Author Archives: Martin Murphy

Activision CEO casts doubt on console versions of Battlefield 3

In a short E3 interview Activision CEO Bobby Kotick cast doubt on the upcoming console version of Battlefield 3; saying  he’s not entirely confident the game will perform as well as the developers say.

So far I’ve only seen Battlefield 3 on a PC, I haven’t seen it on a console where the bulk of our business is,‘ Kotick told CNBC reporter.

If it’s just a PC title, as it looks like today, that’s just a small audience to participate,‘ he added.

Battlefield 3 was given an official release date of October 25th, 2 days ago at E3. The game will be released simultaneously on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, and although the main focus is on taking advantage of modern PC hardware, developer Dice are still promising a stunning looking game on the consoles.

Related:
Battlefield 3 gets a release date
Preowned 20GB Xbox 360s for $99 at Gamestop
Carmack planning RAGE sequel
RAGE trailer ‘The Shrouded’ hits YouTube
Mass Effect 3 coming March 2012
Ubisoft announces Far Cry 3

Ubisoft announces Far Cry 3

Far Cry will see number 3 sometime in 2012, Ubisoft announced at E3.

In the 3rd instalment there will be a new character introduced in what sounds like a similar storyline to the first game. Check out the embedded video above for an 8 minute walkthrough with Far Cry 3 producer Dan Hay.

When Far Cry was originally released back in 2003 it set a new benchmark for graphical quality on the PC, and scored high with critics and gamers alike. 2008′s followup was however met with tepid enthusiasm compared to the original.

Related:
Battlefield 3 gets a release date
Valve streams Saxxy Awards live tomorrow
No personal data lost in Lulz Nintendo hack
Crysis 2 patch 1.8 goes live, still no DX11 support
Metro: Last Light teaser trailer hits web
Stunning Deus Ex: Human Revolution trailer hits the web
WHQL-Certified GeForce R275 Drivers Out Now
Nintendo DS Lite price falls to $99 next week

Michael J. Fox is Back (to the Future)

Michael J. Fox allowed his likeness to be used for TellTale Games’ Back to the Future series, and AJ LoCascio did a great job of capturing the spirit of Marty McFly. But now according to the developer’s website Fox is going to make a return for the final episode in the series titled ‘OUTATIME!’. Michael won’t be playing the role of Marty McFly since this is already taken, rather he will be making a cameo as an (as of yet) unannounced character.

You can purchase all 5 episodes now for only $19.99 until June 23rd. Check out the embedded teaser trailer above.

Related:
3DS update adds internet browser plus free game
Crysis 2 patch 1.8 goes live, still no DX11 support
Metro: Last Light teaser trailer hits web
Stunning Deus Ex: Human Revolution trailer hits the web
WHQL-Certified GeForce R275 Drivers Out Now
Nintendo DS Lite price falls to $99 next week

Players ready for Free Black Ops weekend

Call of Duty Black OpsThis weekend, anyone who hasn’t played the best selling game of all-time will have a chance to get their feet wet.

All this weekend it’s free to play Call of Duty: Black Ops on the PC. All you need to do is open up Steam and click this link to start your download.

This will give players access to the entire mulitiplayer portion of the game for the duration of the weekend, starting Thursday June 2nd at 10am Pacific Time.

Related:
Crysis 2 patch 1.8 goes live, still no DX11 support
Metro: Last Light teaser trailer hits web
Stunning Deus Ex: Human Revolution trailer hits the web
WHQL-Certified GeForce R275 Drivers Out Now
Nintendo DS Lite price falls to $99 next week

WHQL-Certified GeForce R275 Drivers Out Now

Significant performance gains in R275Nvidia just rolled out their latest WHQL certified GeForce drivers for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500-series desktop GPUs as well as ION desktop GPUs.

The R275 driver suite is all about performance gains. On 400 and 500 series GPUs in particular there are quite a number of bumps in FPS for Crysis 2, Civilization V, Portal 2, Bulletstorm and Batman Arkham Asylum.

There are also a number of bugs ironed out from the previous beta, thanks to the savvy Nvidia community; see below:

Bug fixes in R275

If you’re running GeForce drivers V270.51 or higher then you should have received the update notification via your taskbar, if you have the ‘auto-update’ feature enabled. For everyone else you can download the drivers here.

For a full list of fixes and changes head on over to Nvidia’s blog.

Related:
Nvidia announce $99 3D Vision glasses
Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper goes beta
Nintendo DS Lite price falls to $99 next week

50% off Fallout 3, plus all expansions

Games for Windows Live are offering 50% off 2008′s Fallout 3. This includes all expansions for the game, and the offer is good until May 18th.

Check the deal out here.

