It was February 20th, 2012 that I was making my way through several cans of beer and some vodka, ready for a night out. It was by sheer misfortune, at least in my eyes, that the reveal of the first 'next-gen' console (excluding Nintendo) was scheduled for the same evening. As the drinks were flowing, Sony took the stage to announce their exciting new endeavour; the Playstation 4 was to be revealed to an audience in the millions, viewing live from all across the globe. Cans were stacking up beside me as I enjoyed the company of friends, but as 11:00pm GMT approached, I couldn't help but take a few drinks with me and made my way to my bedroom. I could only manage to watch some of it, the rest of which I read about and viewed images both as I returned downstairs, and at the club. I was blown away.
The graphics took my breath away; the sheer detail in every frame, the post-processing inducing uncanny realism, and the lighting rendered me speechless. This was not something I could keep to myself. No, I had to show everyone I came into contact with that which had my attention the whole night. "Have you seen the PS4?" I'd ask. No one seemed to care, and I couldn't understand why! As the night went on, I bothered more and more people with this fascination of mine. To this day, I am mocked for that night.
The next morning, I woke up giddy, knowing I could watch it all again and it would be fresh. Memory impairment is one of the many 'joys' of drinking. I fired up my MacBook Pro, loaded as many articles, blogs and videos detailing the night prior's events, and...
It had vanished. The excitement that had claimed my person mere hours ago was lost in a sea of indifference. No longer was I counting the days until I could to a vastly superior console, nor anticipating Microsoft's answer to compare. Killzone was not the step up I was expecting, and Deep Down didn't seem authentic. Online and social features didn't pack enough punch to differentiate from everything else. Nothing amazing was shown off.
A very bad shop-job, but I think I made my point.
I have long chosen consoles over gaming PCs due to ease of use, lack of installation allowing me to game immediately, controllers (the Xbox 360's being my favourite), compact size and, as is the case with many console gamers, price. There was also a sense of community with Xbox Live which attracted me to game online. However in recent years, going back a fair few in fact, PCs have become much simpler, the Xbox 360 controller can be used with many games, the actual size of the unit is more about choice than compromise, and higher end systems no longer break the bank. A gaming PC is a more and more attractive prospect than a console nowadays. Consoles are overtaken by mid-spec PCs very quickly, normally in two to three years from what I remember of this generation, installation is now a requirement in many console games, the online communities are full of racists, homophobes, sexists and children oblivious to how irritating they sound. Hacking, often a complaint about PC multiplayer, is abundant on consoles now, as is pirating. As gaming on PCs modernises, and grows towards a picturesque utopia for our industry, console gaming is stepping backwards to the days when PC gaming was considered 'dying' (a notion I never agreed with, by the way). Where on consoles, companies like EA can try all the underhanded tactics they like and will be successful (Dead Space 3 microtransactions, Mass Effect 3 day one DLC), trying the same bullshit on PC will incur the wrath of PC gamers which, considering the extent to which PC gaming is flourishing, is not such a good idea. Their most recent balls-up, the Simcity always-online DRM, is a fine example of how not to treat PC gamers, and what can and will happen when they are treated like this.
With the advent of the PS4 reveal, I am finding it hard to justify getting excited for it. What can I do on the PS4 that I can't do on a PC? Similar architecture, a share button, live streaming and recording, a profile page. I don't care for motion gaming, never have and never will, so I'm going to ignore the new Eye camera and light bar on the controller. All of these things, and far more, have been available to PC gamers for years. Why should I buy a PS4? It is at this point that I am no longer excited to see Microsoft's hand in order to compare with the PS4, I merely want to see if there's anything that will justify my purchase of the console over a far more diverse gaming PC. It's almost certain that I will buy the next Xbox as I like Halo and Forza. However paying yearly for a 'Gold' service just to play online when I can achieve the same thing through Steam is a bit silly, isn't it Microsoft? And I won't get started on Kinect and it's 'advanced' motion tracking. That can be saved for another time.
Wouldn't surprise me if this was accurate.
Considering all of the above, it is about time I invested in a gaming PC. This will have to be done during Summer, as University commitments are eating up most of my time at the moment. I have savings and a birthday that can be used to have one built for me - I'm a novice on the subject, clearly. The only thing that could make me reconsider is if Microsoft announce something Earth-shattering in the next month or two. Something game changing. So, Microsoft, the ball's in your court. Why should I buy the new Xbox? What have you got that justifies its purchase over a high-spec gaming PC?
Over to you.
Images courtesy of www.bigredbarrel.com, www.hd-report.com, www.jeuxcapt.com and www.screwattack.com. All found using Google images. 'Andrew House with Translator-San' image shopped using Preview on a MacBook Pro - hence its shoddiness.