some classics from the PS1: Chrono Cross, FF 7&8, and Final Fantasy Tactics.

Between those games I've probably sunk about 100+ hours of gameplay and all for under $300 for everything.

Since i started using my home-built PC for the bulk of my gaming my PS2 actually gets more play than my 360 does. The back-catalog of games is just so huge i can find something i want to replay on an almost weekly basis. And some games i simply never stopped playing like Tekken 5 or Okami. There is also a much wider range of actually decent family freindly games from Insonmic's Ratchet and Clank, naughty-dog's Jak series and many others whereas mny current generation 'family games' can be stlited mini-game rubblish. Its a good system for a struggling family to buy their kids.

For those even MORE adventurous a game-cube can be picked up for literally penunts to compliment your PS2. I got a console and three games for literally 10 and the titles can be found very cheaply with only a little digging. I only picked one up in about 2008 but it has served me well in gterms of nintendo titles or slightly more graphically intense titles such as RE4 that the system has the definative version of.

BloodSquirrel:
snip

I think a large part of what the author is getting at, revolves around the fact that you don't NEED to spend all the money the 360 and PS3 require in order to get a good gaming experience. It sounds to me not like he's talking to people that just might not have the money for a few months, but that definitely wouldn't be able to afford the price it takes to be a player in the current console market. Yes, you can play with the arcade version of the xbox, and take part in all the games that come out. However, all those games are US60 bucks. Playstation 2 games? Much lower, bringing not only the point of entry down, but also staying low in the "maintenance" cycle. The point where you continue to purchase games and possibly accessories.

The Xbox360 arcade version is $200 on amazon. The PS2 is 100. Just with that cost right there, you have 100 dollars to spend on games. New games on the 360 are 60 dollars. New games on the PS2 are 40 dollars.

Just looking at that, and nothing else, it's easy to see that the PS2 is WAY better for your budget than the Xbox. Are the graphics cooler on the xbox and does it have sweet multiplayer etc? Absolutely. Hell it's probably considered a better system by everyone concerned. The author mentioned the stripped-down gaming experience. The PS2, when you buy it, can give you the complete experience the system was designed to offer, out of the box. No internet connection needed, no extra bits and pieces to buy. Yes, the Xbox comes with 4GB of on board memory... but lets be honest. How many games do you need to install so that you don't have to take a lunch break before loading screens? A lot of that gets eaten up fast.

This turned out longer than I expected to, so I'll end with this: The PS2 offers a significant advantage for those with lower income, due to it's initial and ongoing price-point. It is also a system that thinks from 10 years ago, when not everyone had broadband internet connections. It is an excellent choice, and probably the *best* choice for people who just can't afford everything else that goes with the current console generation.

OT: My brother has my PS2 at college. When he graduates, he's never getting it again.

cairocat:
As consoles go, the PlayStation 2 is definitely the closest to a current-gen experience you're going to get for almost nothing. You have to wonder, though: Why would someone buy a console at all? Assuming they have a computer strong enough and connected enough to read The Escapist, I'm sure there's a plethora of older games for PC or Mac they could purchase and get just as much enjoyment out of for much less money.

Well to the whole WHY you would want to buy a console is a personal preference. I play computer for the multi player, while I play my PS2 for the single player fun. Yes there is a lot of good single player games for computer, but for me it isn't the same feeling and the controller does play into it for me :)

p.s feel special this is my first response or post for... anything :D

Being a cash-strapped university student, my PS2 has brought me more joy in the past 2 years of school than the plethora of systems still at my parents house. It gets even better, as I got my TV for free (gotta love curbside pickup), and inherited a bunch of games from my friend when he decided to abandon his PS2 in favor of a (non backwards compatible) PS3. Long live cheap gaming!

The PS2 is the best console ever. yes. But it also has the worst fps controls of any console ever because of its sticks... actually. the psp probably takes that one lol

PS2 RULES and I highly regret breaking mine during a move.

There were SO many great games for the system. Timesplitters 2 has a good single player experience and a GREAT multiplayer experience. Timesplitters 3 is the opposite with much more developed single player and slightly degraded (but still excellent) multiplayer.

