Yes, I said it. Your console sucks. And no, I'm not talking about one specific console. I'm talking about the three current and most recent consoles on sale today. Yes, that includes the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360, and e'gads, the PlayStation 3. Don't act so shocked, I'm surprised you haven't realized your console of choice sucks. Or hell, if you're a multiplatform owner, all of your consoles suck. And I'm sure you're wondering what the hell I'm going on about. Well, the explanation is simple – I'm just trying to make a point…that your console sucks.
Okay, okay. On a more serious note, I find it funny how heated console debates still get these dates. I remember back in the eighth grade, I used to get into arguments with friends over which system was the best: the Nintendo 64 or the PlayStation. The PlayStation was always my pick of choice, because as much as I loved the N64, the line-up of quality games was so spread apart that it made owning that system painful. Likewise, to bounce backward a few more years, even in the fourth and fifth grade, I remember arguing with my cousin that my SNES was better than his Genesis (though, in retrospect, both consoles were equally awesome). Oddly enough, my classes weren't very divided as far as console preferences went, almost all of us had an SNES.
This console debating went on as far as the last generation, when the PlayStation 2 had the Xbox and the GameCube as its primary competitors. As an owner of all three units, my GameCube saw very little game time, as it suffered from the same curse the N64 did. The Xbox got a pretty decent amount of game time with Halo, Project Gotham Racing, and a few other games. But the PlayStation 2, naturally, got the vast majority of game time, since it had all of the games that mattered. I'd say, it wasn't up until three or four years ago when I stopped caring and debating about what console is the best. Something inside of me just died, I guess…it's hard to explain.
But the reason why I bring you this piece is to explain to you why your console of choice isn't the flawless magical box of awesomeness you think it is. In fact, the entire point of this piece is to focus on only the weaknesses of the three consoles. And I'll start with the Nintendo Wii…
Released back in 2006, the Nintendo Wii is the sleeper hit no one saw coming. When overpriced PlayStation 3 sales ended on eBay, the Wii's sales only kept going and going, well into 2007. But the Nintendo Wii sucks. Unfortunately for people who only own a Nintendo Wii, they are stuck playing a system with impotent hardware incapable of producing visuals that can even outdo the original Xbox.
It has a downright embarrassing network/online setup, with a cumbersome user interface, making great online multiplayer games almost non-existent. Moreover, whatever happened to the wave of third-party support that publishers said they'd give the Wii? It never happened. Instead, all the Wii gets is chop-jobs like a really ugly looking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare port, Need for Speed: Nitro, and a cartoon-like version of Madden NFL. Sure the Wii has a few great games, but they're released so far apart, that it makes me wonder if there are any gamers out there who only own a Wii and defend the system like it's the greatest console of all time, because it isn't. It isn't even good. In fact, if there's one console out there that should've gotten the brute of all the "no games" line that the PlayStation 3 was on the receiving end of, it's the Nintendo Wii.
Moreover, the Wii has become a console for exercising and not a console for gaming. Staying fit is great and all, but exercising with a videogame console is not playing videogames, and it does not make you a gamer. Playing The Biggest Loser on your Nintendo Wii does not help the image of your console and does not help attract a newer demographic. Nintendo was promised third-party support, but it did not expect the lack of quality third party games, because all it got was just a bunch of random kiddy games. Don't believe me? Check out the list of Nintendo Wii games that launched this year, and tell me how many of them are actually proper games, and not something for the "casuals" – and I use that word very loosely. Just because you own a Nintendo Wii and a Wii Fit, does not make you a gamer, much like playing word games on your Blackberry doesn't either. But I'm not done yet, I have one final question: Nintendo, when the hell are you going to introduce some seriously powerful new franchises? Pokemon, Zelda, and Mario are great…but the folks at Sony and Microsoft are constantly giving us something new, while you're still stuck in the early 90s. Wake up, already.
Moving onto the Xbox 360. It was the first to launch and kicked off the next-generation back in 2005. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 is an abysmal piece of hardware that is so prone to failure that almost every time I've visited a Best Buy location, I've seen somebody returning an Xbox 360 and claiming a new one with a warranty. In fact, my best-friend is on his third X360, and a friend of Ben's is on his fifth. Somehow, Ben remains lucky with his original launch unit, and he's certainly one of the few. But of course, it's the online stories of people on their fifth, sixth, and some even tenth Xbox 360s that have absolutely appalled. The horror stories of dealing with Microsoft, especially after they send you a defective replacement, it's just not right. As of lately, build quality of the Xbox 360 seems to have improved considerably, but reports of failing new consoles still continue to exist, albeit in much smaller numbers.
