Nov 7th, 2006, 06:47 PM
this article was on my browser...it's very well written.
Nintendo Wii Versus PlayStation 3
Mon Nov 6, 2006 6:30PM EST
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I had the good fortune on Friday to get some back-to-back hands-on with two next-gen consoles that are about to launch this month: the Nintendo Wii (November 19) and the Sony PlayStation 3 (November 17). This was in addition to some hands-on I got a couple of months ago. This holiday, the big question for gamers (or people who need to write out a list for Santa) is: Which console should I get? Here's a rundown of the main features of each.
Price: Sony PlayStation 3 will cost $499 for the base model (20GB hard drive) and $599 for the premium model (60GB hard drive, Memory Stick slot). The Nintendo Wii will cost $249.
Specs: Sony has made a big deal out of the PS3's ultra-powerful, computer-in-a-console Cell processor chip, an upgradeable 20- or 60-gigabyte hard disk drive, 1080p resolution, networking capability, and HDMI outputs, while Nintendo's Wii simply has PowerPC CPU, 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, a couple of USB 2.0 ports, an SD memory card slot, and Wi-Fi capability. But as John Gapper points out in his Financial Times column today, most gamers don't care about the innards, they just care about the games!
Launch lineup: Nintendo has promised 62 titles before year's end, even though about 30 of those are classic games from previous platforms available for download on the Virtual Console. Regardless, it's still a hefty launch lineup (compare that to Xbox 360's 18 titles last year). Meanwhile, Sony has promised 21 titles for the launch. Sorry, but new or old, Nintendo's got game in the launch titles department.
Games: Sony has the much-awaited Resistance: Fall of Man, a creepy FPS set in an alternate-history 1940s, but the platform really shines with full-1080p versions of NBA 07 (which is almost scary-realistic) and Marvel Ultimate Alliance (unparalleled detail and clarity on the PS3 version). Sony has a lot of the other big titles, too, including Call of Duty 3 (essentially the same as the Xbox 360 version, with some wireless controller elements added), Tony Hawk Project 8 (wireless controller elements), and Need for Speed: Carbon, among others.
Meanwhile, a game that garnered a lot of applause at E3, the explosa-palooza Motor Storm, looks stunning but still needs a lot of work in the handling department, and where-oh-where is Gran Turismo HD? Nintendo on the other hand has title-after-title of first-party strengths, from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy to Excite Truck and WarioWare: Smooth Moves (not to mention the phenomenally easy to pick-up-and-play Wii Sports included with the console). And third-party-wise, Madden for Wii is a truly revolutionary addition to the gaming canon (not to mention some other cool third-party titles).
HD or not HD: This is my own personal obsession, since I am such a nut for the unrivaled big screen clarity of anything in 1080p resolution. Nintendo has opted for 480p, which is the same resolution you'll find on most current systems and on DVDs (perfectly impressive for the year 2000, but looking a little tired these days). So the Wii games don't look all that different from Gamecube games in terms of graphic clarity, detail, and realism, but since when has anyone needed realism in a Mario game, anyway?
Meanwhile, Sony is putting a lot of the PS3's claim to fame on the console's ability to show in full 1080p resolution. The 1080p games—Marvel Ultimate Alliance and NBA 07—I saw on Friday night blew me away visually. I was able to stand a mere eight inches away from the screen and still not see any graininess or pixels! But this is more of a gee-whiz kind of a thing for 1080p dorks such as myself. Most people either don't have 1080p or won't care. Besides, only two of Sony's launch titles are in 1080p: Big ones such as Resistance: Fall of Man and Call of Duty 3 are in 720p, just like the year-old Xbox 360!
Extras: The big differentiator between the PS3 (and, while we're at it, the Xbox 360) and the Wii is the former's inclusion of a Blu-ray disc player. This means that the PS3 can play high-def movies on the new Blu-ray disc format-in full 1080p resolution via an HDMI connection. 1080p is as stunning for movies as it is for games, but again you'll need a 1080p TV to partake. It also means that photos will look just as crisp and clear using the PS3 as movies do.
Nintendo, on the other hand, also has a picture viewer, but images on that console won't look as nice, for obvious reasons. Still, Nintendo's machine is at least $250 less than Sony's. And the last I heard, these were gaming consoles, right? It's slightly obnoxious of Sony to force perfectly innocent gamers to buy a machine with pricey, dicey movie technology built in (and don't forget that Sony is one of the companies behind Blu-ray). At least Nintendo sticks to the business at hand—gaming—and gives you the choice between buying your own player or nothing at all!
Controllers: Sony has experimented with motion-sensitivity ever since EyeToy, but Nintendo has taken the technology one step further by making it an integral part of its new console. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination is integral to every single Wii game. As a result, motion-sensitivity is used to great effect, whether to swat the tennis balls in Wii Sports or to catch fish in Zelda. And many games—Wii Sports, Red Steel, and others—were designed with the Wii controller in mind from the get-go.
Sony's SIXAXIS controller, on the other hand, is still a work in progress and feels like a gimmicky add-on to already existing titles such as Call of Duty 3 (where you use it to grapple) and Tony Hawk Project 8 (where you use it to flip your board). In other words, you don't need the SIXAXIS to play some of these games, so the gameplay isn't inherently conducive to a wireless, tilt controller. That said, Sony has some other games, such as Warhhawk (due out next summer) that are being created from the ground-up to take advantage of the SIXAXIS, so this imbalance between the competing consoles' controllers may change in the future.
Availability: Sony says it will have 400,000 units for sale in the U.S. at launch (with two million available globally by year's end), so good luck getting one. Meanwhile Nintendo hasn't released specific numbers for U.S. units at launch, but says it will have four million consoles available globally by year's end. If you want a new console this holiday and don't want to pull an all-nighter in line or pay through the nose, the choice is clearly in Nintendo's favor.
Conclusion: On many levels, it's almost apples and oranges when comparing these two consoles, since they're just not trying to do the same thing. Nintendo really wants the Wii to be all about gaming, whereas Sony seems to be making a big deal out of the PS3's superior technology and extra functionality. So for gamers, it might seem to be a no-brainer to just go for the Wii.
But let's not forget that Sony still has about 70 percent of the market share for games. The company has managed to milk every last bit out of the PS2, mainly because there was so much in that once state-of-the-art device to milk. If some truly amazing games come out in the next few months, along with more hardware at lower prices, Sony could bounce back. And early reports from consumers who have had a chance to play PS3 games are positive. But if it's fun games and a new console you want this holiday season, go with the Wii, or, as I've said many times before, the Xbox 360 (which gives you the best of both worlds—new games and HD resolution!)
Anybody have their heart set on a Wii or a Playstation 3? If you like the PlayStation 3, why? If you like Wii, why? And who would rather just skip this year's face-off and go for an Xbox 360?