Friday, August 20, 2010

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

I thought an interesting topic to explore would be my preference in gaming platform. Gaming comes in about twelve bazillion different forms nowadays, from the black behemoth that blocks out the early morning sun, my gaming PC, to the little train that can’t, my phone, which has this awesome demo for a game called “Brick”… oh wait, that was my old phone. So my PC down to my Wii, then. Here is my opinion on where this generation of gaming machines stand against each other, so... fanboys, cover your ears and keep writing those angry, butthurt emails to Mr Crosshaw...

I have nothing against any platform in particular. I sort of bash on Sony and Nintendo a bit, but that’s because my Xbox takes up the whole lounge room and I’m afraid it’ll eat me if I so much as threaten to mock it. No, as far as console gaming goes, I believe that personal preference truly is the defining factor in each one’s stranglehold on their respective corners the market. The PlayStation 3 (which I don’t own but will speak on behalf of anyway) is an HD television’s best friend, with Blu-ray now the standard in High-Definition optical media. I think if you buy a PS3 in today’s market, you probably don’t even care for games that much. Which is all well and good cos I don’t think Sony does either. I mean don’t get me wrong! I would sell a kidney for God of War III, and Heavy Rain seems to be a cinematic opus (in a good way) that sets the PlayStation apart from the Halos and the Marios that plague its competitors. But as far as good third-party exclusive title support goes, I think that the PS3 is severely lacking. Sure, you get a few cross-platform jaunts, but PS3 is leaning on a mere handful of exclusives right now, and when one of those exclusives is a text-log visual novel, disguised as fifteen feature films, disguised as a game (something solid, metallic and.. gear-y), then this crutch is in severe danger of snapping in two.


I’ll move onto the Wii! I own a Wii. To be more precise, my mum owns a Wii. This should sum up all you need to know about the Wii. Of the six titles I have on Wii, three begin with “Wii” (as in, Wii Sports, Wii Music), and two begin with “Super”, as in “Super Mario,” and “Another Super Mario”. One is a Resident Evil rail shooter though. Also 25% of all the Wii titles were a “I have no choice but to buy this purchase” purchase, as it either came with a piece of hardware I wanted, or with the Wii itself. Also, I’ve only personally purchased one of the Wii games myself. All others were unfortunate gifts. BUT LOOK, despite what I may seem to be hammering on, the Wii is actually a cool thing! Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the most fun I’ve ever had with the little bastard in a long, long time! It’s just its so gimmicky and aimed at the casual-crowd it’s hard to say I’m a fan of the Wii. I think without the Wii, gaming today would be a slightly more boring, less colourful place. I’m sure we’d all be fine without it, but it is a necessity. If Nintendo would stop re-releasing all its old titles for the umpteenth time I might even be able to re-write this paragraph and say the Wii is genuinely good. But I digress.

AUURGH! THE XBOX!! I won’t spend too long here. I believe its controller is the standard others should follow, cos it can actually fit in my large ape-like hands. I think its library is made up of, while not entirely all classics, incredibly competent shooters, action, and adventure games. I think it’s the closest consoles come to being a PC, with a robust online model and a really quite fantastic Xbox Live Arcade which I have utilized on more than one occasion. There is one problem – it’s that Microsoft are made up of DICKS. The online model is expensive, Microsoft milks its exclusives til they’re unfortunately no longer any good (see Halo 3: ODST), and the hardware itself, while being able to pump out pretty frames indeed, also has the following crippling issues. Stop me if you’ve had the following problems with your Xbox 360. Poor HDMI support. A disc drive that crushes your discs if you so much as sneeze on an operating console. A console that fatally errors almost yearly, without fail. While my console hasn’t shat itself (yet), there are so many horror and sob stories surrounding the Xbox… it’s hard to genuinely support Microsoft.

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Then, there’s my PC. (*Not pictured.) I’m a little biased towards my PC as I paid for it with all my money and it’s basically a labour of all my heart and soul. But I love it. It’s a gaming hub with so much potential, that literally shits all over the 2006-era consoles of the past. I genuinely have enjoyed PC gaming more than any experience on console. I could go on and on about how first person shooters need the refined aiming that a mouse offers, or how there are so many hardware configurations that basically every PC is a uniquely satisfying experience. But for me, myself, I like PC Gaming because its personal. I look at my PC, and I see a machine that is mine. It has my audio setup, my hardware that I installed, my cable management (well, Paul’s cable management. I watched), my desktop setup, my key configs, my apps… also, it’s a bitch to run. YES! I LOVE that! I’m a techhead, I love fiddling with electronics, and I actually love the pull-apart-and-put-together nature of home gaming PCs. Swapping RAM sticks around, installing a new graphics processor… PC is real hobby. Some people say they’re “gamers” and they have an Xbox and a PlayStation. They say it’s their hobby. As if, dude. PC Gaming is a hobby, worth the devotion that many consoles unfortunately get instead. Yes, it is expensive. It is fiddly and that is a turn-off for many of the pick-up-and-play crowd. But PC gaming is great because it offers such rewards, such depth, that consoles severely lack. I think PC gaming is what is leading the industry forward. Hell, without Crysis, we wouldn’t have been able to point at Toy Story and say, “my home PC can render better than this, in real-time.” Techophobes need not apply, but PC gaming offers such immense scope, it’s really like building a house and living in it, while console gaming is like watching LEGO people live in a LEGO castle.

This isn’t a guide. I am not pressuring HD-TV owners to a buy a PlayStation, or saying the Wii is dumb and for casuals. I’m not saying the Xbox chews up discs, or that PC gaming will offer you the same enjoyment it has me. This is purely my perspective and personal preference. But it is still an interesting place to venture into, and in a hobby as diverse as video gaming, it is a place we need not fear where we tread.

Andrew Deavin spends probably half his life gaming, so you know he knows what he's talking about. When he's not scouring Google images for funny images of PCs and PS3s, he is a student and kind-of a cartoonist and maybe a musician of sorts. He would like to point out that his computer is not a white CRT PC from the mid-1990s, but we all know he's just making stupid excuses. (For those interested, his PC cost AUD$996: AMD Phenom II X4 945, MSI Ati Radeon HD 5770, 2TB HD Space, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Gigabyte 790XT USB3 motherboard. See, he's cool.)

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