A few days ago, fellow That VideoGame Blog editor Jason Cook wrote a preview for the upcoming Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution, towards the end of which he said, “CivRev is grid based, so at the most elementary level the difference between selecting a square with a mouse and with the left thumbstick is quite noticeable. This was my only problem with the controls (and probably my time with the game in general) – when selecting squares, I felt the cursor jumped far too much in whichever direction I was moving it. After a while I got used it, but I hope the thumbstick sensitivity will be turned before the games July release.”
This comment got me thinking once again about something that tends to pop up in my mind when thinking about controls for console games, especially of the RTS variety. Why can’t we just use a keyboard and mouse with our games? Especially when it’s a game that’s on both PCs and consoles. It can’t be that hard to incorporate the data to do so into the console versions of these games. And both the PS3 and Xbox 360 are compatible with most keyboards (not too sure about mice though, but that could be easily fixed).
Now honestly not every game needs a keyboard and mouse. Most games will play great with a Xbox 360 or PS3 controller. But, there are certain games such as Command and Conquer Tiberium Wars, Universe at War: Earth Assault, Supreme Commander and Darwinia+ (when they come out) that would be more enjoyable with a keyboard and mouse. Notice that all the games pointed out here are all real-time strategy games. And I’ll be honest, I’m biased towards playing RTS games on the PC. But, the same could be applied to first-person shooters and MMORPGs.
When you play with a keyboard and mouse you have every option in the game available to you at your fingertips and it’s much easier to queue up new buildings or troops, change to the weapon you want, or cast a quick spell when all you have to do is press a hotkey.
Now, I’m not saying that developers should ditch controller support and just stick with a keyboard and mouse. Of course not. After all there are people out there who either a) would prefer to play with a controller or b) have never played an RTS, FPS or MMORPG and so are brand new to the experience and could be easily deterred by a keyboard and mouse setup.
And there’s also the issue of a level playing field. If you pit a ‘couch gamer’ with a controller against a player with a mouse and keyboard sitting his nose against the screen.. well.. it won’t be much fun for the guy with the controller. But that too could be solved by simply having different lobbies for each control setup. Sure, there will be less people in the keyboard and mouse lobbies and it might take longer for the needed amount of players to fill the room but at least we could play the game the way we prefer.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to having fun. And having keyboard and mouse support would simply make certain games significantly more enjoyable, so it would be nice to (finally) have a choice in the matter one of these days.
Image via arstechica