2010 December

December 29, 2010

Top 10 games of 2010

It’s that time of year again were every gaming information outlet post their top whatever games of the year. This year we saw a large number of great titles right off the bat in January and they just continued on into the crammed holiday season. Now just to note, this is not a list compiled by all the writers of this site this is just mine but I feel that a lot would agree with some of the choices I have made. So here it is my top 10 games of 2010.

10. Dante’s Inferno (PS3, 360) – This game received more flack for being a God of War clone then any game before it, but it is the best of the bunch. The story was loosely tied to the epic poem and there were large amounts of unnecessary nudity, but the setting is what kept me playing and replaying. The combat was solid and the sound was haunting, but the absolute best feature of the game was Visceral game’s twisted view of hell. Using the damned as ladders; hearing and seeing the awkward silence of the suicide part of the violence ring, descending into hell has never been more fun or uneasy.

9. Medal of Honor (PS3,360,PC) – DICE is the king of multiplayer military shooters hands down, and this game shows that great pedigree as well. Medal of Honor has been boycotted by the military, yet the military helped to make it one of my favorite games of the year. The story was more down to earth than Call of duty has been of late, yet some thought it was boring. Danger Close made a great campaign that flowed with the normal MoH overtones like brotherhood and facing insurmountable odds. DICE constructed the multiplayer in the same vain as Battlefield 1943; three classes to choose from, some great maps alongside the same great team based game play the Battlefield franchise is known for. The multiplayer kept me occupied well into November and December despite Black Ops being released, if it wasn’t for the Bad Company 2 Vietnam expansion I would still be playing the multiplayer.

8. Limbo (360) – This summer of arcade title may have been one of the best downloadable games this year. A small shadow of a boy wakes up in a dark and malevolent world with the only plot driving you forward is your ongoing search for your sister. Is he dead? Is he dreaming? Are the challenges and foes you face some of the boys greatest fears? These are never answered and the entire game is up to your interpretation. Great 2D platforming and some gravity defying puzzles made this game the best of the downloadable bunch. Check out my review I did during the summer for more on this great title.

7. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) – There were a lot of good hardcore games that Nintendo finally decided to put on their system that was catering more towards the casual audience, and this is the best of them. Yes, there were plenty of others that could have made this list and hold a special place in my heart (Donkey Kong Country Returns) but this is what defines the Nintendo experience. The first Galaxy was one of my favorite early Wii titles and this game honed in on what made that game great and took it a step further. The refined 3D platforming is at perfection and the bright and colorful Nintendo art style is there for you to love. This is 25 years of Mario condensed on one disc. If you want a Mario game this is the definitive one for this generation, I bought a second Wii just to play this game.

6. God of War 3 (PS3) – Why wouldn’t this be up here on this list? The first two titles were some of the most defining games on the PS2, and this one is a defining title on the PS3. More than 4 years in development and switching leads well into the dev cycle, this game still came at you like a titan. One of the best looking games of this generation, a visceral and satisfying combat engine, a sense of scale like no other game before it; some of the sequences have to be played for you to believe. The story falls a little short towards the end but the game play holds strong. God of War 3 is brilliant finish for a fabled franchise and one that has defined the action genre for years.

5. Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (PS3,360,PC) – The most successful new IP of this generation surprises yet again with the follow up to last year’s Assassins Creed 2. More refined game play, answers to some of the questions left by the last title, and one of the most massive environments ever in and AC game. The true testament to this title is the multiplayer, one of the smartest multiplayer games I have seen. Two teams of 4 hunting each other in a crowd of NPC that start to move as you do a very satisfying and deceptive game that is paired with a Call of Duty like leveling and unlocking system, equals one of the most unique multiplayers to date. I have never loved throwing a spear so much in a game.  

4. Red Dead Redemption (PS3,360) – a sequel to a previous gen game that Capcom dumped and Rockstar picked up and made it into possibly their greatest open world game to date. I love the western setting and closest game to get this right was Gun until RDR. A massive, breathing environment and one of the best stories Rockstar has crafted makes this game the true Wild West (minus Will Smith). To make this package even better it receive the best DLC for a Rockstar game, the Undead Nightmare pack. There are few games that are set in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s Western America, there were only two the last generation and this game makes up for any ground we lost with both of those. If you thought GTA 4 was great, check out this one. RDR is the crown jewel in the Rockstar crown of games.

