Fall of video games 2012

The year 2012 had quite a terrible start with video game releases. I almost thought that I’ll stick to games I bought in 2011 and 2010, because there was nothing on the market that could catch my attention. Luckily, the situation has changed and with autumn 2012 some very nice release hit stores.

There’s this brutally hardcore RPG called “Dark Souls” that finally made it to the petition, thanks to a petition of dedicated fans of the game series. The port to the PC itself was horrible when it comes to technical realization. “Dark Souls” itself is a game that splits the gamer community. The reason for this is the extreme skill level or in other words, you die pretty often in this game. But this what RPGs were about back in the days. Avatars were not slaughtered through hordes of enemies without even taking one single scratch. And that’s what makes this game so special, because it’s a relic from the past that has made it to the present.

Even though it was already in the first quarter of 2012, “The Darkness II” is a game I put my hands on just a few month ago because I was skeptical about it and did not want to pay full price on release day. To a certain degree I was wrong. The game is cool, pretty brutal and catches the flair of the comics very well. It’s worth playing, but I still wouldn’t consider this game an absolute blockbuster or something I would recommend to almost everyone. It’s basically the same like it is with “Dark Souls”, it’s a game for a special gamer audience with a special background. So if you’re into the comics or these type of comics you should get, otherwise you’ll find yourself soaked into an average everyday shooter with a nice demon arm gimmick.

I stick with the word dark, because “Darksiders II” came out in September (if I remember that right) and it served the PC gaming community with solid jump’n’run RPG. Not much has changed in comparison to “Darksiders I”, but that’s not a show stopper, because the predecessor was decently mellow. I personally think, that the controls are much better than the ones you have in “Devil May Cry IV”, but it can’t compete storywise. It’s a fine, solid game that you want to play to leave the day behind and just slaughter. It’s also the complete difference to “Dark Souls”. It’s easy to learn and also easy to handle and weak spots in boss encounters are found quick and you don’t step into an almost frustration like mood like you may find in “Dark Souls”.

Just in case that you find even “Darksiders II” too scary and dark the only option left is a game called “XBlades” that came out a couple of years ago. Bright environments and a very nice looking avatar, if you know what I mean.

 

Also in September the sequel to my beloved “Borderlands” came out. I’ve to admit I absolutely love “Borderlands” and I had pretty high expectations on “Borderlands 2” and I did not get disappointed. But what could have Gearbox Software done wrong if not totally changing everything? They kept everything from “Borderlands 1” that was good and made some fine tuning in “Borderlands 2”. Most importantly, different environments and not only deserts and deserts and deserts. In my opinion, the interface is still a little bit grumpy, but at the end of the day it’s okay and does what it was meant for.

If you’re not into shooting things in the head the yearly update for “Pro Evolution Soccer” and “NBA 2K” stood around the corner. “Pro Evolution Soccer 2013” is a solid development and once again Konami got rid of many bugs I’d to suffer from in “PES 2012”, like many, many, many offsides and weird acting goal keepers. Football itself feel much more fluently in “PES 2013” and the aim assists are very welcome.

With “NBA 2K12” my beloved Seattle Super Sonics made it back to the game without any need for doing unlock games. The menu system is rather confusing than useful and Justin Bieber and his all-star team are, for me personally, a pain in the arse but aside from that “NBA 2K13” looks great, plays very nicely and it simply feels like a good NBA broadcast on TV and transports the atmosphere very well. Slight changes were made to the control, like the two-stick shooting controls, but after a few minutes into the game you get used to it and it does make sense.

As you can see 2012 is no longer that bad as originally expected by me and weird disappointment are barely to find. Even more important, the release of good games does not end. We’ve got the fabulous “Sleeping Dogs”, the return of #47 in “Hitman Absolution” and additionally “Far Cry” is coming out next week and the previews are very promising. I’ll give a short impression on these games in another post that will be up in the near future. In the meantime, game and enjoy!

2012 – The end is nigh

2012 is a terrible year when it comes to video games. There’s not much to expect this year that is worth spending time on. The terrible stats for this year, I started playing “Mass Effect 3” but stopped during mission two. I bought “Syndicate” that I stopped playing during the tutorial because the light effects simply made me sick. Then I got “Street Fighter X Tekken” a few weeks ago and that is the game that I actually play from time to time. Sadly did I have to cancel my “DC Universe Online” subscription, which is mainly due to a lack of time (like always).

One game that catches me from time to time is “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, but even though it’s a giant RPG with tons and tons of stuff to discover it never really soaked me into it. The main reason for this is, for me personally, the missing story or this threat that catches you. I feel most of the time like, ‘Hey, this is your giant RPG world, now go for it!’

