Thursday, February 25, 2010

Let's get this out of the way...

I'm just gonna go there and get it over with. CONSOLE WARS.

All us gamers have an opinion on which console is better and why. Any who deny this are just plain silly. So in the interest's what I think:

Nintendo Wii
The Nintendo Wii is Nintendo's....dear lord...okay, I'm not going to try and count how many video game-related pieces of hardware they've had their hand in. But suffice to say they've been around for a little while. FYI, the Nintendo company was started in 1887. No that wasn't a typo, it was before the 20th century. Obviously they haven't been doing video games the whole time...but they've pretty much always been doing games. Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. To the Wii!

The Wii is a unique piece of gaming hardware. It sports a 729MHz "Broadway" Processor CPU, a 243MHz "Hollywood" GPU, 64Mb GDDR3 RAM, is quoted at a full potential of 61 Gigaflops, 512MB of internal flash memory, and laughs I tell you, LAUGHS in the face of HD, supporting only up to 480p output.

The Pros
This console, unlike any before it, tackles video games in a completely different way. In Nintendo's own words, "Wii will break down the wall that separates video game players from everybody else, because it's not really about you or me. It's about Wii." What has this translated to so far? The answer is simple. Paaaaaartayyyyyy!

Seriously though, the Wii is the ultimate party machine. With titles such as Wii Sports (a brilliant packaging choice, by the way), Mario Party 8, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Rayman: Raving Rabbids series, Wii Sports Resort, Toy Story Mania, and a host of other titles, no gathering of friends would be complete without a Wii. It's truly addictive when you're playing with a group of friends. I absolutely love it.

What else? Two words: Virtual Console. This is the Wii's secret weapon. A ever-growing list of titles from days gone by, available for download onto your Wii. (for a price, of course) Unfortunately, not all the titles some of us wish for are on the list, but most of them are, and it's pretty awesome. Kudos for that Nintendo.

Obviously, one cannot mention the Wii without mentioning its control scheme. The motion controls, while not always spot-on, are typically pretty good. As long as your remote has a fairly full battery charge, it'll put out a pretty accurate signal, and with the addition of the MotionPlus, the accuracy is further improved. The remote itself is a pretty clever design, fitting comfortably in your hand, and the buttons most used within easy reach. Adding the Nunchuck gives you just about everything you need in terms of buttons for the average game. One brilliant stroke with the remote is the very simple fact that it's ambidextrous. More comfortable with the analog stick in the control of your left hand? Okay. The right hand? No problem, just switch hands. While this is very simple, it's something that's never really been done before, where you have that level of choice on the controller itself. I also throughly enjoy that I can turn my remote to the side and boom, NES controller. Yay for the Famicom.

The Cons
While the Wii definitely does some things right, it's far from perfect. It may be strong in the party-mode department, it struggles elsewhere. Online multiplayer, a strong, growing division of the gaming world which seems to become increasingly prevalent, is an area in which the Wii has little to offer in comparison to its competition. While it does have some solid titles that support online play, they are few, and the online for most of them feels like something that was tacked on, and not given as much attention as it really needed.

Again in comparison to its competitors, the Wii is also lacking in the single-player area. While it does have some strong titles, such as Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Super Mario Galaxy, these are the decided exception as opposed to the rule. This is not at all to say that there aren't duds on the other systems (lord KNOWS there are), but they feel much more prevalent on the Wii.

Another thing to address; graphics. It's pretty common knowledge that the Wii can't dish out anything that comes close to what the others are capable of. And...well...I don't feel it necessary to say any more than that in that area. Pretty straight forward.