3. Halo Reach (360) – What’s this? A complete Halo nerd not putting his beloved game at the top of his list? I am a writer after all and what would I be if I was biased? This game is Bungie’s swan song to their franchise that made the Xbox and Xbox live. The culmination of 9 years of evolving game play has brought us the greatest Halo yet. A single player campaign that many could argue is the best of the series, a story that is tense, personal, and heartbreaking, and new features make the 8-10 hour fight a blast to play through. But where would this legendary franchise be without the multiplayer? Halo Reach is the best multiplayer experience the series has to offer. New additions like load outs and game modes, the return of theater mode, and a complete revamped forge mode. Bungie sent their beloved series out with a huge bang and was very happy to have the chance to review it. Will we remember Reach? Oh yes we will and for years to come.

2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Vietnam expansion (PS3, 360, PC) – Two DICE games on one list? You bet your ass there are! I said DICE is the leader in multiplayer military shooters, and this game cements that statement. The single player campaign is not as good as the previous game, but the most work went into the multiplayer, which is pure bliss. I have stayed up way to late some nights playing the best multiplayer game this year. That’s right you can certify that statement. BC2 is a game made of teamwork, C4, and many buildings being brought down on top of the enemy. Massive maps, 12 on 12 team based game modes, lots of vehicles to blow up or be blown up by, and all the destructible environments you can handle. Not to mention this and Medal of Honor have the best sound design in any game, they are the reason Dolby keeps creating more channels of surround sound. The Vietnam expansion for BC 2 was released just before Christmas and is better and more historically  accurate than all of Call of Duty Black Ops. 15 weapons that are in their correct time period, age specific vehicles, over an hour worth of music from the era, and four (one to be unlocked later for a total of 5) unbelievably well design maps and you have a 15 dollar rival to Limbo. Hill 137 is perhaps one of my favorite maps of all time and it looks amazing to boot. If you want a military shooter that just oozes greatness out of every orifice, then look no further. This would have been my pick for game of the year if it wasn’t for the next game.

1. Mass Effect 2 (360, PC, and coming soon to PS3) – One of the first games to come out this year is also the best. Hitting the top of everyone’s list and there is a very good reason why. Bioware continues to 1-up themselves with the second installment to their massive space opera. Sheppard returns to take on the reapers and their blight against humanity with a new handful of recruits, revamped combat system and the most robust conversation system ever to date. How they punched this game out as quickly as they did is beyond me. (I guess they learned a few tricks from Naughty Dog) The ability to import your characters from the first game with consequences intact is mind blowing. To run into the reporter I shoved out of the way in ME1 and her have a hostile attitude towards me or to see Liara and for her to remember we were romantically involved in the ships lower decks was incredible. Any problems I had with the first game (too many elevators, late texture popping in thanks to the crappy Unreal 3 engine, and control issues in combat) all have been fixed and have taking this game to the next level. The writing is incredible and the stories with in the main story are just as excellent as the main tale. This is a world that can make you wish we were exploring the stars; all the diverse and beautiful environments, and amazing character design can put other games to shame. This is a game I spend at least 20 hours on the first play through and I felt like I rushed it. On my second play through I am taking my sweet old time and I want to see everything. This is a game that sets the bar and you wonder how the third game in the trilogy will be able to pass it. We shall see next fall, until then I give you my 2010 Game of the Year.

December 26, 2010

Getting kicked from the experience

On the night of December 16th, three friends and I drove 45 minutes and spend around 80 total to see Tron Legacy in 3-D IMAX. The movie is one of my favorite of the year and the best use of 3-D I have seen to date. But what ruined it for me was other people. It normally happens with every movie I go see and video game I play, someone ruins the experience.

Movies, television, video games, books, any kind of media are there to pull you into an experience, to take you to a world outside your own. They take you mystical and magical places, wars once fought, the future of humanity, to a race track going well over 200 mph; and all of this can be torn down in an instant by the outside world.

Thanks to a sale on the Forza 3 car packs this week, I jumped back into driver seat of one of the best racers of last year. Flying down a straight away in my Renault Magane Trophy with techno pumping in the back ground and my phone rings. So I have to pause the experience to answer my phone, which I want to throw out the window I am beside, and now get back to the game I am now aware I am playing.

Playing the Bad Company 2 Vietnam expansion the other night and I am completely sucked into the experience. Finally got to play the most amazing map in recent memory, Hill 137, I am running around, gun fire blazing, grenades exploding in the back ground, trying to look for my team to help me and 7 out of the 12 guys are snipers and nowhere in sight. Even multiplayer games can be ruined by the wrong people.

