Sunday, 17 January 2010

To PC or Not To PC, That Is The Question

I think I'm finally ready to admit that the PC is not a good gaming platform. First of all I must profess my love for my PC, it's seen me through thick and thin for several years now with hardly any complaint. It's been my main gaming platform for most of that time too; I may have had an XBOX 360 for two years now but I've only really gotten into it heavily in the last few months. Most of my PC gaming experiences have been positive ones, until recently anyway, and I have some very fond memories of nights in front of the Keyboard. From the original Unreal Tournament and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, through MMOs such as PlanetSide, LOTRO, Warhammer Online and City of Villains, it's been a blast. But the shine is starting to wear off. I first noticed that something my be wrong when I tried to play Section 8, a futuristic first person shooter that played well, looked stunning and had some fantastically innovative ideas that would have brought new life to the genre.... only no-one played it. Yes it didn't do as well as it could have on the consoles either, but there appeared to be NOBODY playing it on PC. Not a good sign for a multiplayer centric game. I tried several times to get into a match and failed every time because there just wasn't anyone else online.

I recently bought the new Ghostbusters game off Steam... ah Steam, both a blessing and a curse, incredibly useful for buying games whilst being utterly infuriating as a means of playing them. So yes, Ghostbusters, for a start it took something like seven and a half hours to download. What the hell is the point of the "convenience" of a digital download if it takes longer than it would take me to drive the 20 miles to the nearest game shop, buy the disc, drive back again and install it myself? And that's assuming Steam doesn't crash while it's downloading. Sorry, I was tangenting there, Steams quirks aren't meant to be the focus of this post, although they do have a bearing on it. Anyway, Ghostbusters on PC, it looks wonderful, but even with the graphics settings minimised it runs like a lame pig, even on my not-inconsiderable gaming rig. Terrible frame rate when there's any kind of on-screen action, long load times, freezing... it's not fun. It takes what could very well be a great game and makes you notice all the bad things instead. Would I have got this on the XBOX version of the same game? The graphics may not be quite as pretty as a PC running it all in high detail, but then again, I couldn't run it in high detail anyway.

I've been using the XBOX a hell of a lot recently and as a result I haven't really touched the PC for weeks. Today though I thought I'd have another crack at Ghostbusters as I'd like to finish it so I can get on and free up the 11Gb it's currently hogging. I turned on the PC, all fine and dandy, I sat back and waited as Steam and Xfire automatically ran their updaters, no point trying to play a game that already struggles by itself, let alone if the processor is busy doing other stuff, while that's happening. So fifteen minutes and a restart later I was all ready to go, only as the game was starting up Steam crashed out on me and locked up the whole system. Right, ok... another restart, Steam launched without complaint, the game (eventually) loaded up to the menu screen and I clicked "resume game". And then nothing happened for ages. I ALT/TAB'd out and opened task manager to find that 'Ghostbusters is not responding', so I ended the task and again  nothing happened. Then after a few more minutes of not being able to click on anything the screen went blank and I was booted back out to the desktop. I'd spent almost half an hour in front of the keyboard by this point and still hadn't got to play anything, while all the time thinking how much simpler it would have been if I'd bought it on XBOX instead! All this on a machine that runs Left 4 Dead smoothly and sweetly and without complaint, (most of the time). It just seems to be the fickle nature of the beast.

I really miss keyboard and mouse controls for 1st person shooters on the xbox, and I'm still dying too often in MW2 simply because I can't use the controller properly, but that sacrifice is a small one compared to the benefits of the simplicity and reliability you get from a console. I've recently bought Mass Effect for PC, (the reason I wanted to get Ghostbusters finished and uninstalled to make room!), but I'm seriously considering giving it up as a bad job before even installing it and picking it up for the 360 instead.

1 comment:

  1. New game size is one of the reasons I've upgraded my hard drives as i was continually running out of space and it gets worse with each game that arrives.
    WarHammer is about 11gb and you'll fine mass effect is a massive lump of game too.

    The PC is frequently a beast that isn't helped by the numerous software and hardware conigurations that have to be caterred for. by developers. And tThere is the first beneits that consoles have over PCs another is all the "other software" you have using up system resource (Anti-virus,steam client,xfire,drivers) the PC is not a gaming platform it just pretends to be one at times.