Saturday, August 28, 2010

Acclaim games down and out

     Acclaim is apparently dead again. Barely three months after the free-to-play online game publisher was acquired by Playdom, the social gaming company has pulled the plug on Acclaim's entire catalog.

     On what used to be the official Acclaim Web site, visitors are given a short message saying that Acclaim games will no longer be in service, effective yesterday. The site also contains instructions on how customers can be reimbursed for unused Acclaim Coins (the in-game currency that drove the company's microtransactions) and plugs for Playdom's lineup of Facebook games. The site gives no indication that the Acclaim name will continue in any form.

      Originally founded in 1987 as a publisher for consoles, PCs, and arcades, Acclaim enjoyed mixed success until its filing for bankruptcy in 2004. The company published critically lauded titles, such as Turok and Burnout 1 and 2, as well as less warmly received titles, such as BMX XXX, Batman Forever, and Space Jam.

      Following the breakup of the company, Throwback Entertainment purchased many of Acclaim's key intellectual properties, while former Activision executive Howard Marks purchased the brand name. Marks went on to reboot Acclaim Games as a free-to-play games portal and had some success with titles like Bots, 9Dragons, and the rhythm action game RockFree, which at one point boasted 15 million registered players.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

EverQuest II Extended goes live

     The big news surrounding Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest franchise occurred earlier this month, when the storied massively multiplayer online role-playing game maker announced Everquest Next, a working title. The third flagship installment in SOE's MMORPG universe, Next is a reimagining of the land of Norrath, telling all-new stories in locations that will be familiar to the franchise faithful.

     However, that isn't the only notable development out of SOE. Last month, the publisher said that 2004's EverQuest II would soon offer a free-to-play option in addition to the game's standard subscription fee. Today, SOE announced that EQII's free-to-play scenario, called EverQuest II Extended, is now available, and players can sign up for access through the game's official Web site

     EQII's new business model breaks the game's payment plan up into four tiers: bronze (free), silver (one-time, $10), gold ($15 a month), and platinum ($200 per year, available August 31). At the lowest three tiers, players are limited to four races, of 19 total. Bronze and silver memberships are limited to eight character classes, out of a total 24 options. A comprehensive breakdown of what each payment level offers is available on SOE's Web site.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lord of the Rings Online Goes Free To Play In September

     Good news for fans of Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online.

     The conversion from subscription service to free-to-play game is coming September 10th.

     Like Dungeons & Dragons Online, LOTRO will allow players to play completely for free, but also offers micro-transactions to purchase new character types and expansions to the game. Players can still sign up for a subscription service that grants them more character slots per server and a stipend of points for use in the Turbine Store each month.

      Founders and Lifetime Subscription holders get a few more bonuses but are still guaranteed they will not have to spend any additional money to play the game

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dragon Age II Release Date Set

     Aside from announcing Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 in 2011, EA also had another big BioWare announcement at their GamesCom press conference: the release date for Dragon Age II. Which is March 8, 2011. Yay! That’s not very long from now, and it’s less than a year and a half after the first game hit. BioWare's workin’ fast on this one.

Age of Empires Online, Microsoft Flight Announced

     Microsoft’s been talking up their “renewed commitment” to PC gaming for a while now. Fable III was the first big PC release they added to their roster, and now they’ve announced two more at Gamescom.
     First up is Age of Empires Online, the newest games in the venerable series. Age of Empires Online will be developed by Robot Entertainment, and will drop players into an online world. You’ll get a chance to build your empire from a village in a Greek civilization by completing quests both alone and with friends. Here’s a feature list that Microsoft released:
  • A persistent online capital city that lives and grows even when you’re offline
  • Cooperative multiplayer quests, trading and a level-based system that lets you progress at your own pace
  • Fun, approachable style and storylines
  • Free-to-play experiences via Games for Windows – LIVE
     The second announcement will bring tears of joy to fans of flight simulators. It looked like Microsoft Flight Simulator was destined for the ash heap when longtime developer ACES was closed by Microsoft last year. Instead, it appears that the series will be making a comeback soon with the reveal of Microsoft Flight.
Microsoft says that the new title (which loses the ‘Simulator’ tag), “will bring a new perspective” to the genre. They haven’t dropped a ton of information, but you can check out the teaser below.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Top 10 Reasons You Want Mafia 2

     With a few hours under my belt in the Mafia 2 Demo and Many hours in the original, I think I've come up with a Top 10 list you won't see featured on Letterman, as to why you should get and play Mafia 2 when it's released on the 24th of this month.  So let's get to it.