Let's discuss yet another facet of hardware annoyances; Microsoft is absolutely insane to charge such a ridiculous amounts of money for things like an HDD or network adapter – hardware that shouldn't cost a penny more than $50. And as great as Xbox Live is, having to pay $50 a year for it, on top of not getting even slightly reduced prices on downloadable content is still a rip-off to me, no matter how good the service is. On that note, it's extremely annoying to have to buy a console, and spend more money buying accessories that it should've come with out of the box. There's also the size restrictions Microsoft slaps on the XBL Arcade stuff — just get rid of it, since you keep raising the damn thing every week. It's up to 2GB now, up from the original 150MB limit.
Then, there's the hardware offering itself. Selling a system without a hard drive has put a great strain on numerous developers who wanted to utilize the hard drives for better streaming, but could not do it because they knew that a certain million amount of people have Xbox 360's without hard drives. Good job, Microsoft. And how about penalizing people who use their own hard drives with the X360? That's pretty lame.
Also, what the hell happened to Microsoft this year? All the X360 got was Halo 3: ODST, which is just a reskinned Halo 3 with a new campaign – an expansion pack, of sorts. And Forza 3, while great, isn't exactly a system selling blockbuster here. I feel like Microsoft is slowly beginning to suffer from the same illness as Nintendo – they have almost nothing new to offer, as far as first-party goes. They bought out RARE, and that turned out to be a colossal waste. They released two new Halo games this year, both of which sold great, but lacked any substance and innovation – which the series is in dire need of, since it's been stagnant for a while. Ultimately, the games are what justify a console, and right now, the Xbox 360 is not fairing very well in this case.
Ah, last, but not least we have the PlayStation 3. Did you really think just because this is a Sony site I'd go easy on Sony? Where do I begin? Well, as we all recalled the PlayStation 3's biggest misfortune has always been the horrific price-tag at launch. It hurt Sony from the start, and only now is the PS3 beginning to catch up. But, beyond the price of main hardware, I have a gripe with some of Sony's first-party product pricing, as well. As great as the Dual Shock 3 controller may be, I still think it's a damn travesty that it retails for nearly $60. Historically, Sony has always been very aggressive with their peripheral pricing, and all things considered, the Dual Shock 3 needs a $20 price-drop – $40 should've been the price point from the start. And, maybe I'm asking for too much, but how about making your first-party games just a tad bit cheaper too, Sony? You know, like you guys used to.
Next up, my gripe with Sony and how they still seem to be treating their third-party publishers. That is not to imply they treat them poorly, but rather Sony doesn't make any effort to secure exclusives anymore. Where as in the past, the PlayStation 2 had exclusives locked down hard leaving the other two consoles high and dry, this time around, Sony settles for exclusive content in their versions (i.e. Batman: Arkham Asylum). All of that is great, and all, and Sony does have a massively powerful first-party lineup, but historically, the PlayStation brand has also had these immense third-party games like Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid (more or less), Devil May Cry, and so forth, all to themselves. Now, I realize it's simply far more profitable for publishers to release their games on multiple platforms, but at the same time, I also wholeheartedly believe Sony doesn't try as hard as they once did to secure these games, even for a brief exclusive period.
And Sony, if you're trying to win this console war, why aren't you going after the most lucrative prize that'll likely seal the deal for you? You allowed Square-Enix to get our pants all tight at E3 2005 when you showed us a Final Fantasy VII cut-scene running on PS3 hardware in real-time, yet, four years and millions of crying fans later, nothing has amounted from it. Are you guys nuts? Sony published Final Fantasy VII back in 1997 for the PlayStation, so make history repeat itself, dammit! You have a list longer than Santa's of customers who are ready to dish out the money for this remake and pay full price for it! Get your ass over to Square-Enix's offices, sign some papers, and give us our game, already. Do you not like money, Sony?
