There are two types of console-to-PC conversions: those where the PC version is developed separately from the console version and often released months apart, and those where console and PC development are undertaken side-by-side, with both versions released simultaneously.
I'm not saying that one is better than another. There are good and bad examples of console-to-PC ports in either category. Microsoft's XNA has made the process easier by allowing developers to write code that can be shared between both the PC and the Xbox 360 versions of a game.
That’s a bit of a double-edged sword though because while it means that games share a lot of code between versions, it also means that they can share a lot of other assets, such as graphics. This can be a problem if you play PC games at high resolutions, as console graphics that are scaled to look good on a TV screen six feet or more away won't necessarily look so good on a computer monitor eighteen inches away.
Click to enlarge
The latest game to go through the conversion process is The Club from Project Gotham Racing developers, Bizarre Creations. Joe reviewed the Xbox 360 version of The Club last month and likened it to Marmite: gamers will either love it or loathe it.
Today I have the PC version in front of me. Will the mouse and keyboard control combo remain unbeaten or will console controllers reign supreme?
An Inauspicious Start
Upon starting the game, you're greeted with a screen saying "Press Start to Continue". The next screen asks you to press the “A button to continue”. That’s not the A key on the keyboard, you understand, it’s the A button on the Xbox controller. Oh dear.
Now, I'm not sure if this is Microsoft forcing Bizarre to plug their "Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows,” which allows PC gamers to use their wireless Xbox 360 with PC games, or if it’s just sloppy coding. I'll give Bizarre the benefit of the doubt for now, and assume that this is due to Microsoft wanting to convince us that gaming with an Xbox 360 controller is better than gaming with a mouse and keyboard. You'll be glad to hear that you don't have to hand over twenty quid to Microsoft to play The Club, you still have the option of using the PC gamers’ preferred method of control.
Click to enlarge
Talking of control, the sensitivity has obviously been set to handle console controllers. This being the PC version of The Club, you'll be wanting to use a mouse to look around, being the hardcore gamer that you are. In which case, I'd suggest you dial back the mouse sensitivity somewhat. At the default setting, just a small movement of the mouse will send your character into a pirouette that Darcy Bussell would be proud of!
Being a "Game for Windows Live" title means that The Club integrates seamlessly with Xbox Live, so you should be able gain achievements and so on and have them added to your Xbox Live Gamertag. It unfortunately means the game is also very similar to the Xbox 360 version – there’s no new content and it plays exactly the same as on a console: same story, same missions, same online play. You even sign into Live using an Xbox dashboard lookalike.
So are the graphics the saving grace, or is this a 100 percent clone? You'll have to click onto the next page to find out!