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Tales of a Console Newbie

I’m a gamer, always have been, probably always will be. I’m proud of it. However for many years my gaming has been purely PC-based. There are many reasons for this. The first and most significant is that I just could never see the value in a machine purely for games; my PC is my workhorse and its fancy graphics card delivers better gaming quality than I have ever seen on a console. So I get the best of both worlds. Besides no console gamer can ever tell me first person shooters are better on a console… they would be lying. This is a fact.

This is the story of how I finally caved and bought a console. The full tale is after the jump.

Recently I needed a media centre, I reviewed what was available and after much deliberation, realized that a next gen console might be just what I needed (good excuse don’t you think?). So I made the decision and purchased a PS3. Why a PS3 you ask? Good question, as a console noob I had no preference between the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Perhaps a good position to be in but also fairly difficult, have you ever asked someone whether they’re Mac or PC friendly… or whether they prefer Marmite or Bovril? These are polar opposites in most people’s worlds, whilst in mine they occupy a grey area. Marmite is better in the morning and Bovril is good the rest of the day, whilst Macs are great and pretty they are also hellish expensive and for the same money I can buy a PC capable of making me coffee and oh yes I can play games on it. You see – grey area.

But for a console gamer this grey area is unlikely to exist. I tried reasoning, I tried seeing it from both sides… none of that matters when you are dealing with fanaticism. So eventually I had to make the decision on my own. I went the way of the PS3 because as I stated I needed a media centre and whilst both are fairly good media centres, the PS3 has the edge with a Blu-Ray drive and perhaps most importantly for me a little program called PS3 Media Server. You see whilst both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 work out the box with Microsoft Windows Media Centre but it doesn’t have the greatest functionality and perhaps most importantly can only play certain formats. Both consoles only play a small variety of formats, admittedly these are the most common but they fall short when it comes to some of the niche formats and things like subtitles (Anime freaks pay attention). PS3 Media Server solves all these problems by transcoding on the fly, so if you have a movie on your PC in a format that the PS3 cannot natively play it will be transcoded into a playable format for your viewing pleasure.

So in about 30 minutes I had my newly minted PS3 connected via my wireless network to my PC and with PS3 Media Server installed I could watch all the movies and series on my server, ARRRRR.. Damn sorry my pirate voice slipped in.

A note about music. The Xbox 360 wins this battle. For one thing, on the Xbox 360 you can play your own music during a game play session, regardless of the game. For some or other reason the PS3 cannot, the suspected reason is to do with music licensing… hmm music licensing standing in the way of my total enjoyment… Who would have seen that one coming? Another hiccup is the making of playlists; the PS3 can only make playlists of music stored on its hard drive or from an external drive that has been plugged in, not from music streaming via my server. There may be an answer to this problem, Right now the search is narrowed to either a plug-in for PS3 Media Server that accesses Media Monkey or apparently the new Winamp can stream to the PS3. Let me know if you know a way!

And finally, the gaming. I know I’ll be stepping on toes here but I have narrowed it down after a month of owning the PS3. There are many types of games that are better on the console mostly because of the social aspect of having two controllers. Sports games are better for one thing, platforming games like Braid and Trine rock. And then third person games like Assassin’s Creed and of course any (and all) fighting games. They aren’t better because of graphics or anything like that, they are better because of the controller. I tested the theory by playing FIFA 10 on the PC with a USB controller and it’s the simple truth of it. The other advantages over the PC are the sheer ease of use, the pick up and play of it. But where the console falls horribly short is in the first person shooter and the strategy departments. I’m sorry but seriously, once you go mouse…

For those of you interested, as a console noob I bought the following games to get me started: Uncharted 2, Infamous, Street Fighter IV, Resistance 2, Motor Storm Pacific Rift, FIFA 10, and most recently Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. I also downloaded a bunch of great games from the PS Store: Braid, Shank, Trine, Wipeout HD, Super Stardust HD, Shatter and Street Fighter 2 HD Remix, Pixeljunk Shooter, and Worms 2. I have yet to play enough of them to review, but perhaps I’ll let you know how it goes :)

And finally the biggest problem, that I never saw coming… it’s a boy-girl thing. Before I got my console, gaming was restricted to my office and my PC, now I’m in the lounge frantically mashing buttons to try and get Mario high on ‘shrooms. My significant other is deeply upset. This is something I didn’t forsee…

That’s it in a nutshell, I’m a convert and I love my console. But I’ll never give up my PC.