Meanwhile Bethesda has a new trailer up on YouTube for the upcoming DLC ‘Honest Hearts’ for Fallout New Vegas. There are also 6 new screenshots of Honest Hearts over on Bethesda’s website.

Related:
Fallout New Vegas for only $29.99
Only 5 days left to pre-order The Witcher 2
Hitman Absolution on track for 2012
StarCraft II patch goes live (1.3.3)
Portal 2 map makers rejoice
Crysis 2 ‘Retaliation’ trailer hits the web
Duke Nukem Forever hits Steam for pre-purchase
Total War: Shogun 2 gets DX11 support, plus new maps

Hitman Absolution on track for 2012

Hitman Absolution coming in 2012Following on the recent trailer for the upcoming Hitman Absolution, some new details have emerged concerning Agent 47′s next mission.

IO Interactive’s 5th instalment of the popular Hitman series will be built from the ground up with Glacier 2, a completely new gaming engine. According to a press release from Square Enix, Absolution will be ”familiar and yet significantly different from other Hitman games.”

For the first time we are taking Agent 47 on a personal journey which allows us to explore other parts of the Hitman® fantasy,” said Tore Blystad, game director, IO Interactive. “This is both a familiar and yet significantly different experience from other Hitman games; something our silent assassins will relish, as will all those new to the Hitman world.

For the lucky few, Hitman Absolution will be showcased (invitation only) at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles from June 7–9.

Absolution is slated for a 2012 release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Related:
StarCraft II patch goes live (1.3.3)
Portal 2 map makers rejoice
Crysis 2 ‘Retaliation’ trailer hits the web
Duke Nukem Forever hits Steam for pre-purchase
Total War: Shogun 2 gets DX11 support, plus new maps
Dice: Battlefield 3 will be a stunning looking game on the console
Game urges players to kill Bin Laden
Deus Ex: Human Revolution releasing digitally through Steam

Gaming avatars and real-life comparisons

Yeah, he's a dead ringer.Do you model your avatar around what you actually look like, or do you embellish the truth a little (or a lot)?

Roobie Cooper is an American photographer who toured  Korea, China, France and Germany to photograph gamers playing MMORGs. It was his intention to delve into the relationship between how a person views themselves online, as opposed to what they actually look like in real life.

Here are some interesting comparisons of Robbie’s work.

Related:
Crysis 2 ‘Retaliation’ trailer hits the web
Crysis 2 price-drop on Amazon
Duke Nukem Forever hits Steam for pre-purchase
Total War: Shogun 2 gets DX11 support, plus new maps
Dice: Battlefield 3 will be a stunning looking game on the console
Game urges players to kill Bin Laden
Deus Ex: Human Revolution releasing digitally through Steam

Total War: Shogun 2 gets DX11 support, plus new maps

Total War: Shogun 2 gets DX11 support, plus new mapsA massive update is now available for The Creative Assembly’s Total War: Shogun 2, which includes DX11 support and a torrent of updates and fixes. The gargantuan patch also brings 4 new multiplayer maps: Aki, Hida Mountain, Flood Plains and Sanriku Ria.

The news was confirmed over on the Total War forums:

DirectX 11 support, including:

• Advanced Shadows

The DirectX11 pipeline supports very high quality shadow maps, giving softer shadows with significantly less aliasing compared to DirectX 9.

• Support for MSAA 2x,4x,8x.

Requires Shader Model 4.1 or Shader Model 5 support, not available on Shader Model 4.0.
The DirectX11 pipeline supports Full screen multi-sampled anti-aliasing at 2x,4x & 8x resolutions. Shader Model 4.1 cards will support 2x, 4x MSAA. Shader Model 5 cards will support 2x, 4x, and 8x MSAA

• Enhanced Depth of Field

With Shader Model 4.0 & Shader Model 4.1 you will see enhanced depth-of-field with a dedicated pixel/vertex shader pipeline. With Shader Model 5.0 depth-of-field is accelerated with a Compute Shader, offering very high quality depth-of-field.

• Tessellation Support

Tessellated and normal-mapped rocks and rocky-terrain surfaces (requires Shader Model 5 support). Up close to the camera rocky terrain surfaces are visibly more detailed and realistic.

• Anti-aliasing support

I’ve honestly never seen so many fixes in one patch, so instead of taking up the whole page here I’ll let you venture over if you want to get a detailed look at what exactly has been fixed.

