Monday, June 18, 2007

The Gaming Landscape As It Stands

Chances are, I'll never buy a Xbox 360. It'll be a while before I touch a PS3. And my Wii has had only a couple minor hiccups. So as not to bore you non-gamers too much, I'll try to keep it simple in case you were thinking about picking up a new system for yourself or your kiddos this summer.

Xbox 360
Everyone I know who bought this hunk of junk, literally everyone, has had at least one system die on them, and not a year or two down the road. I mean like a month or even the same WEEK as purchasing it. They simply don't hold up, and I don't know if it's because Microsoft is using cheap parts or cheap labor--or both--but neither would surprise me, coming from the company that would do anything--badger, steal, or kill (the competition)--to stay on top. Read more from a non-gaming site here:
http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/06/07/microsofts-xbotch.aspx

Sure, Live Marketplace is supposed to be the "shiznit" and playing online is seamless (though you have to pay for it). But as the article puts it, if the hardware doesn't work, why would someone piss away $400-500 on it?

PS3
Speaking of price, this is one of the three reasons I don't have a PS3 yet. Even when I was working at Pizza Hut full time after school and had an all-disposable income, I couldn't have justified blowing $600 on a game console. The 3DO tried that shit back in the '90s and we all know what happened there (if you don't, I rest my case....it died a quiet and meaningless death).

Reason two that I don't have one is there just aren't any games out for it yet that change the world or appeal to me in any meaningful way, like how Smuggler's Run, SSX, and Midnight Club expanded things between the PS1 and PS2 at launch. I'm sure Resistance: Fall of Man is lovely to look at, but is it really that big of a departure from the last console first-person shooter (FPS) I played? I doubt it. Probably has more in common with PS2 launch FPS TimeSplitters than it does with that same series' robust and infinitely superior Future Perfect installment that came third and serveral years later. And it goes without saying that Blu-ray doesn't matter to me at this point, either. I'm still trying to wrap up my DVD collection as it is, and since I own more movies than anyone I know, I become the go-to guy for movies when I visit friends, and buying movies on discs they can't play at their houses doesn't help anyone.

The third main reason I don't have a PS3 yet is that I don't feel like they've really finished the damn thing yet. They're still changing the firmware and releasing patches for launch games. Download download download is all you end up doing, just to make things do what they should have done (at least, IMO) out of the box. The ironic part is, I just opened up the DVD remote for my PS2 the other day, hoping to use it with my elder PS2 that doesn't work so well but will still play movies, only to find out that the version of the DVD driver on that old workhorse is too old to support most of the remote's special features and buttons. /sigh

Wii
The Wii has held up well to all the abuse and hours we've thrown at it. Laura plugged five hours into ExciteTruck the other night without even thinking about it. Hunter and I played various games within Wii Sports and Wii Play for quite some time this past Wednesday. I'm getting new Miis from friends around the country. And the system hasn't even flinched. Aside from Wiimotes turning off for a second here or there mid-game or batteries dying (you have to expect a little of that with all wireless input, and the console DOES warn you when the batteries are getting low), the only time I've gotten a serious error out of it was when ejecting a disc and then hitting the Reset button rather than hitting Home on the Wiimote and going back to the main Wii screen that way. I learned that the Reset button is only designed to restart the game in the disc slot, not the entire console. It seems like a deliberate design choice I simply wasn't aware of. Still, making the teaching method into a system freeze so hard that I had to unplug it to get it to do anything was a little harsh.

In The End...
All in all, my Wii and PC are more than enough to keep me happily gaming these days, much to the dismay of Microsoft (note: fuck Vista-exclusive PC games) and Sony. An article in EGM recently even predicted that the Nintendo DS could reach a 90% market penetration in Japan within the next few years, making it not only more popular than the original Game Boy, but making it as common as a DVD player or a TV in most homes. At that point, the DS would be as mainstream and accepted as a cell phone, and Nintendo's gonna be laughing all the way to the bank.

Note: Stifle the Big-N fanboy comments. I was a VERY late adopter of the N64 and GameCube, and probably would have skipped them altogether if not for the always solid Zelda, Metroid, and Mario games. Oh yeah, and a little gem called Perfect Dark.

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