Review by JonWood007

"PC gaming has a lot of potential that is not available on consoles, but also poses a number of issues as well"

PC gaming compared to console gaming has a number of advantages and disadvantages. While I am starting to lean more toward PC gaming, it still poses a number of serious issues that do not occur on consoles.

Graphics- 10/10

The graphics can vary. On some PCs the visuals are excellent, on others they are terrible. It really depends what parts you put in it. However, it is rather easy to get a PC nowadays that exceeds the power of consoles. However, unlike consoles, the frame rates can get a bit choppy at points, even on a good PC. This is the price to pay for these extraordinary graphics. This can happen on consoles too, but at least console games are optimized for the best performance. With PC's, you're on your own in that department.

Audio- 10/10

The audio on PCs is great. You can listen to any music you want to on top of playing games too!

Controls- 8/10

In some ways, the controls are better than their console counterparts. However, in some ways they are worse. On one hand, the mouse is excellent for playing games. Using the mouse and keyboard, you can do things far better than you could with just a controller. However, some games make the controls too complicated where it is hard to come up with a workable control scheme. After all, it is difficult to remember what every single button on your keyboard does.

Games- 7/10

There are plenty of games, including free ones. But on the other hand, many games may not work on your PC. You will need to have certain system requirements to run many of these games. If you have a strong enough PC this is not a problem, since my 4 year old PC with an Athlon XP and AGP card can still play most games at least on low, and newer PCs can only run them better. However, even if you meet the requirements, you still may face problems running the game. You may also miss out on many console exclusives on PCs. However, if you like Microsoft's systems like I do, this will impact you the least, since most Xbox 360 games are also on PC and a lot of Xbox exclusives (like Halo) are eventually ported to PCs anyway.

However, one major down side to PC games is the stringent anti-piracy protection. Many developers put extremely stringent measures in their games to prevent piracy. While some of these do not hurt the paying customer, some do. For example, some of EA's games only allow limited installs per game disc. This means that you can only install a game so many times before you need to buy the thing again for $50!!! You also need to go through extremely complicated installation processes in order to get games to work. You may need to register the game with the developer's website or jump through a number of hoops designed to make sure you own a legitimate copy of the game. Some games make you install the game disc every time despite the fact that all the files needed to run the game are on your hard drive. The really annoying part in all of this is that pirates still find ways around this stuff and pirate the game anyway. So this stuff really just makes life harder for paying customers. With consoles, you stick in the disc and play the game. It is so simple. PC gaming gets to be overly complicated in this respect.

Games that are old can also be difficult to obtain. Many stores only sell PC games if they are new. A lot do not even sell PC games. Finding an older PC game that is not readily in stores can be difficult. The crackdown on piracy has made it where it is difficult to find games used (an easy endeavor for a console gamer). This is because the anti-piracy measures assume that you are trying to pirate the game if you bought it used, even if it is a legitimate copy of the game and you actually own the original discs and everything.

Price/Value- 7/10

The price and relative value to consoles is questionable. On the one hand, a good gaming PC can be expensive. You can get one that will run games well for now for $600 and one for several years for around $800, but the price can go much higher (these are the prices if you buy a custom-made PC or build one yourself; Best Buy and the like can get a lot more expensive). On the surface, this is much more expensive than a console is. However, since you will probably need a PC anyway, and seeing how the average PC that cannot run any recent games costs like $600 in a department store, perhaps it is worth it. Still, if you have a console, you can have the guarantee that all games made for that system will work. On the other hand, with PCs, you may need to put more money into your PC by investing in newer hardware in order to run the newest games. This can be expensive as well as a pain in the neck.

The value of the games is also questionable. When new, games are cheaper than their console counterparts. While console games are $60, PC games are $50. However, older games can be more expensive. It can be difficult to find older PC games and mainstream stores often still change $20 for a game I got on my Xbox 3 years ago for $8. If you happen to find a used game that is still valid though (meaning it will still work despite being used), you can often get these for next to nothing.

On the bright side, most PC games are free to play online. This is a major reason I am now shifting toward PC gaming. On consoles, there is often a subscription fee to play online (like Xbox Live), while with most PC games, you can play it for free online out of the box for as long as you want. There are some exceptions, but at least most games do not do this.

Compatibility- 0/10

When you buy a game for a console, you know it works. An Xbox 360 game will always work on an Xbox 360. However, PC games involve system requirements. You need to keep buying upgrades like More RAM, new video card, and more processing power in order to play new games. If you don't pay for these upgrades, you cannot play newer games and are stuck with games with worse graphics and much lower system requirements. If you have a new gaming PC, this will not be an issue right away, although it will be in a few years.

Another problem is that even though some games do meet the system requirements, they may not work as if they do. I've had games that work at 15 frames per second on low settings when I should be maxing it out at 30 frames per second.

Games may also just not work right due to some sort of internal conflict in the system. While console games always work, a PC game might just decide it does not like your PC for some odd reason and crash the whole computer if you run it. Maybe it will not run at all. This can happen even though you meet the system requirements.

Features- 10/10

It's a PC. You are most likely using one right now. You can do all kinds of stuff on it like watching movies or listening to music or surfing the Internet as well as playing games.

Overall- 6/10

Overall, the PC is a good gaming device if you can afford it. The price is not as bad as I mentioned in my first version of this review, unless you pay the prices department stores charge. You can get a good gaming PC for the price of what you would spend for a console and a PC, so you actually come out ahead. However, there are many down sides to PC gaming including horrendous compatibility issues and overly stringent anti-piracy measures that seem to do nothing to stop piracy and make gaming a complete pain for people who actually buy their games. While PC games normally have free online play and are often not limited by hardware considerations unlike their console counterparts, there are prices to pay for these advantages.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 06/11/07, Updated 06/08/09

Game Release: Windows XP (US, 10/25/01)

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