Wii vs PlayStation 3 in Greatest Gadget fight: A calamitous console clash

This week the Wii squares off against the PS3 in our Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century Tournament. Luke rushes to the defence of the Wii, while GameSpot UK's Mark Walton backs Sony's machine...

This week in our Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century tournament, the world bears witness to a catastrophic console clash of calamitous consequence! That's right -- Nintendo's revolutionary Wii console is up against the megatonne might of the PlayStation 3. Only one console can make it through to the next round, and which one survives will ultimately be up to you.

But before you cast your precious vote, sit back and hear what CNET UK's own Luke Westaway and GameSpot UK's Mark Walton have to say on the subject. Luke will be defending the innovation and simplicity offered by Nintendo's console, while Mark likes the PS3 for its processing grunt and graphical beauty.

As host and gentleman, Luke kicks off...

The Wii is innovative

LUKE: Hello Mister Mark, welcome to the hallowed halls of CNET UK. You might be from a proper gaming website and all, but if you reckon the PS3 deserves to beat the Wii then, sir, you are quite mad. What does the Wii offer? Put simply -- innovation. Before the Wii the whole games industry was a stagnant mess, occupied exclusively by greasy basement-dwellers. The Wii changed everything by introducing motion control and opening up the world of gaming to a whole new audience.

MARK: Oh Luke, those are the words of a man whose insane lust for gadget gimmickry has blinded him to the truth -- the Wii is a mere toy compared to the mighty power of the PS3. And the games industry a stagnant mess? I think you'll find the games industry was doing pretty darn well for itself without the Wii. The PlayStation 2 sold well over 100 million units, with games sales reaching incomprehensible figures. The PS3 has built upon that, giving the people what they want without trying to appeal to 5-year-olds (such as yourself) -- HD, Blu-ray and killer online gaming.

LUKE: It's funny you should mention the PS3 'building upon' past success, and in a sense you're completely right -- up until the Wii, every generation of new consoles would add to what went before by slapping on a few extra buttons, until eventually the standard gaming controller ended up looking like some kind of freakish alien probe. The Wii was a fresh start, and offered a control method that was both simple and accessible.

Regular controllers are superior

MARK: When was the last time you were playing a game and thought, "I know what would make this more fun! Waving my hands in the air like an idiot, accidentally smacking my friends in the face, and inadvertently hurling controllers at my £1,000 plasma?" The PS3's pad is an evolution of arguably the best controller design of all time, offering comfort, loads of buttons, and most important of all, accuracy.

Gamers don't want to wave their hands in the air and wait for an eternity while the game tries to recognise their movements. The humble button will always be more accurate and responsive, and won't make you look like you're wrestling with an invisible greased-up deaf guy.

LUKE: If it's twitch-response gaming you're into, the Wii Remote has physical buttons too. It's the best of both worlds. And frankly Mark, if you own a PS3 I'd be astonished if you could also afford a £1,000 plasma TV, because the PlayStation 3 costs more money than exists in all the world. When it launched in the UK it cost a mammoth £425. I'm going to write that out in full letters so you can appreciate quite how expensive the PS3 really was: Four Hundred and Twenty Five Pounds.

That's obscene. It's no wonder the PS3 alienated fans and sold appallingly. Compare that to the Wii, which cost a mere £179 when it launched. Just another example of the Wii being an inclusive, accessible console and the PS3 being an elitist machine reserved for the lonely, nerdy sons of oil tycoons.

The PlayStation 3 is better value

MARK: Just like CNET to start crying like babies over the cost. It's not about the cost, it's about value. Yes, the PS3 launched at £425, but it offered so much more than the Wii. Blu-ray playback, media streaming, movie downloads, a free online service, a Web browser, HD graphics -- would you like me to go on?

Its features have been constantly expanding since launch too, with iPlayer, Vidzone and 3D gaming all new additions. Let's face it: people who bought a Wii played Wii Sports for a month, before leaving it to gather dust, unused and unloved. The PS3 is the gift that just keeps on giving, with a killer lineup of games and features that are used day in, day out.

