All About DJ_Lae
17Jan 13It doesnt feel like that long ago I got my first custom PC. I picked out parts based on a $500 budget and the end result was great. Based on that budget, however, it didnt exactly age well. Right now it wont play any game released in the past year on anything higher than low, and even then its a toss-up whether it will run at a decent framerate or not (Guild Wars 2, for example, bogs down with any large number of players on screen). So, that leads us to new PC time. I kept the old one afloat for the past year by putting an SSD in there. And that helped a lot for general use. Boot up times dropped drastically, Windows itself became really snappy and the computer because a pleasure to use again. But a lowly solid state drive can only do so much.
This time around I wanted to go a good deal bigger than before. I proved my point at the time that a more than functional gaming PC could be built for $500, then not much more than a PS3 (and to be fair, it runs almost every console port at far higher settings than a PS3). But I have no need of that this time, and I can also claim a small amount of my PC through benefits. So where I may have gone mid-tier, I ended up going mid/upper tier. I could have built a faster computer, certainly, but I feel the corners I cut were acceptable.
The end result:
Intel i5-3570K, Cooler Master Hyper Evo
AS Rock Z77 Extreme 4
16GB Corsair Vengeance (low profile, black)
3GB XFX Radeon 7970
750W Antec HCP
Corsair 600T (white)
120GB Patriot Pyro SE
1TB Western Digital Black
1.5TB/2TB Western Digital Greens
The SSD and Green drives are carryovers from my old computer. I did a fresh install via the Windows 8 upgrade (I do not care much for Windows 8 so far but thats a whole other post). I havent had a chance to do much benchmarking or any gaming, but the computer is relatively quiet and very fast. Noise initially worried me as my previous computer was mostly quiet (Antec Sonata III) but its only a tiny bit louder with the fans on low, and I dont think Ill have to turn them up until I do some overclocking. Even once that 7970 kicks up to full speed the computer isn't any louder, which is a nice change. The old one was a tiny bit quieter at idle, but got noticeably louder while gaming. This one doesn't get much louder under load.
Poking through my old blog posts makes me realize that my old computer was only actually three and a half years old. I could have sworn it was four or five - I guess it just feels like it aged worse than it did.
4Jul 12I've seen a lot of laments, complaints, and general whining on forums the past year or two about the state of gaming. How games were so much better back in yesteryear, how creativity is completely absent from current developers, how certain genres simply don't exist any more or instead have taken over the entire industry (and caused a complete, catastrophic meltdown of course).
This, of course, is bull**bleep**: rose tinting at its finest, selective attention, or just plain ignorance.
Now don't get me wrong, I have my share of complaints about certain games, as obviously not every game created is a gem. But this has always been the case - every gaming system has a relatively small number of great games, a bunch of mediocre filler, and then some absolute crap. This is true of everything from the 2600 and Intellivision through the SNES/Genesis and on to the last several generations. The same is also true of copycat genres, where right now people like to point at Call of Duty for ruining gaming. Has Call of Duty's success resulted in a sea of me-too gritty first person clones? Sure. There are easily more generic shooters this generation than there ever have been before, from your Medal of Honors to your Homefronts and MAGs and on the sci-fi side, Killzone to Resistance and more.
Is this game to blame for the downfall of gaming as we know it?
I don't like the series but good on people if they buy and play something they enjoy.
This is not a new phenomenon. Do people forget past generations? The PS2 had a sea of weak JRPGs and character action games. The PS1 was also a dumping ground for RPGs. And the SNES and Genesis and even NES suffered from crappy platformer overload to a degree that makes Call of Duty seem saintlike in comparison.
The one area where I will concede gaming could use some work is with nickel and diming, from DLC (amount, pricing, and release schedules) to online passes and preorder bonuses. On the other hand, I don't miss aspects of previous generations - insanely high pricing on cartridge based systems ($120 Chrono Trigger, anyone?) and a much longer period of time for prices to fall, for one.
Yes, DLC could use some work.
Right now gamers benefit hugely from quick price drops - some more than others as I know there are many people who like to buy games on release day whether they play them immediately or not. But $20 drops within a month are common, $40 off not unheard of and other than the odd Nintendo or Blizzard game you won't see any game still at full price a year after it releases, if it can even last six months. Preorder price deals are just as easy to score, whether it's ten bucks off or twenty bucks off, either in gift cards or full on instant credit. Gaming's never been this inexpensive.
There are also two (or more) price tiers that result in a huge variety of gaming genres - on the PS3 and 360 we have PSN and XBLA releases in the $5-$15 range, smaller games that can afford to be more experimental. The 360 also has its indie scene, which while lacking some of the quality of the fantastic PC indie library certainly makes up for it in variety. These are not full fledged $60 retail titles, of course, but the type of people who whine in those threads don't seem like the ones to care whether they're playing a big name AAA budget game or some crazy and original proof of concept some guy made in his basement during the evenings for a year. And the sheer number of these indie games and their variety is mind-boggling.
The Indie scene is more vibrant and more varied than any past generation.