Ratchet and Clank 2 one of the best platformers EVAR with some addictive character progression elements. RC3 lost a bit from the second but was still spectacular.

Street Fighter EX 3 was the purest fighting game in the same family as the original SF2.

Metal Gear Solid 3 was arguably the best in the series.

When you're tight for cash, you do have to ask, how much better is, say, FIFA 12 than FIFA 2009? So often there's some graphical updates and the rosters change, and maybe they'll add some light control tweaks, but it's rarely enough to push me to go buy a new console.

Same goes for so many of the games mentioned, you might not have the latest, most amazing graphics, but you'll still get a great experience from older titles.

I recently quite fancied a golf game, picked up both Tiger Woods 2007 and 2006 for 2.50 in a local CEX. Online they sell a shedload of preowned PS2 stuff for 50p and up. Of course there's many other online places too :)

I also still have an old TV to keep my xbox 1, ps2, dreamcast and N64 connected. They do seem to lose a little something connected to the new hi def flat screens, perhaps the blur of analog connections gives them a little free 'anti aliasing'.

Well I've got a $3000 dollar gaming pc a xbox 360, a wii and a beloved ps2. Despite owning much shiner tech my trusty ps2 still has a place next to my tv. It just has so many good games. I love my ps2 to bits :)

BloodSquirrel:

Uh, Halo? Gears?

The author of this article seems to have little fiscal sense. Alternatives should be evaluated based on their actual cost vs. value, not their potential cost if you buy a bunch of extra stuff vs. their value if you don't buy that stuff. A product that offers X + 1 is more valuable than a product that offers X, not less valuable because it could potentially offer X+10 if you spend more money.

IDK.
I played Halo Reach and Gears and they both really short. The point is that the distinction isn't between X and X+1. The games from this generation seem to start off as X-10 and you might be able to bump it up to X+1 after spending another $30-40.

Great article. I think its a very sensible sentiment. I keep telling friends (especially those with limited expendable income) thinking about plunging into the current gen isn't really worth it yet. I didn't think that I would be able to keep doing that for years but I have.
The fact is that I still haven't played anything from this gen that has surpassed my favorites from last gen except maybe Fallout 3 (which I do like better than any of my rpgs from last gen). I haven't found a driving game I like better than Burnout Revenge, I haven't found open world mayhem as massive or compelling as San Andreas, and I haven't found phantasmagoria as trippy as Katamari (except Katamari Forever).
Since this generation where many systems are on-line, I also have noticed a definite drop in the amount of content you get. Besides those games that have limited single player play and shore it up with "hours" of on-line play, many publishers are releasing short games and shoring them up with additional content the customer has to purchase seperately. Look at MvC3: if they continue to bump up the roster at $5/character, by the time this list is as long as MvC2, the entire game will cost another $100 on top of the price for the disc. That's another big deterrent to those who are strapped for cash.
And even if the added cost isn't a deterrent, I know some who have stuck with the ps2 because it's just simpler. There are no hidden/additional costs or fees. Most of my more affluent friends ditched the consoles this gen for the pc because the console is no longer the simpler and cheaper alternative for gaming.

The problem is (and I've pointed this out on other threads) that gaming is slowly going from a luxury to a high end luxury. The companies that make & sell the consoles & games might think this is a good thing right now but that's probably because they don't realize that it's probably going to lead to pirating/hacking becoming more widespread.

Oh my god, look at that title.

In a quick addendum, my housemate just got back from microplay (canadian game store that deals exclusively in old/used/hard to find games), with the original HALO and Splinter Cell in hand, for $7. It doesn't get much better than that

That's why I bought a cecha01 model PS3. So now I have a PS3 and a PS2 and a PS1, all for $300 (same price as a new regular ps3).

The PS2 really was the epitome of an excellent console. It's game library is as yet unparalleled.

Having never had my own PS1 or PS2 in their heyday, it has been a great joy for me to now finally play all those games I missed.

I now have a ton of old PS1 and PS2 games I've bought that I can't wait to play, and they were all dirt cheap! Graphics aside, many of these games were much better than the stuff coming out today in a lot of ways.

