OK, I admit it. I’m not some sort of Gaming Diety. I haven’t played every single game ever released. Indeed, the only format I currently personally own is that of the PC. However, my friends and relatives do consider me as somewhat of an authority figure on the subject, and yes I have written a fair amount, played a lot more and know a decent amount about the industry. It’s this, and indeed the postive feedback I get rather more often than I expected that allows me to keep on writing. And indeed, this blog is a fairly good outlet for me, until one day where I hopefully actually get paid to write my own personal comments about gaming and video games. In fact, an opportunity may arise in that area very soon, but I’ll talk about that another time. Still, right now I want to use this space to rant about something that’s rather bugging me this week.

With the GDC taking place over in the States, the big focus has been as to what the three big console players are planning for their first full year of direct competion, each of them all trying to get one over their competitiors. Sony revealed their new PS3 Home service – a kind of Second Life meets X-Fire social room, Microsoft was raving about its new XBox Live numbers while proudly taking home multiple awards for Gears of War, and Nintendo were showing off how they’re futher pushing the envolope for creativity with some really good stuff incoming for the Wii, including finally revealing the first game to have some proper online play. Meanwhile, on the PC side of things, Microsoft were touting the Live service for Vista to be released later in the year, revealing subscription plans, and a crossover with the 360, trying to bring the console and PC gamer closer together. Why then, I wonder, are we currently still made to suffer the indignity of second rate console ports currently to the PC? If the companies are seeing the potential for bringing gamers together, whether they do it from their beige boxes or the classic armchair gamer, then why do we still feel, well – slightly like the child who gets the handmedowns?

You see, the thing that has brought this on this week for me is the eventual release this week of Resident Evil 4 for the PC. More than a year late than originally announced, and two years after it’s GameCube debut, the game itself is still a pretty decent game. But there are just so many things about it that make me so infuriated at UbiSoft, and the people within Capcom responsible for it’s port. You see, over a year ago, Capcom announced a deal with UbiSoft to bring three of it’s most popular console franchises to my only format. Onimusha 3, Devil May Cry 3 and Resi 4. Of course, I was pretty happy to hear this news, hearing only good things about all three games. And all three were originally meant to be released within a month of each other. Onimusha in Feb, DMC 3 in March and Resi by April. Onimusha 3 came on time, and was a decent port, but suffered a couple of terrible port issues, such as some very suspect slowdown issues, and a few other technical issues (such as the shortcut on the desktop pointing to the wrong exe) – Very well, I thought – it’s their first one, let them make a couple of mistakes. DMC 3 then was delayed by a couple of months, and soon after I checked the release date for Resi, which had also suffered a similar slip. Come August, DMC 3 finally saw the light of day. And was fairly decent technically, and didn’t have much slowdown at all. On the other hand, this port had issues with the controller. In fact, it wouldn’t actually accept the left analogue stick. Now ironically enough, because of the original announcment, I had bought the XBox 360 pad for Windows, which at the time I assumed would have a pretty high success rate. And as you probably guessed it worked fine with Onimusha. On DMC 3, I had the problem I mentioned. Again, I was frustrated, but again gave them the benefit of the doubt.

Then Resi 4 slipped again. The release date got pushed to December. December came and went, no release – and indeed, no word from UbiSoft on the game whatsoever. Heck, their website hadn’t even changed from the original Septemeber promised release date, and ironcially their website actually showed the game as being on their “new releases” area, even though it wasn’t out. Finally about halfway through Janurary, they finally settled on a March release, which has happened. So the game was delayed by a year. Why then, have they been so, well… lazy about the port? See here’s what gets me. Resident Evil 4 is still a decent game. So far I’m enjoying it, finding it fun to play, and what I would want in a game. But there are so many nagging dissapointments. Why, for example, are we still having to settle with the PS2 (and by that I mean pre-rendered cutscenes, no fogging, jagged edges and low res textures) graphics? I mean, most modern gaming PC’s can probably handle GameCube graphics, why couldn’t we have them? Sure they included the PS2 special features, but surely they could have at least took those special features, and applied the engine used to the GC version? In addition, other than what I have already mentioned, there is no other extra content for making us wait so long for the port… A year is a long time in a games development. Why can I not help but feel there has been a missed opportunity, even if the game itself is pretty decent?

It’s made even worse by the fact that this week, I also got Jade Empire. Now Bioware did the smart thing here. Jade Empire has new quests, new monsters, new items and fighting styles added, crisper and sharper visuals and even the control system has had a good going over to ensure compatibility with the PC. To take another example, the Wii has forced developers to thing differently about multiformat development of their games, so that their labours can flourish on the system they develop them on, no matter what it is. Devs, we like the personal touch – and I’m fairly sure PC gamers won’t mind paying that little bit extra, if you give them the perks of owning the game on their format. They need to give gamers a reason to own the same game on other formats, not just assume they’ll be satisfied with a lazy port. UbiSoft and Capcom should take a leaf out of Bioware’s book.

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