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Fanboyism In Journalism

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I normally don’t have a problem when ‘Professional’ sites do comparisons between consoles, as most are well written, factual, and informative. However, after recently reading Gamepro’s Feature: PS3 vs. Xbox 360 ports: The cold, hard truth, I’m not quite sure what the goal was, other than incite Fanboys by providing anything but the ‘Cold, Hard Truth’.

First off, I’ll state that I do my very best to stay neutral when it comes to providing information. Sure, I have my own personal preferences, but they do not interfere with providing information to the general public. I have owned pretty much every gaming system from Atari 2600 to Xbox 360. I do not currently own/play a PS3 or Wii, but I will give them proper respect and will likely buy both when I’m ready. I did the same thing with the last generation. The Xbox had more games that were my style (which was almost like a continuation of the Dreamcast), so I got that first. As time went on, I picked up a PS2 and GC because there were certain experiences that they offered which couldn’t be found on the Xbox. The same was true for the previous generation. I love gaming and that’s why I do what I do. I point out strengths and weaknesses in reviews and, to the best of my ability, do not let my personal preferences cloud judgment.

For the most part, when professional websites/magazines compare games between consoles, they list factual information, generally not something that is opinion or personal preference. So, when I read Gamepro’s article, I was genuinely interested in reading what they came up with. The feature compared Assassin’s Creed, Burnout: Paradise, Call of Duty 4, and Devil May Cry 4. As I was reading each comparison, I could see a theme; the article wasn’t really about a comparison, it was about how the PS3’s ports are rapidly becoming better than the Xbox 360’s counterparts. The quote “..we’re aiming to settle the contest over which console has the advantage in multi-platform releases moving forward.” would lead one to believe that you’re going to get some solid comparisons.

As a disclaimer – I am not trying to point out one version being better than another, rather I’m attempting to show how weak arguments do nothing to move the gaming industry forward and certainly don’t help consumers with their decisions.

Assassin’s Creed – “The Xbox 360 excels with first-person shooters, but third-person action games…not so much. As such, the Sixaxis is better suited for free running about the ancient domains of Assassin’s Creed.”

Are you kidding me? This is purely opinion, with no evidence as to how/why the Sixaxis is better.

“For example, free running is done by holding down R1 on PlayStation 3, whereas you need to pull on the right trigger when playing on an Xbox 360. Using R1 feels better than having to depress the trigger-it’s an easy kill for the PlayStation 3.”

Again, are you kidding me. Another opinion. Anyone could argue the same point for the 360 version, so this weak shit has no place being published.

The article goes on to compare graphics, load times, and online integration, which seem to be accurate aside from the inclusion of the Wii version’s online feature set to be more complete (isn’t it an article about PS3 vs. Xbox 360?).

Burnout: Paradise – This comparison was actually the most factual and, as a result, I can’t see much to point out aside from:

“The Xbox 360 controller’s triggers feel better for acceleration than the L2/R2 buttons on a Sixaxis, but really, it’s a subjective point.”

Unlike the control comparison for Assassin’s Creed, this time the author feels the need to add in the “but really, it’s a subjective point”, perhaps because there’s a slight edge to the 360 version?

Call of Duty 4 – Another comparison that, like Burnout, was pretty factual. However, the comments about their online features is a bit confusing.

“…you simply cannot deny that Call of Duty 4’s online functionality works better on PlayStation 3. Stable, dedicated servers are preferable to peer-to-peer networking any day of the week.”

According to our editor-in-chief (who plays the game like a mad-man online), there are no stability issues with CoD4 on the 360 and anyone who played the game regularly knows that a patch was released a little while back to address any problems with hosts dropping games. It’s debatable about which type of server is ‘better’, so that’s not completely objectionable.

Devil May Cry 4 – Now we go back to opinions again, with quotes like:

“Even though it lacks the vibration of an Xbox 360 controller, there’s no question the Sixaxis is better for playing Devil May Cry 4.”

And:

“The face buttons are simply easier to use for combos and the shoulder buttons, particularly R1, are superior for targeting over the right bumper on Xbox 360. In terms of responsiveness, both versions fare just fine but there’s no doubt that the Sixaxis enables better control of the action.”

How is the Sixaxis better, really? I would say it’s basically the same, so it will boil down to preference. It’s obvious that there’s some personal bias here, which is fine when you are chatting with friends; not ok when providing information to the general public.

Surprisingly, the author decided the one time install on PS3 DMC4 (with half the loading time otherwise) was inferior to the 360, so that was strange. “Absolutely no contest here: the Xbox 360 crosses the finish line before PlayStation 3 can even load it up.” That seems like an opinion too, as some people may not mind that one time install if it means half the loading times throughout the rest of the game.

The last part of the comparison, and the reason for selecting the PS3 version as superior, is confusing:

“Devil May Cry 4 controls better on PlayStation 3, but is less of a hassle on Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 controller just can’t match the feel of a Sixaxis when hacking up demons. When it comes down to it, controls trump loading times–especially in a fast-paced action game like Devil May Cry 4.”

So the controls are better on PS3 but less of a hassle on Xbox? What does that mean? Well it doesn’t matter because the conclusion doesn’t make sense either.

In the final conclusion, many faulty statements are made:

“While we can’t definitively name one console as having better multi-platform releases across the board, there’s a clear winner among these four games: PlayStation 3 beats the Xbox 360 handily.”

Uhhh..how does either console beat the other ‘handily’ here? The differences, at least the ones that aren’t pure opinion, are slight, at best. Quit trying to lure in readers with such terms that hold no weight. Then, it goes further with a ‘definitive’ statement, which is based on the weak comparisons:

“Judging by what we’ve seen with these recent games, you may be better off picking up PlayStation 3 versions of high-profile multi-platform games for the time being.”

So with almost negligible differences between the consoles, readers are supposed to now choose every high-profile multi-platform game? Wow…that’s quite a bold claim. If there were many, solid facts that obviously point to one console being much better at handling these ports, I could understand a statement like that. As it is, this straw-man fallacy that is Gamepro’s ‘feature’ just blows away with the wind.

Ultimately, all this does is give out a false impression to readers and, to the fanboys out there, it gives them more fuel for their weak fires. If you take a look at the comments to the Gamepro article, you’ll see exactly what I mean – a bunch of weak-minded idiots trying to justify their purchase by bashing the other side over the littlest things. It’s pointless and it’s only hurting what really matters: Appreciation of what you have. Anyone with a clear and open mind can see that this generation is one that has winners for all, no matter if you own one console or all three. By nitpicking slight differences in an attempt to promote a superior console, professionals are setting us back in time, not moving us forward. Sure, if there are notable differences, please point them out. If not, don’t try to find ways to make your apparent favorite console look better. I will conclude with a twist on that Gamepro feature’s final sentence, which was, “For now though, just enjoy fragging terrorists, crashing cars, and slicing demons in half on your PlayStation 3.” For now though, just enjoy fragging terrorists, crashing cars, and slicing demons in half, regardless of where you do so. That’s what this industry is all about, right?

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