Tuesday, August 28

Designing to a System: FPS Ports

Oftentimes, first-person-shooters are ported from PC to console, or visa-versa. Some of these ports fit the boot, others don't. The problem is: if a game is designed for PC, it will have a harder time working for consoles. Likewise, if an FPS is designed for consoles, it may not play as well WASD style. Still yet, some console experiences may play quite differently when ported to another console. A quote from Gamespot's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption review.
If this all sounds like a lot of fun, it's because it is. Yet Corruption's focus on refined FPS mechanics and general sense of familiarity keep it from being as special as the other Prime titles. Just like Resident Evil 4 would have felt different--and arguably worse--had its controls been stripped down to a simple FPS scheme, Corruption loses some of its sense of wonder and strangeness on the Wii. Rather than being a true action adventure, it's hard to lose the sense that it's merely an FPS with trimmings. Its core control scheme is a revelation, but the resulting tempo adjustment and streamlining is missing some of the careful pacing that made Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 so superb. Still, any fan ought to enjoy this outing in spite of those quibbles, thanks to a good number of awesome, involved environmental puzzles and delightful (albeit fairly easy) boss fights.
I don't know about you, but I find this fascinating. Just as Gamespot explains, some of Prime's wonder was its adventure genre focus in the form of pacing, movement, and action speed. I'm well aware that Corruption was designed specifically for Wii, but the Metroid Prime series was not. So what began as a slower-paced adventure series experienced some changes in its transition to Wii. The result, according to Gamespot, is an alteration of game speed and even mood, which they find negative in those respects.The control is better in Corruption, I think most people would argue, or at least quicker and more accurate. Or is it? Because the new control scheme does mess with some of Prime's core concepts, perhaps Corruption doesn't control better after all. However, it should be noted that Retro has significantly altered game difficulty for Corruption, taking into account Wii's pinpoint control scheme. Enemies will dodge and evade you, and the lock-on mechanism will fail when an enemy escapes your vision. So in terms of combat, Retro Studios has adapted Metroid Prime to meet its new console. Whether or not this is true for the adventure element is up for debate. Your thoughts?Another game entirely was also recently ported from Xbox to PC, this being Halo 2 of course. Lets read Gamespy's thoughts on the transition in terms of control:
The controls veer between great and annoying. Compared to the Xbox, both aiming and shooting feel a little bit better on PC. Being able to finally use the mouse and keyboard makes a huge difference for aim-intensive weapons; the mouse turns us into lethal machines with the sniper rifle, or even both the battle rifle and the Covenant carbine (when using the zoom scope in each gun).

As huge and awesome a difference that the mouse brings to aiming, there is an equal step backwards: walking feels extremely slow. We know that Master Chief is a hefty dude, but the walking speed on the keyboard makes it feel like the Master Chief is towing a Warthog jeep behind him everywhere he goes; hopping in a vehicle is a bigger rush simply because it's much faster to get where you're going than on foot.
I find this interesting as well. The plain fact is that Halo 2 was designed for the Xbox. The Xbox has two analog sticks that each control Master Chief's movement and aiming, respectively. Pc's meanwhile have a WASD/Mouse setup. Theres no question that when Master Chief plays computer he can turn much quicker than on Xbox. But the problem is that his movement feels that much more sluggish. PC players expect alot of precision in their FPS aiming. But FPS's designed for PC allow playes to move and jump much quicker as well. When aiming speed doesn't match movement speed, then playing suddenly feels unbalanced.What do you think of all of this? Especially if you've played either Metroid Prime 3 or Halo 2 on PC, let me know your thoughts. The moral of the story is that control is so fricken important to video games, that its essential that games are designed specifically for one control scheme or otherwise specifically designed with multiple control schemes in mind.

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