9 November 2008





Part 4: I Can Sing A Rainbow

The modern gaming PC is an amazing piece of hardware. With much more raw power than any console, capable of far superior graphics and glorious surround sound, equipped with near-infinite versatility of control and able to access data with lightning speed from massive hard drives, the PC is the greatest games machine in the world. Or at least, it would be if it wasnít for YOU.

As I write this, viewers, the most recent issue of TPCG I have in my hands is Issue 4, and itís a startling sight. Not only does it have a bright, eye-catching cover of a sort most uncommon in PC mags, but it even features a game that I sort of want to play a bit. Now, that might not sound unusual to you, but since the last time I played a mainstream full-price commercial PC game for reasons other than professional obligation was in about 1994, itís quite an accolade. Back then, some of you may be old enough to recall, we were only just emerging blinking from the CGA era, when PC games came in an eye-watering palette boasting a dizzying four different colours onscreen at a time (and that was including black and white). Now, on the other hand, we have graphics cards capable of displaying more hues and shades than there are atoms in the universe. So how come 99% of PC games still come in four colours?

In 2008, of course, we no longer have to endure the garish cyan and magenta of CGA. But flick through the review pages of this or any other games mag and all youíll see are grey, brown, dark green and dark red (or occasionally dark blue, just for a change). Whether itís deep space, gloomy jungle, shadowy urban streets or (sigh) dark fantasy lands strewn with crimson dragons and leaf-draped elves, everywhere looks the same, and equally boring Ė only on the indie and retro pages will you find a glimpse of a primary colour, the white-hot slash of dazzling sunbeams in a bright blue sky, or the electric thrill of some futuristic Tron-style neons. This is presumably because while other kinds of gamer have finally made it out to the respectability of the sitting-room, PC gamers are still skulking in their dank and sweaty bedrooms, and having to look at bright colours while they grind away for 16 straight hours in World Of Warcraft would blind them faster than the 8 hours of wanking they fill the rest of the day with.

So while Iím personally quite excited about the fantastic, actual-fun-looking Battlefield Heroes (not least because the shift to third-person could free it from the stagnant death-grip of mouse-and-keyboard nerds that has choked the FPS to death over the last 10 years), Iím not building my hopes up too much for its projected release, far too far away towards the end of the year. This writerís too old and too bruised to believe in a magical Christmas, and my guess is that after a week or so, pasty PC spods with red, weepy eyes and tear-stained cheeks will uninstall it and go back to their creaking shelf of far more tedious and expensive MMOs, rather than go out and buy a lightbulb for their room for the first time in half a decade and readjust their perception to something vaguely resembling daylight, be it real or virtual.

Stuart Campbell used to write about videogames in the 1940s, but was widely ignored as they hadnít been invented yet. Nowadays he mostly revisits those happy times for our fabulous sister publication Retro Gamer.

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