It's that variety that makes me completely question anyone who longs so loudly for past years. There are so many under the radar releases that if anyone who's into a particular genre cannot find new games, they simply aren't looking. Even the JRPG, which has seen a massive decline in popularity (and quality) in the past generation, is still alive and well on the DS and PSP, mostly through a sea of generic grind-happy stuff. But I get the sense it's that type of archaic throwback that would appeal to those who complain most. The 'purist' gamer, maybe, the Japan-centric ones who automatically view anything developed in the west with disdain, as the complaint threads almost always link the Call of Duty decline with western gaming's influence.
Links to the past are easier than they've ever been before, too. Competent to great emulators exist for almost every platform you can think of, from smoothing out PS1 graphics to playing Wii games at 1080p. Good old Games and other digital distribution services on the PC make it easy (and cheap) to pick up some of the classics. Steam sales toss out games at rock bottom prices. And even on the mobile side iOS is home to some great ports of handheld games from Plants vs Zombies to Phoenix Wright that don't suffer from a lack of buttons.
Sure, I complain a lot about the games I play. I complain because I love gaming and I'd like to see certain mistakes corrected. I like discussion. And I love the current crop of games we've got - the last few years have served up some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've ever had, whether we're talking sim-style racing in Forza 4, a weird blend of Zelda and twin stick shooter in The Binding of Isaac, old school tough platforming in VVVVVV, WRPG near perfection in The Witcher 2, 3D platforming bliss in the Mario Galaxies, and I could keep going on because this generation is a goddamn goldmine.
I just feel sorry for those people who cannot see or refuse to see that. They're missing out a ton of great games for the sake of stubbornness or ignorance.
25Jun 12Borrowed from another forum, but I always leave things out on lists like this - there's just too many great games out this generation. It makes the frequent threads in a lot of places complaining that gaming's been dumbed down or nowhere near the quality of 8/16bit consoles or 'the worst generation ever' seem kind of insane. I think games are better than they ever have been, and I've been gaming since the mid 80s.
Batman Arkham Asylum. If you asked me to pick ONE game of the generation this would be it. I've played it through at least half a dozen times, probably more. Arkham City is good too, certainly, but it's merely more of the same and in many ways loses impact in its shift to a larger open world with sidequests. Arkham Asylum is tight, beautifully designed, paced well, does a Metroidvania type ability system in a smart way, has simple but extremely satisfying combat, fantastic voice acting, clever unlockables and so on. Its only real flaw is a weak final battle but oh well.
Borderlands. This one is weird because in many ways I think it's a janky game but it's oh so much fun to play I don't really care. The pacing is all over the place, the story is terrible outside of Tannis' recordings, and the 'millions of weapons!' thing just resulted in a ton of weapons that look and act almost the same. But shooting dudes in the head and popping them like gourds, unleashing a rapid fire explosive machine gun into Crawmerax while enjoying a minute-long bleed out and best of all - seeing the bastard die and then rain weapons everywhere. You know you've mined pretty much everything there is to get out of a game when the game's best loot is so mediocre compared to your own loadout that you just leave three quarters of it lying on the ground.
Forza 4. And I guess by extension Forza 3 and Forza 2, although each of them has made the previous game obsolete. But there's nothing better for sim style racing on consoles (sorry GT5, you're mostly **** and Forza 4's car selection, rivals mode, and improved painting options just made for a hell of an experience. My only regret is that I haven't played as much of it as I'd like.
Project Gotham Racing 4. Part of me likes this better than any other racing game this generation. It still looks beautiful, especially the weather effects. The car sounds embarass Forza 4's. It manages such a perfect blend of arcade and sim that it makes it hard to go back to pure arcade racers. And if anyone hasn't played it yet, it's also dirt cheap.
Fallout 3. I think that New Vegas is the better game, but I've played a lot more Fallout 3. I blame New Vegas' bugs I guess. Either way I've got 1500 achievement points in the 360 version and got pretty close in the PC version before being interrupted by something else. Some of its DLC is pretty flaky (Anchorage and Zeta are boring and way too combat focused) but Point Lookout is fantastic and highlights what the game does best - atmosphere, crazy characters, and VATSing people in the head with a shotgun and laughing at the gibs that fly away in slow motion.
Bioshock. Bioshock 2 is the better game but Bioshock did it first and I give it props for that. It's still something I don't really want to play through again because it's such a unique experience that I feel it would lose something the second time through (plus after playing Bioshock 2 its shooting just feels archaic). But its voicework, story, and especially atmosphere made for something truly special. Would you kindly indeed.
Left 4 Dead. Again the second game is technically better but the first just feels more special somehow. Unlike Bioshock I'm not even sure how I'd describe this. Little things, like having to cock your shotgun if you reload it from empty, a slightly different feel on melee hits, a tighter selection of special infected and a more straightforward Game Director just made the game more fun for me. The second is fun too, certainly, and things like the three-shot assault rifle and (yum) desert eagle are sorely missed whenever I play the first game. Best zombie game of the generation, and crowning witches never gets old.
