In all, though, the ordeal was relatively painless. I was fairly aware of what was going to happen after reading a few message boards, so I was prepared to go grab a snack when the Unlocking began.
Yeah - I also spent some time researching on the net, so I was prepared to have issues, 5 hours was a bit heavy though - crappy internet connection at home is what did it. I'll soon have ADSL though and ditch this shitty wireless connection.
What got me during install was an unexpected bit - after the account creation and the unlocking, I got another screen about updating - I really flew of the handle when I saw that, it took another 45 minutes. Fact is, it was probably a 10 meg update, which on a fast line would be a few minutes.
What pissed me off about it is that I was given NO option whether I wanted the update or not or what it was doing.
I'm actually so glad, however, that I'd recently given my home PC a good old clean out, registry clean, check for unwanted startup files (like nvidia / creative crap) and a hearty defrag (good old Disk Keeper 7)
This evening, I bumped up from 800x600 to 1024x768 and the game is still very playable, which is cool. I have everything on high quality except I don't have anti-aliasing setup.
Level loading times are ok - 30 seconds in some cases, I can live with that. Slight sound stutters on loading / saving or entering a large area, but nothing that takes much away from the game.
1gig DDR400 Ram (running at 166FSB because of slower proccessor / stability)
Ti4200 128meg - best video card I ever got, total classic that still holds up with modern games
Old Audigy 1 sound card (cannot get the onboard Nforce sound storm to do 5.1)
4 gig free on install drive after installing game.
The game is just awesome fun - I've laughed out loud and had a newbie gamer experience that was funny.
I was pushing a little two wheel truck along from the back and found myself actually moving my own head to the one side to look around the obstacle
- I haven't done that with games for years !
There's some really sweet little physics setups hidden away here and there - if you play through the game too fast, you'll miss um.
Take it slow and easy and maximise the experience.
Dang, I haven't even got the gravity gun yet, I just died at the bit *spoiler alert* where your on the hovercraft, come round a bend and the smoke stack chimney collapses over the river !
I was too busy watching it to pay attention to the game - it was simply incredible - the way it broke up into pieces when it smacked into the river bank.
Choppy sound and Graphics
_shank - do a big cleanout of your PC, free up some space on your install drive and defrag it, get the latest drivers - you know the drill.
I think you may be suffering from RAM issues too - the game is currently very RAM greedy. Your Processor is also a tad on the slow side.
What most people think is causing unpleasant game experiences even on high end rigs is sound not being pre-cached properly by thier systems for some reason. Some people with monster rigs are virtually unable to play the game.
Why does steam HAVE to be running? I haven't found hl2.exe yet, the shortcuts just run steam.exe passing it something like app=220.
So far, Steam certainly does feel like Spy-Ware simply because there's so little control over it and it doesn't show much info when it's doing things - like time expected, the files it's getting / checking.
Valve have to fix the "Offline" mode pronto - people who bought the game are suffering, while people who pirated it are merrily playing away with no authentication required.
It must be a bug of some sort. What you can do is to start up the game, then use the Windows key on the keyboard to go back into windows and disconnect from the net, or if your using zonealarm, just lock the internet connection.
I dislike not being give choice over my own computer and I feel Steam is violating my choice as a consumer and PC enthusiast.
I've not run any dodgy cracks yet - I'll give Valve time to maybe see the light and release a patch that takes steam completley out of the equation for Single Player.
My naturally paranoid side, however, suspects that Steam was hi-jacked by Vivendi as a marketing related tool to gather info from the millions and millions of people who registered.
I can't help feeling that Valve themselves if they had thier way, would not have required Steam activation for Single Player - at least, I would hope so ?