PC Games

There are lots of review sites, but I find “Gamerankings.com”:http://gamerankings.com to be the best meta site, they categorize reviews done by a host of sites and magazines are pretty accurate. Like “DCViews”:http://dcviews.com, these metasites are just great. So, what’s hot right now for kids?

* “Company of Heroes”: OK, not really for kids, but it is getting amazingly high ratings as a combination squad tactical game and sort of FPS.
* “LEGO Star Wars II”:http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/931978.asp . Who would have thought that a game like this would be fun, but the kids love it because it is so abstract.

In terms of actually buying the games, I use three soures:

*  “Pricegrabber”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__LucasArts_LEGO_Star_Wars_II,__25915061/sort_type=bottomline to find online stores
* “Mpire”: to look at ebay, yahoo and other stores

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AGEIA PhysX Card

“Anandtech”:http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2751 reviews a physics acceleration card. This takes the physics modeling in games, (you know, shoot a bullet, hit a guy and how does he fall?) and puts a dedicated processor in to do that.

It’s for the ultimate gaming geeks and requires specialized games to take advantage. The just shipping Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter does that. Unfortuantely, for that game, installing the card actually slows down performance. The quality of the explosions are higher, but the game plays slower with the added realism. The main competition as usual with these kinds of processors is multithreading and having dual core processors. So it is another case of special purpose vs. general purpose. In the case of graphics, the special purpose stuff won. Here, the jury is still out.

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Call of Duty 2 Mods

http://remotetag.filefront.com/29;728×90;1;FFFFFF-605739. I’ve been addicted to this game for a while, but now with these mods, it gets more interesting. I’ve mainly been playing single player and here are some great mods to add:

* “Lt. Speirs Realism”:http://callofduty.filefront.com/file/LtSpeirs_Realism_Mod;55730. This mod makes things much more real. If you play Pointe Du Hoc, it feels like Private Ryan. Many more men and many more folks everywhere. It also adds the WCP Allied Pain mod and Sound Mod for better sounds and weapons. Also there is more realistic grenades adn teh AI is smarter.
* “WCP Realism”:http://callofduty.filefront.com/file/WCP_CoD2_Reality;54948. This is the other big realism modification. This one doesn’t appear compatible with Lt Speirs so try each and take your pick. This mod works best standalone and there are instructions on how to add “+set fs_fame WCP2” to your exec string to make this happen. It has cooking grenades, no names for allies, weapons tweaking, weapons sway fewer tracers,
* “Camillo Realism”:http://callofduty.filefront.com/file/Camillo_CoD2SP_Realism_Mod;56827. This makes this less like an arcade game. There are no more crosshairs, the weapons damage is more realistic and also you only have one weapon now instead of carrying two. This seems to work at least with Lt. Speirs.

Widescreen Gaming

Widescreen Gaming Forum Portal. With our new widescreen monitor, older games look wierd. So here’s a site that is dedicated to fixing it. There is a “Master List”:http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/masterlist.php that shows you how to fix your games. A few hacks are noted here for my favorites:

h2. Call of Duty

The original one which I still like the best I have to say because the physics model is the most honest. There is a “INI”:http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1524 file change you have to make, but basically you go to c:\program files\Call of Duty\Main\config.cfg and change the parameters which sets the field of view, play the movie normally (r_mode) and set the exact height and width of your monitor. You can use the “FOVCalc”:http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/downloads.php to figure out the FOV.

bq. seta cg_fov “106.6”
bq. seta r_mode “-1”
bq. seta r_customheight “1200”
bq. seta r_customwidth “1920”

h2. Sim City 4

This is one game that can really use the extra resolution, there is something called “UniWS”:http://www.widescreengamingforum.com/downloads.php which is a universal Widescreen patcher, it actually works on just a few games like Sim City 4 and Tiger Woods 2005, but pretty useful. You set Sim City 4 to 800×600 before patching and it hacks away at the config.cfg file.

Backup up CDs

If you have a valuable CD, you might want a way to back it up. We just paid $300 !!! for a program and there is no backup strategy. Here is what you have to do:

# Copy Protected Games – THE DAEMONS HOME. Determine what the copy protection is exactly with A-Ray scanner. You install the program and then do a Scan Directory, it will tell you for instance if SafeDisc 4.00 is installed.
# Backup your CD. Most folks use Alcohol 120% or CloneCD for this. Alcohol 120% handles more types of anti-backup schemes and with these programs you can either create a backup CD or an image you can mount
# With the image made, you then mount them as virtual drives. There is an issue in that many programs won’t recognize virtual drives correctly.

Tweakguides for Games

Every gamer wants to make their system faster, so after overclocking like mad, check out “TweakGuides.com”:http://tweakguides.com for the latest on specific tweaks to improve performance:

TweakGuides.com – Call of Duty 2 Tweak Guide. A nice review for Call of Duty

“What is Antialiasing?”:http://www.tweaktown.com/guides/601/the_simple_antialiasing_and_anisotropic_guide/index.html a guide for those of who think Anisotropic is something that happens over the Pacific in light winds 🙂 The short form is that Antialiasing prevents jagged lines from occuring on the edges of walls. You can steup the amount of antialiasing in steps of 2x, 4x, etc. Anistropic filtering makes the surfaces of object look cleaner and crisper.

Railroad Tycoon Update 3 and other updates

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 for PC Downloads – RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Downloads – RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Demos. Seems like every game these days ships with a sea of bugs. RollerCoaster Tycoon in our case just crashes out of the box on a vanilla XP machine, hope one of these updates help.

In this case, it needs a 110MB (!!!) update. At least this application has an updater built-in, others just leave you to troll sitesl

Here is data on the rest of the games that I bought for the kids this Xmas:

* Simcoaster doesn’t have any updates that I can find. Seems reasonably stable.
* “Simgolf”:http://simgolf.ea.com/dloads/. This thing needs a 1.03 update.
* “Crayola Make a Masterpiece”:http://support.selectsoft.com/products/Crayola/LNCRAMAMAJ.htm#Downloads. Wow, this one was hard to find, but there is an update if the install fails.
* “SimCity 3000”:http://simcity3000unlimited.ea.com/us/guide/. BTW, EA is a mess, they have lots of sites for each game that aren’t linked at the top of ea.com, so you have to use Google to find them and support shows an update to patch 1.1 according to “simexchange”:http://simcity3000unlimited.ea.com/us/simexchange/downloads/sc3k_bat/bat_faq.phtml for “download”:http://simcity3000unlimited.ea.com/us/simexchange/downloads/sc3k_bat/

Call of Duty 2 Rocks

The reviews of this game are correct. The first Call of Duty just blew me away with its realism. From the shake mode when artillery landed to the sounds. Now this one is just more and more people and more and more of the same. I love it just the same.

The Russian front for instance is just a sea of people. It doesn’t shock and awe you like F.E.A.R does with its graphics, etc., but it sure is arcade like fun without being totally campy like Battlefield 2 which feels more like an arcade game

Here are some sources of information:

* WEapons information. Like most modern games they don’t have any manuals, so here’s a great source for all the weapons.