State of the Gaming Union: Consoles

Here we are ladies and gentlemen: 2008, another year in the console wars going on between Sony’s Playstation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Wii. All three of the systems have stepped up in the past year, releasing highly anticipated games, and loading us up with so many special features and glimpses of future products that the gaming nation is salivating.

Many people were hesitant about, and even angry with the Playstation 3 at launch and into the following months, but Sony kept backing their sleek and sexy machine and it’s showing now. With a variety of games to back it up such as Assassin’s Creed, Heavenly Sword, Devil May Cry 4, and Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction to keep fans of any gaming genre and every age happy, there’s much less complaining about the library the PS3 offers. On top of that, with price drops and constant system updates, the features the PS3 brings to the table just gets more and more exciting. However the real push that the house that Sony built has got with the recent ‘victory’ of Blue-Ray over HD-DVD. With more and more company’s going over to Blue-Ray exclusive, more people are buying the PS3 because it’s a cheaper Blue-Ray player, as well as a gaming system. The Playstation 3 definitely gets my nod as the system to watch. Sony won’t go down without a fight and they are eager to win back all their fans who ditched them in the face of a high price tag. And judging by the look of upcoming titles like Resident Evil 5, Final Fantasy XIII and Metal Gear Solid 4, coupled with the fact that over the past several weeks the PS3 has been outselling the 360, they may be well on their way to accomplishing that goal.

Nintendo has been a real shock to me personally. Since its release in November of 2006 the Wii has been in huge demand. To this day, over two years later, stores can bearley keep their shelves stocked with the motion-sensitive fun machine and not for lack of effort on Nintendo’s part. The system is so in demand there are still people camping out outside of Toys R Us’ and Gamestop’s across the nation to get their hands on them. The system has seen it’s share of criticism as well over its somewhat more childish and easier games, but the library is actually well-stocked with something for everyone. Several of the games the Wii offers are truly marvels to behold. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is regarded by many as one of the best games in the series and when you consider the other games are marketed as some of the best games of all time, that’s saying something. Super Mario Galaxy, the successor to Super Mario 64, is showing why Mario is the king of platforming, and just a few weeks ago, Super Smash Brothers Brawl showed how much fun it can be to have your icons and heroes beat the tar out of each other. All in all, with the stacked library, the incredible demand, and the blasts from the past, Nintendo has hit gold with the Wii and proves that maybe being the worlds biggest crack-head isn’t a bad thing.

 Of all the three systems, the Xbox 360 is, in my opinion, the biggest disappointment. That isn’t to say the system isn’t huge, and it’s not selling like hotcakes, but overall, compared to the other two, I have to say that the 360 is lacking. The system launched an entire year before the PS3 or the Wii, and did nothing. There were no huge releases, there were no epic games. Now yes, that was 3 years ago, but it still bugs me. Since then we have seen the release of truly historic games such as Gears of War, Blue Dragon, and Halo 3, which despite my personal feelings, is one of the best selling franchises of all time. On top of that, Xbox Live is still one of the most active things on the internet anywhere, driving gamers wild with its points that do nothing but give bragging rights. However with no truly innovating gameplay styles, such as the PS3 and Wii’s motion sensitivity, the games, though gorgeous, still play like last generation games. Further knocking the 360 down in impressiveness is the fact that in order to watch movies in hi-def you have to actually go out and buy the player, meaning to do what the PS3 does out of the box, you have to shell out more money, lowering the gap in price-difference between the two systems. The ultimate embarrassment, however, for Microsoft is the problem they’ve had since launch and still cannot seem to fix. I’m sure all you gamers know whats coming: The Red Ring of Death. Still with no idea how or why it happens, around 16% of Xbox 360’s will stop working. Upon attempting to power up their 360’s gamers found only 3 red lights around the consoles power button which is essentially Microsoft’s way of saying “oops.” once the Red Ring of Death appears there is nothing to be done except send the system back and wait for it to be repaired by the company. It is because of this problem and the lack of ‘next-gen’ gameplay that the Microsoft has ranked lower then the PS3 or Wii, however they do get marks for improving their library, especially since launch, and taking a more active roll in including games like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, getting away from the First Person shooter stereotype the original Xbox had.

It’s been an exciting year for video gamers everywhere, with all three systems offering something for everyone and being relentless in claiming that top spot. 2008 is going to be a very interesting year and should prove to be very exciting, making sure we’re all gaming for a long time. Whether you be an Xbox fanboy/girl, a Sony loyal, or and Old-school Nintendo die hard, one thing is sure. It’s good to be a gamer.

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