Following the long running rumours Sony has just confirmed that in March 2004 they will be releasing an 40Gb hard drive for their PlayStation 2 games console priced at $99. This gives them not just the ability to enhance game play, but to treat the PS2 as a media adaptor.
The hard drive will ship with a customised media player which includes the ability to play MP3’s, copy audio CD’s on to the PS2 and manage digital photos. As yet there is no detail about the handling or the playing of video files.
Since Microsoft announced the Xbox would have a hard disk, Sony has been concerned that the Xbox would be able to access digital media and display it on the connected TV. This, combined with the already available network adaptor, is the start of their response. In their words
“The Hard Disk Drive is a further step toward a new era of digital in-home entertainment, creating a total living room experience that includes games, movies and music.”
On the gaming side, users will be able to save their game progress as well as download new content – levels, missions and characters for their bought games. It will be sold pre-installed with Square Enix’s highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), Final Fantasy XI and pre-released demonstration of other upcoming games. One of the first games to utilise the Hard Drive will be the soon-to-be-released SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs and Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, which probably needs the hard drive just to store its extraordinarily long title.
If you’re really desperate to get your hands of a hard drive for the PS2, one has been available since May 2002 as part of the Linux development bundle. Even though the drive in this kit is also 40Gb, it’s not expected that it will with the games.