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Consoles Vs. PCs

You hear a lot of rumors that PC gaming is dying out, and that the console is the one holding the smoking gun; personally, I think someone has gotten a hold of some wacky weed. Why you ask? The console format is something akin to a disposable camera; you use it then toss it (or pile 륭 up in the closet in my case).

With the rising prices of newer console systems and falling prices of PCs, how long will it be before they rival them in price? Historically, the next generation of consoles have not been backwards compatible -- PS2 and PS1 the huge exception. PCs, on the other hand, can be upgraded in the performance department, and most games remain compatible. Heck, I still play a number of DOS games when nostalgia hits, and I don'´ have to brave the jungle I call a closet to find the old system. A good thing too, since machetes work wonders on undergrowth but don'´ get a long well with underwear.

What do consoles have going for them? A uniform platform of entertainment without the hassle of worrying over copyright infringement. I can run my copy of Smuggler'³ Run over to my neighbor'³ house, pop it into his PS2, and not worry about whether it will play without having to fool with changing any settings to his system or that I'­ breaking a few laws by putting it onto his system also (that last one is a huge concern these days). Designing a game for a console means that you only have one set of specs to be bothered by instead of, 엥ll, I know it will work with the VideoPro 5875 card, but we'¬¬ have to test it on the SuperGraphics Alpha 9000a.î ?nly when games jump from one brand of console to another do cross-platform issues creep up. You also don'´ have to worry with system-envy with consoles. If your buddy'³ PC has a 64MB video card, while you are still chugging along with an 8MB dinosaur, you don'´ have exchanges like: ì?¡n, did you see that look of fear in the hero'³ eyes when that flesh-eating zombie jumped up?î ¬What? You mean the guy has eyes?!?t;p>

One of the biggest beefs most computer gamers have with consoles boils down to the controller situation. Sure, the dual analog setup proves to be the best configuration that consoles have sported so far, but playing a first-person-shooter or even a real-time-strategy game with one really cramps a player'³ style. Give me a keyboard full of buttons and a mouse any day. How long this will remain as one of the PC'³ advantages depends on how quickly keyboards and mice pop up for consoles. I know that Sony already has both in the works for the PS2, and I'­ betting that the other guys won'´ be far behind.

The other things missing from consoles are the incapability to support add-on packs to existing games and user-created mods and levels. Take Microsoft'³ Age of Empires 2 for instance. I enjoyed the game, but I thought that the Conquers added a lot to the way the game played. Most FPS fans end up downloading a number of mods and extra levels that average Joe'³ made. Heck, check the stats on some of the biggest gaming portals online, and you will notice that there are tens of thousands of people at any given moment playing Team Fortress Classic, Counter-Strike, or Day of Defeat for Half-life.

For myself, I enjoy gaming on both PCs and consoles, but I find it extremely hard to believe that one will bump off the other in the foreseeable future. Advances in consoles means buying an entirely new system, while computer gamers have the option to buy an entirely new system or to slap some new parts inside -- a trend that is on the rise these days. Any decline in computer gaming sales can be attributed to a lull in computer titles while everyone watches the impending slug-fest between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. If there really is a lull, it will shatter like glass when the next game like Diablo or Half-life hits the scene ready, willing, and able to redefine the gaming experience.

By Greg Meadors - 01/09/02

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