Monday, October 27, 2008

The Orange Box: PC vs console

One Duck's Opinion: Back in business!

No matter what console you get it for, The Orange Box is an amazing deal, filled with five amazing games for the price of one. Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. These five games are unarguably amazing, and the fact that they can all be yours for the price of one game is just mind-blowing. However, while all versions of the package are spectacular, the PC Orange Box differs somewhat from the bundle available for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3.

First off, the most obvious point is the console versions lack the pin-point accuracy of the good ol' computer mouse. I played Half-Life 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 on the 360 on Thursday, and I found myself constantly nudging the right analog stick ever so slightly in order to aim just where I wanted. I can only imagine how insanely difficult playing as a sniper in Team Fortress 2 must be. Of course, I'd likely become more accustomed to the analog control after some time, but it would still never match the amazing precision of our friend the mouse.

Next, the console versions also suffer from comparatively sparse update support, most notably being the absolute absence of any class specific updates in Team Fortress 2. While PC players are munching on Sandviches and chucking people around with the flamethrower's compressed air blast, 360 and PS3 owners are stuck with the same exact game they got on day one. Not all hope is lost, though, as Valve has announced they plan to release the updates for the 360 once they're all released. However, unlike the PC version, these updates will not be free due to a minor issue with Microsoft's distribution methods. It's still better than the PS3 version, though, which so far has no announced updates whatsoever.

"What was that, sandwich? PC only? Good idea! AH HA HA HA HA HA"

The PC version also benefits from an extensive amount of user-created content, such as amazing new "skins" for characters and objects, brand new maps, and creative new game modes. The chances of any of these user-made features hitting the consoles are pretty much nil, as it would be almost impossible to reach an agreement with every single map-maker out there. The PC wins once more!

There's even somewhat of a conflict between the two console versions. While the 360 version plays just as smoothly as its PC counterpart, the Playstation 3 Orange Box suffers from frequent lag, extended load times and unexplained internet-based delays in Team Fortress 2. Of course, the PS3 version isn't entirely inferior to its 360 cousin, as it features anti-aliasing otherwise available only in the PC package.

To be honest, I can think of no single advantage to the console versions that would apply to every gamer out there. For example, if you have a bunch of friends on XBox Live, it would probably be best to get the 360 package, and if you don't have a decent PC, it would only make sense to go with one of the console offerings if you can. In the end, though, every version of The Orange Box is more than worth adding to your collection, but it would be best to weigh the pros and cons of each package before making the choice of which one to buy. From a glance, I'd say that the PC version is best, followed by the 360, and then the PS3. I suggest you make your decision with this in mind. No matter what your choice, though, you're sure to enjoy your time with The Orange Box, whether you're fighting the Combine, escaping from the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, or simply teaching some RED team ladies how to break spines.

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