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Building a Gaming PC: ~$1700 (I think) Budget Edition

I decided to jump back into PC gaming and build a PC that will last a couple of years before I have to do some serious upgrades. I've only built one other PC back in 2009 with my college buddies guiding me. So while I'm somewhat familiar with the basic steps of building a rig, I'm basically doing this for the first time. I just need some input on which parts I should get (for ones where I listed multiple components), things that I am missing, and feedback on the overall build I'm planning to make. The budget is really flexible and am going with the mindset of "choose your parts first, calculate the cost second, and see if I freak out last."

So again... any advice on what to get or changes that should be made are welcome. When I initially made this list, I was hoping the total was going to stay under $1500, but the lowest combination (choosing the cheaper alternative for each part on my list) goes up to $1717 before taxes. So input on saving money is definitely needed. Thanks for the help.


Five Games In '09 You Might Have Forgotten And Why It's A Mistake

Forgotten, you say?

With games like Splinter Cell: Conviction, Heavy Rain, and Bioshock 2 receiving the 'extra polish' treatment and getting pushed back to the first half of 2010, the current fall line-up of 2009 initially looks a bit anemic.  With few games to choose, it seems like every gamers' "Must Buy List" for the rest of the year centers around the two juggernauts of '09: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Modern Warfare 2.  Don't get me wrong, these games definitely deserve the attention they garner, but  these two titles also completely blanket other games brave enough to be released in their shadow this year.  So this list is here to give some attention to those games that even the most avid gamer might have forgotten as they look forward to hunting treasures and terrorists.

5. Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony

With GTA IV proper and The Lost and Damned already released, it seems like Rockstar North has gotten the "we want to tell a serious, gritty, real story" out of their system. The next DLC expansion, The Ballad of Gay Tony, looks to be going back to the roots of prior GTA games on the PS2, which is a melody to the ears of many fans of the series. Parachuting out of helicopters, stealing subway trains, and participating in fight clubs all hearken back to the sillier days of Grand Theft Auto, when the imaginative aspect of the gameplay wasn't limited by its "real" setting and storyline. 

4. Assassin's Creed II

While the first Assassin's Creed sold better than Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, it was criticized by many reviewers for its repetitive gameplay and awkward mission structure, leaving gamers to simply write off the sequel. It seems like Ubisoft agrees with these complaints, as Creative Director Patrice Désilets specifically stated "Assassin's Creed 1 is Assassin's Creed 1. It is what it is. [But] Assassin's Creed 2 is what we really wanted to do with the first." By adding several ways to kill your target (including using mercenaries as back up or the general public as a distraction) and increasing the repertoire of weapon combat, it looks like the gameplay in this sequel is reaching the potential of the franchise's original concept.

3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii

"The Wii has no games" is a common statement thrown around by people absorbed in HD gaming. Games like Red Steel 2 and No More Heroes 2 beg to differ, but unfortunately these games won't be out 'til next year. Until then, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is here to fill the void until the spring. While a 4-player 2D side-scroller might not seem like much, consider this: LittleBigPlanet is another multiplayer 2D side-scrolling game that was well received by critics and PS3 owners, but even fans of the series can attest to the pure amount of crap you have to scrummage through in order to play a decent level. While I'm sure there are a handful of great levels in the game to experience (if you have to time sift through them all), can you really compare them to the Nintendo-quality levels that Miyamoto & Co. produce? I don't think so.

2. Brutal Legend

Why is this on the list? EA has been pushing the marketing for this game feverishly, and every preview and feature written about the game is glowing with praise. The game is on the list specifically for PS3 owners, as it will be released on the same exact day as Naughty Dog's behemoth, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Tim Schafer's games don't exactly sell out the store in the first place, so having the most anticipated game in 2009 to go up against doesn't exactly make matters better. So I implore PS3 owners to not forget about this game. In fact, I would suggest getting Brutal Legend before Uncharted 2. Brutal Legend's multiplayer will most likely die out after a couple of months (while Uncharted 2 will last well beyond next year), so take this time to experience a multiplayer game that is truly unique. It's an action game, an RTS game, and a vehicular combat game all mixed into one. Leave it to Tim Schafer to create a multiplayer component that doesn't require you to shoot someone with a gun.

1. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

With Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, and Insomniac exclusively making games for Sony, the PS2 had the triple threat in the platforming genre. Then the era of the PS3 came, and with that, a change in Naughty Dog's leading character. They traded up from some 'emo' elf-like guy to Nathan Drake, a man that even makes Indiana Jones a bit jealous. Since then, it seems like Ratchet and his robotic pal Clank have been riding in the back seat of Sony's busload of franchises. With barely any marketing muscle, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time is set to release a mere two weeks after Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. While not as bad as Brutal Legend's release date, this game will only be available on PS3. With Uncharted 2 set to have a complete multiplayer experience (both competitive and co-op), I doubt that PS3 owners will be ready to buy another game once A Crack in Time is released. Insomniac has pushed the combative craziness in Ratchet's portion of the game to an immeasurable scale and added an intriguing time warping mechanic to Clank's levels, making them more than just an inferior version of Ratchet's levels. Other additions like space exploration and new weapons will make A Clank in Time a worthwhile venture if you find it possible to take Uncharted 2 out of your PS3's disk drive.