Saturday, 30 June 2012

NPC Gamer

For the first time in a decade or so I bought myself a PC game. Now I am here to tell you what this decade plus console gamer thinks of the experience. That would be best summarized with “I think PC gaming sucks when compared to console gaming”. The devil is in the details and the details vary from person to person. Let us therefore have a look at the detailed account.
First for my PC game of choice. That game is 2007’s Mass Effect, the first of the Mass Effect trilogy of video games and the last to be purchased by me. For me, the saga started with Mass Effect 3, clearly my vote for the best video game ever, which I had bought for my PS3. Following its unprecedented success I went and got 2010’s Mass Effect 2 for my PS3; and following on the latter’s success I decided to go for a full sweep and get the original Mass Effect game. Alas, Mass Effect was only released for the Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. Given I will not buy another console just for Mass Effect, especially not when I have a couple of PCs lying around, I went ahead and bought the PC version. There is a catch there in that none of my PCs are suitable for gaming, primarily due to the absence of dedicated graphic cards. Still, I reckoned that due to the age of the game at hand they might do. The $12 asking price for Mass Effect’s PC version helped the decision, too.
My first reminder for why I stopped playing games on my PCs came when I first realized I need to install the game to my PC, as opposed to just sticking the disc in and playing. The installation took a while – a long while (not to mention the time it takes Windows to update itself and everything). There went an hour of my life.
When all was said and done I double clicked on the icon and… An error message!
Quick googling revealed I need to install a patch. Why the original installation process didn’t bother checking that for itself is beyond me, but anyway – some fifteen minutes later I have found, downloaded and installed the patch. I double clicked on the game’s icon and… An error message!
This time around the fault was purely due to the game’s age. It turns out Mass Effect doesn’t like 64 bit Windows 7 PCs, so I had to run the game in Windows’ compatibility mode. On the positive side, it works; it actually works much better than I expected my none graphically carded PC to perform.
I started playing, only to realize I am actually expected to use my keyboard and mouse in order to play a third person shooter. Ugly! Then I realized I can’t really play on my sofa, the way I normally play video games, because the mouse needs a proper platform: without it not only will my shooting go astray and the baddie aliens will eat the galaxy alive, but also my wrist won’t survive for long.
The less than sexy presentation factor continued as it dawned on me Mass Effect will not be playing through my 55” TV and hi-fi sound system but rather through a mediocre 15” screen coupled to pathetic low fi speakers. How the mighty have fallen!
So yeah, PC gaming sucks. Console gaming rules.

You don't need to tell me: I know things could be different. I could be running Mass Effect on a properly geared PC and everything. Properly geared PCs come at a substantial cost, though, and although they can be vastly more powerful than consoles they are vastly more expensive, too. Besides, why should I spend my money on various accessories like a mid fi stereo system for my PC when I already own a proper home theater and a lovely sofa to boot? PC gaming has the potential to deliver a much deeper experience, yet is can never deliver the grandeur and the relaxation a console can.
Sure, I will play Mass Effect because it’s Mass Effect. But I simply cannot see myself playing games on my PC or my Mac; the experience is simply incomparable to the vision I have for gaming. Sorry, Diablo 3!

Image: Mass Effect for PC , Bioware


Uri said...

While you were writing this post, we were busy killing Diablo. Twice.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Yes, but you were only able to do that because I was saving your galaxy in between blogging. Me and my crew.

wile.e.coyote said...

Killing Diablo? You can't even kill little girl without the help of this wizard