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When PC Ports of Console Games Go Wrong 398

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-other-words-always dept.
A post up at Gamasutra complains about the lack of effort put into the PC ports of some console games. The author picks on the unimpressively-reviewed Ninja Blade in particular: "Just as a quick guide to what we're dealing with here: when you create a new save file at the start of Ninja Blade on the PC, it warns you not to 'turn off your console.' Yes, Ninja Blade is one of those conversions: not so much converted as made to perfunctorily run on a different machine. In-game, you're asked to press A, B, X and Y in various sequences as part of Ninja Blade's extraordinary abundance of quick-time events. Whether you have an Xbox 360 pad plugged in or not, the game captions these button icons with text describing the PC equivalent controls. Only it doesn't always do that. Sometimes, you're left staring at a giant, pulsating, green letter A, and no idea what to do with it." What awful ports have you had the misfortune to experience?
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When PC Ports of Console Games Go Wrong

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  • by Sowelu (713889) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:49AM (#31282680)
    The new Prince of Persia reboot ensured that I won't buy a PC game from Ubisoft ever again. It suffered from the same "Let's fill the UI with references to console-controller buttons" issue.
  • by GarretSidzaka (1417217) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:01AM (#31282752)

    you know the first thing i thought of when i saw this article was Ubisoft.LOL

  • by Madsy (1049678) <mads@nosPam.mechcore.net> on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:04AM (#31282768) Homepage Journal
    The PC port of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance was not bad, it was horrible!
    You had to map the keyboard/mouse/joystick to the Playstation 2 buttons via a config tool. I also never got the graphics to display correctly.
  • by Fittysix (191672) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:06AM (#31282778)

    When Gears of War's PC port was first released, it was:
    1) buggy
    2) crashy
    3) released A YEAR LATER than the xbox version
    The crashy part was fixed, iirc about 2 months after release by a patch.
    As you can imagine, the sales for this port were a little slow. Video game companies being video game companies chalked this up to piracy. To them the fact that the game was a shitty port released a full year after the original with dated graphics and all couldn't have POSSIBLY been a reason.

    When time comes around to release Gears of War 2 - cliffyB says there's no plans for a port because the first one was just pirated too much...

  • Re:when? (Score:5, Informative)

    by naam00 (1145163) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:28AM (#31282892)
    What? Mass Effect 2 is horrible in this, especially the UI of your journal and saving and the like. All list-like displays (save files, journal entries) disallow double-clicks, instead forcing you to press some disconnected button to open something. The codex list (a tree-like structure) is worst, something probably working smoothly with sticks and buttons (usually an intuitive affair of 'entering and leaving' with two buttons), but horribly bewildering with a mouse. Weapon loadout choosing actually doesn't even make sense.

    Don't get me wrong, love the game, and maybe its GUI is bad on console as well, in which case, port successful!
  • One good one (Score:2, Informative)

    by gaelfx (1111115) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:51AM (#31282984)
    I remember playing Megaman X for PC and I was pretty impressed with how well adapted it was to the keyboard. It did away with the whole 16-digit code system of "saving," and in lieu there were actual saved games. Controls were pretty easily changeable (though I used the same setup I do for SNES emus that I normally use. That being said, I've played a couple of the latter PC ports of MMX series and they were ok, though not much different from the original. So I guess I would say that Capcom had the dualism down pat.
  • GTA IV! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@s l a s h dot.org> on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:07AM (#31283066)

    Starting out with more bugs than a jungle, and the only patches available being on gamecopyworld.com
    And then having up to 3 seconds of input lag (time between pressing a key, and the car reacting).

    But only when you saw how crappy the graphics were, and how the game was slow like a dog, did you know that it was a console port.
    The graphics card was irrelevant. The only thing that counter, was if you had more than 2 cores.
    Because apparently, they implemented the PS3 vector processors in the CPU, instead of the vastly more powerful graphics cards.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:07AM (#31283070) Journal

    If you want to play Final Fantasy VII on a modern PC, don't even bother looking at the PC version - it was a bumpy ride even back when it was new, let alone with modern hardware and operating systems. Buy a copy of the Playstation version (can be found very cheap second hand) and grab ePSXe (or your emulator of choice). The same goes for Final Fantasy VIII. You'll get better, more configurable graphics, fewer bugs and a few useful (if slightly cheaty) extra features like fast-forward and a save-anywhere option.

    Alternatively, VII and VIII are available on the Playstation Network for a few dollars each which gets you an electronic copy portable between the PS3 and PSP (though this is probably still less "nice" than playing the original version emulated).

  • As a games developer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:29AM (#31283160)

    As a games developer, its really pisses me off too.

    Thing is the word "port" is a misnomer. Since in development dev kits are rare and expensive so only the more senior guys get them or you have to share.

    This means there is (and must) always a working PC build on the go. Yep, all console games start life as PC games, you don't code directly on the console, your in Visual studio. Also a lot of the testing is done on PC as its a hell of a lot easier to debug and for large periods of devlopment your console builds might not even be working. For instance on our AAA title the Playstation 3 build spends half of its time utterly dead. (Fyi the Playstation 3 is a terrible console and is actually less powerful than a 360, the graphics power is especially poor)

    So there's no excuse for putting out a bad PC release, its just lazyness. or more likely bad producers and their corporate overlords dailing to listen to the concerns of the designers and pushing out a shoddy product.

