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In today’s multiple-console environment, it can be difficult for a gamer on a budget to choose just one console to concentrate on. With great system-exclusive games appearing on all three major consoles and each system’s fans constantly claiming it to be the best, it can be hard to sort through to discover which console is actually the best fit for you.
Here I will attempt an objective analysis of the pros and cons of the Nintendo Wii and the Playstation 3. I’ll analyze each system’s performance in a series of categories and allow the reader to determine which features are most important to them.
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Who Is the Console For?
Before I even begin to analyze the two consoles, it is important that you keep in mind who is actually going to use the console. Different types of gamers have different priorities, and the two consoles cater to different types of people. Asking a 7 year old girl what console she likes will be different than asking a 22 year old man. The same goes for games. The types of games a teenager or a young adult likes might be different than the games a 7 year old girl would buy, or even an older adult.
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There are some fantastic system-exclusive games to be found on the Playstation 3, as there are on the Nintendo Wii. Both systems have been around long enough to have a decent selection of budget titles available, as well.
The key difference here lies in the type of games you are looking for. If you’re more interested in family-friendly fare like Mario Kart or innovative (albeit gimmicky) games like Wii Fit, then you should definitely take a good long look at the Nintendo Wii. For the more hardcore gamer, the Playstation 3 is going to offer a much better selection of shooters like Killzone 2, open-world mayhem games like Red Faction: Guerrilla, and great fighting games like Soul Calibur IV and Street Fighter IV.
These are generalizations, of course. There are many great Nintendo Wii games for hardcore gamers and quite a few family-friendly games to be found on the Playstation 3 like LittleBigPlanet and Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.
Each system has games that can appeal to every type of gamer. The Nintendo Wii just generally tends to cater more to family interests and the PS3 has more of a hardcore slant.
Both systems also offer some measure of backwards compatibility. The Wii plays all Gamecube games and the PS3 is capable of playing PS2 and PS1 games, depending on the model.
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When it comes to graphics, the Playstation 3 is going to win hands down; its processing power is far superior to that of the Nintendo Wii. The graphics processor inside the Wii is only slightly more powerful than the one found in the Nintendo Gamecube.
While developers have found creative ways to work around this limitation (black and white in Madworld, for example) the simple truth is that games are always going to look prettier on the PS3.
Check out page two to see how the systems stack up in terms of online gameplay, downloadable content, and controls.
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On PS3, the Playstation Network is extremely easy to connect to for playing games with friends online. The service is absolutely free, and while some argue that it is not as stable as some of its competitors, it easily trumps the limited online play options on the Nintendo Wii.
Nintendo’s family-friendly focus has proven to be a detriment to the Wii’s online capabilities. A complicated and confusing mess of friend codes is required to play games online with friends, and few games offer any type of in-game voice chat.
While the PS3’s online features may be seen as an essential part of the experience in many games, on the Wii online is little more than a rarely-used, overly-complicated bonus feature.
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One place the Wii’s online service is not lacking is in downloadable content. While there are no movie rentals and very few game addons to be found, the Wii does have one very special ace in the hole on this front: the Virtual Console.
Gamers can download many of their favorite games previously released for consoles like the Sega Genesis, SNES, and Turbographix 16 and play them right on their Nintendo Wii. A gamer eager to relive his glory days with Secret of Mana no longer has to dig his old SNES out of the closet and hope it still works; now he can simply download it and play on his existing setup.
The PS3 has much to offer in terms of downloadable content, as well. There is a limited selection of PS1 titles available for download and play on the system, as well as a slew of great releases like the recent Marvel Versus Capcom 2 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed. The PS3’s online service also offers game addons, including costume and level packs, as well as movie rentals.
Both systems are also capable of browsing the internet, opening up the possibility of playing many free online games.
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Motion control on the Nintendo Wii, however, is a revolutionary and integral part of the experience for many of the system’s best games. With the recent release of the MotionPlus (a fidelity-increasing accessory), the Wii’s motion controls are sure to become an even more important part of the system’s identity.
While the PS3’s controller is the clear choice for fighting games and shooters, the unique nature of the Wii’s motion control setup allows for many unique options that the PS3 simply cannot match.
Page 3 has more on each system's movie playback capabilities and overall value.
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One great feature introduced with the last console generation was the ability for video game consoles to play DVD movies. This innovation has made its way to the PS3, which not only plays DVDs, but Blu Ray movies as well.
With many Blu Ray players costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $300, the PS3 is a great option for anyone interested in video gaming and high def movie playback.
The Wii, unfortunately, has absolutely no movie playback capabilities. No DVD, no Blu Ray, not even a VHS player. If movie playback is a major concern for you, it’s probably a good idea to pass up the Wii.
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Value is always a major component of a gamer’s system-buying decision. What good is saving up the money for a shiny new console if you have nothing leftover with which to purchase a few games or an extra controller?
The PS3 is the most expensive system on the market today. The entry-level system package is currently priced at $399.99, a pretty penny for the gamer on a budget. New games for the system generally retail for $59.99. Rumors of a price drop have been circulating of late, but I imagine we’ll have to wait until Christmas before it actually happens.
The Nintendo Wii is much more affordable, retailing for $249.99. New games are also slightly cheaper, generally retailing for $49.99. This means that for the same price as a new PS3, you can purchase a Nintendo Wii and three brand new games.
In terms of pure pricing, the Wii wins hands down.
Another thing to consider: the Wii has a max resolution of 480p, meaning it will look decent on just about any television. Many of the features of the PS3 (including Blu Ray playback) require an HDTV to truly enjoy.
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Overall, each system has much to offer. For the more hardcore gamer who is interested in fast-paced online gaming and wants the very latest video playback technology (and isn’t overly concerned with price), the Playstation 3 is the clear choice.
For a family-focused gamer on a budget, the Nintendo Wii may be a better choice.
Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide which system is best for them, I can only hope that some of this information will prove useful.
Anything I’ve overlooked here? Any fanboys want to defend their system? Let us know in the comments section!
For more information on the console debate, be sure to check out our Nintendo Wii Versus Xbox 360 article.