Monday, September 26, 2005

Land of the … Half Life

Games playing (or not):
Half Life 2
Okay, so I have really been enjoying Half Life 2 these last couple of weeks. I’m around 2/3rds of the way through the game and presently at quite a hard section where I need to arrange the placement of several gun turrets to stop enemy guards coming my way. However, it isn’t this which is bothering me, no it’s the damn update to Half Life 2 which has all but ruined my game.

I hadn’t played the game for a few days, but when I started it up last night it connected to my steam account and uploaded an update to Half Life before I could play. Steam did not ask if I wanted to upload the update, it just did it without asking permission. Now I know that there will shortly be an additional chapter to Half Life 2 called The Lost coast which will be available soon which uses HDR ( a system to enhance the graphics). This update appears to have included the HDR in the main game, but not The Lost Coast (presumably) just yet.

Now when I started to play the game again I was horrified to find that it now runs really badly. The frame rate has dropped, it now seems very unresponsive and frankly is really no fun to play at all. I checked the video setting and switched off the HDR, but this made no difference whatsoever. I went back to the video setting changed the resolution to 640x480 (previously 800x600) and took down all the other settings to their bare minimal. The game ran slightly better, but was still a pale comparison to how it was previously. The fact that the section that I’m currently playing through is quite hectic, only make matters worse.

Now I’m in no way an expert when it comes to PC graphics cards (I leave that to my friends), I’m just really pissed off that 1) I didn’t even get the choice whether to install the upgrade or note and 2) that valve seem to have not optimised the upgrade to ensure that it sill ran smoothly on lower end PC’s. There is no way in the world that I would want to pay out to upgrade my PC just for one game, so it looks likely but I’ll have no option but to stop playing. As I said I was 2/3rds of the way through the game and WAS really enjoying it, however, I cannot see me continuing to play when it is now running so badly that it impairs upon the enjoyment of the game.

This is just another reminder of why I hate PC gaming so much. At least with console gaming you know that the game has been optimised to run at it’s very best on the console and that it will run no better or worse than any other console (of the same make).

I may eventually have to buy Half Life 2 for the PS3 or Revolution (wouldn’t it be great controlling the gravity gun with the revolution controller) just to finish the game and so long as a console version (other than X-box) is released.

Films watched:
Land of the Dead
I’m a fan of Geroge Romero’s Dead movies, namely Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the dead, and was quite looking forward to a continuation of this series with Land of the Dead, especially after the successful recent remake of Dawn of the Dead. My only complaint about the remake of dawn of the Dead was that next to the original there seemed to be an awful lot of action and not a lot of depth. This same complaint can also be said of Land of the Dead, except if anything it seemed far shallower.

The fact that the film seemed so isolated and did not see anything outside of the main location, is not the main problem as the other films also were contained a within set locations (a house, a mall, a military complex). The difference is that in the other films there was a sense of what was happening to the world outside, mainly through television and radio broadcasts. Land of the Dead seemed to so keen to get the limited storyline done and dusted as soon as possible, that there was no time to explore the far reaching effects of the “end of the world”, so much so that this seemed ignored.

Overall, too much action, very little tension, very little depth, thin storyline, shallow characters but plenty of gore (even for a 15).

6/10

1 comment:

steve said...

You're not the only one who had massive problems after that HL2 update:
http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=341549

Apparantly adding "-dxlevel 81" to the startup options sorts it out. I think Valve made a cock up of monstrous proportions.