This is one of my biggest annoyances, I pay money for games, to see movies, to read books and I expect for my experience to not be interrupted. I have started to take measures to fix this, I bought a turtle beach headset to ignore the outside world around me, try to play with friends in multiplayer games to avoid people who are just there to better themselves, and shutting off the ever annoying phone. The worst experience I have had came from some moron while I was playing Halo 3 one morning, just got my waffles and sat down to play some team death match and for 12 minutes straight this asshole makes the most irritating noise in the world; AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  Really do you have nothing better to do with your day then to piss off everyone in the world? This was before Xbox Live added the party system, and every douche bag had a voice and it was a hassle to try and silence them.

I am not trying to sit here and whine, I am just asking for people to make my experience better. You make my experience better, everyone’s will be better. I enjoy escaping into worlds that are not reality and being told stories in the most interactive ways possible. Please don’t be like the Halo asshole and ruin my waffles. Merry Christmas to all the readers out there and have a happy new year.

December 22, 2010

Steam Has Over 1000 Games on Sale

Steam has over 1000 games on sale during the holiday weekend.  Steam is offering discounts on almost every title and megapack in their arsenal.  Some of the titles on sale are Borderlands, Left 4 Dead 2, Bad Company, Mafia, Mafia 2, Fear, Prince of Persia, Xcom, X3 and many others.  Their packs are also on sale and some of them are up to 75% off.  This means for around $40.00 –  $70.00 you can get between 12 and 20 titles. 

Valve also announced that you will sometimes get additional discounts depending on the games you already own.  For example lets say you want to buy portal and it’s already 5o% off but if you own Half Life 2, which you do… right… you get an additional 10% off.  Steam detects that you own the title and applies the addtional discount. 

Valve is also having daily deals that have additional discounts on titles that are only on sale.  Check back every day to see the new titles that are on sale. 

I found it interesting that the only titles that weren’t on sale were Activisions Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops.  I think this goes to show how greedy they are as a company.  This is especially apparent when games like Bad Company 2 are on sale for $6.97 and were released this year.

December 18, 2010

Bad Company 2: Vietnam Review

Bad Company 2: Vietnam is here, well at least for PC players who preordered it at the EA store or on Steam.  If you are like me you had this preordred weeks ago and now it is finally here.  Many games this year have been massive disappointments.  Games that we had high expectations of, most of which had high price tags, were complete let downs.  Needless to say when I preordered BC2:Vietnam I was concerned. 

I am happy to say that BC2: Vietnam is superb, Activision take note, this is what DLC should be.  BC2 Vietnam boasts 5 brand new maps, 6 new vehicles, 15 additional new weapons that are characteristic of the time period, 60’s sound track and new voices to boot.  In addition to this there are some other weapons that are in BC2 but they are Vietnam era models.  With a price tag of 14.99 this is quite a bit of content, especially when compared to the meagre offerings of Activisons DLC which only contain 5 maps and half of which are just rehashes of previous releases on older titles.   I may shoot myself later for saying this but this current offering by DICE and EA could of easily justified a $30.00 price tag and if they had a single-player campaign to boot it probably could of stood as it’s own title. 

Vietnam does not come with it’s own campaign… while this is disappointing to me in one aspect, at 14.99 I didn’t expect one and with the amount of content it had I am quite happy without it.  I should mention that this in an Era rarely covered in games and well at that.  It would be nice to see a single-player campaign designed around Vietnam.  It’s a story still fairly untouched by the game industry. 

The maps are a real standout for me in this expansion.  Following the standard Battlefield map layout the maps are designed for 3 types of gameplay.  Rush, conquest and squad deathmatch.  One map that really stood out to me and actually evoked some emotion from the devastation that I saw around me was Hill 137.  If  any of you have seen Hamburger Hill, the movie, this map is based off that.  If you want to read more about the battle at Hamburger Hill you can read about it here.  It’s actually quite an interesting read.  The map takes you at the start, playing rush, depending on the side you start on, in the jungle moving up to take command points.  After your team captures the first set of command points you move into the second stage of the map which is a massive hill that has been bombed into oblivion.  All you see are burning trees and scorched  ground.  The fires look real and  believable and with the gunfire and the screaming of your squad-mates around you elevates that reality.  This is probably my favorite map out of the ones I have played so far.  From what I can tell all of the maps will play on all three game modes.  This is different from the original BC2 release where only some of the maps were playable in some game modes. 

