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PlayStation 3: first impressions

For most gamers this year's Tokyo Game Show is the first opportunity to get their hands on the gaming console that's guaranteed to become one of this holiday season's hot-ticket items.

Although Sony’s PlayStation 3, or PS3, has already been shown in prototype form at various trade events for more than a year now, most sightings have been of development kits only, so it was a long-anticipated moment when we finally grasped a real PS3 at the show this morning.

Naturally, the biggest draw was Sony’s own booth, where around a dozen home-spun games were playable, with several more on display for eye-candy value alone. The standout titles drawing most attention from the huge first-day crowds of journalists, exhibitors and assorted hangers-on were Gran Turismo HD – a racing game being demoed in mock-ups of sports-car cockpits – and Minna no Golf 5 (Everybody's Golf 5), a fun golfing game that looked remarkably similar to the versions already available for other platforms.

Away from the Sony stand, Sega had the best line-up of games for the PS3. The outstanding title there was clearly Power Smash 3, a tennis game that is presented in full 1,080p HD (high-definition) resolution that makes it appear closer to a simulation than a traditional game.

HD gaming may take some getting used to, however. Between-point close-ups of James Blake's shaven head, for example, were more than a little off-putting. Scratching beneath the surface, actual game play was surprisingly simple and easy to grasp. So much so that most players had to be ushered along to keep the line moving and allow someone else a turn.

Other Sega standards were also out in impressive force. These included Virtua Fighter 5 and Sega Golf Club. The former game could hardly fail to impress, with detailed renditions of blizzards of sakura cherry blossom falling from background trees and realistic-looking Japanese temples adding to the atmosphere. Sega's golf title, on the other hand, looked slightly dated, especially when compared with the Sony offering.

Finally, not all PS3 games on show were complete. One of the most interesting games still on the drawing board, but available to lust over, was previewed under the working title of Lair and is surely the first HD fire-breathing dragon-riding game for any console.

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