Firmware 2.40 Recap: About Friggin' Time

So, if the 2.40 update did not brick your PS3, you are jumping up and down right about now. The biggest new thing is the in-game XMB. It works in PS3 games, including Qore. You can now send messages (and read them) while in game. This is a novel concept that Sony should have thought of sometime around November of 2005 when the Xbox 360 launched with this feature.

Sadly there still is no voice chat while in-game. This is a very important feature that makes Xbox Live so appealing: cross-game chat.

You can change Bluetooth settings, which is nice. You can see your download queue, another nice feature. But again, Sony is still playing catch up to the 360.

Two things that are not so obvious but oh so nice. A new View Mode in the PS Store. It is mapped to Square and allows you to change from icon view to list view, something I like quite a lot. Something else they added to the store is they changed the requirement to hit Start when you download a photo, audio, or video files. It is logical to hit the X button, but that would not do, you had to hit Start for the download to start. Now hitting the X button finally does the job it always should have. Small though it seems, thats a great addition (that should have been there since day one -- notice a trend here?)

The next thing the update brought us was Trophies, AKA Sony Achievement Points. The only game our right now that supports it is Super Stardust HD. But it sounds like most older titles will be seeing updates to support Trophies.

The only thing above and beyond Achievements on the 360 is that the PS3 Trophies have four different levels, which depend on the difficulty of the task at hand. So you have bronze, silver and gold for the standard Trophies. You only get a Platinum Trophy for completing an entire game's worth of trophies. I like that. Nice touch.

The groundwork for custom soundtracks has been added into 2.40. Some games support this feature already, namely Sony PSN titles. Other games will have to be updated with the feature. It would have been nice to have custom soundtracks work across the board from Day 1 *cough* Xbox 360 *cough*

Finally the update brings with it a Gamercard-like Profile screen. This 'PS3 Gamercard' has three panels, one for recent Trophies, another with a full tally of Trophies earned, and finally the About Me and Languages fields. You can also compare Trophies this way.

Sad to say it, but Sony didn't actually add any type of robust API for third parties to leverage this data. You don't have to look far to find a site that utilizes the Xbox 360 API to display achievement details and other meta information about Xbox Live players. I hope Sony has something in the works for this, because everyone likes to show off their achievements outside of the 360; the same will be true for the Trophies on the PS3.

So, besides the update borking a number of PS3s, it is the most welcome update we have seen yet.

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