Rush mode made a big standout to me on Vietnam as well.  Unlike the rush mode in BC2, and this could be contributed to the way the maps are designed, felt much more focused.  There were certain maps where you could literally create a choke point in the map and the only way to break that defensive line is to use a mixture of vehicles, medics, assault and snipers.   This results in epic amounts of carnage, destruction and death.  Without the proper combination or “teamwork” your team would get slaughtered.  That being said, it was very annoying when you got placed on a bad team or one that didn’t work well together.  It could make for some very long and frustrating rounds. 

I’ve found that much like with BC2, Vietnam is best played with a group of friends.  I have a group of about 8 guys I play with and when we coordinate together it’s about the most fun I have gaming period.  Nothing beats a cohesive team in BC2 or Vietnam.  You will walk all over the other team if you have a well coordinated group of guys.  If there is one complaint I have about the Bad Company series it is that it doesn’t really encourage the team to play as a team.  Instead you just find guys walking around shooting whatever they can see. 

The weapons are great as well in Vietnam.  All of them feel authentic and real and fit with the time period.  The only gun that I felt was a little overpowered compared to the rest was the PPSH.  The gun has almost double the fire rate of any other SMG and beats most the MG’s in the field as well and it’s far to accurate compared to what the traditional SMG should be.  I think the AK47 and the MG60 are my favorites in this expansion, it’s extremely gratifying to drop someone with both of those weapons. 

Sound follows in the footsteps of it’s predecessor and does not disappoint.  When not playing with a group of people I have it blasting on my 1000 watt sound system and close range explosions and MG fire create bass that will knock pictures off your wall.  Gunfire sounds superb and when you are in large fire fights with small arms fire, explosions, motors and screaming going on all around you I found that the game feel incredibly immersive and intense.

I touched on this a little bit before but the visuals in the game are top notch.  Hill 137 again was where they really stood out.  I think this is the best looking map in the Bad Company series hands down.  I also think the game plays smoother then BC2 did.  I don’t think any new graphics were added per say but I think the game was optimized before it was released.  I can feel the difference between BC2 and Vietnam.  Overall Vietnam looks better then it’s predacessor in most regards with the exception of exploding tree’s.  When a tree gets knocked down it creates a paper explosion.   The leaves look like thin, flat, green, pieces of paper.  This seems like something they could of spent an extra day on but it’s definitely not a big deal. 

PC gamers will be happy to know that the game has gotten released first on PC and that the game has been optimized for the platform as well.  The game plays well and does not feel like it was ported from a console version to the PC.   If you have a decent machine, you are in for a real treat.  I run the game on medium settings using eyefinity on 3 x 25″  monitors, AMD 965 Phenom X2, 8gb of ram, Radeon 5850.  The game looks fantastic even on medium settings.  I haven’t tried on High settings yet because eyefinity triples the drain on my video card.  However, being that the game feels like it runs smooth I will probably try it out and see how it feels. 

Overall BC2: Vietnam is the best value for your money I have seen in a long time.  You get basically an entirely new name with the exception of a single-player campaign for the price of 14.99.  This is an expansion more than a DLC but I can’t help but wonder why DICE and EA can put out essentially a new game for 14.99 when Activision can’t even put out 5 original maps for the same price.  I’m not a fan of EA but EA and DICE got it right with this expansion.  This is one of the best DLC/Expansions of the year hands down.  If any of you are considering purchasing this, buy it now, you won’t be disappointed. 

Final Score: 9.5/10

 

December 13, 2010

EA Shying Away From Single Player

According to EA Games label president Frank Gibeau says the company’s new business model, which includes shying away from single-player games.  This will be sad news indeed for those of us who do not enjoy the multi-player model.

“We’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay — be it cooperative or multiplayer or online services — as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out,” Gibeau said. “I think that model is finished. Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.” says Frank.

This comes on a tail of the announcement that EA will be cutting it’s release lineup by 50%.

“I firmly believe that the way the products we have are going, they need to be connected online,” Gibeau said.

“We’re going to try out new price-points, and we’re going to try free-to-play models within my group -– things like we did with Battlefield 1943, which was a $10 XBLA game that did extremely well,” he says.

