Hands-on: PS2 hard-drive with Final Fantasy X

Read our impressions of the PlayStation 2 hard-drive.

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GameSpot has received the hard-drive unit along with Final Fantasy X, and we bring you our initial impressions. As previously reported, the hard-disk drive for the Sony PlayStation 2 can be used as a data cache for Final Fantasy X. Installing the data for the game onto the hard drive took approximately 12 minutes. While waiting, the screen displays wallpapers of Tidus and Yuna, the two lead characters from Final Fantasy X. After starting the game, it asks players whether they want to use the hard-drive. Players can also go into the menu screen during the game to switch the data cache from the hard-drive to the DVD-ROM, and vice versa. So the process is relatively painless.

By observing the LED on the hard-drive, the number of times the game accesses data during gameplay can be determined. In our experience, from the opening cutscene to the first save point, the hard-drive was accessed more than 20 times. Some were quite noticeable, particularly transitions from one cutscene to the next. Unfortunately, the game could not be saved onto the hard-disk drive itself.

The improvements in load times weren't dramatic, but they were noticeable. It was somewhat like comparing the load times when playing a game like Vagrant Story on the PlayStation as opposed to the PlayStation 2. The experience is about the same with Final Fantasy X. However, are consumers willing to spend about $150 to cut down gameplay time by mere seconds? At this point, the hard-disk drive is an expensive add-on for impatient users or extreme hard-core game players.

The pricing information pertains only to the Japanese version of the hard drive. Sony has not announced North American pricing for the accessory at this time.

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