Mac to the Future

The Best 3D Gaming

Kel Taylor - 2000.03.14

Some think the best 3D game machine would be a high-end PC with a huge monitor, 3D acceleration cards, controller pad, and, for multiplayer games, a high-speed internet connection. However, what if I told you there is a machine that could rival any computer that costs around $100, is equipped with a seemingly obsolete processor, and has no hard disk, no accelerator card, no 3D software, no monitor, no operating system, and, get this, is 100% crash free?

Such machines exist. Video Game Systems (I'll refer to them as VGS's from now on), including Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and Dreamcast, produce output equal to (if not better than) any PC at a fraction of the cost. (This, of course, excludes the use of emulators such as Connectix Game Station, which emulates the PlayStation, basically turning any Mac into a VGS.) Lets have a showdown. I'll start at the beginning.

Installation

No contest here. On a VGS, all you do is put the game in and push a button. There's no setup, no installation, no restarting.

VGS - 1, Computer - 0.

Compatibility

This is also rather obvious. Since video game makers know exactly what machine the game will be played on, you don't have to worry about your processor speed, amount of RAM, operating system, acceleration cards, or current 3D software, such as OpenGL. Any game made for the PlayStation will work on any PlayStation.

VGS - 2, Computer - 0

Loading Time

Computers offer a little competition for the PlayStation in this round. PlayStation is infamous for the extended loading time due to the use of CDs. However, the Nintendo 64 is instant, as is the Dreamcast, although it also uses CDs. When the PlayStation 2 debuts soon, loading time on any VGS will be instant.

VGS - 3, Computer - 0.

Versatility

VGS's can't compete here. They are made for one and one thing only: to play games. Although soon, even that may change. Computer's are almost limitless in what they can do. When the last time you did your taxes on a Sega?

VGS - 3, Computer - 1.

Multiplayer

This is a toughie, but the VGS wins again. The internet is making multiplayer games more common on the computer, but not as fun as a group of friends can have playing Goldeneye on a Nintendo 64. Computers can have many more players with the help of a site such as Battle.net for Starcraft. However, these players are faceless, and can only communicate by typing. Multiplayer on a VGS is a far better experience.

VGS - 4, Computer - 1.

Display

This battle varies from household to household. The largest consumer monitor is about twenty-one inches, and that's expensive. A VGS is played right on your television. In a almost any household, the TV will be bigger than the computer monitor. I have a 55-inch TV in my den, so even the split four player screens equal the size of a very large computer monitor. Not everyone has a big-screen TV, though. However, the fact remains that a household's TV will be larger than their computer monitor.

VGS - 5, Computer - 1.

Location

I would rather play games in a lazy boy or a bean bag than at my computer desk. However, what if I have an iBook? Then I could play anywhere: my bed, the kitchen, the front porch, or even the bathroom. However, most computers are desktops. Therefore, this would have to go to the VGS.

VGS - 6, Computer - 1.

Titles

I can count the number of successful 3D games still in production for PC on my fingers; there are even less for Mac. Of them include Rainbow Six, Half Life, and Quake. VGS's have hundreds of titles for a lower price. From Mario 64 to Donkey Kong 64 on the Nintendo, there have been dozens of successful and popular 3D games. The PlayStation has the most, but I believe they are of lower quality than the Nintendo. Computers still can't compete here.

VGS - 7, Computer - 1.

Longevity

Computers go obsolete as fast apples turn brown. I can't play the most recent 3D games on my beige G3 without another RAM upgrade (I bought an extra 32 MB awhile back), and its only two years old! The Nintendo 64 has been around for four years, and the PlayStation even longer. The only video game that has ever required an upgrade is Donkey Kong 64. It requires a RAM booster that comes packaged with the game. I wish Quake 3 would come with an extra 64 MB of memory and a new 3D accelerator card!

VGS - 8, Computer - 1.

Price

If you buy a computer just for 3D gaming, you are simply stupid. If you take 3D gaming potential into consideration when buying a computer, I believe you are still a little crazy. I have never heard of someone putting down a computer for entertainment expenses, although I'm sure some people have.

To play the latest 3D computer games to their fullest potential, one needs at least a base level G4 with a little more memory. That's at least $1,599 for the computer. Add a monitor, you're up to at least $2,000. If you want a computer that may not play the latest 3D games flawlessly, and you don't need G4 speed for Photoshop or other graphic applications, save $1,000 and get an iMac. Spending an extra thousand dollars, or even an extra $500 dollars, just for the hardware to play a feeble number of 3D games at a computer desk for up to two years is simply stupid. Unless, of course, you have money out the wazoo and can afford to spend like that for games. However, for most of us, 3D computer gaming is not economical.

VGS - 9, Computer - 1.

Reliability

I have never had my Nintendo crash. I have played thousands of times and not once has it frozen. I wish I could say that about my Mac. This one needs little discussion.

VGS - 10, Computer - 1.

Game Size

Okay, I had to think up something else for the computer to win. Nintendo 64 has a major limit to game size. Dreamcast and PlayStation don't have so much of a problem. The next generation of VGS's will not have problem at all. The PlayStation 2 and Nintendo 2000 (or whatever they are going to call it) will be equip with DVD. However, for now, computers win.

VGS - 10, Computer - 2.

Conclusion

VGS's are far superior for 3D gaming. This isn't to say that computers aren't good for gaming. For simulation, such as Starcraft and SimCity, the computer is better for obvious reasons, foremost the mouse. I myself believe that the best games aren't 3D action shooters at all, but simulations such as Starcraft and RPG's like Zelda. Remarkably, my favorite VGS game is GoldenEye (a 3D game), and my favorite computer game is Starcaft (a non-3D game).

If you want the best 3D gaming experience, don't look on the Macintosh. In fact, don't look on a computer. Look on a video game system. If you want the funnest games, you'll probably find them on a Mac. I remember playing Shufflepuck on my sister's Performa 200 for hours. Being 3D doesn't make a game fun. I'd take Tetris over Rainbow Six any day.

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