Should PC game reviews mention and/or penalize 'consolitis'

In the latest CGW, one of the letters to the editor mentions how much he loved Call of Duty, and that he read the review of Call of Duty 2 in the mag and felt very comfortable in the decision to buy the game. He then complains that the review fails to bring to light the game’s ‘console-centric’ design, with things like the checkpoint save system and a weapon toggle, and so on. He wonders if game reviewers have become so desensitized to ‘consolitis’ that they fail to notice this stuff anymore.

So what do people think? Should reviews note console-centric traits, and penalize/criticize them when a ‘standard’ PC option was available?

I think of two games - Deus Ex Invisible War and Oblivion - when I think ‘consolitis’.

Deus Ex Invisible War would have sucked no matter what, so the fact that it was console-centric right down to having to tweak the XBOX stuff out of ini files is just added insult to PC gamers … but the job the game had already done of pissing on Deus Ex’s memory was sufficient …

Oblivion is a really good game on the PC despite having a significant case of consolitis. In my review I call out the obvious console-specific stuff, but ultimately it doesn’t matter because you adapt to the interface just like you would any other non-standard UI.

So what do you think?


Yup, if reviews had mentioned that its a console port, and completly unconfigurable other than controls (i.e view bob in my case) i wouldn’t have spent money on the Call of Cthulhu game.

If the game suffers because it’s designed for a different platform and hasn’t taken into account that it’s running on a PC, then yes, it should be mentioned. It doesn’t have to be “console-itis” - just slate it for having a shit control system or UI on the basis that it’s a PC game.

Only when its a bad port. For example, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. This game was a very sloppy port. There are no options to change the graphics and I’m guessing they are locked to 800x600. Not that high resolution will help the ps2 graphics that much but atleast it wouldn’t look crap-fuzz-tactular on my LCD monitor. The menu is completely gamepad controlled. Which wouldn’t be too bad except it says, to select, press “sword” or to cancel, press “box right arrow.” ahh… what? No where in the menus for control options, the manual, or the readme on the disk do they tell you what these symbols mean on the gamepad. You can assign keyboard controls to these symbols except they don’t appear to work. Certain parts of the game make you hit buttons in rapid order, usually to break a door down. So you’ll see “finger”, “foot”, “sword”, “double sword”, “box right arrow” in random order. However since we don’t know what these buttons are on the game pad, and the assigned keyboard keys don’t work, you have no idea what you need. Since you have to hit this buttons in a timed manner, you might hit the right button, but at the wrong time or the wrong button are the right time and you’ll never know which.

So any reviewer would do well to mention it was a console port.

Especially when it comes to configuration options, control layout and save games.

The PC is by far the superior platform and PC gamers have become used to certain features. A failure to mention the absence of certain features PC gamers have become used to is a major issue.

It is?

I took this as his context:

And in that regard it is pretty undisputable …


I think the consolitis in Oblivion was a flaw, though not a fatal one. The interface could have been better from a PC point of view (inventory management, hotkeys, that sort of thing). That’s fair game for reviews in my opinion.

Well, obviously the two platforms are extremely different, so in the case where something develop is affected by those differences, like in the Pirates of the Caribbean case, yeah, that should be pointed out.

Except it shouldn’t be called “console-itis” or even thought of in that frame, because that assumes there’s something nasty or disease-like about consoles themselves and supports retarded PC elitism. Any magazine worth its salt should only give its readers intelligent criticism from its writers, and any kind of PC elitism is unintelligent as it is, of course, completely laughable to think that either platform has ever been, ever will be or is superior to the other. Digging into that kind of thinking is like moving yourself closer to the tacky console war attitude among fanboys or the sludge-like vocabulary of online-insult-spewing brats.

On the flipside, in console reviews, they should definitely mention when the PC developer’s past affects their game. For instance, in Knights of the Old Republic, the main menu system was made clearly thinking of a mouse and ignored several decades of easy and fast console menu design, was clunky and much harder to use, despite not having as many mechanics to give menu access as other console RPGs. Despite the game’s very high quality that should have been noted, but only as a failing on the part of the developer, not as a nebulous idea of some sort of PC-itis, garnered from things the high increase in buggines this generation or the unprecedented amount of games that allow you to get stuck in unwinnable states. Those types of things may be connected to PC issues, but assuming they are carried over from them is illogical, nasty thinking and no writer worth his or her salt should indulge in them.

