As many folk know I do like my racing games. Xbox Live has seen many great racing games. Moto GP 1 & 2, Project Gotham Racing 2 and Race Driver 2. All were class games and had various strengths. However the driving model in each, although attempting to be sim, veered more to arcade so to keep the games as approachable as possible.

GTR is an entirely different beast.

Continue reading “GTR”


I vowed never to buy an online game that a) charged per month, b) involved Orcs and Elves, c) made me worry about levelling up and the skills that I learn and d) consumed more of my time than is already spent on Xbox Live

But I gave in and bought World of Warcraft. Quite simply the most enjoyable online game, if not most enjoyable game I have ever played. Graphics and sound are good if not ground breaking. Half Life 2 put paid to that. What’s astounds is the sheer scale of the gaming world that is available to you and it’s non-linearity. The community aspect is second to none. Although the game doesn’t come with voice support Yahoo messenger with a headset soon gives you the ability to talk with your fellow players. There’s just so much to this game – different races and classes, so many occupations and skills available, an in game e-mail system as well as auction houses and some astounding set piece moments and this is a game I’ve only scratched the surface with. Recommended although only if you’ve got the time to spend on it. The WordPress upgrade will have to wait.

Half-Life 2

Picked up Half-Life 2 via steam on Tuesday. Played for roughly an hour……quite simply the most atmospheric 1st hour of any game I’ve ever played. Graphics are amazing but unlike other games the environment depicted is amazingly realistic and full of real world detail. This is helped by an impressive sound engine that not only delivers good in game effects but an impressive (so far) soundtrack. I’ve also been surprised twice within the first hour which is a good sign of more impending shocks. Story is also unwinding at a good pace. The havoc engine used for the physics also adds to the realism although some of the graphical lifting effects are a bit ‘rough’.

On the minor side, the loading times are very high and also pretty frequent. Steam as a delivery system was also brought to it’s knee’s on Tuesday but thankfully didn’t affect me too much.

Can’t wait to play more but as usual in the games industry…too many good games in the run up to Christmas means somethings got to be sacrificed…I wish it could be Christmas shopping but alas it will probably be Half-Life for the time being. Sneaky hours hear and there are the order of the day.

Quiet PC

zalmanAfter a bit of thought I’ve finally decided to get the old pc up and running as a server. The first task was to make it quieter. The fans on it were quite loud….cue visit to Quiet PC. I’d always liked the look of the Zalman Flower so I gave into temptation and made the purchase. At the same time I was convinced that the power supply also was a bit too loud so I picked up a quiet one of those too.

Delivery for once really was next day so ii got round to installing them both today. The verdict – the flower cooler is definitely quiet and keeps the cpu (it is an ageing 1GHz Athlon) cool. It’s heavy though and is only suitable for certain motherboards and chips. The power supply was disappointing . At first it seemed very quiet but listening from a different angle you could hear a very deep hum. Tried the old power supply and it was quieter. Some you win, some you lose. So I’ll be returning the power supply back to Quiet PC – hopefully their returns policy is as good as the rest of their store had been up to now.

Once I get windows on it I hope to run it as a server with the main pc and xbox using it as a media storage device. It will also have a webserver which I can access from anywhere (work firewall permitting :-() and ultimately I may host this website from it. That’s a long way off though.


Autumn Clearing

With Autumn now officially here and a break in the wet weather we’ve been having it was time for the final grass cut of the year. This then turned into a garden clearance (never did I thought so many plants would last for such a small time). Cue 10 bags filled and a trip to the dump. To round it off, a trip to Dobbies to restock the barren wasteland that was the garden. One point…since when did garden centres clear out half there shop to stock MASSIVE amounts of crimbo decorations. Blimey. I guess it is only 10 weeks on Saturday till Christmas.

The second clearout was the pc. Only 3 months old and running out of room (it only has 160Gb)? A swift clearout later and I’d freed 60Gb. Shocking the amount of guff you accumulate with broadband. Having the 1 Meg connection doesn’t help. Time to get the old pc set-up as a server and put all the movies and music on it instead.

Doom 3

So I acquired Doom 3 on Sunday night. The verdict. Astounding.