Top 10 Reasons You Want Mafia II

#10)   Tommy. Guns.
           That's right.  The iconic Tommy Gun.  Well not JUST the Tommy Gun, but the ability to put .45 rounds into multiple faces in rapid succession mobster style.  Yeah sure, There are plenty of games that let you do this.  But none of them capture the Gang Era feeling so well, and make you say to yourself  "So THIS is what it felt like to be Baby Face Nelson!"  And speaking of Baby Faces, You'll hear many babies crying from inside houses as you walk down  a street, Hip Firing your Thompson with a huge grin on your face.... You sick sadistic animal

#9)     Dress for Success.
          By Dress I mean the sophisticated suits and stylish fedoras with freshly shined shoes. By Success I mean getting away with $20,000 you forcefully took from the local bank. There are many styles and bits of clothing you can wear, and nothing says 1950's Mobster Action like a Suit with a Submachin Gun tucked in your trench coat.  You *Will* visit the many clothing shops and you *Will* Walk out of said shops with some fancy new threads.  Paying for it is optional, But it's nice to know that a change of underwear will ward off the police if you're wanted.

#8)     Crime Sprees!
          Between Missions in this Free Roam game you will probably be replenishing your health with a cup of joe, or buying a new hat or even buying a shiny new pistol in the local Gun store, only to shoot the owner and take the money back before casually walking out with your new toy.  This is a game about the criminal life, after all, so it's nice to see the ability to put on your common criminal petty theft panties every now and then and rob the registers of the local shops.  After your Crime police will show up and question the owners, or if you sent the shop owners on a one way trip to hell via the Tommy Rocket Express, the shop will be closed down, and empty, complete with crime scene tape covering the doors. 

#7)     Say, That's a Swell ride!
          The closest thing we have today to the 1950's is Sonic.  Yeah I know. Waitresses on Rollerskates and Beachboys over the PA system.  While that can be nice to look at and listen to from time to time, they still won't look or bring you into the era like a good old fashioned Automobile made out of solid metal and have wings large enough to create lift.  Not to mention the pastel colors they'll often be painted in.  But this is Mafia.  If you can't afford that new T-Bird, then you can just yank Suzie Q right on out and take it for yourself.  This is the era before computers as well so just drive it to get your tags changed, it'll be months before police even get the memo.

#6)     Playboy Magazine.
          Throughout Mafia II's world of Empire Bay are lots of lost and dropped Playboy magazines just waiting for you to find them.  Most games have pigeons to shoot or packages to find with no incentive to find them other than an extra number in the stats.  Well now you have incentive because each one found gives you an actual centerfold from the Playboy magazines of the era.  Never in the history of gaming will people be hunting a collectible so fast.  Don't worry though, these are the 40's 50's and 60's versions of Playboy, Only tasteful stuff here

#5)     Police aren't Law Enforcing Robots
          You'll find that this time around the police aren't as ANAL about enforcing the law, allowing you to exceed the Speed Limit by sometimes 20 Miles per Hour without giving a care in the world, or hot wiring a convertible as an officer walks by.  Sure if you T-Bone someone, including the police they'll say you've committed a hit and run, even if you aren't running and try to arrest you but that's alright.  You can now bribe the police, or resist arrest, the choice is yours.  But make no Mistake, these are LAPD Cops incarnate, they *WILL* Ram someone and jack them out of their own car and put them under arrest.

#4)     Rock and Roll
          Mafia 2 has some pretty awesome music this time around.  I don't know how they were able to put it into this game without forking out millions of dollars for the rights, but let's not jinx it.  There's just something about plowing down a sidewalk, sending bodies flying with your 4 Ton Thunderbird with "Rock Around The Clock Tonight" blasting through the stereo that will put a grin from ear to ear on your face

#3)     Money, That's what I want
          Aside form also being in the amazing soundtrack, Money seems to be important this time around.  Or not important I suppose, since you can basically just take what you want.  But Repairing, Repainting, Changing your Tags and your car's wheels will cost money.  Changing the Tune on the Jukebox in the local diner will cost money (Although this is the late 40's and early 50's we're talking about here so it's cheap)  Buying Booze, Customizing your ride, bribing the police, buying clothes and weapons... Whatever the case maybe, everything has monetary value.   Of course lead is also a wise investment choice

