Which video game system should I buy?

Hello gamers! With the upcoming launch of the latecomers to the new generation of videogame consoles, I thought it might be a good time to remind everyone that they should instead spend their monies on the Xbox 360.

In short, it comes down to following three factors.

Cost: Nintendo wins by a long shot, here, but mostly I bring up cost to rule out the Playstation 3, which will cost approximately one million dollars.

Game selection: Xbox 360 wins this for a variety of reasons, the most profound being the fact that the console has a whole year head start on the other two consoles. But other factors include Microsoft's outreach to quirky Japanese game studios and the fact that Nintendo always ends up scaring off third-party developers. The facts are that if you purchase a Wii this fall, chances are that next fall you will still be waiting for your third fun game for your system. Conversely, if you purchase an Xbox 360, you could have several weeks worth of fun playing only the free demos available from Xbox Live. Once you are ready to spend money on a game, there are many high-quality titles for you to enjoy already on the market, with a glut of new ones coming this fall.

Online play: While Sony and Nintendo are still being cagey about how this will work on their systems, Microsoft has implemented a near-perfect solution, out of the box.

I am a very big fan of Nintendo, and I will no doubt purchase a Wii sometime next year when there are more than three titles worth playing. However, despite the reduced cost, I cannot see how the Wii is a good choice for purchase this fall.

For those of you are not bored to tears already, after the jump I've included a longer, more rambling agitation in favor of the Xbox 360. It's a mail I sent to a friend who recently got a job with Microsoft but is still planning on buying a Wii instead. Click only if you can handle the overwhelming nerdiness!

Hey Scott,

I will probably pick up the Wii when they release Smash Bros. for it (next spring, I hope), but for sheer utility as a gaming machine, Xbox 360 is my new fave, for these reasons (no particular order):

1. Xbox Live (XBL) is awesome. After playing a few months of World of Warcraft, I thought I was turned off of networked games for good. What I discovered through Live is that networking is as fun as I originally thought it was, and that network design and the nature of the game are both very important. Here's a common scenario: I'm happily watching a DVD or playing a game (these days it's "Dead Rising") by myself. Meanwhile, one of my friends, unbeknownst to me, is pinned down under heavy fire in a multiplayer game of "Perfect Dark Zero." That friend calls for help (via a game invite in XBL) and I accept the game invite. My disc tray pops open automatically and I put in the PDZ disk. Next thing my friend's enemies know, they've been shot in the head. 

I have an idea of how Nintendo is going to handle their global network based on my experience with Nintendo WFC on the Nintendo DS. They understand that connecting should be easy, but they don't quite get what you will want to do once you are connected. For example, you can quickly find opponents in Mario Kart DS, but there is no way in the game to trash talk as you lap them. 

All signs point to Sony completely dropping the ball on networking. But it doesn't matter to me because I'm not going to sell my car so I can afford a PS3.

2. Dead Rising is awesome. You haven't lived until you've put a bunch of horsehead masks on zombies and taken a picture of them (before chopping them up with a lawnmower). 

3. The controller is awesome. It combines the best elements of the xbox, ps2, and gamecube controllers, as well as some added awesomeness. 

4. Games get patched. I have no faith that Wi or PS3 games are going to get improved upon after release, but it's common in PC gaming and it's becoming common on the Xbox. Almost all the games I've played on Xbox 360 have already received at least one bug-fix patch. This could turn out to be a bad thing down the road, because it will encourage developers to release buggy products, but... they were already releasing some pretty buggy products, and on other consoles, they just stay broken.

5. Oblivion is awesome. It is the most entertaining RPG-ish game I've played in some time. The people all wander around based on their Radiant AI which leads to many genuinely surprising situations.

6. XBL Marketplace is cool. It's a central (and functional) way to get content updates like patches, demos, or expansions. 

7. Demos are everywhere. There are some great, fully playable demos on XBL Marketplace, so you can have a LOT of fun before you ever actually buy a game. They are also much more helpful than reviews or advertisements for figuring out which games are worth my money. I have saved money on several games that I would have purchased or rented in the past, because the demo convinced me that they would be no fun.

8. The UI is really well done. It's not quite up to Apple standards, but it's close. (Haha). 

9. The graphical power of the machine is impressive.

10. XBL Arcade has a bunch of cheap games (most under 15 dollars). A lot of these I find to be worthless (which I found out by playing the free demos), but I've purchased a few of them and been very happy. The ones I've enjoyed the most so far are Hexic (a puzzle game), Joust (basically it's just Joust, but Joust is awesome, and you can play it with/against your friends over XBL) and Cloning Clyde (a quirky platformer). Hexic was free, and the other two were under 10 dollars.

11. Potential for the future, part 1: Homebrew games may be really cool. Microsoft is pimping their developer studio (XNA). This will allow people to design games for Xbox 360 and Vista. They give it away, so hopefully this will result in lots of quirky games. 

12. Potential for the future, part 2: Upcoming arcade games look pretty interesting. The one I am most interested in in Lumines. Also coming up are some classic board games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Check out some screen shots here.

13. Potential for the future, part 3: Upcoming main titles are plentiful (where even at it's height a Nintendo console will have very few games). Here are the ones I am most excited about:

- "Star Trek: Legacy." It's hard to imagine what this game will actually be like, but I have high hopes. They say that the whole feel of the game changes as you move through the different eras of ships with their respective technologies. Check out this clip of gameplay.

- "Gears of War" is supposed to be the Next Big Thing in first-person shooters.

- "Viva Pinata" is supposed to be a quirky, Nintendo-ish game to woo the Japanese. It's questionable how well they will succeed at that, but I do love the phrase "Pinata Cannon."

- And, above all, I'm excited about "Assassin's Creed" (and yeah, it will be on the PS3 as well, but not on the Gamecube (they say)). This game is made by the team that made "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" which is probably my favorite game of the last console generation. So far, they are saying all the right things about it. Here's a short interview with one of the developers. The interesting bits are the crowd reactions (it's part of gameplay) and climbing (anything that projects more than a couple inches from a wall can be used to climb).

Anyway, I just realized I haven't been doing work for a couple hours, so I'll have to wrap it up for now. To sum up: Buy an Xbox 360!


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