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PS3s, XBoxes, Garmin GPSes, and Store Credit

I had a gift card for Circuit City, so ever since a few days ago I've been playing around with a Garmin Nüvi 200W GPS. Three of the first four locations I tried to find in Erie weren't listed in the mapping software - including the Circuit City where I bought the darn thing.

Being a geek, I figured out the POI ((Point of Interest)) format and added them myself. Unfortunately, they don't show up in general named searches. I can search for "Gamestop" and not get the custom POI I added named "Gamestop." They only show up in a separate custom POI menu.

It's probably not entirely fair to base my opinion of the Garmin unit on how it maps Erie, but that's all I've got right now. I only bought it because a) I had a gift card and b) I could easily return it. I'll be "easily returning" it shortly, I believe.

This morning I also bundled up my old PS2, my GameCube, and several games, controllers, memory cards, etc. I took them in to the local Gamestop and cashed them in. Now I've got $185 in store credit at Gamestop - whoopty doo. I'm considering buying an XBox 360 or a PS3. I could buy it at Circuit City with the store credit there, then pick up some accessories and games at Gamestop.

But, I'm not certain which to get: the PS3 has a Blu-Ray player and perhaps a better future. It's also got nicer graphics and isn't from Microsoft. The XBox 360 is a bit cheaper. And… it has Halo. Is that all it has going for it? I don't know.

Both of the models I'm considering are the top-end ones, so HDMI output and wireless networking would be included or available.

I play football games and occasionally soccer, baseball, tennis…. I've been playing Guitar Hero III on the Wii ((Screw Activision, by the way, for making it mono.)). I also like Wii Sports (tennis and bowling in particular). I'm a fan of the occasional shoot-em-up game, along with stuff like Mario Kart, GoldenEye (I classify this separately from shoot-em-ups), and heck, even the occasional puzzle game. Rayman (the 3D series, not Raving Rabbits) was fun, but I'm definitely not into games like Zelda - I just want games I can play in half-hour chunks.

Any suggestions?

9 Responses to "PS3s, XBoxes, Garmin GPSes, and Store Credit"

  1. You want the Xbox 360 over the PS3 if you want to play games. Just look at the respective metacritic pages (PS3 and Xbox 360) to get a sense of how much stronger the 360's library is. Most of the good games on the PS3 is also available on the 360, and many of the 360's best (e.g. Gears, BioShock, Halo 3, Mass Effect, etc.) are not available on the PS3. Furthermore, even titles that are cross-platform tend to run better (i.e. higher FPS) on the 360 (e.g. EA sports games). All that said, I'm also planning to get a PS3, but more as a blu-ray player/media center with only the occasional PS3 exclusive game.

  2. Next year's crop of sports games should be identical on PS3 and Xbox 360, as developers get their libraries sorted out. (This year's are close, but on some games one platform's version is better than the other.)

    Xbox 360 will probably continue to be the best for first person shooters, especially for online play.

    PS3 should start seeing a flood of lots of different types of games next year. Like the PS2, it'll probably have a lot of variety in games. Unlike the PS2, it won't be the dominant console.. I expect all three systems will do well for at least the next two years.

    The biggest difference will probably be the split between US and Japanese publishers, with a lot of the US publishers favoring the 360 (which has higher market share in the US) and most Japanese publishers favoring the PS3 (which is doing much, much better than the 360 in japan).

    I'm pretty happy with my PS3, even though I've only bought one PS3 game (Which one? Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.. I shelled out $9.99 for it even though I already own the PS1 version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo because playing online is great. The rebalanced drop patterns are also good.) I've mostly been finishing up a bunch of PS2 games. (I have the 60 GB PS3, which has hardware PS2 emulation.)

    I plan to get Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction at some point. That series is great, and the demo confirmed that the PS3 game is no different. I've downloaded the demo for Uncharted, and need to check it out because I liked their earlier games.

    But I mostly use my Wii... I'm playing Super Mario Galaxy now (messing around with the physics is fun) and then I'll have to get back to Zack & Wiki. (Z&W is good for playing in 45 minute bursts.. each level is a self-contained puzzle.)