#2)     Cheap Gas!!!
          Not only is the gas cheap, someone will actually come out and fill you up while you wait.  It feels nice to only have to pay a dollar for 6 gallons of gasoline, and if it doesn't feel good then file a complaint in the form of violence and get your money back plus interest

#1)     It's Mafia.
          This is the best reason to get the game right here.  If you remember the first, the story was great, the action was great, the Free Roam was great.  The game was great.  This time they have taken it up a thousand notches and made it better than great.  This isn't going to be a lousy buggy port from console to PC, it feels great on PC.  It looks Best on PC and for you nVidia users who can enable PhysX without slowdowns, will look Even better than better.  You will not forget the first time you hold up a Diner with Buddy Holly on the radio with hundreds of rounds flying in and out of the place, tearing the place up.  The story is going to be deep and engaging, the freedom and little details are too many to list, the sound effects and soundtrack are top notch and let's not forget the most important factor: You will actually feel like you're in the Mafia.

Tropico 4 breaking ground spring 2011

      The Sims: Medieval is currently scheduled for release next spring, but while that game is taking players on a ride through time, another city simulator will take gamers to a lush yet embattled isle.

     Kalypso Media today announced that Tropico 4, the latest in the strategy simulation series, is currently in development at Haemimont Games and scheduled to hit the PC in early 2011. The announcement promised that details on a "possible" console version are coming soon. The title's predecessor, Tropico 3, was released on the PC in 2009 and was accompanied by an Xbox 360 version in 2010. 
     As for the new game, Tropico 4 brings players back to the island nation of Tropico, where gamers are cast as El Presidente, the compassionate (or nefarious) ruler of the land. More specifically, Tropico 4 includes a 20-mission campaign set on 10 distinct environments and packs in 20 new buildings including a shopping mall, aqua park, and stock exchange. Additionally, the game incorporates new interactive disasters like tornadoes, volcanoes, and droughts to wreak havoc on the inhabitants of the banana republic.

     The PC version of Tropico 4 will also feature social media integration via Internet mega hubs Facebook and Twitter. Players will be able to tweet and update their Facebook statuses in game to tell the world of their virtual feats. Tropico 4 is currently scheduled for release during spring 2011.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crysis 2 Launches March 22


     Crytek's Crysis 2 was originally scheduled to ship during the busy holiday season but was bumped for a "better [release] window and polishing." Today, the developer locked down the game's release date in early 2011.

     According to Crytek's Twitter feed, Crysis 2 will hit shelves March 22, 2011, in North America and three days later on March 25, 2011, in Europe. The new date distances the game from such holiday heavyweights as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Halo: Reach and places it just before the April 2011 launch of the upcoming Gears of War 3.
     Crysis 2 sees players fend off an alien threat once again, aided by a nanosuit that grants the user superhuman abilities ranging from speed boosts to active camouflage. The sequel features two major distinctions from its predecessor. The original Crysis featured lush tropical environments, but Crysis 2 takes place in the urban jungle of New York City. Additionally, the sequel is going multiplatform and will be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation, and return to PC.

STALKER 2 Officially in Development

     GSC Game World announces S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 - the official sequel to best-selling game series - in development now. A completely new multi-platform technology developed by GSC will make the core of the game.

     "After the official sales of the series exceeded 4 million copies worldwide, we had no doubts left to start creating a new big game in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe. This will be the next chapter of the mega-popular game players expect from us" - said Sergiy Grygorovych, CEO of GSC Game World.

     The game is scheduled for release in 2012.

Rage Gets a Release Date

     The news, fresh out of QuakeCon, is that ID’s next big title, Rage, which they’ve been working on forever, now has a target date: September 13, 2011 for North America and September 15, 2011 in Europe on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Friday, August 13, 2010

H.A.W.X. 2 Demo Next Week

     Put your G-Suit on and strap in, the H.A.W.X. 2 Demo will be here next week and with it comes two action packed missions.

Interception Course
Take to the air as a Russian pilot sent to intercept a group of stolen aircraft high above the Caucasus Mountains, a hot spot on the world conflict radar, you will be playing a Russian pilot in this mission part of the new multinational cinematic story narrative in H.A.W.X. 2.

