Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome to the Future (Present?)

You may have wondered where I’ve been lately. Maybe you haven’t. In either case, I can tell you it’s been enjoying the hell out of Star Wars: The Old Republic (as evidenced by my Ratpr page). But before that, during beta, it was a different story.

After receiving my beta key in late October and downloading the client, I fired up the game to see how well it would work on my system. The game promptly greeted me with a critical error. It confirmed my fears; the computer I built in 2005 would not run this game I planned on playing for the next several years.

Yes, 2005. There was a reason, however, why I had not upgraded. When I build a system I always go for a step down from top-of-the-line. To me, this is the best way to ensure you buy quality components that will last for several years at non-extravagant prices. However, when I built my last system it was right before major components switched chipsets, sockets, and slots. I bought a top quality single-core CPU before dual and quad core CPUs were the norm. I bought a nice motherboard and AGP video card before PCI-E became the best card slot. I bought a big 19-inch CRT monitor when LCDs were still in their infancy. Trying to upgrade any one of these components meant upgrading the other, and at that point, it’s almost easier to go for a new system entirely.

I could still get life out of my system, though. Games like Team Fortress 2, Mass Effect 2, Dead Space 2, and Portal 2 all ran well (with the exception of long load times) and looked great. They worked because they all were optimized extremely well, and finding a well-optimized game is hit and miss.

Knowing Star Wars: The Old Republic would not run on my system, I took advantage of Black Friday and picked up components for a computer of the future (or what actually is the present). I won’t bore you with the exact details (if you want to know exactly what I picked up, feel free to ask me on Twitter), but the main highlights are a Quad-Core i5 2500k CPU, GeForce GTX 570 video card, 120GB SSD, and 8GB of 1600Hz RAM. Simply said, the new system runs like a shark swimming through the ocean; fast and streamlined.

The best-looking game out right now, Battlefield 3, runs flawlessly, and with a SSD load times are never longer than a few seconds. But, like a true PC gamer, I’m dying to see what the first Crysis looks like on max settings.

With a new system means new games, or rather all the older games I’ve missed out on playing over the years through a combination of not running on my computer, or not having time due to World of Warcraft. This includes things like the entirety of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, both Crysis games, both Dragon Age games, the Modern Warfare series, the last two Need for Speed games, The Witcher 1 and 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Fallout New Vegas, and lots more.

My plan is to post a small critique on each game after finishing them. I’m not considering these a review in an official capacity, but instead just a write-up of what I thought worked or didn’t work.
That also brings me to my excitement for 2012. There have been several impactful years for gaming, especially PC gaming, in the last decade or so. In 1999 we saw the release of things like Everquest, Counter-Strike, and Unreal Tournament. In 2004, games like Half-Life 2 and World of Warcraft became a reality. BioShock, The Orange Box, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Crysis, and Mass Effect all took gaming to a new height in terms of story-telling and technology in 2007. I feel like with the release games like Mass Effect 3 and BioShock Infinite, 2012 is going to be one of these watershed years.

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