Related:
Dice: Battlefield 3 will be a stunning looking game on the console
Game urges players to kill Bin Laden
Deus Ex: Human Revolution releasing digitally through Steam
Human Revolution will support DirectX 11 and Eyefinity
id’s RAGE to ship with full level editor
Valve rolls out massive TF2 update, starts directorial competition
RAGE trailer ‘The Shrouded’ hits YouTube
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Mass Effect 3, no Christmas for thee

Deus Ex: Human Revolution releasing digitally through Steam

Deus Ex: Human Revolution available for pre-order on SteamDeus Ex: Human Revolution is looking more and more enticing as news drips in. On release it will support DirectX 11, 3D and Eyefinity, and now comes word that Human Revolution will be distributed digitally through Steam.

If you were worried that Eidos-Montreal might be going the ‘Securom’ route, or using some other invasive DRM, you’ll be pleased to hear the company will be embracing Steamworks to distribute their upcoming third instalment in the Deus Ex series. Anyone who pre-purcheses the game via Steam will get a discount on both the standard edition and Augmented edition of the game.

Being on Steam you can expect all the usual trimmings; auto-update, achievements, Steam Cloud etc. The “Augmented” edition will also include (for a little extra coin) a digital 40-page art book, a “making of” special, trailers, animated storyboard of the CGI trailer, motion graphic novel, soundtrack, and a free download of the Deus Ex Game of the Year Edition.

Although Eidos-Montreal has stated the game is available for pre-order on Steam, a quick glance at the Steam product page appears to suggest otherwise. I’m sure it will be sorted out later on today or early sometime tomorrow.

Human Revolution has an August 23rd release date in North America, with Europe and Australia getting it on the 26th and 25th respectively. You can pre-order a retail copy now for PCXbox and PS3.

Related:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution system requirements revealed
Human Revolution will support DirectX 11 and Eyefinity
id’s RAGE to ship with full level editor
Valve rolls out massive TF2 update, starts directorial competition
RAGE trailer ‘The Shrouded’ hits YouTube
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Mass Effect 3, no Christmas for thee

Human Revolution will support DirectX 11 and Eyefinity

Deus Ex: Human Revolution will support DirectX 11 right off the bat, and will also be tailor-made for 3D and Eyefinity setups. The Human Revolution devs recently got together to discuss the changes in UI for the PC version of the upcoming shooter.

Eidos Montreal has said it wants to make Human Revolution look and feel like a “true PC game”.

Human Revolution has an August 23rd release date in North America, with Europe and Australia getting it on the 26th and 25th respectively. You can pre-order now for PCXbox and PS3.

Related:
Pre-order Human Revolution for PCXboxand PS3.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution system requirements revealed
Valve rolls out massive TF2 update, starts directorial competition
RAGE trailer ‘The Shrouded’ hits YouTube
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Mass Effect 3, no Christmas for thee

Deus Ex: Human Revolution system requirements revealed

Deus Ex: Human Revolution system requirements revealed.The PC hardware requirements for Eidos Montreal’s upcoming shooter Deus Ex: Human Revolution have been revealed.

As the game is being simultaneously released to consoles the hardware requirements are not all that steep, certainly not enough to make a modern DirectX 11 PC bust its balls.

An 8000 series GPU from Nvidia or Radeon 2000 series card should see you through with settings on low or medium. But if you crave all the bells and whistles the developers are recommending a Radeon HD 5850 or Nvidia equivalent; GTX 460 or 560ti should be more than sufficient.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Minimum PC Specs:

OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 with DirectX 9.0c
PROCESSOR: 2 GHz dual core
RAM: 1 GB RAM (Windows XP) / 2 GB (Windows Vista and Windows 7)
GRAPHICS: NVIDIA GeForce 8000 series or ATI Radeon HD 2000 series or better
REQUIRED DISC SPACE: 8.5 GB

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Recommended PC Specs:

OS: Windows 7
PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X4 or Intel Core 2 Quad or better
RAM: 2 GB
GRAPHICS: AMD Radeon HD 5850
REQUIRED DISC SPACE: 8.5 GB

Human Revolution has an August 23rd release date in North America, with Europe and Australia getting it on the 26th and 25th respectively. You can pre-order now for PCXbox and PS3.

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Portal 2 gets bug-zapping fix for PC
EA week on Steam starts now, 25% off Dragon Age II
New game releases for the coming week May 2 – May 9
Portal 2 for $29.99
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Portal 2 DLC coming this Summer; free of charge

Portal 2 gets bug-zapping fix for PC

Portal 2 for $29.99 on Amazon.Another update for the PC version of Portal 2 has been rolled out via Steam; having already received an update 2 weeks ago.

This latest patch is less about adding new features as it is reducing the number of crashes in the game. A few bugs have been ironed out and the update will automatically download when you start Steam.

