Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mini Cast: DUmbing Down

Hey I'm Baby Tea. Whenever a new part of a multi-platform series comes out, I often hear gamers complaining about how the game is being 'dumbed down' for new audiences or other platforms. That's retarded, and we're going to find out why on this Gamer's corner.

This idea of 'dumbing down' usually comes from a certain group of people: PC gamer elitists. Now, I grew up PC gaming, I still play games on my PC, and I'm hoping to get back into it in the near future (After all Civilization 5 just came out!). I say that to make sure it's known that I don't hate or look down on PC gaming. The PC is a huge, popular, great platform for games.

But just like the Xbox 360, Playstation, and Nintendo fanboys, the PC has it's own brand of dumb-ass elite who doesn't just prefer their platform of choice, but has to be a dick about it. Because heaven forbid that someone have fun with and enjoy something that you don't, right? So let's take a look at this idea of 'dumbing down'.

Originally the notion came from strategy games where the sequels would remove features in order to be more accessible. This is bad, or good, depending on who you are. If you're a veteran of the series, then it might be bad because you enjoy the complexity. If you're new the series, then you might enjoy it because it makes the game easier to grasp. This is neither inherently bad or good, just bad or good depending on taste.

Lately, though, 'dumbing down' has been a popular turn-of-phrase among the PC-Gaming elite douchebags when referring to games that are released on both the consoles and the PC. That gameplay or graphics take a dive when consoles are involved, and so the game suffers because of it.


A recent forum conversation I had on this very subject had someone who used the 'dumbing down' complaint on the game F.E.A.R. 2. Here are the reasons he had for using the 'dumbing down' complaint:

1) The game was frame-rate capped at 30 frames per second.

Well what can I say about that? If the game is capped at 30 frames per second, it's capped. Except it isn't. A simple Google search revealed that it was only a bug, and it was easily fixed. Whoops! Not only that, but there are console games that run at a smooth 60 frames per second. The Call of Duty series being a prime example.

Point failed.

2) Less advanced controls.

What the heck does this even mean? If you look as W-A-S-D as your left thumbstick, and the mouse as your right thumbstick, what other buttons are you missing? I can run, jump, crouch, shoot, change guns, throw grenades, melee attack, use bullet-time, and pick up objects easily. How complex do you want controls?

Point failed.

3) Lessened visual effects due to lack of power on a console.

First of all: games like Call of Duty, Halo Reach, Heavy Rain, God of War 3, Gears of War 2, Forza 3, Gran Turismo 5, Uncharted 2, and more would like to have a word with you on quality of console visuals. PC Games do run at higher resolutions, yeah. And they can look spectacular, sure. But don't tell me that consoles lack power. That's a load.

As for lessened visuals: If you feel you're being gipped on visuals because of a poor port, then it's not 'dumbed down for consoles', it's 'lazy development'. The difference there is that you're blaming the developer for being lazy in their port, and not blaming the consoles for dumbing down a game. Look at Dragon Age! The game was extremely different visually on the PC then it was on consoles. The PC crowd got to enjoy the higher-resolution textures, and the console crowd still got to enjoy a fantastic RPG. That was a good port. Blame the developer, don't bitch about consoles.

Point failed.

4) Less AI and physics calculations, making for less realistic physics and slow AI.

Again, let's point at who is really at fault here: Developers. Take a game like Halo: Reach. I play fire-fight mode with my friends online, and the AI is smart. Especially the Elites! They run, hide, flank, move, dodge, all of it. This is running on consoles. Bungie made great AI with that game. If you've got a game that has ass-retarded AI who is slow to respond, then the problem is with the developers. Streamline that shit! Untangle your spaghetti code and get it right! Again: Saying 'dumbed down for consoles' puts the blame on the consoles. That's cheap, and it's BS. Try pointing the finger at the guys making the game. We know we can get fantastic AI on consoles, so quit trying to use that excuse as a crutch for poor developer porting. Same goes with physics!

Point Failed.

Let's be serious here: Consoles are a very different platform then the PC. I'll be the first in line to say that. I'll also be the first to say that some games just won't work on consoles. I would put money on a Total War game really being poorer if it was on the PS3 or 360. But the nature of a game being unsuited to a platform, and saying 'it's dumbed down for consoles' is very different. Can you find the difference?

So what do you think? You think games are 'dumbed down' for consoles?
Or do you think that's just elitist PC gamer nonsense?
Let me know!