Fallout 3 and the perils of PC gaming

Well I’ve been really enjoying my playing of Fallout 3, it’s an amazing game and the first ‘current’ game I’ve played in ages. Usually I’m happy to play older games with good content, such as Colin McRae: Dirt, Civilization 4, Colonization and other games, but a chance purchase of Fallout 3 back in December has prompted me to upgrade my computer, which I’ve got fully planned out, but not actually spent the money on yet.

The problem is, with my computer being 4 years old, not even dual-core, still on AGP graphics and DDR RAM – all of which adds up to it being slow compared to most of the ‘recommended’ spec of today’s PC games. Basically I’ll ‘have’ to spend about £450 to bring it up to current spec so that games are playable with good detail and quick speed. (The plan right now is to spend about £300 getting a new motherboard, RAM and CPU, use an AGP graphics card I have already, then upgrade to a £150 graphics card when I can.)

So where do the ‘perils of PC gaming’ come into play?

Easy – I could spend the £450 on a PS3 and a copy of Fallout 3 for that console, or spend £30-45 on a copy for the Xbox 360 (which I have already). When I picked up the game I thought, ‘Cool! £20, that’s way cheaper than the console versions.’ – but now comes the sting in the tail. If you’re not up to date with your PC hardware and are a generation or two behind like I am, you’re buggered because it then becomes cheaper to have a console on hand already, that you don’t have to spend money to upgrade (until a new one comes along).

I suppose if you’re a regular gamer, consistently picking up the newest releases, it makes sense to have one of the latest consoles. If you’re a regular PC gamer, you have to spend more over the long run because every 18-24 months you need to do a moderate-to-major upgrade of your hardware. When you consider how much this costs (for me it’s about £450, as I said above, over  4 years), the cost of a brand new next-gen console platform is roughly the same I suppose…360’s and PS3’s were going for 350-450 when they were released, depending if you had to get them on eBay or not. If you factor in the cost of games, for consoles they cost slightly more, so that extra £10 per game adds up as well.

An additional but not as major consideration are platform-exclusive games, like Gran Turismo 5 and others – granted, these are less common (Fallout 3 and many other new games are out on all 3 major platforms) but they still happen. I suppose that’s the additional cost of sticking with one platform only – how many people actually have the money and time to have 3 or 4 current-generation gaming platforms (yeah, I’m including the Wii there)? and what about playing them all online? People have lost families and jobs just playing constantly on just one platforum (WoW addicts, anyone?)! It’s just impossible.

I haven’t touched my 360 in months, and I’ve been considering selling it. I’ve only had it a year, but who knows. There just hasn’t been anything on it that I really had to have, other than Forza Motorsport 2, and there are PC games that are way more customizable and even more realistic (like Grand Prix Legends, which I recentlygot off Freecycle).

This could easily be called ‘PC vs. console gaming’, I realize…but these are just my individual factors. Add all this up and consider everything else you can do on a PC and to me it’s a no-brainer.

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