Three consoles. One week of non-stop gaming.
When you compare different products, it usually makes sense to compare the products with an identical set of benchmarks. For video cards, you can’t benchmark Unreal for one card and Quake 3 for another and then somehow compare the framerates. For cars, comparing lap times from two different tracks is meaningless. With consoles, it’s different.
Paradoxically, a console is not defined by its software library but only by its exclusive titles. For the most part, games that show up on multiple platforms tend to be very similar to each other. The reason you have Madden 2002 for all three systems is for convenience, so comparing multi-platform games is only useful in revealing hardware strengths and weaknesses, which we’ve already covered. What makes or breaks a console are its exclusive games. You always have great games on every platform, but it’s the exclusive ones, the games you can’t find anywhere else that really sell the system.
In this article, we’ve chosen the most-hyped, exclusive games currently available to represent each console. These are the games everyone’s heard about and are most likely to influence your purchase decisions, and also seem to define the console’s personality. So if our comments about these games seem unusually positive, it’s only because we have tried to choose the best of the best.
Since 1999, every forward-looking PlayStation 2 article mentioned the triad of Sony’s Gran Turismo 3, Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 2, and Square’s Final Fantasy X. These are the games exclusive to the PlayStation 2 and would suppress those who would dare question the power of the PS2. These would be the games that would stun the world with not just graphics but next-generation gameplay. So we’ve been told. Two years after the Japanese launch of the PS2, all three games have shipped. Gran Turismo 3 lived up to the hype, offering cutting edge graphics and great gameplay to any fan of cars and driving, but the question is if Final Fantasy X and the extremely hyped Metal Gear Solid 2 can keep the PS2 momentum going strong.
Nintendo has always marketed the Gamecube as a family-friendly system where the focus is on gameplay rather than theatrics. Representing the Gamecube are Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, the last of the “Classic Star Wars Trilogy” games and Super Smash Bros. Melee, the sequel to the N64 favorite. Factor5, the developers of Rogue Leader, have been long and vocal proponents of the Gamecube hardware, ignoring the fact that they have $100 less of equipment to work with. Coming from Nintendo’s own studios is Super Smash Bros. Melee. The original Super Smash Bros was a mega-hit for the Nintendo 64 and was a game that seemed to transcend age levels. Nintendo’s animation and game design had made the fighting game genre cute without being saccharine. This sequel has been at the top of the sales charts in both Japan and the US.
Leading the Xbox’s attack is Bungie’s Halo. Once a Mac-only developer, Bungie began the Halo program on the PC. After Microsoft acquired the company, Halo’s focus was shifted to the Xbox. With few exceptions, first person shooters just aren’t ideal for consoles. Many lamented the loss (or delay) of the PC version of Halo, but when the Xbox version shipped we saw the most involving first person shooter storyline of recent time and a 2-player co-op experience that exceeded all our expectations. Dead or Alive 3 leads the second wave of attacks with its style and flash.