Capcom, one of the longest lasting and most successful games publishers around, has never had what one would call a ‘strong’ relationship with the PC platform. I certainly wouldn’t blame them, they’ve always been very arcade and console oriented folk. Many PC gamers have associated Capcom with sloppy, outsourced, PC ports of big franchise titles like Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Onimusha.
Does PC have what it takes for Capcom to finally realize it’s true potential? Has true love been found between the two at long last? Let’s examine the facts.
A good example as to how things have gone wrong is Resident Evil 4. The PC port was outsourced to Ubisoft, or more specifically SourceNext (along with DMC3 and Onimusha 3) and was plagued by issues when it hit store shelves almost 2 years after its orignal release. There was no mouse support, no shaders, insanely compressed cut-scenes, performance issues, PS2 textures (which look quite bad), and no extra content to reward the patience of PC gamers to speak of (unless you count the ‘Easy’ mode which gives you a shotgun an entire 5 minutes ahead of schedule).
Well I’m glad to say Capcom has made a genuine change over the past year or so. This change started at about the time they began working on their in-house game engine, MT Framework. From what I’ve gathered Capcom develops a game on the PC using MT Framework, they then later port the finished game to each console making adjustments as necessary to ensure acceptable performance. This leaves PC gamers with the best possible version of the game since it isn’t a port, but rather the game in its original form. Although I’ve probably gone and oversimplified the process, this doesn’t mean the PC version can just be burned onto a disc and slapped into a box for retail.
MT Framework is a beautiful engine developed by a small team of 11 coders. It was made with multi-threading (MT) in mind, and therefore makes use of all your cores if you own a dual or quad-core CPU. It also supports DirectX 10 and SLI, making it a very bleeding edge piece of tech. You can find it used in games like Lost Planet, Devil May Cry 4, Resident Evil 5, and Dead Rising. PC gamers were blown away by the ultra-high frame-rates DMC4 PC produced while maintaining high-visual fidelity, even on mid-range systems. Sadly, a large amount of players were still haunted by the nightmarish past of mediocre ports of Capcom titles, and instantly condemned it based on those games.
Now we know that Resident Evil 5 PC is on the horizon, bringing with it support for nVidia’s new 3D vision technology. Street Fighter 4 is coming soon to Steam and retail with a fight pad pack-in and the option to use any of 3 different shader’s depending on your personal tastes. Things are certainly looking up for PC Capcom fans, right? Well, there are indeed a few kinks they have yet to work out, namely SecuROM. I’m not going to spend a large amount of time on this because it is an issue that has been talked about to death. Most PC gamers consider it a hindrance, especially in combination with limited activations. It does nothing to prevent piracy and only serves to negatively affect a legitimate buyers experience with a game. Considering that Capcom is a member of the PC Gaming Alliance, one would think that they’d want to work towards a better player experience, but you can readily find SecuROM ‘protection’ in any of their recent PC titles such as Age of Booty and Flock!.
Another thing they could work on is their digital distribution methods. You won’t find big titles like Devil May Cry 4 and Lost Planet – Colonies Edition on Steam, neither will you find any of their back catalogue like the Resident Evil’s, Megaman’s, or anything else you could call ‘old’. I’d like to know whether the ball is in Valve’s court, or Capcom’s. If it’s Capcom, we would love to know what’s holding things up. It’s been proven by Gabe-science that when you put a game on Steam it sells like HOTCAKES, especially if you put it on sale for any amount of time. If not Steam, perhaps GOG would be a better option for retro titles. We’re loving the support Capcom is giving to PC Gamers, but expansion to more digital download services would make the sweet game offerings all the more tasty.