My NVIDIA GTX 750Ti adventure to date

As I am finally getting a NVIDIA GTX 1060, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the 750 Ti that I have been using in my PC build for the last 2 years.

I have a home built i5-4690K, 16GB ram and a 2GB GTX 750Ti. Full setup detailed here.  I bought the GPU when it first came out as a nice way of getting back into PC gaming on a budget. This has been an excellent card, and I would still recommend it for someone giving life into an ageing PC build. I believe you can now get a 950 for the same price, so this might be a better suggestion. I have not tried one, this is only about my own experience with the 750ti.

So I decided to run some game benchmarks and record them with Nvidia’s own ShadowPlay utility. To give some perspective, I mostly used the games default and set the resolution to 1080, as it the resolution of my monitor. In Arkham City, an older title I used a lower resolution as it had problems with 1080, but I also enabled Physx in that one.

What’s very impressive is how well this 750Ti card runs newer titles such as Doom and The Witcher 3.

Before anyone also weighs in on this, the PC is also used as a proper PC. So I have services, backups ,Hyper-V, background processes, tasks etc happening as I am playing and benchmarking. So this is a well used PC. I am not doing a clean install of windows etc and have no intention of doing that, just for 2-3 frames more.

EDIT: YouTube sucks, you will need to change the video quality to 1080 manually. You can also click into the video to launch it on YouTube. I have had no end of problems with embed in WordPress. It previews fine, but well, meh …

Street Fighter V

Basically if you cannot match 60fps the game is unplayable. This is to ensure a level playing field for everyone. Medium setting is the best one to go with here for this card.

SFV

If you set the default graphics to high, then this happens. Note, the reason its slow is that the game renders all the frames. It does not drop frames.

Crysis 3

This game really struggles on High. I probably can knock it down a notch. I only include it here as I own it on the EA Origin access vault, which is great value at a fiver a month.

Crysis3

The Witcher 3

Witcher 3 plays really well. It also looks better than the Xbox One version, which I have played more of this year than I ever have with an RPG, ever. It’s a great game.

Witcher 3

Arkham City

City is a little different in that the optimal resolution chosen is the only one that gives a decent watchable frame rate. This game is getting a remaster as well, so later this year it will be interesting to see if makes a big change. I personally love the Batman Arkham series, but this and Asylum are the only games that seem to have made the move to PC unscathed. ArkhamCity

Just Cause 3

A new title as well, this one really struggles with frame rate and effects. I think, like Crysis 3 that this will benefit the most from a new Graphics card.

JustCause3

Need for Speed (2016)

Need for Speed

This game plays great, some of these titles such as Rivals are very challenging on PC hardware.

Doom

The new Doom (2016) plays very well on this card considering its age. Doom seems to ignore MSI afterburner for benchmarking. But handily enough it comes with its own internal benchmarking tool.

Doom

Apologies for the prompt in some of the gameplay, there was weird glitch where the E button was not cancelling the info.

Synthetic Benchmarks

(*sigh*)

To complete this , I will add a few synthetic benchmarks from popular benchmarking products. I am using the free version in all cases. I cannot bring myself to actually pay for any one of these products, as my day-to-day job or hobby does not cater for this.

3Dmark11 – Free

This is still used as a test in a lot of performance testing. Honestly, I don’t know what it means, but ill keep this logged anyway for comparison purposes when I get a new card.

Since I am using the free version it only benchmarks at 720.

3Dmark11 basic

3Dmark – DX12 Version

Available on Steam.

Timespy, the DirectX 12 demo and benchmark moves at PowerPoint speed.

TimeSpy Dx12

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game.co.uk cancels Bioshock Infinite pre-orders

I write this here because I think its time to stop spending money with companies that have no respect for the consumer. Here is my tale.

I bought Bioshock in 2007, I got the special edition that came with an astonishingly detailed Big Daddy figure. Its fantastic quality, made from metal and is an excellent centrepiece.

25

Fast forward to today, where Bioshock Infinite: Songbird edition was announced. http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/Songbird?file=BIUSSongbirdStatue1.png

So, my wonderful wife, a few months ago pre-ordered this from game.co.uk for my Birthday. She ordered it on the 07th of November, 2012. So queue a 4 ish month wait. Soooo exciting.