Rock Band 3. Like Forza's entries the third Rock Band made the first two obsolete - but in a good way as you can play almost all of their entries. As a testament to my love of this series I need only look at my collection - I have probably ten physical Rock Band discs, from Beatles to (blech) Green Day, Lego, and the various track packs from country to heavy metal and the random ones too. Including actual DLC I've bought I think my Rock Band 3 track list is in the 400-500 region, though I'd have to fire up the game to see for sure. Anything I can import I have.
Lego games. These are not good games. I know this. They have pretty awful level design, are too easy outside of some obtusely designed puzzles, and each game is basically the same grind for studs, multipliers, and characters. But I love them. They make me feel like a kid again. I've played almost every single one to completion, unlocking everything in the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones and coming close in Pirates, Harry Potter and Batman (though I think Lego Batman is a legitimately poor Lego game).
Sacred 2. I hated this game when I first played it. I love that it's one of the few console games that runs at 1080p but holy **** does it have some awful art design. Your selection of characters consists of some of the most idiotic looking things I've ever seen. Its customization system with skills and augments and abilities is incredibly awkward to use and so poorly explained by the game that it doesn't inform you that one skill (blacksmithing) is actually broken and does nothing and that everything is permanent and memorizing too many runs can actually backfire by increasing cooldown times. Even the weapon and armor pieces contain an incredible number of modifiers, from cooldown times to move speed to elemental weapon damage or skill increases. Like Demon Souls, you pretty much have to read up about the best way to customize your character before you even start or else you could find yourself 30 levels in with the most useless character imaginable. But the game is fun in spite (or because?) of it, offering such a vast open world with massive towns, quests galore and one of the few local co-op hack and slash RPGs out there.
Valkyria Chronicles. Every site lists this as a JRPG, which it's really not. It's half action game, half strategy game, and is one of the few excessively Japanese games that I've actually been able to stomach. It looks beautiful, the strategy is simple but fun (and more fun when you level up scouts to the point where the game breaks), and the story is cliche but still amusing. It also has many reasons to replay, bonus missions, hidden weapons and so on. Also, John DiMaggio with his Randy routine.
The Professor Layton games. I never really got into the Phoenix Wright series, the writing didn't do much for me and the 'guess the evidence' bits got kind of old fast, but Layton's kept me interested the entire time. I love the art style, the music, and all of the puzzles that aren't matchstick puzzles. It's not a genre particularly well represented these days and no one has managed to make a good knockoff of it yet outside of (maybe) Puzzle Agent. The Professor and Luke and everyone being silly and asking you to solve their puzzle before they tell you anything makes the games charming. "You know, this reminds me of a puzzle..."
Super Mario Galaxy (and 2). Unlike Fallout 3 and Bioshock I have a hard time picking between the two Galaxy games. The second is the better game, but I hate its crappy Mario 3 style level selection and the Mario head ship. The first game also has a more interesting story to its benefit. BUT, the second game doesn't have manta racing or garbage clearing, which were utterly godawful. So I'm torn. Either way, the platforming is fantastic, the levels are imaginative and fun and you're never doing the same thing all the time, with the second game in particular throwing so many twists of the Mario formula at you that you simply cannot get bored. And holy **** is the music fantastic.
Terraria. Like Minecraft, but fun! For creating stuff Terraria obviously isn't as good but there's more to find when you're exploring and more game elements to give you goals, crazy world events, secret bosses, and a ton of interesting items to find or craft.
Mass Effects. I like the story of the first the best but the structure of the second. The third is a good game but not up to the standard of the first two (and I didn't hate the ending like everyone else seemed to). I think I like the games mostly for the interesting sci-fi world they created, which is hard to do as everything gets compared to Star Wars or Star Trek and usually have few defining features of their own. But characters like Liara and Garrus are memorable as hell and moments like fem-Shep (the only right Shepard) leaping out of the pit after **** Saren up and the music swells...it's moments like that where I love playing games so much.
Binding of Isaac. I really like this game and I don't really know why. It's pretty maddening to play as it's a Flash game and chugs like mad whenever a lot of enemies and projectiles are on screen. It's got an extremely offputting design with you finding items like your mom's used pad or bra and powerups from pee to a coat-hanger (haha abortion jokes) and enemies that fire lasers from theri vagina-like bellies...it's just twisted. It plays like a twin stick shooter infused with old-school Zelda, it's hard as **** and it's also incredibly fun and rewarding.
Tales of Vesperia. Best JRPG this generation, although this isn't great praise given how most of them have been utter crap Some of the story beats are silly and the way you need to follow a FAQ if you don't want to miss any side content is utterly maddening, but the characters are a lot of fun and the main character Yuri is unique in that he's a JRPG hero that isn't whiny or weak or obnoxious. He does kind of look like a chick but the similarities end there. Combat is quick in typical Tales fashion, but this game just works where I usually can't stand the Tales games. I think the cast of characters is the main reason for that, and having a story that doesn't trickle at a glacial pace helps too. And despite being too well hidden the side content is a lot of fun as are little perks like unlocking titles for characters (some of which have alternate costumes) or finding hidden events during boss battles.
I'm sure I'll think of more after I hit submit. I do like posting about games that I hate but there's also a LOT of stuff that I love. I strongly believe that gaming's better than it's ever been, even with little issues like on-disc DLC, preorder bonuses and so on.
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