Archived News:

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008

New ATI Catalyst Drivers

ATI's Drivers & Software Page is where to find the new version 8.8 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI Radeon graphics cards (thanks Bill). The release notes outline what's new and different; for Windows this includes New Avivo video features and Hybrid Graphics Support for Windows XP, and for Linux, overdrive and CrossFire support are added (as described on Phoronix).

BlizzCon 2008 Ticket Lottery Opt-in

The BlizzCon 2008 ticket lottery opt-in period is underway. Word is: "The opt-in period will last until 11:59 p.m. PDT on Sunday, August 24. After it ends, we will select 1,500 people from the opt-in pool and offer them a chance to purchase up to two tickets to BlizzCon 2008."

Tom Clancy's EndWar Movie

The Leipzig GC trailer from Tom Clancy's EndWar shows off gameplay from the upcoming Clancy-fied game of real-time tactical combat. The clip includes a mix of cinematics and gameplay footage, concluding with a logo screen that omits the PC logo (though the Windows version is planned for release some time after the console versions). The movie is posted on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, and MyGameTrailers.

WAR Cinematic

A new cinematic trailer is now available for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Word on the new WAR trailer is that it "brings the Age of Reckoning to life in stunning detail and showcases the ongoing conflict between the armies of Order and Destruction, the catalyst for WAR’s groundbreaking Realm vs. Realm gameplay." The clip is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and MyGameTrailers.

Velvet Assassin Trailer

A new "shadows" trailer from Velvet Assassin shows off action in the dark environments in the upcoming World War II stealth game. The clip is posted on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, and again on FileFront.

Evening Preview

Evening Screenshots

Fallout 3 in October

Bethesda Softworks announces October 28 as the North American release date for Fallout 3 and October 31 as when European stores will be carrying the post-apocalyptic RPG sequel:
August 20, 2008 (Rockville, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company, announced today that its highly anticipated title, Fallout® 3, will be available on store shelves and online in North America on October 28, 2008 and in Europe on October 31, 2008. Developed at Bethesda Game Studios – creators of the 2006 Game of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion® – Fallout 3 is slated for release on the Xbox 360®video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows.

“We are very excited to let gamers get their hands on Fallout 3, the latest chapter in this beloved and highly acclaimed franchise,” said Vlatko Andonov, president of Bethesda Softworks. “To meet the huge demand for this title by our fans worldwide, we are planning one of the biggest launches of any game released this year.”

Fallout 3 features one of the most realized game worlds ever created. Set more than 200 years following a nuclear war, you can create any kind of character you want and explore the open wastes of Washington, D.C. however you choose. Every minute is a fight for survival as you encounter Super Mutants, Ghouls, Raiders, and other dangers of the Wasteland.

Hailed as one of the most anticipated games for 2008, Fallout 3 has already won numerous awards including Best of Show from the official Game Critics Awards at E3 2008, a selection voted on by an independent group of journalists from 36 leading North American media outlets that cover the videogame industry.

Fallout® 3 has not yet been rated by the ESRB. For more information on Fallout 3, visit http://fallout.bethsoft.com.

FIFA 09 Stat Updating

EA announces FIFA 09 will be another of their sports games that will offer continuously updated player ratings based on the performance of the players during the soccer/football season. The announcement says purchasers will get a one league "trial" of this function for one season, implying this will include fees at some point. They also say this will work for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, and though a footnote adds a "subscription to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network" as a requirement, such a subscription will presumably not be necessary for the PC edition. The Leipzig GC 2008 trailer for the game is online, and here's word:
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – August 20, 2008 – Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today announced a new premium service for EA SPORTS™ FIFA Soccer 09 called adidas Live Season that will redefine the soccer videogame experience by dynamically updating player form in-game on a weekly basis so that player attributes mirror real-world performances. FIFA Soccer 09 will now feel and play differently throughout the entire 2008-2009 season matching the weekly rhythm of soccer. The new service will be available for Barclay’s Premier League, La Liga BBVA, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A and Mexican Primera Division on the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and PC.

