September 22, 2002
2:16 AM   Subscribe

Computer gaming ,which once seemed in danger of being entirely trounced by the popularity of console games, now seems healthier than ever, with new game engines taking advantage of speedier processors and the improved capacities of the new age 3D cards. A mere week after the launch of the demo, the PC game Unreal Tournament 2003 has gone gold. Also being launched in the US is "The Thing" which picks up on the story from the John Carpenter movie of the same name. Gamers are also eagerly anticipating "Thief 3," "Doom 3," "Unreal 2," and "Deus Ex 2"
posted by lucien (59 comments total)
And in an attempt to even out the preponderance of sequels in the above list, a previously little-known title called Battlefield 1942, is winning a lot of praise.

Perhaps the most positive aspect of the new generation of games is that all of these games will release with better tools for map and mod makers to experiment with.

What games are you looking forward to playing/are playing now?
posted by lucien at 2:17 AM on September 22, 2002

Computer gaming ,which once seemed in danger of being entirely trounced by the popularity of console games...

No, it wasn't. A new console generation is released every three or four years, but all that that generation of consoles represent is a snapshot of the most powerful PCs at that given time. A year after a console is released, high-end PCs are better again. The console/PC debate is largely bunk.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:27 AM on September 22, 2002

These three posts by Gabriel from Penny Arcade sum up my feelings on the whole console/PC matter quite handily.
posted by toddshot at 2:59 AM on September 22, 2002

The PS2 alone is practically a necessity for anyone who considers themselves a fan of electronic entertainment. They should be dropping the fucking things out of airplanes over war torn Afghanistan along with flour and water. It's a basic goddamned human need. If you don't have one by now it's nobody's fault but your own.

-Gabe out

Ok that made me laugh.
posted by Beholder at 3:41 AM on September 22, 2002

Hey todd, we meet again!

And I agree. If I had the cash and the time, I'd still be hooked up to my faithful next-gen Nintendo system of whatever year it happens to be. At the moment, I just play whatever PC games I can get for free.
posted by tweebiscuit at 4:58 AM on September 22, 2002

On the whole PC/console argument.. I won't buy a console because then I'll need to buy a TV too, which is significantly more expensive (and subject to a license fee in the UK) and would be otherwise useless.

Oh, and I think Gabriel is a moron. As is anyone who rabidly advocates one platform over another.

Different markets, games for different environments, and I don't really think too many PC gamers are going to "switch" to console, or vice versa.
posted by cell at 5:04 AM on September 22, 2002

They should be dropping the fucking things out of airplanes over war torn Afghanistan along with flour and water. It's a basic goddamned human need.

I know that was said in humour, but it actually illicited a really sad feeling from me. Innocent fun juxtaposed with the cruelties of life always makes me feel sad.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:39 AM on September 22, 2002

What games are you looking forward to playing/are playing now?

Viral Marketing! Viral Marketing!

Actually, the one "hot item" would be greater interactivity. I've always enjoyed games where the characters would react upon environment changes which I could deliberately set: distracting sentries by making noise, confusing a courrier by moving their package to another location, etc.
In many ways, it's similar to the field of bioinformatics,
or a running a 3-Dimensional Turing test.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:40 AM on September 22, 2002

I bought nintendo 64 for Supermario and a few other excellent games but felt totally burnt by the company by the end because they rarely released anything worthwhile. If you're only interested in games of real quality, your choices are much smaller than you would think (on either system). I wont be going down the nintendo route again.
Worse still, I'm on a mac for it's professional graphic/video capabilities so unfortunately - as far as games go - basically my choices are playing bat tennis or space invaders.
posted by funkuncle at 6:05 AM on September 22, 2002

Apparently Yahoo! does not want to make too much of a buzz about this, [Yet!] but,
does this point to the future of electronic entertainment...?
posted by jaronson at 6:58 AM on September 22, 2002

The advantages of going PS2 or GameCube or (god forbid) X-Box over PC are primarily set-up related. I can connect a PS2 to any normal TV within 5 minutes, and since the games have no install time... There's also the advantages you get of never having to fool with any settings, and not having to make the choice of "Do I write a lab report or play Unreal?" The games are also more original on the consoles, and I find playing games with a PS2 controller to be much more satisfying than gaming with a mouse and keyboard. Not only that, but the console multiplayer experience is MUCH more satisfying - beating random buttholes on the internet is nothing compared to slaughtering your friends. Finally, a console is usually good for 4 years, and costs about as much as a high-end video card. PC gamers in order to play the latest tripe have to either buy a new machine every three years or constantly upgrade their machine. So even though you may be getting the games for free, purchasing the hardware to actually make the gaming experience worth a damn is really quite daunting.

