With all the “next generation” jargon spewing from the mouth of the videogame industry these days, it’s sometimes hard to know what’s what. Some people are dedicated to a certain system platform while others are looking for the cream-of-the-crop console. But trying to understand 1080i, Blu-ray and HiDef can be a daunting task. The following is designed to help you understand the power behind each system and which is right for you before throwing your money on the counter of the closest videogame store.
Processing power is the key element in creating a new console. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) controls how fast the system will run and therefore its capabilities. The Xbox 360 harbors three separate core processors each running at 3.2 GHz. For comparison, the original Xbox ran on a single processor at 733 MHz.
Graphically, the system projects at 1080p (progressive scan), the same production type that most televisions and cable companies use. The 360 is also capable of reading CDs, DVDs and, with an additional accessory and a High Definition television, the 360 can also play HD-DVDs.
Sony chose to equip its PS3 with a new technology called a Cell chip. This Eight-core Cell runs at 3.2GHz, which Sony states is 35 times faster than the Playstation 2. The PS3 produces a picture in 1080i (interlaced or non-progressive scan). This non-progressive scan contains about 20 percent more data than the progressive scan and, if you have a television that can decode 1080i data, the image produced by the PS3 will be much more crisp and clear than the 360. The PS3 is also capable of playing DVDs, CDs and the new Blu-ray discs.
Nintendo’s Wii went in a slightly less technical direction. The Wii has a Broadway chip which runs at only 729MHz and produces a grim 480 pixel per inch image. The graphics and speed of the Wii barely outdo Nintendo’s previous system, the Gamecube. The Wii also can’t play CDs or DVDs. However, unlike the previous systems, almost the entire Nintendo game library is downloadable to the Wii and its promotion is mostly based on the interactive controller.
Connectivity and Compatibility
Unlike the Wii, the 360 is not automatically backwards compatible with the original Xbox games. However, Microsoft is constantly updating downloaded patches to make the Xbox games playable on the 360. What it lacks in compatibility it makes up for with Xbox LIVE, a feature that provides internet gaming for the Xbox. The 360’s web abilities are supported by a nicely designed, user-friendly Web site, for which they charge $50 for a 12-month subscription. But if you are willing to pay for it, the downloadable features for the 360 are unprecedented and unmatched by the other new systems.
Although the PS3 is also Web-capable and the Web site is free, you get what you pay for. The site has few uses and is not easily navigated by any means. However, unlike the 360, the PS3 is compatible with both PS1 and PS2 games. It also works nicely with Sony’s Playstation Portable (PSP). The Bluetooth capabilities of the systems allow for the wireless transfer of photos, videos and some games from the PS3 to the PSP.
The Wii also has Web abilities, the coolest of which is the ability to download classic Nintendo games (like Mario for the Nintendo Entertainment System) to the new Wii. While at Nintendo’s web site, check out the fun vault where you can play Nintendo arcade games and watch videos of upcoming games.
With more than a year to build up its game library, the Xbox 360 has well over a hundred hard copy games and countless downloadable arcade games to choose from. The 360 supports games in every genre and for every taste, from the football game Madden ’07 to futuristic shooter Gears of War, and playing them won’t take long to get used to either.
The controllers for the 360 are similar to the S-type controller for the original Xbox, and they are light and comfortable in your hands. However, for those on tight budget, the 360 can only support two wired controllers. So gamers who want to have four controllers will have to fork out the extra $20 per controller to get the wireless option.
Currently, the PS3 has 19 games in its library, most of which are slightly more mature than its competition’s. Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine said Sony generally targets an older audience with its games and equipment. Only one game for the PS3 is cartoon based. Many of the others are graphically explicit. For fans who enjoy Final Fantasy, it is worth noting that it will continue to stay dedicated to Sony, unlike Katamari Damacy and Resident Evil.
In prototypes, a new U-shaped controller was shown for the PS3. However, Sony decided to keep the controller style it’s used for previous Playstations. Although the outside of the controller will feel familiar, the use has changed a bit – they are all wireless six-axis motion sensitive.
Nintendo has always targeted a younger audience with games like Mario and Zelda, both of which are seen again on the Wii. Out of the 31 games available on the Nintendo Wii, seven are based on cartoons. Nevertheless, the Wii games are a blast for anyone who’s willing to look like an idiot.
The Wii controllers are the major advancement of Nintendo’s newest console. The Wii remote, Nunchuk and classic controller combine to make every game an interactive adventure. Unfortunately for some, the Wii remote does require that you get off your couch.
Protect Your System
Once you’ve shelled out the dough for your Xbox, Playstation or Wii, don’t forget to take proper care of it.
Some gamers may have the tendency to get caught up in the game and forget about the fact that many household items can take a toll on your system.
Western Hills Electronics Boutique store manager Michael Wilson has some tips to avoid ruining your system:
Never set your system on the floor or on the bed.
On the floor, carpet fibers and dust can get into your console and damage both the system and the game inside. Placing it on the floor also puts it at risk to be stepped on or tripped over.
As for the bed, surrounding your systems with sheets and blankets could make it rise above normal temperature. Putting it on a bed also may result in the system itself moving while the game is on, which could scratch the game.
Never keep food or drinks near your system.
Spilling liquid on a system can permanently damage its inner workings, and spilling or getting something sticky on your controllers can cause your analog sticks and buttons to behave erratically.
Another way to protect your system is to purchase a warranty.
Most games cost such a large amount of money, so spending an extra $20 to $50 ensuring the safety of your system isn’t that much of a concession. Warranties guarantee that the company you purchased your system from will replace or repair your gaming gear when things happen that are out of your control.
Whichever system you decide will best feed your addiction, remember that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are already scheming up the “next next generation” games and consoles. 10.5 million already have the 360, and while America waits for the PS3 and Wii systems to become readily available, those who waited all night outside of Toys R’ Us or paid a ridiculous amount on eBay are enjoying their brand new, and soon to be obsolete, video games.