XBox 360 or PS3?

Dear Internet,

I’m planning on finally joining the 21st century and buying a new gaming console. Let me rephrase that: I want to buy a new not-almost-strictly-for-kids gaming console. (I have a Wii and, frankly, I’m not all that crazy about it.) I still have a PlayStation 2 which I absolutely adore, and for which there are still a ton of great games I’ve yet to play (Killzone, Black, Xenosaga, Shadow of the Colossus, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus…), but I’d still like to move to something a bit more advanced. 

Recently, a friend gushed to me about how incredible a gaming experience the Mass Effect series was, and how I should totally play it. He sent me a few videos, and it wasn’t long before I totally fell in love with it. (Totally.) I wanted one right there and then. I almost picked up an XBox 360, too, just so I could play Mass Effect. (Also, because Amazon had the now-previous-generation XBox 360 on sale for $250 including Final Fantasy XIII.)

But then I started thinking: $300 isn’t exactly chump change. On top of that, premium titles usually run about $60. Would I buy a gaming system just so I could play one game? Actually, yeah. It’s why I originally bought my PlaysStation 2, so I could play Final Fantasy X (to this day, along with Final Fantasy VII, one of my all-time favorite games.) Still, Mass Effect isn’t in that category for me just yet. It’s enough to prompt me buying a new system, but not enough to make me commit to the XBox 360, when the PlayStation 3, which also serves as an excellent BluRay player, is out there for about the same price. (Alright, it’s $50 more. Big whoop.)

Anyway, the point of this story: I’m trying to decide between an XBox 360 and a PlayStation 3. I’ve made a list of pros and cons for each system, and if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to hear what you have to say about it.

Playstation 3 vs Microsoft XBox 360

  • Games: Arguably, this is the most important aspect, but I start with it because it prompted my search. The great part is that most premiere titles are made for both systems, so the subject of exclusive games doesn’t hold the weight it once used to. Still, there are enough exclusives out there to make it a factor to consider. In the XBox 360 camp the only titles that really call my attention are in the Fable series and the Mass Effect series. (I’ve never been much of a Halo fan, so the new game doesn’t hold much appeal for me.) PlayStation, on the other hand, has a number of exclusives I’m interested in playing: God of War 3, the LittleBigPlanet series, the Uncharted series, and the Metal Gear Solid series are among these. And as far as downloadable games go, the fact that I can download Final Fantasy VII onto the PS3 makes that all the sweeter. Most of the other titles I’m interested in (Red Dead Redemption, Batman: Arkham City, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Final Fantasy XIII, Madden 11, and even Mass Effect 2) are available for both systems, so this isn’t as big a deal as it once was. Still, I have to say it: Advantage: PS3, overwhelmingly.
  • Backwards Compatibility: The XBox 360 can play games from the original XBox. The PS3 is limited to just PS3 games. (The originals had PS2 compatibility, but this was redacted in later versions.) Therefore, the potential game library for the XBox 360 is MUCH larger and MUCH more affordable than the PS3’s game library. This is a pretty big selling point for me, since I don’t mind buying older (but not used) titles. (They’re cheaper and the money still goes to the developer.) Advantage: XBox 360, overwhelmingly.
  • Play pals: Networking in games is HUGE these days. HUUUUGE. It’s an important feature in modern games. As such, the fact that most of my friends have an XBox 360 rather than a PlayStation 3 means that I’m far more likely to use these features on the XBox than the PS3, since the systems can talk to other people using the same system. (Sad, but true.) Still, here’s the deal: I don’t see myself using this feature all that often. I may be proven wrong, however, once the opportunity presents itself, and it’s a very tempting opportunity. Advantage: XBox 360, overwhelmingly.
  • Motion Controls: Kinect is getting ALL the press these days, and for good reason: it looks awesome. In fact, it could potentially put my Wii completely out of business. Thing is, I’m not interested in it, especially since it’s a $150 peripheral, nor am I interested in the PlayStation’s Move controller. If I want to play a motion game, I’ll probably do something like go outside and play a sport. Or, you know, turn on my Wii. Advantage: Wii. (Hey, my list, my answers. Shaddup.)
  • Controllers: Since this IS the way I will be interfacing with the system, it’s an important consideration. I’m used to the PlayStation controllers. I’m not crazy about the XBox controllers, although I’m sure I could grow accustomed to them. Advantage: PS3.
  • Movies: I know, physical media is dead. Whatever, I still like owning my stuff on disks. Call me a Luddite, I don’t care. HD DVD lost. BluRay won. Sad, but true. (I was rooting for HD DVD.) Buying a PS3 saves me from having to buy a BluRay player, especially since it can be updated to the latest standard version. In short, the PS3 may be the world’s greatest BluRay player. XBox, on the other hand… uhm… well, I can buy used HD DVDs for cheap, right? Oh, that’s right NetFlix…which both of them have. (I stream movies using my Wii ALL. THE. TIME. So yeah, this is a really useful feature.) Advantage: PS3, but only barely: I plan to keep buying DVDs for a while, since I get most of mine used anyway, and from what I understand XBox’s NetFlix functionality doesn’t require a disk while PlayStation’s does. (I may be wrong here.)
  • Cost: XBox 360S is $299. (I can get the previous model for $250 which includes Final Fantasy XIII, but the tradeoff here is no Kinect connectivity and no native wireless networking.) For the same stats, PS3 is $350, although it also includes a BluRay player, which saves me $100, so $350 – $100 = $250. Practically speaking the XBox is cheaper. Potentially the PS3 is cheaper. Therefore, I’m calling it a tie. Advantage: None.
  • Upgradability: In either case, I can upgrade the hard drive. I don’t think there’s really much else I can upgrade so I’m calling it a tie here, too. Advantage: None.

So that’s my list up to now. I’m leaning heavily towards a PS3–mostly because of the games–but the XBox 360’s popularity among people who I’d likely play with weighs very, very heavily, despite my lack of familiarity with it. (In short, it’s a gamble.) There are other aspects I know about but haven’t mentioned here (XBox’s Windows Media compatibility), but these don’t matter to me so I didn’t mention them. Feel free to talk about them, though: I’m sure there are things I’m not taking into consideration.

Your turn, dear Internet. I seek the wisdom of your crowds. XBox 360 or PS3? (I would especially love to hear from people who’ve owned or currently own both.) While you think up your answers, if you don’t mind, my new copy of Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2 is here. Time to check it out.