Going back to the controller, there are some minor complaints. One, I really, really wish that more games supported the use of the Classic Controller. (if you don't know what that is, check it out here: While I myself am usually comfortable with the remote and nunchuck, I know that not everyone is like that. Some gamers are just a lot more comfortable with a traditional controller in their hands, and the Classic Controller is actually pretty solid. Unfortunately, outside of playing Virtual Console titles, it sees very little opportunity for use. Also, while this is not so much a point against the controller itself, but rather the games, I will mention it nonetheless. The motion controls tend to get over used. The Wii drowns in a sea of mini-games that happily use the motion controls in every conceivable way. While this alone is not necessarily a bad thing, it tends to result in games with very little depth, and thus not very fun. Nintendo themselves have shown the way with games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which does not use motion controls in any way at all. If only more developers could think beyond mini-games...oh well, at least not all mini-game games are bad (Wii Sports Resort :D)

Finally, the last thing that stands out to me is DVD playback. Why not do that Nintendo? Seriously, why not? I don't get it.

Microsoft Xbox 360
Microsoft's second run at this whole video game thing. Their first, the Xbox, was the most technically powerful console of the last generation, and with Halo by its side, did pretty well in the last run. With a 3.2GHz CPU, 3 Symmetrical Cores running at 3.2GHz, a 500 MHz GPU, 512MB of GDDR 3 video RAM running at 700MHz, and an overall potential performance of a big ol' Teraflop, the Xbox 360 is an impressive machine on the inside. However, it's not the big bad tech king anymore, the PS3 claims that (more on that later). So how is it?

The Pros
First off, library. Due partially to the fact that the 360 launched first, it has a rich, developed library of games, with great franchises like Halo, Gears of War, Fable, and Left 4 Dead that you can't get on its competitors. My own personal game library of this console generation is pretty heavy on the 360 end.

Another strong point is online. The 360 shines brightest when you hook it up to the Internet. The Xbox Marketplace sports an impressive amount of downloadable games and game add-ons to keep the games you already bought fresh and fun. Watch movies, listen to music, and play your games with your friends by hooking up online. The online multiplayer on the 360 is simply the best. I very much enjoy jumping online and racking up the kills, and the 360 is the place to do it.

I would be very remiss to not mention the controller. Personally, the Xbox 360 controller is my favorite. I absolutely love how comfortably it fits in my hands, with the triggers eagerly awaiting my pull, and all other buttons in easy and comfy reach. Way to pull it out after the horrid sin that was the first Xbox controller, Microsoft. Sorry, but that thing sucked.

The Cons
Okay, let's get the big one out of the way. Red Ring of DEATH. Depending on who you trust and where you get your numbers, the 360's failure rate is quoted at everywhere between 23% to 60%. Now to be fair, Microsoft extended their warranty to try and help the issue, as well as the fact that newer models of the 360 have been fairing better since the introduction of a new CPU. However, this still cannot be overlooked. It's not news to anyone that Microsoft has a history of putting something on the shelves that is full of bugs. (try nearly every operating system they've ever made. most of them were full of problems when initially released to the public) The 360 was no exception. Considering that many systems from gaming years of old still run perfectly, the fact that they had a hard time putting out a system that could consistently survive a couple of years is simply unacceptable.

For the online side of things, Microsoft's the only one of the three that makes you pay to play your games online. While they do this very well, and there may very well be good reason for this, when you look at the fact that you can play online on the PS3 and the Wii for kinda makes you a little sad inside. Also, a minor thing with online...the PS3 and the Wii also come with the ability to surf the interwebs. Xbox 360, not so much.

Oh, and the controller. Yes, it is my favorite, but that D-pad sucks, sorry. It's a funky looking analog stick, not a D-pad.

Sony PlayStation 3
This is round 3 for Sony in the big console market (4 if you count their venture into handheld gaming, the PlayStation Portable). According to the overall gaming community, Sony won the previous console with their PlayStation 2. Can they do it again?!

The PlayStation 3 is a powerhouse of technology. With a 3.2 GHz Core, 7 SPEs running at 3.2 GHz each (technically there are 8 SPEs, but the eighth is not actually used at the moment), a 550 MHz GPU, 256MB of XDR RAM, and a quoted potential performance of 2 freakin' Teraflops. Holy technology Batman, that's a lot of power! But does it do any good? Let's take a look see.

The Pros
Due to its sheer technical muscle, the PS3 can dish out graphics that usually are noticeably better than their competition. There are specific cases where this is not true, but it's generally the way it goes.

