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Far Cry 2: PC vs. PS3

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Some of you may still be sitting on the fence about Far Cry 2, debating whether it's worth your time, and wondering which platform provides the best experience.  As with so many other things in life, there is no easy answer, and it depends on some personal preferences, primarily where visuals, performance, map creation, and controls are concerned.  Let's take a closer look.  And before Xbox fans get bent, I don't own a 360 and as such, can't comment on its performance or specific features in a qualified capacity, but feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.  Besides, owning two copies of the same game is plenty.

Graphics
Visually, the game is accomplished and occasionally lush, but compared to Crysis (PC) or Killzone (PS3), it can look a little pale and even goofy at times; the way the rubbery trees throb back and forth in the wind can appear especially silly.  However, visual luster and performance can vary greatly on different PC configurations.  It does support puny resolutions like 320×240, but it's more pixilated than the original Doom at that point and is barely playable.  At the other end of the spectrum, PC resolutions eclipse the best the PS3 can churn out, but you really need a beefy video card with DirectX 10 flowing through its veins to see the best it has to offer.  On mediocre hardware, you'll encounter visual peculiarities, like shooting a guy, waiting three or four seconds, then seeing his death animation.  I've wasted more than a few rounds trying to take down a guy who was already dead, but forgot to actually, you know, die.

Framerates can also fluctuate a bit, and require some fine tuning with details to achieve optimal performance.  This is nothing new to avid PC gamers, but some may not want to bother.  The PS3 version seems to lack some of the deeper contrasts that HDR can deliver and broader color range possible on PCs with high-end displays, but it looks pretty good at 1080i, and rarely has framerate dips.

Fire, smoke, and explosions are another point of contention between the two platforms.  On PC, setting fires and blowing things up often causes the game to start lagging, though with the framerate counter on, the numbers don't drop much, so it's strange.  Apparently, using the in-game console window to set the maxfps variable to 30 often corrects the problem.  I've experimented with it and seen mixed results, though overall it does seem to help.  On PS3, this isn't an issue at all.  Burn it, blow it up, framerate remains the same.

Controls
Vehicle control is a bit better on PS3, though the view auto-centers, making it a pain trying to view the map while keeping an eye on the road.  Steering vehicles with an analog stick is better than using the keyboard, though aiming turrets and virtually every other weapon is superior on PC with a mouse.  Also, the sensitivity of the PS3 analog doesn't ramp up gradually; there's a sudden increase in turning and aiming speed as you tilt the stick further that takes more getting used to than in competing titles.  It can also be difficult to control sprinting on PS3, since it is triggered with L3 (clicking the left stick), and will suddenly drop off if you try strafing while running.

You could get PC-like precision if they'd let you change the button configuration — something the PC version lets you customize entirely.  Well, with one caveat.  If you remap the use/interact key from default (E, Triangle on PS3), sometimes you'll still have to use E to dismount turrets or get out the back of a vehicle, no matter what you mapped the function to (it also forces you to toggle grenade types whenever you hit it).  There is no way that I've found to fix this (if you know — besides mapping it back to E, smartypants — let me know in comments), though the problem doesn't happen on consoles…perhaps because you can't remap the controls.  Hrmph.

Save System
Yet another important difference stems from the PC allowing you to save your game literally anywhere, any time, whereas the PS3 version only allows saving at safe houses and other predefined areas.  It's not clear why this is different, and I played on the same difficulty level in both, so it's not related to that.  Some prefer the challenge of having limited checkpoints, but I would err on the side of save-anywhere functionality and then simply not use if it you so choose.  In this regard, PC wins.

Furthermore, in my experience saving your game on the PC is nearly instantaneous, while on the PS3 it takes a few seconds.  Save files on both keep a thumbnail screenshot of where you were when you saved, but in the PS3 you're usually facing the save box on the wall in a safe house (except during mandatory checkpoint saves during missions), which isn't terribly helpful.  The PC's free form save system opens you up to save when facing a particular landmark, making it easier to recall where you were when you last recorded your progress.

Map Creation/Multiplayer
With the Jackal-hunting storyline, game world, collectibles, HUD, and downloadable content being the same between the two platform editions, the last key difference is in custom map creation.  While the tools available are essentially the same, manipulating the design is a bit easier with a mouse, but control preferences aside, the console version places a size limit on maps, something the PC iteration doesn't do.  This is most likely due to open and expandable PC configurations compared to the closed configs with known limitations of consoles, though the official line is that it's for "quick and easy downloading"; however, since every modern console requires broadband anyway, I don't see how this is a factor.  If you really want the ability to make bigger, more detailed custom multiplayer maps, PC seems to be the way to go.  Beyond that, multiplayer invites and matchmaking might be a little simpler on PS3, but otherwise offers basically the same class-based adversarial gameplay, with an optional DLC pack.

In the End…
Both offer an expansive, controversial storyline (though it does wander quite a bit; your gallivanting immediately and often has more to do with the locals than the Jackal), and while it doesn't offer the polish, depth, or playability options of titles like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Crysis, or Fallout 3, for basic open-world, go-anywhere action with tacked-on class-based multiplayer, it's not bad at the current asking price of $20 on either system.  If your PC is worth more than your car, go for the PC version.  If you don't want to have to constantly tweak settings or mind having an entirely predetermined control scheme, go console.  Personally, I have to give the edge to the PC version, given its available tweaks, save-anywhere setup, and mouse aiming.  Your mileage may vary.

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About Mark Buckingham

  • toma jeferson

    ps3 can t even run crysis