Seek and Destroy
Playing from the perspective of the elite U.S. HAWX squadron deployed to settle conflict spilling over in Africa, you are tasked with taking out specific targets with smart ammunition at night. Take off from a carrier under the cover of night and strike against a weapon smuggling operation using precision guided laser bombs.

16 New Screenshots for Arcania: Gothic 4

     Jowood has released 16 new screenshots for the upcoming Gothic title: Arcania: Gothic 4.

    Gothic 4 is expected to be released on October 12 for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2k Games Reveals Bioshock: Infinite

      2k Games has revealed exactly what Icarus is.  The new Bioshock game titled Bioshock: Infinite. And guess what? a Juicy trailer comes with the synopsis of what the game will be about.

      BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter currently in development at Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock (which sold over 4 million units worldwide). Set in 1912, BioShock Infinite introduces an entirely new narrative and gameplay experience that lifts players out of the familiar confines of Rapture and rockets them to Columbia, an immense city in the sky.

      Former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt has been sent to rescue Elizabeth, a young woman imprisoned in Columbia since childhood. Booker develops a relationship with Elizabeth, augmenting his abilities with hers so the pair may escape from a city that is literally falling from the sky. DeWitt must learn to fight foes in high-speed Sky-Line battles, engage in combat both indoors and amongst the clouds, and harness the power of dozens of new weapons and abilities.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Delayed


      Test Drive Unlimited 2 has stuttered on its way to the shelves as Atari has put the open world racer back to the beginning of 2011, just beyond its scheduled launch date of September this year.

      Developed by Eden Games, Test Drive Unlimited 2 is the sequel to one of this generation's very first racers, an open world game with all-inclusive online options, a suite of supercars and hundreds of miles of Hawaiian road to pound. The follow-up moves to Ibiza, introducing day and night cycles, a full weather system and improved visuals and handling.

      The delay has been caused as Eden and Atari get their chamois leathers out and give Test Drive Unlimited 2 as much polish as possible.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gearbox Rumored to Have Picked Up Duke Nukem Forever

     Along with the imaginary Phantom console, Duke Nukem Forever is one of the biggest jokes in the history of gaming. It’s been the biggest piece of vaporware in history for years.

     If a rumor making the rounds of the ‘net is true, that may be coming to an end. According to anonymous sources who spoke to Kotaku, Borderlands developer Gearbox is planning to finish development on the long-awaited title. One source even stated that a playable demo would be available later this year.

     Take Two Interactive retains the publishing rights to the title, but they refused to comment on the status of the Duke Nukem Forever Project or whether it had in fact landed at Gearbox. 3D Realms founder George Broussard refused to comment on the situation, as did Gearbox President Randy Pitchford. However, Pitchford did say that he might be better able to clarify the situation at next month’s Penny Arcade Expo.

     Obviously, any rumor involving Duke Nuke Forever at this point is purely speculation, especially given how other rumors about the game have panned out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anet's MMO Manifesto: New Guild Wars 2 Video

     A new video for Guild Wars 2 has arrived.  The Developers delve into what makes Guild Wars 2 unique in comparison to other MMO's, as well as a lot of new game footage.

Mafia 2 Demo Now on Steam

     2K have released a demo for their soon-to-be-released Mafia 2 and it is now available on Steam. No standalone download available just yet.

     If you're still on the edge about making the purchase you can now check out what it has to offer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5830

     The GeForce GTX 460 was released just a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean much to the scores of ATI fans out there with a strong sense of brand loyalty. Those guys are more than willing to sacrifice a little bit of performance in order to back their team of choice in the competitive world of computer graphics. For them, the Radeon HD 5830 is the way to go, as it shares the same $200-230 price range.

     Built on the RV870 graphics core and 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface, the 5830 isn’t too far removed from the Radeon HD 5850 and 5870. However, in order to justify selling it at half the price of the latter, some changes needed to be made. To start, many of the stream processors were disabled, leaving a total of 1120 (the 5870 has 1600). The ROPs were reduced by half to 16, while there are 56 texture units compared to 80. Finally, the clock speeds are lower, at 800MHz core and 1GHz memory by default.

     Gigabyte’s Radeon HD 5830 1GB boasts all of this inherent bang for your buck, along with several premium features that come standard on most of their other graphics cards and/or motherboards. The most obvious is the inclined dual-fan cooling solution with copper heatpipes, which is supposed to reduce temperatures by 27% compared to the standard cooler used by the reference design. Despite all of that, it’s actually one of the cheapest 5830s available on Newegg, at $199.99.

