As the title of this post plainly states, I am no gamer. I’ve owned 6 video game consoles; an Intellivision, a Nintendo, a Sega Master System, a Sega Genesis, a Playstation (very late in the game mind you), and a Wii. If you noticed I really stayed way out of the way for the current incarnation of videogames. When I played video games in college FPS (First Person Shooters) were just entering the scene with Medal of Honor and I was not really a huge fan.
I’m a man of the side scrolling days.
So when I purchased a Wii a few years back, my major deciding factor was that it was a new take on video games. Instead of a controller, you waggled sticks at your television in the futile attempt to make a playmobile character swing a golf club. Hours of entertainment to watch – but as many of you fellow Wii players out there know, the Wii is a lot of fun, but it certainly does not put you in the “hard-core gamer” category of video game player.
Wii is the short bus of video game consoles.
About 8 months ago, after a night playing with my Roku, I found an awesome internet tv show called CO-OP on the Revision 3 channel. There was a particular episode where they dissected the video game Assassin’s Creed II. I was completely transfixed.
As someone who thought all next-gen video games were first person kill-em-ups, where you run around shooting people in the head, to see a quiet open world game was something of a relevation. The visuals of Italy in the 1500’s, walking through cities, and the gorgeous way the world was rendered – I was floored. Finally a game that let you explore! It was shortly after that I started looking into video game consoles and figuring out which one to buy. Make that, the best one to buy.
PS3 or XBox 360, XBox 360 or PS3.
My decision came down to 3 criteria – cost, value, and game selection. As a new gamer, games were more of an abstract concept and since Assassin’s Creed II was available on both the PS3 and the XBox 360 (and that was the game I really wanted to play) – it was of little help. Next was cost and value and there the PS3 really shone over the XBox 360. The PS3 had:
- Bluray Player
- Built in WiFi
- 120GB Hard Drive built in
- Free online service to play online games
The XBox had (at that time)
- DVD player
- 120GB Hard Drive
- No WiFi
- $50 per year cost to play online games
- high hardware failure rate (Red Ring of Death)
So, with little I knew I went with PS3. Great system. Played Assassins Creed II – loved it. Got a Little Big Planet – Loved it. The games go on and on. It was a great purchase. I use it to play movies and tv shows and Netflix instant watch. The PS3 slim even paired with my television so I can control it with my TV remote. It is the best bluray player that can play video games money can buy. (did you see what I did there?)
The only problem was online play. I don’t know anyone, besides my friend Matt, who has a PS3. And even then, we never exchanged contact information so I never added his PSN id to my PS3. The PS3 became much more of a solitary playing experience for me. I, in turn, stayed away from the online experience as much as possible, only playing games with strong single player campaigns. This solitary playing experience really didn’t make me feel connected to anything. I felt like everytime I fired up the PS3, I was entering my little bubble.
Then Red Dead Redemption came out and I immediately said “I NEED to play this game!” For anyone who knows me, you will know I have a serious love of the west and always wanted to be a cowboy. Aside from country music, sign me up. So after seeing screen shots I bought my copy and got ready for my girlfriend to leave for a month while she performed in the Edinburgh Comedy Festival to really dig in.
At this same time, all my friends started being like, “lets play Red Dead online together!” Cool, I thought as I entered the online world, only to find that video game worlds, unlike america from the 1960’s on, are segregated. XBox and Playstation people do not play in the same worlds online. So all my friends? They were in XBox world, while I was in the wild west of Playstation world, where I knew no-one except people who would snipper me wile I peacefully rode around picking flowers.
Then the new XBox 360 “Slim” came out and essentially leveled the playing field. Although still not as good a deal as the PS3 Slim, to my mind, it did add WiFi and a considderable 250GB hard drive. Most importantly, it made the original XBoxes price drop. At $120 for an Arcade (Base) XBox 360, I thought “Lets see what all this rage is?”
Turns out, the rage is well placed. The XBox 360 world is, without a doubt, much easier one to navigate. Within 1 week I had reconnected with college friends, old roommates, current friends, old Tracks Up The Tree buddies. It seemed like everyone I ever knew was on XBox Live and that is a HUGE selling point being a newbie gammer. Playing with people you now, is like inviting people to your house for dinner – the last thing you want is strangers wandering around your house… or worse yet TEENAGERS!
The problem is, unless you know this getting into buying your first serious console, you wouldn’t know it was important. If you’ve never played multiplayer, then you don’t know how multiplayer works or if you’d like it? I didn’t know until I had put 6 months of playtime into my PS3, which again – I LOVE. But I love it for very different reasons. As far as a media center is concerned PS3 is better than 360. It handles the same multimedia file types as the 360, but handles them correctly (aspect ratio, multiple audio, handbraked files) and appears to actually have a better upscaler for low resolution video, but I still have to test this more.
But for pure, unadulterated video game playing – I now prefer the 360. Their easy to use navigation system, their friends lists, and their online play make it just a better gaming console to play games on.
So the Newbie Verdict
Which one to go with right? I think it depends on the person. If I had bought the XBox instead of the PS3, I probably would have bought the PS3 for InFamous, Uncharted 2, Little Big Planet, and upcoming Portal 2 (with Steam integration). You know I already bought a PS3 and went with an XBox so that’s no help.
Honestly it comes down to this. Do you watch a lot of movies and think Bluray is the future, but aren’t sure about how much time you will sink in this whole video game thing? Maybe you think you might play a few games per year, but may have weeks of inactivity while you get things done? I mean – who’s got the time right?! Then I would totally say, get a PS3. It’s an unbeatable media center that plays absolutely stunning video games. The lack of yearly fee to PSN (Microsoft charges $50 [soon to be $60] per year for access to their network) means you can always enter the online world whenever you want if you want without forking over money when you’re not.
If you think you’re REALLY going to get into video games, especially multiplayer, but already have a bluray player or think bluray is junk. I’d say XBox 360 is a better bet for you. It’s an awesome game machine that you can play multimedia files, Netflix, and LastFM on. As far as the whole gaming experience? The 360’s got it.
Lastly, Don’t let the prices fool you. That $200 XBox you’re looking at is actually a more expensive system over time than the PS3. Although you’re paying less up front, Microsoft will get you with their nickel and dime fees and add-ons, which Sony does not do. Once you buy the PS3 and a second controller, you are done ($350). The 360 needs multiple pieces to actually become a usable system. Although my 360 Arcade was $120, XBox Live Gold was $50, hard drive was $120, with another controller for your friends ($50) comes to $340. Pretty much the same price as a Playstation 3 with no fees for the first year alone. And if I want to upgrade my PS3’s hard drive to 500GB? Just slip in a $50 2.5″ hard drive and go. The Xbox you have to buy a special branded hard drive from Microsoft that is 250% more expensive than any hard drive I have ever seen.
As you can see, It’s a difficult decision. Honestly I would go over to a friends house and play their gaming system and see if you like it. The only problem is, as I found out, 9 times out of 10, that’s going to be an XBox 360.
Come over to my house, I got both.
(And if you want to friend me on either PSN or LIVE my user on both is “FuntimeBen”. Really, what else would it be?)