For those of you who don’t read my blog (99.999% of you with a 0.001% margin of error) my XBOX 360 finally succumbed to the dreaded three red lights of death. After letting out a curse loud and vulgar enough for my 3 year old to ask uncomfortable questions, I sat down on the couch literally cradling the broken machine in my arms. My wife came downstairs and proved how much she understood me by showing compassion instead of the expected snarky comment. She realizes I use the console to blow off steam that would otherwise be directed at people in the house. In my time of woe I made the sarcastic comment that I should get a PS3 to use while I wait the indeterminable time for Microsoft to send the 360 back to me. She replied “well…you could use the money coming back from the taxes…” to which I immediately took as a ringing endorsement for the purchase of a PS3. In fact, I believed our marriage was at stake if I DIDN’T pick one up.
I started out with a Wii and that suited me fine for a while until I reached the point where absolutely nothing was coming out for the console that was entertaining to me. The motion control novelty wore off and I began to see the limitations. Not only that, I was wading through piles of crappy titles to find the rare gems. I picked up the 360 and it was like night and day! Games were fun again and I kicked myself for waiting so long to adopt it. I enjoyed how keyed in it was to XBOX Live and it was rare that a night went by when I wasn’t on it for at least a little bit.
Then came the tragedy…I really wasn’t angry, per se. I expected it to come sooner or later. I know these consoles are made in such a way where they lose money when you buy one so they try and do it as cheaply as possible. I understand it but it still sucks because of how that practice impacts the quality of the system. Prior to that night, I had no use for the PS3 aside from some intriguing games that were PS3-only. It was with almost no knowledge of the system that I went to the store the next day to buy one.
I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. I picked up the 160GB version with the Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and PAIN bundle. I also picked up LittleBigPlanet and Warhawk. LPB, because it looked to be one of those games that were worth buying a console for and Warhawk, so I can play with a buddy who comes over every Friday. Both Pain and LBP were games I thought my 3 year-old and I could play together. I also picked up the obligatory 2nd controller.
Heading home with the goodies I grabbed my 3 year-old and we went downstairs to install everything. Now here is where I found my first of several differences between the PS3 and 360. The sheer amount of downtime it took to get the system and games up and running was more than my 3 year-old’s attention span could bear. There were a couple of updates for the system, one for PAIN, and then the add-ons for PAIN. I wasn’t used to how the PlayStation Store functioned but, frankly, it’s a bit annoying. You have to download the install file then physically install it before you can do anything. Also, I noticed how few demos there were as compared to the 360. Every XBOX Live Arcade game comes with a trial version. Not so with the PlayStation, making it a crap-shoot.
Well, later that evening with the downloading, installations and updates behind me I sat down and actually played. The first game I tried was PAIN which confirmed my belief that physics-enabled games are just plain fun. The object of the game is to hurl one of a selection of stereotypes/kooky characters into one of three environments using a giant slingshot. You have minimal control once they are in the air and can bump them around once they land. You are trying to score as many points as possible and also have very specific goals to achieve in order to unlock more characters and game modes. For example, one goal in the downtown area is to grab onto an old woman as you are flying by, send her down into a subway station to have her land on the tracks and get hit by the train. Other game modes include spanking monkeys, tossing mimes and clowns, and (as of today) darts and a fortress-busting game. I can talk all day about PAIN but you just need to download it for yourself, it’s worth every penny.
Eventually, I stopped playing PAIN long enough to check out what else I had bought. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a game I envied when it first appeared. It was well worth the wait. I powered through this one over one weekend because I just couldn’t put it down. The story and voice acting were done so well it was like playing a movie. (Think Tomb Raider meets Indiana Jones) LittleBigPlanet was weird, quirky and completely fun. I can’t wait to start making levels for my son to play with. The Japanese levels are making me want to toss the controller through a window but I’ll get it eventually. That’s another “Physics is Phun” game.
I received my XBOX back in good working condition about 2 weeks after I sent it. When it came back it found its spot occupied by the PS3. With minimal grumbling it took the next shelf down and I’ve found myself sharing equal time with both systems. Having spent time bashing the PS3 in the past I look back and shake my head. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses and having both presents and interesting perspective. However, when the next “Next Gen” consoles inevitably come out (PS4 and XBOX 720?) whichever one I don’t own will suck.