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Every five years or so, a new generation of game consoles begins. This involves new systems, new technology, new ways to play games. And with that comes fierce competition from major companies. The current generation of games is no different. 2005 marked the very beginning of the seventh generation of console gaming, although it did not pick up until fall 2006. In this generation, Thumbmonkey carries games and accessories for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii systems. Most generations, it’s the same thing competing. Similar systems, with similar games, with similar technology. If you looked at screenshots or videos from the last generation (consisting of the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube), it would be quite difficult to tell the difference. It’s a whole different game now. For the first time, each game system offers something wholly unique to the consumer, an experience one cannot get with the other two.
Microsoft Xbox 360
Let’s begin with the first to be released, the Xbox 360. Released in November of 2005, the successor to the reasonably popular Xbox got a massive head start on the seventh generation market. Being the first system to boast stunning next-generation visuals, a solid online experience, and an impressive launch line-up, the Xbox 360 earned its current 18 million units in sales. The Xbox 360 has a lot to offer, from exciting exclusive games (see Gears of War for the older set or Viva Pinata for the younger crowd) to a comfortable controller, but what sets it apart from the competition is its stellar online system. Xbox Live, the name of Xbox 360’s online network, is miles above the competition. The Silver Membership, which costs nothing, gives gamers full access to the Xbox Live marketplace, which features free game demos, free game videos, and a wide variety of reasonably priced downloads, from interface themes to entire films, all in glorious high definition. The Gold Membership, at anywhere from $8 a month to $50 a year, offers all of the above, plus the ability to play any online-enabled Xbox 360 game over the internet with millions of other players. The Xbox 360’s feature list does not stop there. It has full high definition support, online voice and camera chat, an external hard drive, an attachable high definition DVD player, selective backwards compatibility with original Xbox games, and the Xbox Live Arcade, an online store jam-packed with classic games for low prices! Priced at $279.99 for the Core/Arcade Bundle, $349.99 for the Premium Bundle, and $449.99 for the Elite Bundle, the Xbox 360 comes in a price package anyone can enjoy, and offers hundreds of games as low as $29.99.
Sony PlayStation 3
With the head start, it seemed like nothing could stop the Xbox 360, but the PlayStation 3 and Wii did just that. While the Xbox 360 is about the online experience, Sony’s PlayStation 3, successor to the massively popular PlayStation and PlayStation 2 (each system sold over 100 million units worldwide), is all about the technology. With power rivaling, and in some respects surpassing, the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 is easily one of the most impressive pieces of technology ever delivered to the home console market. The system has a Blu-Ray player, for starters, and is technically the cheapest player of the increasingly popular DVD format. And because of that, all the games are Blu-Ray, too! This means that the game discs can hold many times what an Xbox 360 disc can hold, meaning the PlayStation 3’s games will be able to have that much more content. The system is wi-fi enabled for a free online service, the PlayStation Network. While it may not be able to hold its own against Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network offers gamers downloadable classic titles and free online play! Also due out soon is PlayStation Home, which is an avatar based networking center for all PlayStation 3 gamers. Gamers will be able to connect and interact in ways never seen before! If all this isn’t enough, the system has released and will be releasing plenty of games and accessories in famous franchises made famous on the PlayStation 2, such as Virtua Fighter, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid. With all the technology and games to boot, the PlayStation 3’s only downfall is the hefty price tag, which is $399.99 - $499.99.
Last, but certainly not least, is Nintendo’s newest creation, the Wii. Having been in this the longest (since 1985 to be exact), Nintendo is no stranger to success. Bouncing back from the semi-failure of the GameCube , the Wii is all about how you play games. With its innovative motion-sensing controller, players have direct control over and interaction with their games. For example, in previous Zelda titles, the press of a button would slash your sword. Now, the controller is the sword! The controller detects motion and movement in real 3D space, opening up endless possibilities for playing games. All of Nintendo’s classic franchises are being represented as well, with top-notch games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Not to be outdone by Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection gives Nintendo gamers access to the internet as well. Featuring various “channels” on the system’s interface, Nintendo offers, for free, an Internet browser, a news channel (supplied by Associated Press), a weather channel, and a shopping channel. The shopping channel is particularly impressive, allowing gamers to download, for a reasonable price, classic video games from the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Nintendo 64, and even the TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Genesis! Also on the Wii is WiiConnect24/7, an online service that is always on. Even when the system is turned off, Wii owners can receive messages from other Wii owners and receive updates from Nintendo, in addition to some currently undisclosed game-specific features. The downside to the Wii, however, is its power. Only slightly stronger than the consoles of the previous generation, the Wii’s graphics and power cannot hold a candle to those of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The Wii does, however, come at a very affordable price point of $249.99, which no one can complain about.
If you are a gamer, or a parent of a gamer, looking for the best console to buy, everything has been clearly explained to you. Xbox 360 offers unmatched online gameplay, PlayStation 3 boasts incredible technology, and the Wii will have you playing games like you never have before. All three systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is up to the individual gamer to really decide what system is best for them.
Just a note about the writer of this guide:
Thumbmonkey is a small company dedicated to providing its customers with a reliable, friendly and affordable source for their gaming fun! We carry a wide selection of video games and accessories for most of the major video game platforms.
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