In defense of PC gaming, the graphics are usually much more advanced, and there are certain kinds of games that just don't work on consoles. First Person Shooters (Half-Life), D&D style RPGs (Morrowind), MMORPGs (Everquest), Simulations (Simcity), Point and Click Slash-Fests (Diablo), Flight Simulators, and Real-Time Strategy games (Warcraft 3) all lose a lot when ported to the console because they're too complicated to be controlled without a mouse and keyboard. These also all can be loaded onto the computer at work, wheras bringing a TV and a console to work to play video games is much, much harder to cover up. Finally, for you less-than-moral people out there, it's MUCH easier to copy computer games than it is to copy video games, so once you have the godlike hardware, the games are essentially free. And eventually, an emulator for just about any console will come out, and you can just play the console games on a high end PC without paying for them anyway.

I don't think there is a conflict between the two schools of gameplay. Go console if you don't like messing around with computer innards and don't like any of the genres I mentioned in the second paragraph, and go PC if you don't like paying for games and would rather pay for the hardware. Better yet, have it both ways.

(Does it show that I play a LOT of games?)
posted by Veritron at 7:02 AM on September 22, 2002

Oops! That last link points to the top page. Click on the Tech section for the story. From that you can get this. But it only goes to "You don't have permission to access /play/top on this server.
posted by jaronson at 7:04 AM on September 22, 2002

(Sorry for any inconenience.)
posted by jaronson at 7:07 AM on September 22, 2002

"Computer gaming... now seems healthier than ever, with new game engines... Gamers are also eagerly anticipating 'Thief 3,' 'Doom 3,' 'Unreal 2,' and 'Deus Ex 2.'"

Yeah, a whole bunch of sequels sure are a sign of the health of innovation! Golly, throw in a Dungeon Siege 2, a couple of new Blizzard titles, another Bioware so-called "role playing game" rehash and the annual point release update to whatever sports-crud EA is putting out and it's clear PC games are kicking ass!

Okay, I'm being a wise-ass but one with something of a point: PC gaming hasn't really become much more interesting in the past few years. It's simply got more rich, new, improved! content on the 3D shooter/RTS game CD. The games themselves are breaking little new ground. Equally, console games are having more and more trouble shaking that "console feel" that makes the games so unappealing: grid-map racers, Tomb Raider third person adventures, and X-treme sport of the day, dude!

A handful of titles, on either side of the fence, break free of the mold but for the most part the games being produced are gorgeous, graphics-intesive shovelware.

Mostly I'm just bitter because Fallout 2 sucked so badly.
posted by majick at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2002

You'll notice these are all FPS's. Where has all the originality gone? *sigh*
posted by yangwar at 7:58 AM on September 22, 2002

Limited choice of quality software on the N64? I'd disagree. I agree with majick on the sequels point. Innovation in the industry is rare. I also agree that the consoles versus pc debate is a complete waste of time - each machine is good for different things. And personally I'd much rather see developments in non-graphical elements of the games. All the machines on the market, including the redundant dreamcast (sob) are easily powerful enough to deliver good quality graphics. There's almost a reversal now with stylised graphics becoming more and more popular - so much so that the holy grail of photo-realism is less relevant, now. Cos get this - gamers don't want realism.
posted by nthdegx at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2002

Majick: Thief was one of the most original titles ever released, completely abandoning the run-n-gun formula of FPSes in favor of careful, tension-ridden sneaking and skulking about in shadows. The series effectively died when Looking Glass Studios did (in favor of Daikatana-the-worst-flop-ever-producing-ION-Storm-Dallas's monthly $1 million check), and LGS in general took a lot of the 'thinking man's game' out of FPSes in general.