    One fo the problems also is when the art is created for the console. Art in a decent environment should be compiled together choosing correct sizes, resolutions, compressions for the platform. This often isnt done. This means that a texture that looks nice and crisp on the console will look utter pants on the pc at 1920*1080 as it will be having to upscale the mips.

    What should be done is that each platform should have people responsable for it at each step of its production. That would ensure you don't end up with terrabad "ports". Try pitching that to management tho. :(

    -Anon because I don't want to be fired. :D

  • by yourtallness (1183449) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:30AM (#31283162)
    • Almost no shading and piss-poor textures. They were sensible enough to release a patch for this. Patch had no bounds checking for disk space. If you had too little disk space, the installer would fail without any hint as to why.
    • X-box key names. Imagine having to remember what key press you mapped the X-box key to when it flashes on the screen while trying to avoid certain death by a rolling boulder.
    • No mouse support...
    • Forced 16:9 letterboxed display

    Despite their hard effort (or lack thereof) to make the game piss off PC owners as much as possible, the game was still awesome.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:46AM (#31283230) Homepage
    Uh, GTA IV is a perfect example of an utter clusterfuck of a PC port; buggy, slow and it attempted to assrape you with DRM, without even taking you to dinner and a show first. If Rockstar is better, who's worse?
  • Re:when? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:48AM (#31283238)

    Knights of the Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic II, Mirror's Edge and Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas for PC were all vastly improved over their console versions.

    The worst console to PC ports I have seen are:

    Deus Ex Invisible War - Had lots of loading screens due to areas being tiny because they needed to fit within the minuscule memory constraints of the Xbox. It was also heavily dumbed down (universal ammo, no skill system, lame biomod system, terrible inventory system, only two modifications per weapon, no computer hacking, no separate multitools/lockpicks, less dialogue choices and no consequences for actions) to cater towards the brainless console masses. The configuration files still contain lots of references to the Xbox, which makes it clear that the Xbox version was the primary focus and the PC version was an afterthought.

    Silent Hill 2 - Horrible controls, horrible music, horrible sound effects. Just pure garbage.

    Halo 2 - Steep system requirements for the low level of graphics that the game provides. Setting graphics to anything but the highest makes the game look even worse than the Xbox version. I had use low resolution 1280x720 and set pre-rendered frames in the Nvidia control panel to 8 in order to get a playable experience with max game settings. Clumsy mouse control, tons of references to the Xbox game controller buttons and the key mapping configuration is a joke because it prevents you from remapping any key that is already mapped. I had to choose the "southpaw" layout just to be able to setup a fairly standard WASD layout because the left-handed layout didn't already have the keys I wanted to use mapped.

  • ST:Legacy sheeples! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @07:58AM (#31283524)

    Can't be forgetting that piss poor game. It was merely ok on the Xbox360 but the pc port was horribly done. Not as bad as others but more than bad enough!

    Mass effect though, a great game but a bit of a crappy port. And OH! the bugs!!! And let's not forget the SDK. Hold on..what SDK?

    With love
    The Anonymous Coward.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @08:04AM (#31283556)

    " - Use of the UNREAL engine. This engine don't support things like AA"
    AA will (often) not work in the Unreal 3 Engine if your computer is unable to run DX10. You need to upgrade your Operating System and/or your Graphics card.

  • Re:when? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @08:05AM (#31283560)

    And don't forget the fact that the mouse wheel doesn't work in most places, which would make life a lot easier.

  • Re:when? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Friday February 26, 2010 @09:35AM (#31284116) Homepage
    Which works great when developers support it, like Fallout 3 (where connecting the controller changes the UI automatically). Not so great for Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2, where they give the bird to gamepad users.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 26, 2010 @10:39AM (#31284826) Journal

    "All your base are belong to us." Here's the whole sad scene from that terrible game: (zoom 400% so you can read it):

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/52/AllYourBaseAnimated.gif [wikimedia.org]

  • Re:Xpadder (Score:3, Informative)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Friday February 26, 2010 @10:57AM (#31285028)

    Bioshock 2 does not support the 360 pad

  • by kcbnac (854015) <kcbnac AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:40PM (#31286424)

    Dear GOD YES. I was wondering when someone would mention Star Trek: Legacy...hey, lets not put in ANY in-game system for rebinding keys, reference the 360 controller in all the tool tips, oh and not bother binding these 4 keys that you NEED to complete the campaign, oh and it is a space game in 2-D space. (Sure you can fly "up" about 10 feet)

  • View from the inside (Score:4, Informative)

    by tylersoze (789256) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:53PM (#31286696)

    Having been personally involved in coding several of several ports mentioned in these comments, to and from a wide variety of different platforms, the way it usually works is that the publisher will outsource the development to company like the one I work for. The schedules are always very aggressive and tight so unfortunately you know what the end result of that is. It's not like we're trying to make a bad product, we do the best we can given the constraints. Personally I find the job very rewarding and fun and intellectually challenging, even if the end result isn't always that great. I get to see a lot of code from a lot of different companies and it's quite interesting. The challenge is, basically, here's a big mess of code of uncertain quality, get it to work on another platform in 6 months. I *always* give the publishers realistic timelines, which they ignore and we still wind up having to do it 6 months. The only way to get a real quality product on multiple platforms is for the original dev team to develop for all those platforms themselves, or give us enough time to do the port. A lot of times we'll get the contract a year or more after the original game has shipped, we've only occasionally be able to develop the ports simultaneous the original development.

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