The Best Console is…?

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So this post’s title is a bit tongue-in-cheek. There is no such thing as a best console. This post is really intended to answer the following question: what is my best — favourite — console? And the answer is… well, lets add some context first (yeah, I know: I’m a dick).

My first ever console was an Atari something-or-other. Unfortunately, it was years after everybody else was done with them…I think it was a hand-me-across (that is, someone took it out of their kids closet who never played it, gave it to my dad who, in turn, gave it to me and my brothers). My first real console was a PlayStation 1. Before buying one, I played one for hundreds of hours at various friends places before I ever managed to scrounge together the money (with my brother) to buy our own. My favourite game was Metal Gear Solid 1… I must have played that game, by my reckoning, at least 30 times start-to-finish as well as demolishing each and every extra, not to mention the original Ridge Racer, which was a beauty of a game that I had to learn to beat in one sitting (we didn’t save up enough for a memory card, so every time I had to restart the console, I started over).

From there, it was a no-brainer to move onto the PS2 when that was released in 2000. MGS2 and 3 were easily the best games of that generation (for me). However, the amount of great games on that system were too numerous to count: God of War I & II, Red Faction, and Tekken to name a few. At this point, I was pretty loyal to Sony’s brand and didn’t bat an eye when the original Xbox was released. In fact, I often castigated it for being an ugly POS, but that was merely the fan boy in me (but, let’s face it, it was ugly). The PS2 turned me into a Sony fanboy.

As such a fanboy, it was with reluctance that I bought an Xbox 360 in 2006 when I became friends with Matt, (yes, that Matt, the founder of OTH). He convinced me after a game of pickup basketball to buy a 360 so we can play Halo 2 online. “I’m more of a single player gamer myself,” was my response at the time… (Oh, how I would eat those words.) I still bought the console because my preferred console, the PS3, was still a year away from being released and playing games on a 6-year-old console was getting long in the tooth. That was the why of how I joined the Xbox universe… I’m really bad at waiting.

I really rather enjoyed the Xbox 360… I loved the social aspect of it: Matt and I spent countless hours shooting the shit in games like Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas, Crackdown, and even Texas Hold’em Poker! Nostalgia is definitely something I feel when I fire up the Xbox One and have nothing to play right now, but we’ll get to that in another post. The Xbox 360 was a console of firsts for me: I played new, innovative games like Gears of War, which brought new meaning to the term ‘fluency’ on games, as well as Crackdown, doing the same for ‘agility’; then, most importantly, there was the multiplayer aspect of these games… it was nigh flawless; especially when compared to the later PS3 implementation of multiplayer (signing up for MGS4 mp still makes me cringe seven years later).

However. eventually, the year passed, the PS3 came out and I bought it opening day at midnight launch. My first games were Resistance (solid game) and Motorstorm (meh). Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) was the main game I was waiting for, and boy was it worth the wait. I loved that console, but looking back on it now, I’m not sure why… It took me four years to play multiplayer on my favourite all-time game (MGS4); I tried multiple times over several years to register for MGS4 multiplayer, then to download the bloated several gigabyte in size updates, but it didn’t work until 2012, four years after the games release. Regardless of my love for any game, that kind of implementation is beyond forgivable. And it was like this for other games also; many games wanted a separate registration to play multiplayer on the PS3. Frankly, aside from doing it for MGS4, I never bothered doing it for any other game. The PS3, after coming off the Xbox 360, was basically just a single player console that could be used, with significant pain, for multiplayer. Needless to say; it was rather a boring 5-6 years.

By this point, you should be able to figure out that the 360 is my personal answer to the best console question. The funny thing is that it took me until this generation to figure that out. In May of 2014, I bought a PS4…again, out of some kind of brand loyalty that hadn’t withered away. I played The Last of Us (amazing) and simply didn’t use it again. It just sat there: a poor social experience, very few unique exclusive games — aside from The Last of Us, I can’t think of a single decent one until Uncharted 4 — and very few interesting games. Couple that with the fact that most of the rest have gone multi-platform such as Metal Gear Solid, and the Xbox One have multiple, huge big exclusives gave me little reason to enjoy my purchase. It was only there, staring at that boring, black box in my living room that I finally looked back on the previous generation and came to a rational conclusion: the Xbox 360 was the console I had the most fun on, whether it be sending Matt flying 50m off a booby-trapped chimney in Crackdown, teabagging his defensive line with Dirk Nowitzki in NBA 2K6, or getting teabagged in Halo 2 (repeatedly and without mercy for years, I might add), I just had more fun on the Xbox 360 than on the PS1, 2, or 3, and if fun can’t be used as a stand in for best, then what good is half the crap we do for fun then? Don’t forget: this is coming from a PS fanboy. (Albeit, I have to add that best game of the last generation goes to MGS4 for me, which was a PS3 exclusive.) Again, I have to add: this realization did not happen until after that generation had come and gone. During the previous-gen (then current-gen) epoch, I was firmly on the PS3 side…even while I was both objectively and subjectively having more fun on Xbox Live… Such is the wonder of motivated reasoning and rationalization.

Having come to that realization, I sold my PS4 and bought an Xbox One. I’m still rather bored, though not as much as with the PS4. I do have a lot more to look forward too on Xbox One: the not-a-reboot, not a sequel Crackdown, Gears of War 4, Halo 5, not to mention the newly uncovered backwards-compatibility which will allow me to play all my golden oldies. However, the woes of the current-new-gen (it gets real tiring constantly referring to current, previous, last-gen) will be reserved for another post.

It is my humble opinion that the Xbox 360 takes the cake for best console: it had the best multiplayer implementation via Xbox Live; the smoothest, best performing 3rd-party games as it was much easier to develop for; and innovative games that broke the stale mould of the numerous FPS’ and third-person shooters that came before. It was truly a forward thinking console for its time.

That’s all for my first post. Thank you for reading and I’m happy to be here at OTH. Thanks Matt!