Cybernaut 

And the winner is…

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I’ve had some good times with my PS2. Finishing God of War, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, and Resident Evil 4 were awesome feats of patience and practice strung over months of intermittent playing, if I do say so myself.

Now the PS2 era is slowly ending — with 120 million consoles out there it’s not going to disappear overnight, but new games are going to be a lot rarer in the coming years. And so I’ve been looking closely at the next generation of consoles — Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.

These are three very different systems, so I knew the decision would be difficult. There was so much to consider, including price, games, capability, reliability, and functionality.

In terms of price, two of the three systems are pretty expensive. The Xbox 360 Elite is $549 to buy, and I’ll probably pay another $50 for a second controller and $40 for a battery charger kit to bring the total to $639 before taxes. Xbox Live, which is crucial to play online and will allow me to access everything from television shows to free games, is another $50 for the year.

The PS3 retails for $699, and a second controller is $60. While expensive, the online service is free, and it comes with built-in Blu Ray high definition player and wireless Internet capability. On the other hand, the Elite comes with a 120 GB drive, compared to the PS3’s 60 GB drive, and an HDMI cable ($15 to $70) value. I can also buy a HD-DVD add on for the 360 in a year or two if it wins the format wars.

The most affordable system out there is the Nintendo Wii at just $289. However, throwing in another $50 for a pair of Wii Classic Controllers, $50 for the Nunchuk controllers, $45 for a second Wii Remote Controller, and $25 for the Wii Wireless Sensor Bar, brings that price to $459. Throw in the battery charger and we’re climbing into 360 range.

As for games, the edge has to go to Xbox 360 which hit the market a year before the competition, while Microsoft has been successful in locking in some great exclusive games while signing up game companies that once produced exclusively for Playstation. Xbox can usually play PC games as well, something previously unavailable to console owners.

The PS3 should have some great exclusive games in the next few months, but no longer has the edge. Nintendo has some fun looking games as well, but my overall impression is that the games are for kids (and seniors), and reviews of the Wii motion-sensing remote suggest that this is less precise and therefore less exciting than it should have been. When the technology gets to the point where the movement of a sword or baseball bat onscreen matches my exact remote movement at home, I’ll probably be a little more generous.

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