Friday, December 16, 2016

The Beauty That Drives Me

(AKA "What's Salem been up to for the last week?")

Why is it that I do what I do? Why do I defend games?

I love stories. And I've never found a more immersive way of storytelling than that of a game; it's like the old choose-your-own-adventure books, but with physical input and visual feedback.

On that note, I've recently made an... extravagant purchase. I spent $400 that I could barely afford on a PNY Nvidia GeForce 1070 XLR8 OC. That may sound like a made-up string of letters and numbers, but it represents a huge leap forward in technology that's taken my computer from a struggling and aging machine to being a powerhouse contender again. And it isn't even the top-tier video card! If I had spent another $200 I could have gotten a 1080 series card, but I couldn't justify the expense.

I've decided to share a few screenshots I've taken since installation. Keep in mind that these games that I'm sharing with you are all running at maxed-out settings, with all the bells and whistles turned on, at a more-or-less steady 60 frames per second (the generally accepted benchmark for good performance) and 1920x1080 resolution -- otherwise known as 1080p, the same resolution that Blu-Ray movies are displayed at.

Arkham Knight
When this game came out, it was a mess. The framerate was limited to 30fps, and you were lucky if you could achieve that. Even after it was refunded heavily via Steam, taken off the store, patched and re-patched heavily, I could only maintain around 40 fps at 720p resolution. Now...
I had to show off how good my waifu looks
Bat and Cat. OTP. 
Grand Theft Auto V
A dear one to me gifted this to me as a Christmas present. I didn't buy it when it came out because of how badly I was turned off by GTA IV, but I'm happy to report that GTA V is a huge improvement. It's actually pretty fun to play, and it looks great. Especially at sunset: 
Sunset in Los Santos, Rush Hour. Being stuck in traffic never looked so good.
Rise of the Tomb Raider 
This is the sequel to the astounding reboot of the Tomb Raider series. It did not disappoint in any way, refining and adding on to the best parts of the first one. My old video card struggled to maintain 60 fps on low. Now, even with the ridiculous hair physics, it maintains a solid 60. 
The detail on these lost tombs is stunning. 
I genuinely can't believe this is actual gameplay. It looks like something out of a pre-rendered cutscene. 
Assassins Creed Unity
At launch, this game was an even bigger mess than Arkham Knight. At 720p and lowest settings I couldn't maintain 60 fps, and it was an incredible mess even after patches. Now, though, it looks great  and runs better. It does, however, hold the temperature record for my new video card so far at 74 degrees Celsius. My last card regularly ran in the 90s under much lower settings.
Revolutionary France, right before the shit hits the fan. Eat the rich. 
And right afterwards. Riots in the streets, and I'm only a day or so after escaping the Bastille.

Dishonored 2
The sad tale of the sequel to the stealthy oilpunk story of Corvo and Emily had serious launch issues as well, but was quickly patched to a playable state as well, but after plugging in this new card reaches an entirely new level of gorgeous, especially the Clockwork Mansion.
The ever-changing Clockwork Mansion. Probably one of the greatest levels I've ever played.
Crumbling empires make for very interesting scenery.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
This is the Sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which was the prequel to Deus Ex, which most certainly did not have any sequels no matter what anyone else tells you. It's gorgeous, but incredibly demanding; even on the lowest settings, I could never hit 60 fps. My first playthroughnever looked this good. Not even close. 
Útulek Complex, aka Golem City. Where they send the Augmented Humans they don't trust anymore.
Police brutality captured in stunning detail. 
This is the grand finale: a reboot of  one of the games that started it all. Certainly not the first video game, and not even the first first-person shooter, but this is the one that everyone remembers when they think about old PC games. Sadly, pictures cannot fully capture just how fast-paced and hectic this game is when the demons spawn in and all you've got is a shotgun and a handful of shells between you and gory dismemberment. But I'll give it a try:
DOOM helpfully provides stats in the upper right corner. 
Go to Hell. It never looked so good. 
Tom Clancy's The Division
Did I say finale? Then consider this the post-credits sequence. I tried this for a free weekend. I've never played it before -- I'm not even sure what's going on yet -- but I've heard it's a beast to run. And yet here it is, running like a dream.
I've got a ruined city to explore this weekend. 
In short, I spent a bunch of money I probably shouldn't have on a piece of hardware I didn't technically need, but I am so in love with the results that I have no regrets.

Deleted Scenes
Deadpool very kindly lent a hand in unboxing my card, and our dear editor reminded me of this. So credit where credit is due, Deadpool. Couldn't have done it without you!

What's in the booooooxxx!?
Stand back, Chuckles, I got this! 
Homina homina it's like Bea Arthur reborn! 
It's so BIG! (that's what she said!) QUIET, VOICES! 

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