One year ago today I published my comparison between the Xbox Kinect, the Playstation Move, and the Wii based on my early experiences with the systems. I thought it might be a good time to give an update, especially with Christmas approaching.
I’ll use the same grading system I used a year ago.
Playstation Move: A
I had to dock the Wii a letter grade for technology. In a world where the PS3 and Xbox are both doing cool things with video and motion detection, the Wii seems almost passe nowadays. Nintendo is not sitting still, and they’ll be releasing the Nintendo Wii U in 2012, which will greatly boost the processing power but still remain backwards-compatible with the Wii.
Playstation Move: A
In terms of the sheer beauty of the graphics, the PS3 still reigns supreme in its crisp and clear 1080p output. As the only console with Blu-Ray disc support and 3D game play, it’s still the one to beat.
Playstation Move: D
This was the biggest shift in ratings from last year. In 2011, it seems that innovative game designs for the Wii simply disappeared. And the number of “active” games designed for the PS3 remains woefully low (most developers are incorporating the Move controls within existing games rather than developing whole new games around it). On the other hand, the Xbox has simply exploded. Whether you want to wield a light saber, visit Disneyland, or dance with the Muppets, there’s an app for that.
Precision and Response of Controller:
Playstation Move: A
I’ve had a year to try each system out, and it’s very clear to me where each system shines from a controller perspective.
The Xbox Kinect is best for games that benefit from “full body tracking”, such as dance games and workout games. On the other hand, it’s almost ridiculously inadequate for games that involve holding a virtual piece of equipment, such as a sword, a gun, a baseball bat or a pool cue. Also, while full motion tracking is a cool thing, for many games, the overall graphics seem a little sluggish when compared to the instant response of the PS3 or the Wii.
The PS3 Move, on the other hand, excels at those things. One year later I still find it amazing that I can hold a ping pong paddle in my hand and control the angle and rotation precisely. And unlike the Kinect, even if my room is pitch dark it still reads my movements perfectly.
Playstation Move: B
Seems that the poor Wii isn’t doing so well this year, but here is where the Wii still shines brightly. With both the Playstation and the Xbox, you’re physically limited to the number of people that can fit within the camera’s range. There have been various attempts to expand the playing space, such as the Nyko Zoom for Kinect, but these have been lacking, meaning that for both the PS3 and the Xbox you still have to move furniture out of the way and stay confined in a small area. With the Wii, on the other hand, you can have players sitting on sofas, sitting on the floor, and you can just toss the controller to them when it’s their turn.
Playstation Move: B
To me, this is the most important criteria. Once the “wow” factor is done with, how much fun is each system to play? This, of course, is a subjective thing which varies from game to game. But having all three systems, I find that the games I still play over and over again are strangely enough on the Wii, especially when I’m in a group, from Super Mario Kart to Just Dance 3 to the newly released Zelda. For all the advances that the PS3 and Xbox have made in graphics and technology, this is proof that good storytelling and crisp, quick gameplay will always reign supreme.
Playstation Move: C
The Wii is still anywhere from 30% to 50% cheaper than what the Playstation 3 with Move and Xbox with Kinect cost out of the gate. Factor in that Xbox and PS3 games tend to cost anywhere from $40-60 each (compared to $20-50 for Wii games), and you’ll find that the Wii is still much, much more affordable over time.
And so when tallying up the grades, here are the results:
Wii: B (87/100)
PlayStation 3 with PlayStation Move Bundle: B+ (89/100)
Xbox 360 with Kinect: B+ (90/100)
So the very slight edge goes to the Xbox, mostly due to the huge influx of games that are being released for the Kinect. But overall, I’d say it’s still a three-way tie, with each system excelling in its own very specific way.
As I did last year, I’ll close with a word of advice. When choosing a system for yourself, decide for yourself which of the attributes above are most relevant to your needs, and weigh and judge them accordingly. I’ve seen people defend their choice of video game systems with near-religious ferocity and for good reason–after calculating the cost of the console and all the accessories and games you’ll buy, it can easily turn into an investment in the thousands of dollars.
But at the end of the day, it really comes down to what your preferences are. Do you want to play games with all members of your family at once? The Wii is the perfect choice for you. Do you like first-person shooter games or games where you’re holding a piece of virtual equipment such as a baseball bat or a sword? Go with the PS3. Do you want the “coolness” factor of having your whole body detected in dance games and exercise games? The Xbox is perfect for you.
So which system configurations to buy?
A question I hear a lot for each of these systems is which configurations to buy. It gets confusing, because most of the game companies sell different configurations, with or without motion controllers. Here are the ones to get:
For the Xbox Kinect, I would recommend the Xbox 360 250GB with Kinect. It comes with the Xbox 360 console, a handheld controller, the Kinect camera, a headset, the awful Kinect Adventures game, AC cable, AV cable, and a built-in 250 GB hard drive (you can save some money by buying the 4 GB version).
For the Playstation, I would recommend the PlayStation 3 320GB Move Bundle. It comes with the Playstation 3 console, a handheld controller, a Move controller, the Playstation Eye camera, the excellent Sports Champion game, an AC power cord, an AV cable, and a USB cable.
For the Wii, I’d just get the Wii Console with Mario Kart Wii Bundle, which comes with the console, a MotionPlus-enabled Wii remote, a nunchuk, Mario Kart and a wheel, sensor bar, AC cable, and AV cable.