ARTICLE: Xbox 360 vs. Playstation 3 Part 2

XBOX VS PLAYSTATION 3 PART 2

Stevo_The_Gamer:

User Interface

Let’s face it, while most of your time will be in the nitty-gritty firefights on Helghan, or fighting those ugly-ass Locust on Sera with your fellow Gears; when you first start up your console, or when you want to search for additional content for your games, you’re going to be spending time on the dashboard for your console. Now, the Xbox 360 uses something called a “New Xbox 360 Experience” in which was a complete overall of the general user interface, and with a recent update in the fall of 2010, the new look has a definite vivid and aesthetically pleasing look to it. The Playstation 3 XMB looks simplistic and certainly not as vivid as the Xbox 360 interface, and I definitely believe it won’t give the “wow” factor that the Xbox 360 user interface gave me.

Partly, this is because it’s hard not to deny that Microsoft—being a software giant and all—has created a superb interface for their Xbox 360 console. The entirety of the GUI has superior functionality and better unity compared to the Playstation 3 XMB; in fact, I would go as far to say the overall nature of the XMB is rather “clunky” in its application when directly compared to the Xbox 360 dashboard. For example, look at the update system on the Playstation 3 compared to the Xbox 360—The Playstation 3 is inferior in the sense that you must download applications, or updates, and then after the fact, install them. The Xbox 360 downloads and installs the data at the same time so the time saved becomes readily apparent.

Furthermore, you won’t be forced to download a massive patch for your game (I’m looking at you MAG on PS3) on Xbox Live since Microsoft has placed a limit—or cap—on the size of game patches. Furthermore, downloading a patch on Xbox Live is fairly quick and easy (relative to your connection). For example, if you put Fallout: New Vegas into your Xbox 360 console—you’ll download the latest patch and that’s that. Doing the same for the Playstation 3 means you’ll download each and every patch available, and then install each patch as well. It’s a tedious process, especially when you play a game that’s been out for quite some time (I’m looking at you Uncharted 2 with your 6+ updates).

There is also the save system approach between the two consoles. When you play a game for the first time on the Xbox 360, it brings up the GUI to choose where to install the saved game data—and after you do that, you won’t be seeing the GUI come up in the game anymore when you save your game. This is important because whenever you save your game for the Playstation 3, it brings up the XMB to save your game in that environment. This is unfortunate because the method of saving and loading games going into the XMB shows the clunky nature of the update system when other competitors don’t require the console interface to pop in. This normally wouldn’t be that much of an issue if the XMB didn’t take the couple seconds to load up—that time adds up after awhile.

In addition to the save system, the trophy and achievement system shows a relatively minor, but worth noting difference in the user interface. Take for example that you just earned an achievement in Halo Reach, and you want to know which achievement you got—the second the achievement pops on the screen, you can press the guide button and it will take you immediately to that achievement in your game achievement list for your viewing pleasure. If you earn a trophy, and press the guide button when the trophy pops up on the Playstation 3, it does no such thing, and you have to manually go to the trophy list for your game and scroll down to find the trophy you just earned. This aspect goes in line with other things as well, when a download finishes, a friend comes online, ect, when you press the guide button when that notice pops on the screen, it immediately takes you to the friend list, or game list if a download finished, or whatever it may have been. The Playstation 3 XMB does not have that functionality.

The actual dashboard for each console is actually pretty fine in their application. They’re both different in their respects but they both aim to achieve different things. The Xbox 360 GUI has a very slick and clean feel to it while at the same time appearing very simple aiming for the streamlined interface (which Microsoft had to do for their Kinect accessory to prpoerly function), everything is rather quick and about the ease of access—or accessibility. The Playstation 3 XMB is also fairly clean and streamlined, but it’s not nearly as simple as the Xbox 360 GUI. One plus thing about the Playstation 3 XMB is that you won’t be seeing any advertisements; same can’t be said about the Xbox 360 GUI.

Now, both consoles offer user profiles for your console. When comparing the two, the Xbox 360 version is definitely more user friendly in its application and much more attractive and accessible. When you edit your gamer profile, you’re given a nice arrange of options to edit from such as… Gamertag (Your profile name which will be displayed both offline, and online), Gamer Picture (picture for your gaming profile), Gamer Zone (are you a hardcore gamer, casual gamer, ect), Motto, Avatar (Similar to the Wii “Mii” feature, your avatar is a representation of you!), Name, Bio, Location, and Privacy Settings. Now, when you create your first profile you’ll be asked to create a “Avatar.” As stated earlier, the Avatar is a representation of you and it’s basically the Wii version of the Mii, just in fancy High-Definition. The Avatars are fairly neat in the sense that it gives you a wide arrange of options to customize your characters.

