Looking to buy a new games console for you or your family? Then read on for a rundown of your home console and handheld console options.
Video games were once the exclusive domain of the nerd underclass, and I was one of those poor, unfortunate geeks. Now, video games reside comfortably in the mainstream, with people of both genders, of all ages, and from all walks of life owning and enjoying playing video games in their spare time.
Which games console will best fit your needs? Which will offer you the games you want to play? Which will tick all the right boxes for you and your family?
Home consoles are those which sit next to your TV, permanently connected and waiting to be played at a moment’s notice. These are powerful machines capable of playing the latest and greatest games. The current generation of consoles consists of the Nintendo Wii, the Sony Playstation 3, and the Microsoft Xbox 360, each of which offers something different from the others.
The Wii is the console for families, casual gamers, and people who party. Unlike the other consoles, it primarily plays motion control games. The Wii is designed to put fun above all else, which unfortunately means the visuals suffer. If you’re all about how games look then the Wii is not for you.
The most popular exclusive titles on the Wii include Wii Sports, Wii Play, Mario Kart Wii, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Super Mario Galaxy.
A successor is already on the way in the form of the Wii U, but all Wii titles will be compatible.
The PS3 is the console which does a lot more than play games, but it does that extremely well. The PS3 is also a Blu-ray player which up-scales DVDs, making it a good all-round option. In terms of graphics it’s on a par with the Xbox 360 and way ahead of the Wii. But it’s more for serious gamers and people who love their technology.
The most popular exclusive titles on the PS3 include Gran Turismo 5, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Killzone 2.
No successor has yet been announced, so the PS3 will be cutting edge until at least 2013.
The Xbox 360 is the console which offers something for everyone, with Kinect adding motion control into the mix. Once connected to the Internet the Xbox 360 also acts like a media hub, allowing content to be consumed via the console. The Xbox 360 is the mainstream option which can be adapted to suit the needs of the people who use it.
The most popular exclusive titles on the Xbox 360 include Halo 3, Gears of War 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Left 4 Dead, and Kinect Adventures.
No successor has yet been announced, so the Xbox 360 will be cutting edge until at least 2013.
Handheld consoles are those which can be carried with you at all times, powered by batteries rather than electricity. Less powerful than their home equivalents, they are nevertheless capable of playing brilliant games which will fill any void or relieve any long journey. The current generation consists of two mainstream choices, Nintendo’s DS range, and Sony’s PSP range. But there are alternatives also deserving of a mention.
3DS, DSi, DS Lite
The Nintendo DS series of handhelds are insanely popular, and there are various different versions to choose from. The DS Lite is the basic but bestselling DS, while the DSi adds multimedia functions via two cameras and the ability to play music.
The newest Nintendo handheld is the 3DS, which, as its name implies, adds a 3D element to the mix. Views on the 3DS are mixed at this stage, ranging from complaints that it is impossible to use it for more than an hour to applause for the experience of playing games in 3D. A try before you buy is recommended.
Playstation Portable, PSP Go
The Sony PSP hasn’t quite achieved the same level of success as the Nintendo DS, but it’s a good option for those who want something other than Professor Layton and Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training.
The normal PSP uses UMD game cartridges while the PSP Go uses digital media stored on a flash memory card. A successor in the form of the PS Vita is already on its way.
With the advent of high-powered mobile devices and social gaming apps, there are actually several alternatives to the dedicated handheld games console. These include the Apple iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone, Android smartphones and tablets, and Windows Phone 7 handsets.
Games such as Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies are either free or very cheap but offer hours of addicting fun. And with mobile devices getting more powerful with each passing month, the games available to play on them are going to get even better over the next few years.
Buying a games console needn’t be a chore. Just determine who is going to be using it and what type of games they’ll most likely be playing. Also take in to account any other uses they may have for a games console. Then choose your weapon and make the purchase. Just don’t forget the games to go with it. There is nothing worse than having a brand spanking new piece of hardware and no software to play on it.