Cross-platform gaming: from simple ports to the Gates of Oblivion
Battlefield: Bad Company: PS3 and Xbox 360. Unreal Tournament 3: for PC and PlayStation 3, with an Xbox 360 version coming in 2008. ID Software's Rage: coming to PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and even Mac. With more and more PC developers announcing console and cross-platform titles, different platforms now compete directly for the same gamers. The question is - which platform offers the best bang for the buck, and the biggest bang overall? In this series of articles, YouGamers intends to find out. To figure out what to expect from future cross-platform releases like the ones listed above, we look first to what has happened in the world of cross-platform gaming during the last year and a half.
Sony's God of War II, for the PlayStation 2, squeezes every last drop of ability out of the 7 year old console.
If you want to play the latest and greatest games, you'll have to invest in a system that can run them. The cutting edge of gaming technology is still wielded by the PC platform, but despite falling PC prices, the barrier of entry to cutting edge gaming can be high. Five hundred bucks can buy you a PC good enough for almost any regular task, but $500 is chump change compared to the exorbitant prices of high-end gaming PCs. A single top of the line graphics card can cost as much as an entire system, and the manufacturers want you to buy two and run them in tandem. With new, ever faster gaming hardware released every 6 or 12 months, and new games utilizing the available power in earnest, gamers are at risk of contracting upgradeitis - a condition that, if untreated, can very quickly get very expensive. One over-the-counter remedy is the Game-o-Meter, which helps you take the guesswork out of upgrade decisions.
Another way to eschew the vicious upgrade cycle is investing your hard-earned money in a game console, which tend to have life spans of five years or more. Very few new PC titles run well with five year old hardware, and many don't run at all. Consoles, on the other hand, tend to mature well: developers squeeze surprising amounts of performance out of ageing systems, most recently in the case of God of War II for the PlayStation 2, developed for that platform to benefit from the huge install base of PS2 consoles. The bigger a game's development budget is, the more potential customers the publisher wants to have. One way to broaden your potential audience is to release your game on more than one platform.
PC has traditionally been a wallflower at the big ported game ball. PC ports of console games tend to come late to the party, and their execution of moves has left a lot to be desired, with the effect that sales haven't been big enough to justify the effort and expense of porting to PC. While porting from one console platform to another is a common practice, console ports of PC games have similarly been rare. However, consoles have in the recent years entered the realm of established PC genres: pioneered by Goldeneye and Halo, console first-person shooters are now commonplace, and even real-time strategy titles for consoles are starting to appear. Now, most upcoming "AAA" PC titles are getting the console treatment, and excluding a few platform-specific games, you can experience the biggest buzz-generating games whether you game on a PC, PS3 or Xbox 360.
Despite their very large install base, other consoles like PlayStation 2 and Wii don't get an invitation to this party for a simple reason: their hardware isn't powerful enough to run the current or even last-generation game engines with high definition graphics. But neither is the hardware of every PC: while all Xbox 360s and all PS3s are born equal, the performance of each individual PC varies a great deal depending on both hardware and software.
One of the goals of these articles is to find out how fast your PC needs to be to attain console performance and image quality in the games we test. First of all, let's look if the Xbox 360 can challenge the PC in one of PC gaming's most revered genres and franchises: the real-time strategy game Command & Conquer 3.
Articles: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3) Jan 14, 2008
Articles: Top 10 Must-Have PC Games Dec 14, 2007
Articles: Mass Effect (Xbox 360) Dec 04, 2007
News: November Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility Update Nov 29, 2007
Articles: Video RAM - how much do you really need? Nov 02, 2007
News: Mass Effect Goes Gold Oct 22, 2007
Articles: Halo 3 (Xbox 360) Oct 19, 2007
News: New Oblivion Content Pack Released Oct 15, 2007
News: New Oblivion Content Coming October 15th Oct 11, 2007
News: XBox 360 Holiday Bundle Announced Oct 09, 2007
Reviews: Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Jul 19, 2007
Previews: Lost Planet: Extreme Condition May 17, 2007
Reviews: The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles Apr 26, 2007
Reviews: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Apr 04, 2007
Reviews: Supreme Commander Mar 07, 2007
Reviews: Medieval II: Total War Mar 02, 2007