Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Hate PC FPSs

I'm aware that prevailing opinion among most gamers is that First-Person Shooters are at their best on PC, and that trying to play them on consoles with a controller is difficult and not nearly as intuitive. Well, I disagree. The reason that people feel this way is because FPS used to be a PC-only genre, showing up on consoles only in the post-16 bit generations, and everyone got used to playing them on their PCs. Well, I didn't (aside from a bit of time with demos of Wolfenstein and Doom), because I've always hated FPSs. Until I played Goldeneye for N64.

I played the hell out of that game. I suspect that I've spent more time playing that game than any other, although Super Smash Bros. (also for N64) might be a close second. For about a year, I and a group of 3 friends would meet literally every weeknight to play Goldeneye from 6-10PM or so, rotating houses every night. I played it so much that, even now, years later, I can hook up my N64 and beat the hardest missions without any ramp-up time. That's because, in much the same way that PC players got used to using a mouse and keyboard to play FPSs, because of games that they played obsessively (like Tribes or Counterstrike), I got used to a controller (in this case, the N64 controller specifically, which I think is the best console controller ever made, but I'm again in the minority here and I'll save it for another rant).

A keyboard is not a gaming peripheral. It's a device used for typing that PC game-makers force to perform as a gaming peripheral since it and a mouse are the most common devices with which users interface with their PCs. Whenever I play any PC FPSs (the most recent being Battlefield 2), I find the interface awkward, complex, and not at all intuitive. PC developers have a whole keyboard to work with, so they can just go nuts and map everything to as many keys as the want, and mouse interactions are pretty standardized. Console developers, meanwhile, don't have that luxury, and they have to design with careful attention to the controls, using a peripheral that is made solely to play games. Admittedly, they don't always succeed (Turok was a nightmare to play, which is doubly amusing since it was probably closer to the PC control scheme than any other console FPS I've played, with the arrow keys mapped to the C-pad and the mouse movement mapped to the analog stick), but when they do, I find it far more intuitive than a mouse & keyboard.

So, to all of you people who claim that you can't play FPSs on a console because of the awful controls, this is my concise response: bite me.

8 Comments:

Blogger Requiem said...

My only valid arguement against console and PC's for FPS are that fact when using a console you usually just use your thumbs, possibly index finger (for L and R buttons). While using a keyboard/mouse you use 2 fingers ou the mouse, and your hand to move it, and for the keyboard you use all 5 fingers. So you have better control over things you want to do while having fingers poised over buttons. This is just me so um yeah.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous N. O. Scott said...

There's nothing convoluted about computer FPS controls. You use four buttons on the keyboard and the mouse to do the basic movement. All of the other buttons are just for bells and whistles.

The mouse gives you much finer control over movement and aiming. Faster and more precise, if you're into that kind of thing. The scads of other keyboard buttons just give you more options for things like switching items and such. Things that require several button presses on a controller are usually one key away on a keyboard.

I was adamantly against console FPSes for the reasons you describe (along with stuff like crappy split screens), but Halo managed to do it right. I can't explain how, but it works. And most other XBox FPSes, despite basically lifting the Halo scheme "verbatim" for controls, still don't get it right. (It doesn't scroll smoothly, or its too herky-jerky, or the autoaim is too prevalent/not prevalent enough.

I think you just have a nostalgic fondness for Goldeneye coupled with an obstinate refusal to learn a different way of doing things!

Thursday, September 15, 2005 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Requiem said...

When i play BF2 or AVP2 i always have my middle finger for forward and backwards, my ring finger for strafe left, and my index for strafe right. I keep my thumb for the space bar, and my pinky for the ctrl and shift button. Thats all the fingers on my left hand. For my right i use the mouse then have the index for left mouse button, middle finger for the scroll button, and my ring finger for the right button. So i use 8 figures to play my FPS which is double (i assume 4 is the most you need for a controller). I believe this gives me better control over my gameplay having more controls (as it were) at the tip of my fingers.

I was just playing some BF2 to map my controls on how I play. I wish i could comment my posts instead of delete and repost it. (grumble)

Friday, September 16, 2005 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous CraigM said...

Although not currently possible since console and PC versions of like games appear incompatible for network play, I would like to pit console gamers against PC gamers on a common FPS (e.g. counterstrike, UT4, etc...) and see who comes out on top.

I agree with requiem, the level of control is much better with the PC. Like Warlords, you can play with a joystick but the ultimate experience can only happen with a paddle. Anything else is inferior.

Friday, September 16, 2005 9:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

As an aside before I start, Nintendo just made their own comment on console FPS with eerie timing. See my next post.

To Requiem:

I'll give you the complaint about the number of fingers. I've thought for years that they should throw an extra couple of buttons beneath where our middle fingers rest along the controller grips, but now that everyone's trying to reach a more mainstream audience, it's probably a poor time to make controllers more complicated. Nintendo certainly seems to think so (see next post).

To Nathan:

When do games require several button presses? Maybe I'm just blanking here, but aside from using energy potions in X-Men Legends, which I think was a poor design decision in the first place, I can't recall even one more instance of a single action requiring 2 or more button presses.

To Craig:

I would also like to pit console gamers against PC gamers in the fasion you describe.

Friday, September 16, 2005 3:55:00 PM  
Blogger Requiem said...

In reply to your comment to Nathan. First of all I want to point out I am not a Nathan but I do play on TV. Secondly of all iv played quite a few FPS on consoles. Usually PS2 but iv played on others. UT required you to hold 2 maybe even 3 buttons at once to do something single like quick shifting between one weapon and another. While this is to the extreme but I also remember playing Oni which required a 3 button at once to grab an edge to climb up (which was very uncomfortable to do and didnt always register). It is almost always in games that are ported from computer to a console.

As to the last part I'd be interested in taking part in this if it ever happens as well.

Friday, September 16, 2005 4:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Oni was an FPS? That was that awful anime-themed game, right? I never played it, but I thought it was 3rd-person platformer.

Either way, Oni's by all accounts an awful game, and probably not a good example. I can't fathom why you'd need THREE buttons in conjunction. I guess maybe if you were really hard up and needed twice the buttons, you could give them all a second context-sensitive function when the left shoulder button is held in.

Still, they both sound like lazy ports to me (was Oni even ON PC?).

Friday, September 16, 2005 6:29:00 PM  
Blogger Requiem said...

Now that i think about it maybe Oni wasn't a fps (it might have had a FP mode though). I played it for 10 minute-20 minutes max. Screamed at my TV and controller then put it back in the box and returned it to the abyss.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 4:22:00 PM  

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