You Youngsters And Your Technology!
November 4, 2010 8:30 PM   Subscribe

I've only ever played PC games, but keep hearing about these new-fangled doohickeys called "consoles"........

(That was a joke. Please don't hurt me with your fanboy or girl badass defensive tactics)

So, I'm pretty much a gaming newb, at least as far as I'm concerned. Up to this point, I enjoy playing games like Bioshock 2, Half-Life, Portal, and Spore (as in, literally, those are the list of games I'm playing pretty much).

I'm also very, very interested in playing games with concepts like Thief, Limbo(which is only out for Xbox 360), Journey (only out for Playstation 3), Assassin's Creed, etc. Games with great visuals, basically, sometimes chosen almost just for art's sake, but more often than not a first-person scenario.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the Xbox and PS3? Because I'm not a hardcore gamer, does it matter what I'd be buying? As a side note, I play maybe a few times a week and get adrenaline rushes while just playing Half-Life while trying not to yell in terror, and that's after maybe 15 minutes in the sewers. So, while I certainly enjoy shooter gameplay, I don't get a roaring "hell yes! must go back to this soon!" urge immediately after playing.

Are there any after-purchase catches I should know about? Things I'll have to buy (or should buy) in order to enjoy using the console? Do people ever consider it worth it to buy a console for the initial purpose of playing a certain game, or I should I simply find friends with the one I won't get and buy the game anyway? Please help an aspiring (22 year old, if it matters) average-skills "gamer grrl" out!
posted by DisreputableDog to Technology (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I prefer the PS3 over the xBox 360 but they are both good consoles. The PS3 also functions as a Blu-ray player which is nice and it has slightly more horsepower than the 360. Most of the really big blockbuster games come out on both but there are still some 1st party games (games developed by the company that makes the console) that will only come out on one or the other.

It looks like you've mostly played first-person shooters and strategy games on the PC. I do a fair amount of gaming on both the PS3 and PC so let give you this advice. Don't, under any circumstances, play either of those genres on a console. You'll hate the lack of precision in the controller for that kind of game play. Any time I've tried to play an FPS on a console I just get angry and fed up because I'm used to be able to aim fast and accurately with a mouse and the PS3 controller can't do it (this is one among many reasons that they don't mix PC and console multi-player).

There are some great artsy games that you can download for PS3, particularly "Flower".

You're also at an advantage in that you're a little late to the game. There are a bunch of really great games that came out years ago that can be picked up cheap used on eBay. I go to my favorite gaming review site, hit show all , sort by rating and go down the list until I see something I might like that came out a while ago then pick it up for $10-$15
posted by VTX at 8:45 PM on November 4, 2010

Both have some exclusive games; which set is better depends on whether you like Halo or GT5 (etc etc). Both do media streaming. Both do netflix. Both have their own sets of cheap mini-games.

Advantage to 360: More games available.
Disadvantage to 360: XboxLive costs money.

Advantage to PS3: Is also a blu-ray player. PSN is free to use.

Things you'd need to buy: more controllers maybe. Either Kinect or PS3Move if you want to do motion gaming without the Wii. OTOH, I think both the Move and Kinect cost almost as much as a Wii.

Seconding that first person shooters kind of suck without WASD+mouse.

OTOH, games like Assassin's Creed that were designed primarily for and around consoles are great. See also the (related) Prince of Persia games.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:53 PM on November 4, 2010

As a non-PC gamer, I've never really gotten used to FPS past Doom and Doom2. Once aiming with the mouse became a thing, I stopped really playing PC shooters. On the other hand, I've gotten pretty good at console shooters, and for the most part, there isn't the need to make sure your console can play the latest game, since, well, it can.

