Cybernaut 

A season for gamers

If you’re one of the people out there who is still on the fence whether to buy an Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3 — and I consider myself one of them, even if I’m teetering to the Xbox side — this autumn will go a long way to making up our minds.

There are some practical reasons why this autumn is important. Both Xbox and PS3 have recently cut prices on their consoles, putting them both in range of the average buyer. You can now get a PS3 with a 60 GB hard drive at Future Shop ( www.futureshop.ca ) for $549 — which includes a Blu-Ray disk player, HDMI connectivity, built-in wireless, and free online play.

The Xbox 360 can be had for $399 with a 20 GB hard drive. To get the larger hard drive and built-in HDMI you have to upgrade to the Xbox Elite, which is now $499. It costs another $129 for the wireless network adapter, $80 for a year-long membership to play online, and $200 for the HD DVD expansion drive (Toshiba’s equivalent of Blu-Ray) — effectively canceling any price advantage that the Xbox 360 may have had in the beginning of the console wars.

Of course most people are choosing Wii these days than either then PS3 or Xbox 360 — more than 10 million consoles sold so far — but it’s not really considered next generation technology. Other than the controller, the Wii is basically last generation technology that you still can’t even use to watch DVDs. So…

While price is not as big an issue as it once was, another part of the puzzle to consider is whether you think Blu-Ray or HD-DVD will win out as the next high definition movie format. So far Blu-Ray has an edge with the support of Blockbuster, Target, a majority of movie studios, and a larger built-in customer base of PS3 owners, but HD-DVD sales are strong and supporters of the format are pushing back hard.

But the biggest consideration for us gamers who are still on the fence is, and will always be, the games.

Right now the Xbox 360 definitely has the edge there. On Gamespot’s list of highest rated games, the top-three are all Xbox 360 titles, including Gears of War, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Forza Motorsports. Other games that are huge sellers for the system include Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, the Lord of the Rings strategy games, and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Bioshock was just released with positive reviews, and the gaming world is eagerly awaiting Halo 3, Halo Wars, Mass Effect, and Call of Duty 4 — all due out this fall. The fact that Grand Theft Auto IV will be released for both consoles after the New Year is also a first for a once exclusive Playstation series.

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