At times over the past fortnight I've felt variously like a one-man consumer pressure group, a spoiled crybaby, and Anne Robinson. None of these is a good thing. But that's what #rimlag has reduced me too. That's the, let's be honest, pretty unpleasant term which I've coined to describe the debilitating framerate problems that have dogged some* PS3 players experience of the otherwise utterly superb Skyrim.
(*I'm dutybound to say 'some', because it doesn't affect all players - older machines with rammed HDDs seem particularly susceptible. Though a straw poll of the office/my Twitter feed suggests the problem is commonplace. As does even a cursory glance at the Bethesda PS3 Skyrim support forum, where threads like this one first highlighted the issue.)
But why, Tim, are you still wittering on about it now that the game's been patched? Aren't we golden now?
Not exactly, no.
Amongst other fixes, the funniest of which has to be an "occasional issue where a guest would arrive to the player's wedding dead", (don't mind Kenneth, he always smells like that), the patch promised to improve "occasional performance issues resulting from long term play". Hmm. We'll ignore the arse-covering "occasional", shall we?
Hardened followers of the #rimlag debacle will remember that pre-patch, my game (11mb save, lvl 41 character, 70+hours play, really sweet armour) would eventually deteriorate to flipbook levels of performance, necessitating a restart to (albeit temporarily) cure the problem.
Having installed the 92mb Band-Aid yesterday, my initial response was overwhelmingly positive.
Initially, I was startled by how buttery smooth the framerate seemed having installed the patch. It even held up fine when going into problem areas crowded with NPCs, such as Whiterun, or engaging in large scale scraps with multiple enemies out in the wild. I was a happy Sabre Cat. However, extended play later last night - and we're talking a three hour session - saw the choppiness creep back in, until eventually it became unplayable again.
And yeah, I know: 'well, don't play for three hours, dummy.' But like a good consumer journalist I was bravely testing the game to breaking point on your behalf. And sure enough it broke. As did my girlfriend's game, and as did my colleague's game. Which, really, isn't alright is it?
Pay another visit to the Bethesda forum and you'll find all manner of gripes and grizzles, from fatal crashes to janky magic resistance. Bizarrely, some folk are more lucky, like Official PlayStation Magazine's Leon Hurley, who suddenly finds himself with horse.