    But when I just have ten minutes to play a game, that's when I use the PS3, for Puzzle Fighter. 🙂

  3. I'd definitely, without reservation, recommend the Xbox 360 over the PS3. Here's why:

    - The Xbox 360 Dashboard is a work of genius. It's accessible in-game, at any time, exposing an interface to play music, check the online status of friends and what games they're playing right now, send messages, invite online friends to join your game, jump into one of their games if invited, etc. You have to quit your game to get to the PlayStation's menu system.
    - Xbox Live trumps the PlayStation Network in every single category but price. As I mentioned, the in-game access to friends, etc. is seamless and wondrous. It has existed for five years now, and the experience Microsoft has with online gaming is clearly apparent. It does cost ~$3-4/month, as opposed to the $0 of PSN, but I think for what you get it's completely worth it.
    - The Xbox 360 has "achievements," events you complete in games that add points to your profile's overall "gamerscore." This may sound like a tool of the devil, but holy crap are they addicting. People I know who own both systems almost always buy the Xbox versions of multi-platform games, just because you get credit for playing them. Wait, maybe they are a tool of the devil...
    - XNA is a framework and IDE Microsoft has set up to enable home game development for Windows and Xbox. It's free to use and run on Windows, but if you pay to join the full program, you can run your code on your Xbox. Once I get an Intel Mac on which I can install Boot Camp or Parallels, I'll be all over this. And "XNA" is a recursive acronym; how cool is that? On the PS3, you can install Yellow Dog Linux and write code for the Cell that way, although you lose use of the rest of the PS3 interfaces.
    - The Xbox 360 has a much higher system sales and software attach rate, which means developers are trending big-time towards making games for the system (at least American and European developers). There's more support for the Xbox, which means better games. There are fewer and fewer PlayStation exclusives; in fact, the only major franchise ones I can think of are Metal Gear Solid (which could quite possibly come out the Xbox shortly after the PS3), Final Fantasy, and God of War (I did love the God of War PS2 games, though). Xbox exclusives this quarter include Halo, Bioshock, and Mass Effect.
    - The "PS3 has nicer graphics" comment is a misleading statement, in my opinion. Theoretically, yes, there is more power behind the PS3's hardware. This lies more in the Cell CPU than in the graphics chip, however, which is a huge problem. The whole parallelized setup of the eight cores is great in certain cases, but it's a huge pain in the ass to program for (and I know that from experience). To use it to its real potential, you have to design your software around it, and not for a traditional processing setup. The Xbox 360 development environment is familiar to developers and really most anyone who has done game programming. The upshot is that multi-platform games that are being developed simultaneously are going to be more suited for the XBox 360 hardware than the PS3's, and the PS3's graphics chip (being underpowered in a few key areas compared to the Xbox's) will in many cases not be able to optimize graphics past the level of the Xbox's. You will find that the only games that really look fantastic on the PS3 will be first-party games, and most multi-platform games will look the same, if not better, on the Xbox. This is all looking to the future, however, as I don't think you can find a clear victor graphics-wise in the current generation of software.
    - The PS3's controllers don't rumble! How bizarre.

    The Blu-Ray player is a legitimate drawing point of the PS3. I've been sitting in the "wait-it-out-and-see" camp, but who knows. The Xbox 360 does have an HD-DVD player add-on, if you feel like paying the extra money.

    Note that this comes from use and knowledge of both systems both as a consumer and an engineer, not from a deep-seated fan-biased outlook. Keep in mind that I never, ever thought I'd evangelize a Microsoft product, but the Xbox 360 feels so far away from a Microsoft product that it makes it okay. In contrast, Sony is falling more and more into that monolithic can't-get-anything-done company profile. The Wii/Xbox combo is really the best, in my opinion. All of the Xbox 360 SKU's have HDMI out now, so I'd recommend the Pro system (mid-range), unless you plan on downloading lots of HD video from the Xbox Live Marketplace or have a thing for the color black.

    Also, since you have a Wii, get Super Mario Galaxy.

    Wow, that turned out to be longer than I thought it would. I'm pocketing that post for future use, if you don't mind.

  4. Somewhat surprising (at least to me) is that Mario Galaxy is perfect for 30 minute chunks... and a whole lot of fun. 🙂

    I've been doing 20 - 40 minute chucks of play for the last few days, and i'm really happy with the game.

    anyway, my little brother recently won a 360, bought the orangebox (or whatever) and Halo... and he seems to have fun, but has told me that if he had paid retail for the 360, he'd return it, as it just wouldn't be worth the money.

    On the other hand, a friend of mine owns the ps3, and when he's not playing games, he loves the Blurays he gets from Netflix.

    If i were in the market for a system, and already had the Wii, i think i'd go for the ps3.

  5. No opinion on the games (except that I'm drooling over your Wii), but the company that provides maps for Garmin devices just issued their first upgrade in over a year or two. Check the map's date on your GPS, you might be entitled to the new maps for free.

    If not, I'd call and make a fuss, but so far my contact with Garmin has been pretty good. They seem pretty reasonable.

