PC Gaming, and Me

Having done something very gaming-focused, I figured I'd go ahead and write up a post about it. Finally, after years of dreaming about it, I've built myself a gaming PC, and I'm loving it.

Roughly what my shiny new gaming PC looks like. If only; that would be great.
Roughly what my shiny new gaming PC looks like. If only; that would be great.

My total cost for the whole enchilada thus far is right around $860. Originally I wanted to keep things modest and only spend about $600, but when I realized that I'd need a monitor, suddenly that looked less realistic. I still haven't bought a keyboard yet (using a piece of junk Dell, at the moment), so that will push things to a little over $900 total. That's a lot of money, but my general attitude has been "Eh, screw it." And I'm glad I didn't go dirt cheap, because I love what I have.

The guts consist of a modest ASUS micro-ATX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM, and a Radeon HD 6870 graphics card. I also went with a 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive and a 520W Seasonic power supply to keep everything running. Many thanks to all of the kind folks at Tested for providing some feedback on yet another of the ubiquitous "help me build a PC" threads. You guys definitely made a huge difference in the parts I decided to go with.

My i3 CPU was the biggest change that came from the Tested community's input. I was originally eyeing an AMD-based Phenom chip, but was informed that for the same price, I could get an i3 that is has better per-core efficiency, will save on power, and was the same price.

Of course switching to an Intel CPU meant I had to find an Intel 1155 socket motherboard, but that was easy enough, and I'm really happy with the ASUS board I chose. The UEFI BIOS stuff is pretty crazy, and I love it. I'm so glad that I'll probably never have to see a traditional BIOS screen ever again. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but c'mon, it's 2012. It's a micro-ATX board, so there's not a lot of room for expandability, but that's fine for my gaming purposes.

But enough with the technical stuff, because games!

Over the years I’ve built up quite the little Steam collection consisting of games I had no business buying as a laptop user, such as Bioshock, Fallout 3 (and all DLC), Dead Spaces 1 and 2, Dirt 3, Just Cause 2, Max Paynes 1 and 2, Civilization V, Rome: Total War, Trine, and the list goes on. Some games such as Portal 2 and the Back to the Future series were too good to save, and I powered through them on low settings. The rest of these, though, I’ve been waiting forever to play, and now I finally have been.

I’d say Fallout 3 is the most notable game I’ve played thus far. It’s a game I’ve been waiting so long to play since buying it during a Steam sale. I’d actually tried to get into the game on my laptop running low settings about three of four times. Once, I'd actually gotten as far as blowing up Megaton, but I just wasn’t enjoying myself. I wasn’t sure if running the game at full settings and not having a hot machine on my lap would be enough to change my “meh” opinion of the game, but so far those changes have made all the difference. I’ve played several hours of Fallout 3 so far and I’m actually really enjoying it this time. I’ll admit that I’ve been cheating a bit to make the early game stuff (that I’ve already seen several times) go by faster, but I’ve just been having a lot of fun. I decided I’d save Megaton this time around, and I disarmed the giant-ass bomb that those idiots decided to build their town around. Before doing that, I cheated to give myself an instant-kill revolver and some ammo, and I took the head clean off of the mysterious man in the suit in one shot; it was glorious and super satisfying. From there, I decided not to eff around and immediately went to find Three Dog, which I did surprisingly quickly; that dude’s great. I’ve decided to spec my character with massive amounts of speech, and not a whole lot else so far. Luckily I'm still carrying that one-shot revolver, but I’m considering playing the game strait once that runs out of ammo. Time will tell if my own personal conviction stat is high enough to hold me true to that.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Just Cause 2, because that game is fantastic. Do you like blowing crap up? Do you like grappling hooks? Do you like stunt position? Do you enjoy massive amounts of general ridiculousness? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, go play Just Cause 2, because it delivers all of that and more. Somewhat surprisingly, This is the game I’ve played the most of since building my PC. I'd always thought it looked awesome, but it’s really better than I’d expected. The only issue I’m having thus far is that traveling can take forever! With a world that huge, there’ll be that double edged sword, I suppose. There is a fast travel method, but it only takes you to discovered locations (of which I don’t have many yet) and costs money, so I try to avoid that. Other than that, it’s like “Action Movie: The Game” and that’s terrific.

I started the first Dead Space late last night, and that game’s quite spooky under those circumstances. But it’s also really damn cool, so I’ll definitely continue playing that. I’ve reached chapter two now, I think, and have just upgraded my suit. There’s a lot of cool systems for upgrading and whatnot going on in this game that I wasn’t ever totally aware of. It’s interesting.

I'm able to comprehend the majority of this screenshot. That alone gives me a sense of accomplishment.
I'm able to comprehend the majority of this screenshot. That alone gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Civilization V is another game I’ve had lying around seemingly forever. I tried to play it on my laptop before, but it was barely playable, even on the lowest of settings. So I tried to jump back into it a few days ago just to realize that it’s as complicated and impenetrable as I remembered! Fantastic! At that point I had the great idea to go back and watch the Civ V Quick Look and see if Ryan could refresh me on some things, as well as teach me a few tricks. Those things totally happened, and after watching that Quick Look, I went back into the game, started a small and fast-paced game with all random settings, and found myself sitting there playing Civ V for a couple of hours before even realizing it. It was about 2 AM when I looked at the clock and I had to get up early the next morning, so I forced myself to stop. But hey, I think I get it now. I understand the Civ fever. I still am not sure I’ll ever get totally sucked into it, but I see the appeal now, and am definitely going to be playing more of that. I saved that random game I started in the middle of a war with the City-State Venice. They’re surprisingly hard to take over, even with an army of ships surrounding the tiny island it’s situated on. Perhaps when I get back to that game I’ll just have to negotiate some peace until I develop my naval fleet a bit more--and then I’ll totally go and wreck them, because I’m a jerk.

I bought a few games over the recent Ubisoft Steam sale. Rayman Origins and a suite of Ghost Recon games are now mine! I’ve been playing Rayman, and it’s absolutely as charming as I recall Patrick claiming on the game of the year podcasts. I’m not quite as satisfied with the Ghost Recon games, however. In fact, I’m downright disappointed with them! I actually haven’t played the original or its expansions, but it’s the GRAW games that I really bought that pack for, just to find that they’re not at all the same as the console versions. I guess they’re Grin-developed alternate versions that are first-person (as opposed to the console’s third-person versions), and are also different structurally. I've actually found the visuals to be a bit grimy, as well. I thought I was missing something when I loaded the game and I was thrust into first-person. I should have done my research before buying a whole pack of games, I suppose, but at like $7, I probably shouldn’t be complaining. I guess plenty of people have gone to bat for the PC versions and believe that they’re actually better than the console versions, but I’m still disappointed, as I just wanted some prettified console ports. I wanted to relive my great memories of GRAW, and I actually never did get to play GRAW 2; I guess I’ll just have to settle for (the collection of people formerly known as) Grin’s take on it. Grin was a great studio, so I’m sure these versions are, at the very least, fine.

Notice I haven’t mentioned Diablo III. Oh yeah, that game. The sequel the the game I just may have put more hours into that any other game in existence. Yeah, I don’t own it yet. I sort of spent all of my money on other junk. But hey, today’s pay day. Today’s also my day off, though, so by tomorrow, I’ll probably own Diablo III. It seems likely that I’ll have a separate blog’s worth of thoughts about that at a later date. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t disappoint.

PC games! I can play them now! I’m pretty excited about it. I’m going to stop wasting the day writing and go play one of the many that are sitting on my Steam list, begging to be clicked.