Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re staring one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year directly in the face. We figure all you parents out there have already received your children’s lengthy holiday wish lists, but perhaps some of you don’t have any specifics. Maybe that list just says, “I want a lotta games!” or “I want that PS3!” (but you have no idea which model to get), and you’re scratching your head, wondering, “how can I get the shriek-tastic reaction I want from my kids?” Well, we’re going to help you out.
Below you will find a comprehensive and user-friendly holiday buyer’s guide, assembled by your friends at PSXE and designed with the parent’s best interests at heart. No, really. We care!
A new video game system…but which one?
Ah, the challenge of challenges. He or she wants one of those new next-generation consoles, but they either don’t have a preference or you’re not too sure about their choice. If that’s the case, here’s a brief rundown of how we see each console currently, and how you should approach a purchase.
Yeah, we’re a Sony-oriented site, but we’re not about to mislead the consumer. Last year, we probably wouldn’t have recommended a purchase – for many, many reasons – but this year, it’s a whole different ball game. First and perhaps foremost for you, the buyer, Sony has proven they have an extraordinarily reliable system; most retailers continue to report around a 1% defective rate, which is in stark contrast to Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Furthermore, the price of the 80GB PS3 just dropped by $100, and the new 40GB PS3 costs another $100 less ($399.99), and of course, the games are definitely starting to flow. You can check our list of Top Holiday Titles below, but there are more than a few must-have PS3 games out there, and multiplatform titles are definitely looking up (not counting some pitiful EA productions). Blu-Ray is shaping up to be the market leader for HD, and let’s not forget- the PS3 remains the most diverse and cheapest Blu-Ray player on the market. It can play Blu-Ray and DVD movies, some PS2 software, most all PS1 software, music CDs, and oh yeah, the PlayStation Network remains free .
All this being said, we’d still have to say the Wii is a more logical choice for younger children and strictly casual gamers, but all in all, this is the time to pick up a PS3. Even bigger games hit in 2008, by the way, so as of right now, there has never been a better time to consider a purchase.
The biggest black mark on the 360 right now is its documented reliability catastrophe that hit this past summer, and it seems Microsoft still hasn’t completely fixed this problem. When the five major retailers reported defective rates around 33%, the sh** hit the fan, and consumers were mightily ticked off. But outside of that, we have to remember the 360 has the strongest front-runners for Game of the Year in three giant game releases: Halo 3 , Bioshock and Mass Effect . The system had an admittedly slow 2007 until the release of Bioshock , but these “Big 3” made up for any previous lacking. Furthermore, although Xbox Live certainly costs money, it’s still a more robust online service than the PlayStation Network, and the 360’s great multiplayer-oriented titles kick serious ass on Live. In the face of the very expensive PS3, Microsoft decided not to drop the price of the system, but at $399, it’s still not a bad deal. There are also other options, like the Xbox 360 Elite and Xbox 360 Arcade, both of which would appeal to very different gamers, so check with the authors of those wish lists before deciding!
We believe the PS3 is the better buy this holiday season, especially with the 40GB PS3 now costing the same as the 360, but nevertheless, Microsoft’s system does have plenty of games. That one-year head-start was certainly beneficial, and you might want to take advantage of that if you haven’t already.
If you weren’t able to snag one last holiday season due to the tremendous hardware shortage, and you kinda forgot about it this year, now might be the time. However, while we certainly applaud Nintendo for providing us with a very original system that is fun for all ages, it has been a year now…and in all honesty, it’s already starting to pale in comparison to the PS3 and Xbox 360. Of all the top holiday releases out there, the vast majority are for the other two systems, and it doesn’t appear much better for 2008, although it might depend on one’s personal preferences. Despite the nifty motion sensing, it almost seems as if the Wii is already starting to show its age, and as it’s still priced at $250, it doesn’t seem quite as attractive when the PS3 now costs $200 less than it did last year. On top of it all, we’re already starting to hear reports that the Wii is once again difficult to come by – and there’s no excuse for that, Nintendo – so instead of killing yourselves for a Wii, there are two very fine options out there for you. And these two options are much, much better than they were a year ago.
All that being said, we don’t want to dissuade you. If the jewel of your eye really wants a Wii, get him/her a Wii. They know what they want. It’s also great for the whole family, and if a lot of friends want to get in on the wand-swinging action, than the Wii isn’t a bad idea. We’re just saying: there is a very big difference between 2006 and 2007.
PlayStation 3 Confusion? Read This!