Moving on, I still can't stand playing any PC-based game on the PlayStation 3. Something needs to be done for PC developers to wrap their heads around the PS3's architecture a little easier, because consistently, PS3 ports of games that were originally designed for a DirectX system (PC/Xbox 360) are notably inferior. Borderlands is one such example. Half-Life: The Orange Box is another. Bayonetta, unfortunately, is another one. I mean, I don't even think I needed to go into the examples in the first place, we should all know by now that if a game's design originated with DirectX code, it'll likely end up crap for the PS3. And I know you're probably asking how that's Sony's fault. It's simple. Perhaps Sony could create more robust developer tools for DirectX porting, and maybe put some more pressure on third-party publishers to not release product that is notably inferior. Honestly, having a game like Bayonetta run at 25-40 frames per second on the PS3, meanwhile the Xbox 360 version runs at 50-60 at almost all times, is really getting annoying at this point in the generation. Just when I thought this whole issue was behind us, numerous games launch that prove otherwise. I swear, if somehow Final Fantasy XIII runs better on the Xbox 360, I will choke a bitch.
This next example is one that has bothered me since day one. Why doesn't Sony ever include HD/component cables with a PlayStation 3? Granted, before anyone says anything, I'm aware that one of the Xbox 360 SKUs now also only comes with SD cables, but for the past four years, they've all been HD only. In any case, what's the point of including SD cables with an HD gaming machine? Sure, a lot of people still have standard-definition TVs, but is it really that much of a problem to include both cables? I mean, you can buy an HDMI cable for $5 – so I can't imagine how cheap they are to produce. Likewise, if HDMI cables are so cheap, then surely component cables are probably even cheaper to manufacture. It's especially something to be mad about when you've paid as much as $600 for the system, only to have to spend another $30 on HD cables. The PlayStation 3 has always been an out-of-the-box ready machine that didn't really require anything to be bought separately, besides a controller…so to have to spend more money on all already expensive console really sucks.
And where are my custom soundtracks? It's annoying how the XMB interface can be locked out via game software, preventing me from listening to the music on my PS3's hard drive, forcing me to listen to some sh*t that some publisher thought sounded edgy and cool for their game. I swear to God, if I hear a P.O.D. or Saliva song in an extreme sports game again, my rage will cause fires worse than that of Los Angeles'. Stop giving into publishers' B.S. demands, Sony, and give us the freedom to access our music during any game. I don't care if EA or THQ have spent money acquiring licenses for their in-game soundtracks – most of them suck, and you need to cater to us, the people who spent $300, $400, $500, and $600 on your consoles. And while you're at it, give us the damn cross game voice chat, already.
But I'm not done. I think there's a crucial aspect to the PlayStation 3's power and ability that Sony is not taking advantage of. In my opinion, getting rid of PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility was the wrong move. At the very least, Sony should at least piece together a PS2 emulator of some sort for the PlayStation 3. Heck, if they want, charge us $10 for it, it doesn't have to be free via firmware update. Ever since I saw the God of War Collection trailer this week, the idea of an emulator has been stuck in my head. There's another cash cow Sony is potentially sitting on, that they seem to be ignoring. For $10, wouldn't you buy an emulator as long as it improved the framerate, resolution, and polished up textures? I know I sure would. I'd love to see games like Gran Turismo 4, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, Devil May Cry 1-3, Metal Gear Solid 2&3, and many others, all running in HD resolutions and sharper textures. Have you guys seen some of the awesome stuff these PC PS2 emulators can do? The PlayStation brand has always been about maintaining its history by offering gamers the ability to play classics on their newest console, and beside offering PSOne games, the PS3 has failed in that regard. So come on, Sony, stop slacking off. Give us a proper PS2 emulator! We'll even pay for it.
I have to also mention PlayStation Home, which is definitely not one of Sony's brightest moments. I mean, sure, Sony claims it's really active, but what's the point of it? Is it me, or does it seem to lack focus? It's boring. It's just a glorified chat-room with virtual avatars and a few lame mini-games. How about something worth visiting, Sony? Maybe give us a car to drive around and visit other towns or something? An activity beside walking and talking would be nice. And, don't get me started on the internet browser, which I still think is lousy.
So there you have it, plenty of reasons why your console sucks. So get off your high horse and accept that the system you chose for the next five years of gaming isn't as great as you think it is.