PC or Console?

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We’ve all heard the debate of which format is better for gaming, the PC or the console market. Heck, it’s got as big as the Coke vs. Pepsi debate. Forthe longest time, I, being a dedicated game tester, decided to stay equal onboth sides. But recently I have delivered my own attack on this ongoingissue.

At the beginning of the year 2000, I noticed an article in a computer gamespublication that caught my eye. This editorial criticized the SegaDreamcast, and in particular, its top-selling sports titles, NFL2K andNBA2K. It seems that the person who wrote this column decided to attack thegames because of the AI, claiming that the running game on NFL2K ends up innegative yardage.

The author also demonstrated a strong attraction towards the EA Sportstitles, particularly Madden 2000 and NBA Live 2000. Now granted, these aretwo franchises that have stood the test of time, heading back into the daysof the Sega Genesis, but in this day and age, people want more in theirsports games than a new set of rosters (which can always be downloaded forthe older titles) and some rule/gameplay changes that could end up ruiningthe franchise. Take a look at EA Sports’ Triple Play 2001 and its suddenaffection for arcade extreme gameplay for instance.

However, I can understand the position that this article was meant to take.After all, the writer was working for a magazine that is dedicated towardsPC games, and PC titles only. Consoles would obviously be a punching bag forsuch writers.

Here at GiN though, we usually show no bias towards either the PC market orthe console market. Each is treated equally, but I wanted to add my take onthis ongoing issue.

First of all, I want to mention that I have been playing games on consolesfor almost 20 years, while I’ve only played PC titles for about eight years.Each does have its own advantages, but also its own disadvantages.

Consoles are designed for easy installation, requiring only a connection toa television or monitor, a power source and a controller.

A PC on the other hand can be a total pain to set up, as you’ll need toconfigure your display setting, your sound card, your controller and decideon how much hard drive space you want to use to make your game run faster.And once everything is all set up, good luck in getting the game to runproperly on the first try. Many PC titles can be fussy about how well itruns, and some titles won’t even run at all.

Take my computer for instance. No matter how many changes I will make to geta title running, it will run for a short time, then completely lock up mysystem with the only way out would be pressing the reset button. Lockups canbe the biggest pain that any PC gamer will experience.

But console titles aren’t perfect either. Depending on a game’s releaseschedule, a title can be rushed to the store unready, as is the case of GranTurismo 2 and its maximum 98.2 percent completion rating or NHL2K’s rushedfeeling. Gamers’ demands puts pressure on companies to send out rushedproducts before they can be completed. PC titles have the advantage on thismatter because patches are released on a regular basis, and patching filesonto a hard disk is a lot easier than having to burn the new files onto aDreamcast title.

Online play, once a PC-exclusive feature, is now taking over the consolescene as well. The Dreamcast, when released last September, came equippedwith its own 56K modem, and when the PlayStation2 debuts later this year, ittoo will include its own modem. When Microsoft releases the X-Box console,it is supposed to have an integrated network card!

Already there is talk about PC Quake 3 players ready to whoop Dreamcastowners butts when their version of Quake 3 is released. I have experiencedQuake 3 Arena on the PC, and considering all of the low ping bastards whospend their entire lives on T-1 lines, with no girlfriends or liveswhatsoever, I feel terrible for the Dreamcast players who will be instantlyabused.

Lastly, there is one important criteria to turn players towards consoles:the price. Think about it, you already have the TV (or if you also haveeven a cheap computer, a monitor), so adding a Dreamcast, possibly a secondcontroller, a memory card and one game would cost less than $300. With a PC,on the other hand, you get what you pay for. A decent processor, case andmotherboard alone will cost at least $200. But if you add a monitor (min.$200), hard drive ($150+), sound card ($100), 3D graphics card ($150-300),mouse ($10-100), joystick ($15-200), gamepad ($10-60), and whatever extraparts you need, you’re looking at giving away your life savings. Even worse,computer games have system requirements that tax even the top of the linehardware.

But what happens after your hardware gets too taxed to handle the game? Iteither slows to a crawl or locks out completely, meaning you would need toupgrade your system. Keep this up and you will be out of money in no time.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing games both on my PC and on my consoles(Dreamcast and PlayStation). There are many advanced features that areexclusively still in the realm of the PC. It’s just that the lockups, thedemanding system requirements, and high costs can make PC gaming more of achore than it should be.

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