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Friday, August 17, 2007

SUPER Rant: Are You Game Enough for PC?

^ Your Money Card needs to be changed every few years.

I was trying hard not to get annoyed as my units chugged along slowly on the screen. When I moved my cursor to view the other parts of the map, the screen stuttered along. There was a noticeable slowdown in the game performance. Supreme Commander just showed me why I should not be a PC gamer anytime soon. My computer was not able to handle the ridiculous demands that the game was throwing at it. If you do not already know this, ignore the recommended system requirements of 1GB RAM at the back of the Supreme Commander game box. Alright, you should have a minimum of 2GB RAM instead. And remember to have a high-end graphics card to experience the game in its full glory at almost maximum settings, anything lesser and you will have to contend with the watered-down version of the game (low settings) in order for your game to run smoother (take note: smoother only, not smoothly).

^ When Crysis arrives, it will be crisis for your PC!

See? System requirements are irksome. Year upon year, system requirements have been rising steadily and it is making me frown. Upgrading once every few years is the solution, but for very serious hardcore gamers, upgrading annually or bi-annually is a norm. Just when you think you have spent enough by splashing out on a high-end graphics card, you realize that it is too fat for its own good and cannot fit into your current CPU casing. Now, a new CPU casing needs to be bought. You want more juice with double graphics cards, but then you take a look inside your CPU and notice that there is only one slot on your motherboard. Now, the motherboard is screaming to be bought as well. And after you have bought the new motherboard, do not be too glad because when you try to utilise the graphics cards, another fact forces itself into your mind – the power supply is not ample. You are going have to get one of those with higher power output too. It is unavoidable when upgrading your computer that the costs incurred will gradually snowball themselves into an overall huge sum that will require you to sell your kidney. That was the kind of experience I had when attempting to upgrade my PC earlier this year. I added more memory (bumped it up to 1GB RAM from a previous 512MB RAM), put in a new graphics card, albeit one that is low-end (7300GT), but better than my previous one, nonetheless, and of course, the graphics card needed a bigger power supply, so I purchased one that outputs 450W of power. The cash spent may be considerably less than what you spent on your last PC upgrade, but I was on a very tight budget, and did not go all-out to change almost everything. But this had hurt my wallet. Oh yeah, I still need more hard disk space – that will have to wait. I know that in a year’s time, or perhaps, in just a couple of months, the latest games will edge out my set-up (it is not future-proof, to begin with – just short term) and I simply hate it. Hey, I cannot afford to have all those high-end computer components on a regular basis! I am talking to you, Crysis! This game is going to kill my PC. And what’s that talk about releasing games which are only compatible with Vista? Well, I will just play those games on my laptop (also with 7300GT and 1GB RAM).

^ Will your experience of BioShock be restricted by your set-up?

PC gaming is hardly appealing when you compare it to console gaming. Yeah, I am still a PC gamer, but on small portions. I have to admit that if I see a game releasing on both the PC platform and console platform, I will choose the console version any day. My PC is strictly reserved for PC-exclusive games or if I do not feel like paying more for the console package. The advantage of PC gaming is that the games cost substantially cheaper, but if you factor in the costs of upgrades, you are better off with console gaming if you are seeking value. Unlike PC gaming, a console will last you approximately 5 years or more (until the successive generation arrives), and no upgrades needed too! No installation required, and the best thing is that you will get to experience each game in its full graphical settings with no slowdown in performance. So whether you are playing F.E.A.R. or The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, or the upcoming BioShock, you will NEVER be restricted by anything if you are playing on your consoles. On the other hand, whether you will be able to see all that a game has to offer depends on your set-up if you are playing on your PC. Is PC gaming or console gaming better? Go figure it out.

^ Keyboard and mouse the best combination ever?

However, there are still gamers who will still stand by PC gaming – regardless of anything. The keyboard and mouse is the best control scheme for FPS games and RTS games. I agree with that statement, but I have grown so used to playing FPSes with console controllers that I now prefer them over the keyboard and mouse. Oh yeah, I love the vibration feedback too! And recent arrival like the Wii-mote is challenging the keyboard and mouse combination for supremacy. But when it comes to RTS games, the keyboard and mouse control scheme is the indisputable champion. Of course, you may say that I can use my controller with the PC games, but the aforementioned problem of system requirements applies. And where are the PC fighting games? But I have to mention that the PC platform is the breeding ground for games released by lesser-known publishers – think the DS and Wii type system, where several small-scale publishers have also released their games. Some of these games may be fun, but most are not, judging from the many review scores from popular gaming websites. Are these lesser-known games worth it? It depends. But usually, these games have relatively low system requirements, giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy them – including ME.

At the end of the day, the reasons why I am still not totally into the idea of PC gaming are the fact that escalating system requirements are driving me crazy and that high costs are required to upgrade the computer every few years. Console gaming is more attractive because there is no set-up; the hardware is fixed, so I will always be able to experience a game in its full glory. The same cannot be said for PC gaming. Control-wise, I have no qualms about using console controllers for FPS games. The keyboard and mouse combination for games is excellent, but I can survive without them, thanks. One wish before I end this article: Crysis, please let me be able to play you!


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