I've got a PS3, which I got for a bunch of reasons, some of which might be helpful to you, some not. It's got the blu-ray, it comes with a hard drive (which can be easily swapped out for a larger one, though the stock HDD are getting big enough so that it's not so important anymore), it works pretty damn well as a media player (though Xbox does that too, I guess), and it's online component is free (well, mostly, though PSNplus isn't necessary...yet). I don't know about now, but when I picked it up, the Xbox didn't come with a HDD, and it wasn't gloriously region free. Playstation games are region free in the PS3, though there are some issues with the PSN Store that can crop up.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:15 PM on November 4, 2010

Response by poster: @ VTX: If I shouldn't play a first person shooter or a strategy game on a console, that knocks out quite a few possible games. As in.........if I shouldn't use a first person shooter, why would I attempt to fire a weapon in any other game, first person or otherwise? Maybe I'm confused about your advice.

It also might help clarify, that when I refer to a "controller" I'm thinking of something like this,
which is what I consider to be a classic style.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:02 AM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: Also, how can I compare what games there are for the PS3 vs. those for Xbox? I figure if I can see which one I am more in tune with, that might help me make this decision.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:10 AM on November 5, 2010

@ VTX: If I shouldn't play a first person shooter or a strategy game on a console, that knocks out quite a few possible games. As in.........if I shouldn't use a first person shooter, why would I attempt to fire a weapon in any other game, first person or otherwise? Maybe I'm confused about your advice.

Really the mouse vs controller FPS thing is a matter of personal taste. Personally I far prefer playing these kinds of games with a console controller - there's something about mouse targetting that feels just too easy, and then there's having to constantly pick up and relocate the mouse when you move it too far left or something (or maybe I just need a larger desk). Controller aiming just seems more fun, somehow. But I may be in a minority on this one. It's true though that consoles are not the way to play strategy games.

As for Xbox vs PS3, each has such a variety of games that there's not much in it unless there's a particular game or series that only gets released on one console that you absolutely MUST HAVE. I bought an Xbox to play Halo, Rez HD and the non-sucky version of Bayonetta, but this means I'll miss out on Demons' Souls, Disgaea and a heap of other stuff. Oh well, there are worse decisions to have to make. I wouldn't recommend a Wii, though.

As for other purchases: I bought a wired Xbox controller because I hate having to recharge batteries. It's not too different from the one in your link and it's fine.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:10 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I own a Wii, but find that Metacritic is a pretty good site for understanding what games are good for each of the consoles.

Looking at games rated 90% or higher, there are 25 for the PS3 and 33 for Xbox360.

There will obviously be some games that are overrated or underrated but it's not a bad start.
posted by mr_silver at 3:30 AM on November 5, 2010

if I shouldn't use a first person shooter, why would I attempt to fire a weapon in any other game, first person or otherwise?

Aiming with a thumbstick (like the ones on the gamepad you linked to) is just . . . not as easy as aiming with a mouse. It's like using an Etch-a-Sketch versus using a pencil: There are a few things that an Etch-a-Sketch can do a little more easily than a pencil (straight lines, right angles), but a pencil can do everything else far more easily (curved lines, multiple lines, shading, fixing mistakes, being gnawed on, etc.).

Data point: Grand Theft Auto 4 has an auto-aim feature that is enabled (and on by default) on consoles and when using keyboard or gamepad controls on the PC. The feature is completely disabled when using a mouse.

That's not to say that you can't have fun with a gamepad, or that using one is immoral, or that it will detract from the gameplay -- millions of Halo, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor players use them. But since you're already used to using a mouse, you will probably be underwhelmed and frustrated by the controls of console FPS's, just like VTX, ROU_Xenophobe, and I have been (ATBH: You must be an alien or something </hamburger>).
posted by clorox at 3:46 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll focus on the software side of things.

Because I'm not a hardcore gamer, does it matter what I'd be buying?

No. If you don't have any particular game you're really interested in trying out, you might as well toss a coin. Both have so many good games (and most of them are out on both, though generally they're slightly better on the 360) you'll probably not have enough free time to play them all.

If you have any friends with consoles you could choose the one the majority of them has so you could swap games/accessories/play together on the net, or choose the one with the controller you find more comfortable, or a PS3 if you'd also want a Blu-Ray player, etc.

