Video game ports: a term most gamers cringe at hearing. After all, what could be worse than playing a game that was absolutely amazing on one platform, only to find it completely massacred on another by a combination of bugs and lazily ported control systems?
It seems that although the graphics are often (notice I didn’t say always) better on PC, the control systems are often so odd and disparate that the game becomes practically unplayable in its new form. Poor frame rates become blindingly obvious, and it becomes apparent when the developers have lazily ported the game to make an extra buck from a new market. Poor key mapping is the first hint, but bugs and bad gameplay will soon rear their ugly heads.
So begins the list of worst console to PC ports:
Released a year after its console counterparts, Enslaved on the PC uses an enormous amount of motion blur and there’s no way to turn it off. None. Which means the frame rates are absolutely abysmal. The low resolution textures, which could easily have been optimised for PC, looked pixelated and the game as a whole turned out incredibly disappointingly. What was a fun but average game on console, turned into a tedious nightmare that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is actually one of the best Resident Evil games in the franchise, but definitely not on the PC. What kind of evil PC game doesn’t support a keyboard and mouse straight out of the box? A patch was needed to fix the abysmal graphic elements before players could actually play the game with some semblance of enjoyment, assuming of course your hardware actually worked with the game, which a lot of the time it didn’t. Clumsy controls, buggy visuals, actually buggy everything to be honest, made for a disappointing experience for most PC gamers.
I absolutely adore the GTA franchise. I maintain a level of fanaticism for this series that perhaps only one or two other games enjoy, and I was so sorely disappointed by the PC release that I almost didn’t finish the game. But then I went back and got it on Xbox 360 (yes I had waited for the PC version, silly me). Buggy, almost unplayable on anything other than the lowest settings, even with a decent PC, GTA IV was plagued with frame rate issues that made PC gamers everywhere hang their heads in despair.
Not Borderlands 2 mind you, which was a fair improvement on this rubbish. Although the game itself was okay, the entire experience was completely ruined by the awful, difficult-to-negotiate menus, lack of real support for keyboard and mouse and a terrible interface. If you used a controller you might have maintained a better experience, but if like most PC gamers you were under the impression that you could play this FPS with a mouse, think again.
Need for Speed: The Run
Although I’ve played racing games on the PC, they’re just better on a console. Unfortunately Need for Speed: The Run wasn’t just an average game, it was also a bad port. The frame rate was locked at only 30 fps, keyboard mapping was appalling, and the game was buggy and unresponsive. Not exactly the kind of tedious and frustrating experience you want when trying to win a race.
Of course I’m not saying that all console to PC ports are absolutely awful. In fact, there are a couple that have made an exceptional transition from one platform to another, at times not only matching, but outstripping their console counterparts.
The transition from Xbox 360 to PC was what made this game for me — the reason being that the port was so damn good. It made significant improvements in order to make it more playable on the PC. In fact, the entire Mass Effect franchise is better overall on the PC than it is on the console (yeah that’s my opinion, you can hate me for it). This is down to a great interface, improved shortcut keys, and better, crisper graphics. It wasn’t perfect of course. In fact if I think back, I reckon it was probably Mass Effect 2 that was the better PC version as opposed to its predecessor. But nevertheless, the franchise as a whole has fared well in this instance.
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II in general received rave reviews, but it seems that when the PC version arrived just over a month after its console counterparts, it could do no wrong. It was such a beautiful, smooth port that even though it had some occasional control issues, many reviewers were willing to overlook this in favour of the game’s other positive qualities. With better resolutions and higher frame rates than the console versions it outstripped its predecessor by miles.
Far Cry 3
And of course, what “best of” port list would be complete without Far Cry 3? It looked amazing, it played beautifully, and was overall a great experience on both console and PC. It took full advantage of the capabilities of high-end PCs and visually it just did so many things right.