Ben's Week In Review: January 20
I’m going to take the opportunity this week to state my feelings on what’s become an overly controversial issue: the PS3 launch.
From top to bottom, I’ve heard nothing but knee-jerk reactions to the PS3, in terms of both its current situation and its future. Despite several major analysts picking the system to win out this generation (by 2010, to be specific), there have been more than a few instances of negative press surrounding the PS3. I believe we’re all willing to admit a few key facts concerning Sony’s next-gen console- 1. the launch was poorly done, with nowhere near enough units to go around. 2. the launch software lineup was greatly lacking, and 3. early games don’t live up to the “power hype” regarding the PS3’s processing power. Yes, we’re all aware of this. But is there any particular reason we don’t bother to recognize either the Wii or 360’s launches? Especially in comparison?
First, let’s look at the 360’s launch of November, 2005- the software lineup was equally lacking, and I will explain the “equally” part in just a minute. Both The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter were initially scheduled for launch, and both were delayed until 2007 (well into 2007, might I add). The best available game in 2005 was probably Perfect Dark Zero or Project Gotham Racing 3 depending on who you talk to, and the system did offer a great little game called Kameo as well. But just about everyone was disappointed in the launch selection – as well they should’ve been – and of course, none of the games really showed off the system’s supposed power. Now, taking this all into consideration, what other next-gen console does this sound like…?
In comparison to the PS3’s launch lineup, the PS3’s best game was easily Resistance: Fall of Man, which, in our opinion, greatly eclipses PD0. On the other hand, the PS3 also didn’t offer some other cool options like Kameo and Condemned, and while those weren’t exactly worth the full $60, they were solid titles. But throw in Ridge Racer 7 for the PS3, which is what we’d call a “solid” game, and that’s why I say the two launches were just about equal in terms of launch software. And when I say “equal,” I mean equally bad. But at the same time, there are other factors to consider:
First and foremost is the absolutely horrid defective rate the Xbox 360 launch systems suffered through; at 5%, it was easily the worst console release in terms of reliability. 1 in every 20 360s busted prematurely thanks to the “flashing red button of death,” and that’s just pathetic. The PS3, in stark contrast, has experienced no such problems. I scour the news every day, and if the defectives were a serious problem – or even a recognizable one – I would’ve seen something about it; as for personal experience, my PS3 has been working fine ever since November 17, and my roommate has already been through two 360s in the span of four months.
Then, we can look at what the systems offered straight out of the box. The PS3 offered a free Network to play on; we had to pay $50 to get online with the Xbox 360. The PS3 was HD-compatible immediately; the 360 wasn’t fully HD-compatible until an update was issued in the latter quarter of last year. The backwards compatibility of the PS3 works great, despite a few extremely minor issues, allowing all 90 of my PS2 and PS1 games to play without any problem whatsoever. The 360, on the other hand, has the worst b/c program on earth; as only a scant few of the Xbox games I kept actually work on the 360, and even then I have to download a patch to make it work, and even that doesn’t guarantee flawless playback. To top it all off, the 360 didn’t exist until March or even April of 2006 due to an extreme lack of systems, while Sony met their goal of shipping 2 million PS3s worldwide in the first 6 weeks.
Looking at the Wii, Joystiq and other publications did report it had the lowest-scoring launch lineup in console history (according to GameRankings), as the only game even worth talking about was The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Of course, it was fantastic, and it’s very much like only having Resistance, but it’s still worth noting. Wii Sports is a nifty little title, but it’s nothing more than an exhibition of the system’s motion sensing capabilities. It’s also sorely lacking in the visual department, and while I always put more stock in the gameplay (as we all should), it is a downside. And as far as availability is concerned, it’s still very difficult to come by, and Nintendo has not been forthcoming in shipment reports.
And then there is the constant cry of, “the PS3 still has no games!” …”still?” Why do people insist on ignoring even the most recent history? What exactly did the 360 have at this point in its lifespan? Anything? The answer is, nothing until GRAW in March. What about the Wii? Anything on the horizon that screams “must-buy?” The truth of the matter is, there’s almost always a 4-6 month drought after a new console launches, so everyone needs to either do their homework, or simply stop the whining. No, the PS3 didn’t have a great launch; it didn’t even have a good launch. But in direct comparison to the competition, regarding what each system offers and the first 3 months of each console’s lifespan, the PS3 is hardly the worst of the bunch. In fact, I dare say it’s the best, if only by a little.
That’s it for me. I just wanted to make some clarifications on this topic. It’s just very frustrating to see the most ignorant reactions to the situation, claiming the PS3 to be a “failure” when not one single aspect of the system is in sharp negative contrast to either competitor. And, oh yeah, when we start passing judgment on consoles in the first three months of what is always a 5-7 year market existence, we may as well sign up for a “God, we’re stupid as hell” sign to hang around our necks.
1/19/2007 Ben Dutka