Full details below:

  • Fixed: Occasional crash after Alt-Tab/minimizing or running in a window on certain graphics hardware
  • Fixed: Crashes and/or graphical glitches after changing video settings without exiting game
  • Fixed: Player stuck at the beginning of Chapter 6
  • Fixed: Crash attempting to use other weapons (e.g. mods) with Portal 2
  • Fixed: Mouse cursor doesn’t highlight UI elements in game on Mac OSX
  • Fixed: Numerous localization bugs and improvements (also added Czech and Turkish localized text)
  • Fixed: Overflow bug in keyvalues
  • Fixed: Voice functionality regression (voice again enabled by default)
  • Fixed: Joystick now defaults to off in order to avoid issues with non-joystick hardware that registers itself as a joystick
  • Fixed: French sentences are not wrapping correctly in subtitles and commentary
  • Improved: Handling of Mac OSX crashes
  • Improved: Updates and bug fixes to Robot Enrichment
  • Improved: Reliability on unsupported Intel Mobile Series 4 Express chipsets
  • Removed: Unsupported console commands (“retry”, “switch_teams”) that caused problems if used

If you haven’t yet purchased Portal 2, over on Amazon they have dropped the price of the PC version from $49.99 to $29.99. The console variants also have similar price-drops; PS3 and Xbox 360 deals here and here.

Related:
EA week on Steam starts now, 25% off Dragon Age II
New game releases for the coming week May 2 – May 9
Portal 2 for $29.99
Portal 2 DLC coming this Summer; free of charge
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Portal 2 DLC coming this Summer; free of charge
Back to the Future episode 4 available now

EA week on Steam starts now, 25% off Dragon Age II

Free copy of Mass Effect 2 with a Dragon Age II purchaseValve just announced an EA Week of deals over on Steam; starting today with 25% off Dragon Age II and 50% off Dragon Age: Origins.

Related:
Dragon Age II gets another patch (1.02)
New game releases for the coming week May 2 – May 9
Portal 2 for $29.99
Portal 2 DLC coming this Summer; free of charge
id brings RAGE to unsuspecting Texans
Portal 2 DLC coming this Summer; free of charge
Back to the Future episode 4 available now
F.E.A.R. the one month delay
Valve confirms Portal 2 DLC

PlayStation services being restored this week

PlayStation services being restored this weekOver on the PlayStation blog comes news that they are currently restoring the PlayStation Network, with some services expected to be available this week. Sony will be restoring the PlayStation Network by region, after last month’s cyber attack; beginning with gaming, music and video services.

Unsurprisingly the company has announced new security measures to better protect customers’ personal details, and a customer appreciation program to smoothen over understandable discontent among PSN users; which includes a month of PlayStation Plus free.

Sony has also made known that as many as 10 million credit card accounts may have been exposed in the attack on their network, making it far and wide the biggest security breach in the company’s history.

Related:
Playstation Network shut down to prevent piracy bonanza?
IE9 nears 10% market share
Apple: We have no plans on tracking the location of your iPhone
Al Franken takes on Steve Jobs over iPhone tracking
AMD add Catalyst Update to latest drivers
F.E.A.R. the one month delay
Valve confirms Portal 2 DLC
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
Buffy joins all-star cast for Black Ops DLC

Back to the Future episode 4 available now

Back to the Future Episode 4 now available.Telltale Games today announced the immediate availability of Double Visions, the fourth episode in their Back to the Future series.

The episode is ready for download on PC and Mac, but there is still no release date for the PS3 which is still on episode 2.

Meanwhile Telltale Games have signed a publishing deal with Microsoft that will see their games appearing on the Xbox 360 this Autumn.

Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors:

We are pleased to expand the size of our potential audience by encompassing the Xbox 360 console consumer and bring our vision of video gaming to them.

Related:
AMD add Catalyst Update to latest drivers
F.E.A.R. the one month delay
Valve confirms Portal 2 DLC
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
Buffy joins all-star cast for Black Ops DLC
Call of Duty: Black Ops, best-selling game ever
Gamestop offering Gears of War 3 beta keys on preorders
Darkspore now available on Steam
EA raises over 1 million for Japan

F.E.A.R. the one month delay

Have no F.E.A.R. until June 24th.F.E.A.R. 3 is yet again delayed; this time by one month. The third instalment of the first-person horror shooter won’t be reaching gamers until June 24th.

Developed by Day 1 Studios, F.E.A.R. 3 was initially scheduled to be released in March of this year but was delayed until May 27th. Now, for unknown reasons the troubled sequel is burdened with problems once more and won’t be released on time.

You can pre-order F.E.A.R. 3 for PCXbox 360 and PS3 from Amazon.

Related:
Valve confirms Portal 2 DLC
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
Buffy joins all-star cast for Black Ops DLC
Call of Duty: Black Ops, best-selling game ever
Gamestop offering Gears of War 3 beta keys on preorders
Darkspore now available on Steam
EA raises over 1 million for Japan
Nintendo confirms Wii 2 launch in 2012

Nintendo confirms Wii 2 launch in 2012

Nintendo will reveal more details at E3 in June.Nintendo confirmed that it will be launching its second Wii console in 2012.

