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Friday, November 25, 2005

Next gen gaming

Next gen gaming

"The three top gaming console companies will be battling for supremacy over the next few months. Each system supports amazing graphics and a plethora of other advances, but still manages to maintain a bit of uniqueness.

Microsoft's Xbox 360, released to a lucky few on Tuesday, packs a real punch in all departments and gains at least a six-month jump on the competition. Unfortunately, some may be waiting that long to purchase it, as Microsoft was unable to meet customer demands and many enterprising gamers pre-ordered the console as early as six months ago.

The 360 boasts an ATI graphics chip that runs at 500 MHz, 512 megabytes of RAM, full support for high-definition TV and the ability to run many of the popular media formats.

Watching movies, listening to music or even browsing through photos won't be hard on this machine. its drive supports DVD, CD, DVD-ROM and DVD-R/RW, with MP3-playing and JPEG-viewing capabilities. The 360 also sports three USB ports, which can be used to hook up many devices, including, but not limited to, MP3 players, digital cameras and even a home computer running Windows. Some of these devices can also be connected via a wireless route through the Xbox's wireless component, sold separately.

As far as external hardware goes, the 360 only really offers the basics. Its new controllers are much lighter than those of its predecessor, but they essentially still look and function the same. One of the biggest things Microsoft is trying to stress is the system's wireless capabilities, mostly in regard to its controllers. The 360 controllers have a respectable 30-foot range and are touted to have absolutely no disruption or interference in their signal. They also have the ability to switch wireless frequencies, should anybody else decide to bring their controller, so as to avoid overlapping of players.

The Xbox 360 comes in two packages, a standard or a core version. The standard package includes most anything you can think of for the system, including the 360 console itself, a detachable 20-gigabyte hard drive with a game installed, a wireless controller, high-definition audio/video cables, a headset for Xbox Live play and, through the end of the year, a free remote control. This set costs about $399. The core set comes with much less, but still has everything essential to play, except the hard drive: the console, a wired controller with force feedback and HDAV cables. For the core system, look to pay about $299.

Both packages also include a "silver" subscription to Xbox Live. Neither, however, comes with memory cards. For those with the hard drive, the cards aren't necessary, but those without will need one to save their games.

As far as software goes, the 360 has been released with about 25 new titles, including Quake 4, Dead or Alive 4 and the much-anticipated Perfect Dark Zero. Those looking to play older Xbox games will be happy to know that the system is backwards compatible, but not completely. As of the release date, only about 200 Xbox games will work on the 360. In order to play them, one must have the 360's hard drive. Most of the older games that will be playable are the more popular titles such as Halo and Knights of the Old Republic. On a side note, all games support HDTV, widescreen and the 360's built-in music player.

While Sony's PlayStation 3 won't be released until some time into 2006, it's shaping up to be truly remarkable. With Sony's Cell processor, an RSX "Reality Synthesizer" graphics chip and more wireless capabilities than one can shake a stick at, it looks like Sony has one of the best platforms to date. Much like the 360, the PS3 will handle all the standard video formats, with resolution ranging from 480i all the way to 1080p. With 100 billion shader operations running at once, the PS3 is expected to have some pretty eye-popping graphics, which unfortunately for most of us, can only truly be experienced on an HDTV.

When it comes to wireless, Sony's also got the competition beat. The PS3 has full 802.11B and G technologies, as well as Bluetooth 2.0. The PS3 controllers, of which seven can be used at a time, connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to the system. There also have been rumors that the PS3 will sync wirelessly with Sony's PSP, which could make for interesting game play." [more]

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