The other day I nipped into PC World to buy some paper, and grabbed a chance to a have a quick go on a couple of Xbox360 demo machines. The two games I played were MotoGP (a motorbike racing game) and Dead or Alive 3 (a beat-em-up). The first thing I noticed was the fact that, on MotoGP, the graphics were nigh-on video quality. I'll be honest, my jaw dropped - I simply couldn't believe how realistic and life-like the game looked. Dead or Alive 3 was more stylised (thus less life-like) but still looked breathtakingly beautiful.
Yet I eventually left the store rather unimpressed. Why? Because, once a certain standard has been reached, graphics just don't make much difference. Superbike 2000 had brilliant graphics, and when played with a joystick, was pretty much all you could ever want from a motorbike racing sim. Is Dead or Alive 3 really much better than Tekken 3, or Soul Caliber? I guess what I'm getting at is, is it worth paying hundreds of pounds for a new system, and £50 each for games to play on it, when the final experience you get isn't much different?
My current thinking is 'no'. Which is why, each time I hear a little more about Nintendo's console, the daftly-monikered 'Wii', I get more and more interested. It's now well-accepted that the graphical power will not be as high as the Xbox360 or the PS3, yet the new control system (which is based around the detection of motion of a wireless controller) opens up an entire new domain of gaming options. Fine, if it works well. Yet from reading reports on the internet (e.g. http://wii.ign.com), it looks like Nintendo, and the various developers who have working on the launch titles, might just pull it off.
In conjunction with the facts that the Wii is likely to cost around £150 at launch (under half the price of the PS3), the games will be around £30 (rather than £50), and many classic Nintendo games of previous consoles will be available for direct download for £5 or £10, Nintendo might actually have a chance of taking top-dog in the console market. Previously I have been a Sony die-hard when it comes to consoles, but unless Sony announce something really revolutionary with the PS3 (and drop the price!), my money might well be going Nintendo's way.