Reader Editorial: Why Choose The PlayStation 3?
Editor's Note: This is an editorial written by one of the PSX Extreme members/readers. We asked if readers might interested in submitting some of their own stuff - we're one big happy community, after all - and they obliged. It was a mini-contest where we assigned the topic and selected our favorite; we'll continue to do this every now and then so if you want to participate, visit the Reader Submissions thread in the forums.
Why Choose The PlayStation 3?
This generation of consoles is quite fractured, more so than the previous two generations. The Wii has grabbed most of the casual audience that previously turned to Sony for cheap, simple gaming, and Microsoft has spent a great deal of effort (and money) on making the 360 an attractive alternative for the core gamers who in previous generations turned to Sony for high-profile third-party games.
So where does this leave Sony; specifically, its PlayStation 3? The most obvious answer is that the console is still left with arguably the strongest collection of first-party developers and exclusives of all three home consoles currently on the market. Certainly, unless Microsoft or Nintendo have some big announcements planned for E3, the PS3 has by far the strongest line-up of exclusives for 2009. It's also worth noting that the loss of third-party exclusives seldom means the game becomes a 360 exclusive and no longer available on the PS3; only that the game is released for both.
Then there's the matter of value. Both the cheapest 360 and the Wii sit comfortably at much lower price points than the PS3. For the average consumer, that's enough to swing the decision away from the PS3, but the fact remains that the extra cost is far outweighed by the gains of features like Blu-Ray functionality and a wireless internet connection right out of the box, both things lacking in its HD competitor. The disastrous hardware issues of the 360 also need to be mentioned, even if these problems are diminishing.
While not quite on par with the premium Xbox Live service, Sony's PlayStation Network is still an excellent free service for online gaming, with the PlayStation Store being a good source of demos, downloadable games, themes, videos and additional content. When not free, these downloads are always sold with real prices rather than the vague points systems used by Microsoft and Nintendo. Sony has also made great strides since the system's launch to make the PSN more comparable to XBL, and as the years go by it will likely become increasingly difficult to find ways in which the PSN does not stand alongside Live as a robust online gaming service.
Another strength of the 360 has been its community features, with achievements, mandatory leaderboards in Xbox Live Arcade games, gamercards and access to other gamers' profiles from the PC all coming together to result in entire communities building up around these features. This is another area where Sony has done a good job catching up; it's rare now for games to release without trophies (and soon all games will have them), the EU PSN recently launched gamercards (with the US likely to follow) and players can access their own profiles and trophy collections from their PCs, with more functionality to come.
Of course, the primary consideration when buying a games console should always be the games available for it, and Blu-Ray, Live, trophies/achievements and motion controls are all secondary considerations. After a rough start, multiplatform games on the PS3 are generally on par with the 360 versions, meaning that it is mainly about which games are exclusively available on one system.
Titles like Halo, Gears of War, Fable and third-party games like Mass Effect (still currently exclusive) all represent the 360 well, with exclusive DLC deals for certain third-party games making them more attractive propositions on Microsoft's console. The Wii has all the old Nintendo stalwarts of Mario, Metroid, Zelda and Smash Brothers that some gamers will enjoy each and every generation, with certain third-party exclusives like MadWorld and No More Heroes bolstering the line-up.
As mentioned above, to compete with these the PS3 has some of the strongest developers and franchises of the last few generations, with series likes God of War, Killzone, Uncharted and Gran Turismo all seen as leaders in their respective genres, and high-profile third-party exclusives like Metal Gear Solid 4 adding to the line-up. When combined with the console's other existing exclusives and the new IPs we are likely to see as the generation progresses, it's difficult to see how a PS3 purchase could possibly disappoint.
5/2/2009 Ben "The Benny" Wilkinson