14 replies on “Tales of a Console Newbie”

awesome article! kinda reads like that Zero Punctuation guy. really cool, really jealous. wish i had time for gaming.

and must say i have only really played First person shooters and warcraft over the past few years so no real need for the console.

PS – Counterstrike for Mac FTW. what more does a girl need.

Ahh..the good ol’ “girl/guy” divide. My wife tried to get used to the idea of being a “gaming widow”. These days? She hijacks my iPod to play Angry Birds :(

i also had this dilemma a couple years back, and also thought the console would just be for casual gaming (mates coming round) and that i would do my proper gaming on the pc.
didn’t work out that way at all. i’ve only bought one game (c&c) for the pc since i got the console. sitting on the couch is just a too bigger draw card to ignore ;)

btw apparently buying singstar will turn your better half into a console user.

Not sure singstar is the answer. I once took her to Karaoke.. and then hid in shame. Not sure if I want to bring that sort of chaos into my house.

@Easy: I call bullshit on the Singstar mics idea. I bought those for FurryLuce and they haven’t been switched on. I bought DJ Hero recently and she played it for about an hour. The Wii Fit sits in the corner gathering dust, I bet it rues the day it told me I had the exercise age of a 57-year-old.

@GoDsGiMp: Bovril of Marmite? I prefer peanut butter, make of that what you will (because I certainly don’t). It’s a great article, thanks for submitting it. I didn’t consider any of these when I got mine, I suppose I didn’t have to – I’m like Dolph Lundgren, I win all my consoles.

About being able to play your own music during a game, frankly that has never been a bother to me, in fact I’d consider it a hindrance in some cases. I’m playing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (review forthcoming) and the sweeping score is a perfect complement to the game. It’d hate to see that ruined by sounds of Ke$ha mentioning how she woke up in the morning looking greener than Shrek.

@Tduck: Thankfully FurryLuce hasn’t expressed interest in my smart phone. I think I’ve managed to convince her that it’s for uber-l33t peeps only. She’ll then say, “Why are you using it then, dummy?” and I’ll say “I know I am, but what are you?”… wait that sounded better in my head.

@Ingrid: Honestly we all wish we had more time for gaming. Too many real-life things just get in the way.

Yeah but have you ever heard the music for Wipeout HD, techno crap… And not to mention FIFA. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for listening to the music score, take Braid for example, the music is integral to the game. But that said there are many games that just don’t require any music other than your own. I understand if you have a separate cd player this won’t be a problem.. but in my case the PS3 was meant to replace all those other systems, replace my cd player and dvd player.. I would totally love to listen to my own tunes whilst kicking someones ass at FIFA. :)

Good article! I’m not much of a gamer myself but I use the xbox to play media content on me TV (using ), and it’s possible ofcourse to transcode on the server using whatever software you like. Admittedly though i’d much prefer a PS3 for two main reasons: blue ray, and online gaming. You need to pay a subscription to MS to play games online, and it’s very difficult to get out of this subscription. (You need to PHONE them to cancel subscription.) I don’t like that. I believe you don’t need to pay subscription to play PS3 games online? I guess another deciding factor is what console your mates are using if you intend to play them online. peace! :pirate:

Totally true, Xbox live is a subscription service and PS network is free… I probably should have checked to see which of my mates had Xbox or PS3. Oh to live in a world where Xbox, PS3 and PC could all play in peace. .. Apparently EVE Online is heading that way.

doubt that will be happening with the current set of hardware choices. universal connections will only start coming through when cloud computing actually becomes a reality and not a proof of concept.

Yes, it would be nice if we could put our allegiances aside and play with each other.

Oh GiMp, one thing I neglected to mention – I believe the ability to have custom in-game audio has been available on the PS3 for a while now, since firmware 2.40 according to the Playstation Forums. I think it’s more game-dependent than system-dependent.

I had seen a similar list and some of the games I purchased were because of that.. But that list is MUCH better. For example I tried to use custom music in Wipeout HD but it didn’t work… and now I see why. You have to make a playlist and enable the custom music through the in-game menu! Things are looking UP!

Really awesome review;
I must say, i am a convert too.
Always have been a PC fiend, and used to awn at 1st person and war craft II with a mouse.
but since i got my PS3 and 42 inch plasma, i have played PC games a sole 10 times in 3 years.
and that included the new star craft.
i just cant get around to playing on my PC anymore.
never used it as anything more that a blue ray player, i have an MVix for my media server.

Enjoy your halloween!