At first I was reticent about writing a post on games. However, I see my friend Dan has a good post about some E3 announcements, so I thought, “What the heck. Dan’s cool, and he did it. I can do it too.” Because this is going to be a very nerdy post, I’ll keep it off the main page. Click to follow through, and you can thank me later.
Unreal Tournament 2007 is coming out later this year. One glance at a screenie and you can instantly see that this game should totally rock my socks. I thought it would and eagerly devoured each bit of news and every pixel of every screenshot. If any game could wrest me from the adamantine clutches of WoW, it would be this. At heart, I’m a fragger not a silly RPGer. Unreal Tournament 2k7, coupled with a beefy gaming machine, would take me back my roots as a gamer who grew up on Dark Forces, the Marathon Trilogy, and the original Unreal Tournament. Interesting side note, a few years ago, when I was considerably more stupid than I am now, I would make the claim I was good at only two things: skiing and Unreal Tournament. I rocked that game. This is all a very long way of saying that I had high hopes for UT2k7, and by now you’ve all noticed I’m using the past tense. This is why.
Consoles (Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation, etc.) are and will always be inferior gaming platforms than computers. I consider this statement to be unassailable. There are many reasons for this, but there are two chief reasons. First, consoles will always have inferior graphics due to the limitations of the consoles themselves and TV resolutions. Even the best TVs out there are only now catching up to where computer monitor resolutions were 5 years ago. Second, consoles will always have inferior input devices (gamepads) to computers (keyboard and mouse). The keyboard supplies the gamer with more buttons accessible by a single hand than the gamepad makes available for two hands. The mouse is a vastly superior pointing device than any analog stick on a gamepad. Only in flight sims and racing games is the mouse a less than ideal gaming instrument. Because of the sophistication of controls available to the gamer, computer games will always allow for a more easily navigable gaming world, a more robust gaming world, and a significantly freer gaming experience for the gamer. I do find the controls for the upcoming Nintendo Wii to be interesting and may possibly be revolutionary, but I think the classic keyboad and mouse will still provide a better gaming interface over all. There are other minor reasons for the superiority of the computer platform (e.g. ready availability of player made mods), but I don’t need to go into detail about those.
How does this relate to UT2k7? Because UT2k7 is going to be made with the PS3 in mind, the developers are purposely dumbing down the game so that it gives console gamers a better gaming experience. The result is computer gamers have to live with a crippled game. This is like taking the loops out of a rollercoaster because some people can’t handle the loops. You’ll still have a rollercoaster, but it will be much lamer than what it could be. I’m positive the game developers are aware of this and had difficulty with coming up the best defensive PR line. Of course, they can’t come out and say, “Yeah, we have to make the game easier to play and less challenging because consolers won’t be able to play it otherwise.” So, instead they just spout lies that are only believable to people who don’t pay attention:
Jeff Morris: And I would add that vehicles are something that we’re thinking about emphasizing for the console versions. Steering with wassed on the PC is something that works but it’s not as ideal as…
Mark Rein: Wassed? [laughs]
Jeff Morris: Yeah, yeah, WASD [i.e. keyboard based controlling]… as ideal as it is on an analog stick. I general we feel that vehicles really match with the input device of a console better. So perhaps that means more of an emphasis on vehicle focused game types. There will be differences between the PC and PS3 versions, no doubt, but we just not 100% certain what they’re going to be.
Incorrect. Mouselook combined with WASD based steering is freer, easier, and more accurate than analog sticks. These guys are either idiots or just don’t care that they tell bald-faced lies.
And then there’s this laugher:
IGN: How about what we’ve heard about UT 2007 coming back to the very quick style of the original UT? Is that actually going to create any problems with a controller that’s a little slower than a mouse and keyboard?
Mark Rein: Nah actually what we’re doing is simply de-emphasizing some of the crazy jumping around stuff that you could only really justify doing if you could turn 180 degrees almost instantly like you can with a mouse. So yeah, we’re removing a little bit of the crazy mobility that got added with 2003 and 2004 and going back to the core of the original UT which we think will actually mesh better with controllers.
We actually consider it an improvement because in 2004 you could all of these crazy things like wall jumps which really scream for immediate control and it’s very tough to do with the controller without adding more buttons to it. We think that we’re actually going to end up with something that plays a little smoother on the controller.
Here we have a developer himself saying that console controls are more limited than the keyboard and mouse, and he thinks it’s an “improvement” that the game has to be slowed down and limited so that console players aren’t overwhelmed. Haha! Right. I’ll admit a skilled player could pull some amazingly insane stunts in UT2k4, but that’s one of the things that made it enjoyable. It made it more challenging. Now, I’m guessing we’ll be lucky to have dodging, something I’d consider to be an essential part of the UT gameplay. Gone are the days of the wall jumps, double jumps, quad jumps, and hammer jumps.
Finally, turning to online multiplayer, we find the developers acknowledging reality:
More to the point, we have to consider how much fun a game is going to be if there’s forty guys in a game and you have a controller in your hand instead of a mouse and keyboard. It’s just the gameplay considerations we have to think about. Some games are at their best with four players and some are at their best with forty players. It’s hard to say where we’d end up but it probably won’t end up being a hundred person game because it’s just too fast.
Precisely. Hopefully they’ll have enough brains to ensure this limitation does not affect computer gamers. Leave the weak sauce 16-man Onslaught games to the consolers. I’ll take the epic 64-man battle royales.
With all this being said, UT2k7 does have something going for it regardless of the crippled movement and watered down design. The UT series has always had awesome weapons, amazing map designs, and UT2k4 introduced some killer vehicles. I’m expecting all of this will improve in UT2k7. I’m especially looking forward to the weapons they will give me. I have always been a fan of the shock bombs, which are the hallmarks of a truly talented fragger. If they take away the dual-fire mode of the weapons because of console considerations, I swear I’ll blow a gasket.