Console or PC for gaming?

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Now I’ve always had a PC in one form or another all the way back to when I was a kid in the 80′s, but it’s only been the past 6 or 7 years that I’ve had a PC that’s been capable of running the latest and greatest games. When growing up as a bored teenager in the 90′s more or less everyone I knew had consoles including myself. I must have had pretty much all the major consoles throughout this time period, from the Sega master system all the way up to the Playstation 2. But then something changed.

Back in 2004 one of my friends who had himself previously been a self confessed “console kid” decided he wanted to try out PC gaming after experiencing some cool graphics at work. He built himself a cheapish PC (he was and still is in the trade) slapped a big, expensive Nvidia 6800 Ultra video card in it and promptly invited me round for a demonstration. Well to say I was blown away was a bit of an understatement. After playing on consoles for the last 15 or so years I honestly didn’t think games could get any better graphically, how wrong was I! The thing that really hit home was the overall sharpness and fluidity of the gaming experience, sure the Playstation 2 had some pretty good looking games but this PC he’d built took things to a whole new level. That was it, I was instantly hooked, I had to get myself one of these godly machines.

So for the next 6 years I was on the seemingly neverending quest for the ultimate in graphical quality. The only problem with this is it’s cost me a small fortune! Keeping up with the constant delivery of new updated PC tech is not something to be taken lightly and yes there have been problems (mainly software) along the way, but when you load up a game like Crysis for the first time with your newly installed video card (an 8800 GTX at the time) it all seems worthwhile.

Where is PC gaming at now then? Well I really don’t think there’s a better time to get into it, Operating systems are so much more reliable these days and if you combine that with the more recent drivers from AMD and Nvidia then you have a killer package for any die-hard gamer. Games are also a lot easier to configure and run than they used to be, especially with the advent of brilliant online clients such as Steam. In fact I think Steam has really made PC gaming so much more accessible for lots of people, it’s that easy to use even a complete novice would be hard pressed to get it wrong! You don’t even need to worry about game updates anymore Steam will do that all for you. “What about the games though” I hear you ask? well nowadays there’s seemingly more and more console ports, most of these are pretty well done but there’s always going to be the odd duff one. The magical thing with PC gaming though is the absolutely humongous back catalogue, you’ve literally got thousands and thousands of great titles to choose from, not to mention a growing amount of fresh and exciting Indie games from new emerging software companies. As for gaming controllers, well pretty much any PC title these days that’s worth its salt will come with XBOX 360 pad support, however as you’re probably aware for first person shooters many PC gamers will tell you that keyboard and mouse is the only way to go.

I guess the only major issue facing a lot of people especially in the current financial climate is going to be the cost of purchasing a brand new, shiny, gaming PC. If you’re not carefull you could well end up spending far more than you anticipated. Here’s the thing though buying a PC capable of gaming has probably never been cheaper, especially if you’re prepared to build your own system. I’ve built friends gaming PCs using second hand parts for less than ?400! and yes that does include all the periperals, the monitor and the operating system. Not as expensive as you thought huh? Obviously if you’re not overly confident in building your own PC then the price will increase a little but, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a reasonably good PC that will run most of the latest games with more or less all the eye candy maxed!

To summarise then, here are my pros and cons for both formats. Obviously I may appear to be slightly biased towards the PC but to be honest my more recent console experiences haven’t been great. The XBOX 360 I bought a couple of years ago was so appalingly bad (and noisy) I sold it after a month and the Nintendo Wii now sits in the louge feeling very unloved, after initially only being used as a glorified bowling alley simulator! So I’d like some input from you the reader to perhaps even things out a bit. I’ll start with the PC,

PC pros:

  • Endless supply of games both new and old.
  • Graphics and framerates far superior to any console available at this precise moment in time.
  • The likes of Steam make it easy to buy and play games very quickly.
  • You’re not tied to just gaming on a PC, there’s so much more a PC can do over a console.
  • Game modding, something I’ve not talked about here but the possibilities can be endless on a PC.
  • Cheaper games than the equivalent on the consoles.

PC cons:

  • Software especially operating systems and drivers are complicated and can still sometimes go wrong.
  • PCs especially gaming PCs don’t tend to be very portable.
  • Can be expensive, especially if you get the upgrade bug.
  • Buying a gaming PC can be confusing for the technophobe.

Ok so now onto the console pros and cons,

Console pros:

  • Only one format so no problems with software issues or potential bugs.
  • Far more portable to move around.
  • Can sometimes be easier to just load a game into the cd drawer and be instantly playing.
  • Gaming with friends can be easier.

Console cons:

  • Graphically poor with framerates stuck at 30 frames per second.
  • Games more expensive than on the PC.
  • Not as multi functional as a PC, burning cd’s, photo editing etc etc.
  • No mods, so relying on game developers doing a good job.

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