The Playstation 3 user profile does not have anywhere near as a nice clean functionality as the Xbox 360 profile, and isn’t anywhere near as unified as the Xbox 360 system. When you start up your PS3 for the first time, you’ll be asked to create a system username, and then you’ll end up create an online ID. They aren’t to be confused with one another, as they are different–your system username can be changed where as your Online ID cannot. And you can also create an avatar in the “Playstation 3 Home” experience… but, that’s a completely seperate deal altogetyer which has no connection to any game or anything on the Playstation dashboard. Some have called this an “identity crisis” as Sony has almost flopped on their face in this regard as their user profile system is severely lacking compared to the Xbox 360.

Now, on to the Playstation 3 Store and the Xbox Live Marketplace both—like the dashboards—are different from one another by a large degree in how they approach content. It’s almost like the Windows Mobile versus iPhone approach in a sense. Microsoft’s approach is definitely more streamlined, and appears more attractive compared to the Playstation 3 Store, but individual preference will vary—all in all, I have a lean in the Xbox 360 method for I feel Microsoft does a better job at organizing its content in a more streamlined fashion. But, this part is a to each his own deal.

Round 4 Scores & Summary

Playstation 3 – 3.0; Xbox 360 – 5.0

The Xbox 360 just offers a much better user interface in nearly every single way—from organization, aesthetics, avatars, profiles, and the general user interface. The Playstation 3 interface is just clunky and lacking in comparison.

Accessories

Both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 have a wide selection of accessories for their respective platforms. These range from controllers, cameras, to full blown gaming accessories. One could argue that there isn’t much difference between the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 accessory lineup due to the fact that they both will have the following: controllers, cables for audio and video, remotes, stands, and a camera. For a full list of PS3 accessories, go to this link here—and for a list of Xbox 360 accessories, go to the list here. As you will probably see, it’s mostly just two types of the same soup with a couple main differences between the two.

There’s some standout differences though, such as if you’re an avid racing fan, peripheral support may have an impact on the purchasing decision, the PlayStation 3 supports a wider range of steering wheels, including favourites such as the Logitech G27. The Xbox 360 supports just the Microsoft force feedback wheel and Fanatec Porsche 911 Turbo wheel (and those compatible with it) [According to DigitalFoundry]. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier in the beginning section of round one, Playstation 3 owners have the ability to upgrade their hard drives where as Xbox 360 owners do not have that capability. (So the accessory being third-party laptop hard drives)

Now, the first major difference actually comes down to Xbox Live for the Xbox 360. When you create an account for your Xbox 360—your gamertag—you’ll be asked to create either a “silver” account or an Xbox Live “Gold” account. The principle difference between these two comes down to content; you’ll have to pay money in order to access “Premium” features for the Xbox 360. Microsoft has laid out the difference in the link here between Silver and Gold.

Needless to say, the accessory here is the “Xbox Live Membership” which is actually required if you wish to play games online for a standard price of $59.99 annually. The Playstation 3 has two memberships as well, the standard and then a premium “Plus” membership for $49.99 annually. You can find the benefits of doing PSN+ by reading about it here. Needless to say, the main difference comes down to discounts, some free games, and some exclusive features—however, regular members do not need the PSN+ membership in order to play online. So if you’re a gamer looking to wet his or her whistle by going into the online arena, due take note that the Xbox 360 will cost you some extra money upfront.

The second difference comes down to the “Motion Controller Wars” that just recently got started in late 2010. The… what you say? Microsoft has released “Kinect” for the Xbox 360, a controller that will capture your movement and translate it on the screen—controller free environment. Sony has brought out something called the “Playstation Move.” This accessory is a carbon-copy of the Wii’s motion controller, so if you know anything about the Wii, then you already know the Move. Now, both Microsoft and Sony are trying to capitalize on the Wii’s success and thus their spin on the Wii has sparked this motion controller war in the gaming community. The Kinect is currently vastly more popular than the Move when sales come into the equation, and currently has more Kinect-Exclusive games.

Round 5 Scores & Summary

Playstation 3 – 4.8; Xbox 360 – 3.8

The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are fairly on par with one another outside a few differences that I think are definite things of note. While both have two membership options, being able to play online at no extra charge is a large plus for the Playstation 3, and the Motion Controller battle is still being fought but it looks like the Microsoft Kinect is clear winner form the current standing.

