Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things I Hate About Console Games

It's no secret that I'm an ardent PC gamer -- they're measurably superior to consoles in most regards -- but I don't harbor any resentment towards consoles or console gamers. Consoles are fine for what they are, but I prefer the wider versatility of a PC, and the style of PC-exclusives are generally more appealing to me. Despite this, I recently bought a PS3 in order to play a number of console-exclusive games that had somehow managed to elude the almighty PC. I was genuinely looking forward to these experiences and have enjoyed my time with the ones I've played so far.

However, there are a number of things about console games that really annoy me -- problems that generally don't exist in PC games, unless it's a bad console port. For the most part, these things don't ruin the experience, but they do get under my skin a little bit and just go to remind me of how limited the current consoles really are in comparison to a modern PC. So if you're still reading and haven't disregarded me as a snobby PC elitist, I have a list of five things that I hate about console games, in the full article.

#5. No customization options
It's really disappointing to me, going into a game's options menu and only seeing stuff for brightness and volume, or being limited to only a handful of preset control configurations. I can't completely remap the controls like I can with a PC game -- I'm stuck with whatever presets are available, which sometimes aren't that great, initially, and take a while to get used to. Other options are sometimes completely missing, like being able to invert the x-axis for camera control.

#4. Aliasing
Besides all of the other graphical limitations associated with consoles, the one that annoys me most is aliasing. It seems like a lot of these console games just don't incorporate anti-aliasing (presumably because the game won't run at a stable framerate with AA), and all of those jagged edges really stand out sometimes and detract from the experience a tiny bit.

#3. Imprecise joystick aiming
The mouse is measurably superior to joysticks, especially when it comes to first-person shooters, and it bugs me slightly how jerky joystick aiming can be due to the pivoting motion on a single neutral position. I'm not sure it can ever be as smooth as aiming with a mouse, even if I were an expert at the joystick. It just doesn't measure acceleration as well, and having to take your thumbs off the sticks to press buttons can be a little problematic at times.

#2. Low FOV
Console games seem to default to incredibly low FOVs, seemingly often as a way to improve performance by not having to render as much stuff in the peripheral vision of the screen. When they drop the FOV as low as 70 and 80, it can be almost nauseating because it's like looking through binoculars all the time while you're moving around. It makes it more laborious just looking around the environment and makes the experience feel more claustrophobic than it really should.

#1. Airlock checkpoint auto-saves
PCs have had a long history of free-form save systems that let you save at any point of the game. For whatever reason, it seems like relatively few console games implement such a system, and it tends to be more cumbersome, anyway. Instead, checkpoint auto-saves are more prevalent among console games, and these annoy me when they force you into "no turning back" scenarios. You enter a room, the game auto-saves and a door closes behind you, blocking off your access to the previous area. 
I've missed out on game content just because I opened a door while I was exploring, and was forced to advance through a level when I didn't realize that particular path would do that. With games that don't keep a back-log of these checkpoint saves, it can make it difficult or downright impossible to replay specific sections of the game (if there's a particularly memorable moment you want to revisit or something), short of just doing a new game from the very beginning. In general, it just restricts you a lot more. 

And that was my quick rant. The only one of these that has genuinely ruined a gaming experience for me is the checkpoint auto-save system. The others, while annoying, can be overlooked while I'm playing the game and immersing myself in the gameplay, but they do stand out from time to time, making me realize how much better the experience could've been on a PC. 


  1. An interesting view on console gaming Nick. I'm sure you would be happy to know that many of the mainstream RPGs allow you to save at will (unless you there are enemies nearby) as well as utilize an auto-save feature. When you load the game (or reload) just pick the save you want to start playing from and game on.

    -Bryan Grushcow

    1. Hey Bryan, it's nice to see a familiar name 'round these parts. I think the RPGs are indeed the most notable instance of allowing free-form saving on consoles (the games put out by Bethesda and BioWare especially), but I'd argue it's still not as convenient as quick-saving on a PC. I've been spoiled by being able to save and load instantly with just one press of a button.

  2. Checkpoint save system - o, yeah! Checkpoints are absolute evil for FPS, RPG and adventure games. I'm a casual gamer and has many situations, when i must stop game for indefinite time and pay attention to things around. It means - switch off computer and go to do stuff in other place. And then for checkpoint games i are must replay a huge chunks of game because it was stopped before some stupid checkpoint. Dam'n lazy game programmers!