The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are shiny and new, but that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy them right away. No, there’s still a lot of life to glean from the old PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
In fact, if you’re new to consoles altogether, there are compelling reasons why you should go for one of these older consoles instead of forking out considerably more for their successors.
Outside of the games, the differences between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are largely negligible, but there are a few worth mentioning.
First, here is what the PS3 has going for in its favour.
Plus is free
Who knew free internet would be a commodity in 2014? Sadly, if you’re looking to play console games online you’re very often asked to pay for the privilege. The Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360 all charge an annual fee, but the PS3 doesn’t. So if you’re bowled over by the idea of gaming online without having to open up your wallet, plumb for the PS3.
The PS3 has a catalogue of excellent games exclusive to the console. Look no further than The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic tale of survival which was released in 2013 to critical claim. It looks great, and it’s wonderful fun (if you don’t mind the odd scare). Heck, dust off Heavy Rain and play it instead of David Cage’s distinctly inferior – but unrelated – follow-up, Beyond: Two Souls. Don’t forget Demon’s Souls either. It’s the predecessor to Dark Souls in all but name (and we have licensing issues to blame for that).
Now for the Xbox 360.
No disc install
The 360 lets you pop the disc in the tray and immediately get playing without having to wait for the game to install, an inconvenience all the other consoles place upon you. That’s great when you want to jump in and get playing right away, although there are exceptional cases where a mandatory install is required, such as in Grand Theft Auto V.
Have you dabbled in the 360’s excellent exclusive games? Chances are you haven’t played them all. There’s still time to slay all the zombies in Dead Rising, guide Cortana to safety in Halo 4 and become master of the track in Forza 4. Or how about Gears of War? It ranks as one of the best series in the industry.
Sure, sequels will be released for all these games on the new consoles but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the old stalwarts. The original Dead Rising, for instance, is still my favourite in the series because it doesn’t try to pander to all and sundry.
Whether you choose the PS3 or Xbox 360, there are dozens of games exclusive for each console to choose from. But no matter which you choose, there are yet more compelling reasons to favour the older consoles for now…
Old consoles are still getting new games
The PS4 and Xbox One might be touting their new releases to anyone who will listen, but look closely and you’ll notice that the majority of these games are also heading to the 360 and PS3.
Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Metal Gear Solid 5, Murdered: Soul suspect, Wolfenstein: New Order, The Evil Within – all these big next-gen titles are actually shipping concurrently on current-gen hardware. They won’t look as good on the older tech, but they’ll play exactly the same. And if we’re being honest, the difference in visual fidelity – at least for the moment – is hardly worth mentioning.
In fact, the technical heft of the Xbox One and PS4 won’t be fully realized by developers for another year at least, so you can safely assume that Watch Dogs running on your 360 is a fairly good approximation of Watch Dogs on the Xbox One.
Then there’s a game like Castlevania 2, which isn’t making an appearance on the new consoles at all and is instead arriving solely for the 360 and PS3. Publishers will continue to support these platforms for another year at least.
Which brings me to the most compelling reason of all to stick with the old guard…
…Dark Souls II
Yes. Dark Souls 2 is arriving this March, and it’s exclusive to the 360 and PS3. Forget the new consoles. This is the game you want to play in 2014. It’s the sequel to my favourite game ever, and the game I’ve invested more hours in than any other.
Dark Souls 2 trims the fat, tweaks the formula, and leaves you with what really matters: hard-as-nails third-person combat. It’s an RPG unlike any other; one that doesn’t bother with long cutscenes and lots of pointless dialogue. It understands that sometimes gamers want core, visceral gaming, with no breaks in between.
One day Dark Souls 2 might be ported to next-gen consoles, but as of now, it stands as the most compelling reason to keep faith with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Shop around and you’ll snap up an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for next to nothing. Both consoles have a long library of games that dwarf the content newer consoles are currently offering.
Going forward, publishers will continue to pump out new games to these platforms too, meaning there’ll be plenty more to add to your collection. So if you’re yet to dip a toe in console waters, I’d suggest you forget the Xbox One and PS4 until 2015, and stick with the old guard instead.