Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Video Games Of 2012

This is just a personal list of my favorite games of the year.  Usually when I think about what appeals to me as a gamer is how fun the game was and how immersed I was in the game world.

1. The Walking Dead
In terms of storytelling, Telltale's The Walking Dead was a game that kept me emotionally invested throughout the whole series and finally breaking me down when it all ended. It was more than just a game to me.
2. Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 was another game that kept me emotionally invested in the story from front to end. While the ending wasn't what I was expecting I enjoyed the game for what it accomplished. I also spent numerous hours in the surprisingly fun multiplayer which was well supported after the release of the game. It's a great package overall.
3. Far Cry 3
Late release for 2012 but It was probably the most fun I've had in a game in a few years.
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
I'm a sucker for turn based strategy games and XCOM is one of those games that just sucked the hours away. It's a game I will probably come back to long after it's been released to waste away a few hours.
5. Binary Domain
Binary Domain, oh how it was delightfully strange. My love for this game comes from the many subsystems of the game, relationship building, upgrades, quirky comedy, taking out robot limbs, and etc. It's a fun game with a great setting and story.
6. Diablo III
I was a huge Diablo 1 and 2 fan and spent most of my high school and college life playing those two games. Diablo 3 didn't quite have the same impact but It was addicting and fun. The auction house was an interesting idea but only time will tell how much it diminishes the longevity of the game. I at least came out 300$ richer from selling items on the real money auction house.
7. Darksiders II
Darksiders 2 I enjoyed for it's combat and dungeon solving. It probably felt like too many other games but it combined them fairly well. Also i'm a big fan of the aesthetics of the Darksiders universe. Hopefully THQ gets back on it's feet and brings us another Darksiders in the future.
8. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
There was probably no other game I've logged the most hours into this year than World Of Warcraft. This expansion only reignited my addiction to this mmorpg after I was seemingly done with it for a year after Cataclysm. Blizzard continues to make meaningful changes to the gameplay systems(skill trees and abilities completely revamped in this expansion) and their storytelling only gets better. I don't know if I can truly stay way from World Of Warcraft again.
9. Dishonored
Dishonored is an excellent stealth action game. I was hoping there would be more meaningful story choices throughout the game but that didn't diminish how fun the game could be with the abilities you are given.
10. Guild Wars 2
I have Guild Wars 2 here in my top ten because I felt it's an important step forward in how future MMORPG's should approach their leveling systems. It was probably the most fun I've ever had leveling in an MMO as it encouraged exploration and participating in Dynamic Events that are so far different than the traditional questing system in an MMO as ways of progression. Also the buy to play business model is something that should be applauded as it shows the world that you don't need a subscription model to be successful in this genre.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Secret World drops subscription and $15 at Amazon

Just recently Funcom dropped the subscription fee on it's MMORPG The Secret World going with a Guild Wars 2 style business model of buy once and play free with optional cash shop purchases.  I played during the beta and the first month and found the game to be interesting in story and atmosphere but I stopped playing because I didn't want to keep the subscription fee going.

Good news is that instead of the normal $30 the game is selling for at retail, Amazon is selling the game for $15 for the Digital Download version of the game. Which is a really nice deal for anyone interested in the game. Limited time only as i think it's part of some weekend sale.

Below are just videos I took during the beta period.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Increasing Far Cry 3 PC Performance With A Few Tweaks

Far Cry 3 is a beautiful looking game but turning up to ULTRA DX11 settings killed my performance on my somewhat decent computer which at it's core is a I7 2600k clocked at 4.5ghz and a GTX 480.  Sure it's not top of the line but a capable system that eats up most games at their highest settings.  So I waded through the options available and found that shadows were the biggest culprit.  So there are two tweaks that I changed that would otherwise be a low 30 fps experience at ultra and increased my framerate to a consistent 50 fps which is much more playable at 1920x1200 resolution.
  • Turn off SSAO
  • Set shadows to HIGH
SSAO is usually a very nice looking graphical setting if implemented correctly but it looks downright ugly in Far Cry 3 because it sort of surrounds every object and human with an unnatural dark glow.  To turn SSAO off go into your documents folder and open GamerProfile.xml in notepad which is usually located in your C:\Users\profilename\my documents\my games\far cry 3\gamerprofile.xml and the variable you want to change is.
SSAOLevel="0"
By default it's set 1 but to turn it off you want to change it to 0. If the setting by chance doesn't save, you might have to set the file to read only after you change it.
The next tweak is to change shadow quality to High.  There is a big performance drop when you put shadows on Very High and Ultra. Almost taking a 10+ fps dip going from high to very high.  You sort of miss out on some soft shadows and whatnot but I personally prefer a higher framerate.  So with these tweaks the frame rate is better while you can keep every other graphical setting at their Ultra default and it becomes a much more playable experience.

 1920x1200 Ultra Settings - Shadows=High  SSAO=Off  51 FPS

1920x1200 Ultra Setting Default - SSAO=SSAO 38 FPS