Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The State of the Next Generation As I see It

The next generation of console gaming is upon us and once again, three consoles are competing for a spot in your home entertainment center. The three contenders, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Wii, have all just about shown their hand at E3 2006. The Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii are both ready for their next gen debut this fall after the Microsoft Xbox 360 enjoyed a one year head start over the competition, they are well on their way to having a 10 million unit lead over the competition before consumers are given a choice of which next gen console to buy. Here's my brief summary on all three.

The Playstation 3, hot on the heels of the runaway hit Playstation 2 is once again the favorite to win the console wars. After the first Playstation, which upset fan favorite (prior to the release of the Playstation) Nintendo's N64 and Sega's Saturn to win the console war of that generation, the Playstation brand has been a household name. Both previous Playstation consoles, have sold over 100 million units worldwide, with the first Playstation becoming the first console to ever do so and Sony is hoping they can repeat that success with the Playstation 3. The Playstation 3 appears to be the most powerful of the three consoles and it shows in games such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Heavenly Sword, two of the most visually impressive games I've seen so far. Its controller has also been confirmed to feature six-way tilt sensing. This was demoed at E3 in a tech demo and a short Warhawk gameplay session. The PS3 has a lot of potential, and it's up to developers to realize that potential.

The Xbox 360 is currently the only next gen console you can purchase and it is sitting pretty, using its head start over the competition to gain a sizeable lead and a huge library of titles to choose from once the competition does launch, giving the person shopping for a next gen console this holiday season, a choice of titles to choose from. With titles in the works such as Gears of War, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Forza Motorsport 2 and Splinter Cell Double Agent, they will have a very impressive and diverse selection of games to round out their library well into 2007. The announcement of the "Live Anywhere" service, which promises to unify PC's, the Xbox 360 and even Cellular phones, allowing for cross platform gaming in certain titles is one of the strong points of the Xbox 360's showing. Forza 2 was used as an example. Gamers will be able to upload their cars to Xbox Live, customize them on their PC or cellular phones when on the go and then send them back to the Xbox 360 game was impressive and shows a lot of potential.

The Nintendo Wii prides itself on being different from the competition. Nintendo has stated that they aren't trying to compete directly with the PS3 or Xbox 360, and is trying to expand the market to include people who are only casual gamers and those who don't play videogames at all. In terms of raw horesepower and graphical potential, the Wii cannot compete with either the Xbox 360 or PS3. According to Nintendo, this is intentional. Their main focus is on delivering stellar gameplay experiences via its innovative motion sensing controller. Based on games such as Wii Sports, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Excite Truck, Project H.A.M.M.E.R, and Super Mario Galaxy, it seems that it will deliver on its promises.

So far, the Xbox 360 is my favorite of the three, followed closely by the Wii and then the PS3. I'll post more on the subject later if I decide to elaborate on these points.

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