Although no technical specs of the next Wii have been released, the public will get a glimpse at Wii the second at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June; where the company will make known more about the console’s hardware.

According to Nintendo’s chief executive, Satoru Iwata the Wii 2 will “offer a new way of playing games within the home.”

Not much else is known about the Wii 2 at this stage. One thing is all but certain, the next Nintendo console will be high-def.

Related:
Nvidia giving away Duke Nukem Forever PC
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
id: Doom 4 is “awesome”
Valve patches buggy TF2 ‘Hatless Update’
Nvidia rolls out WHQL-certified 270 drivers
Nvidia shakes up GeForce drivers with auto-update and more
BioWare founders start auction for Japan quake victims
Valve bags nearly half a million for Japan
Fallout: New Vegas GotY Edition sighted on Amazon

Duke ‘Come Get Some’ Nukem

The latest Duke Nukem forever trailer is a toxic orgy of explosive awesomeness, coupled with partial frontal female nudity; everything a growing gamer needs.

Duke Nukem Forever is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on June 10th internationally, and the US 4 days later on June 14th. You can  pre-order the game on PCXbox 360 and PS3 from Amazon.

Related:
Nvidia giving away Duke Nukem Forever PC
Duke Nukem Forever delayed ..again
Rockstar updates Max Payne 3 site with high-def screens
Stick ‘em up, I have a PS3 controller!
Valve’s bald-guy logo explained
Portal 2 patched already
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
Fraps updated to v3.4.2

Fraps updated to v3.4.2

Fraps 3.4.2 ReleasedA new version of Fraps is available now for download.

The popular benchmarking, screen capture, and real-time video recording program has been updated to improve OpenGL capture speed as well as optimizations for recording at 1080p.

Full changelog below:

Fraps 3.4.2 – 14th Apr 2011
- Improved OpenGL capture speed
- Fixed freeze when clicking on Minimize button
- Fixed GL state not being restored properly
- Fixed blank video showing in some AVIs

Download version 3.4.2 here.

Related:
Nvidia giving away Duke Nukem Forever PC
Apple updates iTunes, addresses sync issues
Nvidia rolls out WHQL-certified 270 drivers
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Google updates Chrome with Flash Player fix
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30 handy apps, all free and weighing under 2MB

Nvidia giving away Duke Nukem Forever PC

Duke Nukem Forever 3D PCNvidia is teaming up with Maingear to give away a Duke Nukem Forever, 3D-capable PC.

In anticipation for the launch of the long, long, long awaited Duke Nukem Forever, Nvidia and Maingear are giving away a 3D-capable, i7, multi-GPU, water-cooled dream machine to one lucky winner. The fortuitous participant will also get a free copy of Duke Nukem Forever, naturally.

Unfortunately entry is only open to residents of the US and Canada; if that’s you visit this page. Entries will be taken until May 31st.

Duke Nukem Forever is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on June 10th internationally, and the US 4 days later on June 14th. You can  pre-order the game on PCXbox 360 and PS3 from Amazon.

Related:
Portal 2 scores big with critics, ordinary gamers not happy with short gamehours and DLC
id: Doom 4 is “awesome”
Valve patches buggy TF2 ‘Hatless Update’
Nvidia rolls out WHQL-certified 270 drivers
Nvidia shakes up GeForce drivers with auto-update and more
BioWare founders start auction for Japan quake victims
Valve bags nearly half a million for Japan
Fallout: New Vegas GotY Edition sighted on Amazon

A Sandy Bridge too far?

Sandy Bridge Die

Intel launched its newest line of processors on the 9th of January this year (2011) bringing with it a change of socket and the addition of a GPU on the same piece of silicon (or die) as the processor. Under the code name ‘Sandy Bridge’ they released i7 2600k, i5 2500k & 2300 as well as a full host of slightly tweaked versions of the ones above (ie) more or less power and the same with the L2 cache, as Rodney Reynolds would say “far too many technology’s to list here”. If you are interested in the complete list of Sandy bridge processors you can find them HERE.

Sandy Bridge Desktop Chip

The Good: These chips are more power efficient and you get more bang from them too. Compared with the same priced i7 950, you get a more power efficient better performing chip for the same price!!!