Nevertheless, the near future with its upcoming game releases looks dark, if you ask me. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel with great titles like “Far Cry 3” and “Borderlands 2”, but apart from these two, I don’t see myself gaming any new stuff. Maybe, but this is just a maybe, “Max Payne 3” can become a blockbuster. I liked its predecessor, but on the other hand, it wasn’t the perfect game like everyone says.

So what is left this year, almost nothing. Probably the “Torchlight 2” will kick some, but this is “just” an indie title. “Diablo III” actually does not bother me. I don’t know why, but “Diablo II” bored me to death and it looked absolutely terrible. I preferred “Dungeon Siege” back in the days, simply because it was way more charming for the eyes. And in addition, these days, PC gamers also had the uber-RPG called “Baldur’s Gate”. Who the hell needed a stupid Diablo game?

Well, as far as I can see, I’ll spend my time with several other things. Like photography and my Danbos. Like sports. Like progressive masturbation. Like watching stuff on YouTube®. Or I’ll just hang around and do nothing. Or I’ll read a book, if you still know what this is.

Claustrophobia in space

Nobody wants to read good stories, because today’s sensationalism demands it. We want to get shocked. We want to get disgusted. We want to be entertained the hard way. So here’s to you, a terrible, shocking, disgusting and yet entertaining story of mine. No, it’s not. I’ve just got a slight cold and that’s it for today with the weird crap of sensational news.

I’ve recently started playing “Mass Effect 3” right after I’ve reached lvl30 with my Shephard in “Mass Effect 2”. I bought some DLC that I’ve found worth playing for “Mass Effect 2” and finished a lot of side missions and assignments, because I simply wasn’t in the mood to do a second play through. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine and brilliant game, but the story telling in “Mass Effect 2” wasn’t that impressing as it was in its predecessor. For me personally did it include too much fighting and less talking. And good dialogues are the essence that make a RPG top notch.

I’ve got almost three hours played in “Mass Effect 3” and till now I find, that this last episode of this trilogy goes the into the right direction. A meet again with various characters from “Mass Effect 1” and hopefully some characters from part two as well. The crew you’ve got in “Mass Effect 2” was, for my personal taste, a little bit too pale. The whole game was basically a collecting of crew members. Getting them loyal in the loyal missions and finally kicking a reaper’s ass. Period. The plot in the first part of this trilogy was much, much better.

Talking about plots, besides “Mass Effect” did I start playing “Alan Wake” on my media centre PC. I had a first glance of this game years ago on the Xbox 360, which was quite nice. Nowadays, on the PC with all the technical improvements that were made, is the game still impressive and draws an awesome, claustrophobic and scary atmosphere. It’s like some of the best Stephen King novels gathering in this game just to face you with all your inner fears almost forgotten. But why is it always that you run out of ammo and things so quickly? It was an issue that also drove me mad in games like “Silent Hill” and everything similar.

Currently, it’s more the “Mass Effect” that intrigues me and after that, I suppose, I’m going to continue with Mr Wake and clear his fog of amnesia.

Current changes

A few weeks ago I started upgrading and changing several things on my media centre PC. Most importantly, I’ve exchanged the mainboard and the RAM. Another component that’s changed was the graphics card. I switched from a common GeForce GTX 560ti to a GeForce GTX 560ti 448.

The “old” graphics card was a SuperClocked version by EVGA, which had a lot of power but the EVGA Classified Edition of the GeForce 560ti 448 was too intriguing to be resisted to. The EVGA CE uses six power phases and is more a 570 than a 560. The big issue with the 570 is the lack power phases – four instead of five. One of my previous 570 cards died due to this fact during an overclocking session and a slight voltage increase.

I also exchanged the chassis, which looks much more elegant than the old chassis I’ve used and is a little quieter. The only noisy thing that is currently inside is the graphics card, but the cooling components will be exchanged in the very nearby future.

The CPU that was once working in my work PC wandered into the media centre giving me much more core horse power. The CPU is now overclocked but does not cause too much heat, thanks to a stock voltage.

After setting up the system and installing all the things I actually need (tons of games and XBMC) I’m very satisfied with the final result. Everything feels much smoother and the overall gamin performance has increased a lot. The only thing that bothers me currently is the noise level of the system during gaming sessions. But like I said, this is going to be solved.

The reason why I actually did those changes to the system was mainly the new Batman video game. And my plan worked perfectly well. The game’s now finished and I did not notice any weird performance issues, except the rumble with the Joker and his henchmen and the Catwoman fight in the strong room. Those were more PhysX related and my dedicated 9800GT had a little struggle with these fights.