Sad, really. Most of LGS has, ironically, rallied about the flag of one of their original brilliant minds (Warren Spector) now at ION Storm Austin - the developer of the excellent Deus Ex, and now, it's sequel.

Deus Ex 2 has a slew of original features that it will be bringing to FPSes, the most interesting (to me) of which is the concept of gradients of hostility. IE in some areas guards will tell you to get lost, in others they will march you out at gunpoint and attack if you return, and in others they will kill on sight. Throw in the Havok system for much higher-fidelity physics modelling and you have something that is, yes, highly original.

Doom III, as everything from id, is looking to be original more in the technology department than anywhere else, but the advances made are frankly astonishing to behold. Dynamic shadows, and specular-bumpmapping (correctly lit metallics and extremely-fine detail) have to be seen in combination to be believed. If you haven't seen the videos, they are worth the time it takes to download and view, I suggest it.

Unreal 2 . . . well, I'm not a big fan of Epic, but I'll definitely say the Unreal Tournament 2003 demo was one of the more fun deathmatch/teamplay experiences I've had in the past few years.

On the subject of RPGs, Morrowind is a bug-ridden look into the future. A huge, open-ended environment in which you can do literally anything including flatout ignoring the main quest (neither my girlfriend and I have paid much attention to it after hundreds of hours of play each), go anywhere, and play any kind of character. It's beautiful, but the combat lacks fidelity and the bugs are quite glaring. Give a few years for the hardware technology to really be up to the task, and for God's sake give the development to someone other than Bethesda, and you'll see the most interesting and original form of gameplay in years emerge - the truly open-ended, non-Deus Ex-kludge merging of RPGs and FPSes. The Holy Grail of FPS gaming.

Which is why I'm not big on consoles - RAM is always a limiting factor on what can be done with consoles (you'll notice that GTA3 was all redone with higher-res textures for the PC release), and as the much more interesting forms of gameplay that Morrowind points to emerge - eventually bypassing artists altogether in favor of parametrically generated geometry and textures - the lack of RAM will make such games as rare for consoles as good fighting games are for PCs. Yes, I'm aware that Morrowind was released (if you can call such a bug-ridden experience a release) for the X-Box. The X-Box has the most RAM of any console by far, but it's far, far less than future games of this emerging genre are going to require.

I haven't enjoyed a pure RPG since Planescape: Torment, Neverwinter Nights wins my coaster-of-the-year award. Call me a story/dialogue whore, but then I missed Baldur's Gate 2. I gather I'm doing myself a bit of an injustice there, but I really haven't had the time as I play literally ever major game.

Battlefield 1942 rocked. Hope to see more of this kind of game (Op Flashpoint, etc. - basically FPS/military sim) in the future. Same with GTA3/Mafia.

Finally, Gabe's status as a primarily-console player has never been in question, but Tycho's the kind of person who does both hardcore PC gaming and geek activism proud. I'm not terribly fond of the comic but I do read the rants he puts up.
posted by Ryvar at 8:38 AM on September 22, 2002

Interestingly, the best PC game I've played in the past 12 months was a console port: Grand Theft Auto 3. And after seeing the game on both my low end PC (P3-800mhz) and a PS2, I can honestly say that the PC version is better. So is that a vote for the PC (the better version) or the console (where the game originated)?
posted by Grum at 8:47 AM on September 22, 2002

Well, let me just add in another sequel to the list of games to look forward to: Simcity 4.

Not a FPS, but the game will use the technology available to take this addictive-as-all-get-out game to a new level. Oh, and also looking forward to those other games on the list, but mostly SC4.
posted by JaxJaggywires at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2002

I have a bone to pick with the keepers


Everyone seems hushed on T3. but they say it is in development. anybody have any skinny on this?
posted by clavdivs at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2002

"Mostly I'm just bitter because Fallout 2 sucked so badly."

majick, you are dead to me.
posted by jcterminal at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2002

"Neverwinter Nights wins my coaster-of-the- year award"

maybe you haven't played with the dozens of modules/stories that get released everyday? or seen how quickly the community has come up with thousands of customizable items/scripts/etc... or seen how a well-built neverwinter nights team pvp has way more reliance on the team factor than either counterstrike or team fortress...