Metacritic is a decent guide if you don't have any idea where to start, just don't treat it as the final word or anything, your mileage will almost certainly vary. FWIW, I have a 360 and my favourite game is still this, and I hated this. And, though I haven't played it so I obviously can't say for sure, I scoff at the notion that GTA IV really is the OMG BEST GAME EVER.

Trying to predict which console has the games you'd like best is a nigh on impossible task, don't let it get in the way of your enjoying them.
posted by Bangaioh at 5:11 AM on November 5, 2010

My recommendation would be to go for the PS3 and keep the PC for those "exclusives" on the XBOX, as they usually (with Halo being a notable exception) come out on the PC eventually anyway. The XBOX is a Microsoft product, after all, and I'm sure they encourage releasing on the PC (even if it's a year later) for the extra sales on their other console, Windows PC.

Also, blu-ray!

Disclaimer: I have a PS3 and PC, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on any games.
posted by Grither at 6:01 AM on November 5, 2010

I was in a similar situation about two years ago, except that I was a rabid PS2 fan. I got the Xbox360, and it is the most used device in my entire house. Xbox live silver is free; gold is $60/year, and gives you access to Netflix (if you've got a streaming account). I've also heard that the backwards compatibility is better on xbox than on ps3. That was important, because I <3 my ps2 games, but I'd never had an original xbox, so this let me play things like Halo and Dreamfall.

As far as games, there are really only one or two PS3-only games that I regret not having (although the re-release of Ico/Shadow of the Colossus with The Last Guardian will probably change that). And although you didn't ask this, I'll give you a tip: if you want great visuals, you REALLY owe it to yourself to buy Red Dead Redemption. It's the best-looking game I've ever seen, and a great sandbox to play in. MeMail me if you want to know any more about my xbox experience or the games; I'm another "gamergrrl", and it sounds like our tastes are similar.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:34 AM on November 5, 2010

We have both systems. I prefer the PS3 by far, largely because the controller is incredibly more comfortable to my delicate feminine hands. The offset thumbsticks on the Xbox 360 controller are brutal for my hands and wrists.

Do you have friends with each console? You might try playing for a couple of hours on each system to see if comfort is a compelling factor for you, too.
posted by Andrhia at 6:40 AM on November 5, 2010

My recommendation would be to go for the PS3 and keep the PC for those "exclusives" on the XBOX, as they usually (with Halo being a notable exception) come out on the PC eventually anyway.

This is a really good point. A lot of games get ported from the xBox for hardware reasons too. The xBox is basically a PC crammed into a box. It uses an Intel processor, an nVidia graphics card, and Directx so the port is easy.

I simply can't play an FPS or strategy game without a mouse. The pencil vs. etch-a-sketch comparison is really good.

I still have issues with some third-person games. I recently played "inFamous" and "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". Both games feature a fair amount of shooting and don't have the auto-target of GTA IV. I found that part of the game frustrating but there is also a lot of running around, jumping, climbing, and hand-to-hand combat all of which work great on consoles.

I read most of my reviews at I like the sorting options on the games list, they have a nice summary of the review at the end of their articles, and I typically agree with their reviews.

Oh, accessory wise, you'll want to use the highest quality video connection that your TV allows. Typically this is HDMI and the console won't come with it. I'm going to assume that you either know what I'm talking about or know how to find out. If I'm wrong, let the hive-mind know!
posted by VTX at 6:42 AM on November 5, 2010

This is a really good point. A lot of games get ported from the xBox for hardware reasons too. The xBox is basically a PC crammed into a box. It uses an Intel processor, an nVidia graphics card, and Directx so the port is easy.

Not quite. The original xbox was a PC in a box. The 360 is a Mac in a box. So much so that the alpha developer platforms were Apple PowerMacs. Yes, Intel makes them, but the architecture - the part that determines "how do I write code for this" - is the kind in pre-Intel PowerPC Macs, not the x86 chips you're thinking of as "Intel processors."

