Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Consoles need sleep too!

A couple of weeks ago I bought Pokémon Platinum for my DS. Since then I have spent nearly 15 hours on it. By comparison, it took me almost the same amount of time to play through 7½ hours of Ghostbusters. The same goes with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and The Lost and Damned. I've played CW for 33½ hours compared to 7½ in TLAD. While part of this has to do with the game's portability, it also has to do with its accessibility. Even when sitting at home on the couch in front of my entertainment center, I'd sooner turn on a DS or PSP game and be playing instantly from where I left off than to boot up one of my consoles, navigate menus, and sit through load times to play a game.

Have you ever done that? Wanted to play a game, but decided not to because of the time it would take to start it? It may sound petty, but there are several games in my library that would get far more play time if I could just push a button and pick up where I was last time I played. Rock Band leaps to mind. Why don't game consoles have a sleep mode? Computers have it (and game consoles today are basically computers), portable game systems have it, iPods have it, even DVD players have it. So why not my Wii and Xbox 360?

Especially the Xbox! I timed it earlier, starting with the system off, and every game installed on my HDD: It takes approximately 1:55 to start playing in Liberty City when booting up GTA4 (longer if you have TLAD installed). Rock Band 2 takes two minutes before you can play a song — that's assuming you just keep jamming on the START button with total disregard of what character, instrument, and song you play. Burnout Paradise takes a whopping 2:25 before you can start wreaking havoc, and again, that's assuming you pick the very first car offered to you; if you want a different one, you'll have to wait about 5 seconds for each individual car to load. It's insane!

Perhaps I'm a relic of the cartridge age. Back in the 8- and 16-bit era, all you had to do was insert the game, turn on the console, and usually within 10-15 seconds you were playing the game. Even the PS1 and N64 were comparatively fast with their boot and load times.

Part of the problem is with system OS and menu screens. When I boot up my Xbox 360, it takes about 20 seconds to load the Dashboard before I can load the game. Sure, I can bypass some of this by changing the Dashboard preferences, but there's no way of changing on the fly when you boot up the system. The Wii doesn't even have the option!

Both the 360 and the PS3 support background downloads. A sleep mode can't be that much of a stretch. It's about time they tried it. After all, consoles need sleep too!

1 comment:

  1. that's actully one of the reasons i argued against the PS, when it was competing against the N64.