Editorial: Why PC Gaming Is Dying
Thing is, when I'm moving about in the world of Uncharted, it's a lush environment that just feels as if its full of life. The color and shading is astounding, the detail is unbelievable, and perhaps most crucial of all, the character interacts with this environment correctly. He slows down when moving up and down steps, he moves slower when aiming and moving side to side, and his body responds to proper physics and momentum. Of course, I realize FPSs operate on a different control scheme, but even some FPSs have gone past the likes of Half-Life 2. No matter what surface I'm on or what I'm carrying, I always feel as if I'm walking on glass in The Orange Box. Even Resistance: Fall of Man provided some semblance of human physics when moving and acting, and many other FPSs have as well. The bottom line is that I am always aware I'm playing a video game with Half-Life 2.
And this only seems to happen to me when I'm playing a PC game. Again, it's the significant lack of warmth that creates this feeling, and I finally figured out why. For whatever reason, PC games simply haven't advanced to embrace a new generation's qualities and requirements, which is very difficult to accept. I grew up in a time when PC gaming was superior to console gaming in every possible way, from graphics and sound to depth and presentation. These days, things have quietly pulled an almost complete 180 on me...almost nothing on the PC is better. They say Crysis had the best graphics of 2007, which may very well be true, but I've seen that title on a monster rig. Now, I'm no massive graphics whore, but I can definitely tell differences in visual quality, and I really didn't see much of anything in Crysis that significantly outstripped games like Uncharted, Unreal Tournament 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I'm also noticing some superb acting in console games recently; Heavenly Sword had the best voice acting and animation I've ever seen in video games. Remember when all that was super cheesy in console games?
And with the innovative and beautifully designed titles like Folklore, Beautiful Katamari, Super Mario Galaxy, Warhawk and Assassin's Creed, I've been forced to notice that I've seen absolutely nothing new on PC - that wasn't also on a console - in over a decade. Go ahead and count up all the console exclusive titles that scored 80% or higher at GameRankings in 2007, and compare that to the number of PC exclusives you find in that same review window. It's not a pretty sight. On top of it all, no longer can we say that the PC version of every multiplatform game is superior; in fact, that's almost never the case unless we're talking about a FPS. And even then, the differences are so minimal it almost just comes down to which control interface you prefer. Lastly, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a great PC game that A. isn't also on a console and equally good on a console, B. isn't a FPS or RTS, and C. doesn't feel completely lifeless. The instant I realized I couldn't think of a game that fits all three of the aforementioned criteria, I concluded- PC gaming is dying.
There's simply no other way to look at this. We've come so far in the console gaming universe that entire worlds are actually starting to jump right off the screen. Something like The Orange Box and Half-Life 2 is supposed to be the be-all and end-all of advanced technology, and not only does it feel bland and cold, I'm not even all that impressed with the design. Thing is, a few years ago, I would've been. And that's exactly the point- I've been playing so many console games, and it's just because they're better. I have never believed in platform loyalty; all that does is eliminate fantastic gaming possibilities. But at this point, I really can't see what I'm missing by not having a gaming-capable PC, and trust me, I've looked. I'm sorry, Mr. PC, my dear friend, but perhaps it's time to lay you to rest.
It may be the only decent thing to do.
1/9/2008 Ben Dutka