E3 Summary: PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii
Now that the E3 is over, it’s time to summarize the latest Playstation 3 news and see just how the PS3 is shaping up against the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii.
Playstation 3 news – for real!
At E3, Sony has finally announced the official Playstation 3 release date. It will come out on November 17, in all territories at the same time, apart from Japan that get the PS3 about one week earlier, on November 11.
The Playstation 3 will be sold in two configurations, one with a 60 GB hard disk drive for USD $599 and the other a 20 GB HDD for $499.
A notable difference between the two versions lies in the fact that the cheaper version will lack the HDMI port, the memory slots and WiFi connectivity. The HDMI port would be required to output dual 1080p video, a feat previously announced by “Father of Playstation”, Ken Kutaragi.
Sony’s $599 pricetag for the fully spec’ed PS3 version is certainly a first in the history of video game consoles. The price is mainly a consequence of Sony’s decision to equip the PS3 with a built-in Blu-ray disc player. Blu-ray, one of the new high definition DVD formats, is a rather expensive technology, and stand-alone Blu-ray disc players won’t be available for less than $1,000. From this perspective, the PS3 appears like a bargain!
Quite obviously, Sony is banking on the widespread market penetration of the Playstation brand, making Blu-ray the de facto standard for High Definition DVDs, in a similar way as they were able to bring DVD to the mass market by shipping the PS2 with a built-in DVD player.
At the E3, Sony has revealed that the controller for the PS3 will NOT be the boomerang shaped oddity that was shown previously, but rather the new PS3 controller is based on the good ol’ black DualShock controller that we’ve all grown used to from the PS2.
However, this is not your ol’ standard DualShock from yesteryear: the new PS3 controller comes equipped with motion sensing technology! The controller will have six-axis sensing capabilities and could be used for driving cars, flying planes and other related movements. Very cool!
The downside: They’ve removed the vibration feature from the controller, apparently because the shaking and rumbling interferes with the motion sensor. We figure, some legal aspects may have had to do with this omission too.
Sony has promised an exciting and competitive entry into the online gaming service with the Playstation 3, often referred to as ‘HUB’, however, no details have been released yet.
Xbox 360 continues strong
So, how do the other consoles stack up? Let’s start with the Xbox 360 – the first next generation console out of the starting blocks.
As Sony completes the specifications of its online service, Microsoft has launched “Live Anywhere”, a system that is meant to allow for cross platform gaming between Xbox 360 and “Games for Windows”, ie. games made specifically for Microsoft’s new Windows Vista platform.
Microsoft has also revealed a host of new Xbox 360 accessories that will be released by the end of this year. One surprise was the announcement of an external HD DVD drive – one whose existence Microsoft has repeatedly denied until E3. Maybe Microsoft felt pressured by Sony’s decision to ship the PS3 with a built-in Blu-ray drive straight of the box. Unlike the PS3 that will ship games on Blu-ray discs, the Xbox 360′s HD DVD drive is designed to play HD DVD movies only.
Joining the wireless controller, the Xbox 360 will also get a wireless steering wheel and a wireless headset, plus Xbox Vision, a camera peripheral likely to be similar in use to the PS2′s Eye Toy.
After a long silence, Microsoft confirmed at E3 that Halo 3 indeed was in the works. No surprises there. The teaser trailer that was shown was rather short and didn’t reveal all that much.
So all in all not much news from Microsoft. So how’s Nintendo doing?
Nintendo’s revolution: The Wii!
Nintendo’s console was recently renamed from “Revolution” to Wii. No release date or price has yet been announced, but it seems to be clear that Nintendo is aiming for a lower price point than its competitors, not at least made possible because of Nintendo’s decision to omit HD output for the Wii console.
Their already wickedly innovative controller design for the Wii has received another innovative cherry on top with the inclusion of a built-in speaker on the Wii remote (or Wii-mote, for short).
As far as the Wii remote-nunchuk combination goes, we still wonder about its effectiveness and practicability. Just how long can you play a game where you have to constantly swing and move your arms? While it sounds exciting, we will have to wait until we had some long term experience with it before we can pass judgement.
Summarizing: The final secrets of the PS3 have now been revealed. We know when, how much, and what the controller looks like and what it can and cannot do. No doubt the Playstation 3 will be a powerhouse that can compete and on some levels, surpass the Xbox 360.
The Xbox 360 keeps building on its headstart, announcing a bunch of new games, some cool peripherals, and further features of Xbox Live.
The Wii looks like the dark horse in this race towards the holiday season, especially if Nintendo can keep the price seductively low. Most people will not be able to afford both an Xbox 360 and a PS3, but the Wii with its innovative gameplay may indeed start a small revolution in our living rooms.
So that’s the latest. A little bit from all has been revealed, but we’re sure there’s plenty still to come (PS3 online gaming comes to mind!). But, all we can do for now is to wait until November when we can finally compare the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 with some quality hands-on experience.