If you read what has been said I don’t think it necessarily means that EA will stop producing Single-Player titles.  It most likely means that they will not be producing Single-Player only titles.  This does, however, bring up some interesting questions.  What will EA do with it’s currently popular Single-Player IP’s such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins.  Both of those franchises are incredibly popular and the games are driven on excellent story telling.

It’s fairly clear to me that this is simply a business move.  By reducing or completely removing the Single-Player component from their games it removes a lot of the development costs.  You then cut out scripts, voice actors, cutscene artists, story lines and many other things that go into developing a game and you cut a good number of development costs out of the equation.  Furthermore, if you cut out Single-Player, it makes it far easier to prevent piracy as you can’t get online without having an authentic version.  I suspect this is most likely the case.

There are several games already out that don’t feature a Single-Player component such as Sins of a Solar Empire.

I personally think this comes down to greed.  They want more money and if they can cut a good portion of development costs out of the equation they will ultimately make more money off of the $60 price tag that gets attached to new releases.  What do you guys think?  Good riddance or a tragedy in the works?

December 10, 2010

COD: Source of Greed

 

   

        It has come to light that Activision share holders are unhappy with the company for not charging a fee for online multiplayer in COD games, Specifically Black Ops and MW2 as those two alone have among the highest online gaming traffic on Xbox Live and PSN, and Activision appears to be under a certain amount of scrutiny for not forcing the gaming community to pay a subscription fee on top of the $60 initial price tag.

An analyst has said that not charging for online multiplayer is “a betrayal of shareholder trust” while another said that keeping multiplayer free is “a serious strategic error” and continued with “We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetisastion of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history”. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is also on this bandwagon and has admitted that if were up to him COD players would be charged for a subscription service “tomorrow”.

Bottom line is that COD is a huge source of revenue, its online community is gargantuan and those already making money off the franchise aren’t happy with the millions the game has pulled in and continues to bring in from game sales, but insist that once the game has been payed for, the consumer continues to pay a fee if he/she wishes to experience everything the game has to offer.

I for one will no longer be playing COD online should Activision cave and charge for online Multi. Nor will I buy a COD game immediately after release, and instead buy it later used from a game retailer so as to avoid supporting activision while still enjoying their product.

Thoughts? reactions? would you pay for COD online Multi???

December 7, 2010

MEDAL OF HONOR

     Its been a while since the last MOH game and this one is getting lots of flack from the gaming community as  a dissapointing let down. However I will point out that the reviews are similar all around, the people giving it high ratings are saying the same thing as those giving it low ratings. First Ill tell you what their NOT saying, no one is saying that MOH is a bad game, they’re saying its too short and the Multiplayer is lacking. I recently played through MOH and its somewhat true. I put about 7hrs into the single player which actually wouldve been closer to 6hrs had I not replayed some certain levels either from dying or pure greatness. Getting back to what people are saying about the game. Its a shame everyone is hating like they are on this game, and honestly I think the majority of people are pissed for the same reason, IT ENDED, not because it was too short or the mechanics werent there or whatever, but simply because it ended. MOH was in a word EPIC. The game plays like a movie and has all the elements a good game should have. Story, Graphics, Visuals, Mechanics and over all gameplay were just excellent. From stealth to destroying an entire town as an arial gunner MOH delivers in a tasteful and gripping way. The story was a bit different in that it wasnt a scripted piece of drama like COD, instead it simply focus’s on you as a tier 1 operator. Instead of watching scripted events unfold infront of you while you pull a trigger it feels as if you were creating the game as you played. One major thing that helps do this, and something I loved, was that there are no cutscenes between levels. You litterally play through the whole game with nothing but check points and being briefed by your team as you move to your objective, and truly I think this is why it seemed so short for most people. Youll get just as  much game play out of it without the intermittent cutscenes, and in my honest opinion the game is better for it. MOH’s intensity and the way in which is sucks you in make it a masterpiece, that fact thats its done differently without all the BS is something that lots of people cant seem to appreciate which is sad cuz MOH is not only excellent to play through its also a tribute to those sacrificing their way of life so that we can have ours. MOH will suck you in and keep you hooked till the end (one reason people are beating it so quickly), if your on the fence about it borrow it or rent it, either way MOH should be checked out and is one of the few games deserving of your time and appreciation.

