Console Yourself

I bought the novelization of Batman & Robin recently, and I’m reading it at a fairly steady pace. I’ll likely do a write-up on it soonish, but first I thought I’d talk about something that’s been on my mind the last few days: games consoles.

We have, in our house, One Of Everything. A Wii, a PS3, and an Xbox 360. Generally wind up falling into a particular pattern when we’re buying games – we tend to buy games the 360 version of games with a multiplayer emphasis (e.g. Street Fighter IV or Rock Band), the PS3 version of singleplayer games (e.g. Batman: Arkham Asylum or Ghostbusters), and the Wii version if it’s a family game (e.g…. well, virtually every Wii game out there). I’ve been playing through Arkham Asylum and Ghostbusters on the PS3 recently and I came to a startling conclusion: I don’t like the console.

We’ve had our PS3 now for two years and we’ve bought, I think, about ten games for it in total. Most of those games I haven’t even finished. Most of those games I’ve traded in. Right now my PlayStation games library consists of the aforementioned singleplayer games, the quite brilliant LittleBigPlanet, and BioShock – a game I bought on the cheap because the PC version stopped working when I upgraded my graphics card (although it started working again when I installed Windows 7). Then there are, I think, about eight or nine PS2 games. My most recent games purchase for the console was Rayman 3, which is a good few years old.

Don’t get me wrong, the PS3 is a solid system, but I can’t help but feel something is missing from the PlayStation 3 experience – the social aspect.

It’s weird because four or five years ago it wouldn’t have even mattered to me, but the Xbox 360 has spoilt me. It has. The console has an absolutely perfect social side. It’s all wonderfully put together and nicely balanced and I know what I’m doing with it. The PS3, though, feels like the social stuff was slapped in at the last minute. That may be because it sort of was – player-to-player voice chat outside of specific games was only recently added to the console in a firmware update, and even then the base console doesn’t come with a free headset like the 360 does. What’s more, the advantages of the PlayStation 3’s online capabilities – free online play and a built-in wireless receiver – soon melt away when you discover that there’s no bugger playing the game you’re playing.

Perhaps most perplexing is that I miss this social aspect even in the singleplayer games I’m playing. I miss being able to bring up a list of players and see what they’re playing, what they’re up to, how they’re doing. I miss being able to compare my scores against my friends because, haha, none of my friends own a PS3 and so my Friends List is remarkably small, consisting mainly of JjAR and a handful of people I met on a forum I seldom visit anymore. Every time I boot up my PS3, I find myself wondering what my Xbox 360 friends are doing.

So I don’t think I shall be buying any more games for the PS3, save for console exclusives like Uncharted 2 and the inevitable follow-up to LittleBigPlanet. It just isn’t worth it.