  6. [quote comment="44412"]Check the map's date on your GPS, you might be entitled to the new maps for free.[/quote]

    My Garmin had the 2008 maps. The Garmin rep (I did call) told me that it's the responsibility of the business to report their information, so lots of businesses aren't included. Again, it's probably unfair of me to judge a GPS based on Erie when I won't ever use it around Erie, but it just didn't feel right. The biggest thing was that custom POIs weren't included in searches - you had to remember that you added something as a custom POI and then search through what could be a VERY long list to find it.

    And hey, since I don't need a GPS in the next few months, I may as well wait. They may get cheaper.

    I also think I'm scrapping the ideas for a second game console. I'll put the money towards a new MacBook Pro for the wife when they are next updated (Macworld '08???).

  7. I am in big favor of the Xbox 360. I own a 360 and a Wii, and I love them both. However, I do spend more time with the 360 than the Wii. I am not a big gamer, and so the time I spend with my consoles is hard earned by the software and the overall experience. The Wii's control feature is unique and inventive, but unless you are already used to the game or the control is intuitive, one title on the Wii can be very frustrating compared to the same game on another console. For example, The Bigs is available on both consoles. The controls for the 360 are mostly simple one button or one button/one control stick affairs. I was able to master them quickly and began enjoying the game much sooner than I anticipated. Playing The Bigs on the Wii on the other hand, involves multiple physical motions (which I find hard to recall when needed), often involving both hands witch slows down your response to the game. This in turn made me feel very put out by my poor performance when I couldn't get the game to respond the way I wanted and I didn't enjoy my time with it at all.

    Another aspect of gaming that I feel is important is the social aspect. When I was in school (god, high school was over 10 years ago...), my friends and I would get together at somebody's house or dorm room and play together. Even If I wasn't having a good time playing the game, the fact that my friends were experiencing the game with me made up for that. Once the bubble of school was over, I found that I spent a lot less time gaming and the time I did spend was not as enjoyable. I felt like there was something missing. With the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, Microsoft actually did something useful for me and filled that gap. The Xbox Live service is by far, the best online gaming experience out there, on consoles or PCs. The Live service, along with the Xbox Guide, allow seamless access to your friends no matter what they are doing on the console. Last week, I was playing The Bigs on my 360, while having a voice chat with a friend of mine across the country, while he was playing Halo 3 multiplayer. When he was done with his current match, he loaded up the single player campaign, and sent me an invitation to play with him. I popped in my Halo 3 disc, joined his co-op campaign game and together we fought through an entire level together without a single interruption in our conversation. Neat! It was just as if he was playing on the same console with me, like in the "old days". No matter where you are on the service, you have access to the social network that you have set up. It's really great. I've also gathered up a number of online acquaintances that I've met in game. If you have a good experience playing with or talking with somebody that the system matched you with online, simply send them a friend invite and then you can see when each other is online, what they are playing, and can join in. I actually was playing with somebody I met online, and conversation turned to work. He said he was looking for a job in the area I lived in, and my employer happened to have an opening that suited him perfectly. This guy is now a co-worker. This never would have happened while playing the Wii.

    You also spoke of wanting to be able to play in small chunks, yet also get some satisfaction out of that time. Xbox Live Arcade serves this desire will. Games are typically short, yet satisfying, and offer all of the same social aspects of the full disc based titles. My current favorites are PinBall FX, Uno, and Bankshot Billiards.

    I can't speak to the online functionality of the PS3, as I haven't spent much time with one. My friends who do own a PS3 are jealous of the online experience that comes with the 360, despite a small annual fee for Live. People that I know who have both, also say they are spending more time with the 360 as a game console, and the PS3 has been relegated to a BlueRay player until some better games come out for it (Assassin's Creed is finally out, but since I can get it on my 360, no need for a PS3).

    It really comes down to personal preference. I can't stand the PS3 controller and it's lack of a good online experience. My Wii is fun but often frustrating to use with more complicated games. The lack of a good online experience is also a hit for me on the Wii (what the hell am I supposed to do with my Mii anyways?). The 360 wins for me with a good controller, a broad library of both full and casual games, strong developer support, an excellent content marketplace, and the best online experience I have seen. I also dig the HD DVD player, although, with HD DVD players becoming very inexpensive, it's no longer the perk it was.

    I never thought I'd shill for M$, but I think the Xbox 360 is the best all around console, and completely spanks the PS3 in overall enjoyment. I can simply do more and do it more enjoyably with my 360 than I think I would with my limited experience with a PS3.

    My only tip if you go with the 360, get the Premium, not the elite. The 360s all have HDMI now, an unless you really need that bigger hard drive, the only perk is a black case. Big whoop. Take the money you saved and get an HD DVD player. Good luck!

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