This article may seem very late to the party given I’m writing it 3 weeks after the release date and in tech circles where ‘first’ is everything it may seem very tardy. The reason I held off this long is that I wanted to get a more ‘hands on’ feel for the processor before forming an opinion. My real pet peeve is knee jerk reactions to new hardware from people of the Internet, I think it’s short sighted and unfair to the product. That being said lets get into it shall we? I have a real love hate relationship with this new line of processors. I want to like them and on paper they do hold up well to the previous family of Clarkdale/Bloomfield processors. So why the mixed feelings I hear no one in particular ask?

First up the GOOD,

Power:

The i7 2600K is way down on power usage sucking less power than the i7 950 which price wise is its nearest rival (from Intel) meaning great performance with less drain on the system. Intel’s two fastest Sandy Bridge-based chips the Core i7-2600K and Core i7-2600 sit at 164 W when ran through 3D Mark Vantage, so does the Core i5-2500K. Compare those figures to the Core 2 Quad Q9550, which averages 161 W. Are these 32 nm chips more efficient ??? The straight answer would be YES.

Performance:

The i7 2600/2600K do brilliantly well in video encoding and file compression as well as gaming* beating out all but the very fastest Intel 970, 980 and the ridiculous 980X. Which I have to say is amazing! There is no point mentioning the AMD Phenom line of processors here, it has been shown in the past the Intel 900 range of chips beat out the AMD Phenom range in most if not all the benchmarks used to test processors so it goes without saying the new 2600’s would beat them too. These new processors are more power efficient and you get more bang from them too.

*using GeForce GTX 580 GFX card not on-die video chip

Price:

This is when during my research my jaw did fall open, the new i7 2600 can be purchased for the rather shocking price of £239.99 and the i7 2600K for £251.99. When compared to the i7 950 £239.99 or the obscene i7 970 £719,99 you really have to be impressed with the price of the new i7 2600’s. Just to clarify the i7 2600 was better or wiped the floor with the same priced i7 950, in conclusion you are getting a more power efficient better performing chip for the same price!!! It’s a very good deal indeed.

Next up the BAD,

Lack of Value:

There is some really weird things going on in the Intel HQ at the moment. Only last year they released a new socket 1156 and 1366. The new processors i7 2600, 2600K etc only run in an 1155 socket and Intel have not and will not offer an upgrade path to people who bought an i7 950 before January 2011. This might seem an unfair thing for me to expect from Intel but let me explain. If you bought an i7 950 you would also have to buy a compatible motherboard and guess who makes the chipsets on those boards????? Intel that’s who, all those motherboards run x58 chipsets so Intel makes money on the motherboard and the processor. That is business and I understand all that, my problem is that if I then want to upgrade from say an i5 650 to an i7 2600k I now have to replace my motherboard as well. Suddenly the £239.99 for the i7 2600 doesn’t look so nice when you have to add the cost of a new motherboard* to the equation.

*H67 Motherboards at an average price of £100
*P67 high end Motherboards at an average price of £150

Intel Inside Core_i7 badge

Already out of date: Sandy Bridge processors are not compatible with Intel’s 5-series chipsets and do not support USB 3.0, they also only support DirectX 10.1. Ivy-Bridge is slated for release in Q4 2011 and it will use 22nm (to Sandy Bridge's 32nm) technology and a more powerful DirectX 11 GPU.

Who is its target audience?:

Intel are doing their marketing the way they always do with their new products, saying how hardcore and powerful this new generation of processors are, and aiming the advertisements at gamers first and foremost. But this is where I can’t make any sense of it. No PC gamer worth their salt would use onboard GFX so why market it at them? The only place I see the ‘Sandy Bridge’ being good and onboard GFX being useful is on laptops and tablet PCs.

Already out of Date:

Sandy Bridge processors are not compatible with Intel’s 5-series chipsets and do not support USB 3.0, they also only support DirectX 10.1. According to Intel “it wasn’t time to go for the newer DirectX 11 technology with Sandy Bridge”. Another BOMBSHELL to hit poor old Sandy Bridge is that Ivy-Bridge is slated to be release in Q4 2011 and it will use 22nm (to Sandy Bridge’s 32nm) technology and a more powerful DirectX 11 GPU. There are even rumors that it will support USB 3.0. Because of the above reasons I would find it hard to recommend the Sandy Bridge processor to anybody thinking of upgrading or buying a new PC.

Final thoughts:

I have to admit that I was impressed by Sandy Bridge’s performance. Existing Clarkdale and Bloomfield processors already offer strong performance compared to AMD’s Phenom lineup. Significant gains, clock-for-clock, compound in the face of notable frequency increases across the board (thanks to a mature 32 nm process), giving Sandy Bridge an even more commanding position. But I just can’t shake the fact that with the release of the 1155 socket it now means there are no less than three different processor sockets under the Core i7 brand: LGA1366, LGA1156 and the new LGA1155. I am someone who has been building PCs since the Intel 478 days, I’ve built AMD and Intel based PCs over the years and I would say I am more aware of new hardware and technologys than the average consumer and I have to say that at this point in time I find it way too confusing looking at Intel’s current line up.