it's a great game.
posted by lotsofno at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2002

Wow, I feel so left out on the new computer games front. The only game I've even bought in the last 2 years was NeverWinter Nights and Dungeon Siege (and NWN didn't even work b/c only 8 megs video RAM on my laptop, unless someone happens to know how to increase it). Hell, I just beat Master of Magic again last night. Anyways, anyone played Kingdom Hearts for PS2 yet? That game ROCKS.
posted by jmd82 at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2002

Doesn't (lower) TV resolution make a difference here? Not a console owner myself, but it seems to me that if you're basically rendering something in 640x480, you don't need as much graphic power as on a computer with a higher-resolution screen. Correct me?
posted by mcwetboy at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2002

Nothing revolutionary on the game front. Doom III looks like it might be. There used to be a time when a revolutionary game came out every 3 months.. Then every Christmas.. now its few and far between.Im getting back into board games (paper maps and counters) in many ways more fun than computer games. Just played the 25th anniversary addition of Divine Right.
posted by stbalbach at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2002

"Thief was one of the most original titles ever released..."

And therefore a sequel does what, again, that's not merely incremental? I'm certainly not debating that advances have happened in the past, but that cranking out another set of maps, a storyline advance, and an engine tweak do not in and of themselves fantastic gaming make.

in re: Fallout 2; "majick, you are dead to me."

Maybe I misstated my opinion slightly. Fallout 2 sucked in comparison with the first, which successfully picked up the burden of postapocalyptic RPG that Wasteland left sitting on the irradiated ground all those many years ago.

Bioware was too busy with Baldur's Gate to make Fallout 2 not suck. F2 got the bigtime shaft with car bugs mainly unfixed to this day, gobs of awful storyline problems, heaps of amateurish typos in the strings, and more or less abandonment of the sense of wonder that Fallout 1 (and by proxy, Wasteland) should impart.

Forget my deadness, Fallout 2 made Wasteland dead, and that's an unforgivable sin and casts a shadow over all of gamesdom.
posted by majick at 10:05 AM on September 22, 2002

mcwetboy: TV can be 320x240 @ 24.4 frames-per-second or 640x480 @ 24.4 fps, IIRC. Either way, my GeForce 4 4400 can pull at least a solid 50fps while running Quake 3 with all options (including Quincunx anti-aliasing . . . similar to rendering a much larger image of what's shown on the screen and then scaling it down so that all the edges look extremely sharp) and a resolution of 1280x1024. Again, IIRC. I've actually been investing some time and going back and playing Quake 1 with updated versions of the now-public sourcecode against some of my other heavy-gamer friends just for kicks.

clavdivs: As for Thief 3, I've heard a very little simply because I know one of the developers at ION Storm Austin. There isn't really anything I can tell you (without losing said friend) or that would be interesting because it's just a few bits of technobabble. Suffice to say, it's Warren Spector, and you can therefore probably count on an extremely late but fun & polished game with good plot. If you want to learn about the gameplay-oriented stuff, Through The Looking Glass is the absolute best place to check for all publicly-released info regarding the Thief, Deus Ex, or System Shock series (or anything else falling under the category of "thinking-man's FPS"). In this image (scanned, I'm afraid), it appears that Thief 3 may have some specular-bumpmapping, and if I'm not mistaken the latest Unreal engine (which Thief 3 is using) provides shadow functionality somewhat similar to Doom III's. There's also these tidbits from the excellent TTLG subsite The Circle of Stone and Shadow, which I only link with the protest that their claim of 'youngest developer in the industry' with the 16-year-old programmer is one I can personally claim to tie (tools programmer intern @ Timesink in '96). Hmph.

Lotsofno: you're right in that I've preemptively judged NWN simply because of the worse-than-godawful singleplayer, and initially unplayable multiplayer. I hear things are improving, and I will check back at some point - right now though, a Diabloesque click-fest is ranked somewhere around castration on my personal wishlist.
posted by Ryvar at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2002

I've been playing the beta of Turbine Entertainment/Microsoft Games MMORPG Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings for the last two months or so. The game engine is nothing short of spectacular. You can literally walk (or swim!) seamlessly from one end of the very large world to the other. The engine takes advantage of many DX8 features and the water effects alone are drool worthy.