Then on the 21st of Feb 2013 the day of RTM (release to manufacturer), game.co.uk emailed her, and also some friends of mine, to tell them that the order was cancelled, and then charged her credit card 0.01 cent for the privilege. One of my friends followed up and told me it was because they cannot ship 1kg packages outside the UK.

I cannot understand how they did not know this in advance. Surely their system knows to check the weight of the intended package.

Im still looking forward to the game, but this experience has left a bad taste. I think that Irish customers need to stop giving this company their money. I spent a lot with them while they had brick and mortar stores in Ireland, but now I wont support their company in any way.

No point trying to get to them via social media, as its heavily curated.

Spread the word, this practice sucks, so be careful.

Game.co.uk sucks , I have withheld my actual thoughts on this, as the keyboard is a great way of censoring some of my stronger words.

[EDIT]

One of my friends makes an excellent point, Irrational games, the makers of Bioshock are as much to blame as well , as they pointed Irish customers to Game.co.uk as for the pre-orders. Lets see if this post makes any traction, If anyone cares about their customers and the internet is the great enabler that we were led to believe, we would like to see something come of this.

 

Waiting.

Board Games

As part of my degree in Video Games development, we were required to play some older game and also look at the rules on Board games. We tried a number of Board games and had to write up our thoughts on that aspect of gaming. This was the result of my rambling thoughts.

At the dawn of time, when the world was flat, people used to gather in each other’s houses, huddled together for warmth with maps of foreign landscapes spread before them, as flat as the earth. They prepared to do battle with hordes of warriors and win honor or glory. Probably.

But the earth is round and we now have televisions and video games. However many people still gather to keep the tradition of the board game alive, and win respect and admiration amongst their peers. And so it was on the cold winter day, Friday the first of October, the year 2004, that 4 intrepid adventurers gather around a table to battle for an eastern country in the war-gasmic frenzy that is Shogun.

“Cool, swords, ninjas, armies” I thought, and indeed the game offered thus. With my army spread before me and my noble sword at my side, I placed my troops in the countries, ready to hammer seven shades of **cough**, stuff, out of my friends. My excitement level peaked, and I eagerly awaited the first move.

One hour later, after digesting many rules involving numbers that I have forgotten to compute in my head I was waiting for the end of the first move. And here is where the problems lie. This is not my first introduction to board games and indeed will not be my last. I took up Warhammer in college years ago as a way to socialise, and indeed it is that, a wonderful way of meeting people. However I underestimated the dedication it takes to play one of these games. You have to be very patient and be willing to learn many rules. Many rules as well have sub rules, often held by the Games Master which can be pulled out at any time to stop you using all the experience you have gained to defeat another player. That being said, it is the initial struggle that gets me first.

Many years ago I was thought how to play snakes and ladders, which I will admit, was fun. Then there was monopoly. Ahem, well this was another story altogether, after a few hours play I resorted to using dice to attack my opponents houses which each throw, when arguments ensued I defended myself with the “Act Of God Argument”. Barred.

Years later I played a Star Trek board game. After the explanation of the lengthy rules and talking notes, I started with a ship on the board. After 3 bad dice throws I was dead. I started the next round keeping to the rules, with a ramming tactic on another ship. I rolled my dice with a shout of “Set Phasers to Maximum Insult”. I destroyed the other ship. Barred.

I started to learn chess, but my teacher was not patient, the rules are quite simple, but I have a cavern where my head should be.

“Where can I move the prawn again?”.

“For the umpteenth time, it’s a Pawn you (deleted for publication reasons) “.

“Er, it kinda looks like a prawn to me”.

Barred.

I have learned rules for a few different board games, and I have little interest in them. I see the video game as the replacement for board games, where the rules are already in the system and you have to beat them to continue on your quest. I might seem biased and indeed I believe I am. But now in my closing paragraphs I must digress and make a little confession.

Some of the happiest memories of my childhood were when my parents and I stayed up in the evening around an open fire and played Snaked and Ladders. And many people I know who I quizzed on this whole phenomenon of the board game said the same. Indeed you, the reader might have similar memories. I am not prone to be stricken by nostalgia (I took my tablets) when I see a picture of an Atari 2600 or an old Snakes and Ladders board. And to those who say things were better in the old days, well, they are pretty awesome now.

