19 January 2009

Console Q & A with The Red Baron.

I thought I'd share with you all my opinions on this generation of consoles through this email I recently received from a friend today. It looks like he's seriously considering purchasing a console, particularly a 360...

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you because I consider you a paragon of gaming console knowledge, and seek your advice.

To assist in this process, I have formulated several questions which I humbly implore you to answer.

Firstly, allow me to thank you for your sincere flattery - it will get you everywhere - and your humble imploration.


1) In your opinion, which console - overall - is the "best"?

Let's be honest here, the Xbox 360 really is the best console this generation, for reasons that will be stated in the following question. As a Wii owner, a displaced Sega fan, and a gamer, I'll be the first to admit it. But one glaring black mark against its name is the console's infamous unreliability: RROD. This may not be a problem with 360s manufactured since late October, which I'll expand on later.

2) In your opinion, which console has the best games?

The Xbox 360, hands down. It has the most 'great' games in its library. But it does depend a great deal on what type of games you like, and what type of gamer you are. If you are not into first-person shooters, for instance, or you play FPSs predominantly on your PC, then this greatly diminishes the who's who list of 360 titles. In terms of playing games unique to the console, the Wii probably has the strongest library. Nowhere else will you be able to play games like Wii Sports, or a Nintendo game like Mario Kart.

3) In your opinion, what are the two best games for each console?

I'm picking exclusives here, but there are plenty of great multi-platform games on the 360 and PS3 (most of which are superior on the 360, in my estimation):
Xbox 360 - Gears of War, Fable II
PS3 - LittleBigPlanet, Resistance 2
Wii - Super Mario Galaxy, de Blob


1) Do you own an Xbox 360, and if so, do you also have Xbox Live?

No and no.

2) If not, have you at least played it, and what do you think of it?

Yes, and Xbox Live is great and all, but when you're used to online gaming on a PC, I doubt it will blow your socks off given you have to pay subscription fees. As far as online console gaming, though, it's unparalleled. A lot can be said for online community AND it's evil cousin headset-spamming, too. Whether the difference between it and the Playstation Network is substantial enough to warrant said fee is hard to say - unfortunately I've not yet played online with a PS3. Mario Kart Wii is probably the smoothest online console game you'll ever play, though.

At $400 (AU) for an Xbox 360, plus paying for games, extra controllers, accessories and Live subscription, is it really even worth it...or should I just stick to my PC?

Again, it depends what you'll be playing on it. I'm looking at a list of '9' games on IGN and here's what I get:

Grand Theft Auto IV (uncensored on PC in Australia, and let's face it, GTA controls are always better on PC), Bioshock (also on PC & PS3), Fallout 3 (also on PC & PS3), Gears of War 2 (exclusive, FINALLY!), Fable II (now we're getting somewhere), Gears of War (also on PC, but likely better on 360), Prince of Persia (also on PC & PS3 AND not as good as Sands of Time), Mass Effect (allegedly improved and less-buggy on PC), Call of Duty 4 (probably better on PC)...you get the idea.

If you want racers, fighters, or sport games, then go for it - there are a few non-shooters I can recommend. If you like predominantly FPSs and RTSs, then you should probably stick with the PC. With the exclusives, you've really got to decide just how badly you want to play a certain game. It could well be worth it.

To put the value in perspective, I bought my Wii for $500.00 at launch with Wii Sports, Zelda, and an extra Wii-mote. The 360 is a three year old console, so perhaps they're demanding too much still. Provided your computer requires no upgrades, you could feasibly purchase Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Far Cry 2 and Red Alert 3 for less than the cost of a 360. Hell, I think I just talked myself out of it.

IF you choose to purchase a 360, make sure you purchase one of the new 'Jasper' units. It should be far less susceptible to overheating and RROD. You can determine this by checking the amperage next to the serial barcode:

12.1 Amps good, 14.2 Amps bad!

Check here for more detail on that.

BOTTOM LINE: If you like the sound of Viva Pinata, Gears of War 1 & 2, Fable II and Ninja Gaiden II, then go for it. Those are the best 360-only games around in my estimation.

Thanks in advance,

Buddy O. Pal

No worries, mate. I hope I helped more than I confused.

Feel free to weigh in with your own opinions so that Buddy can make up his buddy mind.

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