Tablets. Full PC games. What year is this!? 2050?!
Seriously, though, the day is almost upon us when we can play full PC games on a very portable tablet that happens to also function very well as a full PC. On February 9th Microsoft will be releasing a version of their Surface tablet that comes with Windows 8 Pro. The already existing model carries Windows RT.
Wait… what’s the difference?
You see, Windows RT was meant for tablet interfacing. It is primarily for touch screens but can be used with keyboards and mice. RT is Microsoft’s mobile platform for screens 6 inches or bigger. It cannot use legacy Windows apps (everything you’re using right now most likely) and is limited to the brand new apps that come from Windows 8′s Metro OS and Store app.
Windows 8 (and Windows 8 Pro) are full operating systems that let you utilize the Metro OS or stick with the tried-and-true desktop with all the programs you’re used to use. Yes, even games.
This is a pricey device sitting at $899 for the base model but new technology never comes cheap. This isn’t a device for everyone and even if you don’t plan on buying one, the aspect of this extremely portable way of playing your PC games is tantalizing and a glimpse at the future.
It won’t play everything under the sun and what it will play won’t be running at max settings. You may have to settle for Low to Medium settings but this is the first iteration of something this portable being able to load up, say, Civilization V and let you play the damn thing.
I want to quote NBC News’ review of the Surface Pro. There’s a section that talks about gaming on it and here’s what it says:
The proving ground for us on the Surface Pro was the gaming. NBC News games editor Todd Kenreck and I loaded it up with real PC games, including “League of Legends” and “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” We even used the Mini DisplayPort jack to connect the 10.6-in. device to my 23-inch Dell monitor, and got 1080p resolution on the bigger screen.
I am happy to report that the Surface Pro goes a lot further to living up to the claim. Its battery life is not “all day” like the RT, but it won’t die on you if you forget to plug it in overnight. I have read books in bed, played realtime strategy games, streamed video and music, and even installed our publishing software. This single device is a true multi-modal Swiss Army kind of a tablet that does a more reasonable impression of both a laptop and a tablet than anything else I’ve played with to date.
The Surface Pro may be a “first gen” device but it is going to be hard to keep your hands off of something like this if you’re a big PC gamer that needs a laptop replacement or never got into the laptop scene. If you’re looking for something that can play League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Call of Duty, Dota 2, or whatever your fix may be then the Surface Pro is alright. Just don’t go expecting beast performance. You’ll be fidgeting with the settings in each game to find a nice and happy medium but it will play.
Just so we’re clear, we’re talking about a tablet running a Core i5 3rd Gen CPU with an Intel HD 4000 GPU. Yes, yes internal GPUs, somebody shoot me, right? However, the HD 4000 is a workhorse. It won’t beat out most dedicated GPUs but isn’t a slouch like you’d expect it to be.
Thanks to reddit use “davidintransit” we have a list of some games that will work on the Surface Pro on Low or Medium settings.
|Aion: The Tower of Eternity||YES|
|Alan Wake’s American Nightmare||YES|
|Alice: Madness Returns||YES|
|Aliens vs. Predator||YES|
|Assassins Creed II||YES|
|Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood||YES|
|Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||YES|
|Battlefield Bad Company 2||YES|
|Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition||YES|
|Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3||YES|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops||YES|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2||YES|
|Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood||YES|
|Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight||YES|
|Commander: Conquest of the Americas||YES|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive||YES|
|Dawn of War II: Retribution||YES|
|DC Universe Online||YES|
|Dead Space 2||YES|
|Deus Ex: Human Revolution||YES|
|Dragon Age II||YES|
|Dragon Age: Origins||YES|
|Driver San Francisco||YES|
|Duke Nukem Forever||YES|
|Dungeon Siege III||YES|
|Fallout New Vegas||YES|
|FIFA Manager 12||YES|
|FIFA Soccer 11||YES|
|FIFA Soccer 12||YES|
|Front Mission Evolved||YES|
|Ghostbusters: The Video Game||YES|
|Guild Wars 2||YES|
|Hamilton’s Great Adventure||YES|
|Jagged Alliance – Back in Action||YES|
|James Bond: Blood Stone||YES|
|James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game||YES|
|Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days||YES|
|Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West||YES|
|Left 4 Dead 2||YES|
|Legend of Grimrock||YES|
|Legends of Pegasus||YES|
|Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes||YES|
|LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4||YES|
|LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues||YES|
|LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars||YES|
|Lost Planet 2||YES|
|Mass Effect 2||YES|
|Mass Effect 3||YES|
|Max Payne 3||YES|
|Might & Magic Heroes VI||YES|
|MTG: Duels of the Planeswalkers||YES|
|Napoleon: Total War||YES|
|Naval War: Arctic Circle||YES|
|Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit||YES|
|Need for Speed: SHIFT||YES|
|Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising||YES|
|Orcs Must Die 2||YES|
|Port Royale 3||YES|
|Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands||YES|
|Pro Evolution Soccer 2010||YES|
|Pro Evolution Soccer 2011||YES|
|Red Faction: Guerrilla||YES|
|Resident Evil 5||YES|
|Section 8: Prejudice||YES|
|Serious Sam 3: BFE||YES|
|Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter||YES|
|SHIFT 2 Unleashed||YES|
|Shogun 2: Total War||YES|
|Sins of the Solar Empire: Rebellion||YES|
|Space Pirates and Zombies||YES|
|Spec Ops: The Line||YES|
|Splinter Cell: Conviction||YES|
|Star Trek Online||YES|
|Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes||YES|
|Star Wars The Force Unleashed II||YES|
|Star Wars: The Old Republic||YES|
|Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty||YES|
|Street Fighter X Tekken||YES|
|Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition||YES|
|Supreme Commander 2||YES|
|The Darkness II||YES|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||YES|
|The Secret World||YES|
|The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom||YES|
|The Sims Medieval||YES|
|Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2||YES|
|Virtua Tennis 4||YES|
|Wargame: European Escalation||YES|
|World of Tanks||YES|
|World of Warcraft: Cataclysm||YES|
|World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria||YES|
This is not a complete list, obviously. This is just many of the more popular (and some obscure) titles that will be playable on a Surface Pro.
This is quite exciting, actually. You may need to keep a charging cord with you when you go out but the thought of needing just a Surface Pro, the Type Cover, and a USB mouse (I use the Microsoft Arc for great portability) just to play PC games on the go is an awesome thing to behold.
I already own a Surface RT and bringing it with me to places and just unfolding the cover out to reveal the keyboard and slapping my Arc’s USB dongle on the side to create a close desktop experience is great. Being able to do that and have a full desktop experience is quite a feat. This is revolutionary stuff, guys.
I reviewed Samsung’s ATIV Smart PC (not the Pro edition) and while it carried full Windows 8, it was unable to play simple games like Diablo 2 and Minecraft. I’m extremely excited about not having those issues with the Surface Pro.
This is a new day for PC gamers. There has been a constant choice between two options: desktop or laptop. Now you can factor in tablets (or hybrids, whatever you want to call them) in the mix for extreme mobility.
To show you an example how easy it is to set up a Surface for when you go out to a buddy’s or just anywhere with a table, here’s a very crappy video (I do not have recording hardware yet!) I made for you all. Enjoy!