Review by Aristotle

"How can consoles even compete?"

The computer is, without a doubt at all, the ultimate gaming system. What with all the add-ons, games, and the Internet, there are countless possibilities. First thing, though: let’s pretend that money is not an object here. (I know, I know, it costs money for computer stuff, but bear with me here...) You can buy the ultimate gaming computer: lightning fast processor, ultra mega fast graphics card, sweet sound card and awesome speakers. You could also get a controller for more control-intensive games.

Now for the cost bit. I realize that computers can eat up quite a bit of a person’s pocketbook. But you see, the prices for state-of-the-art technology today will be cut in half in a month when the latest processor is released, so you can buy that at about $900-$1,500 and still have a sweet system. My parents, while not the most computer-savvy people, realize the incredible power of computers and how they’re slowly dominating people’s lives. That said, they do not mind at all shelling out $1,000-$3,000 for a top-speed, highest-end computer one can have and then have it for 5 years. I just got an AMD 1.2GHz system, which is the best out now by far. It cost about $2,000, but it was well worth it. I recently updated to a new graphics card (3D Prophet III 64MB) and new sound card (SoundBlaster PCI512), and new speaker system (Boston Digital BA790), which adds up to the perfect gaming system. I also bought an adapter to use a PSX controller in my computer games. My whole computer setup cost about $3,000, and was worth every penny, if not more.

Now, the value of a computer as a gaming system. With computer technology being updated almost daily, the graphics will be leaps and bounds better than that of any console (yes, even DC and PS2). We’ve gotten to the point where a game running on an excellent graphics card in 1152x864 pixels can look almost like real life. That, and also no slowdown and virtually no loading time. This does, however, vary greatly with your system.

The sound can either be superb, or less than acceptable the difference being your sound card and speakers. You can’t have either a great sound card and crappy speakers or great speakers and a crappy sound card and then say your sound sucks. It just doesn’t work that way. My best recommendation, if you have some cash, would be SoundBlaster Live! X-Gamer and Cambridge Soundworks Four-Point Surround Sound speakers. That would be some good stuff. Also, when selecting a sound card/speakers, remember that the sound makes or breaks the mood of a game, like scary or suspenseful.

What can I really say about the controls except that for most games, the keyboard/mouse combination is the ultimate choice? Most producers know very well that most gamers prefer to use the keyboard and mouse, so they make the games best played with keyboards and mice. And if you run into a game that is not like that (THPS2), you can easily buy a gamepad in almost any variety for under $40. It depends on personal preference, but the keyboard/mouse and a gamepad virtually guarantees you perfect control.

The coverage of games is near perfect with the computer. Everything from sports to RPG’s to card games they have out there. Most of them are priced fairly, as a new game would be about $40 (better than console games). A word about Playstation games: a lot of them are being ported to the computer (I mean LOT).

Let’s get to the Internet now. The ‘net is an awesome tool. A lot of PC games, if you have some computer knowledge, can be patched with various patches and mods to do a bunch of things consoles could never do. Like THPS2 (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2) allows you to download programs to import the THPS1 levels into it, and programs to import your own music playlists; something consoles just cannot do. Add these possibilities with high-speed, broadband access like most people have nowadays, such as cable and DSL, maybe even T1.... and you have an entire new gaming world out there. There are thousands of gaming websites (GameFAQs, IGN, Antagonist Network, etc.) that allow for so much user interaction and help it isn’t funny. The Internet also allows for online multiplayer capabilities. Granted, you do need a fast modem for more modern games, but you still have the option. I mean, who would you rather play against: 3 stupid AI computer-generated boneheads, or 20 cunning, very intelligent human opponents from all over the world? Think about it. Also, only the DC, PSX, PS2, and N64 can have UP TO 4 human opponents.

Another thing: emulation. Even though console people don’t want you to do it, emulation is still a huge option on the ‘net. For those of you who don’t know, emulation is downloading emulators and ROM files on the Internet. The emulator acts as a console and the ROM files act as games. So, in essence, emulation is playing console games on a computer. Throw in a gamepad there for a hardcore gaming experience. So far, every known console has been emulated (the hardest one to be emulated is the Dreamcast, because the discs are not burned on CD’s.) It is also perfectly legal if you own the game you are downloading, respectively.

One last closing argument: consoles are finally recognizing the superiority of computers as gaming systems, and are becoming more and more like them. Take the PS2 (PlayStation 2): it’s going to have a hard drive, it has broadband Internet access, a DVD drive, USB ports, etc. I mean, the XBox has Windows NT, for crying out loud!!!

In the very, very end, people will recognize computers as the ultimate gaming systems. Pretty soon, consoles are going to die out because they will get too expensive and get to complicated to be manufactured. I mean, look at the launch price of NES, and then look at the launch price of PS2. Do you see a trend of launch prices in between?

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/13/01, Updated 07/13/01

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