Saturday, July 02, 2005

Still Blown Away

I went ahead
and re-played a bit of Half-Life 2 and, man, it is still absolutely breathtaking.

The sequences are very familiar to me, but not in the typical "god I've played this section a million times I'm so bored with it" way that many videogames evoke. Rather, it's familiar in a "I love this movie, ooh, this is a good part, my favorite part's coming up, watch out for that" kind of way, with the added bonus of interactivity.

I also love cranking up my visual settings. Everything goes High and the resolution goes to 1600x1200. On my 22" monitor this looks spectacular. It's still the best-looking game I've seen to date. And even at the soul-crushingest graphic settings, it remains playable, albeit just a little hinky.

When I would do the same trick with Far Cry, to contrast, I'd get the good ol' slideshow effect.

Bumping down my HL-2 settings to the point where the actual-game-playing performance is best really only requires halving the resolution and maybe dropping the AA from 6x to 4x.

At 800x600 the game remains a visual treat. And all the great gameplay aspects function as intended (higher resolutions tend to slow the physics a little, or make enemies, especially headcrabs, harder to track). The physics engine and the gravity gun are implemented perfectly, more than just mere flavor or toys. The animations on everything are perfect. The gunships moving through the sky are balletic. The Combine, fodder they are, never lose their menace.

It even took me a few minutes of looking off into the distance to realize that the clipping plane really wasn't that far away at all, and everything beyond was completely fogged out - and I had hardly noticed. Not only that, but I didn't want to notice.

The sum total of this game immerses me completely.

In fact, the one thing that got to me, the only thing, was the cliffhanger ending. Whether planned from the beginning or thrown in as a way of getting product out the door, it's the only time during the whole game that I felt like I was playing a videogame.

At least Valve is throwing us a bone in the form of Aftermath. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

Oh, and if anybody's curious what my system specs are, just let me know. Posting them before I know there's interest seems like virtual dick-waving.

Man, almost got through a post without cursing.


Anonymous said...

How old are you? 12?

Corvus said...

Wow, you've got trolls! How lucky are you?

I'd be interested in hearing about your, obviously impressive, system specs. So, get with the waving of the metaphoric manhood.

Deacon said...

Troll, I feel thy sting.

I thought it might be pertinent to the post to tell people system specs, but didn't want to come off as bragging. On the other hand, posting specs does seem to make a difference to some people when talking about how good certain games look or how they perform. They often want to know what you're using to get such results.

Or were you referring to my cursing?

Wow, really vague insults DO work.

Yes. Yes, I am 12. Because I have an opinion.

Okay, that's enough justifying my own website.

And, Corvus, they really aren't that impressive. Not anymore, at least (stupid ATI, releasing new graphics cards).

I'm running an AMD Athlon64 3Ghz with 1 Gb RAM and a Radeon 9600 256 Mb. I'm pretty sure I've got an Audigy 2 ZS or something, I'm not overly concerned with audio - can't afford the whole slew of speakers that would make it zing anyway. My display is a Diamond Plus 200 22" refurbished monitor. For storage I've got a 160 Gb SATA drive and a 250 Gb IDE.

The problems with the setup: I like the Radeon's performance so far, though it has been way outstripped for at least a year. Even when I first bought it it certainly wasn't top-o-the-line, but it's been a decently-performing card. It has no problems with texturing, but pushing obscene amounts of polygons slows things way down. Anti-Aliasing seems to actually improve performance on some games and degrade it on others.

The AMD64 was probably way too early-adoption. I can't tell if it offers any advantage over 32-bit processors, and I don't use any programs that need it. I guess it'll be nice that I won't have to buy new chip+mobo when windows releases their new OS. Not that XP hasn't worked fine for me.

The monitor (other than a piece of burn-in) does pretty good. It's picky about resolutions, though (makes a very loud noise if I've chosen poorly) and MUST be set at 85 Hz refresh. Also, it tends to not like vertical sync.

The hard drives feature in a pretty long story that I will not talk about. Suffice to say, I can't really support the whole SATA thing yet. I have my reasons.