Etc.


— 10:44 AM on December 24, 2012

Howdy, folks. As Christmas approaches, we'll be scaling back our publishing schedule somewhat. We will be attempting to post some news today, but I'm afraid not much is happening at this point.

Personally, I want to take a second to thank Geoff for his work on the PC building guide, especially the full-length video. He wrote, filmed, narrated, and hand-modeled the entire project essentially by himself, a huge accomplishment made more impressive given that this was his (and our) first project of that type. Cyril, our resident graphic artist, did the title cards. Jordan, our podcast host and producer, then edited the video to produce the final cut. I think the result is pretty amazing, with production values that simply don't look like a first effort. We are hoping it can be a resource that helps bring new people into the PC-enthusiast fold.

Now, Geoff is talking about resting, and everybody else is talking about the topic of our next guide. Heh.

I spent part of this cold and dreary weekend catching up on some video games. I hadn't yet gotten into Far Cry 3 much, and I finally had some time to devote to it. Trouble is, having played a little, I'm now abundantly aware that much, much more time will be required in order to scratch the surface of what this game has in store. Not only is the open-world island setting massive, but the "Skyrim with guns" description really does fit this game. I've spent as much time harvesting plants and hunting down boars as I have doing missions, and I really need more skins in order to craft some packs so I can advance my character's abilities.

Just typing that thought makes me tired.

Too much busywork and not enough shooting, I say. I never did like make-work homework, and I've come to despise its equivalent in games, too. Especially after having made my way through the entirety of Borderlands 2. I enjoyed it to the end—game of the year, to me, without question—but starting up on the Captain Scarlett DLC... well, it's just too soon. I can't collect all the pieces of something and return to the bounty board for my reward again. Not right now.

That's how I wound up surprising myself by dedicating the most quality gaming time this weekend to the Scorchers DLC for Rage. You may recall that I actually enjoyed Rage quite a bit. Like a lot of folks, my main complaint about the game was that it was too short, and this new DLC pack addresses that problem, adding new content and allowing you to continue questing after finishing the main storyline. Even in this new expansion, the levels in Rage remain very linear and tunnel-like, but the shooter basics are so good, I don't find it as confining as I might otherwise. After hours of Borderlands 2, which has very solid shooter mechanics with a nice kinetic vibe, Rage still feels like an upgrade. The smoothness of movement and the evident heft and power of the weapons is second to none. The imaginative selection of weaponry offers more true variety than the bazillions of guns in that other shooter, too. Having just devoted gobs to time complicated questing and inventory management, the purity of this game's shooter core is a welcome change.

Oh, and at some point along the way, Carmack & company added that detail-texture patch I mentioned in my old blog post. Close-up textures without sufficient resolution now get procedurally generated detail and grit. It's a small thing, perhaps, but if you were one who griped about the texturing in Rage, I think you'll find it much improved. Also, I was admittedly playing on a very fast card with GPU-assissted texture decompression (a GeForce GTX 680), but there was virtually zero texture pop-in as I played. What's left is striking, unique detail painted across a virtual world of almost unparalleled complexity. The character design remains some of the best we've seen yet, as well. Any red-blooded male who isn't a little infatuated after meeting Sarah seriously needs to upgrade his video card. And the pristine, touches-every-edge multisampled antialiasing in this game reminds you how these things are supposed to work. Few contemporary games get that right.

After playing the Scorchers DLC a while, I was re-evaluating my candidates for best-looking PC game. Far Cry 3 is pretty astounding, and in some ways more advanced, but it's a brutal workload for even the fastest GPU. Rage runs as smooth as glass on most recent GPUs and offers a kind of fidelity you won't find anywhere else.

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