Today’s Tech: Console Wars 2013

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Travis Ryan

As Black Friday draws near and your decision on the next-gen console must be made, I figured it would be appropriate to do a run-down of the candidates and what they’re bringing to the table.

Wii U: Nintendo is still attempting to latch onto its hold on the motion gaming industry with the Wii U. Released almost exactly a year ago today, the console has been genuinely well received. If you’ve already purchased one, then it’s probably the best console for you. Nintendo suckers the market early with what I would consider a child’s toy. It reminds me of Sega’s tactic decades ago of leeching new devices to the Sega Genesis just to prolong its lifespan. The Wii U has a decent game line-up, limited as always. Nintendo holds my treasured childhood franchises as ransom. A few great Zelda games and a few not-so-great Mario games are all we can hope for. Though clunky and generally unnecessary, it is all that can be expected from Nintendo. This time around, I won’t be paying 200 bucks just to try out a few new characters in Super Smash Bros. If you’re really into high definition online gaming with unique titles, stay away from this one.

Xbox One: Microsoft’s marketing strategy didn’t exactly go off without a hitch on this product. The original unveiling was confusing and everyone at Microsoft seemed to have a hard time understanding their own product. At first, the thing was a mess. The Kinect video cameras were to be turned on at all times like some sort of NSA conspiracy confirmation, and then they apparently scrapped that at some point — or maybe they didn’t. There was just poor communication all around. I remember watching their live presentation where it was hinted that pre-owned games couldn’t be played on the console and it was more like one big device for all sorts of entertainment, not just gaming. The movie streaming experience they’re plugging doesn’t exactly draw me in; I’m fine with Netflix on the Xbox 360 as it is. But the graphics look great and some solid games could come out of the system. I’ve always been a fan of the Xbox-exclusive Dead Rising series, releasing its third installment with the console’s launch. Once Microsoft made some clear decisions about what they were selling, I became somewhat invested. I’m more into online gaming, personally, for which the Xbox has been praised, and I’m interested in how it will perform once on the market.

Playstation 4: Going toe-to-toe with the Xbox One this year, the Playstation 4 is a steady improvement from its predecessor. Also, to an extent, plugging more entertainment other than just gaming, it appears that’s the direction consoles are headed. Perhaps it’s to draw in a more family-oriented device. However, gaming is still at the core of its design. A stronger processor should make quick fixes of the occasional bugs that Sony usually finds itself handling. When it comes to exclusive titles, Playstation takes the cake. The Last of Us, a critically acclaimed masterpiece of gaming, was exclusive to the Playstation 3, and I would expect a sequel on the way. The God of War series has always been a favorite of mine, exclusive to the console as well. The online community of the Playstation 3 wasn’t as well developed as Microsoft’s network, but it was functional to the average gamer. If you’re just looking to play games with your friends and not really shooting for any competitive play, the Playstation Network will work out for you. What confuses me is the “live sharing” button, which apparently lets you allow your friends to watch you play your game from their Playstation? For all the hype they’re putting into it, it is a strange concept. People want to play games with their friends, not watch their friends play games without them. They took a page out of the Xbox’s book with the Playstation camera, a direct rip-off of the Kinect device. While it will surely have some launching bugs and its minor flaws, the Playstation 4 seems to be an overall improvement that is testing will in the market right now. It is definitely worth checking out.

My Choice: The PC. Why? Because I don’t need to pay 400 bucks for a black box just to put in 60 dollar discs and play an hour of some generic shooter in high definition. It’s just not my type of gaming. I prefer indie games, experimental titles, with more sales and the ability to mod my favorite games. The versatility that the PC offers is unmatched by the consoles. The Steam library is immense and a few dollars can get you endless entertainment. The comfortability of using your device and not having to figure out some new interface with its launching flaws – it’s something I would prefer.

However, these consoles are all great choices and you would enjoy yourself with any one of them. The gaming community can get pretty heated, but I believe that we should put more focus on the games we play and not the black boxes we play them on. They’re meant for fun, and it goes too far when it stops being a fun time.  They’re all great devices, and we should respect that.