Since the dawn of the games console, there have been many attempts to port console games to the trusty old PC. Though most of these attemtps have yielded less than stellar resuls, every so often someone does it right. We decided to celebrate ten examples of games that have made the transition from console to PC with their full gameplay intact, and even in some cases beter than they were before. Here they are (in chronological order).
Metal Gear Solid
(PlayStation Oct ’98, PC Sep ’00)
Perhaps one of the first major console titles to make a relatively seamless transition to the PC, this classic game (which has spawned numerous sequels that have remained Playstation exclusives) was the first indicator of how much sharper a game’s graphics can be when ported to the PC format. True, the control scheme showed residual console inclinations, but for its time it was still a rather faithful translation. In fact, some critics considered it too faithful by failing to take full advantage of the PC’s potential, something that later console ports would take into account.
(Xbox Nov ’02, PC Feb ’03)
It’s hard to name the positive points of various game ports to the PC without repeating some basic aspects, one of which is higher graphics resolution. But this is particularly noteworthy when the port is one like Splinter Cell, whose console version was not high definition, whereas the PC one can be if one’s system can handle it (which is almost definitely the case nowadays). And in a game where maneuverability and a variety of special actions is key to survival, the computer’s keyboard shortcuts combined with mouse-based precision add a level of control to Sam Fisher not seen in its original form, turning a straightforward bit of stealthy action into an even more nuanced experience.
Knights of the Old Republic
(Xbox July ’03, PC Nov ’03)
The first of quite a few BioWare titles to premier as a console exclusive, KOTOR (as it’s often abbreviated) didn’t change much at all in its port to the PC, but that’s okay because it was a first-rate game already and one of the best Star Wars games by far. Though some technical glitches were experienced with certain graphics setups before a patch was available, the game looked smoother and sharper (if no more detailed) than its console counterpart, especially if anti-aliasing was enabled. And other than being given choices between the keyboard and mouse, which is something PC users all but demand in any game, port or not, the differences are minimal. After all, if it’s not broke…
(Xbox Sep ’04, PC Sep’ 05)
Billed as Fable: The Lost Chapters for the PC, this game came as a pleasant surprise to most PC game players, who’d been initially told that there would be no port. Better textures and lighting, higher resolutions, minimally improved interface, and the titular “lost chapter” (presented as additional content near the end of the storyline) helped give this title a little more life, though not quite enough to warrant owning both versions.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
(PS2 Oct ’04, PC Jun 7 ’05)
Whether or not one is a fan of the GTA series, there’s no denying its success. Though glitchiness has plagued several of
the ports from console to the PC, this particular chapter in the saga managed to pull it off, all while looking slicker and featuring more accurate aiming – with the mouse, at least. Its only real detriment on the PC was the now infamous ’Hot Coffee’ mod and its sexual content which altered the game’s ESRB rating and cost the game retail shelf space until a subsequent patch and re-release.
(Xbox Apr ’05, PC Feb ’07)
Like many titles in the list, if one didn’t appreciate this Oriental RPG’s style on the console, it won’t present much improvement to play the PC port instead. The same essential gameplay exists, two years after its original release. Some of the AI was improved, and once again the graphics have been ramped up ever so slightly for the PC. Full mouse and keyboard support have made the game’s combat system that much more manageable, though some of its console limitations remain, additional fighting styles notwithstanding. However, since altering this would involve significantly altering the core of the game, this shouldn’t be held against what is overall a satisfying conversion.
Gears of War
(Xbox 360 Nov ’06, PC Nov ’07)
Despite some initial PR glitches involving rumors of whether or not this would actually make it to the PC, when this port did eventually come out, it did with flying colors. In addition to all of the Xbox 360 version’s features, Gears of War on the PC featured additional maps and content, including an editor, a feature otherwise denied to 360 fans, some of whom were already upset that the game was no longer an “exclusive.” And though cross-platform multiplayer was not an option, the game still supported multiplayer through Windows Live. Yes, there were numerous issues requiring patching over time, but overall for a console game that was originally never going to come to the PC, it has proven its worth among other PC titles.
(PS3 Nov ’07, PC Apr ’08)
Though not officially a commercial success on the PC thanks mostly to a rampantly pirated (albeity buggy) version that had circulated before the port’s release, Assassin’s Creed represents another faithful translation whose details were further enhanced on high-end systems, particularly if one had a DirectX 10 graphics card and an X-Fi soundcard. As the PC version only featured the Limited Edition version, it included additional gameplay modes not included with the initial console release.
(Xbox 360 Nov ’07, PC May ’08)
Without turning this into a “Why BioWare Rules” list, their space-based RP is yet another example of a port done well. Already a stellar game on consoles, it was further streamlined and tweaked for its PC release with numerous helpful keyboard shortcuts that improved and/or expedited combat, as well as a convenient quicksave function. Add to that some free DLC (which had a fee for console users) and the always-available higher resolutions of the PC, and it’s easy to see why this port was such a hit.
(Xbox 360 Jan ’08, PC Feb ’09)
For years the crash-centric Burnout racing series was a console exclusive, until this recent title debuted on the PC with the Ultimate Box edition. In addition to having access to the high-end graphics cards of newer PC’s, Burnout Paradise allows the use of multiple monitors for a panoramic driving (or, more likely, crashing) experience. And though a PC-compatible steering wheel peripheral may be ideal for this game (as with any driving game), it works admirably well with other controllers, including the keyboard. As an added bonus, The Ultimate Box Edition contains all of the DLC released to consoles over several months. Easily one of the best driving sims for the PC, let alone among ports.