Thursday, January 19, 2012

Desire - The new Alienware X51. Console'd.

From the first glace you can be forgiven if you think this is the next Xbox, or 'Nextbox' - chuckle chuckle. Designed by Dell-owned Alienware, this computer has been designed to fit into a small chassis typically attributed to modern gaming consoles. Alienware have been long known to build the most powerful gaming machines known to man, so announcing a computer with some of the lowest specifications in their current portfolio has disgruntled those expecting a machina god.

Do not despair, this may be something you may well want. I'm certainly tempted: currently being in the situation of having to relocate fairly frequently the thought of chugging around a giant desktop PC doesn't quite appeal, but the issue with high spec laptops is their lack of upgradability. I've happily maintained my current desktop for over five years now through upgrades. I've begun to feel however that something new is needed to reflect the end of my student-life and the start of an exciting and brilliantly successful career. Cough.

Supreme Commander
But less about me, why compare it to the consoles at all? Well, these "next-gen" gaming platforms sport hardware around five years old. Ironic considering when released the battle between Xbox and Playstation centered largely around which boasted the better graphics. Unlike my own aging computer, consoles can't be upgraded with what really matters - don't be fooled by the Xbox 360 variants: arcade, premium, elite, coolname. 'Hardcore' games (think Gears of War 3 for a modern reference) have historically boasted of cutting edge graphics, but game developers simply can't build games to their full potential anymore while consoles remain stagnant despite our age of rapid technological advancements. Take the game 'Supreme Commander': in the (PC only) original you could wage battles on continent-scale worthy maps which required an incredible amount of processing power. SC2 was decreased in scale, complexity and given cartoonier graphics to make it also available for the consoles, enraging many who loved the first game.

Computers such as the X51 won't kill off consoles. Prices starting from £699 means it simply isn't a price-tag parents will consider for their childrens' Christmas present. It is a sign however that a market does exist for those consumers no longer satisfied by current gaming standards, and may well reflect a growing trend of mature gaming. More on that another time.

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