Before this year, I never had any intentions or desire to own an HD console. As a PC gamer, I figured them to be overpriced and full of games that looked pretty but played like ass. Most of the marquee offerings on both Sony and Microsoft consoles didn’t appeal to me whatsoever. Halo? Please, the multiplayer experience can’t even compare to Team Fortress 2. Uncharted? Ugh, overproduced and overhyped by Sony apologists. The online console experience couldn’t have possibly compared to the countless memories I garnered from playing an ungimped version of Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam for upwards of eight hours.
So imagine my surprise when I came home one cold January evening in 2010 and found myself compelled to own an HD console. What drove me to be the proud father of a cold, heartless HD machine?
Simpy put, it was the exclusives. I ultimately ended up choosing a PlayStation 3 for God of War 3 and The Last Guardian, one of which doesn’t even have a solid release date. Truthfully, after GoW3 came out, I expected my PS3 to gather dust until The Last Guardian released.
And honestly, it did for a while, before the bustling fall season, and even though my PS3 library’s rich and robust with amazing titles, it still felt as if I weren’t getting enough of the machine to warrant the exorbitant price, considering I’d bought it for, at this point, just one game.
Well, 2011 is almost here, and at this juncture, the PlayStation’s upcoming lineup not only looks healthy, but looks damned fine, especially compared to the Xbox 360’s confusing lack of any real lineup whatsoever. I’d hate to fuel any petty fanboy flames, but from this vantage point, 2011 looks to be the year of the PlayStation 3, easily.
Let’s get this out of the way first: in no way shape or form am I denouncing the quality of games on the 360. I recognize that Xbox Live is a brilliant interface: the focus on community and friends is something that I don’t think PSN will ever catch up with. There’s plenty of exclusive games on the 360 that I would love to play, like the Gears of War series, or any of Twisted Pixel’s amazing games.
But that’s sort of the problem with the 360’s announced lineup for next year: there aren’t really any true exclusives to speak of. Sure, you have Gears of War 3 coming out, along with the recently announced Ms. ‘Splosion Man and Forza 4, but beyond that, what else do we know about Microsoft’s exclusive lineup? Now that the Halo series is over (for now), there’s not much in the way of core-oriented system sellers on the 360. It almost seems like instead of toeing the line between casual and core that a company like Nintendo has expertly been doing for the entirety of the Wii’s lifespan so far, Microsoft is jumping off the line completely and heading straight for casual territory, going all in with their Kinect peripheral. They’ve promised us some core support for the Kinect, but there hasn’t been much in the way of concrete information at all.
Compare that to what we know of Sony’s exclusive lineup, and it’s almost not fair. They have the big AAA titles coming like Little Big Planet 2, Uncharted 3, and Killzone 3, but also arriving only on the PS3 are lesser-known but equally potent exclusives like Infamous 2, Resistance 3, SOCOM 4, MLB 11: The Show, DC Universe: Online, and Motorstorm: Apocalypse. On top of that, arthouse titles like the Ico Collection, The Last Guardian, and indie game Journey already have quite a bit of steam behind them, and are sure to make more waves once it gets closer to their release dates.
But it doesn’t even end there. Along with exclusive games, there’s already been confirmed exclusive content in games that are otherwise multi-console releases. Kratos is a playable character in the PS3 version of the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot, and Sony’s fanbase finally gets to experience an enhanced, better Mass Effect 2 that utilizes the Mass Effect 3 engine. Additionally, with Portal 2 coming next year, so arrives Steamworks exclusively for the Playstation 3, which supposedly will provide unrivaled community support for all of Valve’s future games. To top it all off, even if hasn’t been officially announced yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more exclusive content for the PS3 release of Arkham City, considering there were Joker missions that were available only on the PS3 version of Batman: Arkham Asylum.
And say what you want about Move – the thing might be a commercial flop compared to the Kinect, and the technology may or may not be as impressive – but at least Sony’s making an effort to promote the thing to core gamers. Move support in Killzone 3 and SOCOM 4 is already well-documented at this point, which is more than anyone could say for the Kinect and its lack of any core title support so far.
I’m sure Microsoft will have something up their sleeve for this upcoming year that will be sure to appease gamers. Of course, we can’t discount the numerous multi-console releases that are set to litter the playing field next year as well, along with the amazing back catalog of exclusive 360 games already available. For gamers who already own the 360, there’s no real lack of fantastic games set to come out in 2011. But if I were Microsoft, I really would be sweating bullets at this point, trying to find some way to sell the 360 next year to the core gamer, not to someone who wants to play Kinect shovelware. Only time will tell if/when Microsoft will get its act together and embrace the core audience that they seemingly just shrugged off in favor of the Kinect. I certainly hope they do, as competition is a very healthy thing in this industry, and keeps everyone honest with their video games.
But as it stands, bring on 2011 and the year of the PlayStation 3!