We know what you’re thinking- “how many models are there again?” “Which one dropped in price?” “How are they different?” All valid questions and all displayed below for your shopping assistance:
This was one of the original models that launched at the very high $599 price tag last year. The other model (the 20GB PS3) was quickly discontinued, and you’re not likely to find one anywhere…but then again, you’re not likely to find too many of these left, either. It dropped to $499 just in time for Sony to unveil the new 80GB PS3, and it should remain at that price if you can find it. Now, it would be $100 more, but it’s also contains the most features of any of the three PS3 models currently circulating on store shelves: it has very close to full backwards compatibility for PS2 games – which is not included in either the 80GB or 40GB models – and it has all the memory and HD slots the PS3 was initially advertised to have. Yes, it seems weird that later PS3 models aren’t as capable, but Sony wanted to cut production costs. Therefore, even though it’s more expensive, if you can locate one, we would strongly suggest picking this one up, especially if the gift receiver has a lot of PS2 games.
At first, we thought this would be the permanent replacement for the 60GB model, but that actually turned out to be the 40GB system. The 80GB does offer the biggest hard drive of all three models, but we fail to see how it’s really necessary, and it’s basically the same as the 60GB version only without the PS2 backwards compatibility. But at least the system can play many of the more popular PS2 titles due to software emulation (something the 40GB model can’t do), so that’s something. At $499, we still consider the 60GB model to be the better buy for the price, and we might even recommend the 40GB model as it’s $100 cheaper. However, you do get MotorStorm bundled with the 80GB model, which makes it a much better deal, and that huge hard drive could come in handy for those who wish to save a lot of Store stuff to the system. It’s not the model that will prevail over the years, but for the less educated parents out there, that doesn’t mean future PS3 games won’t be able to play on it. For the record, all three PS3 models have basically the same hardware; they only differ in the realm of optional features.
And now we come to the recently launched and true future console of the PlayStation brand: the 40GB PS3. Granted, it’s a gimped model of the 60GB version as it will not play any PS2 games, has a smaller hard drive, and doesn’t have any flash memory compatibility. Still, it will play most all PS1 games, it comes with a Blu-Ray copy of “Spider-Man 3,” and oh yeah, it’s $100 cheaper than either the 80GB or 60GB models. At $399, it costs the same as an Xbox 360, and as of now, is probably your best bet if you’re out shopping for a PS3 this year. The 60GB model is still the best, but they could be difficult to find and they are $100 more, so rather than wasting your time desperately trying to find one, we say the 40GB PS3 is a plenty good enough buy. It likely won’t matter to the person who receives the gift – unless they specifically requested either the 60 or 80GB model – and you’ll save some money. That’s a big plus, right?
The Final Word: In the end, if you can locate a 60GB PS3 and don’t have a problem paying the extra $100 that you wouldn’t have to pay for the 40GB, then go for it. Even with MotorStorm , we’re not going to recommend the 80GB model over the 40GB, simply because it doesn’t seem worth it. So if you’re not having any luck with the 60GB, pick up the 40GB PS3 and go home happy.
Top Holiday Games
We’ve assembled a list of all the best games of 2007, and the ones that are most likely to please the kids or teenagers. Just bear in mind, we are providing the ESRB rating with each game, and remember that an M-Mature rating means the game is essentially reserved for those 17 of age and older. Just think of it like an R rating for movies; it’s the same thing, really. So without further ado, here are the best of the best; you don’t want to miss ‘em!
Must-Have Accessories, Extra Stuff
What good is all these games if you don’t have the accessories and extra stuff to go with ‘em? Those semi-pushy clerks at GameStop are probably trying to sell you all these do-hickeys you’ve never heard of, and we’re gonna help you with the lingo. Here are a few you’re going to want to pick up, especially if you plan on purchasing a brand new system:
Extra Controllers : You can’t possibly pass up the chance to pick up another controller with any system you might buy. Granted, they’re a bit pricey (probably $50, unless you can find a sale or bundle deal), but remember, all those systems only come with one controller, which obviously means only one person can play any given game at once. Yes, we could blame the console manufacturers for not including a second controller when they know most people will want one, but hey, that’s big business. Just cave in, accept it, and pick an extra one up.
HD cables for HD-enabled systems : As always, it’s all about your hook-ups. Just because the PS3 can produce 1080p resolution with some of its titles and just because you have a HDTV that can show 1080p doesn’t mean you can get it without HD cables! They might be a touch pricey, but if you shop around, you can probably find a cheap pair. And remember, HD is either “on” or “off,” so you don’t need those super-expensive, super-thick cables. Just find an HD cable if you have the capability for it.
Memory Cards : Yes, this is a new generation with hard drives and all, but without memory cards, you can’t back up save game data and you can’t transfer save game data. There aren’t any for the PS3, but they exist for the 360 and Wii, and you can always pick up a Memory Card Adapter for the PS3, which lets you transfer PS2 and PS1 save game data to the system’s hard drive. Of course, PS2 game saves won’t matter for the 40GB version, but whatever.
Okay parents, guardians and everyone else, that’s just about it. We’ve done our best to help you out with your holiday game shopping, and if you have any questions at all, feel free to ask. We’re here to serve!