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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 Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:00AM (#31282750)

    ... on PC requires a "crysis ready" machine.
    Will not run properly on a P4 2.8 + Radeon X1950 pro, runs ok on a C2D + radeon 47something.
    No way to turn off the background animations, menu navigation is extremely slow, the game seems to be a console version running in a console emulator...

    No surprise people are turning to Fofix.

  • Re:when? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Holmwood (899130) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:03AM (#31282762)

    Jade Empire, Mass Effect 1, Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2 are four that don't seem to suffer from the specific problems cited above at the time I write this.(i.e. bad translation of controls). I don't much like the minigames in ME1, but that's not a console issue.

    Fable was fine IIRC. Fahrenheit -- didn't like the control schema, but it was translated properly to PC IIRC.

    That's your half dozen right there, and just off the top of my head. (Granted, a lot are from Bioware). The problem isn't universal; some developers and publishers seem to care about doing a decent port and some don't.

  • by smd75 (1551583) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:06AM (#31282782)

    The fact that it would crash at the required Golden Saucer chocobo race in windows newer than 98. Also the fact that Eidos didnt give a rats ass to provide a patch for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:12AM (#31282812)

    Seriously, just about any damned game in the past 2 years has been pure nigh-on crap. GTA4 would have been great, if you could have played offline without having to worry about crashing all the time, and then not having to sign into 3, yes 3 different services. Bully didn't even run on PC (at least for most people it just crashed, usually after the first cutscene (great QC there...!), Shawn White snowboarding had the similar press x a b y issues as the OP and Modern Warfare 2, oh good christ, no console, no way to type to other people while sitting in lobby, no dedicated servers, absolute fail. Its a wonder anyone makes a decent PC game anymore, the companies involved are more worried about someone pirating the damned things than making them good enough to pirate....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:13AM (#31282814)

    As if that's not bad enough, Final Fantasy 7 for the Playstation has one of the best soundtracks ever in a videogame, and on the PC you get a vague approximation of said soundtrack in puke-inducing midi form.

  • Re:when? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueTrin (683373) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:14AM (#31282826) Homepage Journal
    Although these games have been targeted at a vast majority of console players, they are no console ports with simultaneous release and development.

    I understand your point but I think TFA refers to the ports.
  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:22AM (#31282854)

    Finally someone else understands my pain, I thought I was the only guy gullible enough to try and play that.

    I have actually had an easier time mapping mechwarrior to keyboard and mouse controls than I did Substance. Trying to bind dual joysticks AND 8 PRESSURE SENSITIVE buttons to a keyboard just isn't possible, even if you manage to get one of the expensive keyboards that CAN press that many keys at once you'll still run out of fingers.

  • A few awful examples (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:26AM (#31282876) Journal

    I think the worst example has to be Ghostbusters. The console versions are fairly good and somewhat quirky, if ultimately flawed, third person shooters. The PC version is actually broken. As in, it can't even reasonably be described as "working". If you want to install to a drive other than c:\ you're out of luck. If you have anything other than "generic Windows sound card" drivers installed, you won't be hearing any voices in-game. And some of the early fights are essentially unbeatable without cheating, due to collision detection and clipping issues. Oh, and it does the whole "console controller analogues" thing.

    There are plenty of other awful examples. The Prince of Persia reboots have been mentioned (justly so) and I think the more recent installments in the Tomb Raider franchise also deserve a mention. Last Remnant is another good example; Square-Enix titles have never been particularly kindly treated on the PC anyway. Fire one of these up on even a top end PC with an Xbox controller plugged in and it's still very much apparent that you're playing the "second best" version of the game.

    That said, there are plenty of decent ports out there. While I know others disagreed, Fallout 3 felt pretty good to me on the PC. Mass Effect 2 likewise feels as though they've spent a lot of time optimising the PC version so that it feels at home on the platform. In fact, there are even a few cases where it is the console version that feels like a nasty port. Pretty much any RTS that makes it onto the consoles can be chalked up in that category. The recent AvP game looks and feels far better on the PC than on the consoles; the Predator is an over-complicated nightmare to control on any platform, but the PC version does work out somewhat less toxic.

  • by russ_allegro (444120) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:29AM (#31282896) Homepage

    I loved it that at one point in the game to go on, you had to edit the registry to tell the game to look for the game data in a directory on your drive drive and not on the CD, then replace one of the video files so you were able to continue on with the game. This was the solution listed on the Eidos support site.

    It is also great that the minigames were cpu cycle timed instead of actual time. Trying to replay it a few years later on a faster computer, it is impossible to play any of the minigames because the minigame is done right when in starts.

    Battles at high resolution were cool though, to bad about all the other problems.

