The heat is on!
In 2013, we’ve reached a point in technology where most of us carry around phones with more RAM than the consoles we play games on. (Our phones have more powerful chips than the ship that landed on the moon). We’ve made our plea to the gaming dogmas… and Nintendo has made the first move. With the highly anticipated release of the Wii U this past year, a lot of us were overjoyed to find it has entered the HD era alongside its competitors. Nintendo also broadened its horizons and stepped out into the mature gaming market. A bold step, for those of you who don’t already know.
Since Nintendo has been capitalizing on the characters it fathered some 30 years ago, I’d say it’s about time they too evolve with the industry. Don’t hate me, I bought the remake of Ocarina of Time for the 3DS (even though it was the same exact game I bought for the Gamecube). And I love Super Mario Bros and Mario 64 as much as any person, but how long were they going to be giving us the same story over and over again, often literally (e.g. Ocarina)? Although the Wii U isn’t as slick or even as robust as what’s being promised by Sony, and I will assume Microsoft (E3 is coming, brace yourself!).. The Wii U offers:
- Tri Core, 3 GHz PowerPC-based 45nm CPU, very similar to the Xbox 360 chip. The CPU features 2 MB cache, 1 MB for Core 0, and 512 KB for cores 1 and 2
- 2 GB RAM: 1 GB is allocated for games and is shared between the CPU and the GPU, while 1 GB is allocated to the operating system.
- Custom 40nm AMD GPU with 32 MB embedded eDRAM and unified shader architecture
- 25 GB Blu-ray based disc
- 8 / 32 GB internal flash memory
- Custom, Nintendo-made Wii U operating system that runs on a separate, ARM-based processor.
- Dedicated 120 MHz audio processor, 6 channel audio for console, 2 channel for controller
- 512 MB separate on-board flash storage for the OS only
Perks include an affordable integration of HD quality graphics, handheld capability/functions (that are unique to console gaming and kind of remind me of the Dreamcast controller), and the optimization of your television set functions (a big plus for those of us who share). Despite minor gripes about things such as no individual sales of the gamepad controller (in North America)… generally the Wii U meets what we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. The decision to not allow the western market to purchase single game pad controllers is claimed to be a fear that the CPU won’t be able to handle two controllers and may compromise the games. Now, for that argument to be valid I’d like to know why Japan gets it (at more than half the price of the entire system) and we don’t… but lets entertain it for a moment. That being true would be an example of a very understandable call. How many of you bought an extra Wii controller or two, and then had to buy Wii Motion Plus? If they’re operating under the pretense of improvement I’d say this is a great start and a forgivable setback.
My guess is that the Wii U will be selling like hot cakes this Christmas. Figuring that when parents compare the price tags and libraries of the other two new consoles with Nintendo’s, it will be a no contest. I will go so far as to speculate Nintendo may not be able to meet production demands, much like it had with the Wii during past holiday seasons. Still, there will be a huge base-audience of people not swayed by the gimmicks Nintendo puts forth and will genuinely be comparing hardware. In this arena the competition will be solely between the next-gen Xbox (720-but unconfirmed) and the confirmed PS4… most likely. The proclaimed Xbox 720 and the PS4 are being called by some as ‘remarkably similar‘. Contingent on AMD technology, both for their CPU and GPU components as my linked source explains.
Yeah… whatever all THAT means!
The Sony Conference everyone has been buzzing about since last month squashed rumors that the PS4 will come with only 4GB of memory but instead it comes with 8GB of memory. Also noteworthy is the combination of the CPU and GPU on a single chip! This hasn’t been done before in a console or even in PC’s, which have integrated chips but nowhere near the graphical integrity of the PS4 (well done Sony). Past experience dictates that Sony will deliver a high-powered and high performing machine. Complete list of confirmed PS4 specs are as follows:
- CPU: Custom x84-64 AMD ‘Jaguar’, with 8 cores.
- GPU: 1.84 Teraflops, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine.
- RAM: GDDR5 8GB of Memory
- HDD: Built-In, unknown capacity.
- Optical Drives: Read only BD 6xCAV and DVD 8xCAV drives.
- I/O: Super Speed USB, (USB 3.0) Aux.
- Ethernet/Comm: Ethernet 802.11 b/g/n, with Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
- AV Output: HDMI and Analog AV-Out with a Digital Output (optical).
As you can see to date the real console race is between Nintendo and Sony (a tale as old as time).
As I mentioned earlier, Wii U has implemented a convenience feature with the controller acting as a portable playing device. It’s function allows you to roam freely around your house when in-game and also allows for other people to utilize the same television unit. But the PS4 has compatibility and convenience features as well; tailored to the tastes of solo gamers in order beat out the Wii U (and it’s tempting price). My personal favorite is the ability for background downloading and uploading. Background functions are a supreme step-up from the PS3. This will allow users to play games, download, and upload all at the same time. The social elements (which better be completely optional!) will allow you to stream with buddies and post your gameplay/achievements on your Facebook. Not my cup of tea, but then again it probably is for someone… If you’d watched the lengthy 2 hour+ introduction of the PS4 you’d have probably remembered the Havok demo where Sony flaunted it’s impressive GPU capability – outfitted for running the more graphically challenging games (lest we forget the Skyrim disaster) for a system, including 3D. Like it or not the PS3 didn’t always measure up to frame rate and graphical fidelity standards… this improvement is promising!
The most interesting capability however for the PS4, is the one which almost mimics the Wii U. I’ve written about this before, but I’ll bring it up again. Implementing the Vita into console gaming. From what I could comprehend, the Vita will accept streamed video and live play from the console itself– just like the Wii U gamepad. This can’t be a coincidence and it’s not a bad idea especially for someone who already owns a Vita… but for those of you looking to get a Wii U experience out of a Sony product, or perhaps a parent doing research on the topic (e.g. all the Wii U’s are sold out the Customer Service Rep suggested to you it’d be a great idea) don’t neglect the hefty price. The Wii U offers a growing library, much more exclusive content, and a functional gamepad that is custom to the console itself. The PS4 although the price is unconfirmed will run you most likely around $700.00, plus the never dropping Vita price… you’ll end up with a very powerful Wii U for more than tripple the price! At that rate, you could just buy a custom gaming rig, a usb controller, and play just about ALL of the games offerend by Sony for a fraction of the price. Puts things into perspective right? The PS4 is just a computer shaped like a console… so if you’re wondering if it’s worth it you should probably turn to the titles exclusive to the system and not so much the specs.
Some people just can’t wasd
- It is still rumored whether or not the next Xbox will have as much but based on some reports it seems to be so (Microsoft… Don’t fuck it up!). Suggestions such as cable box capabilities (Next Gen TV) and BluRay functions would be a logical next step as Microsoft already streams movies and MMA events through live. But I’m not going to dwell on what the Xbox may or may not bring to the table because it’s not official just yet. If you’d like to know about speculated specifications they can be found here.