inane gaming conundrums

Two thousand eleven is shaping up to be a great year for gaming. By this holiday season, Battlefield 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and FIFA 12 will all be vying for my attention. But I’ve got a difficult decision to make: where do I want to do my gaming?

I recognize that it’s fairly absurd for this to be my most pressing concern, but that’s simply because there will be plenty of time to worry about “real life” coming up. These issues need recognition as well. So with BF3 and Skyrim each on Xbox 360 and on PC, and with my upgrade to a gaming-worthy PC last year, I have options.

Of course I’m getting BF3 for the PC; there was never a question about that. Shooters have never felt right without a mouse and keyboard, and, despite DICE’s pandering to the masses, I’m sure BF3 will be far superior visually and otherwise on the desktop. I’m still buying a physical copy, despite the encroaching era of digital distribution, so I have something to show for my money.

In the same vein, there was never any doubt that FIFA is better suited for the Xbox. We all know the numerous reasons sports games can work better on consoles, and that it really comes down to having multiple people hunched over on the couch, squinting at the screen unblinkingly. Plus, you need the ability to toss the controller out of disgust when Messi chips it over your keeper’s head from 20 yards out.

The Crux of the Issue

What to do with Skyrim. I enjoyed Oblivion and Fallout 3 on the Xbox, but I bought a physical copy of Fallout: New Vegas for the PC. It plays well, but I didn’t appreciate having to register it with Steam – it seems like I had to hand over something I paid for and can only use it when they grant me permission. I imagine Skyrim on the PC will be the same way. Some things to consider: I have an Xbox controller that works on Windows, and I’ve got my computer hooked up to my TV through a 50′ HDMI cable, so it can feel a lot like Xbox play if I choose to make it. The benefits to getting the game on each system, as I see it, are as follows:

PC

  • Higher resolution textures, improved DirectX 11 effects, and overall better visuals
  • MODs (although I don’t know how much I’d mess with these)
  • Flexibility to bring the game to a new system
  • Video/screenshot recording
  • Steam achievements?

360

  • Fewer bugs and a guaranteed performance level (at the expense of greater potential performance)
  • “Full couch experience” – I won’t have any choice but to play the game in comfort, on the big screen
  • Enhanced portability (both the game and the system)
  • Xbox Live achievements
  • Five bucks cheaper on Amazon at the moment (hey, that’s a whole burrito)

I can convince myself that either is the way to go. At first blush, PC seems far superior, but I like knowing I can more easily bring the game with me on trips, or even play it in someone else’s Xbox if I needed to. It’s also nice to know that it should run smoothly on the 360, whereas (although my PC is pretty capable) lack of optimization could lead to stuttering, crashing, and downright heartache. Still, I paid a grand for a gaming PC and all I have to show for it are some older games…and BF3.

That said, I’ve got Skyrim preordered on the console at the moment. Should I switch to PC?

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