In it's present state, approximately 6-8 weeks before launch , the geniuses at Turbine have vanquished most of the netcode/server/lag/launcher etc. problems and are now concentrating on game balance and early content issues. I'm finding the game to be quite a lot of fun and not at all oversimplified (DaOC) as many naysayers have claimed.

Expect a clean launch in early November just in time for little Johnny or Jenny to have the box under the tree Christmas morning.

The only other real contender coming soon that might be a threat is a little game set in that other universe, you know the one, "in a galaxy far far away...."

MicrosoftTurbine vs. SonyLucasarts Round One: "Fight!"
posted by hotmud at 10:59 AM on September 22, 2002

Worse still, I'm on a mac for it's professional graphic/video capabilities so unfortunately - as far as games go - basically my choices are playing bat tennis or space invaders.

Funkuncle, I strongly recommend Combat Mission. It's the only game I can think of written on Macs and then ported to PCs. It also happens to be the best strategy game that has ever existed.
posted by vbfg at 11:19 AM on September 22, 2002

thanks Ryvar. (tell your freind he has a loyal fan and it will be worth the wait. i understand the element of business and respect this. i had read about the new shadow...stuff, im no techie. Have seen some of the newscreen shots and really am looking forward to it.)
posted by clavdivs at 11:23 AM on September 22, 2002

also, thanks for the link (TTLG) as this is where i saw the new screen resource.
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2002

"Mostly I'm just bitter because Fallout 2 sucked so badly."

majick, you are dead to me.

No shit.. Fallout 2 was one of the greatest games of all time. Certainly one of my top three. I mean, even the opening movie was brilliant, and I usually skip those. I guess Majick didn't like it, though.

Hey, takes all kinds.

(Majick, you are not coming to my birthday party).
posted by Hildago at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2002

Nothing being released today even comes close to the originality of 1980s Electronic Arts games like M.U.L.E.

More games about running around shooting things? Who cares? DOOM 2 is just going to make the twisted original one into another generic polygon-fest like the new Wolfenstein game.

And Bard's Tale had 5 times the spunk of some soulless Interplay release. Remember to visit the tavern often.

Console gaming has more creativity these days, though the X-Box should fix that.
posted by inksyndicate at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2002

Thief 2 sucked so much ass I had to get mine replaced. I'm passing on Thief 3 unless it's some sort of breakout smash. Then only out of a percieved debt to Steven Russell.

Doom III, though. That's gonna be sweet.

And I played damn Wasteland on C64! Everytime the game told me open the hint book I debated whether to do as told or stand naked in a hail storm. Painful experience either way.
posted by raaka at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2002

linksyndicate: I think you're being a bit harsh there. Civilization (and the various incarnations) and Sim City (and the various incarnations) are two very intelligent and original games that would rival M.U.L.E. I loved M.U.L.E. as a kid (one of the last games I was able to play with my father before they became to fast/complicated/weird for him) and love Civ and Sim City just as much.
posted by Grum at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2002


No shit.. Fallout 2 was one of the greatest games of all time. Certainly one of my top three. I mean, even the opening movie was brilliant, and I usually skip those. I guess Majick didn't like it, though.

He (or she) probably hates it because it wasn't so easy to create a Friedrich Nietzsche style character that could smite anything than moves. Awwwwwww. So sad.

(That's why I loved Fallout 2, BTW and why I don't care much for FPS games.)

I never had any problems with bugs either.

The "Consoles Will Doom PCs" horseshit rhetoric has been shoved down our throats for at least ten years. Guess what? It hasn't happened yet and it's not going to.

Consoles are better for some games.

PCs are better for others.

Let's hope it stays that way.
posted by mark13 at 2:49 PM on September 22, 2002

All this talk of sequels and no one mentions No One Lives Forever 2 ?!?

I will sheepishly admit to having a mad sort of crush on Cate Archer - what a cyber-babe! Not to mention that the first game was incredibly well crafted and real damned funny.