The graphics are the best I’ve seen in any game. The lighting is amazing and really helps draw you into the game. Firstly it’s not like any Doom game where you constantly run and shoot. This is more Resident Evil crossed with Aliens. I don’t think I’ve played a game which has sent shivers down my spine and makes you jump as you play as much as this does. Opening a door to find an Imp leaping at you is a shock to the system. There’s also some adventure elements to the game – finding PDA’s of dead people and looking for clues in e-mails and voice recordings. Theres even links to the real www mentioned in the game.

The surround sound really works. You can hear a zombie creeping up from behind but the noise from the pistons and machinery running really disorientates you as you play. But compared to the graphic and sound engines the gameplay is pre-historic and doesn’t contain any new ideas. That said, what is there is very polished although there have been some frustrating ‘what do I do now’ moments when you can’t find a way out of the current level.

Still, I can see me playing this through to completion which is very rare these days. Hopefully Half-Life 2 (which I expect to surpass Doom 3) will deliver the goods next month on the gameplay as well as the graphical front.

The Beast

It’s superb.

The PC arrived on Thursday, although not without a wee mix-up. I got a Glasgow Uni machine and they got mine. But Dell and TNT got the mix-up sorted by mid-afternoon – bravo. I unpacked it and faced another little problem – it wouldn’t start. Boo. All was not lost – the Dell has four lights on the back – the first two were amber. Checked the manual – memory problem. Probably unseated slightly during transit so I opened the case. Wow. The case swings open on a hinge which is really smart – what got me was the size of the heatsink and chimney that the Intel uses. Massive. I removed and replaced the memory – pressed the power button and all was well – I took some photo’s while the case was open which can be found here. While the case was opened I fitted the firewire card from the old machine as the Dell comes with 8 USB2 ports but no firewire which the iPod needs. Clicked the case shut (no screws here thank you very much) and I was away. Got the Windows formalities out the way. Impressions – very fast.

Got the XP security downloads started and I thought I would need to dig out the Nortons disk before I did anything else but the Dell comes with a 90 day trial of McAfee which is a really good idea. No need for a firewall as I’ve got a hardware one on the router. Next was Firefox – don’t trust IE. Loading times were superb. The last test was gaming. Battlefield Vietnam looked amazing and didn’t stutter once. Joy!

Since then I’ve been installing all the hardware I’ve got and also some software – not too much. Trying to avoid the clutter that I had on the old machine but thats really delaying the inevitable. I’m also glad that I stayed away from a Creative Audigy card. The onboard sound is pucker 5.1 and all I need. There’s also a strong chance that it’s less buggy than the Creative drivers.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Dell. Easy to maintain, fast and a tad less noisy than my old machine – it fair churns out some heat though. Last positive note – no blue screens….yet.


The Beast…part deux

I’ve been after a new pc for the last few months. Picking up Battlefield Vietnam and watching it jerk (oo-er) while on it’s lowest settings was just too painful. I didn’t even pick up Far Cry as I knew it would be a pointless experience. I had resigned to getting a base unit only, probably from Evesham and probably costing around £1100 give or take a few pounds and features.

Then I got a tip off from King Arthur. He used the Dell Outlet Site to pick up a bargain pc. I stalked the site for the last week or so and on Friday finally bit the bullet and picked my new pc. 3.0Ghz Pentium, 160Gig Hard disk, I Gig of Ram and a 256 Meg Radeon 9800XT. £800. Class. Oh – Windows XP Professional as well. Hopefully should be here within the next fortnight. Now…what to do with the old one. I’ll probably use it as some sort of media storage/server. It’s a bit noisy so may have to try and quieten it a bit.


Windows 98……sigh

Mental note no 43 – setting up a pc with Windows 98 is now officially difficult and will induce a migraine that keeps you in bed for a few hours more than normal. Fact. After fixing a machine a few weeks ago the only thing left after the virus had done it’s stuff was a sick soundcard. I reckoned it would be best to start from scratch and re-install everything.

Everything went well until the last bit of hardware, the webcam. What a bugger. It works in one bit of the creative software but not in an other. Then Autocad wouldn’t install, Office 97 was screwed, Photoshop Album wouldn’t run etc etc etc. Nightmare.

I now officially have ‘The FEAR’ when re-installing old operating systems. The driver support for new hardware is shockingly bad, although it should be noted that it’s a Creative card and their support is not the best.

The good news is that I’ve finally met someone with almost the same sense of humour/banter that I have – it got very surreal when we could predict each others responses. Class!