I mean, you usually see developers change their ideas when they develop portable titles, and if they do, it usually results in a better game, because its more specific to the demands of a portable game. In the same way, people who make games for PC and the consoles had better get used to offering one kind of menu screens and options and another, or a different control scheme to facilitate the same result. To not do so and recognize the difference of the platforms is just lazy. To develop the game for the console and then claim it was limited because of console technology is also lazy: any of the legendary of the console developers probably could have smacked that argument out of the air and developed much more impressive. PC-legacy developers need to realize that developing for many of the consoles is different, and adapt to that style, just as much as when console ports from say Capcoms and Squares need to be more than just putting a mouse control scheme, making it run without too many bugs and calling it a day, but not even giving you a way to quit out of the game due to the turn-off/reset scheme of consoles. These problems really are just laziness, inexperience and excuses all around.


From my point of view, Oblivion felt like a PC game and never struck me as a console port. There have been quite a few PCs with far crappier inventory and controls (Gothic 2 comes to mind) and couldn’t blame being a port from a console.

IMO it ought to be mentioned anytime it takes away from the game. The interface in Oblivion is a great example. What a piece of shit and obviously there for the 360. Even so its sad, and telling, that a company like Bethesda wouldnt take the extra time to put a PC interface in for the PC version. Yeah there have been worse interfaces. That isnt an excuse though.

KOTOR 1 and 2 feel very consolish. When it comes to top-tier games, really the only difference is in the controls. When it comes to basic design philosophy, the console-mindset seems to be animations first, graphics second, content third, controls fourth.


What Kitsune said.

While you might mention in passing that it’s a console port, a bad interface is a bad interface, a lack of customization is a lack of custimization. The “why” (in this case, console port) is pretty much irrelevant.

The PC is by far the superior platform. That’s my opinion, anyway. I respect the fact that other people feel differently. Is an opinion a bad thing? I happen to like oranges better than apples and my neigbor’s BMW is way nicer than my Acura. Should I be ostracized for these opinions? This Qt3 groupthink idea that everyone should find all gaming platforms to be completely equal is nonsense.

Are we talking about the same buch of PC snobs?

The issue isn’t that PCs are superior, which I feel they most certainly aren’t, it’s just that there are certain design decisions that have to be made for different platforms and audiences. And often they don’t translate well to each other. Titan Quest is a fantastic game, but I’m pretty sure it just wouldn’t be good at all on a console. BFME II turned out pretty good on the 360, but it’s still not as smooth as on it’s original target platform.

So when I play a port I keep in mind the primary target platform and limits that I’ll encounter if I’m not playing on it. Now sloppy port jobs are a completely different beast altogether. At least put forth the effort to make the game playable and conform to the secondary platform as much as possible. The Oblivion UI was disappointing but understandable. The button issue Rob mentions above is not.

So, yes, reviews should mention which limitations are in games that have been ported. They may not be deal breakers, but it’s just good to know.

On another note I do find it odd that if a game on PC doesn’t have save anywhere that it decried as a terrible decision. Then we get to consoles and reviewers praise even extremely limiting save systems, Dead Rising, as being a strong point. Just an example of the different target audiences and difficulties porting games.

Honestly, as of today, if I wasn’t disabled, I’d probably do 90% of my gaming on the 360 and I perfer traditional “pc style games”.

I think it helps to mention basic things. I kinda liked (in a dumb way :)) the PC version of kill.switch but as a sloppy console port it suffered from blurry textures, using keyboard cursor keys instead of the mouse for basic menu stuff, and various other things Namco presumably couldn’t bother to adjust for the PC version. Most reviews I read did a good job of pointing all that out. So I think it helps.

That Blue Man 3rd person shooter (Rogue Trooper) to me played well on PC but suffered from some unfathomable omissions (no text chat whatsoever, which is understandable on a console but inexplicable - to me - on PC cause not everyone has headset/mics), and for some reason no PC version review seemed to mention them though they did mention lack of saving.

I’ve given up ranting against lack of saving. It seems like the whole world’s moving to checkpoints or timed saves, and I don’t want to be the old man (I’m 41) waving a picket sign saying “when did anyone ever complain about being able to save anywhere? If it makes it too easy, then just don’t use the feature.” Well OK I couldn’t fit that on a picket sign unless it was a scrolling LED sign. :)

I just play what I like to play and try to avoid scolding people who don’t share my preference for PC stuff. :) A lot of people I used to play PC games online with are XBox 360 junkies now and I’m just not interested right now. Not much you can do about it, just find other folks to play with, I guess. In some case I’ve been able to get some of those people excited about PC stuff that’s unique to PC (Titan Quest, and the upcoming Company of Heroes) but it’s very much an exception.

You’re confusing “superior” with “preferable”. Why?

Because he’s a self-proclaimed PC advocate that’s going to champion his choice of platform above all others. There’s a thread around here somewhere where he uses similar words to express that.