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Let the games begin

Let the games begin
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First Published: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 12 26 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 12 26 AM IST
The argument continues. Among Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii, which one gets your vote for the top honours. Gamers say Nintendo is slightly ahead of the pack. But it is not even available in India. So, by elimination, who gets the crown? Xbox or PlayStation Portable (PSP)?
Deepak Karambelkar, the head of production for AOL India by day and an avid gamer by night, owns all three consoles. “For a long time, I had a mental block against Xbox but if you want to play stellar titles such as Gears of War, Halo 2 and F.E.A.R, Xbox is far better than the others,” he says.
Let’s take a look at all three.
Gaming experiences
Sony PlayStation 3Price: Rs39,990
The PS3, with a 60GB memory space, is a breeze to set up. With connectors similar to the basic DVD player, the game controller can be plugged into any one of the four USB ports provided. You can connect up to four controllers to the console at one time (although only one is provided with the console) and up to seven if you connect wirelessly. The PS3 interface is similar to what was seen on the PSP and is fairly simple to navigate. Options for settings, music, photos, movies, games and saved games will show what is under each header and the console detects the type of media (DVD, Blu-Ray Disc, Memory Card) that you have inserted and highlights the appropriate option. Yes, the PS3 is equipped to read memory cards as well.
The controller is lightweight and easy to operate. Two sets of four buttons on either side on the top with two joysticks and Select and Start buttons complete the top. The side away from a user has the USB connector input in addition to two more buttons that are used to accelerate or brake, especially in racing games or shoot in an first-person shooter (FPS) game.
The audio and video outputs on PS3 are, by far, the best of the lot. “For great graphics and sound, nothing comes close to the PS3. Resistance: Fall of Man is a great example of how beautiful games can look and sound,” says Karambelkar.
Xbox 360Price: Rs19,990 (without hard drive); Rs27,750 (with 20 GB hard drive)
Starting with the investment required to purchase a console to the sheer range of titles available for it, the Xbox looks like a winner.
While the core system is aimed at the entry-level, low-budget buyer, the full system should appeal to the more compulsive gamer.
Unfortunately, there is no one outstanding feature you can talk about in both the systems, except the price and the range of titles.
Also, don’t fall for the full system’s 20GB memory space. It may seem enough, but you’ll be surprised how soon it fills up once you start saving games.
The Xbox has several other things going for it. Its interface, for one, is easy and more evolved than the PS3’s. It has better controls as well. For long gaming sessions, the Xbox controllers were more comfortable than the PS3’s. The Xbox Live online presence is another winner. The games available for download are pretty good and vast, and the list is building up.
Entertainment
Sony PlayStation 3
The PS3 comes equipped with a Blu-Ray Disc player and optional HDMI output. If you have both, the output quality is simply stunning.
Even without the HDMI output, when we played ordinary DVDs, the picture and sound quality difference was noticeable, compared to a regular DVD player’s. Hook this up to a projector and the experience is simply mind-boggling.
The HDMI-readiness of the PS3 allows users to enjoy the high-definition output.
One needs to buy a cable (a costly one) and hook it up to an output (television set or projector) that is capable of reading this signal from the console. Thanks to this ability, the PS3 is 10-, 12- and 16-bit colour capable as compared to the 8-bit of the Xbox.
Xbox 360
As an entertainment centre, Xbox is much better. Playing back movies and even hooking it up to a good quality audio set-up can complete your gaming and home-theatre dreams simultaneously. But the problem of low storage capacity dogs this aspect as well. Microsoft has since launched the Xbox 360 Elite with 120GB hard drive space and HDMI output.
With Windows also here, the possibilities of networking with the Xbox have improved. With Windows Media Center a part of the Vista suite, you can integrate your Xbox 360 into your home network in order to view photos, stream music, and do lots more on your living room television set.
Wait for Wee (Wii)Price: $300 (approx)
And if you are tired of Xbox or PSP, wait for Nintendo Wii (pronounced “we”) to hit India. Nintendo fused a remote control with motion-sensing technology to come up with an input device that’s as unique as it is practical. The size of a traditional remote control, the wireless Wii remote is a multifunctional device that is limited only by the game designer’s imagination. The remote also includes a speaker, rumble feature and expansion port for additional input devices such as the Nunchuk (sold separately and useful for specific games).
“If fun, gameplay and immersion are what you expect out of games, then the Wii is miles ahead of competition,” says Karambelkar.
At approximately $300, the Wii too has its problems, graphics being one of them. The console itself is slightly underpowered but the game titles are pretty decent.
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First Published: Wed, Jun 06 2007. 12 26 AM IST
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