Daily Archives: January 21, 2009

Fallout from Grand Theft Auto

A month ago I said “Installing [GTAIV] was pointlessly tedious, there’s time to make a cup of tea as it starts up, performance hovers just the right side of “acceptable”, but, and it’s a great big rocket-propelled strontium-edged “but” on skis, damn, it’s a good game.” Since then I’ve continued to enjoy it, but, and it’s a medium sized pulse-jet powered tin-plated “but”, the performance issues have rather spoiled it for me, enough to make me start looking at upgrades. I’m terrible on upgrades, I have something of a propensity for overanalysis, which obviously the internet really helps with; I started out looking at some GTA forums, in case there were any helpful hints about tweaking performance (not really; for every possibly helpful post, there were at least five telling anybody with less than seven top-end graphics cards working in parallel to “upgraed FFS yuor system su>< LOL"). Then I started looking at a new graphics card, and had almost decided to pick up a Radeon 4850, but couldn't quite find that perfect combination of card manufacturer, cooling system, price, vendor (with stock) and phase of the moon. Anyway, even if I upgraded the graphics card, the processor would probably be a bottleneck, it's been a few years, probably time for a whole system upgrade, right? So I spent a while touring around PC vendors, weighing up the pros and cons of an extra 4Gb of memory vs a slightly faster processor vs a slightly better graphics card (then deciding to go for all of them, seeing the total system price and deciding against it after all), and doing a quick Google search for customer opinions on likely looking companies only to find that every single PC vendor takes forever to build PCs, puts the wrong components in that don't work when they arrive, and need a court judgement to get a refund

It’s only GTAIV that my system really struggles with so far, though, and good as it may be, is it worth shelling out a grand or so on a new system just to be able to play properly? I finally took the shrinkwrap off Fallout 3 and installed it to see how my poor aged system coped with the post-apocalyptic wasteland; automatically configuring the graphics options, it suggested high detail at 1680×1050. “That sounds splendid” I said, and chucked GTAIV back on the shelf. I can only presume there are good technical reasons for it being so resource hungry compared to other cross-platform games like Mass Effect, Far Cry 2 and the perfectly-happy-at-1680×1050 Fallout 3, or maybe Rockstar are actually alien developers from the future and mis-calibrated their time machine when sending back the PC version of GTAIV, using the “2014” setting when the 64Gb nVidATI GTXL4850000XLGT Turbo Ninja Pirate Robot is the standard PC graphics card. Either way, I’ll come back to Theft some Grand Autos once I do upgrade my PC, maybe in six months to a year. In the meantime, Fallout 3!

I’ve only just started Fallout (then re-started it to tweak my characters appearance, got out of the vault, then re-started one more time to get a different haircut and try a different way of getting out of the vault) and it’s looking most promising, more adventures in the wasteland to follow soon I’m sure!