Saturday, November 19, 2011

L.A. Noire PC Lag Fix

Are you suffering from extremely low frame rates on L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition (PC)? well it seems to be a known issue and there is a fix for it, which may or may not work for you but it certainly did for me.

Step 1: Open up the game launcher and select 'Options'.

Step 2: In the Command Line type in "-str" with out the "".

Step 3: Save and launch the game.

This should give you better frame rates, at lease playable rates. as per the game readme file the above procedure enables a single threaded renderer, which may improve performance or compatibility on some systems.

L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition - PC (Review)

Another one of Rockstar Games console ports to the PC - L.A.Noire the Complete Edition is a great game barring a few niggles that probably come from porting the game from a console to the PC. Rockstar seem to have made this a habit of releasing games for consoles and then porting them. Read on for my detailed review of the game.

Plot (Rating 5/5)
This has to be the games biggest strength and selling point. This game seems to have pioneered a concept that I hope many follow. The story is centered around the crime scene in the post war 40's Los Angeles, you play detective Cole Phelps a war veteran who has joined the LAPD, as he investigates crimes from car theft to gruesome murders. I'll keep it at that for now since i don't want to leave spoilers for those looking to play the game, but rest assured this is one plot that will leave you thinking about its events for a while after you turn in your badge.

Gameplay (Rating 4.5/5)
The game throws you right into the action from the word go, the tutorial is nicely integrated into the early story, with the hand holding you get in the early investigations. But you find yourself quite alone in the later cases, having to dig through loads of clues, and risking putting the wrong person behind bars.
A large part of the investigation is the interrogations you need to do on suspects and witnesses, each with their own set of personal issues and facts to hide, during these interrogations you get a few options allowing you to decide if it is the truth, doubt or lie, the rest of the investigations are done by looking for clues at suspect homes or crime scenes, this adds a sense of realism and the locations have load of irrelevant junk and clues you may or may not find that will form part of how successful you may or may not be.
In game driving is excellent, and the hundreds of licensed cars are modeled to perfection, adding to the 1940's feel. The game is quite engrossing and keeps you interested till the end like a top rated Hollywood thriller unfolding with you at the lead role controlling every event.

Graphics (Rating 3/5)
This is the game's weakest spot, as far at the PC version goes, and it needs a tweak in the launcher options to work better (which I will cover in my next post). The game suffers from occasional lag and out of sync speech, bit still quite bearable and the games pro's out weigh its cons in the performance. However the developers have done a great job in the facial expressions of the characters. (which form part of your decision making during an investigation) the attention to detail in the facial expressions is worth mentioning.

Audio (Rating 5/5)
The dynamic soundtrack is well knit into the story line and adds to the experience, voice acting is top notch, and feels like a top rated Hollywood flick.

Summary (Overall Rating 4/5)
If you have access to a console I'd recommend it over the PC version, however if not this is still well worth the time and money, it does have allot to keep you interested. This is not your typical GTA but it brings something new to the table which should form a new genre in itself. The game has a very tight story line, which is largely influenced by decisions you make, it will certainly go in my library of classics.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gaming Lag Fix..

For a few months my once ‘high end’ gaming laptop the Asus G50-x5 has been annoying me with serious lag spikes while gaming, this would occur 8-10mis after starting a game and last for about 4-5mins with frame rates dropping as low as 4-5fps, this made most games unplayable. For a while I thought it’s probably time for it to hang in the gloves and look for an upgrade, until I realized that the games that worked earlier without a hiccup were now unplayable. After some googling and upgrading my display drivers (with no luck) I realized I needed to open it up and clean its innards.

Turns out the heat-sink was clogged with dust (practically mud!!), living in Mumbai can have that effect, no matter how clean you keep it and besides this laptop is almost 3 years old now, so a good flush of its guts was much needed. I have opened it up in the past for the occasional cleaning, but never specifically looked for the heat-sink vents, which as I learnt is what matters most. With the vents to the heat sink blocked the laptop would circulate the hot air inside the case, which should otherwise flow out the sides.

If you are facing the same issues read on, for guide on how to go about the task. Thankfully my laptop allows easy access to the fan without having to take the whole thing apart. This guide is based on the steps for an Asus G50 "Republic of Gamers" Laptop.

What you need: - the right sized screwdrivers (Phillips), acetone, thermal compound(for the gpu/cpu), compressed air for cleaning.

Steps: -
  1. Remove the battery and unscrew the large cover from the bottom of the laptop. Revealing the HDD, RAM, Fan, etc.
  2. Gently unplug the fan and unscrew the 6 screws on the fan/heatsink (i.e. 4 on the CPU and 2 on the GPU)
  3. Turn the fan/heatsink over and unscrew the 3 screws on the fan and separate it from the heatsink.
  4. Now blow the compressed air or through the blocked fins of the heat sink, use a brush or a needle if required.
  5. Once all clean attach the fan back to the heatsink with the 3 screws (step 3).
  6. Clean the points of the heatsink that comes in contact with the CPU and GPU. By clean I mean remove all the earlier / factory applied thermal compound / heat sink paste using acetone.
  7. Now apply the new thermal compound, (all you need is a drop about 2-3mm in diameter) on the CPU and GPU.
  8. Put back the fan/heatsink and the 6 screws removed in step 2.
  9. Plug the fan back, put back the back cover, battery and power on!
You should immediately notice your laptop running cooler and games are now playable again.
Hope you find this useful, don’t blame me if you mess up though, however there isn’t much that can be done wrong, it’s just basic cleaning. 

Do write in if you have any further questions. Until then I’ll be solving crime on L.A.Noire.