The Catholic Church has a saying “A family that Prays together, stays together”. I would like to say that a family that plays together stays together. There is great social benefit in Games. Board games brought many families closer together, and as board games become less common in the home and the PlayStation generation (perhaps us) are raising children there seems to be less and less time spent playing together even though there are many video games on the market that are fun for all the family. Perhaps however, the video game will become to my descendants what the board game has become to me.

Ironing board – Chase the crease out of the clothes.

Board of Directors – Fight the bosses to secure your budget for the year.

These are but 2 boards, and to me the rules of these boards and Board games generate about equally as much fun. Ill stick to my video games. I hate to sound negative, but I found it very hard to find the positive inspiration to write at length on this, im just bored with board games. Now, where did I install that Chess Game on my PC?

Tempest 1000, review from college

When I was in college studying video games we were asked to review an older game. I found a version of Tempest on a flash website. Here was the outcome.

Aliens are coming, pouring through a black hole in the very fabric of time and space itself to tear our race from limb to limb, or make contact and drink themselves into another reality in our company. Whatever their intent, here you are, perched on the edge of the wormhole, armed with nothing more than your spaceship, reflexes and an intense Xenophobia, ready to disperse their atoms into space, proving space is a vacuum, not a place that needs to be vacuumed. In space, no one can hear you clean!

And so the scene is set for Tempest 1000. This is a game that requires quick reactions and timing to shoot down the enemy spaceships. They come out of the black hole in random waves. There are purple slow moving ones, and green ones that zoom by. Also in the way of variety there are faster moving purple ones that shoot boxy white beams at you, proving they are a highly advanced species after all. Any enemy alien that reaches your level on the wormhole will move around after you, to collide with you and take his or her (or its) own lives as well as yours, therefore making intergalactic insurance claims vastly chaotic in terms of paperwork. Probably.

To make your life easier you have a number of gravity defying jumps. Using these you can rain down fire on any enemy that tries to use the fore mentioned tactic. But remember these jumps are limited to 3 per level. You may also use one megablast per level, sending all enemies on the screen back to their creator in very small pieces with the note “in case of reincarnation, some assembly may be required”. But use this wisely

Level progression occurs when you have cleared all the enemies on the current level. You are then sucked down the wormhole to an almost identical wormhole to fight with faster and more numerous enemies.

This game was the brainchild of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Theurerin Atari and was one of the first games that had 3D vector Graphics. It is very hard to find the original arcade incarnation of Tempest in its true form outside of getting an arcade cabinet, or purchasing an Arcade emulator. But many excellent conversions exist on the web, thanks to the cross platform (cough) wonder that is Java. Reviewed below is the closest Tempest 1000 clone I could find available at this time. The search continues to find one closer to the arcade machine. Be assured though, I will not rest until I do. Well ok then, maybe the odd snooze and a break to play this.

Sound:

Dreadful, even for its time. The Java version has all the flair of buzzing wasps, stuck in a bean tin, fighting to the death for the love of another wasp or a Solpadine tablet, only to be invaded by riot police wasps with chainsaws. Overall lots of pings, treble and buzzing in a bean tin style environment. I remember walking away from the original Arcade cabinet with the distinct feeling I was in a nightclub for a few days, or listening to Happy Hardcore. Ears ringing, if its nostalgia you are after, use headphones with this. It will bring back memories, or headaches.

Score: 5, Functional, but play some background music in case you feel the need to scratch the inside of your brain with a biro introduced via your nose. Neither medical insurance nor the medical card will cover that. Or so I hear.

Graphics:

Solid and functional, with an excellent sense of perspective. There are times you really feel you are on the edge of a vast black hole somewhere in the universe sending the alien nasties back to the evil spawning ground from whence they came. Earlier version such as the arcade cabinet had simple dotted lines for the black hole arranged to give the sense of perspective, later version had the sides of the black hole change colour from level to level. Each version keeps the simplicity. An excellent feature of this game is that prolonged exposure can cause a slight queasy feeling, made all the worse by the jump action and the fact that as you move around the edge of the black hole it tilts slightly. There is a cool falling effect when you are sucked into the black hole and placed on the next level.