Many xbox 360 exclusives eventually get ported - PC, PS3 - but not all, not guaranteed, and sometimes not for a while. Really, it comes down to "which has exclusives you want more" - in my case, I didn't see much on the PS3 that I wanted, while the 360 has always had a bunch I couldn't get elsewhere, at least not for a while - Gears of War, Bioshock, Mass Effect. But other than exclusives, the two are close enough that it shouldn't bother you either way.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:09 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Most games that are on the PC as well as a console or two, are going to be better on the PC. There are some exceptions for lousy ports, and the usual caveat that if your PC can't run it well, it's not going to be as good of an experience as the console might be.

I agree with those saying that the mouse is way better for FPS games, especially if you are used to it already. If you're just playing offline games, this doesn't necessarily matter as much. If you are enjoying the game, that's good enough. But if you like multiplayer shooters, keep them on your PC.

I own a 360 and a PC, and I don't own a single FPS for the console. However I am also of the opinion that Halo and CoD games are trash, so I know there are plenty of folks who would disagree with me. I much prefer Battlefield Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead (2), and Team Fortress 2, on the PC of course.

The console is great for other genre's though. I prefer it for third person games like Assassin's Creed (though the PC version is better, and nothing it stopping me from using a gamepad with my PC), Red Dead Redemption, GTA 4 (really is great, but i think the episodes are better than the core game), Dead Rising 2. Then there's also the other odd games like Skate, and Rock Band, that I can ONLY play on a console.

So, it's definitely worth having both if you think there are games you want to play on them, as for which console to get, I'd really just look at any exclusives that you covet, otherwise they are really fairly similar.
posted by utsutsu at 8:11 AM on November 5, 2010

FWIW, I went through THREE dead Xbox360's before I finally gave up and got a PS3. I use a lot of gadgets, so I'm fairly tolerant of the occasional "lemon", but Microsoft just has a terrible track record on hardware.

If you have an HDTV, the Blu-Ray in the PS3 is pretty sweet. Other than that, as others have said, it's really kind of a toss-up. Yes, the 360 has a larger library of titles, but how many do you expect to play? From what it sounds like, you tend to play "the big hits", which are usually cross-platform (fwiw, Halo:Reach is coming to the PS3).

The PS3 media center and multiplayer matchmaking are a bit behind the 360's, but not by much, and it's steadily improving. It's also got exclusive 1080p streaming from Netflix, which is damn impressive, and next week Hulu Plus will be available to all PS3 users (not coming to Xbox until some time next year).
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on November 5, 2010

If online "community" and multi-player gaming is important to you, then go xbox. It's not perfect, but their setup for managing friends, online notifications, voice/text messaging and just ease of getting people together for a game is much better than PS3's.

It really is an accretion thing - the more friends you have with xboxes, the greater value in becoming part of the "network".

BTW - Limbo is a GRRRRREAT game, but it is over FAST. I had a friend come over and finish it in one afternoon. Don't buy the Xbox just for that game, unless you really truly love it and are expecting sequels (I haven't heard of it).

That said, I'll probably end up buying a PS3 if the remake of ICO/Shadow of the Colossus is released.

Regarding console noise - the newer 360 "elite" and "slim" are much quieter than the earlier models.
posted by de void at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2010

(And the elite and slim's hardware are much more reliable than earlier models as well. I went through 3 "white" xboxes at about 3-6 months each. My elite has been going strong for over a year)
posted by de void at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2010

(Argggh. Above:

"...are expecting sequels (I haven't heard of it)."

Should be

(I haven't heard of any (sequels))."
posted by de void at 9:06 AM on November 5, 2010

If you're a casual gamer, I'd go with whatever is cheaper. Brand new, the 360 can be had for 1/2 the price of a PS3.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2010

We have a PS3 and downloading various game demos over the last few years have saved us a bundle. If you decide to go with the PS3 or the Xbox 360, check out a few demos before you write off the console FPS games.

If you have time, you might want to check out the different consoles at a Best Buy or other electronics or game store. That way, you'll have a better idea of how the controllers fit you and the sorts of titles out there. And you'll see how much the accessories cost.
posted by dragonplayer at 6:18 PM on November 5, 2010

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