I don't know. Two of the characters pictured, Gordon Freeman and Kate Archer, are available on PC. Their old games are dirt cheap with tons of free mods. Speaking of backlogs the pc's is the extreme in terms of size and diversity and I'm sure most of us over 20 could compile a huge list for you of games from 1990 to 2000 that range from "good" to "don't miss" to "classic". The PC isn't a bad option for broke gaming, provided you don't expect to go top of the line.

this weeks articles really hit home for me :)

im one of those poor, budget gamers that can hardly afford a game from 3 years ago (even gears of war and crackdown set me back a lot)

its why PC gaming never appealed to me, there's no way to afford that on my budget (and without a credit card, i'm screwed anyways)

I have had my Playstation 2 for about 7 years now, and have accumulated about 65 games for it. And I seriously doubt I will get rid of it seeing how I got games from nearly every genre. From Shadow of the Colossus to God of War 1 and 2 to Jak and Daxter to Call of duty to Need for speed. Now if only I could find Ico...

Anyways I have gotten nearly every game for about $30 and under. PS2 really is cheap if you get down to it.

I can't help but feel vaguely cheated by this article - I mean, I see Cate Archer, protagonist from the sublime and frequently overlooked No One Lives Forever games sitting there in the artwork for the monthly issue, and I think "Awesome, an article about No One Lives Forever (or one that at least mentions it), just the thing to get some kid somewhere to give those games a look!".

But no, it turns out she's just part of a somewhat amusing illustration along with other "iconic" characters that I'm willing to bet are all far more well known and instantly recognizable than her, and not mentioned at all anywhere. Obviously if the audience is going to include folks like me, the illustration served its purpose just fine - knowing what I do about the demographics of the Escapist forum community though, I can't help but wonder how many other people read this and then wondered who the hell the woman in that picture was (just the protagonist of one of the most awesome (and hilarious!) FPS games ever made, not that the Call of Duty obsessed adolescents would recognize that). And then of course I get a hankering to fire up my copy of a game that came out when most of the people on these forums were still in elementary school (and the youngest in the crowd (that are actually allowed to be here) would have been 2 years old).

All of which only serves to remind me that I am old, and I certainly can't get enough reminders of that!

I still use the old p2 from time to time. I picked up Dragon Quest VIII a few years ago for 12 bucks and enjoyed the heck out of it. I still play Culdcept now and again.

eh i loved my ps2 but had to give it to my cousin when i left the country (having to choose between taking my ps2 n games or clothes n such took a while)

on 360 now wich i like tho the ammount of times xbox live gold has caused my bank to have fits at me by changing they're subscription fee's due date to before payday without warning me is getting ridiculous....meh

Frizzle:

BloodSquirrel:
snip

The Xbox360 arcade version is $200 on amazon. The PS2 is 100. Just with that cost right there, you have 100 dollars to spend on games. New games on the 360 are 60 dollars. New games on the PS2 are 40 dollars.

That's still too much.

Compare a PC with roughly the same graphical capabilities of a PS2, has no value and is the sort of thing any enthousiast with a newer rig, will just give away to a friend.

The games if you must stay legit for some reason are $5 in bargain bins and on online DL stores like GOG.

veloper:

Frizzle:

BloodSquirrel:
snip

The Xbox360 arcade version is $200 on amazon. The PS2 is 100. Just with that cost right there, you have 100 dollars to spend on games. New games on the 360 are 60 dollars. New games on the PS2 are 40 dollars.

That's still too much.

Compare a PC with roughly the same graphical capabilities of a PS2, has no value and is the sort of thing any enthousiast with a newer rig, will just give away to a friend.

The games if you must stay legit for some reason are $5 in bargain bins and on online DL stores like GOG.

You can get $5 games on the PS2 as well. The games that are 40 bucks are the *brand new* ones like Madden '11. If you want something like God of War, it's currently $17.19 on amazon.com. Granted that's not $5, but it's a critically acclaimed game for under 20 bucks. that's pretty legit. You can purchase 3 games like that for the price of 1 Xbox360 game, and still have money left over for ice cream.