Also, for those who wistfully remember the joys of M.U.L.E., there is at least one modern clone out there. Not quite the same, in my opinion, but a nice effort.
posted by John Smallberries at 3:52 PM on September 22, 2002

"He (or she) probably hates it because it wasn't so easy to create a Friedrich Nietzsche style character that could smite anything than moves. Awwwwwww. So sad."

F:1 was engrossing. F:2 wasn't. F:1 was hard. F:2 was only hard because one wrong move would cause the trunk of your car to disappear, or your saves to be corrupted. This game had a hell of a lot of potential to eclipse the first, but it kept getting in the way of itself instead. Few games inspire this sort of ranting for me -- the disappointing comparison with the first is a deep wound.

Sorry for not meeting whatever stereotype is getting hurled around here, but these are the first two positive opinions of Fallout 2 I have ever heard. The game was broken as shipped, the patches were vague attempts to fix a handful of the most grievous bugs, and lacked the sense of actually role playing. The general experience was of a shoddy game that was something of a parody of Fallout. It was even more of a statsfest than the first, and that's saying something.

And for what it's worth, I wasn't enough of a statshound to go around building uber-characters. I was on the receiving end of a smiting far more than on the giving end, throughout both games.

I'm glad to hear there are some people somewhere who enjoyed it, because that means there's enough goodwill out there to make another episode something of a possibility. I'd hesistate before picking it up, but at least the potential is there. I really wanted Fallout 2 to be fun, but I managed to find myself angry and disappointed instead.

I second, third, or fourth the various rave opinions about MULE. The visual trading interface was hugely innovative (if a little tedious after a while) and the time pressure as that clock bar ran down was intense. I use a little-known protected mode DOS-based clone [mind the ranting] that is under GPL. It has a very true-to-original feel with graphics acceptably somewhere between retro and updated.

Another management/action game that's less known than MULE but equally fun in my eyes is Mega-lo-mania, which didn't have the multiplatform presence but ought to be familiar to Amiga folks. More than once have I played it far into the night.

On the subject of sequels, there are probably few I anticipate more than Sam and Max 2". It will be interesting to see what Lucasarts does with it in the post-SCUMM adventure age.
posted by majick at 4:25 PM on September 22, 2002

I strongly recommend Combat Mission.

..which is based on TacOPS which is based on the double blind system used in real world simulation by the military. Ive played it and its OK but lacks some elements of fun. The best computer WWII squad-level tactics game is Close Combat and in particular Close Combat III
posted by stbalbach at 4:46 PM on September 22, 2002

A year after a console is released, high-end PCs are better again.

Other way around. Consoles lag PCs in terms of potential image quality. The nVidia part at the core of the xbox is no better than the commercial card that had preceded it.

Of course, that card cost more than an x-box, but that's not the point here.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:03 PM on September 22, 2002

TV can be 320x240 @ 24.4 frames-per-second or 640x480 @ 24.4 fps, IIRC.

Not even close. Try 480 lines @ 60fps for NTSC, ~576 lines at 50fps for PAL. Horizontal resolution is variable, but we went with 512 on Kinetica.

Most games drop framerate to 30/25fps, as the difference is only really noticeable when a lot of stuff is moving very quickly, and even then, it takes a trained eye to determine what's actually happened.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:16 PM on September 22, 2002

Nothing being released today even comes close to the originality of 1980s Electronic Arts games like M.U.L.E.

Right. This reminds me of music threads: people who listen to whatever's on the radio saying everything's crap vs. obsesives who look under every rock for the good stuff. I loved M.U.L.E. on the C64 as a kid, but no way it was as much fun as GTA3. I'm currently planning a major injury/ illness to coincide with the release of Vice City if Rockstar can nail down a release date for once.

There's plenty of stuff out there and there are attempts at originality (Ico for the PS2 leaps to mind), you just have to care enough to look for it. Safe sequels abound, but they aren't inately bad. The newest Madden would have been a ton of fun even without the online aspect. Alternatively, the new Mario has me dangerously close to hucking a Wavebird (my most favoritest console innovation) out a window.
posted by yerfatma at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2002

Yeah, Civilization is indeed a great game that rivals M.U.L.E. Unfortunately, it's a great game from 1990.

