An interesting discussion is taking place on Engadget between PC and console gamers. Who is better and which platform is superior?
HP exec Rahul Sood mentioned in his blog post that Microsoft pulled the plug on an innovative concept that allowed players on the Xbox 360 to compete with their PC counterparts. Apparently, the mouse-keyboard combination was far superior to the console, so much so that “l33t” gamers on the Xbox were being annihilated by mediocre PC gamers.
I am a FPS (First person shooter) enthusiast. Unlike RPGs (role playing games) or RTSs (real time strategy) FPS require greater speed and dexterity. Obviously with greater skill comes faster speed and a higher visual acuity but in general the ability to move the aiming cross-hair from one point on the screen to another is key. Everything else, such as moving, tactics and strategy take a back seat. If you are unable to hit your target you may as well play solitaire.
The reason I decided against buying a console and focused my energies (and resources) on an “gaming” PC was to take advantage of the finer controls available with the mouse when playing FPS. Obviously if I had been a racing fan I would simply bought a console with a driving attachment.
Having recently played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on both a PC and a Xbox 360 I have noticed that the difference between playing on a PC and Xbox is not necessarily weighed in favour of the former.
Note: I have refrained from a discussion on the general advantages and disadvantages of PCs and consoles. This article focuses solely on the actual gameplay.
Firstly, it is clear that when trying to hit a target a mouse allows faster access to that target. The computer or television screen is essentially a 2D plain, it is a flat surface with width and height. The mouse enables fluid movement between the x and y axis. In contrast, a console controller limits you to short movements in one static direction. This movement is difficult to explain. What happens is that the controller has a pad that when tilted moves your cross-hair in the corresponding direction. However, unlike a mouse which can be moved at any angle relative to your position, the controller’s pad is limited to particular angles. This means that it can often take a lot longer to line up your cross-hair.
The next obvious disadvantage is speed. In most cases it is impossible to modify the speed of movement of the cross-hair in a console. On PC’s mouse sensitivity is a common setting in all games that enables gamers to fine tune the speed of movement. So, combined with finer granular control a PC gamer will almost always hit the target faster than their Xbox counterpart.
So far I have painted the console in a fairly negative light. However, while playing COD:MW2 I noticed that there were some obvious benefits to a console.
Firstly, console controllers are formed in a manner that is suited to the “mould" of your hand. All the keys are arranged in such a manner that virtually all your fingers are being simultaneously used. While the mouse+keyboard combo also places your fingers on the requisite keys, I have found that finding the right key can often be difficult. In FPS games with minimal “combo” keys simply pressing the left mouse button to fire and using the WASD keys for movement is sufficient. However, once you start adding enhancements it becomes difficult to find the right keys. I purchased a SteelSeries Ikari Laser Mouse just for these situations as it comes with 2 programmable thumb buttons. On console controllers, you have the d-pad, thumb buttons, and buttons on the top of the controller. Each of these buttons are suited to one of your fingers on both your hands. For example, crouching, moving forward, strafing right, firing and reloading at the same time can place some serious stress on your left hand on the keyboard. In contrast it is a much easier maneuver to accomplish using a console controller.
Console gaming is also more “noob” friendly. I noticed an interesting thing happen while playing on the Xbox: when I fired a gun, even if I wasn’t aiming directly at my opponent, it invariably hit my target so long as I was in the general vicinity of it. It seems that because it is usually tougher to aim precisely at your target, the console compensates by correcting your aim. Clearly, this is great for beginners who are not acclimatized to the precision required for FPSs.
As with most things, personal preference is key. I prefer the mouse+keyboard combo for FPS and that’s why I decided to put all my money into getting a good computer.
[image credit: TheChallengeBase]