Monday, March 19, 2007

2K7 Game-a-Week Week #11: The week that wasn't

Plans change. It's just the nature of things. No matter how good our intentions, reality has a bad habit of having its way with us.

Originally, I had planned this week to be my first crack at God of War since the sequel was coming out and I figured chances were good I would buy it. But I first thought that the TV in the bedroom (where most of my console gaming happens) was just not "good enough" for such a triple-A title. Also, it didn't look like anyone, even Mecca, was going to be having any decent incentives to buy GoW2 the first week. It was going to be $49.99; the last of the high priced PS2 games. CC was offering a shirt but frankly, it looked ugly and their track record of finding stuff in the store is not good. So, I started to think that I would kick up one of the collections of arcade games. Retro gaming has gotten big due to the various on-line services that the big 3 are offering. Of course, retro for today's gamers is memory lane for me.

At some point, I found myself drifting toward some PC games. I played a demo of a new survival horror game, Penumbra, and was very impressed with the way you had to use the mouse. It wasn't just point-and-click. You had to move the mouse the way you were moving something in the game - pull it to open a drawer, push it to open a door, click to hold while moving backward to drag something. The demo was very short but held my interest. I'm looking forward to picking this one up. I also played some more Halo on the PC primarily because I can control the vehicles better. (I'm useless on the Xbox version.) I also started the Company of Heroes demo.

This sudden spurt of PC gaming has me wondering where my gaming time is better spent. Back in the "old days" (ie, when NES was king), I was happily playing my Atari 800, ST and original PC. I was a late comer to consoles as computers had the significant edge in graphics and sound. I didn't start getting into consoles until the middle SNES days.

I know the debate between the two worlds, console and PC, is eternal. Consoles provide a cleaner, easier to drop into environment that has lots of exclusives and a more open atmosphere when playing with others. PC gaming has better production values (in general when comparing the same time periods), less corporate interference over content, and a better control scheme for FPS's, strategy, and simulation games. Also, PC gaming is almost completely "future proof" - you can almost always find a way to play an old game on a new system. And there are no clear lines between users. The weekly podcasts I listen to regularly cross-over boundaries - Xbox guys talking about PC games, PC gamers talking about Wii games, etc. There's no one answer - they will always co-exist in some form.

As for me, I think I'll just go with the flow for now and that seems to be taking me down the river of PC games. (It's a little easier to play on my PC at night than the consoles and I certainly have a large stock of games to play on the PC.) This usually lasts until I hit some sort of downer like a game that crashes a lot or something about my computer that makes me waste hours trying to fix it. Not a downer, but a different reason is a visit by my brother that gets me onto the consoles for a week. I've been on this ride long enough to know that making judgements and turning my back on one or the other only leads to me running back to the maligned, hoping I can recover whatever lost treasures I might have sold off in a fit of self righteous commitment. However, I do think I will set some goals and my first one is to try Gametap for a month (costing all of $0.99). I'm really interested to see how well it works and I can try the Sam & Max games as part of that.

A different reason I didn't do as much this week as others is that one of our cats, Randi, had to be euthanized this weekend. It wasn't unexpected and, truthfully, it was necessary. Her kidney problems were just more than we could take and at 17, there wasn't much we could do for her. At least I like to think she left this world without suffering too badly from the disease. Randi, I do thank you for the late night strolls into the computer room, looking for a pet or a scratch behind your twisty ear. You were a people cat and never missed a chance to nuzzle a hand or sit next to me on the sofa. I hope your time with us made you happy.

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