The sequels are great, sure, but what the heck is Meier doing eliminating his original ideas ("Sid Meier's Dinosaurs" and "Sid Meier's Civil War," two scrapped ideas) in favor of endless Civ retreads (the artistically-brilliant but gameplay-derivative "Alpha Centauri"?) The same goes for Will Wright.

There's plenty that's addictive. But there's nothing out there today with as much heart as an Infocom game.

(Ironically, M.U.L.E.'s Dan Bunten wanted to write a Civilization game in the 1980s, but instead was pressured into making "Heart of Africa.")
posted by inksyndicate at 7:11 PM on September 22, 2002

Consoles are better for some games.

PCs are better for others.

We're moving toward a combination platform, anywy. If I had the right setup, I could play both computer and console games on an HDTV, play multiplayer using either machie, and run the game sound and my winamp playlist through my stereo. In fact, if I ever get an HDTV, I'm gonna try it.

That said, a mouse/keyboard is a superior control mechanism for almsot any game, except Tomb Raider/Tony Hawk.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 7:53 PM on September 22, 2002

One word: Halo 2
posted by jono at 9:02 PM on September 22, 2002

Yelling At Nothing: having spent several years using a TV as a secondary monitor, I never will again. I find it much better to use the monitor as a TV screen -- Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast is currently paused as I type this on the same screen. Three cheers for my horribly-overpriced and-yet-entirely-worth-it ATi All In Wonder Radeon 8500.

Anyway, on to the "debate" at hand.

There really isn't a need for consoles to "convert" any PC gamers -- console games have universally superior sales to PC games, with major PC hits equating roughly to marginal console releases. However, as Gabe points out, there really isn't any reason for PC gamers to avoid console games. Both system-classes are necessary to experience all available types of electronic entertainment. See how the above posters have listed vast numbers of games for all systems that are arguably must-haves. Allow me to add my own set to the list:

On the PC:

- Starsiege: TRIBES, Tribes 2 (with Tribes Aerial Assault coming to the PS2)

- Outcast (with Outcast: The Lost Paradise coming to the PS2 and PC when it resumes development)

- Any Sid Mier's game

On the consoles:

- Jet Set/Grind Radio for the Dreamcast and Jet Set Radio Future for the X-Box

- Mario Sunshine for the GameCube

- etc., etc., etc....

I am personally a more PC-oriented gamer, but I couldn't live without my Jet Grind Radio, Power Stone, and Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast. They are like water to me.
posted by Ptrin at 10:47 PM on September 22, 2002

One word: Halo 2

This is kinda like Spray-painted the interior of the Grammar Police Station. That nonwithstanding, Halo is coming to the PC, and I'm sure Halo 2 will also.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:07 PM on September 22, 2002

spray-painting, dammit.

victim of the subtle-irony police
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:09 PM on September 22, 2002

inpHilltr8r: thanks for the correction. I thought television was always 24.4fps but seeing as I've never worked on a console game nor do I actually own any, I'll take your word for it.

Ptrin: has Tribes 2 recovered from the release disaster? I have a ton of respect for the Garage Games crew, and Dynamix's loss of the core tech (Tim Gift) six months pre-release outright slew the game (the lack of needed delays for further playbalancing didn't help, either). I know the Garage Games people (esp. Gift) were working on patching up Tribes 2, so I was thinking it might be worth checking out again at some point . . . might have to reinstall.
posted by Ryvar at 11:37 PM on September 22, 2002

Yelling at Nothing: But I want it now!
posted by jono at 2:38 AM on September 23, 2002

I've always been one to do both console and PC gaming. I used to like Half-Life back in the day, when it was actually revolutionary to the FPS genre. But frankly, FPS has been said and done. With most games looking, feeling, and playing exactly alike lately, I've become much more picky of the games that I buy.