McGriff – Follow McGriff on Twitter

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AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back
Are PC gamers more budget-conscious than ever before?
Who’s to blame?
Are games getting easier?

Who’s to blame?

Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas and CoD Black Ops: Both AAA titles, both sold broken on delivery.

It’s a rather open ended question which some people may see as troll bait. I don’t mean it to be bait to anyone or create flame wars, but it is a question I would like someone, anyone to answer. Why are games released broken 90% of the time? And why do people still buy them? It might seem like a stupid question at first but all you have to do is search Google for “(insert new game name here) is there a patch on the way?” and see the amount of complaints and questions. Look at the recent releases of Fallout New Vegas and CoD Black Ops both AAA titles but both sold to us consumers, broken on delivery.

These days the games industry is fighting to be taken as seriously as the film/music industry, talking up the money they make from game sales on a constant basis, but until the games industry sorts out its product quality it will never be taken seriously. Can you imagine if Peter Jackson released the first Lord of the Rings film ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ broken. After all the hype and years of waiting, the millions of dollars spent on development, production and advertisement and when it reached the cinema the picture quality was terrible, in parts went black with just sound and then stopped altogether then when it started again the video/sound was out of sync for the rest of the film?

Peter Jackson

If a film isn’t up to scratch the intended audience wouldn’t stand for it hence no sale, whereas the games industry gets away with releasing buggy half finished games

It seems ridiculous to think but can you imagine if it happened? The movie would get panned by film critics and nobody would pay to see it. There would be uproar, Peter Jackson would most likely never get a job directing again, in fact I would go so far as to say it would probably put New Line out of business. That’s the difference between the film/music and games industry, if a film isn’t up to scratch or an album is only half completed their intended audience wouldn’t stand for it hence no sale, whereas the games industry for whatever reason gets away with releasing buggy half finished games that people have to struggle with for weeks until a few patches are rolled out making the game playable. Some games are NEVER fixed, example being Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2, a game that was never finished and rushed to stores. The ending of that game made no sense it just ended so abruptly you were left thinking “did the game crash?” the majority of the sub-plots and story arcs were left unanswered. PC gamers at least had some relief; modders hacked the game code and offered up an ending of sorts. If you bought it on the XBOX you were boned, stuck with a broken unfinished game.

KOTOR 2

Some games are NEVER fixed: KOTOR 2 ended so abruptly you were left thinking “did the game crash?”

The problem in my opinion starts at the top. Look at the companies who rarely if ever release buggy games Valve, Nintendo, Blizzard (owned by Activision now but only because of the games standard of what went before) there are more I am sure you could think of, but the thing these companies have in common is that they don’t release games “until they’re done”. They don’t have shareholders twisting their arms, bullying them into releasing a game before it’s ready, the result is that the games are top quality from day one. Sure they patch them afterward with balance tweaks etc but they work properly on day one.

That being said how do we fix the problem now? The answer is simple: MONEY, after all games companies are in this to make money. Start with game sites and reviewers getting tougher on buggy games from day one, Fallout New Vegas got 8.5 on IGN for consoles and 9.0 for PCs. Gamespot gave it 7.5 for consoles and 8.5 for PC. I could go on but the scores are all in the same high range, the reviewers ALL acknowledge the game is buggy but still give it a high score, most people don’t read the full reviews, just look at the score and run out to buy the game. It also lets the game companies off the hook: they get their precious quotes on their advertising and make money off a broken product and the cycle goes on. What if (I’ll use IGN because they’re the biggest game site on the net) IGN said after reviewing the game that it was broken and as a result cannot recommend it to potential consumers until the game is patched, as a result it got a 4.0 on consoles 4.5 on PC, that would be good advice to their fans and followers because at the time of release the game is not playable. The result would be the game doesn’t sell well and that’s all Obsidian and its share holders care about after all they are a business. This would result in a change of attitude when it came to their next game (unless they wanted to lose more money), they would make sure it was stable before release and that would mean us gamers would all be better off.

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty

‘Give it to us when it’s done!’ Gamers don’t mind (too much) waiting for years and that’s the reason Starcraft 2 was such a success

I would like to state here I do not blame IGN or PCGamer or any other game site or publication for the state of the recent game industry standard that it’s ok to release a broken game and patch it later, I’m just saying that we as gamers/customers look to them for what’s hot and what’s not and unless we can play the game ourselves, we don’t really have any other choice other than to take a chance and hope it’s good out of the box. Through them we gamers can make a statement to the game companies and that statement would be ‘Give it to us when it’s done!’ Gamers don’t mind (too much) waiting for years for the next Half Life or Diablo and that’s dam sure the reason why Starcraft 2 was such a success, because we knew when they come (eventually) they will be worth the wait.

