Well, I am very slowly recovering, I think, from whatever virus got me last week. I’m hoping to be back working in earnest today, finally.
One thing I have been doing with my limited energy is following the launch coverage for Borderlands 2. As a huge fan of the original, I’ve had a number of problems with the reviews of the new one, mostly when the reviewer decides to put down the first game in order to explain how the second one is improved. To me, that’s just wrong. Look, I love my second child, but I don’t have to put down my first-born in order to explain her best traits.
You can see where I’m coming from here.
Anyhow, the absolute worst thing about Borderlands 2 coverage has got to be the stories, sidebars, or paragraphs that many gaming media outlets have produced saying nice things about the PC version of the game. (Congrats to Gearbox/2K PR, by the way, for getting these people to all write the same story. Creepy, but effective.) Invariably, it seems, these stories recount PC gamers’ complaints about the menu system in the first game, which was a bit too console-centric, and go on to talk about the PC-specific menu options and such built into BL2.
I’m fine with all of that, as far as it goes, although I’ve seen much, much worse console ports than Borderlands.
But the positive assertions about BL2 always seem to be formulated like this: with these new options, the PC version is now "the best way to play the game."
Ok, hold up.
Both of these games are first-person shooters at heart, really solid shooters augmented by a RPG-style loot system that requires extensive skill and inventory management. Was there any doubt about the best platform for such a thing? Are you seriously telling me there is some question about which version of any reasonably solid cross-platform shooter—released in, I dunno, years—is the best one to play?
Yeah, some menus in Borderlands had a touch of consolitis, but that only means they didn’t take full advantage of the additional precision offered by a mouse and keyboard. Nothing about that fact gave me a hankering for an ill-suited thumbstick controller, an eight-year-old GPU, high input latencies, and a blurry, low-resolution display.
Please. We PC gamers complain and struggle, but our beef is about the fact that our awesome, obviously superior platform isn’t being used to proper advantage. We’re not happy with lousy menus, silly long loading times, cramped game levels, and smeary textures because we know they’re unnecessary. Regardless, the PC was the best way to play Borderlands. This is not a close contest. It’s the best way to play Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim and maybe eventually even the latest Halo, depending on how badly Microsoft decides to sabotage itself.
Here’s the thing. A good PC port isn’t about adapting a game to our platform so that it can match or narrowly beat the consoles. It’s about allowing what’s destined to be the best version of the game to reach its full potential by harnessing vastly superior CPUs, GPUs, storage, controllers, displays, and networking. The difference between the console and PC versions at this point is rightfully going to be a massive, multi-generational gap.
Borderlands 2 may fall into that latter category. I think it probably does. But there was never any question which version of this precision-oriented shooter was going to be the best one. The question was only how well it would embrace that fate.