I honestly can't remember the last PC game that I have bought. Console games, I've bought a few. I've become an addict of Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Gamecube. Though I was sorely disappointed with Mario Sunshine, probably because I was expecting more. Grand Theft Auto 3, on console first. I think that the lack of an online service in the PC version was disappointing. And while the x-box promises much, very few games I bought for that system lived up to their promises.
posted by benjh at 6:24 AM on September 23, 2002

Penny Arcade has nicely summed up how most of the PC/Console debate sounds like on the internet.
posted by grum@work at 7:40 AM on September 23, 2002

Ryvar: it has largely recovered, yes, and its about to recover a hell of a lot more. The so-called "megapatch" is being released very, very soon*, and will provide the final wave of bug-kills, as well as scads of new maps and two new gametypes (the sped-up Classic and insane/sport-like Team Rabbit 2). The timing of the megapatch will coincide with the re-release of (a fully patched) Tribes 2 to stores as a $10 jewel case title. Word on the street is that things are about to get very, very interesting in the T2 community, but that its probably best to hold off on the reinstall until the megapatch is released.

* - semi-rumors filtering down from various forums and news sites seem to indicate that the patch proper, new maps, and new gametypes are all done, and have been done for a month. However, it seems to be that there are some problems when switching between Base, Classic, and TR2 gametypes -- some gameworld variables aren't resetting themselves properly. The patch has been "imminent" for weeks now, so don't hold your breath, but it should be all that long.

crosses fingers
posted by Ptrin at 9:12 AM on September 23, 2002

Mafia. On the PC, but soon coming to some console. So good, it's not even funny - seriously, one of the best games I've ever played.
posted by GriffX at 9:25 AM on September 23, 2002

Not even close. Try 480 lines @ 60fps for NTSC, ~576 lines at 50fps for PAL. Horizontal resolution is variable, but we went with 512 on Kinetica.

But it's interlaced, and those are for fields, not frames.

You get 30(NTSC) or 25(PAL) *frames*/second on the teevee.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:55 AM on September 23, 2002

You get 30(NTSC) or 25(PAL) *frames*/second on the teevee.

In video game development, we use the term frame for a complete cycle of processing, and trust me, a 60fps game is rendering a new image for each of those 'fields' (and you pretty much have to render a full height image, just in case you drop a frame, although there are a number of ways of dealing with that issue, each with their own trade offs).

Besides, that's not only nit-picking, it's moot, as pretty much everyone is working to 480p these days, which isn't interlaced.

(and yes, the PS2 can do progressive scan, no I don't know why they didn't announce it from the get go, but it's possible that someone didn't want to undermine their highly profitable line of progressive scan DVD players that at that point in time, cost more than a PS2, but that's just speculation)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:13 AM on September 23, 2002

I think that the lack of an online service in the PC version [of GTA3] was disappointing

...but not surprising considering how much extra complexity multiplayer adds to a title. Especially one with as dynamic a world as GTA3. A fully multiplayer GTA, would recquire a complete re-write, and considering the relative sales of PC to PS2 games, you're lucky you even got a port...;)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:20 AM on September 23, 2002

i feel obligated to throw in my $.02 american here, i vastly prefer PC games for many of the reasons stated above, they tend to have more complexity and better production values. For me the best games have always been the ones that scared the shit out of me, Marathon (back in my Mac days), AVP, AVP2, System Shock 2, Undying, even Alice had it's moments.

i certainly think that we've seen enormous innovation with regards to games in the past two or three years, games like Homeworld totally redesigned the way people thought about space RTS games and Deus Ex showed people (at least those who hadn't played SS2) that you could have a solid FPS with a clever RPG underneath it.

All that being said, my favorite game of last year was definitely GTA3 which, as has been pointed out, was developed for the console.

posted by quin at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2002

I make computer games for a living. We're using the UT2003 engine for a Xbox title now.

PCs will always be capable of superior graphics, but I see the PC market eroding. Publishers make more profit on console SKUs. And a "hit" on the PC is 200K units, whereas a hit on a console is a million or more. Increasingly, Publishers are asking for PS2 and Xbox and aren't interested in PC SKUs.

The reason we should care about a healthy PC game market is that it's open to everyone and therefore where real innovation comes from.

It costs about $100K to get set up to develop PS2 or Xbox games. But anyone can download the DirectX SDK for free - or mod Half Life.

A vital PC market is like the indie film market - it's where the new hot director/designers are going to come from. So do your part and each of you buy 5 copies of all my PC games ;-)

Mark Long
posted by Zombie at 7:36 PM on September 25, 2002

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