This weekend I finally decided to throw my vote in to the next-generation console fight when I went and bought a PlayStation 3 (PS3). I picked up a pre-owned 40GB model from a local GameStop along with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and Burnout Paradise. I’d been thinking a while over which console interested me most, and which one offered the most compelling games, and here’s what it all boiled down to.
When the PS3 hit, it was generally lambasted as being too expensive, overpowered, and having no games worth a crap. At the time — almost a year and a half ago — these things were true. Since then there have been some price drops, developers are getting more comfortable with producing games for the hardware, and more exclusives are being planned and released. Also, since the resolution of the high-definition format war in undisputed favor of Blu-ray, such a player is no longer the extravagant, risky proposition that it once was. But there’s more to it than that.
More Hardware for the Same Price
- More powerful system
- Bigger hard drive
- Built-in WiFi
- Built-in Blu-ray
The PS3 is more powerful a system than the Xbox 360 or the Wii. The Wii doesn’t even attempt to compete in the same hardware space as the other two — they’re making their waves by offering a more compelling form of gameplay — but the Xbox 360 and PS3 base models are the same price and are generally considered hardware peers. On top of the better CPU and GPU, there’s also more hardware in the PS3′s box for the money. You get a bigger hard drive, WiFi support is included with all models, and you get Blu-ray across the board.
Having a hard drive available in all models means that game creators can count on it being there. This was one of the biggest innovations that the original Xbox brought to the table, and Microsoft threw it away, bringing us back the bad old days of tiny, expensive memory cards. The hard drive is also user-serviceable and -upgradeable with just about any 2.5″ SATA notebook hard drive. I’ll probably be buying a nice, big one from NewEgg sometime in the next year or two.
Further into the realm of optional components is the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360. Even though it was made obsolete overnight earlier this year, if it were part of the core console developers could still use it for games. But it’s not; it’s an add-on. This means game developers couldn’t target it for their releases, instead having to rely on the smaller capacity DVD medium. Sony’s developers can cram obscene amounts of content onto the Blu-ray discs; in-game content aside, they could even include a movie or similar extras and still have enough space for the game itself.
PlayStation Network (PSN)
While not as feature-laden as Xbox Live at present, it does provide a level online playing field for Sony’s developers. One of the biggest issues with the PlayStation 2 (PS2) was Sony’s “you’re on your own” stance with online games and content distribution. This left many of the smaller shops out in the rain, and produced inconsistent online experiences. Taking a lesson from the original Xbox Live, they provided something similar in the form of PSN for the PS3. It doesn’t currently have all the stuff that Live has — no matchmaking or in-game friend list support, or achievements — but all of those things have been publicly stated as being on the radar and part of the plan. In fact, the PlayStation Home stuff that should be coming out later this year goes beyond any of Xbox Live’s lobbies and achievement tracking and display. I’m looking forward to it.
There are also no monthly or annual fees for PSN, unlike Xbox Live. That’s a big win right there, in my opinion.
The SIXAXIS controller is pretty cool. It’s got motion-sensing like the Wii Remote, is as comfortable as the DualShock 2 controllers that the PS2 used, and are wireless and rechargeable. I like them a lot, and there’s nothing quite as badass as guiding your plane in Blazing Angels 2 by changing the pitch, roll, and yaw of your controller (I downloaded the game’s demo for just that reason, and may end up buying it).
It’s not all gumdrops and sunshine, though. The Wii’s innovation factor is impressive, and I’ve seen some very cool games for it. They’re still nearly impossible to find in-stock, though, and I know several people who own them already who’d probably let me play at their place if I brought a case of decent beer with me. Xbox Live is currently a stronger online community offering than PSN, as well, even though that’s in the cards to be changing. Finally, I still don’t have an HDTV; they’re still outside the range of what I’m willing to pay for a television. This means the Wii would be better able to take care of my standard-definition (SDTV) set. However, I will be getting an HDTV sometime in the near future — maybe this year, after I’ve saved a bit and prices have continued falling — and at that point I’ll be able to take advantage of my big purchase with my PS3.
In summary, I’m happy with my purchase and I firmly believe I bought the right console for the right reasons. You’re more than welcome to disagree with me — as people are with any opinion — and I’ve got comments open below for you to do so. Don’t be a jerk, though, or I’ll drop my 11-pound console on your foot. Oh yeah, that’s another downside; the thing isn’t exactly portable. But the PlayStation Portable is and has all kinds of connectivity between itself and my PS3. Hmmm… how much is one of those?