Game Console Dilemma

E3 LogoThe eleventh Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, held in Los Angeles ended just a few days ago. Here is a short description of E3 from Wikipedia:

Presented by the Entertainment Software Association, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or Exposition), commonly known E3, is the world’s largest annual trade show for the computer and video games industry and the third largest gaming convention. The expo is open only to game industry professionals, celebrities and journalists who are over eighteen.

It’s a three day event where new computer and video game hardware and software get unveiled (for prototype and finished ones) or announced (for upcoming ones). I wish I could be there to try out the demos and prototypes first hand but it’s only really for people who are in the business already. That and I couldn’t afford to fly to LA at this point in time anyway.

Fortunately, Gamespot and PAL Gaming Network Australia (PALGN) both cover the E3 events as they happen. I found that Gamespot’s coverage more comprehensive with their detailed write-ups and video feeds but PALGN’s coverage is more Australia-centric so I read their articles, too.

From the last generation of gaming consoles, I chose to side with Sony and bought the PlayStation 2 (PS2) instead of Microsoft’s Xbox or Nintendo’s GameCube (GC). I thought the PS2 offered a lot more cool games even though it’s hardware is inferior to that of the Xbox and GC. PS2 also offered free online gaming unlike Xbox’s subscription-based Live online service.

However, I have come to realise that “free” doesn’t necessarily translate to “good.” It is difficult to find players online for games that aren’t that popular on the PS2. Whereas with Xbox Live, there is a common place to go to online first then play a game they have in common from there. That’s what I’ve heard, at least. I’m also a sucker for first person shooter (FPS) games like Half-Life, Unreal Tournament and Counterstrike. So I’m a little disappointed that the best online FPS game PS2 has to offer is Killzone and probably SOCOM II (but it’s not really an FPS game). Whereas Xbox has Doom 3, Unreal Championship 2, Half-Life 2 and, of course, the ever popular Halo 2.

It just seemed to me that Xbox would been a better console for me since I’m so into online FPS games. The thing I love PS2 though was that it had Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), cooler fighting games like Tekken 5 (I never liked Dead or Alive’s controls on the Xbox) and Soulcalibur III, and cool action games like the Onimusha 3 and God of War. The problem was that although DDR games are easily available in Asia, it isn’t so here in Australia. So now I have a DDR dance pad from our old PS1 console brought from the Philippines but I could use it as there aren’t any DDR games for sale. I like fighting games but since these games don’t have online capabilities on the PS2, I have almost no-one to play against. Although Raquel plays fighting games, too, she isn’t all that determined to be good at it so sometimes she doesn’t seem like such a challenge. When I was still in the Philippines, I have my brother, my cousins and my friends to go up against and all of them wanted to master the game in order to win. Here, fighting games don’t offer the same level of excitement anymore. I tried looking for others to play with but I haven’t much luck on that department. The only thing I really enjoyed on the PS2 was the God of War game.

So now that this generation of consoles are coming to an end, the recent E3 got me thinking of the next console I’m going to get. Ever since Sony announced the coming of their next gen console dubbed the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and showed-off its specs on last year’s E3, I have been wanting to get my hands on it as opposed to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Nintendo’s Revolution (now called the Wii). The PS3 is supposedly more powerful than the Xbox 360 or the Revolution and it will have games like Unreal Tournament 2007 (an FPS game from a popular FPS series on the PC). The PS3 is also supposedly going to offer an online service similar to that of Xbox Live except it’ll be for free. It would also come with their new Blu-ray disc drive which is going to be way better than the current DVD drives.

But then, the Xbox 360 was released early this year. It was expensive but the PS3 will be much more expensive when it is released on November this year. And by the time the PS3 is released, the Xbox 360 might already be cheaper yet again due to discounts. The 360 seems to be doing just fine and their Xbox Live is doing great. I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before more FPS games get released for the 360 (including the much-awaited Halo 3). So now, because of the lower price point, great online service, and a high probability of more FPS games coming, I’m now slowly veering toward getting an Xbox 360 console instead of a PS3.

And then, E3 happened. Nintendo finally showed their cards and unveiled their next generation console, the Nintendo Wii with their revolutionary Wii controller. Although the Wii is technically inferior to the 360 and the upcoming PS3, it has at least a very innovative new controller that senses motion. It will allow you to wield the Wii remote like a racket when you are playing a Tennis game or a bat when you are playing a baseball game or a conductor’s baton when you are playing an orchestra-type game. Trying to explain why the controller is innovate will take up a lot of paragraphs so why don’t you just read the Gamespot article about it.

The other thing going for the Wii is that it will be the cheapest of all the next gen consoles when it is released. Some say that the price of the Wii and the Xbox 360 combined will be equal to the price of just the PS3 by itself. So, my getting a PS3 is more and more becoming
unlikely. Although I’m sure the PS3 will still kick butt, I’m not sure I’m willing to part with that much cash for a gaming console. Although the Wii is now one of the consoles I’m considering due to its innovation, I think I’ll probably go with the 360 when the time comes. I’ll probably only decide to get the 360 though after the Wii officially comes out. By then, the 360’s price would probably have been lowered again to compete better with the Wii.

Apart from the home gaming consoles, the E3 has made me aware of another device that I mostly ignored in the past. That is, the portable gaming device called Nintendo DS. At the moment it is competing with Sony’s PlayStaion Portable (PSP). PSP is being touted as being the more powerful of the two portable devices but again, Nintendo is being the more innovative one with the DS having two screens, built-in wi-fi gaming and a touch screen. When the DS came out some time ago, the touch screen was just seen as a gimmick that wouldn’t be too useful in typical games. The problem was that the reviewers were only thinking of typical games. The value of the touch screen was only realised when Nintendo released games that utilised the DS’s strengths.

I have never thought of buying the PSP because I thought it was a bit to bulky. I also heard that it was plagued with problems when it was first released. Whereas I heard nothing but nice things about the DS (except for the early dissing of the dual screen and touch screen design which are actually the device’s main selling point nowadays). And at E3, Nintendo announced that the DS Lite (a smaller version of DS) would soon be available to the West. With that, I’m now thinking of getting the DS Lite, too!

However, the only thing that’s probably going to keep me from buying it is that it will actually cost me real money to own one. And I’m not so sure I’ll really be able to play it all that much. When am I going to play it? In the train to work? In the toilet? At home? If it’s going to be at home, then I’ll probably just play a gaming console instead. Anyway, I’m always free to dream of owning one, right?

For now, I don’t have to decide on anything. My PS2 is still okay but I’m trying to avoid buying new games for it for the time being. I don’t want to be stuck with all these games which I’ll probably stop playing as soon as I buy a new console, may it be the Wii or the Xbox 360. Unless I buy the PS3 instead anyway, then I would be able to play the old PS2 games on it because it’ll all be backward compatible. All these options are so confusing. It’s best not to think about it for now. Darn that E3.

Published in: on May 17, 2006 at 11:40 am  Comments (12)