Until now cheat discs have been for the lazy and for those with too much spare cash. They crashed your console and deleted your game saves. Xploder V5 however is revolutionary. It does not freeze and it does not corrupt - and more importantly the cheats actually work. It unlocks secret characters, vehicles, weapons and enables infinite health/ armour and ammo to name but a few. And as if that was not enough it comes with a load of extra features, which are almost as useful as the cheats themselves.

For your money, you receive one disc in a fancy metal tin and a thick instruction booklet. Surprisingly, and unlike most, the booklet is intelligible and useful. The disc contains cheats for 600 games, but a limitless number of cheats and game saves can be downloaded off the Xploder website. These are accessed through a network adapter, so your PS2 has to be network-enabled to release the disc’s full capabilities. Cheats can also be downloaded through a USB cable, an X-link cable or, if you do not have access to the internet, cheats can be entered manually although this is very time consuming. Connecting to the site and downloading cheats is easy and extremely useful - cheats for new games are quickly available and are constantly being updated which means the Xploder will never go out of date. Hundreds of cheats are available per game - many more than there are the punch-in codes available for free on the internet.

Loading a cheat is very simple. Once a game has been chosen, the available cheats are sorted into categories for quick accessibility. One slight annoyance is that only one cheat per category can be accessed at once. Luckily there are many categories and so having to choose between cheats does not happen often. Despite using multiple cheats on a numerous games the PS2 did not crash or falter at all.

Xploder also includes a game accelerator, USB keyboard driver and a memory card manager. The accelerator speeds up loading times and game play by up to 20% but did not work with all the games it was tested on. The USB keyboard function is useful for those who feel more at home in front of a monitor than a gamepad and worked very well. It can also act as a second controller. The memory card manager compresses game files by up to 10x and so saves having to buy another overpriced card. Game saves can be moved onto a removable USB storage device such as a pen drive or a memory card reader. This is extremely useful for making copies of game files.

The Xploder makes use of the PS2’s USB ports further by including an MP3 player, which displays ID3 tags along with very good visualisations. There is also a picture viewer (either JPEG or BMP) and a video player (MPEG 1 and MPEG 2) both of which worked faultlessly with both a pen drive and an XD card reader. A USB CD drive could also be used.

The DVD region free function enables DVDs from all over the world to be viewed on the PS2. This also worked flawlessly but unfortunately the region-free function has to be loaded each time it is required.

Verdict

If you add up the price of a multi-region DVD player, a Sony memory card and a PS2 controller, it will exceed what it costs to buy this package. And yet this does all that and much, much more. The Xploder's main selling point may be a cheat disc, which is better than any other on the market, but this disc also fully unlocks the capabilities of a PS2 and is worth every penny.