And let's not forget the Wii is using technology developed in the stone age. It's nothing more than a tarted-up GameCube -- a console released in 2002 -- which itself wasn't that much more powerful than a PS2. The PS3 can display games at an eye-melting 1080p, which makes the Wii's paltry 480p look like something scrawled on the screen with a crayon. Its revolutionary Cell processor runs at a cool 3.2GHz and pushes 2 terraflops, making games look awesome.

Did I mention audio? While the Wii uses Dolby's aging Pro Logic II stereo surround, the PS3 can push out glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, as well as 7.1 HD formats. The Wii is old, decrepit technology that should have landed on the scrap heap a long time ago.

It's not about the graphics...

LUKE: Well, I'm not convinced that all of those things were actual words, but I'll admit the PS3 is a tasty bit of kit in terms of hardware. That said, a spec sheet as long as your arm can only get you so far. And you know what I call all those features you mentioned? Turd polish. If there's one thing we've learned after years of gaming it's that boring extra features like that are no substitute for proper, enjoyable games.

People don't want their consoles to browse the Web, update their social networks or walk the dog -- they want to play games. The PS3 is a jack of all trades, master of none, while the Wii offers pure, uncomplicated gaming thrills.

MARK: I'm sorry, but you're so horribly wrong there that my head almost exploded. No good games on PS3? How about Killzone 2, Little Big Planet, Infamous, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2, Metal Gear Solid, God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII and Demon's Souls?

Almost all of those games can be played online using the free PlayStation Network. Voice chat, friends lists and easy-to-use matchmaking make playing online a joy, so you don't have to endure your pizza-eating, beer-drinking, girlfriend-insulting friends stinking up the place.

LUKE: Aah, we come at last to the nub of the issue -- antisocial gamers! Listen Walton, PlayStation Network might be free, but so is leprosy, and you don't see me signing up for a dose of that. Online gaming over PSN sounds great in principle, until a 10-year-old child is screaming abuse at you down a headset. The Wii gets people together in real life, with simple games such as Wii Bowling (part of the spiffing Wii Sports) offering a better multiplayer experience than the PlayStation ever could.

The Wii is about having a great time with your family at Christmas, or getting blind drunk with your friends and falling through your TV. When it comes to pure unbridled fun, the PlayStation 3 can't possibly measure up.

PlayStation Move offers gamers a choice

MARK: Wrong again Luke -- the PS3 offers choice. If you want to sit at home and scream obscenities at n00bs in Call of Duty, you can. But if you fancy some old-fashioned social interaction, you can get yourself a PlayStation Move , which gives you all the motion-controlled, socially accessible waggling you could ever want. Not only that, but it does so with the power of the PS3 in tow, so you get much more accurate controls, along with more HD graphics and technical wizardry than you can shake a Wii Remote at.

And if you fancy dropping the controllers altogether, you can use the PlayStation Eye with augmented reality games such as EyePet, which, as you well know, is the cutest thing ever made. Look at its little face and those big loving eyes and tell me the Wii is better. You can't, can you? You big softy.

LUKE: Dammit Mark, you're right -- EyePet is adorable (seriously, can we adopt him please?), but the real tragedy is that his parents didn't love him enough to let him live on a family-friendly console. And as for Move, it might bring the multiplayer jollies, but it brings them four years later than the Wii, and is wholly derivative of Nintendo's own controller.

Move actually neatly sums up the difference in approach between the two companies. While Nintendo has always favoured invention and trying new things, Sony's approach is to go wholeheartedly with whatever's bringing in cash at the time, swamping the player in glitz and glam in the hope they won't notice they're not actually having any fun.

When Sony saw the Wii was making massive money, it created its own identical product, completely missing the point that what first endeared the Wii to gamers was trying something new, and something innovative.

It's up to you

Well guys, it's up to you to decide which of these hopeless fools is the correct fool. Talk is cheap, and in the end only votes matter, so head over to our voting page and have your say. Then when you've done that, tell Luke or Mark exactly why they're stupid losers in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Tags:
Gaming
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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