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Playstation 2 vs Xbox vs Gamecube
Sony Playstation 2
Member Name: MrFish88
Sony Playstation 2
Date: 19/01/05, updated on 25/06/05 (9490 review reads)
Advantages: All consoles have their good points, One console will be perfectly suited for you
Disadvantages: You may be lumbered with the wrong console
I am writing this article to compare the three current-gen consoles, the Nintendo Gamecube, Sony Playstation 2, and Microsoft's Xbox, and hopefully explaining along the way why I chose a certain console as the best. Obviously, it is all down to opinion and this article won't suddenly change a console hater into a fanboy of that console. This is just my opinion, as you will have yours. If you would like to to send me feedback on this article, then feel free to send me a message. Now, onto the review.
I own all three of the consoles, buying the Gamecube first, then the Xbox six months later, and then recently afterwards I bought a PS2. I feel that this is necessary to state as it shows that this is an unbiased review.
I will first start with what, sadly, many people first look for in a potential purchase, graphics. I believe that this is a crying shame, however, it is unavoidable as it only makes sense that a person is likely to pick up a game from the shelves with gorgeous graphics over a game with bog-standard graphics. This is usually the case with, and I wanted to avoid using this phrase, "casual gamers." (More on this later).
Xbox has by far the best graphics all round, and this is evident by looking at games such as Deus Ex 2 for the dark, mysterious and futuristic graphics which compliment such a game, and the recent game which has blown all competition out of the water, Halo 2. No other console could handle such as beautiful game other than the Xbox.
A close runner-up to the Xbox's graphics crown is the Gamecube, released upon the world back in 2002. Whilst some people say that the Gamecube is a 'kiddy' console, all I can say is, well if is kiddy, they do an excellent job at making it look good! Games such as the Resident Evil series on GC have never looked so good, and if those graphics and the game in general are 'kiddy,' then I would sure like to see what 'adult' games look like. The Rogue Squadron games on the 'Cube also are enough proof to show that the Gamecube really can handle some amazing graphics, I was in awe when I first saw the the screenshots of Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, and then again when I saw Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. Now I imagine that someone reading this review will say that good graphics in a screenshot do not equal good graphics in gameplay, but these games look just as good when your playing, if not better, as it's amazing that such a tiny console can handle such graphics at a consistantly high frame rate. Cartoon-style games, such as the cel-shaded 'Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker' and Harvest Moon: It's a Wonderful Life, all look exceptional as well.
The Playstation 2 generally offers the weakest graphics, although this is not really surprising, considering it was out more than an year before any of the other current-generation consoles. The Playstation doesnt offer the hardware capabilities of the Gamecube, let alone the Xbox. Textures on the PS2 are often blocky, especially in the earlier games. The graphics techniques used by computers, such as anti-aliasing, do not appear as efficient as the other consoles, although I have no proof as to whether or not this is 100% fact. Having said that, there are some very good looking games on the console, as there should be, but none can really compare to games such as Rogue Squadron III or Halo 2.
In reference to the comment earlier about 'casual gamers' often preferring graphics and style over content, some people may be thinking, "But aren't 'casual gamers' supposed to prefer the Playstation 2 over other consoles, when you've said that the PS2 offers the worst graphics?" Perhaps they do prefer the Playstation 2, perhaps not. However, I believe that many people do prefer the Playstation 2 due to it's "trendy" image, and many only buy what they see advertised. An example of this would be the Need For Speed: Underground games, two solid racing games, that sold by the bucketload, despite at the core of it, just being a standard racing game, which brought nothing new to the racing table. So why did it sell so much? It's 'cool and trendy' image, which came from both being a 'street-racer' in the style of 'The Fast and the Furious' and the massive advertising campaign which it had. This isn't meant as a knock to people who have done this, as playing games which require hours of attention isn't for everyone. I just felt like I had to point out a possible contradiction in what I had said.
For the quality of games, it is the most difficult to judge, as you can't physically see gameplay like you can graphics; you have to 'feel' the gameplay. This means that to judge the games is completely a personal opinion, which will vary from person to person. The Playstation 2 has the biggest library of games, therefore offering the widest selection of games, meaning it is good as a first console to anyone, especially for those who are looking to get into games for the first time, which goes back to the reason why 'casual gamers' seem to prefer the Playstation 2. However, a substantial amount of highly rated Playstation 2 games are not exclusive, and appear on other consoles, although they sometimes do get games before the other consoles, with the Grand Theft Auto games being an example of this, as they appeared on Xbox and PC after the PS2 release.
Nintendo should be given a lot of credit for there work on developing original and exclusive games for the Gamecube, meaning you can only get them on Gamecube, and thankfully, at least 90% of them are immense fun. Gamecube has by far the most exclusive games out of the three top consoles, one example of this is my collection; fifteen of my nineteen Gamecube games are exclusive. This by no means that the Gamecube doesn't have it's fair share of games that are out on other consoles, because it does. I just happen to buy exclusive games for Gamecube over games that are out on other consoles, as I've got the Xbox, or even PS2 to buy them on as well.
The Xbox has a large library of games which has certainly expanded in the past few months like your mind will have done after reading this review (well, it's not going to happen but it's a nice thought!) This has meant that my Xbox collection has doubled in two months, from the twelve games I had bought in ten months, to twenty-four games, of which twelve of them have been bought in the past two months.