Fable III Intro Cinematic

     Fable III may be sadly delayed for the PC, but it's still on track for the Xbox 360. That's not exactly comforting to the PC gamer, so I doubt that this video cinematic will help.

     Lionhead has released the opening cinematic clip to Fable III, which definitely shows a very interesting way of opening up the story for the third game in the Peter Molyneux series.

Sadly, Fable III won't really be about chickens.

Logitech G15 Keyboard

     The G15 has gone through a major revision since its initial launch, and it started off as a grey-scale G15 Gaming Keyboard with a flip-up monochrome display and a full 18 macro keys on the left side. This was later updated to the current revision G15 Keyboard we all know and love, and although Logitech initially maintained the same product name, the "Gaming" part was later dropped, and now Logitech refers to it as the G15 Keyboard on their webpage and packaging. 

     The G15 Keyboard features a silver-black color design and an orange key backlighting scheme that follows along with previous Logitech peripherals while giving the G15 a bit of individuality. The orange backlighting even has three brightness levels, allowing gamers to find the keys in differing light conditions. The 18 physical G Keys of the older model have shifted into a set of 6 G keys, with three different programmable states each, for a total of 18 different combinations. 

     The three M-keys at the top allow for three different G-key Modes, which can be used to support a full gamut of keys, or to provide profiles for individual games. Once the M key is depressed, you are then in that mode and the G key assignments can be made. The MR Key is used to assign keystrokes or macros to the individual G keys, making it extremely easy to create a host of very useful game commands. 

     There are two USB 1.1 ports on the back of the G15 Keyboard, directly under the LCD display. The G15 only features a single USB cable link, so these ports are definitely not for high-power devices like flash cards or rechargers. Cable management is also improved, as the G15 features cable routing on the bottom of the unit, and can support additional mouse and headset cables as well. The included palm rest can be attached for some extra width and the G15 includes a pair of flip-stands at the top for added height, if required. 

     The GamePanel LCD features an orange-on-black color scheme and is physically smaller than the grey-scale LCD on the original G15 Gaming Keyboard, but as the resolution is the same, the G15's is clearer and easier to read. The GamePanel LCD can support a variety of standard features, like telling the time, displaying the media playing or relaying the CPU/memory usage of your system, as well as handling a wide range of custom plug-ins like chat programs or even virtual pets. 

     This LCD is incorporated directly into the keyboard housing, so there is no tilt mechanism. Right next to the LCD is a set of media keys, and just to the left is the Game Mode switch, which enables/disables that pesky Windows key. As this is a gaming keyboard, the G15 allows more than 3 keys pressed simultaneously to be recognized. 

     You can pick this bad boy up over at Amazon and Newegg for about $80.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Starcraft II


     The original Starcraft came out in 1998, long after Command & Conquer, and it quickly captured a massive fan base by virtue of featuring three very different playable races rather than the usual two. This was a far cry from the formula of simply replacing Allied buildings, units and characters with Soviet or Chinese ones to differentiate between campaigns.

     Twelve years on, much has changed. Starcraft II looks amazing, and every level is crammed with detail – from clunking cranes to bubbling lava and passing wildlife – which all adds to a palpable realism that makes the likes of Command & Conquer 4 seem sterile and bland. There are also interactive cut-scenes, set in various space stations or bars where the Firefly-style steam-punk characters interact; or you can hire mercenaries, play arcade games and choose between weapon upgrades, including those of the other two alien races.

     The one thing that hasn't changed is that perfect balance between the capabilities of these races, weapons and strategies. In the levels where you're up against both alien enemies, you have to think hard about which defenses to deploy and which units to target first in the frantic firefights that ensure.

     Crucially, Starcraft II has been designed as an online game, so much so that you can't play it at all unless you're logged into your Battle Net account. Online is also the only place you can fully explore the capabilities of all three races, either in co-op mode or up to eight-player skirmishes, which also explains the basic look and feel of the game. The close-in perspective, with levels crammed with choke-points rather than the vast open spaces of the original, makes for a more frantic, linear experience that single players will find restrictive.
     Take it online, however, and a different set of maps ensures skirmishes as compelling as most FPSs, with automatic searches for fellow players taking less than two minutes and a useful non-ranking phase to determine your abilities for future match-ups. We'll see how the new Battle Net 2 pans out over the next few weeks, but the early signs for a busy and highly competitive community are promising.