The enemy ships and your ship are believable and recognisable in an early Sci-Fi kind of way. Things that can kill you (i.e. everything) are very visible and your weapon projectile is a little underpowered looking but nonetheless effective.

Score: 8, Awesome for its time and excellent now, stands the test of time well, simple and clear. I would have given it a higher score but it lacks special effects like explosions. Top marks nonetheless.

Gameplay:

I was going to write this review about 2 hours ago, and get some other stuff done, but this is a game that makes you want to come back for more. Constantly. There is very little variation in level design, even if this was one of the first games to have varying levels, although I am sure this version is missing some of the more unusual level designs of the original. There is a distinct feeling of satisfaction of getting as far as number 5 in the high score table and feeling proud you have done so well to repel the evil invasion. I would prefer to play the game with a joystick as opposed to a keyboard though. RSI inducing.

This is one of the few games that pass the test of time again and again. This was released on the Atari Jaguar (remember that) as Tempest 2000, with improved sound that actually made you feel like you were in a rave (I.e. naff really). But the original is still the best.

Score:10, fantastic replay value, replay value, replay value, replay value, I cannot say it enough, thank you copy and paste.

Overall: 7.6

This is a fantastic Tempestuous (couldn’t resist) battle against the Aliens in some far-flung hole (literally) in the galaxy and stands the test of time.

In the future you will be in your spaceship on the edge of a black hole, listening to gravity distorted music on your intergalactic A-Track and wondering how time passes back home according to Stephen Hawking. Just remember your training on this simulator. Forget about your loved ones and don’t worry whether or not you left the gas on in your house. If the Aliens get through your house will be a charred crisp anyway. Just start jumping moving and keep on blasting. The invasion must be repelled.

Bulletstorm, and thoughts on games.

Itchy and scratchy , Happy Tree friends, Bulletstorm. All have one thing in common, cartoon violence. Bulletstorm has it by the bucket loads. And it’s no bad thing.

Bulletstorm is the love child of a collaboration between epic and People Can Fly, a developer best known for Painkiller , a crazy shooter involving a dead guy stuck in purgatory, tasked with killing four of Lucifer’s generals in order to stop a war between heaven and hell blah de blah. What it turned into was one of the best shooters I have played since Quake 3 on the PC. I am not alone in my thoughts on this. Click play below for the Zero Punctuation thoughts this masterpiece.

 

(edit) play , sorry , but embed does not work from The Escapist Magazine, even though they give you the option.

Story

Bulletstorm is the same crazy over the top manic style of game as Painkiller. You play as a complete jerk in a cast of complete jerks, a walking washing machine of a man called Grayson Hunt, a Assassin working as part of a black-op army Black Echo. You discover that after all this time you are the bad guy and you have been killing innocent people for your jerk of a boss called General Serrano.

So, a few years later you get plastered drunk, kick some people out of an airlock and crash your ship into the Generals Battle Cruiser.  You then get stranded on the planet Stygia, a once beautiful resort now overrun by pirates, mutants, meat eating plants and giant monsters, or as I see them , cannon fodder. Oh yea, and the general and the rest of the stranded militia. Did I mention the meat eating plants, er, I think I did. You then need to stitch your nearly dead best friend up as a psychotic cyborg and go finish the job of killing the general.

I am not making any of this up.

There you are , the big jerk , with your big jerk friends.

Fortunately for me, most video game stories go over my head anyway, and this is just filler to set the scene. The characters all all horrible people, except the meat eating plants, who are plants just doing their job, and the dialog is crass, sometimes bordering on rude, but often funny in a weird witty kind of way.

 

Gameplay

Where the bulk of the work went in on this insane title is the gameplay, and it shines. As a arcade style shooter with throw backs to the days of Doom, Quake and Painkiller, the way to finish every level is to kill all before you. And make no mistake , the game gives in droves. AI is lacking here, as enemy’s charge you or use brute force to make sure you never see the end of level. What you have are a range of over the top weapons, each with a alternate fire. These vary between your trusty Machine gun with a “burning shotgun” mode. A pistol with a nifty flare gun, a chain launcher which fires a bunch of grenades to wind around objects or foes, a (pretty crap) bomb launcher, and a Sniper Rifle which lets you guide your bullets. These are just a few of the weapons you will find and unlock.

