controller

September 5, 2011

Aiming With a Mouse… Old Habits Die Hard

I’m one of those, a PC Gamer and when I can purchase a title (outside of sports and racing games) on the PC platform I do.  Having said that, I realize the industry as a whole has shifted to console as a primary development platform.  While I much prefer gaming on a PC I do own all the major gaming consoles (Wii, PS3, XBox 360) and own a good number of titles on each of the systems.   Most of my friends also play on console systems and as such a few years ago I branched out to play games that I traditionally would only play on PC such as FPS and RTS.

Growing up (I’m 26 by the way) the PC was the dominant platform when it came to multiplayer gaming online and industry standard.  It was also the leader in graphics, performance and modding.  The console phenomenom has taken away the majority of what made PC gaming great during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, pushing the limits of hardware, user created content and online communities.  These are all things that have taken a backseat with the current generations of gamers. 

For the most part, I have come to terms with this however there is one thing that I simply cannot put my mind around and that is using a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse for gaming.  This is especially true for FPS and RTS titles that seem to be flooding the console market.   I’ve had a the latest and greatest consoles back to the regular nintendo days and I have tried, really tried, to get my mind and fingers around the concept of aiming with a joystick instead of using a mouse and keyboard.  I actually took the time one day to calculate how long it took me to aim for a headshot on a standstill target on a console vs a mouse and the difference was staggering.  It took me at times, to get a precision shot almost 2 – 3 seconds (yes I had my wife time me) with the controller to less then a seconds on the same title on the PC (I used Mass Effect 2). 

I have noticed that on consoles the aiming mechanics are a lot less percise.  For example on Halo 3, with the battle rifle, you could swing the gun from left to right on the screen and as long as you passed over your opponents head you would get a headshot regardless of wheather or not you actually fired the shot accuretly or not.  I’ve also noticed with popular console titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops that I could litterly shoot to the side of my opponent and score a headshot. 

I noticed when I play on consoles I cannot seperate three of my fingers at a time.  Basically this means  that I can either move and fire, aim and fire, move and aim.  I can’t do all three at one time.  Perhaps this is what it is like to learn how to play the drums.  I also cannot wrap my mind around using a joystick to get a precision shot. 

Some might say that I am stuck in the past, learn how to play, or just give up gaming.  I think in my case old habits just die hard.  I suspect that I will never fully be able to compete on console systems, most definately not at the CAL and tournament level I used to be when I played Counter-Strike back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Does anyone else feel the same way?  Does anyone actually find it easier to aim with a controller instead of a mouse?  Let us know your story!

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