"What once was a mere 0 and 1 interpreter is now one of the best piece of gaming hardware to ever grace the world, it will be hard to outclass!"

A long, long time ago... Well, not really. As far back as the 70's.

That is when the transistor was released. Yes, this would soon give way to the evolution that would be computers, then Personal Computers, otherwise known as PCs.

While the computer was a simple data processing and database tool for much of it's existence, it started gaining interest when games were starting to be made for computers-based systems (though they came to be Consoles). Fast forward to the mid 80's. Games like Descent and several other types start appearing, specifically made for computers with certain Operating Systems, such as DOS. At this point, the evolution that would never cease to stop starts. Revolutionary games made for DOS start taking a liking to Windows, too. The first graphic-and-processor-intensive games start coming out very soon with notables like WarCraft. Later on, in the mid-90's, games start evolving at an alarming rate. Better graphics start taking over, with games like Diablo and Descent II. This also spawns the start of large 3D games with wonderful graphics. Later on in the 90's, large franchises are solidified and others are born with online play. Now we come to the time of this writing, mid-2004, where games are still in full evolution, with fully-online games starting to evolve into their own genre.

Let us now delve into the world of omni-customizable gameplay and game enhancements.

Though the gameplay started off as strange and awkward, it evolved into different playing styles with various types of accessories in order to adequately play the games.

Let's start with the ever-popular mouse-keyboard games. This gameplay function is the one that has been dominant in most PC games created, as any desktop PC requires the use of a mouse and keyboard if you don't know how to use solely your keyboard. This gameplay style has many advantages: massive customizability given by the keyboard, fast-paced action is possible due to a fast-tracking mouse, and a tandem support given to either dominant gaming accessory, whether it is the keyboard or mouse.

The next is keyboard-only gameplay. Something that is as old as the DOS games, this style of gameplay isn't as smooth as with a mouse, yet it allows for both hands to be on the keyboard at all times. Fast response times are quite limited on this since keyboards don't work on pressure to activate movement or command speed. Something that can be improved quite a bit.

The other, less used, style is Joypad/Gamepad/Controller. This style has quite a few different options, seeing as how not every controller is the same. Some controllers (the growing majority) have control sticks, imitating arcade-style joysticks (not to be confused with the joysticks referred to later on), and some controllers are starting to have pressure identification and vibration. Now the gaming with these pads vary greatly, though when picking a pad, it's always good to see if it fits what you need for the game you're playing. Since these devices are plug-and-play, you can easily put them into any PC before playing, so that you don't need to change and adapt to another playing style if you prefer having your own gamepad.

The next one is Joysticks. Joysticks are, in essence, an imitation of a jet-fighter stick. Now, this doesn't limit the gameplay to air simulations, since space and underwater simulation and arcade-style games are also widely used for these sticks. With their refined pressure control, they are quite sensitive. The comfort is also variable, depending on your joystick. Finally, the custom settings that are available on these sticks always depend on what buttons are on the stick and on its base. I've seen a stick/base combination with well over 25 buttons ready to be set!

The last one I'll cover is the racing wheel. Now coming in tandem with gas/brake pedals (and also starting the shifting pedal) this control style is very well refined for any type of racing game. With an ultra-sensitive wheel and pedals, this is a perfect combination for racers. The wheel can also contain buttons at the base that can be changed to any setting needed, too.

That's it for gameplay.

Erm... What? Yes, story gets a 10, simply because at some point in time, at least ONE game gave me a feeling of being totally involved in its story. With such great possibilities, the PC can have the best stories in the world unfold within its games. Even more appealing is that most of the more successful games DO contain excellent stories that keep evolving beyond what anyone else knew. Now, with the integration of game-addition patches, stories can evolve on a preset basis set out by the developers.

