When it comes to sound, Bad Company 2 is breathtaking for me. The explosions are EXPLOSIONS, gunfire sounds as atmospheric as it does in a good war movie and the radio traffic has just the right feel to it. It's just immensely engaging - and precise. I just played some rounds now for comparison, and whereas previously there was an immediate sense of direction regarding sound, now it's just a left/right distinction, and not even that is 100% accurate if the sound is higher or lower than character eye level. Whatever witchcraft was previously used, I want it back
I also used SoundStorm back in... early 2000s? It was good, but since the only option in an update would've been Realtek integrated (no optical yet), I went with sound cards that served me for the rest of the decade.
I do not like Creative's software. I always end up disabling a few redundant services they insist on running and don't care for their fancy control panel (I use the barebones one you can install separately). It's just typical bloatware, though it seems to work well (i.e. no errors, looping, everything gets recognised properly).
The Live! 1024 I owned before the Xtrememusic came with such garbled software that installation was a pain, yes. Had to reinstall it the first time around to get it working in the first place, and most updates ended up in a need to reinstall as well. I skipped Vista, so I did not have those bad experiences nor installed Creative ALchemy at any point.
The Xtrememusic software, while still bloatware, at least worked properly and would update obediently. Never a fuss with it - but I don't count having to uninstall extra components those updates left behind.
We'll see how things are with the X-Fi Titanium that is due to arrive tomorrow.
Edit1: Games back to optimal, but this software is... broken. The device insists on using Microsoft drivers, making it impossible for the Creative Audio Console and Diagnostics to detect it. Creative Autoupdate and System Information detect it fine, however. Crap, crap, crap.
Edit2: Went onto Windows Update to check if OS needed something (Creative patch for detection problems was no help), turns out Windows Update is the only way I could get the device to be correctly recognised. Wow.