Thursday, March 01, 2007

Byte: Fools and their money, part II

The new PC arrived yesterday, and I had the dubious pleasure last night of setting everything up again - reinstalling WoW, Burning Crusade, Steam, putting on all the internet security before hooking back up to my wireless network and all that jazz. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the machine - though I did have a few teething troubles last night - three blue screens of death within the first couple of hours, though I put that down to me trying to do seventeen different things at once with the machine - downloading 250MB worth of WoW patches, plus downloading DEFCON and Race from Steam and fiddling about with the SLI settings - all at once.

I haven't been able to give the machine a real chance to stretch its muscles yet - Oblivion whinged about a DirectX dll file and refused to install properly, even after I patched it and took the file directly off the install disk and put it in the right directory; though given that I, somewhat heretically, think that the game's terribly overrated and a big fat waste of space anyway, I'm not too bothered. I had similar trouble with my old favourite, Jedi Academy. Maybe the game's just too old, as I couldn't get a frame rate out of it. I'll have to get a copy of Win98 off eBay and run it under a Virtual Machine or something, unless it's just something silly like a driver problem. Vampire: Bloodlines did look pretty good when I had a very brief run with it, but I need to dig out the latest patch before I get too far back into that. I'm tempted to hit Game today and find something that will give the SLI a good workout. Supreme Commander is a possibility, but I'm not mad on RTS, and despite having quite liked it when I previewed it in Seattle last year, I don't think I'd play it enough to want to spend £30 on it.

I allegedly have a review copy of Armed Assault coming in the post, and it will be interesting to see just how high I can push the draw distances on that. Operation Flashpoint at the maximum settings was capable of bringing my old Athlon 64 3500+ to its knees, so I doubt that even with my new rig I'll be able to max out Armed Assault. Though that might have just as much to do with the quality of the coding, as well just how advanced the graphics engine is. I'm getting quite excited about the prospect of Crysis at the end of the month, and Unreal Tournament 3 is now a much more mouth-watering prospect - though we do have to wait a little longer for that one.

WoW looks predictably stunning - I spent about an hour last night flying around Netherstorm in my newly acquired Flight Form (I hit level 68 on Monday night), and the design in there is absolutely incredible. It dwarfs the grandeur of the other areas. I will post screenshots on Flickr at some point, because even if you have no interest in playing the game, you have to see Netherstorm - it's absolutely amazing, especially when you can push the draw distances, textures and the anti-aliasing right up to the maximum. (though admittedly, you don't need to have a rig as good as my new one to do that - the game is quite forgiving from technical perspective)

I did have an amusing moment last night - I flew into a cliff face in Hellfire on my way to Netherstorm when chatting to a friend, and some uppity little level 60 Undead Mage must have thought I was AFK and had a go. So I finished typing my sentence, dive-bombed him, popped a health potion to heal me back up to full and Feral Charged him in Dire Bear form. After seeing me bash three-quarters of the way down his health bar in under three seconds, he Frost Nova'd me and scarpered on his mount for the nearest town, which unfortunately was a little too close for me to risk following him into the middle of it. Which was probably the most sensible thing he could have done really. But the sneak and coward should have taken the smacketh down that was due to him for trying to get an AFK. (AFK, in PvP parlance standing for "A Free Kill", rather than "Away From Keyboard") Next time he's toast.
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