|PlayStation 3 (left) or the Xbox 360 (right)|
Like a lot of folks this year, money became really tight around the Christmas holidays. I sold my Xbox 360 then my PlayStation 3 to ensure that I got through the holidays with arms and legs intact. Now that the holidays are over and income tax refunds are right around the corner, I'm looking to replace one of them soon. The dilemma is I have personally owned both systems and still can't decide which system I want to waste countless hours on. Here are some of my personal thoughts.
PS3: The single player titles really drew me in on the PS3 side of things. Titles like InFamous, Uncharted, and Metal Gear Solid 4 kept me busy for hours on end. I'm not sure why the single player titles stood out to me on this console but I would have to guess it was a combination of coincidence of titles purchased and the spotty network quality of the PlayStation Network. I did have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and experienced too many random lobby drops, dropped connections, weird network errors, middle of the day network maintenance, and terrible network lag. Bottom line is that I enjoyed the single player exclusives on PS3 much more than on the Xbox 360.
Xbox 360: As you may have guessed, I think that the multi-player titles on Xbox are a grade above the PS3. To name a few: Gears of War (series), Halo3, CoD Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Guitar Hero (series), and Super Street Fighter 2. I did have quite a few single player games also but always found myself wanting to be online while playing them. I suspect this is probably because of the seamless integration between gaming and online play that the Xbox pulls off near perfectly. As soon as you turn on your Xbox I felt like I was in a community as opposed to the PS3 where it felt like I was just using (albeit sophisticated) just another electronic device like a DVD player.
This one is pretty simple. At the moment I don't think that the PlayStation Network (PSN) even comes close to the experience that Xbox Live delivers. The PlayStation seems to take the PC gaming approach. By this I mean that the game gets you connected, you have some voice chat, and you can see when friends come and go. After that there's not much to be said for the PSN. This works for the PC environment because you can have other applications running in the background to achieve whatever level of online experience and communication that you want. Obviously this isn't an option on the PS3 and sorely hurts what might be a great experience.
Some things that I think that the PSN needs is an easier way to invite friends to a game. It feels like a chore just to get you and your friend into the same game. Too much clicking and fuddling around for my taste. Then while doing that you get these load times when accessing your friends profiles. Every second counts while your in game trying not to die at the hands of some 9 year old sniping expert! Another thing is the voice chat. When I first went from the Xbox 360 to the PS3, I was excited to learn all I needed was any Bluetooth device to voice chat with. That worked out great since I found one on Craigslist for $10 and works with my phone too. Unfortunately this non-standardization is the reason that the the voice chat seems poorer on the PSN. There's digital crackling sound that comes through while gaming as if its static but in a digital format. It was kind of annoying but not a show stopper for me.
I don't mean to rag on the PlayStation in this department but in my opinion the Sony really failed here. They've attempted to make up some ground with the paid subscription service that they just released last year but I don't think that the features really come close to comparing to what you get for the buck with Live. Microsoft nailed it with the online experience. Plain and simple. With handfuls of free content (i.e. The Guild, Last.fm, 1 vs. 100, voice messaging) and overall seamless integration between the whole dashboard and online mode makes you feel as if there isn't an offline with the 360. Actually whenever my router flakes and the 360 shows me offline I stop everything and reconnect because it doesn't feel natural to be offline.
Without detailing every single feature of each, it boils down to that with the PS3 I never cared to be online unless I was playing one of my favorite multi-player games (mostly Modern Warfare 2). With the Xbox 360 I feel like when I turn on the console, I'm logging into a community, video/game store, with enough free streaming content like MSNBC news, The Guild series, Major's Minute which is just a start of list of great online content. Everything is very professionally polished also in presentation. I would have to say that trying to navigate the PSN store and multi-player features is like browsing the internet on my Android cell phone. Yes it can be done and I don't mind it but by no means is it preferred or fun to do.
Not much to say here. They both present you with gorgeous graphics. No there not both the same in quality all the time. Really depends on the individual title. Let's take Modern Warfare 2 for example. I've played it on both systems. They really do look identical. I know that they're not but who cares if you can't tell. For those who can, I'm envious of you and your HD multi-thousand dollars home theater setup. Can I come over to play?
I've seen a lot of articles where the author actually compares the looks and cosmetics. To be perfectly honest, that is little more than a bragging point. I could care less. Especially now that the 360 is in black. If you're staring at your console that much, then you're not gaming enough!
Now for the actual functionality of the console. PS3 tops it here for me. I had the 80GB "fat" PS3 that was backwards compatible with all PS2 games (as far I know). The biggest plus in the hardware department for Sony is the fact that you can go out and purchase any laptop size hard drive and upgrade yours. Not only does this make it easier but so much cheaper too. Large capacity hard drives these days can be had for next to nothing. In the Xbox camp your pretty much stuck with the vanilla line of hard drives that they offer. Then charge you out the butt for them.
Another major consumer win for Sony is the inclusion of the Blu-Ray player on the PlayStation. To be perfectly honest I've used the Blu-Ray maybe once. But knowing that you can watch Blu-Rays and if the industry decides to move from DVDs to Blu-Rays and you already have one is sweet to say the least. Not to mention the last time I checked, Blu-Ray stand-alone players still cost a pretty hefty price. Sorry to say but I doubt that the 360 will ever see a Blu-Ray player seeing that Sony owns the rights to the Blu-Ray technology.
Now to the controllers. I can't call it either way here. I sort of prefer the Xbox 360 controller because it is larger and seems to just fit in my hand. But this isn't enough of difference to like it more then the PlayStation controller any less. After some time they both are easy to use and get the job done. The big wow factor for the PlayStation controller was the tilt control in games like Uncharted. For example when you toss a grenade then tilt your controller from front to back, this determines the distance the grenade gets tossed. In my opinion not enough games utilize this feature. I will also say though that the PS3 controller seems to charge in a matter of minutes then allowing you to play for hours on a 10 to 20 minute charge. The 360 controller seemed to need much more time to charge.
With the headsets, it's a toss up. Sony allows you to grab just about any Bluetooth capable cell phone headset and jump right in. Drawback is that because of lack in standardization the sound quality can be all over the place while chatting. On the other hand, Microsoft has what I perceive as much better and even sound quality. You more or less have to purchase a Xbox branded headset whether it be wireless or wired. So here it's a matter of preference once again.
Now for the fanboy disclaimer: I didn't include every single side by side detail here because it's not important to me. This is just my quick thoughts on each system and some of what stood out to me. While trying to decide which system to get, these are some of the key points that are my deciding factors.
The reason I did not use a numerical score system to weigh the differences is because I feel that you would need a more complicated scoring system than simply 1 through 10. For some Hardware and Blu-Ray may outweigh the short comings of online experience and for others playing Halo is the only thing that matters. I find it misleading to score these systems side by side but would rather get an individual opinion on how these systems compare up to each other. That way you can see why which system may be better for you and your tastes and needs. So what do you people on the inter-webs think? PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360? Leave a comment below and why you chose it.