What can I say. With the graphics on the PC constantly ever changing, you can't go wrong! Of course, unless you have the capacities to display them you won't be able to, but if you can, the possibilities are endless. With the constant evolution of graphical interfaces and graphical engines, everything is getting more refined, more fluid, less blocky and less amateur-ish. With graphics far outclassing the best consoles out at this time, the graphics are always changing for the better. Let me classify them in two categories.

2D / 2 Dimensional. This graphical style is starting to become left out of most new games out there, but it is incredibly powerful even though it's limited to an X/Y axis. The artistic detail that can be given by this dimension is always changing and evolving as much as it's three dimensional counterpart. The hybrid between both categories (Cell-Shaded) is also a good bridge between both worlds.

3D / 3 Dimensional. The now-dominant graphical style of the PC. Exploited by many gaming styles, this offers the most realistic approach to controlling a character. The ability of making 3D games extremely fast-paced is also an advantage that this style has. Large worlds and ever-better detail keeps enhancing the realism of 3D.

With the ability to make full scores for games to enhance the gaming experience, what can beat that? Some games even have support for surround sound, making realism in PC gaming go through the roof while you're either blasting aliens to bloody or burnt carcasses, or playing hockey for the Stanley Cup.

The fact that the sound QUALITY can vary is if your speakers or sound card aren't optimized for the music you need.

Play Time/Replayability
With a computer being a must-need accessory for many modern lifestyles, it's safe to say that computers have infinite playtime abilities as well as infinite replayability for any games you go through. Even changing hardware can enhance or warp the gameplay and feel of certain games to your liking.

Now let us delve into the world of other custom things related to gaming on a PC

A must-have for any computer system. Not only for gaming, but for your health. Carpel Tunnel syndrome can come at any time for anyone who's not comfortable with whatever gaming accessories they're using. With the endless possibilities for comfort, no one can deny the fact of there being a high comfort ratio for the PC.

Emulation is a form of gaming that emulates the gameplay and the actual game reading of other systems. The most popular one is the illegal form (which I won't go any farther into). The less popular (probably because people don't notice it) is emulation of operating system environments in order to play certain games. This has now come to light more than ever when the requirement of DOS emulators were needed to run DOS-based games on the PC due to a change in the Windows XP system.

With various gaming accessories out there, there is no way that you can't find some piece of hardware that can enhance your gaming experience. Not only that, but the PC (ok, and the Mac) has the unique ability of having its OWN hardware changed. This is why each customized form of a PC acts and feels different, with different speeds and display capabilities.

Online Play
With the arrival of many online-play games like Warcraft 2 over the Battle.net interface servers, games were taken to a whole new level, incorporating the internet. This is why internet hardware is also a new factor in building your own gaming PC.

With online-only games in mid-evolution, games like EverQuest and Ultima Online signaled how good 3D and 2D games can easily go online-only. With the fast rise of new features to online games, vast ingame economies and large player communities, this is now compared as a life away from life (as long as you don't get too caught up into it!)

The third form is now represented by the vastly popular Neopets, an online web-based game that requires everything in the game be done within website pages, linked to a database. This is a form that has endless and quickly updateable capacities.

Probably the hardest thing to take in is that the cost of PCs is MASSIVE compared to consoles. The only thing is, with computer games not pushing the envelope at extreme speeds, you won't be left in the dust in 3 years if you buy something standard for the time, you'll still be able to play a plethora of newer games, though not at maximum capacity. Past 3 years, most PCs will only need a memory and graphical card upgrade, usually costing as little as 50$ USD if you're only looking to run games for enjoyment.

Well, that's all I had to say for every aspect of PC gaming. Here's a quick overview of the main sections.

Gameplay: 10/10
Story: 10/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 10/10
Replayability: Infinite

Of course, I could have just given them the lower grades from if you have an older system, which I'll still put here.

Gameplay: 10/10
Story: 10/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 6/10
Replayability: Infinite

Not much difference in the minimal scores.

Final Recommendation
The PC is a formidable gaming platform that is ever changing and is the only system that doesn't follow the so-called "Console Generations" from its main competition (consoles, of course).

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/13/04

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