Is Vista Good for Gaming?

Three reasons Windows Vista is terrible for gaming ... and six reasons why it's great

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2. Crysis. Based upon the early buzz and screenshots of this 3-D action shooter, it's highly likely that upon its release in late 2007, Crysis will single-handedly make Windows Vista good for gaming. Under development by German developer Crytek and being published in the United States by Electronic Arts, Crysis challenges gamers to repel invading alien forces intent upon conquering Earth.

The game's embrace of DirectX 10 has resulted in near-photorealistic graphics that have gamers around the world drooling. (See the image at the bottom of the page for an example. And for a detailed story on Crysis, see "Console Crysis?" on GamePro.com.)

3. Windows Game Advisor. One of the chief difficulties with PC gaming is determining whether or not a system's processor, memory and video card are capable of supporting a state-of-the-art game. Microsoft's Windows Game Advisor allows gamers to quickly ascertain how their systems stack up with the click of a button. That's pretty handy.

4. Games for Windows Live. Scheduled for release on May 8, this new service will provide interoperability between the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista platforms. This means that when Halo 2 is released in May on Windows Vista, PC gamers will be able to play against Xbox 360 gamers. Other titles that will support cross-platform multiplayer gaming are Shadowrun and Uno, one of the most popular multiplayer games on the Xbox Live service.

Games for Windows Live (also known as GFW Live) is a subscription service that functions in a similar fashion to Xbox Live. Gamers will be able to choose from two tiers of service -- a free Silver account that will allow minimum multiplayer functionality or a full-featured $50-per-year Gold account. Logging into GFW Live will provide matchmaking, access to new downloadable games, and more. Gamers who already have Xbox Live accounts will be able to transport their gamertags (usernames) and accounts to GFW Live.

One of the advantages to these Live services is that they keep track of gamers' accomplishments in both single-player and multiplayer games over time, allowing a player to develop a network of friends as well as a reputation to uphold (or improve upon) with those friends. This is a quantum leap over previous incarnations of PC-based multiplayer games, which until now have existed in isolated game-by-game instances with no centralized usernames or tracking of statistics.

In theory, GFW is a powerful, forward-thinking idea. However, we do have some substantial concerns around Microsoft's ability to protect users' security. A number of controversies have recently erupted over hacked Xbox Live accounts, an inability of Xbox Live support staff to identify and prevent identify theft, and numerous other complaints regarding online security.

Given the networking and security similarities between Xbox Live and GFW Live, this is a potential deal-breaker for this innovative new service. Until Microsoft demonstrates that it is addressing these security problems, it's impossible to recommend that gamers rush out and sign up for the service. Thankfully, there's no real reason to do so yet because there aren't a large number of games available.

vistagames_crysis.jpg
A jaw-dropping scene from the upcoming Crysis, due in late 2007. Courtesy of GamePro.com.
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