Entry 97: DX10 Impressions, part 2: Running some DX9 games
The next step before the advent of the true DX10 compliant monsters was to reinstall and try some of my favorite blockbusters, which I did in the last couple of weeks with very satisfying results. I don't know if the people having difficulties with Vista either exaggerate the situation or make the jump totally unprepared, or both: frankly, by taking all the precautions a PC nut must, Vista isn't the buggy octopus the unfortunate user seem to experience - at least no more than the previous OSs following their releases. Admittedly, for Vista+DX10 a high end machine is required, not to mention the will to play recent/upcoming games mostly. On the flip side, it would be ill-advised to recommend it now to the average joe or the college boy still playing CounterStrike: many pre-DX8 games just won't run. The culprit often seem to be the older ddraw.dll, which Microsoft no longer supports under Vista. Some cl4ssics like StarCraft run fine, yet overlooked jewels no longer updated are left adrift. Sadly, Master of Orion II falls into the latter category but can be safely installed on DOS.
The Half Life 2 saga runs smoothly under Vista 32 bit, albeit a couple CTDs I had. I'm also impressed the way Valve silently updated it via Steam over the months: all the lights in the vanilla game are now HDR rendered for a pleasant look in 1920x1200 8x 16x. For a game released almost three years ago, the amount of details continue to hold even compared to recent offerings of the genre, like Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. That way, a reasonable tech continuity should link the episodes despite the high degree of technical evolution separating them beforehand. F.E.A.R. fully updated also run fine. Unlike HL2 however, it joins the ranks of the majority, thus showing little visual improvement on higher resolutions. Of course, virtually no game up until now has a 1920x1200 or a 1080p framework at the pillar ( even if they support it ). You bet it's gonna change through 2008, starting with the ludicrous amount of real next gen titles coming this crazy fall/winter. We're slowly, but surely entering the real HD gaming.
On the other end of the spectrum, I touted again one fine TBS heaped with critical acclaim: GalCiv II Dread Lords & Dark Avatar. The developer Stardock isn't recognised to be one heck of a post release supporter for nothing: it also closely works Windows enhancements so we're in good hands for their game compatibilities.
A lengthy revisit for dummies
The comparison game wouldn't be complete without another blast from the latest golden age that was 2004: Doom 3. It has its detractors, but id software had the decency to offer things very few studios give to their fans: a very long single player campaign for a shooter, at least twice the standards; monster closets ( the best in the market ); and an enjoyable difficulty curve. Now, you must apply the latest v1.31 to play it flawlessly on Vista and I liked it again. Just so you know that id's engine then, a power munger entrée in 2004, now really show its age compared to the nicely revamped HL2. Valve finally won the contest, yet Doom 3 keeps some specific appeal that could be well rejuvenated in the future, perhaps to infuse some monster closets onto a F.E.A.R.ish tactical world and abroad. Dummies want new ripple effects.......
I'm pinning all my hopes for the next entrée, BioShock. Of course X360 fans shall taste it aplenty, but the PC version could very well lay down the bridge for a raging bull to come. An elitist bull it is. But fear not: it will come this way fast and loud with a big HD stamped between the horns, heralding the arrival of a new golden age. At last.