This may seem like a difficult question to answer. I have played all the three big contenders extensively. I’m not counting PC here because it’s in a league of its own. I’m also not including handheld here. This is about the three that are in direct competition: Wii, Xbox360 and PS3.
To kick this off, I might just deal with a little separation. I think you know what I’m talking about. Wii is a completely different system to the other two. For starters it’s not really a next gen console. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the price has dropped and they are relying on an innovative control system. It aims at a different audience (kind of) and plays different games. The point at which I think the major difference lies is the style of games. You are unlikely to see the in-depth single player games on this system that you might see on the 360 or PS3. What this console excels in is the multiplayer “party” games. Everyone knows that Wii Sports is amazing fun and while it’s no simulator, its a great pick-up-and-play game. The problem is that these kind of games are all that the console can really make. Even the critically acclaimed Mario Galaxy has party elements. When it’s hardcore gaming you’re after, the Wii doesn’t cut it.
So, on to the big guns! And when I say big, I mean big and expensive. You are likely to have to pay £250 for an Xbox 360 and at least £300 (and you really would want to spend more) for a PS3. These are also two different consoles. With PS3 claiming the more impressive hardware, it would seem to be the winner but somehow it can’t boast the games catalogue that the 360 has. There are seemingly less and less games that Sony can claim as their own. With the next, and highly anticipated, Grand Theft Auto 4 being released on both and Sony’s powerhouse Metal Gear Solid franchise also being snapped up by Microsoft, there are fewer and fewer games that are PS3 exclusives. Think of all the exclusives on Xbox (DOA, Dead Rising and more recently Mass Effect) and there’s where the gold is.
Online, the systems are widely different. Microsoft have had online gaming going for some time. They knew how to present it, they knew the ups and the downs of their previous service and in this game, experience is everything. Playstation 2 tried to give online play to its players but it was absolutely terrible. Now that they have cracked it, it still feels like you’re just playing the game. On Xbox Live, you feel like you’re connecting to people whereas the PS3 online feels like you’re connecting to the game. I have played both, a lot, and Xbox Live seems like a more complete online experience.
Since I’m starting to sound like an advert for 360 I will say that the missing HD-DVD drive on the 360 sucks. When you buy a PS3, you’re buying a media centre. The Blu-ray player is a great piece of extra hardware to own. With stand-alone blu-ray players costing in the region of £500, this is a bargain of sorts.
Basically, if anyone can’t see which one I prefer, you need to stop reading between the lines and actually read the lines. Xbox 360 is the better all-round console. Price isn’t too bad, games are amazing and the overall experience is great. And don’t worry about all the talk of the ring of death; yes the console gets hot but unless you are an idiot and block the fans, you’ll be fine!
(The Wii gets a special mention for being a better “party” console and the PS3 for being a better media centre.)
Find more by Daniel Griffin at his blog, Wannabe Game Journo.