 

There really isnt much to say about the multi player, its not bad like some are saying but it also doesnt have that polished feel like BC2 or COD has, it is however still fun to play regardless, the scoring system is a bit different, you get 10 pts per kill plus 5 pts for specials like head shots and team actions. its simple in that you dont have a ton of customizations to unlock and look through while still having a sufficient ammount of content.

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2010

Crytec Says Consoles Holding PC Gaming Back

Cryteq CEO held an interview over the holidays and stated that the PC platform is a whole generation ahead of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  While PC gamers have known this for years it hasn’t really been officially stated by a prominent company until now.  Crytec was one of the last companies that held PC exclusives however with it’s new release of Crysis 2 it will be releasing the game on the PC, PS3 and 360.

I’m sure for any PC gamer reading this that they are jumping out of their seats right now but this is actually a disappointing statement.  Because of the focus on consoles games, quality games on the PC and exclusive titles for it have been far and in between.

“PC is easily a generation ahead right now,” he told Edge Magazine. “With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is. You won’t be able to squeeze more juice from these rocks.”

“I generally think it’s still developers’ mentality [that is to blame],” he said. “A lot nowadays don’t consider PC a big issue any more; their [sales] expectations are nowhere near what they are for the console versions. Until the PC market creates comparable revenues, companies are not going to spend enough on the PC SKU of a game.”

While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Crysis 2 would be a better game on PC vs console it does mean that because of this Crytec’s creative expression could be held back because of it.  Yerli also said that because of piracy it has forced them to go multi-platform.

“We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin, a chart leading that is not desirable. I believe that’s the core problem of PC Gaming, piracy. To the degree PC gamers that pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we won’t have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive anymore.” said Yerli.

While I don’t believe piracy is the primary cause for this I do believe it is a huge issue.  I happen to know a great many people who refuse to pay for anything unless they absolutely have to.  A great number of my friends pirate their software if they have the option.  The problem with PC game piracy or the piracy of software in general is that isn’t that stigma attached to it that “I could get in trouble”.  It’s the “no one can see this so is it really stealing” type of mentality.  I must admit at some point I had this same mentality.  I also did this because I felt the prices for games were to high.  This was when PC titles were $39.99 and a far cry for then $59.99 and now that PC titles are heading that way I suspect piracy will head the way of the pricing… up.

In addition to piracy we have had a huge influx of casual gamers who don’t have or have the interest in computer hardware.  Most causual gamers don’t know how to build a computer capeable of running your average computer game.  Consumers can buy prebuilt ones that will handle it from companies such as CyberPower PC, Alienware or IBuyPower but those machines cost range from $1,000 to $5,000  and compared to a $200 – $400 console it’s a hard sell on a platform that has a dwindling amount of titles.

PC Gamers have long been arguing that they are tired of paying for games that are subpar ports of their console counter parts.  Star Trek: Legacy and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty are prime examples of this.  One could argue that PC gamers don’t want to pay $60 for a title that wasn’t developed for their system and does not offer all the features usually offered to their platform.  It would be like releasing a game that can only work with a mouse and keyboard and release it on the 360.  Xbox owners would be furious at this.  The only difference between PC Gamers and Console owners is that it is far more complicated to pirate a console game and they can’t just go download the game and play it.

I have heard the death knell call of PC gaming for years now and while I would agree that many of the recent releases on PC have been deplorable I hardly think that PC gaming has ended.  The recent and upcoming releases of Bad Company 2, Bad Company 2: Vietnam, The Witcher and The Witcher 2 are prime examples of successful PC releases that have had great commercial success.  While they may not make $500 million dollars overnight they are still commercial successes.  I personally believe when PC gaming capabilities are so far ahead of consoles and when developers counter this with another console which if it follows the trend of recent releases will most likely cost $600 – $800  we will find PC gaming gaining back some of it’s lost ground.  In addition to all this we have companies like Steam and Impulse Games who offer games at generally lower prices then their console counter parts and because they are distributed over their networks it makes it incredibly complicated to pirate them.  In a world where money is key having access to overall cheaper games could help drive PC sales.

Here are a couple of videos from a few upcoming PC releases… enjoy!:

December 5, 2010

Thankful that I knew you and sorely miss you…..

During this time of year we are thankful for all sorts of things; Family, good health, friends, stable job to bring food to the table, and compassion towards our fellow man. As gamers we are thankful for all of those and more; great games, new hardware, updates to bring a new flavor to our favorite games, the joys of taking down a noob and gently resting our virtual nu-nads on their forehead, laughing and having good times with friends, and having the comforting joy of a controller in hand during the long winter nights.