     Undoubtedly, single players will bemoan the rush-focused dynamic of the online game and cheated at having to wait another year or so for proper AI storylines/campaigns for the other two races. It's also a shame that LAN games are no longer supported in favour of allowing you to team up with your mates through Battle Net. However, none of this should detract from a game that is amazing to look at, riveting to play and, once the online culture takes root, another landmark that will redefine the RTS for years to come.

Everquest II with Free Subscription

     Sony Online Entertainment announced last week that a new free adventure service is coming to players worldwide with the release of EverQuest II Extended. The critically acclaimed PC franchise has liberated more than five years of impressive, award-winning content to online adventurers, absolutely free.

     Extended joins the highly successful EverQuest II live subscription service, and together, provide EQII players with a choice of either a subscription-based or free-to-play business model -- two distinct experiences operating in parallel, a first in the MMO industry!

     “As the digital entertainment market evolves, SOE is focused on continued innovation in content delivery that best fit the needs of the growing consumer base,” said Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley. “Our goal with Extended is to offer players an alternative to our current subscription program that gives them the option to choose a program that best fits their play style.”

     Extended provides access to premium subscription-quality content through free and optional paid membership levels.  Powered by an all-new web-based download application, new and veteran players alike can experience the excitement and depth of EQII’s content without a daunting installation or a massive download.  Players can register within minutes, download the client to join other people in an epic journey, and launch into adventure in a fantastical online 3D world.  Extended is the ultimate MMORPG experience.  Excitement with every breath and adventure around every turn is now available for free!

     Extended will include free access to all EverQuest II game zones through The Shadow Odyssey. Players will be able to purchase power-up potions, armor, classes, races, weapons, mounts and more through the marketplace.

     Both EverQuest II and Extended players will enjoy a plethora of recent user-interface improvements designed to improve functionality and game navigation. Players will experience a new and improved character progression through the Golden Path while creating their own legend with the Storyteller adventure journal that visually displays quest exploration. Additionally, both titles received a graphics quality update that gives a more realistic immersive experience to fully enjoy the beauty of Norrrath.

Civilization V System Requirements

     Well the Requirements for Civ5 are in and boy are they RAM heavy.  Well, Heavier than I'd expect anyway, but not to worry the Minimum specs are pretty tame.

System Requirements
Operating System: Windows® XP SP3/ Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
Processor: Dual Core CPU
Memory: 2GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
Video: 256 MB ATI HD2600 XT or better, 256 MB nVidia 7900 GS or better, or Core i3 or better integrated graphics
Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
DirectX®: DirectX® version 9.0c

Recommended System Requirements
Operating System: Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
Processor: 1.8 GHz Quad Core CPU
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
Video: 512 MB ATI 4800 series or better, 512 MB nVidia 9800 series or better
Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
DirectX®: DirectX® version 11

     Other Requirements: Initial installation requires one-time Internet connection for Steam authentication; software installations required (included with the game) include Steam Client, Microsoft Visual C++2008 Runtime Libraries and Microsoft DirectX.

Nice Laptop for Cheap

     Just a quick post here, but browsing some websites I've come across a decent laptop for only $374 bucks over at Toshiba.  Basically it's as follows:

  • AMD V Series Processor V120 (2.2ghz)  You can get a Dual Core 2.1ghz for $33 Extra
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium
  • 3GB memory
  • 250GB hard drive
  • ATI® Integrated Graphics
  • DVD SuperMulti Drive
  • 1366x768 native screen resolution, 15.6" Screen
  • 1 Year Warranty
     Now I don't know Laptops that well, but that seems like a pretty good deal for less than $400, and I'm not sure how long that deal is going to last.  You can find the laptop for sale here at Toshiba.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just Cause 2

     Released in March 2010, this title is the successor of Just Cause which was released back in 2006. Just Cause 2 is developed by Eidos interactive along with Avalanche studios and published by Square Enix. You can definitely call it a super action packed game with a Rambo type of hero trying to save a region from horrible powers and also unraveling many mysteries on his challenge to accomplish his mission. This keeps the player thrilled all throughout the game. High violence and bloodshed will make it available only for mature players or those ages 18 and up.

