Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Top Game Consoles Face Off

It may not look as if any new game consoles are on the market this holiday season, but Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have all updated their boxes, either by tweaking configurations, updating firmware, or offering additional online features. Since it's been a couple of years since they were first released, we retested consoles on the major game platforms to find out how they stack up in terms of game play, value, and just plain fun. And we found that a lot has changed since the Xbox 360, the Wii, and the PlayStation 3, launched.

Choosing a console is a little bit like picking your religion—it can be done, but oftentimes you're simply born into it. If you're an Xbox 360 person, holding a PlayStation 3 controller simply feels unnatural. And playing video games on the Wii just isn't anything like game play on the other systems—and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Indeed, all of these systems have their own strengths and weaknesses.

No one had high hopes for the Nintendo Wii when it launched. It just seemed extremely underpowered compared with the competition. Turns out that its simple game play, innovative motion-based controller, and affordable price are pretty attractive to a large group of casual gamers—as anyone who spent days trying to track down a Wii right after the launch will surely tell you. Today the Wii is still a great system for children, families, and those aforementioned casual gamers, but our testing showed it requires simply too many trade-offs for serious gamers.

Microsoft has tried to follow the Wii's model of bargain pricing with the $199 Xbox 360. This is the most affordable Xbox 360 you can get, and we found it packs the same graphics punch as its premium sibling, the Xbox 360 Elite. Unfortunately, hitting that price point forced Microsoft to ditch the internal hard drive—a move that might not pay off, as our testing proved. Still, if you want to play Xbox games and take advantage of the newly overhauled New Xbox Experience, the Arcade is the cheapest way to do it.

The past two years have been kindest to Sony's PlayStation 3. Prices have come down a bit, a lot more games have been added to the lineup, and the PS3 can reasonably claim to be one of the best Blu-ray players on the market. While the PS3 hasn't quite matched the stellar online experience offered by Xbox, there's no denying that the Sony box has the most fully featured console available. It still carries a premium price tag, but now that Blu-ray has won the high-definition format war, it's worth it.

Source : http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2335363,00.asp