Microsoft’s XBox 360 is, specification wise the most powerful console I’ve ever seen and it went on sale just a few days ago in America being sold out in almost every store/mall everywhere. Grown men cried and begged for a chance to grab the console, and people queued for upto 24hrs to get a chance as did my daft cousin in San Francisco! As a PC and anti console diehard I’ve decided to go for one, although I’ve left it rather late so I’ll need to wait for Xmas to end before I remotely have a chance. Why have I gone this route? Read on, if you can stand the mad rant…
Goodbye PC Gaming, Hello overpriced, all powerful console!
Why have I decided to move away from fun PC Gaming, towards the much hated console? I’ve got good reasons to do so at this stage. I’ll just briefly mention some of them.
1. I can no longer afford to repeatedly upgrade my PC for games because the price of graphics cards are just getting obscenely laughable. Today’s PC games can run much better then they already do, but they’re being poorly coded and some of the game engines I’ve seen lately give me indication that this situation is going to get a lot worse as games companies start using Bloom (glowy) effects and HDR (High Dynamic Range) lighting effects.
2. The Xbox 360 has enough graphics and processing power to last a good 2-3yrs down the road. Think about it, today’s graphics cards from ATI/Nvidia already have more power then the 360’s ATI Xenon powered graphics engine, but as always consoles can always pump out better visuals since they’re based on fixed hardware. Unlike PC’s which have millions of combinations of hardware which game coders must account for as well as making compromises – console coders can run games with incredible visuals on even poor GPU’s because no sacrifice is needed in terms of features. The PC having more graphics power means nothing because you still need a top end system, and still have to put up with:
- Patching the game.
- Getting online only to find most game’s rife with exploits and cheats.
- Possible sluggish gameplay even with a fast machine.
- When you get a bunch of friends in for the night, who want a quick game a console is more fun then a cumbersome pc. Most PC games aren’t designed for more then 2 people.
- Wasting hours just tweaking the game to run accordingly.
Graphics cards cost so much to develop and manufacture now that they’ve replaced the CPU as the main critical component in a gaming machine. The prices the manufacturers are asking for mid-high end GPU’s are just ludicrous and way too high, but at the same time older versions drop in price equally fast but by a smaller amount.
3. Multiplayer! In my reviews on the now defunct www.halfmad.com you’ve may have noticed I rarely mention my opinions on the multiplayer abilities, if any on any one game. Why? Because PC gaming in my opinion is an utter joke. The last series PC online gaming I did was during the Half Life Deathmatch/Team Fortress Classic/Counterstrike era, as well as MMORPG’s like Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Aside from the latter two which have exploits (to be expected from mmorpg’s anyway), pc gaming for me is always rife with cheats and exploiters. There’s no fun there?
Should I play Age of Empire’s 3 online? No because it’s already packed with cheaters despite only just being released. Counterstrike? Also packed with cheats for years now. PC games being so flexible and moddable present the user with the ability to exploit and eventually develop cheats which can abuse the game online. The Xbox/360 using it’s Xbox Live subscription based online system is flawless, and dare I say it – utterly superb. Cheating is not an issue because the user has no control over the core game.
Lastly, most PC games have multiplayer introduced as an afterthought. After a drunken night out, the last thing I want to be doing is firing up the PC, spending 10mins figuring out why I can’t connect online only to find out that my game only supports multiplayer over the net and that’s it, while my mates sit around pondering if they can multiplayer. PC gaming for online use is just not as good as it could be – Microsoft realized this with XBox Live. With Live I can play almost any game online against anyone in the world, I can quickly hook up with a few friends and we can have a laugh – in the same room in minutes!
4. After spending almost my entire life gaming, all I want to do now is play games and enjoy them online with no hassle. PC Gaming doesn’t offer me this simplicity, all I get is depression as I realize my game will either run sluggishly, require a patch or is rife with cheats online. I don’t want all this, I just want to play a game and not have to tinker around with graphics options and tweaks. I want to play games online against others without any hassle. I no longer have the time (being a 30yr old gimp) to spend half the day tweaking a game just so it runs right on my machine (Need for Speed: Most Wanted) being a good example. I spend half the day getting the damn thing to run smoothly on my rig, and that’s on my NEW nvidia 6800 non ultra which is overclocked to the hilt. I know how to tweak the hell out of operating systems/games and pc systems in general but its just tiresome now having to do this all the time.
The 360 is an obscenely powerful PC in its own right, with a brilliant multiplayer system that actually works well. Last night I played FIFA 2006 with a few friends and guess what? It was enough to make me realize how fun it all felt, I had a total blast! The last time I felt like that, was back in 1999 playing Team Fortress Classic, the popular Half Life mod.
I’ve had enough of the upgrading/tweaking business, I’ve just not got the time for it anymore. I shouldn’t have to need to upgrade my rig when it can handle every task I do without a single problem, apart from PC gaming?
5. Games tend to come out first on the consoles, and then the PC. It’s obvious and makes sense when you think about it since pc game development is more complicated then a console. Game houses have to constantly develop and maintain their game for PC users since no two pc’s are alike meaning that they need to account for various hardware setups. There’s no problem on the console side of things, so games hit the consoles faster. I myself and many others were gutted when we had to wait a full year or so for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas because Sony had a deal with Rockstar to have it for their Playstation 2 first.
When was the last time you saw a good Formula 1 Grand Prix game on the PC? Grand Prix Legends aka GPL? Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix series is all that comes to mind, and those are more then 4years old. Sony have the rights to ALL official F1 games for a good few years longer, so that’s my favorite game genre dead for the pc. With the 360 arriving I can see top games hitting that console first and then being ported and at the same time dumbed down to the PC platform which is quite poor but already common.
So there you have it. Just a few of my reasons for moving away from the pc for gaming. I should state that there’s always downsides to my points above and believe me I know them all. Xbox 360 games aren’t exactly cheap starting out at £40 per game but I guess that’s the price to pay seeing as MS are making a loss on every XBox and Xbox 360 sale that they make. They need to recoup the money from other sources – games and Xbox Live and in my opinion they won’t have any problem doing so.
PC Gaming will no doubt get better both in the audio and visuals department, but at the cost of having to upgrade your graphics card continuously at more frequent times then before. I just don’t want any part of that given that today’s games seem to all based on fancy effects and little gameplay. I’ve hardly seen any good games in 2005 and any that I have seen, I have reviewed here on Halfmad and each year I’m actually finding myself playing less and less. The only good thing the PC platform is useful for is FPS (first person shooter) games like Half Life 2, F.E.A.R, Quake, Doom, FarCry etc – and they’re all the same! No innovation has happened yet on the boring FPS front.
So the 360 has hit America with a bang, some shortages and a few faulty units exhibiting strange graphical, and hard disk errors were reported. No launch ever goes smoothly and to be honest, this was to be expected. For most gamers over there, I guess they’ll all be fevering away on Xbox Live now. I do feel sorry for those with faulty units, its probably the end of the world to them, and as Yoda would say “It’s as though millions of voices screamed out in joy and were silenced suddenly”.