Computer Catch-Up

I’ve loved having a reasonably up-to-date PC in the house again, it’s been great fun catching up on everything going on in the scene. Here’s a few of the things I’ve been up to this past week or two.

Firstly, the problems. By and large all has gone well so far, I’ve not had much in the way of problems to overcome, but there’s been one utterly annoying snag making itself known sometimes. The wireless keeps dropping out, but not properly :S. Between my router (with 3 antennae) and PC there’s about two or three meters, and one thin ceiling/floor. The first time I noticed it was with Battlefield Bad Company 2, I’d suddenly be dropped back to the menu and told that it couldn’t connect, nor could I get to any websites at the same time. At the time, my wireless connection was showing as fine and strong, and I could still use the wireless with my phone, so I knew it was a problem with the connection between those two. After a couple of minutes it’d all be fine again, but I’m not about to leave it there, especially when the same problem was meaning streaming films to the PS3 were dropping out.

I tried as many things as I could think of to fix it; re-installing drivers, changing wireless security modes, moving antennae, flashing the firmware on the router – none of them helped. I finally seem to have it fixed (I don’t want to speak too soon though…) by changing the transmission mode from mixed 802.11 b/g/n to just 802.11g (I’d use N but my phone and Wii don’t support it), and I haven’t had a single drop out yet. I suspect it’s to do with the fact that my router (D-Link DSL-2740B) was one of the first to support the N specification when it was still draft, I get a new router next week so I guess I’ll find out then.

On to the fun then, and firstly games. At the time of writing I have a scant three(!) games installed; BFBC2, Civilization V, and Crysis. BFBC2 as I’ve said here before, is digital Crack for me, I can’t get enough, but I’ve also spent a good deal of time re-kindling my love affair with Civilization. There have been some up-and-down reviews of Civ V, but I took the plunge and bought it all the same, and it’s great. The move to hex tiles hasn’t hurt it at all, and as far as people whining about not being able to stack military units goes (one unit per tile), I have to say it doesn’t bother me. If anything I find it a bit more tactical for it. I can’t really say anything about Crysis yet, as I’ve only clocked up about a minute of playtime after setting it up last night, but so far it looks gorgeous, I think I’m going to enjoy it.

The last time I played games regularly, Steam was in its infancy. As far as I can remember I installed it just to take part in the Counter-Strike 1.6 beta, and I know I bought Half-Life 2 with it too. There weren’t many games you could get on Steam, and it wasn’t too widely adopted – hell, no digital distribution services were. Fast-forward five or six years though and *everyone* uses Steam. There are thousands of games available now, and it feels like a really well-rounded, mature service. All three of the games I’ve mentioned above were purchased through it (Civ was from a 3rd-party site who sell through Steam) and it keeps things patched and coherent. I find the lack of physical media less of a issue than I thought I might, I really don’t mind not having a box for a game.

I’m a big advocate for the right games for the right systems, and as much as I love consoles for the majority of my games, there are some that are just right on PC. Strategy, RPG and in the main, FPS all feel at home on the PC, there’s something a lot more personal about playing the games right in front of a monitor. There are a few more bits and pieces I want to get for the computer now, but at least I can save and buy the odd bit here and there when I want to. I think a SSD to pop windows on and a second monitor will be the first bits to save for, not to mention a new desk.

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