BUSTED: 27 Most Dangerous Gaming Myths

MYTH: Third-party controllers are just as good.

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Wrong, wrong, wrong. In the vast majority of cases, non-licensed controllers, memory cards, and other peripherals are shoddy knock-offs of the real thing. This is particularly evident in third-party controllers, which, judging by internal GamePro tests, are often poorly made and more likely to fail. Part of the reason is that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all hold patents on their particular controller's design, right down to the directional pads, buttons, and analog sticks. This means that third-party companies like Nyko and Mad Catz must start from scratch by designing their own buttons. Ever wonder why third-party directional pads feel so awkward? Now you know: it's because of the patents.

Some third-party manufacturers are better than others, but in general, you'll never regret buying the first-party controllers and peripherals. It's money well spent.

MYTH: LCD/plasma TVs look better than old-fashioned CRTs.

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A popular misconception is that new-fangled LCD and plasma TVs have better image quality than an old-school cathode-ray tube TV, all HD resolutions being equal.

This is actually false. An HD CRT will almost always look better than an HD LCD or plasma TV, as CRT boasts deeper, more vibrant color. CRT TVs can also render a wide variety of resolutions, from 480i up to 1080p (if supported), without losing quality through downsampling or upsampling. In contrast, an LCD or plasma TV has a designated "native" resolution that must be hit (say, 720p); anything above or below this number will usually look muddy or blurry as the signal must be converted. This is especially true for interlaced formats like 480i and 1080i.

CRT may beat both plasma and LCD in terms of picture quality, but they are enormously heavy, with larger sets weighing up to 90 kg. The key selling point to plasmas and LCDs is their sleek size and light weight, in addition to solid picture quality.

MYTH: 1080i looks better than 720p.

Only if you plan on looking at your game on pause. The truth is that 1080i only displays 540 lines every 60th of a second while 720p displays, wait for it..... 720 lines. While 1080i has a slight edge in sharpness, it often suffers from a slightly flickery look that can strain the eyes and cause breakup in fast-moving scenes. Most times, 720p and 1080i are just about even- they each have strengths and weaknesses but you'll be hard-pressed to spot a big difference. And for HD video gaming, 720p is sometimes preferred for its smoother, slicker frame rate.

MYTH: The more memory, the better the gaming system.

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While this generally is a decent rule of thumb, it is also important to consider the software that utilizes the memory. A former employee of EA games told us that "when developing a game for both the PS2 and Xbox, we had to reduce texture size to get it to work on the Xbox because [Microsoft's API] DirectX is less efficient with memory than [the standard API] OpenGL." As the PS2 showed us with it's inferior 32 MB memory, it's not just size that matters when it comes to rendering slick graphics.

MYTH: You need 1080p.

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You don't. 1080p is a wonderful technology that's capable of rendering lush, crisp, high-resolution films and video games. But it's also way, way ahead of its time. Only a handful of PlayStation 3 games and Blu-ray films can even output at 1080p, and the number of 1080p-capable HD TV sets on the market is a tiny sliver. Like it or not, HD standards 720p and 1080i are still the key focus, and are likely to remain so for years to come. That said, 1080p is a great bonus feature, if you've got the cash to spend.

MYTH: Porn will settle the next-gen DVD war.

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Puhh-lease. As important as adult films were in trailblazing the home videocassette movement in the 70s and 80s, porn is hardly a kingmaker. In fact, if you judge by recent sales data showing Blu-ray soaring ahead of HD-DVD, it looks like video game systems like the PlayStation 3 will do more to settle the next-gen DVD war than mere smut.

MYTH: The PC is the only good place to play first-person shooters.

PC elitists often argue that first-person shooters are intended to be played with a mouse and keyboard, and that no console controller can match this flexibility. This is false. Though the mouse and keyboard still have an edge for precision sniping, the Xbox 360 controller has proven itself to be a dependable workhorse for most other violence-related tasks, especially with console-specific tweaks such as "sticky crosshairs" to help even the odds. The key, as always, is practice.

It's true that controllers and mice have their own strengths and weaknesses, but this doesn't mean that the mouse is always king. In fact, FASA enabled Xbox 360-to-Windows multiplayer in their first-person shooter** Shadowrun.

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Gary Anthes

GamePro (online)
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