Achievements vs. Trophies

The Achievement system is a relatively new feature this generation. First pioneered by Microsoft, the achievement system has set a standard in many regards. It took the Playstation 3 a couple years to standardize their own achievement system, and the Nintendo Wii still refuses to implement an achievement like system. But now we have Sony on board, Valve on board with their Steam Achievements, and even Apple on board with some of their own iPad, iTouch, and iPhone games having achievement systems.

You should know what an achievement is, and if you don’t, well, I shouldn’t have to spend time explaining it when you can just read about it here. Basically, the PS3 Trophy system is a direct-copy of the Microsoft Achievement system with their own little spin added to it. There is some differences, of course, between the two structures, but for the most part they remain mostly idendical in their actual application. Not like this is a defining feature of any console, and I doubt you would place section as a buying decision for which console to choose, but this is something that gets brought up fairly frequently in the gaming community so I believe it’s fair to dissect the two.

One of the first differences you’ll notice is how they approach their collective analysis. Each Xbox 360 game has a variety of achievements for it and each Achievement has a certain value attached to it which when unlocked, adds to your “Gamerscore” which is displayed on your profile and next to your Gamertag. Each game is limited to 1000 Gamerscore points, but Downloadable Content can increase that limit by some degree. Every single Xbox 360 game is required to have this standard of 1000 possible gamerscore.

Playstation 3 takes a different approach–instead of an overall 1000 point structure, each game has a number of “Trophies” for it ranging for Bronze, to Silver, to Gold, and finally Platnium. Each level corresponds to the level of difficulty in achieving it so one can easily infer that getting a Bronze trophy is a lot easier than a Gold trophy. So instead of an overall Gamerscore under the user’s profile, the Playstation 3 has a “level” system which takes into account the entirety of your trophies. It’s like a role-playing esque feel to it; as the more trophies you get, the higher your level becomes. It also showcases the amount of each type of trophy you have–for example, I am a level 8 with 365 Bronze Trophies, 87 Silver, 11 Gold, and finally 1 platnium. Now, Platnium trophy can only be achieved if you unlocked *every single* other trophy–so it represents 100% completion.

100% Completion brings us into a large difference between the two. It’s a complain folks have levied at the Xbox 360 Achievement system for quite some time now. There is no quick-n-easy way to see how many games your friends have completed 100%. You can check how many games you have achieved 100% on your dashboard, but you cannot see that for your friends. Yes, you can go into their profile and look at their “Games Played” and see for yourself how many games have 1000 gamerscore, but an inherent problem arises. Take Halo 3 for example on the Xbox 360, with all the DLC released for it, someone can achieve over 1000 gamerscore, but that is because the DLC attributed to it. In order to see if your friend completed the game 100%, you can have to click on the game and check all his achievements; it’s a tedious process compared to the Playstation 3 system. The Playstation 3 has the “Platnium” total amount which showcases to your friends how many have completed a game 100%. Checking that is quick, and easy with no room for error due to DLC.

The second difference plays a favor to the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 has had an established standard for achievements since it released. The Playstation 3 on the other hand has not, and only mid 2008 did it get a standard for having its games have trophies. This means quite a few Playstation 3 games have no Trophy support what-so-ever compared to every game on the Xbox 360 having achievement support. Secondly, the Achivement structure is very unified across quite a few different venues. You can earn achievements for your profile on your Windows Mobile 7 phone, or even on some Games for Windows Live games–it isn’t purely limited to just Xbox 360 games. The Playstation 3 trophies only appear on the Playstation 3.

The last major differences comes down to a design issue for the Playstation 3. It also plays a note in reference to the interface differences between the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 achievement system is flawlessly and updately–or synced–automatically so every time you earn an achievement, it should reflect on your gamer profile, your gamer cards, or on any of the other many sites out there that track the data. The Playstation 3 requires a manual sync in order for your friends to see your trophies. This clunky, and tedious method of syncing your trophies in an inherent disadvantage and I’m rather displeased that Sony still hasn’t done anything about this mediocre process.

Round 6 Scores & Summary

Playstation 3 – 4.2; Xbox 360 – 4.8

The Xbox 360 comes on top because all its games support achievements, the achievement system is more unified, and the achievement system is just better executed. However, both practically do the same thing so it should be worth noting that any victory here isn’t that big of deal.

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