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The men's fitness video game showdown - The Electronic Playground - video game systems PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox - Evaluation

Arrested development is a specialty here at MEN'S FITNESS, so we were happy to try out the latest-generation game consoles in an attempt to determine which is most worth your hard-earned paycheck. With temporary loss of consciousness as our goal, we opened up the belly of the videogame beast and cursed our way through Madden NFL 2002 on PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Here's what our testers concluded.

CONTROLLERS: The GameCube controller was a bit small for the meaty paws of our editors. PlayStation 2's, virtually the same as on the original PlayStation, had good finger positions and was fairly easy to use. But it was Xbox's large, heavy controller that felt the best and seemed least likely to cause hand cramps, although several buttons placed close together for the right thumb were a bit awkward.

GAMES: Plenty of great games are available for each system, but PlayStation 2, which has been out longer, can boast the largest number. All three have sports titles such as Madden and other games intended for adult players, but GameCube is expected to focus a bit more on Pokemon-style kids' games--which we will still stop any assignment to get at.

SPEED: Xbox boasts a blazing 733-megahertz processor speed--close to that of last year's home computers--while GameCube has 485 MHz and PlayStation 2 gets by on 295. But while this could make a difference in future, high-powered games, our players detected little difference in the quality of the action.

GRAPHICS: While playing a video game still isn't the graphics equivalent of watching a game on TV, everyone agreed that the visuals are pretty darn terrific. Xbox's seemed slightly sharper, but aside from a few minor things like the look of the crowd, the distinctions were minor.

DVD VIEWING: You can play DVDs on your PS2 right out of the carton, although it's a lot easier with the $20 remote control. The Xbox requires a $30 remote to watch DVDs. And the GameCube, which uses smaller disks, won't play your special-edition Goldfinger. But with the savings from a list price that's $100 less than the others, you could just go out and buy a DVD player separately. We'll call this one a draw.

THE VERDICT

All three systems are, well, great. So which one you get really depends on what you're looking for.

PlayStation 2 is for you if:

* You enjoyed the original PlayStation (and maybe still have some games lying around).

* You want a huge selection of new games available right now.

* Having just two controller ports isn't likely to lead to bloody real-life battles over who gets to play.

Xbox is for you if:

* You've been following our workout plans and have big, muscular hands.

* You're looking forward to future games that require a lot of power and speed.

* You figure Microsoft will eventually control the world, so you may as well buy from them.

GameCube is for you if:

* You have kids in the house who will nag the hell out of you until you buy Luigi's Mansion.

* You want to save some money.

* You already have a DVD player.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to go outside to get some fresh air. Well, maybe after one more game....

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group





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