Monday, 11 April 2011

The Best Video Game Console: Playstation 3 or Xbox 360?

A console comparison between the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, highlighting each console's strengths and weaknesses.

Individuals considering buying a new video game console have two choice for hardcore gaming: the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3 (PS3). Gamers unsure about what they want from a gaming console should first seek to answer that question. Because the 360 and PS3 are in direct competition with each other, a point-by-point console comparison will be the most helpful.

Price Comparison
Many people, especially new gamers, will think price is the most important criteria. Both consoles have multiple packages at different price points. Each iteration comes packaged with different accessories, varying sized hard drives, and certain games (the selection of games packaged with consoles constantly changes, even across retailers; shop around for a package with appealing games).

The 360 is the cheapest console with a current price range of $199.99 USD (Arcade bundle) to $299.99 USD (Elite bundle). Xbox occasionally releases special edition Elite consoles concurrently with games that are expected to be popular; these versions typically cost more than the standard Elite package.

The PS3 ranges from $299.99 USD (120 GB version) to $349.99 USD (250 GB version).

The above prices are quoted from Xbox and Playstation’s official websites.

Graphics Comparison
The question of graphics is ultimately subjective. Both consoles have impressive graphics engines; the better graphics are in the eye of the beholder. Direct screenshot comparisons are common, as in this Gamespot article by James Yu and Sarju Shah, which enables gamers to decide for themselves. Opinions about which console wins the graphics battle vary from game to game.

Game Selection: The Importance of Exclusive Game Titles
This will be the deciding factor for most gamers. While many games are made to be cross-platform, certain titles are exclusive to a particular console. Unfortunately, listing games exclusive to each console is beyond the scope of this article. Some examples of popular exclusive Xbox 360 games include: the Halo series, Gears of War series, and Mass Effect series. Popular exclusive Playstation 3 games include: the God of War series, LittleBigPlanet, and Uncharted series.

Ultimately, many games are available on both consoles. However, gamers should do some research into exclusive titles, either online or by talking to a sales associate. Any gamers with a particular game or series in mind should check to see if it’s exclusive, especially if playing the game in question is the main motivation behind the console purchase.

Online Console Gaming: Xbox Live Versus Playstation Network
Both consoles feature online services: Xbox Live (XBL) and the Playstation Network (PSN). Gamers must pay a subscription for full functionality with XBL; PSN is free. As discussed in a direct feature comparison in the onAxis blog, XBL was far superior to PSN at launch. Xbox Live featured a smoother interface and online chat, more features such as achievements, and fast streamlined download of game updates. Playstation has added some features since, but industry writers – such as Chelsea Doyle for Starpulse and Carl Nelson for Hardcoreware – still consider XBL superior and worth the subscription fee. The fact that PSN is free may explain why it’s less polished than XBL.

A final consideration: the PS3 features integrated Wi-fi for simple wireless connection to a home network. The 360 does not have integrated Wi-fi. Gamers can connect to the Internet via an Ethernet cord or can purchase a wireless adapter.

Miscellaneous Considerations
Many PS3 titles require mandatory installation onto the hard drive. This eats up hard drive space and does not reduce load times. The 360 does not require hard drive installation, but gamers can choose to do so.

The PS3 does not support backwards compatibility for Playstation 2 games, but does support selected games for the original Playstation. The 360 supports backwards compatibility for the majority of original Xbox games.

Buying a Video Game Console
Neither of these consoles are better. It depends on personal preference, perception, and gaming needs. A gamer primarily interested in playing online will probably be happiest with the Xbox 360. If the Playstation 3’s exclusive titles are must-haves, get a PS3. If price is a consideration, the Xbox 360 will be the easiest on the wallet.