Choosing a Game Console


Choosing a game console whether for yourself or as for a gift for someone else is something that can prove quite difficult and provide a bit of a challenge if you do not know about all of the differences between the different systems. Here we will look at the various different consoles available and how they vary, which will hopefully help you to start gaming on a system that is suited to your tastes and needs or those of your recipient.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is arguably the most popular game console for ‘traditional’ gaming currently and has a huge following in most of the West. It is manufactured by Microsoft and has a lot of support for it available such as constantly updated software and lots of downloadable content. It also has one of the largest collection of games available including its flagship titles in the ‘Halo’ series which can not be played on any of the other big consoles. Its game library is also increased by the fact that you can download old games from the market place, and play many of the games developed for the previous Xbox system thanks to its being ‘backwardly compatible’.

Xbox Live meanwhile is a highly innovative online system that gives the user internet capability to allow them to play with people across the globe and even talk with them through a headset while they do. While all the consoles have some online support, the Xbox has the most users and the most intuitive interface. The Xbox Live system also provides the ability to download films to watch, and to use the system in conjunction with some of Microsoft’s other services such as MSN and their new smartphone OS ‘Windows 7’. This gives it a lot of play value and offers more as an overall ‘media station’ and makes it a great ‘all round’ console – though it does have a slight lack of ‘family friendly’ games compared to the Wii’ and is slightly less powerful graphically when compared to the Playstation 3. It also lacks support for Blu-Ray unlike its Sony counterpart. Some have further argued that the console itself in terms of the hardware is overly noisy and large making it somewhat ugly and impractical in most sitting rooms.

A new addition to the Xbox arsenal is ‘Xbox Kinect’ which gives the Xbox a motion sensor for a range of other gaming possibilities. Unlike other game consoles with motion sensors the Xbox Kinect system does not require any special controller allowing the gamer to use only their own body to control the games. This means fighting games are no different from shadow boxing and dancing games allow normal dancing with empty hands. The technology seems outstanding and it has many other applications in terms of controlling other devices. However the system is relatively new and has very little software support for it currently. At the same time it has also been accused of having a slight lag and being somewhat glitchy compared to competitors, so while the technology may be technically a game-changer it is implementation may currently be lacking. It also carries a hefty price tag and whether it turns out to be successful or not remains to be seen unlike the Wii remote which has a huge amount of support for it already.

Playstation 3

The Playstation 3 is graphically the most powerful of the three major home consoles. This means that it is the only place to play games like Uncharted 2, which trump most others in terms of their cinematic appeal and their graphics.

However at the same time it has no real ‘flagship’ title unlike the Mario games on Wii or the Halo games on Xbox 360. Playstation 3 also offers another benefit over the others in terms of its media capabilities due to the ability to use it to play Blu-Ray discs thereby decreasing the number of machines you need to have under and on top of your television. As a result of all this however, the PS3 also comes with the heftiest price tag of the three and this makes it the console of choice for the ‘hardcore’ gamer and less suited to the casual gamer who has more of a passing interest in console gaming.

Like Microsoft, Sony provides a lot of support for their console and this ensures that there is a fully functional online experience available. There is also a vast library of games for the PS3 which offers ample competition for that of the Xbox 360. Gone are the days where one console ruled supreme and the others floundered with few third party titles and the current generation of consoles are all enjoying a lot of software support. However the PS3 again lacks the number of family friendly and kid friendly games that the Wii console includes and even more so than the Xbox 360.

Sony have also joined in the current trend towards motion sensor gaming and have recently unveiled their effort ‘Playstation Move’. Unlike the Kinect however this uses more than the from the Wii remote as it uses both a wand and the camera. Furthermore it can also utilise an additional extra controller which makes the system seem somewhat clunky and lacking in innovation and integration. Like the Kinect it also currently does not have the same level of support or catalogue of games as the Wii, and many have argued that it is complicated nature might make it off putting to some. However the system has nevertheless garnered mostly positive reviews and is generally considered to be the most accurate and versatile of the three motion sensors.

Nintendo Wii

The Wii is very different from the other two consoles in that it is designed around its Wii remote and was the first to use a motion sensor in its design. This, along with the number of games starring console mascots Mario and Sonic, meant that it was very accessible for children and family members who might have otherwise classed themselves as ‘non-gamers’. This meant that it managed to push the boundaries of what a console should be and had large hits with games/hardware systems such as the ‘Wii fit’ which allowed people to exercise through a range of computer games in their front room. At the same time it also included many party games that made it more social and active than other forms of games.

This all ensured that the console was a huge hit and that it sold in vast quantities ensuring that there is a large range of software and hardware available for the system. While the Kinect and Move have only been around for a matter of months, the Wii remote has been around for years meaning it has a far larger number of games available for those who want to use it for motion sensor gaming. While the Kinect and Move use more complicated systems for more accurate and innovative motion sensing, the simplicity of the Wii’s implementation of it is actually part of its appeal and this means that anyone can easily set it up and start gaming. At the same time the new Wii Motion Controller ‘Plus’ has increased the capabilities of the system and helped it to close the gap. Helping all this is the fact that the Wii console is much cheaper than the other two systems, and particularly if you count the fact that the console comes packaged with its motion sensor and remote meaning no additional purchases are necessary.

The downsides to the Wii come from the fact that it does not really provide anything for the ‘core’ gamers. There are very few ‘adult’ shooting games or racing games comparatively and the graphical capabilities are also much less impressive which is somewhat limiting. A real blow comes from the lack of HD support meaning that none of the games can benefit from a high definition television and connector.

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Richard Landry

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Richard Landry