Sony made a smart move (in my opinion) when it came to their controller. Not only did they go with their tried-and-true model from the previous systems when their new model, dubbed the "boomerang" by many, drew boos from the gaming community, they did something that the others didn't. The PS3 controller runs on a rechargeable battery, as opposed to AAs. Coming from someone who has...let's see...30 rechargeable AA batteries devoted entirely to my gaming, I like that I don't have to keep up with batteries for this one. Yes, you can get rechargeable packs for your Wii and 360 controllers, but this baby comes standard with it.

Another smart hardware move on their part comes into online hookup. Since the 2nd generation of the PS3, they all come with the ability to do wired or wireless internet out of the box, something the competition cannot claim. The Wii only does wireless on its own, and the 360 needs an adapter if it yearns to break free of its ethernet cable. Nice move Sony.

Now I know some will disagree with me on this, but bear in mind that this is my opinion. You have yours, so let me have mine. The game library. Hear me out on this. Yes, out of the gate, the library was...let's face it, bad. While there were good games to be had on the system, most of them you could get on the 360 as well, so it didn't really matter. But things change. The PS3 has gained some powerful games that only sit in their corner, and the list is growing. inFamous, Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet, the Rachet and Clank Future series (3 games there), and Heavy Rain are ones that quickly jump to my mind. Now is this enough to create a landside victory for the system? Heavens no, but most of these are recent games, and the system is gaining some momentum in this area, and that's a good thing.

Blu-Ray = win, and if anyone tells you differently, slap them and call them a silly-person. The power of the Blu-ray disc is great indeed, and due to their hand in its creation, it sits in Sony's corner. Not only does this allow for the viewing of Blu-ray movies (FYI, the PS3 is still among the best Blu-ray players you can get), this means that games that would require multiple discs on other systems can be contained on a single Blu-ray disc for the PS3. For example, the upcoming blockbuster game Final Fantasy XIII will be released on both the 360 and the PS3. On the 360, three DVD discs. The PS3, one Blu-ray disc. (also, some of the audio and cinematics on the 360 version had to be compressed so that they'd fit. not so on the PS3) Huzzah for technology!

The Cons
Kids, smash your piggy banks and come up with more chores to do for some cash, because the PS3 will set you back in a big way. It originally came with the crazy high price tags of $499 for the 20GB and $599 for the 60GB. OUCH. That's a lot of money for a game system. The prices have dropped dramatically, down to $299 for 120GB and $349 for 250GB, which is far more reasonable, but still a hefty chunk of change.

Backward freaking compatibility. Come ON Sony. Since the 3rd generation of PS3s (we're in the 4th, by the way), the PS3 has had no backwards compatibility at all with PS2 games. Considering that not only does the PS2 have arguably one of the best game libraries in gaming history, but the fact that the first fully backwards compatible system was the PLAYSTATION 2, I cry inside. Geez Sony, you guys championed the idea of backwards compatibility last round, and both Microsoft and Nintendo took in on in their own ways this time, so WHY?! I'm sure they have there reasons, but dang it, I want to play my PS2 games!

So, there you have it. What? Oh, did you want me to declare a winner? Well okay how about this. The winner is....WHICHEVER CONSOLE U R A CRZY FANBOY FOR!!1!!111!!one!!1

Seriously though, I'm not really into saying that one is the clear winner here. All have their ups and downs, and when it really comes down to it, each one has people that they are perfectly suited for. I personally own all three systems, and I love 'em all. I will be honest with you, I think I objectively lean towards my PS3 the most in terms of which is my favorite. However, I own more games on my 360 and my Wii than my PS3. How about them apples?

Here's what it comes down to: opinion. I'm sure that you won't agree with all of my analysis above, and you might think of things that I left out. What I presented is what stands out in my mind, and you'll have different things that stand out in yours. It doesn't mean that anyone is wrong, only that we look at it differently. And in the end, we're all gamers that love our games, and isn't that what really matters?

*insert heartwarming campfire song here*

- Marvel