So where in the sand do we draw the line?
Is it up to us customers to stop buying games off companies who make buggy games? Game web-sites and publications for not being tougher on buggy games?
Shareholders for rushing games out the door?

Peace ;)
McGriff – Follow McGriff on Twitter

Related:
Are games getting easier?
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Medal of Honor Limited Edition for PC

Are games getting easier?

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honour: 4/5 hours of a single player campaign!?!

I can’t help feel that this generation of games for both consoles and PCs are getting increasingly dumbed down and easier to complete. There’s no challenge in today’s games, most of which can be completed on the day of purchase. Triple A titles such as Halo, Modern Warfare 2 are the worst of the lot. The whole reason for this article is Medal of Honor, this can be completed within hours of purchase. Where’s the fun in that?

You, the player, spend on average €60 or $60, depending on which side of the pond you are on, for 4/5 hours of a single player campaign!?! That seems a lot of money for 4/5 hrs entertainment, just imagine if you were asked to pay that at a cinema the next time a big movie came out? You would rightly be shocked.

A lot of people will argue that with all the games mentioned above; that they have excellent multiplayer modes, which keep you gaming long after the single player is over and done with. That would be a very fair point, but what if you don’t like multiplayer, and you buy the game just for the story mode!?

New Super Mario Bros Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: The option to try the level again, or skip it completely! Are you kidding me?

I love Halo, but I’ve never really played the multiplayer aspect of the games. I kept coming back for more because I wanted to know more about Master Chief and the Halo universe. The latest Mario Bros on the Wii has a mode in it called Super Guide, if a player fails a course eight times in a row; a green block appears, allowing a computer-controlled Luigi to show the player a safe path through the level. The player may interrupt the guide at anytime and take control. After Luigi completes it, the player has the option to try the level again, or skip it completely!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me?

I remember when I got my first console, a shiny grey NES with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt, it had one Joy-pad and the Nintendo light gun. The original Mario Bros game took me months to complete – MONTHS not hours and when I did it was like winning a gold medal. It was something to be shouted from the roof tops. You went to school the next day and it was something to make your friends jealous, who knows how that works in the school yard nowadays, “So Jonney have you beaten CoD MW2 yet?” “Yeah man I beat it in 3 hrs, you?” “Nah it took me 4hrs I got stuck at the end”.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time: I spent weeks playing this game.

The sense of achievement I got when I finished the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, to this very day was immense. I remember sitting in front of my TV, palms sweaty, hands trembling, heart racing – my friend Dave and I had spent weeks playing the game taking turns at dungeons and boss fights and when we finally finished it we both felt elated, we were truly overjoyed – we’d done it! Woo hoo.

In school the next day, friends were amazed, bombarding us with questions…. asking us how did we do it (ah, a time before YouTube videos ;) ). I didn’t need a gold pop up saying [congratulations game complete] to feel achievement! It was the same with the original Zelda, Sonic Mega Man any triple A game from the early 90’s to late 90’s – they were hard games to finish. I would even say that this ran up until the Xbox, PS2 and N64 days and then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

Tiger WoodsI’m an avid PC gamer now and I always laugh when I hear people saying “I’d love to try out Team Fortress 2 but it’s too hardcore I’ll get my ass handed to me”. When did this happen? When you start anything in life it’s hard but you try to get better and in time you improve; that’s the way I thought it worked.

Imagine if Tiger Woods just gave up the first time he swung a golf club because he didn’t get a hole in one? What if Michael Jordan gave up because he couldn’t dunk straight away? Both Golf and Basketball are games just like any other game, you play because it’s fun and in time you learn to play better and improve. There are games out at the moment that do take skill and time to finish: Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Half Life 2 and Dragon Age Origins are just a few off the top of my head. I’m sure if you are reading this you could name many more but they are few and far between

Did this trend start with the whole Xbox points/PSN trophies? Are developers afraid that if a game is too hard that gamers will just give up and move onto the next new shiny game? It seems a bigger priority to make games look like a Hollywood blockbuster and have loads of great trailers and hype than gameplay. I’m not saying that all new games must be infuriatingly hard to complete just make them fun and challenging (i.e.) last more than a day. Think about it this way, the first DOOM was in its day a great shooter but how much did Half Life change the way FPS games are played, they are both FPS games but Half Life added story and puzzle solving which created more to challenge the player than just mindless shooting. Who knows I may be 100% wrong here, maybe the whole Internet feels differently, this is just what I feel after playing most modern games.

McGriff – Follow McGriff on Twitter

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AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back
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