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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-08-20 00:59:41
Apologies For the Late Post...
It was a hectic weekend. The simple news that Blizzard has commenced development on another World of Warcraft expansion has elicited a collective groan from some of my friends. I've managed to escape WoW's grip twice, and I do believe myself now fully rehabilitated. My compatriots know that they are Blizzard's bitches, and are readying themselves for hundreds of additional hours of leveling, raiding and PvPing. Perhaps opiates would distract them from this malaise.
With my Xbox 360 out of commission for the immediate future, I've been struggling with the decision to purchase the PC version in the morning, or wait until Microsoft repairs my console. (It's been 13 days since I put in the repair order, and I still haven't even received the box to return it. I was quoted 7-10 business days to receive it, and the 10th day is tomorrow.)
BioShock appears poised to become one of those landmark titles, ready to seize a prominent place in the pantheon of legendary games. I've put some amount of thought into which version of Bioshock to purchase, and I'm going to share that process here, to assist any readers facing the same dilemma.
The first question is: do you have a PC that meets the recommended specs? My rule has always been to ignore minimum specs as they generally provide a subpar experience. You'll want a rig with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM, a Direct X 9.0c video card with 512 MB of RAM, and a kick ass sound card to boot.
That's a chunk of hardware: off the top of my head, I'd guess at least $1100 in parts if you were to put that system together yourself. The Xbox 360 version is certainly more cost effective. You can recoup a tiny bit of the expense back by purchasing the PC version of BioShock, as it is $10 less than the $60 Xbox 360 edition.
From what I understand, the Xbox 360 runs BioShock at a rock solid FPS, and offers the simplicity of slapping in the game disc and plowing right in without fumbling with installation and painstakingly tweaking settings on the PC. Naturally, those PC gamers with powerful rigs and the patience and experience to set up BioShock properly will appreciate the option to enjoy higher resolutions and frame rates (although potentially unstable) than the 360 can provide. There also exists the potential for killer mods on the PC BioShock.
The Xbox 360 is, of course, more ergonomic. BioShock runs well over a dozen hours, and begs for replays, and it'd be much more comfortable from my gamer chair than hunched over my keyboard. However, the 360 controller doesn't provide the same tight controls as the PC. Even ignoring that a mouse and keyboard is more responsive for any FPS, the 360 uses the bumper buttons to sluggishly scroll through weapons as opposed to the flick of the mouse wheel.
Lastly, the 360 provides Achievement Points (BioShock PC was developed too early to be branded for Windows Live). I realize that this is an entirely vain concern, but we 360 owners do so enjoy watching our gamerscore tally up. Also, the PC version annoyingly requires you to activate your copy over the internet.
If like me, you possess an Xbox 360 coupled with a robust home theater system, as well as a PC with sufficient horsepower, the decision is fairly difficult. I've personally decided on the PC version (due in no small part to my dead 360), but I will play it through my television set, as that would allow me to utilize my 5.1 sound system - the audio design in BioShock is top notch, and I don't want to compromise the joy of surround sound. I'll also be able to run the game at a lower (but still HD) resolution, allowing my PC to churn out effects at a blazing framerate. The sheer size of the television screen, and playing it at a distance via my home theater will provide a more immersive experience than on my computer monitor at high resolution a couple feet from my face.
You may have sweet monitors and crappy televisions, or vice versa, or any number of other setup comparisons to take into consideration. If you're still confused, download the respective BioShock demos and try them out. Both versions are beautiful and play well. For me, the superior PC controls was the slight bump that pushed me in that direction.