This year I have played a lot of games both retail and downloadable, through great games and sour ones, great narratives and horrible clichéd stories that make famous authors turn in their graves, I have stolen every form of transportation known to man and have walked to the far reaches of the galaxy and back. Still with all of this said and done, all the experiences I have had there is one that I miss every day; the thrill, smell, sights and sounds of the arcade. 

Arcades have played a big role in my life. My family owns a business in Pittsburgh which has assembled arcade machines since the 70’s and is still open today despite the American arcade scene has fallen off the grid; they mostly do touch masters for bars and video slots now. Growing up I was in the front lines of the arcade industry. While my parents were still together we had a pinball machine in the basement, anytime I would visit my grandfather’s shop I would spend countless hours in the show room with various pinball machines and arcade games. After my parents split and the times in the shop diminished, I hit the arcade scene with every quarter I had in tow. There were two arcades in the town I lived in, Pocket Change which was in the mall that is still in use today but has since been remodeled and Giggles (see the above picture) which still has a storefront but the mall has been vacant for years. Pocket Change was the more advanced of the two arcades, always having the top of the line machines. Giggles was more of a retro arcade, housing games like Double Dragon, P.O.W. and John Elway Football but still had some of the more recent titles like Mortal Kombat.

The weekends were great, get dropped off at the mall, walk into Giggles, hit the change machine and start my night. You would always have the big crowds surrounding the top machines, kids placing quarters in line at the bottom of the monitors waiting for their turn, and the smell of the Pizza Boy floating in from across the way. Ran out of quarters? Not a problem. The local ToysRus was attached to the mall and you would find kids setting up their own tournaments on the demo machines; Soul Blade on the PS1 drew a crowd every weekend despite only having 3 characters unlocked.

Thinking back to those times makes me sad to see the way of the American arcade. The last arcade I stepped into was when I was in New York City in 2003, and the fate of that one I am unsure of. The arcade has a special place in my heart, that no matter how many remakes show up on XBLA and PSN they can never replace the feeling of going to a brick and mortar arcade.

To see a resurgence of the American arcade is one in a million, but I am thankful that I was there to at least see and experience what those wonderful places had to offer. This holiday I will hold on to my 360 arcade stick tightly and think of better times while I enjoy the X-men arcade remake coming through the downloadable pipe. Have any of you enjoyed the days of the arcade or wished you could have? I am still looking for a Rush 2049 arcade cabinet, one of the only racing games to have a working clutch. I would love to rebuild it from scratch so that maybe a future retirement plan; some people build cars, I want to build arcade machines. Maybe it’s just in my blood. What are you thankful for this holiday season?

December 2, 2010

Eyefinity Reveiw and Setup Instructions

So this Black Friday I decided to hang around newegg and I found myself 2 x Hanns·G HZ251HPB Black 25″ in addition to my Hannspree HF289H 28″ monitor.  I decided to do this because I already owned a Sapphire 5850 1GB and I had never messed around with multi monitor displays.  I’ll cover my results and the parts required to make it work.  I searched the internet far and wide for instructions on how to set this up and make it work and I finally got it all figured out and I’ll cover it below. 

So lets start with my build.  I’m running on a Gigabyte motherboard, with 8gb of DDR3 CL7, AMD Phenom II 965 and a Sapphire 5850 1gb and the monitors listed above.

To do an eyefinity setup you need 3 monitors and a ATI card capeable of doing eyefinity.  I believe all DirectX 11 Radeon cards are capeable of doing eyefinity.  I would recommend at least a 5850 to do an eyefinity setup otherwise you will run into some performance hits.  One of your monitors needs to have a Display Port Adapter shown here on the right.  If your monitor does not have one of these Display Port Adapters on it you need to purchase a ACTIVE display port adapter.  My monitors did not have Display Port Adapters so I had to purchase one seperately.  I purchased a Powercooler Display Port Adapter.  If you don’t purchase an ACTIVE display port adaptor then it will not work. 