     The story is focused around a South East Asian island called Panau. As agent Rico Rodriguez, you are dropped there to oust Baby Panay who is the dictator of Panau. On your mission you get across various twists and turns and unravel many mysteries. The island is free to roam and you're free to explore anywhere and anything at anytime. Players can also take a ride in the vehicles that are spread throughout the island. And not to mention the one thing you can do you very rarely get to do in games: Base jump. Base jump off of Anything.  That's right, Base jump off a second story building, off a sky scraper, off a mountain or off of a flying frickin' plane.  New vehicles such as the Boeing 737 and new weapons such as hand held grenade launchers are also introduced this time around.

     The fight just keeps intensifying as the game progresses. Game play, controls, and the story lines have all been significantly enhanced. The graphics are outstanding. Take Far Cry, add some Next-Gen stuff to it like Bloom and Motion Blur and smaller details, and you have yourself an extremely pretty game. The islands are beautiful, and you'll spend a lot of time in high places just looking at the scenery.  Special attention has been paid to every miniscule detail such as the street lamps and the electric lines. It could have been designed a little bit better by adding more components on the islands to make it look more fresh and competitive though. These screenshots that I have posted are actually taken using, you guessed it, the HD 5750, and it runs the game flawlessly. It's very well optimized.  The game also has many similar scenes that seem to repeat throughout the game and unfortunately, the game cannot be played over and over again without going through the same exact scenes and battles from mission to mission.

     The sound effects are up to par.  They aren't great like Advanced Warfighter's or Bad Company's... But more along the lines of the Cookie-Cutter sound department. You'll have heard many similar sound effects back in Grand Theft Auto 3.  The Music is nice, the tempo changes when it should, it feels in place.

     If you want Grand Theft Auto 4 in a Tropical Island Paradise, this is definitely the game to have.  It's worth the money, the time and the many Coca Colas and Cheetos you're going to down while playing it

ATI Radeon HD 5750

     Another piece of kit that I personally own is this here HD 5750, and is what I currently use for my gaming. It seems to be more popular than the 4870, the GTX 285 and 295, and I think I might know why.  Because it's only $130 Bucks at Newegg right now.  That's right.  You get a Card capable of running Crysis at 1680X1050, with all settings on high and most on Very High, at a consistent 25-30 Frames per second for $130.  And that's speaking from personal experience. The GTX 295 is about $450-600 Price range right now so you definitely get your money's worth here.

     Some of the tech specs are fairly standard now days, PCI Express 2.1, Core clock of 700mhz,  Memory clock of 1150mhz, It has a Gig of DDR5 Memory on it, Supports DX11,  It's got just about everything you could want on a video card really, and the thing to remember is it's dirt cheap for what you get.  Team Fortress 2? 1680X1050, 16X AA and everything maxxed out will nab about 130 Frames per second (Unless you have Vsync on)  I have a Quad 3.2ghz with 4 Gigs of Ram which isn't shabby either, but this PC could barely run Team Fortress 2 with it's Onboard video card with everything off and at a low resolution until I popped this baby in.

     Now I hear you asking but why did you even attempt gaming without a video card?  Well I had to RMA My first one.  Got it done for free no problem and fairly quick.  The problem was artifacting that got progressively worse over the course of a week, although performance was perfect, the artifacting was annoying and then it got out of hand, so I sent it back.  Got my new one, Popped it in, PERFECT, although the same artifacting appears from time to time but only on surface edges and doesn't get any worse than that.  So my gripe is with Powercolor.  There are plenty of people that make the HD 5750 aside form Powercolor.  Diamond, Saphire, HIS, VisionTek, ASUS, Gigabyte.  I don't know if they're any better or worse but Just based on my personal experience (A whole 2 cards from Powercolor) I would try and get one from one of the other manufacturers instead.  And if you're wondering what the artifacting looked like, Just one pixel white dots,  The first card flickered all over certain surfaces (Such as A character in Dragon Age) But the geometry and buildings and such had no artifacting at all.  And with my second one here, same concept of where it appears, only it doesn't flicker and it's only on SOME model edges that I only notice if I'm looking for it. And we're talking just 3 or 4 pixels total and it's kind of rare to even see anyway, hence I've kept it

