How I hate PC gaming

Ten years ago, I used to play quite a lot of PC games. Sim City, Tony Hawk, GTA, Rollcage, Half Life. Some of the Tomb Raiders and things like NOX too. I forget the rest. The last PC game I really sank any time into was Anarchy Online, back in 2005. Even that I didn’t play for long. Aside from brief prod at the Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst demo, that was the end of my PC gaming. There were two main reasons: I couldn’t be bothered upgrading my computer every time a game came out, and I’d rather sit in front of the TV on the sofa with a joypad, rather than at a desk with a mouse. Besides, all the games I wanted to play were console games. My apathy towards PC games was part of the reason I bought a Mac when I needed a new machine – no need for games, so no need for a PC.

However, I have now found my new Mac laptop is pretty decent at playing PC games, and, with a HDMI connector and an Xbox controller, I can play it on the TV sat on the sofa, with a joypad.

Then I saw Batman: Arkham City for £11.60 for the PC. And I bought it. Here is a chronicle of the events that followed. Disclaimer: I have rubbish broadband, which didn’t really help matters.

On Wednesday, I installed Origin (which was a 10 minute download) and bought Batman. I set it to download. 70+ hours later (constantly!), on Saturday morning, it was done, so I excitedly ran it. Up popped a message from Games for Windows Live saying I needed to sign in. So I did. Then it spent over an hour downloading my Live profile. Then it told me an update for Games for Windows Live was necessary, so I set it to download.

It finished downloading about 20 hours later, on Sunday morning. At no point did it tell me how much it needed to download, so I had no idea how long it was going to take. Once the update had installed, I then had to sign in again, and it decided to download my profile again. It “only” took about 20 minutes that time.

Finally! I can play Batman, right?

No. There was another update – this time for the game itself. So I left that to download and install. And, at 9pm, eventually, I could play the game. Just 100-odd hours after I bought it. Hurrah for digital copies and their super-fast delivery mechanisms! Saved me the minutes I’d need to buy it from Asda, at least. Oh, wait.

Sure. My connection is rubbish, and yeah, this is just one game, but I’m wishing I’d bought the 360 version instead. In fact, I still might. I’m not sure slightly shinier graphics is really worth the hassle.

As a related comment to this, I have tried Steam too. I quite like Steam, for what it is, but when you forget to update your games for offline play, then try to play offline (as I have to because my connection is so rubbish Steam keeps detecting I don’t have one) – you can’t. Which is more than a pain.

At least I’ve not had to fiddle with graphics drivers and controller configs (Batman just switches to Xbox Controller Mode, which is nice) yet. I did have to turn the virus killer (Microsoft Security Essentials) off though, as 20 minutes into the game the framerate dropped to nothing as a scheduled scan kicked in…

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