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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2007's Hottest:The Console War

With all 3 consoles launched, the current-gen console war is finally in full swing. In this special article, each console’s rate of success in 2007 is evaluated.

Current market leader: Xbox 360
Microsoft had a one year headstart with the launch of the Xbox 360 in 2005. Of course, there is no doubt that the Xbox 360 currently has the largest game library with arguably some of the best game titles in it, including Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, F.E.A.R. and Rainbow Six Vegas, all of which the PS3 has yet to receive. Last year’s hit Gears of War is in favor of Xbox 360’s success and 2007 will be another strong year for the console. Exclusives like Mass Effect, Too Human, Blue Dragon and Eternal Sonata are all arriving on the console this year, together with many triple A titles like Grand Theft Auto 4 and Half-Life 2: Orange Box Edition. Not forgetting the increasingly popular Xbox Live and the forthcoming Live Anywhere application that allows both PC and Xbox 360 gamers to play online together, it would be appropriate to say that the Xbox 360 is going to continue its leadership in the console war this year.

Notable exclusives:

::: Forza Motorsport 2 (Microsoft) :::
Forza Motorsport 2, as the name suggests, is the follow-up to the Xbox’s racing game Forza Motorsport. Boasting more cars (300 of them, to be exact) and tracks (70 in total) than the original did, as well as prettier visuals, enjoyment is guaranteed. There is a new feature where you can watch races, one that is similar to Project Gotham Racing 3’s spectator mode. Forza Motorsport 2 also supports the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel and is due for release this March in Europe and April elsewhere.

::: BioShock (2K Games) :::
BioShock is console-exclusive to Xbox 360. BioShock takes place in an underwater city and puts you against some of the most terrifying menaces. Let’s see: Children who have a taste for blood and incredibly mutated residents. Um, yep, the game has more to offer. You can even use objects in the environments to deal damage to your enemies. What’s more, weapons can be modified and genetic powers are made available for you.

::: Halo 3 (Microsoft) :::
Bungie, the makers of Halo 3, has been dropping Halo 3 tidbits leading up to this year-end release (that is, if it is not delayed), increasing the hype for the game. The assault rifle from Halo 1 makes its return to Halo 3 and a new light vehicle, the Mongoose, will debut in this game. The story becomes more interesting as the Convenant are now divided and the Elites are known to be fighting alongside the humans. There are now 3 Brute types and new grenade types. Who knows what Bungie might reveal next?

Currently second in the market: Wii
The Wii launched last November with much hype and sold 476 000 units in the US in November alone. Being the most unique of all the consoles, it is not a surprise why many people got it. Game releases are gradually slowing down after the launch, but that is not to suggest that the Wii will not be getting any good game titles this year. New games announced include Godzilla Unleashed and a yet-unnamed WWE game, not forgetting My Sims from EA. There is no denying the fact that the Wii is enjoying a better run than the GameCube with increased third-party support and more mature-themed games like The Godfather: The Blackhand Edition and Scarface: The World is Yours. Prince of Persia: Rivals’ Swords and Sonic and the Secret Rings are just example of increased third-party support. The guess that the Wii will retain its second place position in the console market will more likely be true, given that Nintendo is also releasing a slew of great first-party games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Battalion Wars 2, Mario Strikers Charged, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Paper Mario and Mario Party 8 in this year alone. The Virtual Console and a cheap price point will further strengthen Wii’s position in the console market.

Notable exclusives:

::: SSX Blur (EA) :::
Virtual snowboarding never got easier with SSX Blur. Thanks to the Wii, more-than-ever intuitive controls are on the way. Every movement you make with the Wii-mote translates into tricks and points. Expect a good variety of both racing and freestyle events, as well as skiing challenges. Surprise! SSX Blue will also ship with multiplayer included.

::: Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party (Konami) :::
With the movement-based gameplay that the Wii has been trying to promote since its launch, it is only a matter of time before a dancing game comes knocking on the door. And it’s here! Arm yourselves with Wii-motes and their nunchuck attachments, and lay down the dance mats, and you are ready to go! Offering songs over the past four decades for selection, DDR: Hottest Party certainly has something for everyone in your family. Hold on, DDR: Hottest Party will be another Wii game that has some kind of multiplayer aspect.

::: Kororinpa: Marble Mania (Konami) :::
This is a unique game in which players tilt the Wii-mote in order to navigate their balls through numerous 3D mazes. Environments can be tilt in almost any direction, including upside-down. Roll through the mazes and attempt to collect as many gems as possible, not to mention medals to be achieved on every level. Kororinpa: Marble Mania is one casual game that will be easy for anyone to pick up and play.

Currently third in the market: PS3
Sony is no longer the leader in the console market and several factors contribute to that. The severely limited collection of games available on the platform on launch day is miserable, with the only noteworthy game being Resistance: Fall of Man. Production issues also plague the PS3, while the high price point and not-as-good-as-Xbox-Live PlayStation Network do little to entice gamers to buy the PS3. So, will 2007 be a better year for the PS3? PAL gamers will be getting their hands on the PS3 this March and that could see the PS3 enjoying a better sales. Furthermore, more games that were previously only on the Xbox 360 are also arriving on the PS3 soon. The PS3 also has an ace in its blu-ray drive, said to be much better than the Xbox 360’s HD DVD drive and one of the better ones in the market. However, 2007 will not be a year when the PS3 will regain its leadership in the console market. Killer-games like Final Fantasy 13 and Metal Gear Solid 4: Gun of the Patriots are only coming out this year-end and that may see the competition pull away further up front in the coming months. Xbox 360 has a line-up of good titles this year and the PS3 will have a mountain to climb if it wants to regain its leadership. The PlayStation Network also pales in comparison to the Xbox Live Arcade and Virtual Console when it comes to availability of games. More PS3 exclusives are also set to release on the Xbox 360 (think Final Inertia, Virtual Fighter 5, Assassin’s Creed, Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War). Expect PS3 to stay rooted to this spot for quite some time.

Notable exclusives:

::: Lair (Sony) :::
Lair is all about dragons. You engage in dogfights with other dragons and their riders (that reminds me of Eragon) in the game, or you can take out the foot soldiers with a breath of fire. A morale meter will be implemented into Lair. Deal more damage to your enemy and its morale meter will fill up, making it weaker. Less complicated flight controls are in with the introduction of tilt controls with the PS3 SIXAXIS controller.

::: MotorStorm (Sony) :::
For one, MotorStorm is sheer beauty. Second, MotorStorm offers you a great variety of vehicles to choose from, including ATVs, bikes, trucks and so forth. Short-cuts are scattered throughout each track. In a game where bigger vehicles have the ability to overpower smaller vehicles and knock them off the tracks, it takes more than pure horsepower to win races. The question is: Can you survive and reach the finish line in pole position?

::: Warhawk (Sony) :::
Due out this June, Warhawk is a game that captures the intensity of combat with an array of aircrafts, vehicles and weapons. Fight against countless enemies with the ever-impressive Warhaw, an aircraft capable of taking part in dogfights at high speeds, yet able to swoop down to ground level to crush land resistance. The battle is coming.


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