  • by Tei (520358) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:34AM (#31283176) Journal

    - FOV settings, the fov is related to the distance to the viewer. On a PC, people is near the screen, so the FOV sould be higuer, is just a number, but even 90 million dollars videogames forget to change it on the PC. Out of lazyness, is not modified. (note: It may need to recompile some maps, and edit some weapons a littel).
      - Stupid messages "Don't shutdown the machine"
      - Savepoints, but thats parts of the mechanic, and can't be fixed
      - Autoaim, thats helps pad users, because you can't properly walk and aim on a pad (seems) so need autoaim. With a mouse, you don't need autoaim. Out of lazyness, is not deactivated.
      - HORRIBLE server browsers or lack of server browser. Idiot-box with a single button. Lack of dedicated servers. A whole horrible bad network experience, with not community sense and not respect to the PC values of freedom and user control of the experience.
      - The game greets you with a "Press ENTER". This is a arcade saloon artifact from 1982. It has not reason at all on a PC.
      - Use of bloated middleware. .NET, Windows Games For Live, etc.
      - Unoptimized code. Code written for the console, that runs poorly on the pc.
      - Smallish maps. Since the consoles are serius ram limits (like 512 MB or less) some maps are really small, and you see lots of "load screens". On the PC proper games use streaming to have not load screens, or the maps are giganteous large.
      - Quick Time Events. These things work ok with a pad, on a keyboard are something like a "learn where the A and B key are on your keyboard" minigames. Don't work at all on the PC.
      - Weird resolutions. If your game don't support 1280x1024, your game is shit, cause this is a normal (low) resoultion for lots of LCD. This force people to use lower resolutions that looko blurry, and with enormo pixels.
      - Lack of configuration options. The console people like FEW options, the PC people like MORE options. Add a FOV setting, and autoaim settings, a resolution setting, a bloom setting.
      - Use of the UNREAL engine. This engine don't support things like AA, so you have to force AA on the driver, but it don't work on some engines. Games like Borderlands suffer of this. Unreal could be a decent engine for consoles, but is BAD for the PC, because is optimized for the consoles.

    I could continue, but I am wasting my time here. since most of these problems are out of lazyness. Disabling autoaim sould take a well managed company only 1 hour of time, If people don't know you have do disable autoaim for the PC, what the hell are you doing near a "conversion to PC" proyect?

  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:39AM (#31283192)

    GUI related nonsense also comes in games like Borderlands. Doubly aggravating because the developer claims to have optimized the game's GUI for the PC version yet controlling it with the mouse is extremely clunky. Meanwhile something like Section 8 uses the same GUI on PC and console and it works fine on both.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Friday February 26, 2010 @07:31AM (#31283420) Homepage Journal

    I'm really shocked Borderlands wasn't included in the original article. Someone in another forum posted "i heard they finally fixed borderlands so you can play without unblocking 200 ports" - the response he got back was less than kind and more than happy to correct him. Great game, greater still with mutiplayer, but completely ruined when you can't play with three of your best pals. Also, lol @ gamespy as a matchmaking service. I felt like I'd traveled back to 1999.
     
    In other news, the vestigial xbox360 code for L4D1 allowed you to play the PC version split screen with a friend, playing as player2 using a xbox360-come-USB controller and some well timed console commands.

  • Re:when? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @07:32AM (#31283426)

    The original Grand Theft Auto games (GTA, 1968 London, GTA2) were PC games, not console ports. That explains why you had no problems playing them. Everything since and including GTA3 suffers from some of the typical problems - substandard graphics, poor performance, awkward and imprecise controls, limited savegame system, etc. Thankfully most of these aren't as bad as they are in some other games, so they're still playable.

    -mobby_6kl

  • by BRock97 (17460) on Friday February 26, 2010 @08:21AM (#31283632) Homepage

    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.

    I had the same problem if I started the game from a shortcut I created to the executable. If I used the launcher from the game disk, all the UI references to the console controls went away.

    With respect to the port, I played it on both the PC and the PS3 and enjoyed the PC version since the graphics were very crisp compared to the console and I like the mouse/keyboard combo.

  • by SpeZek (970136) on Friday February 26, 2010 @10:21AM (#31284628) Journal
    The installer took 40 minutes for me. I didn't even think that was possible, considering that copying everything off the DVD manually takes all but 4 minutes.
  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @10:47AM (#31284912) Journal

    Back in the day, whether or not you had problems with Final Fantasy VII on PC was largely down to your PC's setup. Some systems would get along fine with it, others wouldn't (whether or not you had a Glide-supporting card was a big factor). However, as time went on and PC hardware and operating systems moved on, running the PC version became harder and harder.

    Modern PS1 emulators essentially invalidate most of the old PC version; you can bump the resolution up as far as your graphics card and monitor will support (though it will look a bit odd in very high resolutions) and you can use the emulator's own save-state features to get an even better save system than the PC original's (though be careful not to over-write your save in the middle of an unwinnable battle). You also get the benefit of the superior sound of the PS1 version (where the music in particular was much better than on the PC).

    VIII has fared a little better. You can still get the PC version running with fairly minimal effort. However, the patch that fixes a few non-game-breaking but still irritating issues can be hard to find these days. And, of course, the emulated version still has the advantages I mention above.

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