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PC Master or Console King?

There are many big divides in the gaming world. FPS or RPG? Battlefield or Call of Duty? Xbox or PlayStation? Possibly the biggest of the lot: PC Master Race or Gaming Console King?

This question caused more arguments during my time at college than any political differences or social divide. There were four main camps: PC gamers, console gamers, the neutral group who enjoyed both, and those just didn’t game (or played exclusively on mobile). They all disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Groups one and two avoided the debate like the plague to preserve a fragile peace and only discussed it with the open-minded third group. Thankfully, I never have to see those people again, but it got me thinking: which is actually better?

Cost

First blood to the console users. If we’re starting with nothing but money, it’s better to put your money in a console. For the same price as getting a laptop that can run Uncharted 4, you could get the limited edition PS4. Even if you choose the PC route over Sony, there’s a good chance that you end up running it at the lowest possible graphics and a stuttering framerate. However, despite consoles starting off as cheaper than new computers, games are usually cheaper in PC market places like Steam than the PlayStation Store.

Specs

This is a more difficult area to negotiate. PC’s have virtually unlimited amounts of upgrades that can be plugged into them. With enough money and expertise, a good build can outstrip any console. But however advanced the computer you build or buy, a console will usually run the games without any problems or lag. But, once again, there’s no guarantee that every game will run perfectly, on any platform.

Games

A clear win to team PC. The greatest crime of the digital age is that backwards compatibility is still not a focus area for console creators. I have four generations of PlayStation products sitting on my shelves. The PS2 had a decent rate of compatibility with its predecessor but the PS3 fell woefully short and I cannot believe the con of the PS4. Although there may be a few gems missing from the Steam store, the vast majority of games from days gone by can still be played on the trusty personal computer. Some games may not be making the move across anytime soon, but there’s a large variety of others to enjoy whilst the community figures out some way to recreate them. Assuming you can’t amuse yourself with hundreds of other gaming masterpieces.

Compatibility

After cost, this is possibly the most important aspect to look at. It’s no good spending all your hard-earned notes on a computer if you end up buying something that can’t actually play your games. By and large, consoles end up running the games perfectly and without graphical glitches and problems everywhere. Sadly, the PC does not always hold up so well under the pressure and PC ports can end up suffering for weeks or even months before they finally receive their moment in the sun. That is, if they’re not cancelled first.

Life Expectancy

Farewell, old friend.

Over the years, games consoles have become ridiculously fragile. The original GameBoy I’ve had for the better part of two decades still runs Pokémon if I slot some fresh batteries in but I’ve had to repair my second Xbox 360. If you’re looking for something to last, your best bet is endorsing in a desktop tower. If something breaks, you can switch out the part for another with less hassle than a laptop or most consoles. Last time I had to fix my Xbox, I was without Halo 3 for a full month — a ghastly time.

Support

Another victory to the keyboard and mouse. Whenever I suffer a problem on a PC game, I can pop onto the internet and find all sorts of solutions. Everything from correct settings to third-party patches that soon have me diving back into whatever fictional world currently grips me. Consoles lack these quick and easy fixes. With fractal nightmares lurking and skeleton faces waiting around every corner.

Extra Content

Spider-Man with a Keyblade and mask from Zelda

DLC is usually released within a few days from platform to platform, but the genius people of the internet community can rip it to shreds and sew themselves something completely new. Even without anything more than the base game, modders can write themselves entirely new sagas. Although making a mod is an arduous task, it is not without risks. A poorly coded mod might not be well received or, much worse, crash the game it’s added to. So far, console mods are not widely available. If you want to mod a PC game, there are all sorts of programs to make it easier. My favorite site is Nexus. It lists thousands of mods for hundreds of games, there’s no file limit and it has it’s own program for downloading, installing and managing mods. PC only, of course.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s you who has to choose. If budget is no option, or you like tinkering about, think about investing in a desktop tower. On the other hand, if you want a good games console at a cheap price, consider the Xbox 360 or maybe PlayStation 3. There is a large enough library there already and most modern games are still released on the platforms. But at the end of the day, it’s immaterial. A good gamer enjoys the experience, not the platform.


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