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Console Wars: A Layman’s Perspective, Part II

04 May

I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week, and while I will return to my readthrough of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers series, at the moment, I’m feeling a bit of an Avengers burnout, due to the fact the cinema I work at has been crazy hectic with all the people turning out to watch Endgame.

So, as a bit of a change of pace, and due to the upcoming release of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, I’m turning my attention back to video-games – as my busy week drove me to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while…

I bought a Nintendo Switch.

I’ve been wanting to try out the Switch for some time. I’ve played a couple of rounds of Mario Kart on my step-nephew’s console at a family get-together, but that was the extent of my experience with it. However, after being paid, I traded in a few things and picked up a second-hand console for a very reasonable price. Very very reasonable, in fact, as it looks like it’s basically brand new – apart from the fact that the box looked like it had been mauled by a feral child.

So, with the Switch now in-hand, I figured it’s time to return to that age-old debate of which company’s putting out the best console? Once again, I’ll be looking at it from a ‘layman’s perspective’, as someone (as I said in part I) who “doesn’t know all the technical mumbo-jumbo or gamer-speak”.

THE PRICE

Since I’m generally quite cheap, this section is less for me and more for you readers. It’s very unlikely I’m going to be buying a brand new console at any point in the next 5 – 10 years. I picked up my Xbox cash-in-hand after winning an eBay auction wherein (I suspect) other participants stopped bidding due to the high postage costs (but luckily, the seller lived a 15-minute train ride away, making that void for me). In turn, I purchased my PlayStation second hand with money I’d received from selling my Xbox. And finally, I got my Switch refurbished after trading in a few PlayStation 4 games and Blu-Rays that I was done with, and picked up a game with Amazon vouchers I’d been saving up.

But if you’re wanting to buy new, the current prices are as follows:

The Nintendo Switch averages around £280, without any games. With games, that will jump up to around £350, or shoot over the £400 mark if you get a specialised edition – like the Pokémon: Let’s Go edition (although, in fairness, that does come with some (overpriced) accessories).

Due to the fact they’ve been on shelves a lot longer, the other consoles, for the base edition, are actually cheaper.

The PlayStation 4 now sells for just under £250 for the basic 500GB console, and £270 for the Terrabyte variant. Which makes the Switch’s paltry 32GB look fairly pathetic. For those die-hard gamers, however, there’s also PlayStation’s Pro console, which is obviously the most expensive at £350 (however, at that same price you can pick up the Pro with Red Dead Redemption bundled in – Fifa, conversely, pushes the price over the £400 mark).

The Xbox One meanwhile sits at around £290. However, it’s partial successor, the One S is actually the cheapest console of the lot – with a brand new 500GB console costing only £190. To be honest, having only owned the original, I’m not entirely sure what the difference is. It looks like it’s meant to be the better console, but surely it must be the weaker version? Because on the other side of things, there’s the One X, which is a hefty £350, and is meant to be the hardcore variant of the console.

If you’re willing to go second-hand, however, you can get both the original PS4 and One for under £200. The same is true of the Switch, but it may come without one of it’s key features, from what I’ve seen on eBay.

HARDWARE

As I said in part one, both the PS4 and the Xbox are essentially just plain black boxes; so your preference will vary based on what kind of box you like to look at. Do you prefer the powerful looking One or the sleeker looking PS4? Personally, despite favouring the grip of the Xbox controller, I previously went with the PlayStation in terms of preferential hardware, due to the fact that there are just more useful inclusions going on with the PS4’s controllers. Unfortunately, adding a wrinkle to my previous choice is the fact that if you experience any WiFi lag, it can knock out the Bluetooth signals that connect the controllers to the console, meaning an ethernet cable is a must.

However, the Switch changes everything up, with its incredibly unique presentation. It’s essentially two consoles in one – a handheld that takes over from the Nintendo DS line, which can be docked to transform into a replacement for the Wii and Wii U. Although the controllers (when the console is docked) are a bit small, the various ways you can set the console up mean that it is far more interesting to play around with than its more powerful, higher-end cousins. Depending on the games, it can be just as much fun to play in handheld mode as it is in console mode.

So all-in-all, the best Hardware goes to: The Nintendo Switch.

USER INTERFACE

My mind hasn’t changed here. While the Switch’s simplistic user interface does upset the order by overtaking the PlayStation, I believe the Xbox still has the best looking on-screen design.

PlayStation, meanwhile, continues to look quite unsightly, with irritating music playing on a loop (which can thankfully be turned off – something I stupidly didn’t discover for several months). It’s weirdly set out, and kind of bland. A far cry from the Xbox’s colourful, smartly-designed, Windows 10-esque layout.

So all-in-all, the best User Interface goes to: The Xbox One

THE GAMES

One of the things that drew me to the Nintendo Switch was the vast array of games that are unlike anything you’ll find on the PlayStation or Xbox. Alongside Nintendo stalwarts like Mario, Zelda and Pokémon, the Nintendo eShop offers up a wealth of smaller indie games that cover an unbelievably vast range of genres. Key to all of this is the emphasis on fun. While it is enjoyable playing games like The Last of Us, I don’t recall a point in that where I thought of the experience as ‘fun’, so much as it was entertaining. Yet, with the Switch, loads of the games are made with playing with others in mind, and it makes the console worth getting.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the games put out by Sony and PlayStation are masterpieces. Spider-Man, one of the reasons I bought my PlayStation, is an excellently made game, and one of the strongest depictions of the superhero I’ve ever seen. Similarly, although not necessarily ‘fun’, The Last of Us was a harrowing tale without peer. The Uncharted franchise plays like stepping into a blockbuster action film, while God of War (even though I haven’t finished it yet) may be one of my favourite games, due to the intense combat and lore rich story.

No, the PlayStation may not have as many games that are as ‘fun’ as those on the Switch, but they are, without a doubt, amazing experiences.

I’m sure Xbox could claim to have some similar titles but I was never really grabbed by Halo or Gears of War.

So all-in-all, the best games goes to: The PlayStation 4.

In the end, the ‘best console’ comes down to what you’re looking for. Out of the two heavy hitters, I personally prefer the Xbox as a console, but find there are more games that grab my interest on the PlayStation.

Thus far, I am very much enjoying the Switch, and it may end up being my favourite of the three, but unfortunately, it lacks the power of the Xbox and the exclusivity of the PlayStation. There are pros to all three; in terms of power for the price, the Xbox wins. For more fun, varied gaming, the Switch is in the lead. For immersive cinematic experiences, the PlayStation is the way to go.

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Posted by on May 4, 2019 in What's Going On?

 

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