Devil's Advocate Time: Microsoft vs Sony Exclusives!
Let's play a game.
It's very simple.
I am going to make a claim--one that I don't necessarily believe, but one that I think merits a degree of discussion, and I'm interested to see what comes out of it. The rules are simple: argue the point intelligently, from whatever side you'd like, but don't lose your shit. Do that and you lose the game.
So, here's the first controversial statement, as well as my supporting argument:
Microsoft makes better AAA exclusives than Sony.
This was actually spawned from a NeoGAF thread, where someone mentioned how poorly Sony's exclusives do in comparison to Microsoft's. I started wondering why that was, and then I hit upon it: what if Microsoft just makes better games?
Gran Turismo is great, but it's a sim. To the best of my knowledge, everyone I know who has owned GT5 thinks it's boring. Contrast this with Forza 4, which is literally one of the greatest racers of all time. The game's got a sexy progression system, lots of tracks, tons of cars, and is focused on simulating racing, rather than simulating driving, which ultimately makes it a more exciting game.
Then you've got Uncharted. The game's got bad writing (lol random plot twists, obvious red shirts, simplistic villains, and can't even homage Indiana Jones right), weak gunplay that is mostly built around shooting galleries, enemy AI that can see through walls, a weak selection of weaponry, and provides the most on-rails video gaming experience (which everyone seems to complain about in most games) outside of an actual rail-shooter.
Interestingly, when Uncharted 3 released, most people I know, even the ones who had declared Uncharted 2 their favorite video game, expressed a lack of interesting in picking up a title. I've explored this idea before, so I won't bore you with the details, but the basic idea is that a game might not be as good as you thought it was if you're not excited to experience more of it. I think the same was true with Bioshock, which many people admit actually wasn't that fun to play.
Uncharted, of course, competes with Gears of War, which has better writing than it gets credit for (not Gears of War, mind you, which is terrible, but Gears of War 2 and 3), and manages to avoid a lot of Uncharted's basic mistakes. Where Uncharted's Lazarevic is a weaker villain than Michael Bay's interpretation of Megatron, Gears' Locust are actually motivated by their perception of humans as animals and their desperate need to escape the poison that is killing their world.
...aaaaand then there's the gameplay. Gears of War comes from Epic Games, a studio known for making some of the greatest shooters in history--a distinct contrast with Naughty Dog, who had never made a third-person shooter before. Gears went on to influence every third-person shooter that's ever been released, and each subsequent entry into the franchise has greatly improved on what came before. Not only that, but Gears introduced the console gaming public to Horde Mode, previously called "Invasion," during its introduction in Unreal Tournament 2004. When everyone else went on to copy Horde Mode, Gears switched things up and released Beast Mode, an inversion of the type. With Gears of War: Judgement, they'll be launching a hybrid versus mode, that combines Beast and Horde.
Sony has tried and failed twice at creating a Halo-killer, and it makes sense. Resistance 2 is one of the worst first-person shooters ever made (it's on par with Legendary or Turning Point; it could make an interesting topic in and of itself). Resistance 1 is a sub-par FPS with a wonky control scheme and interesting ideas, and Resistance 3, bless its heart, apes Half-Life 2 quite a bit, but with some weird writing bits (like the bizarre religious people who think that aliens are Satan), controls that feel "off," and a fundamental failure to understand how, precisely, a health kit system works.
That's not to say that Resistance 3 isn't better than Half-Life 2, because it is, in many ways, but this isn't a particularly noteworthy achievement. Half-Life 2's strengths aren't in storytelling, gunplay, enemy AI, or anything like that--and Resistance 3 trounces it in each of those department. It's just... not great. It's a solid 8/10 game. Honestly, it's a fun game, and one worth playing, but... it's little more than that. I've said the same thing about games like Enslaved.
Then you've got Killzone, which has bad controls, a character people won't stop bitching about, weirdly makes players short... and don't get me started on its boring approach to guns, its too-narrow FOV (that's, what, 55 degrees?), its use of boring, repetitive objectives ('get to this point and hold it' usually)... yeah. Killzone 2 does have a great flamethrower, and Killzone 3 has jetpacks, but... look what it's competing with:
Halo has spawned a series of New York Times Bestselling novels. It's got a massive expanded universe and fanbase. For a while, nearly every console shooter that was released attempted to imitate Halo, because Halo was the game that did console shooters right. It's the franchise that basically created online console multiplayer--the entire reason that LIVE, as a service, exists. There is no IP out there that has a better, broader weapon sandbox, not to mention an enemy sandbox. Halo was also one of the first games to emphasize the use of vehicles in a first-person shooter. Halo 3 was so popular that, in 2010, it outsold Killzone 2, Resistance 1 and 2, God of War 3, and Uncharted 1 and 2 combined.
Halo is one of the most influential video franchises ever made, up there with games like Doom, Ultima, and Pong, and this influence is directly because it is, quite simply, so pioneering and great.
Don't get me started on the other games, either. Microsoft's released a broader variety of more experimental, risk-taking AAA releases, like Alan Wake (which failed in sales because it went up against Red Dead Redemption on launch, and failed in commercial reception because people stupidly expected it to be like Silent Hill 2), Viva Pinata (a game which had no traditional endgame), Crackdown (ditto), Shadowrun (multiplayer only), Kameo, and Fable.
Sony's been a lot less inventive, with games like God of War (seven releases of basically the exact same gameplay this generation alone; at least Halo had games like Wars and ODST), or LittleBigPlanet (which has received six games this gen), which was basically a platformer with the ability to add your own levels.
So, there you have it, an argument for why Microsoft's exclusives are better than Sony's.
Have fun with your replies! :D