Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Installing on consoles

One of the reasons that I have ditched PC gaming in favor of console gaming is that it is just much easier. I mean, buy the game, put the disc in the drive, off you go. Can't get better than that. But in the next gen game things have changed somewhat. Sometimes when i put the disc in my 360 I need a title update. So an installer has been downloaded, runs and reboots either the game or the console. Usually this doesn't take long and you are back in the action.

This is all well and dandy but the other day when I wanted to try out the Gran Turismo 5 Demo, oops, PROLOGUE, on the PS3, I got a nasty surprise. Not only did the game need an update of the PS3 core system - which took a couple of minutes - but before starting the game proper it needed to install to the harddrive... WTF?! Seriously. I was treated with a non-progress bar teling me how the install went. Five minutes later it read somewhere between 5 and 10% complete, so I decided that I really needed to get back to work instead of this.

Now I don't own a PS3, so I don't know if this pain is something every PS3 owner needs to endure before every game experience. What I do know is that it is the most mind numbingly stupid thing I have experienced on a console. Not only have they ruined the slot-in-and-play experience that makes consoles such a joy. They have introduced onto the user the ardurous task of disk management. Good grief. And for what? Reducing load times. Bullcrap. I have no hard stats on this, only a gut feeling. But apart from the odd elevator experience, load times are not that much worse in this gen. Developers need to get clever in order to alleviate this until we get a new portable media with almost instant load times. With this moves, Microsofts seemingly troubling decision of making the hard drive optional on the 360 suddenly seems like a wise defense against developer zeal.

Let us revisit the issue of the game requiring a specific system version before playing. In my book this is also somewhat unsettling. It stresses the feeling that the PS3 system was not finished from the get go. But worse, can you trust Sony not to let this slip the other way so that you cannot play an older game on a newer system revision? You have to wait for the devs to put out an update for the game. Potentially rendering some unplayable for an uncertain amount of time.

All in all this is not the way to go. Not only did Sony mark the wrong date in the calendar for the next-gen party. They showed up unprepared, sloppily dressed. They didn't bring anything to the bar and all their exclusive friends are doing good business in other circles. Now they are acting obnoxious. No wonder the hard-core gaming audience has moved to another room to party. People who bought the system to play games are really getting thrashed with the short end of the stick. The system is really only attractive as a home theater system. And that is quite a different party.

No comments: