I’ve been playing some more Sonic Generations. Its an ode to a childhood favorite of mine and I simply love it. I play it with my wireless Xbox 360 controller through my PC and it feels very responsive and nice. Coming off of a decent couple hours of playing the game I decided to take a look at the metacritic score for the game…not bad at 78%, no complaints from me really, can’t expect after a decade of rubbish that you come out with a 90 or something right out the gate (unless you’re Deus Ex I suppose). Anyway, I was pleased with the reviews until I saw this:
To me this is a bit of a ridiculous point to make. To complain about a game that was never, ever designed for a keyboard control scheme just seems asinine.
Not every game genre was designed with the keyboard and mouse in mind, that’s why it irks me sometimes to hear complaints that a certain game may not play so nicely on the keyboard. To those who like to say these things I’d like to explore some scenarios where I think that argument really falls apart:
1) Platforming games
I want to assume the default control scheme here is like any other: WASD for movement and Space for jump. The problem with directional keys in this case are half placement of the keys and half usage of these keys.
The traditional “thumbpad” kicks the keyboard’s butt in this regard. Three different fingers must be coordinated to find the direction desired. The thumb is only one appendage that needs to be coordinated. There’s a huge difference in the way you think about hand-eye coordination when you need to remember to use the middle finger to move forward versus using the middle and index finger to strafe to the right. On the thumbpad all you need to do is move your thumb up or up and to the right, to me it makes far more sense to my brain.
When you throw in a layer of 3D and allow the mouse to become part of the viewing experience, the keyboard/mouse combination suddenly make sense: save general movement for the keyboard and precise movement for the mouse.
2) Brawling games
Something about a click of the mouse just doesn’t translate to a punch as well as smashing on a controller button or pulling a trigger. The most obvious thing to say here is that fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter work way better with some sort of controller, whether it be a gamepad or an arcade stick.
However, this is also one of the reasons I found Skyrim so much more enjoyable on a controller than a keyboard and mouse. Pulling on the trigger to swing my axe was far more rewarding than clicking the mouse. Oh and left mouse button equals right hand when the right button equals the left hand? That was just weird.
3) Flight games
PCs still rule the flight simulator genre and for a good reason: there are a number of different joystick makers and different models to choose from. However, that little analog stick on a controller works pretty well too, much better than a mouse can. A mouse just isn’t tuned for this sort of movement.
Flying is quite possibly one of the most precise movements you need to make while holding it for long periods of time, versus a first-person shooter where you need to make precise movements in very quick spurts, where a mouse excels.
So please, PC gamers, don’t let your “master race” ego get too far in the way. We love ya, in fact I play PC games more than any other and prefer them to consoles these days, but controls sometimes just don’t use the grimy keyboard.