     Now as for performance I've had with it, I couldn't ask for better performance from any card really.  What's the difference between 60 Frames per second and 160 from another card?  A couple hundred dollars.  Sure that more powerful card, if you buy it now, will probably run things that this one won't, in the future, But by then that card will be a couple hundred dollars cheaper.  This thing is running Crysis, Far Cry 2, Dragon Age, Team Fortress 2, Shattered Horizon (Beautiful game By the way),  Empire Total War, Splinter Cell Conviction, and my list goes on, Perfectly.  And if you play games like Guild Wars or World of Warcraft (Games an X1650 Pro could run) You aren't going to be disappointed either. This thing runs Battlefield Bad Company 2 like a charm, it's run the new Medal of Honor Beta absolutely perfectly.  Not only does it run smooth it has a Fan the size of a dinner plate on it keeping things cool.  The hottest I've had it is 80c while playing Borderlands, but for the most part it stays in the lower 70c range.

     If you need a video card and you don't want to sell your kidney then this one is the one to get as far as I'm concerned.  It runs great, it runs cool, It's near Flawless as far as performance goes.  Just be wary on who you're getting it from, like I said If I had the option I'd opt out on Powercolor and go with almost any other manufacturer. While the specs are slightly different, it's basically the same Beast.  You get a Nissan Skyline R34 for the price of a Prius


Friday, August 6, 2010

Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse

     So here we have the Logitech G500 10 button Optical Gaming Mouse.  I actually own one of these, replacing my dead 5 button Microsoft optical mouse.  Now first of all, I always thought there were just two types of Mice.  Mouses.   Meece.   The very dated Tracking Ball types, and The smoother more precise optical mice. And it didn't matter which one in either group you got, they would work the exact same. Oh how wrong I was.  For the last 7 or 8 YEARS I used the same Microsoft 5 button optical mouse and thought if it ever died, I'd just buy another. 

     Well it died, just after Battlefield Bad Company 2 came out and, of course, I went to buy the same mouse.  I couldn't find one and got talked into buying this G500 at Best Buy for $80.  After setting it up and getting it working which took about 4 minutes, 20 if you count me struggling to open it, I gave it a test run in Bad Company 2.  It was extremely difficult for me to get used to at first,  It has odd angles, The 'Back and Forwards' buttons on either side are both on one side, along with 3 more buttons.  After a day I got used to it and it has helped my precision in all games 100%

     I used two of the 5 buttons on my previous mouse mainly to go back a page, or forward a page in the browser (Thumb and ring finger)   On the G500 though, I can do both with my thumb.  I also used those two buttons to Reload and other Miscellaneous actions in-game, now easier to do after spending a day or two with the mouse.  Remember I used the same mouse for nearly a decade so I had a tough transition.  There are two buttons just to the left of the Left click that change the sensitivity Up and Down on the fly... (Slow, Medium, Mach 1) And the scroll wheel is great.  And to browse annoyingly long forum pages or the new Picture layout in Google image searching, you can hit the square button below the mouse wheel and it will have virtually NO resistance.  You could give it a flick and it'll spin for half a minute.

     Another nice feature that comes with the mouse is a little case filled with small weights.  You can add up to 27 Grams of weight to the mouse, or just about any amount up to 27g.  While that doesn't sound like much, it does make a difference when you're lining up your crosshair on something that's 2 pixels wide, which this mouse excels at anyway with it's 200 to 5700 adjustable DPI. (How many points per square inch you can get a click off at)  The mouse has on-board memory to actually save your settings onto the mouse itself,  the 10 buttons are programmable, and the best part is, You can now get this mouse for a fairly decent price.

     If you're serious about gaming then this is a great mouse to have, and you can get one, right now at Newegg for just $64.  I know if mine ever dies, I'll be getting the same mouse again!

New Blog, New Toys

     That's right, a new blog, one of many millions already out there! But you can never have enough information about something before throwing down large quantities of cash on it, right?  Hopefully I'll be able to toss in my two cents worth on a few popular items to help out.

     What you'll be finding here is a bit of extra info that maybe you didn't see elsewhere, and my own opinion on Hardware for PC's and some Games.  I'm a huge gamer, even though a picky one.  Ram, Video Cards, Processors, the latest in gaming... What else could you need?

     Hopefully this thing will grow in the coming months and help quite a few people make a smarter decision on what to buy and where. You should also expect some game reviews which are always helpful in deciding if it's worth whatever ridiculous amount is being charged for it, and some sarcastic humor tossed in for good measure

     As always thanks for visiting and be sure to leave a comment or two.  We can't have this place looking run down...someone might rob us