Push it to the limit

November 3, 2008

It has been almost five years since I have upgraded my PC. Sure I have replaced parts on occasion because I would need a new motherboard or CPU, but essentially I have been using the same PC for half a decade. My graphics card is nearly five years of age, an Nvidia GeForce 6600GT 128MB. And though I have pondered the idea of upgrading I keep convincing myself to wait until the next big thing is released whether it is a cheaper duo core, Intel motherboards, or even a Direct X 11 Graphics cards. Sure, I have come across comparable deals for $20 GeForce 8600 cards after MRI (Mail-in Rebate) but even deals that are a steal have me at hesitation. I am the PC gamer that refuses the upgrade until every part of his rig is obsolete.

Thankfully Dead Space ran like a dream on my PC, albeit with above average original Xbox graphics. But optimal graphics can be over-rated. Just like the Nintendo acolyte, I too believe that graphics are not the end all be all of this console generation or the next. Which explains my disappointment with the current growth of game design these last few years. For the past year, I have told myself that Fallout 3 will be the game that makes me purchase a new rig. Well, the release date has passed and still I am content with my current PC situation. I often joke that when Half-Life 3 arrives in 2014 it will the be year I finally upgrade.

But perhaps I am reaching my limit. Currently, I am playing two extremely graphics intensive games on an unsupported graphics card, Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3. Both can run the game fairly smoothly but of course everything is on low settings. All of the textures in Far Cry 2 are merely solid colors and whenever I am in the heat of battle the frame-rate drops exponentially and Fallout 3 crashes if I play more than an hour. Plus, the fog of war makes me feel like I am playing Turok for the N64. Often I will get shot at by invisible enemies until I walk close enough for the models to pop-up into my view. It is not the most convenient way to game nor is it what the developer intended the experience to be.

And though I do own the next-gen consoles (my first time owning a console in more than a decade) I am unwilling to move away from my PC loyalties. Playing Bioshock on the Xbox360 verified my suspicions that the console FPS just isn’t for me and while playing Valve games on my PC online remains adequate, it does not convince me that I have any need to upgrade just yet. This is the diatribe of a stubborn gamer and also a good argument against PC gaming though I will fight you to the death if you claim such a farce.

The same argument can be said to those not playing games on an HDTV. In fact, the reason I have not upgraded my PC is because I am investing in an HDTV. Gaming’s relationship with technology
and entertainment is a fickle one. Unlike any other medium where technology is often combatant with music and film, games have blossomed under business models such as subscriptions and digital distribution. And the relationship between Nvidia, ATI, Intel, and AMD with the gaming world is fascination. But I digress as this is probably an entirely separate blog post in itself.

The fact of the matter is, perhaps I have finally reached my limit to hardcore PC gaming at the moment. Though I will attempt to trudge through Fallout 3 with my diplorable minimal settings and I am certain I will definitely be playing Left4Dead on my PC, I doubt that I can keep up with the majority of the PC games that are released an longer. But despite this fact, I sure as hell will try. The Witcher and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. were amazing two titles releases the past year and I am sure that many more PC games will be released in 2009 that I will definitely attempt to test out with this old PC. Unofficially supported be damned, I am a masochist gamer and PC fanboy. And though I am sure it would visually and optimally make sense to purchase multiplatform games on the console, old habits die hard. It is funny how much a platform of choice allows a gamer to rationalize and tolerate at obscene limits. And though my experiences with my inconsistent frame-rate, model popping, solid texture, limited field of vision, and game crashing will definitely hinder the intended enjoyment of these games, it is small potatoes compared to the ability to play on a machine that I built and love to play on–warts and all.


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