For the longest time there has been a distinct difference between PC games and console games. The thought of the 2 merging together was blasphemy to some and ludicrous to others. As time passed however, that line between the 2 has merged closer together with each passing console generation.
In past generations we have been blessed to have an abundant amount of games that varied across both PC and consoles. PC was more focussed towards FPS, RTS and MMO. Consoles were more towards platformers, fighters, JRPG and adventure games. It was enough to warrant the purchase of a PC and a console if one wanted to experience all that was available. Best of all it pushed PC development in a different direction to console development. While PC devs were working on Half Life 2 console devs were working on Gran Theft Auto. For the gamer this presented an expensive problem, especially if one couldn’t afford to buy a PC and a console.
The big difference between PC and consoles is obviously hardware. PC could upgrade its hardware continually, consoles not so. Even without upgrades PC hardware is far superior when compared to console hardware. Games that come out on console and PC, generally, look better on PC thanks to their superior CPU and GPU. But this doesn’t always mean that better games will come out on PC. If one were to look at the PC market it is flooded with shooters. Yes RTS and MMORPG are also abundant, but the staple of the PC gamer is definitely FPS. Some are beautiful to look at, but somewhat lacking in gameplay.
This is where the consoles lack of power comes at an advantage. Yes the devs will make the game as attractive as possible, but the focus is now pushed elsewhere. One only needs to look at Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 to see what a great dev can do with limited hardware. What MGS lacked in graphics it more than made up for in gameplay. For me Suikoden 2 was a classic example of graphics over gameplay. The graphics were terrible even for a PS1 game, but the gameplay was phenomenally fun. Even to this day I still play it for hours.
There were many other console games that amazed us with their gameplay. Who can forget classics like Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy 7, Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro ? While it is true that some of these titles made their way to PC, they were not designed with PC in mind. They were developed for consoles and this gave them a distinct flavour, much different to the PC offerings. It’s great that console games get ported over to PC, because some of these games are just too good for gamers to ignore.
As time moved on consoles got more powerful and games were far more attractive than the pixelated games of the PS1/N64 era. PS2 had great games that came out that still felt like they belonged on a console. Games like Gran Theft Auto 3, Dark Cloud 2, Shadow Of The Colossus, ICO, God Of War 1 and 2, Devil May Cry, Gran Turismo 3, Tekken 5, Soul Calibur 2 and Final Fantasy 12 are but a few of them. Of course fighting games came out on arcade first, but we never had to wait long for the console port. Fighting games play exceptionally well on consoles.
There were a lot of distinctive console games for sure. However, focus started to shift games more toward PC territory. Microsoft’s Xbox was released with an almost PC like CPU and GPU. In terms of raw horse power it bought a lot more to the table than the PS2 and GameCube. The Xbox also offered console gamers Halo which, even now, is a fantastic FPS title. Sure there were other FPS titles that came out on consoles, but they were generally considered a joke by the PC gaming community.FPS was generally regarded as PC only territory, but Halo proved that FPS can and does work on a console. They even ported it over to the PC, which alone speaks volumes to the greatness of Halo.
Consoles today resemble a PC more than ever before. As time progressed, console manufacturers mimicked the PC architecture in order to gain more power. The Xbox 360 has been praised by devs because it’s PC like architecture is easy to work with. Even the Playstation 3 comes with a built in hard drive that can be upgraded. Now the line between the two seems to be almost faded away.
Having PC games ported over is a good thing, no question about it. Having the option to play these games on a console raises revenue and gives console gamers the chance to enjoy some awesome games. Unfortunately there seems to be more PC style games being developed specifically for consoles than ever before. This doesn’t hurt the gaming industry one bit, people will always buy games. It’s the consumer that gets the short end of the stick. Consoles pushed games that were of a different nature to their PC counterparts. Now they are pushing games the equivalent of their PC counterparts.
It’s not all doom and gloom on the horizon though; we have Sony’s 1st Party studios offering a fair bit of variety with their upcoming releases. This is fantastic because with the exception of Killzone 2, all the games seem to look and play like a console game should. The more devs we have working on “true” console games the better off gamers of both console and PC will be. PC gamers will get a far greater amount of ports that will offer them something different than the current staple diet of FPS, RTS and MMO. We will have a far greater variety of games to play than the ever before.