Last week we looked at playing video games on handheld consoles and tablet devices. But what if you want a shot at the real deal? All the gore and mayhem of the Assassin's Creed on your surround sound home theatre and its 60" display? This is where things get interesting. Let us examine the three major brands and their devices.
Sony Playstation 3
Starting @ Rs 18,990
The Internet is full of stories about the imminent arrival of Playstation 4, but that is no reason to ignore the current available version. Sony's Playstation is an icon in gaming, and the PS3 changed quite a few things. For starters, the gaming console finally lost its boxy look and acquired some curves. It has two storage options - 12GB or 500 GB. It can store not only games, but even videos, movies and photographs. For the fashion conscious, Sony offers three colour options for the console, apart from the standard black.
If you love action games or car games, the Playstation is a great option. Not that it's not good for other kinds of games, but with dual shock controllers, the feedback of getting hit and hitting someone is very realistic.
Sony also offers navigation controllers, and real-motion games that are operated by a motion controller, so that you don't end up a total couch potato. It even has an additional Blu Ray remote control, in case you want to use your PS3 as a Blu Ray disc player.
The previous generation Playstation 2 is still available, if budget is an issue. The PS2 also has some interesting games. Games on the PS3 start at Rs 599 and can go up to Rs 8,000. Do check with the vendor for bundled deals and free games.
Starting @ Rs 15,990
Nintendo kickstarted the whole motion game paradigm with their Wii a few years ago. The idea was that even if you are a video game buff, there is no reason to rest on your backside and twiddle your thumbs. The Wii came with a controller that you could use as a tennis racquet, a baseball bat, boxing gloves or even a guitar.
A few months ago Nintendo upgraded the controller with an add-on instrument to give greater accuracy, and brought out games such as archery and darts. The Wii is not so much about great graphics or sound effects, as about the fun of movement and playing a game almost realistically.
The Wii is also one of the smallest consoles on the market, and the package includes a starter game pack. Games cost between Rs 1,099 and about Rs 3,600. There is an add-on in the form of Wii Fit, a floor-board that can be used for exercise games as well as dance, replete with trainers and monitoring of your progress. But the board costs extra.
The Microsoft xBox 360 with Kinect
Starting @ Rs 17,989
This is the most expensive option in our line-up, but undeniably brings the best of both the worlds. Not only do you get great graphics like the PS3, but you also get Wii-like movement games. Variants come with 4 GB and 250 GB storage space. The bundle includes the Xbox 360 game console and a 3D camera. You the player are the motion controller.
Moreover, you can buy the Xbox without buying Kinect first up. Buy the console, get used to the games, and you can buy Kinect as an add-on later. People interested in action games, flight simulators or car race games will find good titles and realistic graphics. Sony fans may claim the PS graphics are better, but that may be nitpicking.
Games cost Rs 699 upwards to Rs 7,000, with huge variety. There's a game where you get stuffed toys your child can pet and interact with. You may need a bigger room though, as the camera needs space to sense the user.
If you are interested in getting your kids to move their body, and are not bothered too much about graphics, the Nintendo Wii may appeal to you. But getting a variety of games may be tough, so please do due diligence before making a choice. Both the Sony Playstation3 and the Microsoft Kinect offer interesting movement-related games. The fun aspect of Kinect is that there is no additional controller. Most large-format stores offer touch-and-try experience, so before you make a choice, it would be wise to take up this offer before committing to one format.
And if you are content to sit on the fence for a little longer, the much-talked-about PS4 may actually materalise soon.