Whatever the case, I’ve finally got a “debugged” system where everything finally works, which was not the case on the old system. For instance, ‘L.A. Noire’ did not even start. XBMC is working smoothly and I had no issues with exporting and importing the media library data.

Of RipJaws and Eden

Previously, I’ve told you guys about my GeForce upgrade on my media centre. The performance boost was, well, kind of okay, but at last I felt it was time for an overall upgrade on the system. I’ ve got this AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition in my PC that I usually use for some work on photos and on the other hand it’s simply a machine I use to manage my mails, websites and these kind of things.

It finally turns out that the processor plugged into this machine gets a little bored so I’ll do an exchange and my AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition moves from my media centre to this working machine. Both system still run on the AMD 7xx chipset and the media centre will now get the upgrade to the AMD 990FX chipset in form of an Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 board.

I’ll put 16GB DDR3 12800 G.Skill RipJaw modules on this system, so that I finally do not have to suffer on a memory bottleneck. I personally think that this is a good foundation for my EVGA GeForce GTX 560ti 448 Cores Classified. I was able to get a performance increase on games like “Batman Arkham City” but the overall system performance became pretty bad during the last year and a half so it’s time to make an upgrade and most importantly get a fresh and new installment of Windows 7.

 ...

I’ve exchanged graphics and sound card drivers a lot in the past and I also had to struggle with several hardware and software issues that also caused new bugs, if you know what I’m saying.

Anyhow, I don’t expect a performance boost of 200 per cent but I’m certain that the overall system performance and feel of smoothness will increase and a lot of crashes and bugs will get fixed with this new setup.

In preparation for this did I also give the new XBMC version (called “Eden”) a try, which is currently out as a beta release. I was a little disappointed. I did a fresh installment and imported my old library to get everything as clean as I could. The movie library did not work as expected. I was missing movie posters. I wasn’t able to get movie information. The new skin itself is not a thing I’m going to be friend with because all the items are drawn much smaller and it looks like as if there’s something missing on the GUI.

I also tried several video add-ons and most of them did not work properly as well. To summarize, this is still a beta version and it does not represent the final product, but I will wait for a long time until I’ll finally do the update from “Dharma” to “Eden”. I’m fine and comfortable with my current media centre software. So why changing a good and running system?

I hope I can get everything done within the next 5-7 days and I’ll keep you informed.

Steamworks’ waiting line

I wouldn’t say, that I’m a completely busy person, but to some degree, my spare time is limited and I hate wasting it. As some of you might know, Steam’s making the holiday sales these days and one can find a lot of great deals to get some excellent games. Like I did…

…but the bad, not to say the worst thing about it, is the terrible overload Steam servers have to suffer. I’ve recently bought “Test Drive Unlimited 2” and it took almost two days to download the game. Actually, this is not totally correct, to download the game that I’m able to start it. After hitting the start button, the game itself started an update procedure with a 1998-like speed of 14KB/s.

patience

Almost every larger game I’ve bought suffers and struggles on the correct usage of bandwidth. I “only” got a 16MBit/s connection, but I rarely hit a download peak of 200KB/s on average. This is totally exhausting, especially when you want to play a game on Steam while you also want to download. Each download gets suspended or paused after starting a game, which can be reversed, but you always have to do it manually.

I had the same problem during last year’s holiday sales even with a 100MB/s connection. Steam is one of the leading platforms, not to THE leading platform in digital game distribution. Why the sodding hell are they so way behind to provide proper bandwidth? It wouldn’t cost that much to and it also will save a lot of my rare free time.

The Upper-Classified

You may remember a post I published by the beginning of December where I stated that totally, totally, totally want the EVGA GeForce 560ti 448 Cores Classified. It finally happened. The card has been shipped and will probably be here with in like one or two days.

I’m totally excited about the abilities of the card. Things like temperature, stability and most importantly overclocking capabilities. I remember the EVGA GeForce 570 DS HD with a pretty similar cooling design, but this one was a pure noise terror. Those very, very few reviews that do exist about the  EVGA GeForce 560ti 448 Cores Classified say, that the noise level is pretty low actually and the temperatures are moderate, too.

This is exactly what I need for my media centre. Silence and undisputed, raw GPU power. To be honest, I buy this graphics card just to be able to play Batman Arkham City on almost maximum details fluently. Yes, there you got him, video game  freak buying hardware for just one game.

Whatever the case, Mrs EVGA GeForce 560ti 448 Cores Classified is on her way to Mr Hardware Freak and as soon as this romance gets hot and wet I’ll leave some details right here in this blog.

