The State of PC Gaming

The cosmic PC stars were in alignment with my new PC purchase. Newegg deals, Steam deals, and loads of free time to tinker with it. So far it’s been far more than I expected. I’ll layout the specs for those in the know to judge.

Coming from this

  • Core 2 Duo E6600 @2.4ghz
  • Asus K8N Deluxe
  • 2gig Corsair XMS2 Pro
  • Nvidia 8800GTX 768mb

To this

  • Quad Core i7 920 @ 2.8ghz
  • MSI X58 Pro
  • 4gig OCZ DDR3
  • ATI HD 4870 1gig

Ok so there’s not a huge difference in graphics, but damn is this thing faaast. I wasn’t born yesterday btw, I know that all PCs run fresh and smoot at the start. Get your AV software, copy over backups, and bog down the hard drives and cycle the RAM, it’ll slow down. But damn this is faaast! And in my book relatively cheap. My previous machine cost me around $1,600+, this one was around $1,000 with shipping (thanks Newegg).

So far I’ve just been marevelling at how smooth things are usage wise. Things that’d push my old CPU to 40-50% are running under 15%. And yes, there’s no reason to whatsoever, but I’m going to OC this mofo till the motherboard screams. Ok, not much. 3.4ghz maaybe 3.6ghz if I feel lucky. Cooling is running well with this case. Two massive fans. Very quiet. Had to upgrade my old system due to heating issues, it was never put together right (not my fault /Lando).

Not to mention that I picked up a too large for my desk 25″ 1080p LCD. Once the drivers were installed (yes, I guess the day of using the discs that come with hardware still exist) I found I could use every PC resolution I’d ever heard of and more I hadn’t. To my excitement, the games I’ve tried run smoothly, all save Crysis. 1680×1050 for that sumbitch. Still, the sheer terror or a zombie swarm is ever glorified in the beauty of pixel squishing.

Enough about the hardware. I came to talk about what I’ve been using it for. Games. Lots and lots of games. I’ve dropped over $100 on new games off of Steam. The $10 Orange Box sale just created a domino effect of awesomeness. With this weekend’s Left 4 Dead deal making a strong case for me to support the platform even more, I went neck deep in PC game purchases.

  • Mass Effect
  • Zeno Clash
  • Peggle Nights
  • Garry’s Mod
  • Killing Floor (pre-order)

And add to that other games I picked up outside of Steam’s store, the list goes far longer than I care to bullet. I’m just going to give a few short impressions on each game I’ve played so far. As I go through them fully you can expect some solid full fledged reviews on a few.

Note: all screen shots are in 1920×1080.

Mass Effect: I couldn’t believe I was buying this game again. It must have been the late night impulsiveness of the Steam floating banners, and possibly the Star Trek trailer on the TV. I got it, and I’m glad I did. It’s a far better game than the console version I played over a year ago. The menus are smarter, the hacking is more intuitive, the aiming is more fluid, and the damn thing runs and looks great. As long as Mass Effect 2 is out on PC around the same time you can guess which platform I’ll be getting it on. Even then I might wait if it isn’t.

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Zeno Clash: Such a weird game. I’m mildly disturbed. From what I gather from the story so far you killed big bird and now her/his adoptive children (your brothers and sisters) are out for your blood. The shooting mechanics aren’t much to right home about, but the combat is brutal and fast paces. It’s viscious and a bit comical in the way the rag doll physics launches enemies. At times its fun, others frustrating and annoying. I’ll have to finish it to get the full effect. That’s if I can stomach more Preying Mantis Nipple Monsters. You read that exactly right.

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Peggle Nights: I have Peggle Deluxe. I haven’t found the email that had my license key (got it for $2.50 off of Popcap’s site instead of Steam for $5.00) so I decided to buy something new. I’m just as addicted as I was before. Except this time I’m aware of my problem and the other games have drawn me towards them in some odd form of subconscious intervention. I’d like to say I wasn’t playing it while I wrote this but I can’t.

Crysis Warhead: I liked Crysis enough. I wasn’t blown away by anything other than the graphics though. I like this one a little more, but I’m going to be honest. I’m stuck on the first objective. I’ve killed everyone but a tank and I can’t find any rockets. Not quite sure what I’m doing. I hate open shooters like this. If you don’t hold my hand I will wander and die. Or if I have too many missions I will get lost. I’m the kind of gamer who wants to shoot every enemy in existance and then run off. Not complete objectives and high tail it. Not doing it for me in the overall FPS department.

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F.E.A.R. 2: I didn’t find the first too scary. Except one part. When my PC crashed. This time around no crash. I’ve gotten used to their attempts at surrealness and it’s just not the same ride as before. I’m playing on normal and it’s too easy. Setting the submachine gun to 3 spray bursts let’s you take out a room without reloading. The valiant and cunning AI of the first is just as dead as everyone in this game. Graphics are pretty nice. Still seems more like I’ve seen it before from playing Monolith’s past games.

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Mirror’s Edge: I never knew I had tourette’s syndrome until I played this on 360. Now having that game under my belt the PC version comes as a nice breeze. The graphics are absolutely stunning, running smoothly and the PhysX stuff added in is incredible. You can interact with everything, and even use some of it to your advantages against enemies. Aiming is also a lot easier on the PC, something I thought was terrible on consoles.

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Brutal game. Awesome game. I venture to say this game is probably better at being a game than the movie is at being a movie. Raven software has added so many good ideas to the combat and gameplay that it scares you to think this is a movie tie in. If they’d been given an ample budget and more time for polish this would be a God of War and Ninja Gaiden rival. Definitely a topic that I will expand upon on completion.

Shot 1 | Shot 2 | Shot 3 | Shot 4

I haven’t touched one of my consoles in a fortnight. Could I gradually be making the switch? I bought a new 360 controller (wired) for my PC since my 360’s lithium batteries no longer hold charge. Could my console gaming days be at an end? Naaah. Just taking a break. I get new shoes and I walk more, doesn’t mean I won’t drive. Although I can’t really remember what new console game I was looking forward too…Uh oh. Maybe I am a – *gulp* – PC gamer.