The star of the show is the “Skillshot” system. All kills are a points based system, and as you do more imaginative kills you get more points. Imagine the happy feeling when you get that “achievement Unlocked” sound and message on the XBOX, now imagine that being with you ALL THE TIME !

The real juicy stuff is with your leash. early in the game, for reasons I will not go into here, you come into possession of a leash. This glowing, high tech device can be used to grab enemy’s at a distance , or bounce them off the ground. Using the leash, alternate fire modes and environmental hazards creates the most satisfying arcade shooter experience I have played since Painkiller.

Skillshots

As you can see from this clip, this is not a game for the easily offended, as this is just a small smattering of some of the comic book violence I alluded to earlier.

Skillshots are spent on weapon upgrades and ammunition. You will be kept on your toes trying to find them all so you can progress your skills.

The game takes about 8 hours to complete if you are taking your time. There is a mode called echoes where you play short sections of each chapter in an attempt to accumulate the most points in the shortest amount of time. Also there is a multiplayer mode which I cannot comment on as I have not tried it.

I love this game, its loud, fun , ridiculous, and very over the top with everything. What I have not mentioned is the aesthetics. It has some of the best graphics I have seen in a shooter to date. The world of Stygia is a beautiful destroyed paradise, the lighting and effects are excellent when you do get a few moments from the onslaught to appreciate it. Which you rarely will. The music is top quality, with orchestral overtures and rising crescendos what suit the actions.

You must buy this , for all the reasons above and what is about to follow.

 

A brief interlude, of sorts.

First, there are things that I will not engage in a discussion with people on. I am sorry, but I am an a very opiniated ass on these points. 

1. Old game remakes:Nostalgia

For those who re-make old games to cash in on nostalgia , you are wrong. gaming was not better in the old days. Its better now. I have taken my nostalgia tablets. I am immune.

2. Games as Art.

Stop this debate now. It’s silly, if we are still trying to claim games are art then we are still trying to desperately to become accepted via a proxy. Game sell. Billions of dollars are made every year. Games are Games. Please feel free to flame me out in the comments.

 

So…..

 

I interrupt this public service broadcast to being an urgent announcement. Or at least to get some stuff off my chest that has been troubling me. I think know we need to buy more games like this. There was a long period of gaming where there were more games like Bulletstorm. But more and more , as the accusation of games as art and art as games did the rounds in the , well, for want of a better word “press”, the reason we create these expensive titles and expensive consoles is getting lost.

Don’t get me wrong , I am not going on a high horse rant about the state of gaming , or the industry , or violence in games etc. I am worried we are treating this generation of technology as a platform for realism. And I am not just talking about realistic graphics and sound and all that comes with it, I think we are forgetting that video games and computers can create new worlds. Not emulate this one. I am tired of seeing gamers flock to the store and give their money to Grand Theft Horsie 8:Horse Outside, Call of Warfare:Latest Foreigner killing Duty 15 , or titles like this. As we do this we say , yes, we want more games that are like the real world things that we would never want to participate in. Do we want the realism of driving to work every day to be reflected in the latest car game ? I dont think so, bet this might be there we are going if we keep voting for these kind of titles with our wallet.

I say NO! we need more games like Bayonetta, Worms, Bulletstorm, Mass Effect, Limbo, Portal, Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit and Streetfighter 4. Completely fantastical and over the top gaming experiences. We need to give our money there, because as Casual games like Peggle and Angry Birds become more prevalent, our beloved publishers might stop throwing money at large titles unless its a Modern Warfare clone and ditch the arcade experience games altogether. Why? Realism and casual sells , fantastical things do not.

I want more imaginiation, more over the top arcade fun , and , well, just more fun in my games. so, if you are a shooter fan, buy Bulletstorm, its a wallet vote for more fantastical and imaginative  games of this sort.

Rob

 

Oh.. and they do a great piss take of the deep story trailers that accompany the Halo Franchise. I like the Halo marketing stuff, but I appreciate the humour and work that went into this.

Halo Parody, and Irish drinking session in the Sci-Fi future.