Editorials and Features
Article by: MrCHUPON
RANT: PCs or not PC? That is the question. [Written 2003-12-22]
Given, the Commodore was not a PC like we know it today. But it was an alternative to the NES's and the Master Systems that were floating around in that mid 1980's period. I finally sank my teeth into a NES when a family friend bought one for me, and I barely touched the Commodore after that. I think it's still sitting in a box in my sister's closet. Or maybe we gave it away. Or something. All I know, though, is that one day in 1990, my uncle had a copy of Golden Axe lying around... for the PC. I fired up my computer, then sporting a 286DX processor (I forget how many Hz), and played away. Over and over again. Then I forgot about it for a while, but when my PC was upgraded to (gasp) a 486DX (33MHz) with 8MB of RAM (wow), AND a Soundblaster Pro card, I started playing Golden Axe again. It ran smoother and faster. I soon fell under the curse of Shareware, gobbling up 5 dollar games everywhere, including the gateway-drug game known as Wolfenstein3D. Soon my PC and sparkly new SNES were fighting for my attention. Mortal Kombat for SNES... or Mortal Kombat for PC (with the blood AND combos)? Contra III... or Doom? And on, and on.
As adamant as I was towards defending Nintendo and poo-pooing Sega (even to the point where I thought that Sony was stronger than Sega in every aspect -- oh boy), I never thought once about how this fan-boyishness also spilled over into a general PCs vs. Consoles arena. It's well known that, nowadays, it's not only, "Xbox SUX!" "NO! Gamecube SUX!" "SONY SUX!", it's "C0n$oL3$ sux0rs!" as well.
So, where do I stand?
(1) Fun-wise, I couldn't live without my Gamecube, PSX or Dreamcast.
(2) Fun-wise, I couldn't live without my PC.
There you have it. I, as a gamer, need both arenas to satisfy my spoiled little brain. There are benefits to both that, once experienced, someone like me wouldn't want to give up.
Standardization. Stability. Simplicity. (And BIG SCREEN TVs!) Plain and simple, since consoles are purely made for games (at least, that's how it should be), they are built with only what's necessary to give you a fun, videogame experience. That makes 'em cheap. That also makes 'em relatively bug-free, at least compared with a PC. Because developers have only three different hardware standards to work with, it makes their job a bit easier and they can minimize problems that come with PCs: bad drivers, won't work with such-and-such video card, won't work with Windows 2000 but works fine in 98, and so on.
Console games have generally been, at least in my eyes, simpler to just pick up, play, and have a blast. This is probably attributed to the fact that you have a standardized game controller with a limited amount of buttons, and also because the consoles were meant to appeal to a much broader audience than a PC. That, in turn, is most likely because of -- again -- little nagging problems like drivers and the Blue Screen of Death.
By the same token, the limitations of such a standardized system is that games that require @$$loads of input commands, or games where multiple hotkeys greatly increases enjoyment (simulators, RTS), are rarely seen on consoles. You get dumbed-down versions of PC games on consoles (does anyone remember the SNES version of WarCraft II?) which, a lot of the time, don't do the original versions justice -- not by a longshot. And these days, some of the coolest games can't be reproduced faithfully simply because of hardware limitations, which brings us to the analysis of...
I hate Windows. I hate Microsoft. I hate Bill Gates. That damned blue screen of death makes me want to puke, and now that I'm using Windows XP, I see no more blue screens of death -- I see trouble in running my old programs. I also see having to register that garbage every time I stick in a new component, to satisfy their stupid product activation code. With that said, you can't beat the sheer horse power of a high end PC. Take a deep breath and smell that smell, people: 64-bit CPUs. 1GB of overclocked DDR memory. A soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS with a breakout box. A 21-inch, crystal clear, high-resolution monitor out-putting images from smoking GeForce FX 5950s and Radeon 9800 XTs. Play games at a crisp 1600x1200, with anti-aliasing on, and witness the lack of flinching. That's raw power.
On the subject of games, people are always begging for 3D magic. Well folks, you got it here. If graphics are your bag, 3D visuals are superior on a high end PC. Yes, console games are locked at 30 or 60. But if you had the money, how would you like to see a game running at more than twice the resolution of a console game, with no jaggies, with all effects at the maximum possible detail level, without ever taking a performance hit (*cough* 100 frames a second *cough*)?
Of course, high powered PCs cost thousands of dollars. To the console gamer, that's ridiculous -- $180 gets a shiny Xbox, with a built-in hard drive, thank you very much. But still, I can't stay away from the appeal of building a machine on your own and revving it up to obliterate some poor fool in Unreal Tourney 2003. It's like tuning up your car or building a ham radio (huh?). You've go and snatch up some high-end parts at hopefully a low price (from computer shows), you upgrade, tweak and rebuild your computer, and you take it for a test drive. It'll make you poor. But if you're the tinkering type, it's a hobby. It's fun. It's necessary.
Plus, let's not forget about the titles here. While FPS titles are slowly becoming popular on consoles, PCs are arguably the superior choice for that genre. Mouse control is the only acceptable way to play an FPS, in my eyes (but if you're damned good with a dual analog setup, more power to you). I also have yet to see the RTS genre fully penetrate the console market, save for Dune on Genesis and Command and Conquer on Playstation and Saturn. But they're far away from reaching PC-like penetration.
And finally, that's simply where I stand: I need the benefits of both. I love Mario/Sonic platformers. But I also love FPS's. I value gameplay over graphics, but sometimes I also like being impressed. Simply put, if you love all genres of games and want to have a diverse collection of the BEST games out there (of course "best" is subjective, but let me make my point here), this can only be attained when you have the financial means of getting ALL the consoles and a shiny PC. Halo (Xbox). GTA III Vice City (PS2). Metroid Prime (GCN). Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA). WarCraft III (PC).
If you're like me, you'll slowly bide your time as your savings rack up. But, if you're not, you can continue wasting your breath bickering about how stupid PCs are or how inferior consoles are. I'd rather spend that time and effort playing some games.
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