In conclusion on the games section, I believe that Xbox has the best selection of games, with console-exclusive titles such as Ninja Gaiden, Halo 2, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, games that have kept me playing until past 4am on a work day. You can never get too little sleep when you have such quality titles to be playing. The Gamecube has the largest amount of great games which are totally-exclusive to the 'Cube, with titles such as Zelda: Wind Waker, Pikmin, and the Rogue Squadron games. This makes it ideal to have as a second console, although that isn't to say that it can't hold it's own as a primary console. The Playstation 2 offers the widest selection of games, but that also means it has a larger amount of bad games, so I'd recommend you read reviews of games you are planning to buy, as you could be left feeling really gutted you wasted your money on a game you don't like. Of course, it also means that the Playstation 2 does have a wide variety of excellent games, and while it does not have as many as exclusive games as the other consoles, it does have the Final Fantasy games and the Smackdown games.
One thing that every console has in common is the use of a controller, and so having a good quality controller can really make a difference in the console war. Starting with the worst looking of the controllers, the Gamecube controller is actually the best to use, again proof that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover (it's not a book but I'm sure you know what I meant). The GC controller offers the most comfort to the user due to the smooth rounded edges and layout. The controller has two analogue sticks, the main stick (used for movement) and the C-stick (the stick used for looking around, moving the camera or secondary functions), along with 12 other buttons (the shoulder buttons have two different commands, you can slide it downwards to push it, and you can click it even further down for a secondary press. This sounds awkward but feels completely natural once you have tried it). The only downside to the controller is a minor niggle, the D-pad is too small, and is sometimes quite fiddly to press one of the buttons, especially for those of you with bigger hands.
On the other hand, the Playstation 2 possibly looks the coolest out of the controllers. However, after extensive playing, this controller is the most likely out of all the current-generation controllers to cause damage to your hand, whether its blistering or bruising, especially in button-bashing games such as Athens 2004. The trigger buttons are too flat and therefore awkward to use, as it is difficult to tell if you have pressed them enough, and using the D-pad as the main movement buttons instead of analogue sticks is suicide in this day and age. That said, the analogue sticks are terrible, very slippery and difficult to use accurately. One minor niggle with this controller is the edges of the controller being too straight which makes it uncomfortable
The original Xbox controller was a crime against humanity. Its hugeness made it nearly impossible to use, and I shudder to think how much energy had to be put into making one of those monstrosities, although to be fair, it was very comfortable to hold, it wasn't comfortable when your thumb felt like it was climbing Everest everytime it had to reach from one button to the other. The new compact controller, with a size about 5% of the original controller (possible use of exaggeration), is so much better. The buttons are nearly perfectly laid out, although it sometimes can be difficult to reach down to the white or black button quickly, as they are too flat against the controller, but you do get used to it eventually. The trigger buttons are placed differently to the Gamecube and Playstation 2 controllers, with the trigger buttons being on the back of the controller (similar to the Z button on the Nintendo 64) rather than on top like the GC and PS2. Thankfully, this works well, and allows there to be slots in the top of the controller for a memory card (you don't need one with the massive Xbox hard drive, but if you wanted to take a saved game file to a friend's house, it comes in handy) and also the headset which you'll want to have in when you are playing Xbox Live, which brings me to my next point, online gameplay.
Comparing the quality of Xbox online to the online capabilities of the Gamecube and Playstation 2 is like comparing the speed of a Formula One car to the speed of the old banger locked up in your Grandad's garage. I've found that playing the GC and PS2 online far too much hassle for what it is worth, especially when Xbox Live is available for just £40 a year, and when you consider there are games like Halo 2 on the Xbox which can be played online, this is a major bargain. If you are interested in getting Xbox live, then it is worth your while looking on the internet for what you need for it to work properly, as this isn't the place to be talking about it. If you have the right equipment for running Xbox Live (I use a wireless router to connect to the internet) then there is very little hassle in setting up your Xbox Live account.
Men are often worried about size, as size is important to them, and with consoles it is no different. Some people say that Xbox is too big, some say that the Gamecube is too small (so does that make the Playstation 2 the console of choice for goldilocks?) On my cabinet, which is basically six slabs of wood (in an 'X' shape) I have the TV on top, the Xbox directly beneath it in the middle, the Gamecube on the left, and the Playstation 2 on the right. The Xbox takes up the whole slab, meaning there is only room for one on there (yes I know it's obvious but it leads me into my next sentence!), whilst on that very same slab, I'd be able to easily fit six Gamecubes on there (not that I would want to, but it proves a point). The Playstation 2 just sits there looking ugly. As you can tell I'm not a big fan of the PS2 design, as if you lay it flat, it looks stupid, and if you have it upright you cant have it directly underneath anything unless its about 20 foot underneath (writers are allowed to fabricate a little!)
In the day and age where everything is getting smaller: phones, music players, PC's and everything else electronic, surely the Gamecube gets the credit here? Nintendo win this round.
For additional features, I would have to say the Xbox is the best, due to Xbox Live, the hard drive, the ability to copy music, and to import your own music into certain games. The Xbox can also play DVD's, but you have to fork out £20 for this privelege. The PS2 already comes with a DVD player, but the PS2 is more pricey than the Xbox anyway, so it evens out. The Gamecube doesn't really have any additional features, as it was designed to purely be a gaming console.
If you are now reading this, then I am extremely thankful that you have read this far, and it means something that people are putting the effort into reading what I have put a lot of effort into. I hope this review has been of some use to you, whether it is in deciding on what your first console should be, or whether you were planning on buying another console but weren't sure about it. As a round-up to this review, here are my overall ratings for the three consoles.
Xbox - 95%
Gamecube - 86%
Playstation 2- 75%
Thank you very much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.