This Easter weekend I've been playing a lot of PC games. I finished off Mass Effect 3, played even more Battlefield 3 and played Crysis 2 from start to finish . I've had a lot of time this weekend to think about the most impressive graphics I've seen and so have listed some of my thoughts below.
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect has very polished graphics, nothing particularly fancy but very well done. They leave the environments feeling a little clean. That said, many of the environments are on board spacecraft so that's excusable. There hasn't been a huge change since the graphics of ME2.
I've commented in the past about BF3's stunning graphics (here). The real impact from the graphics in BF3 is the scale of the environments. The Back to Karkand expansion has highlighted the cleanliness of the original maps. The new additions feel much more detailed (which they are) while also benefiting from an improved ability to destroy everything!
Skyrim has been a huge game recently, again the most impressive aspect of the graphics is the shear size of the environment! It makes BF3 feel tiny! [Playing with the high res texture pack] The environment is filled with detail both indoors and outside.
So I got BF3 on the day it came out, installed asap, was amazed. The graphics, particularly in the campaign, are stunning. I decided I was going to play the campaign first to get a feeling for controls etc before taking on multi-player. I got about half way through the campaign before I tried it. It feels very similar to BF2 in game style so I was quick to get into it. I didn't play any of the Battlefield games in between so cannot comment on the evolution of the series.
I have to admit I'm not great. I will hold my hands up and admit at one point I googled around for advice on how to not to die so quickly... not that it particularly helped. One thing I could relate to was the large number of forum posts with people complaining about the fact they could empty entire clips into enemies who would fire only two shots back and kill them!
Turns out the answer is simple you need to shoot first and you need to shoot accurately. Obvious, yet this was my major problem. I had noticed when using a sniper rifle that despite getting an upgrade to allow reloading while aiming, I stopped aiming anyway. It made me pay more attention to what I was doing. I noticed I would often see the enemy first, I put that down to having fast computer, low ping and being observant. Problem was I would naturally then 'aim' (with scope) before shooting, accurate yes but not fast. By the time I had decided they were the enemy and started aiming they would have noticed me.
I then tried to avoid 'aimed' fire (ie shooting from the hip) and found that by starting the shooting that fraction of a second earlier makes a MASSIVE difference. Seems that getting the first hit to the chest is more effective on average then trying to get the first hit to the head. Obviously sometimes you get lucky and a bullet hits their head anyway making the whole process a lot quicker!
Anyway, once I had this realisation I became much more effective when running around.
At a similar time to this enlightenment I unlocked a 12x scope and bipod for my sniper rifle which dramatically increased my effectiveness at long range encounters.
The bipod allows the scope to be held perfectly still making lining up precise shots relatively easy. For the very long distance shots, the challenge becomes combining the delay for the bullet to travel and the bullet drop. The difference in height between the centre of the scope and the blood splatter shows the significant bullet drop over long range.
My longest headshot to date is 551m, while I enjoy trying to make this as large as possible I don't think it will increase much beyond this as the opportunity to make shots this long is so infrequent.