Once you have all your parts in hand all you need to do is hook them up.  Connect one of the montiors to the display port adaptor and hook it up to the display port on the video card.  Hook the other two up to the DVI ports on your video card.  Now you have to enable enable eyefinity.  Once you have them all hooked up open your ATI Catalyst Control Center -> Desktop Displays.  You should see three monitors under that tab.  Disable two of the monitors *you have to disable them to do this following step*.  Once you have disabled the two monitors right click on one of the displays and click create group.  It should let you choose several configurations 1×3, 3×1, 2×1, etc.  We are going to assume you have three monitors and choose 3×1 configuration.  Finally it’s going to ask if you if the monitors are configured correctly.  If you can move your mouse from the far left monitor all the way over right monitor then they are configure right if you can then click no and it will let you choose the layout. 

Thats it… eyefinity is enabled.  If you want to use eyefinity within a game all you have to do is go to the video settings and choose the proper video settings.  If you have 1080p monitors then you would choose 5760×1080.  Now lets cover our thoughts on eyefinity. 

Pro:  I tried Bad Company 2 first with eyefinity set and it looks simply stunning.  The immersion factor with 3 montiors is amazing and breathtaking.  You really feel like you are in the game and with that said it makes the game that much more enjoyable.  I also enjoyed the peripherial vision effect.  While some may argue that it is useless I submit that it actually gives you quite the advantage when playing in FPS games as it allows you to see a great deal more then everyone else who doesn’t have it.  Some will disagree with me in this but I am proud to say that you don’t really notice the bezels or lines inbetween the screens.  I have a good 2 inch gap between my center monitor and the two side monitors and after playing for about five minutes I barely noticed it anymore.  It’s also easy to set games up to play eyefinity.  I even got Neverwinter Nights running on eyefinity with no issues at all and all I had to do was switch the resolution.  Eyefinity does give you an advantage and as I mentioned previously you really do see a great deal more on the screen.  You can see people who are beside who you wouldn’t of been able to see before.

Cons: Cost vs performance is a big issue here.  Running Eyefinity will put a massive strain on your video card.  I was able to max Bad Company 2 at 1920 x 1200 before I installed my additional monitors.  Once I had installed the monitors and changed to the Eyefinity the game was unplayable and I had to turn down to medium quality settings.  Once I had turned the settings down the game played extremly smoothly.  Having said all that you can setup Eyefinity to work with cheaper models of the 5xxx cards but you will loose overall graphical quality.  I would suggest if you are doing an Eyefinity setup to at least get a Radeon 5870 or above. 

The second issue I ran into was drivers.  I initially started on the catalyst 10.3 drivers and then upgraded to the 10.11 drivers.  Onc I upgraded I had several major and annoying problems the most prominant of which was scren flickering and tearing.  It was so bad I tried reinstalling it and still ahd the same issue.  After several reinstalls and several frustrating attempts to fix the issue I uninstalled the 10.11 drivers and reinstalled the 10.3 drivers.  Not everyone may have this issue but it was a painful one for me.  I would like to see in the future, more stable drivers and support for this product and some better support and for the love of God add an Eyefinity tab to the Catalyst Control Center so it’s easier to setup. 

Screen distortion of the side monitors is another thing i didn’t expect when I set this up.  The resolution on the side monitors can appear distorted or stretched.  This is apparently normal for the Eyefinity setup and apparently it shouldn’t be of concern.  I however did not know this and I spent several hours trying to figure out why it looked the way it did. 

Finally, the biggest issue I had wasn’t with the product itself but with the information out there about how to actually set it up.  I had to search far and wide for information on setting up this product, buying the parts and the difference between active and passive display adaptors.  None of this information appears to be easily or readily accessible from AMD and it would be nice to see some tutorials on how to use and prepare for buying an eyefinity setup.  If it hadn’t been for me casually mentioning my desire to purchase an eyefinity setup to one of my friends I would of purchased a Passive Adapter instead of a Active one. 

Conclusion:  When I first heard of Eyefinity the first thing I said was “this is stupid and won’t make a difference” and “the breaks in between the screens will make for a terrible experience”.  I am here to say that I was completely wrong.  After playing Team Fortress 2, Counter strike, Left 4 Dead 2 and Bad Company 2 for several hours now using my eyefinity setup I am going to say that I am never going back.  I am a complete believer now in multi monitor gaming.  After playing for about 10 minutes I didn’t even notice the breaks between the screens and the addition of the monitors helped add to my overall awareness of the maps I was playing on.  Overall, even through it’s faults, Eyefinity is a fantastic technology and I look forward to seeing it developed and perfected over the next couple of years.  I hope someone out there finds this review useful.  Below I have some pictures of my setup and parts and I’ve also got a video of Eyefinity in action.

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