PC vs. Console: Let the Games Begin!
By John Anderson
Now, I’m sure that on most occasions the
last thing that you want to do after spending all day staring at a computer
is to go home and spend the evening doing the same thing. Unless, of course,
you are single-handedly saving the universe or matching wits in a game of skill
with an opponent half a world away!
Computers and the sharing of information are business norms
in today’s world, but when that 5:00 whistle blows and you want to let
off a little steam yourself, you may discover your PC’s alter ego: the
desktop arcade. But first you will have to ask yourself if your machine is
up for the challenge.
The new games hitting the market are asking a lot from your
PC in the way of memory, hard drive space, processing power and video card
requirements. If your PC isn’t up to snuff, you will have to consider
whether to spend the money to upgrade your PC or buy a gaming console that
is ready to go right out of the box.
It used to be that if you wanted to play games online you needed a PC,
but console units like PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube have been competing
against the PC in the online arena since 2002. Being able to play against a
real player – be it draw poker or drawing six-shooters at high-noon –
has been the biggest draw to gaming in recent years. And if you have a microphone
you can even trash-talk your opponent.
Consoles are great! They cost much less than a PC and they usually start
you off with a couple of games. You also don’t have to worry about changing
system settings, downloading drivers or, worst of all, buying a game only to
find out that it isn’t compatible with your PC for some obscure reason.
You buy a new game, take it home, pop it in the machine and are playing within
Multiplayer gaming is as easy as plugging your console into
your DSL or Cable Internet modem. There is a subscription fee for using playing
online, but it’s reasonable and there are no long-term commitments. With
Xbox Live you can buy a three-, six- or 12-month pass. Also, consoles still
rule when you want to play against your friends while sitting on the couch.
Console games are easier to rent than PC games and more easily
returned to the retailer if you’re not satisfied with them. Also, you
can find some great bargains at stores that offer to buy are resell used games.
You can take a risk on that brand-new game or you can wait a little while,
listen to the people that have played it and buy it for $10 instead of $50.
Console games are also easy to learn, with only 8-10 or so
button combinations. You won’t need to spend hours getting used to commands
scattered around a keyboard.
Packaging everything in one dedicated unit keeps things simple, but that
doesn’t always work to your advantage. If the components inside can no
longer keep up with game requirements there is no way of upgrading the unit.
The manufacturer will produce a bigger and better system and your old system
will be repurposed as a dust magnet.
Consoles do only one thing and they do it really well, but
they will never support the selection of applications that are available for
Consoles also don’t play well with others. When it
comes to playing online, you are only able to play against others with the
same console as yours, even if the same game is available for different systems
(in other words, Xboxes can only play against other Xboxes).
One word: games. PCs have more of them than any other gaming system, particularly
multiplayer online games. Console systems will usually have a game only available
on that system and people will buy the entire system just to be able to play
that game. That being said, all games eventually become available for the PC – you
just might have to wait a bit.
Many of the games that have remained popular through years
of play survive because of their ability to be changed and added to by fans
of the game, keeping them new and fresh. If you want to play modified games,
play new locations or use other add-ons, a PC is essential.
Games also look a lot better on a computer monitor than on
PCs are upgradeable. PCs are always advancing in performance
and power and, if they begin to fall behind, you can fix the problem. Consoles
are cutting-edge on the first day that they hit the store shelves, but just
like my Toyota, they begin to depreciate the moment they leave the store. Mid-range
computers today can compete with most current consoles being sold today. That
can only mean one thing: the new consoles are coming. Even if a console offers
next-generation technology upon its release, there is no way for it to keep
up with ever-changing hardware advancements.
PCs are expensive. Installing games on your computer is always a bit of
a gamble. You never really know if it’s going to work until you’re
actually playing the game, and even then, if you do not have your settings
set up properly you will not experience the game in as much detail or with
as much control as another person with the same game. PC games can get really
complicated when trying to memorize tedious arrays of keyboard commands. The
mouse and keyboard also make playing PC games difficult to play on the couch.
PC games just don’t allow two players to play on one machine at the same
Which is Best?
If you just want to load up your favorite sports game for some friendly
competition you might lean toward a console system. If you are bent on world
conquest from the comfort of your own living room and have the money to invest
in enough PC upgrades to launch a moon mission, the PC will give you more gaming
shelf-life. The new consoles are coming soon. In this corner, the XBOX360;
in the opposite side of the squared circle is the PS3. And the PC is waiting
to take them all on.