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Monday, March 04, 2024

It's a bloody war, and the air is filled with smoke and fire. Partisan fanboys catcall from the battlefield, where Microsoft and Sony haul their guns to bear. And big guns they are, my friends: Both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 finally hit their long-delayed strides come autumn, as wave after wave of triple-A titles stream to our poor, budget-restricted arms. BioShock, Mass Effect and the quintessential Halo 3 face off against Haze, Lair and Heavenly Sword; the financially average student is going to need to pick a side.

For some, the choice is simple. Do Halo 3's bubble shields entice you? 360. Heavenly Sword's jaw-dropping visuals? PS3. The games should always be the determining factor in a console purchase, so do the research and make a call. However, should you be seated rather uncomfortably on a dividing, pointy fence, I would offer my own slightly biased opinion: Sony, undisputed champion of the last decade of gaming, apparently thinks of you as an uneducated sheep.

You see, to increase sales, Sony decided to "lower" its prices over the summer. And thank heaven, right? I mean, ,600 for a console; that's ridiculous. But let's take a look at what they really did: The original ,499 model (with a 20 GB internal hard drive) was removed from the market early this year. The original ,599 model (with a 60 GB internal hard drive) was in fact lowered to ,499, and if you're lucky, you picked one up - good for you. Here's the catch: Sony has already discontinued this model. No new units will be made. Instead, it has introduced a new ,599 version, with - get this - an 80 GB internal hard drive. That's 20 extra gigabytes for ,100. Sony, I can hop on the Internet and grab a massive 500 GB hard drive for that same hundred bucks. You've gone from a single, ,599 option to another single, ,599 option with a pathetic 33 percent increase in internal storage. Heck, the new model even removes a significant portion of PS2 backwards compatibility. Holy hell.

Microsoft, on the other hand, seems fond of upgrading its hardware and not telling anyone about it. The company also announced slight price drops over the summer (,279 for the low-end, ,349 for slightly better and ,449 for the high-end version), but it's also added a new HDMI (read: high-definition) port, and sometime in the next few months, it'll move to a new manufacturing process that will drastically reduce noise and heat. And the company's not saying a word! Finally, it's recently addressed the high failure rate of units by retroactively extending the manufacturer's warranty to a hefty three years, so if your system fails, just ship it back and Microsoft will fix it with some duct tape or something. No problem.

The world of gaming is divided and hostile. It's a tough decision, but when one side offers you delicious candy and the other holds a gun in your face, it makes the call just that much easier to make. Or, of course, you could just pick up a Nintendo Wii (,249) and enjoy the holiday season with Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl - but hey, we weren't talking about that.

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