Something Wicked This Way Comes

With the Xbox 360 due in November 2005 and the PlayStation 3 set to debut in Spring 2006, the fur started flying pretty early in this latest console war. Microsoft unveiled their successor to the Xbox on MTV this past May and industry pundits were a little underwhelmed at not only what was presented but how it was presented. Simply put, the MTV unveiling of the Xbox 360 was a tad uneven and that's being extremely generous. There was more attention placed on the cool factor surrounding the system and not enough substance for the gamers who actually wanted to see the upcoming games rather than, let's say, "Another song by....The Killers!"

Microsoft was cocky. Too cocky. And Sony managed to come up from behind and say "Boo." It's no secret that Sony's PS3 had the biggest buzz going at this years E3. Gamers were hooting about the systems formidable power, hollering about the beautiful games and overall geniunely impressed that at least in this upcoming generation, you won't find anyone complaining about the Sony version of a game ported to all systems.

But we have to remember that while Sony showed up with some incredible game footage, no one from their camp bothered to take a moment and let us know exactly what was actual gameplay and what was rendered. And unfortunately, that's pretty darn important.

"Microsoft was cocky. Too cocky."

Visit any message board and you'll find everything from coolheaded arguments to death threats in regards to gamers love for both new systems. Fights over what system is Numero Uno have been around as long as videogames themselves. Why I remember in the mid 70's, my friends and I arguing over which was better: "Pong or Not Pong". Not Pong actually won, which was strange since it involved not playing Pong. Unbelievably it turned out, they were correct. Not playing Pong was better than playing it. Go figure.

Hotheaded freaky gaming fanboys who wear their undying allegience to a game system on their sleeves and who will fight to their ultimate demise trying to convince you that Blinky from Ms. Pac-Man could easily kill Gandondorf, can be entertaining for awhile, but eventually you have to look at the cold hard facts.

But to you, Mr. Educated Gamer, just what are the cold hard facts? Are they the intricate technical details of what is lurking inside each of these monster machines or are they simply, the end result? As in, the games you will play when the systems launch?

"Processor speed doesn't define a game."

Did it matter what chisel Michelangelo used to carve David? Does anyone care what size brush Da Vinci used to paint the Mona Lisa? Does anyone really want to know if the scissors used to cut the material for the Teletubbies costumes were right or left handed? Of course not. And therefore all of the technical specs of the preceding system comparison really means nothing at all. It's all tech talk. Processor speed doesn't define a game. But just in case it is important, I've laid it out in black and white (or blue and green) near the end of this article for you to peruse at your leisure.

You may ask yourself "Where is the Revolution?" And you may ask yourself "Why isn't Nintendo featured in this article?" And you may ask yourself "Where is my beautfiul home?" And you may ask yourself "Why does this paragraph sound like a Talking Heads song?"

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

Nintendo is keeping out of the console wars right now and many people speculate that the Big N is already out of the running. Don't be so sure. Nintendo has the added benefit of seeing everything that the competition has to offer and has the opportunity to design the Revolution to beat them. Everything we saw from Nintendo in regards to the new system should be considered conceptual. They've already went on record and said that the Revolution will look different than the designs shown and since they didn't really deliver any tech speak, they could be throwing everything and the kitchen sink in it. A kitchen sink with a GB of RAM of course. But the question is "Will they?" Nintendo is notorious for being behind the eight ball in terms of hardware (N64, GameCube) and leading in terms of software. From all accounts the Revolution is the system they should have delivered instead of the GameCube. All we know about the Revolution is that we'll be able to download first party Nintendo titles for the NES, SNES and N64 (with Nintendo trying to convince third party developers to unlock their old classics as well). Not exactly revolutionary but as Kevin Spacey said in The Usual Suspects: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Nintendo might surprise us all when they unveil the Revolution proper at the end of 2005.

Now, back to the main event. Let's talk about the things that really matter to you. Real gamer people stuff.

Next: Games People Play

by Vaughn