Welcome to my PC gaming pet peeves series. My aim here is to highlight some of the more annoying aspects and trends that have been haunting modern PC gaming. First up is widescreen support.
Widescreens are the standard in today's day and age. I don't think I've ever seen a new LCD or Plasma screen that was anything less that didn't use a 16:9 or 16:10 ratio. The same can be said for PC monitors, where the benefits of having a widescreen are even more numerous than that of a widescreen TV with many people owning and enjoy the use of a widescreen monitor (myself included).
If this is the case, why has there been cases of PC games from big name publishers and development houses not featuring widescreen support?
The most recent, striking and simply shocking example of pure ignorance (or laziness) during the development process and looking at today's developments and usages in PC technology would be Ubisoft's Far Cry 2.
Far Cry 2 is a open world first-person shooter, with the developers stating they wanted it to be immersive as possible while also showing off the best that today's visuals have to offer. If this is the case, wouldn't the proper support of widescreens go a long way in accomplishing that very goal?
Far Cry 2 is a game which uses a method known as Vert- (minus) when displaying widescreen resolutions. What does this mean? It means that in order to fit the game onto the screen, it crops the top and bottom parts of the screen.
Here is a very excellent picture visually showing what its effects are:
The red bars represent the area of screen that is simply cut off for users who wish to use a widescreen resolution. What is the end result? The users of widescreens are not seeing what was originally intended to be seen, and some of them are infact experiencing motion sickness (many for the first time) because of the way the game crops the screen.
While some of you may say "what do you expect for what was probably a console port". What you should realise is that the very same method was employed in the console versions as well. So what we have is a current generation game that boasts graphical feats and immersion that does not even support widescreens properly (no matter what version you buy).
It really dumbfounds me when you think what the motive was behind this. For a game coming from a fairly big company such as Ubisoft, it just makes you wonder who really makes the decisions over there. I mean how can you NOT support widescreen resolutions? Its not a minority of users who use the technology, many people now possess and use widescreens.
To add salt to the wound, Ubisoft has done it twice before in the past and whats even more embarrassing is that it was on a game and its sequel (Rainbow Six: Vegas and Vegas 2).
Its not only Ubisoft that has done it, many of you probably remember the debacle with Bioshock (although it was probably overshadowed by the DRM outrage) in that it did something similar with its support of widescreen. Thankfully in that case the developer and publisher had the balls to admit it stuffed up and released a patch not long after that corrected the issue (something Ubisoft has yet to do with its Vegas games, and highly unlikely to do with Far Cry 2).
What sort of confounds me with the case of Bioshock was it was a Games for Windows labelled title and one of the requirements there is the support of widescreens. I guess Microsoft only counts the actual support of the resolutions rather than if it uses Hort+ (the preferred method of supporting widescreens) over Vert-.