As for people already having a PC, I agree with you. You can most certainly get the same graphical product out of today's bargain computers. But then there's the fact that you can't do a 2 player shooting game, or many other party games at a computer, which is some of the appeal of the console. Especially the PS2.

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Writing this article almost made me want to go hunt down a PS2! :D

BloodSquirrel:
snip

Yeah friend, I think you missed the point of this article. Really what I was getting at is that there is nothing stopping you from playing the current gen if you don't spend that extra money, but you really are only getting a partial experience if you do so. Whereas the Sony PS2 is more fulfilling experience for gamers on an extreme budget.

I'm also not saying anyone shouldn't buy a PS3 or a 360. They are both great systems and have a lot to offer people if they have the coin to invest. I personally only have a 360 these days; two in fact. I've long traded in my PS2 and Wii. I just happen to deal with budget gamers all day with my day job and every single point in my article is an issue that has been raised by my customers or myself in a practical setting.

Don't get me wrong, you all the points to raise are correct but many people still think they need an $80 HDMI cable or don't know they need a hard drive for their 360 if they want to download the newest map pack for Halo 3. There are local multiplayer games, they're just hard to find. You can get by with a $199 Xbox, but many people don't realize it might turn them into a second class citizen when it comes to 360 owners.

Thanks for taking the time to read it and comment on it.

Gildan Bladeborn:
All of which only serves to remind me that I am old, and I certainly can't get enough reminders of that!

Or how about people asking who Duke Nukem is? Or kids that think Donkey Kong isn't fun because it's old... When I was a kid, I had a wood paneled Atari and was happy with it! Bah humbug! ;)

Between bargain bins, Steam & Gog sales, the dreaded gamestop buy 2 get 1 free, and older generations of games/consoles, you can go without that newest AAA title on launch day.

There is such an amazing backlog of great games out there, you just have to go find them at a price you feel you're willing to pay.

I can say that my PS2 went off for bigger and better things, having been boxed in my attic since the arrival of the 360. A coworker had stated that he was looking for a game system for his young sons. I told him he could have mine and all of the games (40+) with brand new inbox controllers for nothing. (He ended up giving me $100 for it).

The funny thing about it. When I unboxed it and plugged it in to make sure it all still worked, I came home and found my son (17) playing a game on it (Drakken). He played that game for the entire weekend, and when I went to gather up everything to bring to work on Monday, I noticed the game and the memory card had been removed and placed in his room.

Those old games and old systems really do tend to hold someplace dear in everyone's hearts. I'm just glad that I was able to make the 'year' for two young boys and their first foray into video game consoles. I'm sure their dad will hate me as that begins to fester into "PS3" or "Kinect" land...

It's always nice to see Cate Archer again, hopefully some day Monolith will revisit the series :)

That's an important point. Just getting the console isn't enough anymore. Controllers are now around a quarter of the price of the console, which means the age of four player co-op ended as few people had four controllers for their console. An off-the-shelf AAA title, a console, maybe a single extra controller, you're already talking a considerable expenditure. Throw in a TV capable of getting the most out of the experience, and we're talking months of savings just to be entertained. HDMI cables aren't a sizable expense, though, since they can easily be bought for under a dollar online. Being anything more than a casual gamer takes quite the dedication of income.

$20 for a PS2 game? I haven't paid more than $10 for a game since the new gens came out, and I have every game I want besides Dark Cloud 2. The system really hasn't aged as well as nostalgia fanatics will have you believe (graphics are bad, ai is bad, etc), but I guess if you're not used to newer games then it'd be fine.

Oh, and most games on PS2 have unskippable cutscenes. I can't play FFX again thanks to that.

ItsAPaul:
$20 for a PS2 game?

Yeah, mainly the games that cost $20 are the brand new ones like Madden 11 or MLB: The Show 2011. You're really hard pressed to find a PS2 game over $20. I also don't think the system has aged quite as poorly as you think. Sure the graphics are dated, but the gameplay is as solid as ever and AI in games is still a common problem. I mean, at least in my opinion.

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