(By far the worst final sentence I’ve written here 😀 )

Be patient

The last couple of days and my rare time on my evening got wasted by downloads and updates. It’s nice to have the opportunity to download games from platforms like Steam and everything gets automatically updated, but at one certain point it starts to simply suck.

Firstly, when you have TON of games that start updating at the same time with an amount of data far from good and evil.

Patience

Secondly, when those games that try to updates themselves don’t actually update, but prefer to rot in your data stream with 0.0001KBit/s  and the progress bar doesn’t even think about changing.

Last but not least, after everything got finally updated and patched and whatever else was happening, the game does not work as expected. I don’t want to give names, but I had application crashes, performance issues and stuff like that after my odyssey which already stole my last bit of patience.

There’s no final resume in this post. I just wanted to share my wonderful experiences I had the last couple of days.

The Good, The Bad, The Disappointed

Everything started very promising this year. It started with the frightening and totally awesome “Dead Space 2”, a game that absolutely gives you creeps shouldn’t be played alone in the dark. Well, actually, you MUST play this game alone in the dark, but beware. You may find some embarrassing surprises in your underpants.

After this fright odyssey the year continued with the manliest shooter I’ve played since a long time ago. BULLETSTORM. Yeah, this was just great. Stereotype conversations and one liners and just great action. Explosions. And guns. And explosions. And guns. And destruction. “Bulletstorm” wasn’t by far a brain cracker but it was some great entertainment, worth to be played a again.

“Portal 2” came out and it could exceed my high (extremely HIGH) expectations. It was a short game and till today I haven’t managed to play this awesome game in co-op mode but it was worth every minute. The whole level design, the story, the humor, everything fit. And I was totally surprised what Valve managed to make with the almost nine years old Source engine. “Portal 2” wasn’t looking like a game from the past, it can compete with every other title these days.

Speaking of graphics, “Crysis 2” came out right at the beginning of 2011 and what I did, I denied playing. I said, I only play “Crysis 2” when I have the ability to play it on DX11. Crytek put out a patch with DX11 support and hi-res textures in mid-summer 2011 and I found absolution. My game rig started to sweat by lifting the heavy weight graphics of “Crysis 2”, but hey, there’s a reason why I invest lots of bucks in a high end system and why I’m a passionate PC gamer. Despite all these graphics, “Crysis 2” is a good game, but for me personally, I still prefer its predecessor. Open world and free decisions, you know?

Some great indie games also hit the shelves. One that I totally adored and where I just couldn’t stop playing was “Limbo”. Took me like two or three sessions and I was at the end, or the beginning again. Whatever. “Beat Hazard” was another title that kept me playing for a long time. A download only title called “From Dust” was able to entertain me for several days and nights as well. But what happened next was a series of disappointments.

alice is a bad girl.

It started with the long awaited “Dead Island”, which had more bugs than features. Seriously, the game was almost not playable during the first days and needed lots and lots of patches. My 7.1 noise sound bug hasn’t been fixed till now. It continued with “Rage”, the first id title that, well, I don’t know how to say it. I miss something. It’s not the kind of id game that I actually expected.

My personal heart’s desire “Alice: Madness Returns” will be discussed later in another blog entry.

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” was a game that is basically good, but it offers lots of moments of frustration as well. I guess, this is the kind of game that you love or hate. At the moment, I’m somewhere in between.

Biggest fail and disappointment of 2011 is definitely “Duke Nukem Forever”. They just should’ve canceled the game or buried it somewhere really, really deep. This shooter is not old school, it’s just ridiculously old-fashioned. I mean, what the f#+k? Seriously? Why? I got the “Balls of Steel Edition” and you totally need balls of steel and also nerves of steel to compete with this terrible game.

I was so happy, that “Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition” made everything right. There’s light, at the end of the tunnel.

But when I take a look on titles like “Battlefield 3” with its evil companion called Origin or the blurry texture fest called “Skyrim” I see black for the end of the game year 2011. My last hope lies on “Batman Arkham City”

DiRT 3 graphic issues

Some you may remember the post according the graphic issues I had running DiRT 3 in split-screen mode. The solution posted in this post was wrong. The cause for the weird shadow and also the over exposure weren’t Fraps. The issue appears while having “Ambient occlusion” on switch “High”

When you switch to “low” or “ultra” the errors in split-screen mode disappear. Of course will the ultra setting cause a performance decrease, especially on entry and midrange systems. Consider lowering the shadow details if you want to keep ambient occlusion on ultra settings. It could make a difference of almost 15 – 20 per cent if you’re running the game in 1920×1080.