2, Issue 13
February 25, 2000
the PS2 launch approaches, Nick F. takes a look at what the next
generation of consoles might spell for the PC.
is a PC game not a PC game? When it's been converted onto console,
that's when! Or so the logic used to go. Console gamers are used
to getting "special" versions of top PC games like the
Quake series years after release on their original
format and struggling to play mouse-driven RTS games with a manky
Playstation joypad. For the last few years, our smug cries of
"superior playability and design" and "hardware
stability" have been met with manic laughter and ripostes
along the lines of "try going online with your N64"
and "Playsation 3D sucks!"
all this going to change with the release of the Japanese PS2
in just over a week? Will console gamers miraculously gain the
ability to laugh at the next batch of 3D accelerators, with their
"mere" hundreds-of-thousands polygon counts? Will we
laugh as Windows 2000 turns out to be another buggy dud from The
World's Favorite(tm) developer (open-source - as if!), hogging
more megs of RAM than ever before and sucking speed from your
dream machine like a vampire with a passion for CPU cycles?
not (after all, that Dreamcast in the corner with "Compatible
with Windows CE" on it runs Soul Calibur just dandy).
But I do think another quantum shift (whatever that means)
is happening in the relationship between PC's and the dedicated
games machines (believe it or not, some people use PC's for reasons
other than gaming). The last shift happened about four years ago,
when the 3D card market finally took off after the release of
3dfx’ original Voodoo (remember the first time you saw GLQuake?)
and PC game graphics finally began to totally outclass those of
the Playstation and N64. Sure, the PC was always home to the more
technically advanced games (various flight sims, Doom,
System Shock) that weren't possible on consoles of the
time, but it had never been able to compete with consoles when
it came to those all-important whizz-bang eye-candy spectaculars.
then, the PC has stolen a massive lead in terms of technology
and shows little sign of stopping - the Dreamcast may have matched
a top-of-the-line PC at the time it was released, but not any
more. Remember when the PlayStation 2 chipset was unveiled last
spring? Back then, it seemed the performance of the "Emotion
Engine" would be waaaay more powerful than anything available
on the PC by the time of release, but with the release of nVidia's
GeForce chipset (and Intel cramming more and more Mhz goodness
onto those li'l silicon wafers) it looks like the PS2 will only
have the edge for a matter of months, at most. GT2000,
meet Halo running on a Gigahertz PC with Voodoo 5 acceleration.
but the consoles have been catching up in another race - the battle
to dominate your phone line. Most people who've played multiplayer
games online will tell you high-bandwidth, massively-multiplayer
is the way to go. If you've experienced the joys of being a LPB,
there's nothing sorrier than a whining HPB telling you that they'd
rather be playing Goldeneye four-player, split-screen (sure,
it's fun... but it ain't CounterStrike). Sony's plans for
a massive global broadband network could well make the fabled
"set-top box" a reality in many homes - I'm sure that's
what they're hoping if they really are losing $180 a pop (as it's
rumored Sony are) on the Playstation 2 at launch. Two million
consoles in two days, they reckon? Let's see, that's (pulls out
calculator)... a $360 million loss. Woooo.