Category Archives: Games

DIY next-gen gaming: part 3

Continuing my slow build of a powerful new PC gaming rig, this month it’s SSD time.

SSDs are still hugely expensive compared to traditional hard drives but they are at least within affordable limits, particularly when you factor in the speed benefits. Most importantly, you can finally get a decent 256GB SSD for under £100, which wasn’t possibly last year.

Given that Titanfall and Wolfenstein are both 50GB installers, a 256GB drive for gaming is really the absolute minimum – and note that I’m using this drive purely for gaming, I’m not installing the OS on it (that’s on a separate, smaller SSD I bought last year).

So, having rummaged about it seemed that the best option by far was to go for the Samsung 840 EVO 256GB SSD, which over at Amazon.co.uk at the time of purchasing was about £93 (it appears to have gone back up to £98 now, so keep an eye on it). This is for the bare bones version, so it doesn’t include a mounting bracket or cables. Handily I already had a spare SATA cable, and I don’t even bother to mount SSDs properly – I just have them sitting loose in the case. One of the benefits of a drive with no moving parts.

One thing to note is that with my current build I can’t get maximum performance from the SSD, as my motherboard has an old version of SATA. Once I get a new mobo later in the year I’ll actually unlock up to twice the data rate, which means this new SSD is nicely future-proofed, and I’m not even seeing its full potential yet.

Thoughts, anybody?

DIY next-gen gaming: part 2

OK, time to get started on my new system build. As mentioned last time, I’m spreading the process out through the year so as to keep things affordable and take advantage of upcoming developments.

To kick off I’m taking a look at the computer’s power supply. I had originally intended to include a new SSD in this phase but prices seem to be falling all the time, so I’ll give that another month.

PSU – Corsair CX 600, £52

Ideally I wouldn’t be getting a new power supply but my old one died a couple of  months back and I’m currently borrowing one from a colleague. Time to get that back to him.

PSUs are fairly cheap. Having compared various review sites such as Hexus, Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware, plus ratings on pcpartpicker, I’ve ended up eyeing the Corsair CX 600.

With CPU and GPU efficiency improving all the time I could probably get away with less than 600w but it’s best to stay future proof, especially as I run multiple drives and peripherals. It can all add up.

Corsair do a nice 3 year warranty even on these cheaper models which is reassuring.

I went for the semi modular version, which means I won’t have any unnecessary cables flapping about.

It should arrive on Monday so I’ll let you know how the install goes.

DIY next-gen gaming: part 1

Barring some determined technical work from the likes of CD Projekt RED in The Witcher 2 and DICE’s remarkable Battlefield 3+ Frostbite engine, gaming has been in a bit of a rut for a few years now, thanks to the aging PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles holding everything back. Sure, there have been some incremental advances in Unreal games, with Arkham City looking noticeably fancier than Arkham Asylum, but we haven’t seen the seismic shifts that pushed gaming along in the 90s and 2000s.

Now, at last, the PS4 is out, unlocking a new development ceiling for cross-platform devs. This will also inevitably drive a bunch of PC gamers to upgrade their rigs to keep pace and fairly rapidly outstretch the console’s capabilities. Including myself.
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Batman Arkham Knight trailer

Rocksteady are making another Bats game! Set in Gotham itself! There’s a batmobile! Conroy is back!

All good news. However, hidden amongst the reveal info is that Gotham has been evacuated due to the Scarecrow’s antics, which makes me sad. Gotham is only Gotham City if people live there – otherwise it’s just an even larger prison scenario.

I want a Batman game in which there’s a living, breathing city. Where the city isn’t in the verge of total collapse. I want to play as Bruce Wayne for some of it, using my detective skills and playboy persona to uncover information Batman wouldn’t be privy to.

Far less interesting is a deserted city designed purely as a playground for game mechanics, with a contrived setting to avoid awkward ratings issues around civilians getting harmed.

That’s the other thing – to be heroic, Batman needs some actual people to save. Asylum was in an asylum, City was in a giant prison, and now it sounds like Gotham itself will be empty of normal people. Without people to save the hero aspect gets lost, leaving Batman as an angry man beating up mentally ill criminals.

Anyway, it’ll still be ace to play, because Rocksteady are masters of game mechanics.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons review

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A few of the thoughts prompted by playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons:

  1. Perhaps we should have another child. Having a sibling looks lovely.
  2. This is a bit like playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, with the annoying combat removed and greater depth to the story.
  3. The variety of locations and the sense of being taken on a real journey reminds me of Deus Ex, oddly, even though the games are in no way alike.
  4. Oh. Maybe I’ll reconsider #1.
  5. Ah, it’s a proper fairy tale, then. No Disneyfication here.

It’s a game that’s very difficult to discuss without spoiling it. The general mechanics involve single player coop, controlling two characters simultaneously, one with the left stick and one with the right stick (a gamepad is pretty essential). It’s never particularly difficult, other than the mental leap required for that dual control – a splitting of your brain which is quite fascinating to experience, and which reminded me a little of learning to use both hands independently while playing piano.

The game is utterly charming, remarkably dark within its whimsical setting, and uses its control mechanism as an integral part of its story in a move that is hugely exciting and unique, both to gaming as a medium and to this game specifically.

Brothers is a one-off. Play it immediately.

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