FIFA Soccer 09 is now powered with dynamic real-world data and analytics, lifting the game to new heights of authenticity for soccer fans and gamers connected online. The adidas Live Season service is based on how real players performed in the most recent real-world matches. Gameplay will change dynamically as the performance of players and soccer teams in the real world experience the highs and lows during their campaigns.

“This is an ambitious and completely unique feature that has never been attempted before for football videogames,” said Andrew Wilson, Vice President & Executive Producer for the franchise. “The game will feel and play differently each week. With adidas Live Season if Ronaldinho has a great match on the weekend you’ll feel the difference when you pick up the controller as his in-game attributes increase.”

A global network of scouts will monitor every player in the adidas Live Season leagues throughout the season to supply accurate and in-depth player and team data each week. Player attributes will be impacted and player performance will change dynamically. The adidas Live Season service is downloaded into FIFA Soccer 09 each week and will run from the launch of the game to the end of the 2008-2009 season. Gamers will have access to one league of their choice for a free* trial from the moment they activate it to the end of the 2008-2009 season.

*Requires purchase of FIFA 09. Internet Connection required and subscription to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.

GTA4 PC Improvements

Tiscali Games reports on what they learned at a just-completed presentation about the upcoming PC edition of Grand Theft Auto IV, also offering some screenshots of the PC edition. The article is in Czech, but a rough Google translation can help English speakers czech out the new info, which includes support for resolutions up to 2560x1600, higher-resolution textures than the console versions, longer view distances, and movie-creation capabilities that include a TiVo-like ability to capture gameplay from up to 30 seconds prior to initiating a recording. There was also mention of new the multiplayer mode, but Rockstar held back details on this.

7Million Revealed

The 7Million Website is online as a home to this upcoming MMO celebration of criminal intents from Deep Silver, Team Vienna, and Cliffhanger Productions. Word is: "7Million will be a welcome change in MMO's, as it does not play in the typical fantasy or science-fiction genre. Players with only a small amount of time will get their bearings quickly without missing out on all the fun of the game and the interaction with loads of other players." The site offers some screenshots and a teaser trailer, along with the opportunity to sign up for the game's closed beta test. Here's the description of the game:
The game about fame welcomes you all to the glamorous world of gentleman gangsters and lady thieves. If you simply can’t resist the scent of big money and spectacular heists, 7Million will allow you to rub shoulders with the cleverest of crooks. Create your own individual character and prowl the streets of Paradise City in search of the next big thing.

Our first news will allow you a short glimpse into the game visuals as well as a short trailer to whet your appetite. We have also launched the 7Million Forum and are looking forward to hearing what you think of our little game so far. The developers will drop by regularly, so be sure to drop in from time to time.

Welcome to the game that never sleeps - welcome to 7Million!

Silent Hill Homecoming to PCs

Konami announces plans for a PC edition of Silent Hill Homecoming to be released next month digitally via Steam:
EL SEGUNDO, CA - August 20, 2008 - Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today revealed that Silent Hill Homecoming, the latest installment of the popular horror franchise Silent Hill, will be available for the PC, in addition to the PLAYSTATION®3 and the Xbox 360®.

Silent Hill Homecoming marks the fifth story in the Silent Hill mythos, and introduces a new protagonist to the mysterious town. The story follows Alex Shepherd, who returns to his hometown of Shepherd's Glen to investigate the sudden disappearance of his brother and the strange occurrences taking place around town. Shepherd unravels a tale that takes him from his boyhood home to the fog-shrouded streets of Silent Hill, as he faces the darkest horrors of his soul to find his missing brother.

Silent Hill Homecoming features all-new graphics that bring the fear and terror of Silent Hill alive like never before. Alex must survive the terrible denizens with an all-new enhanced combat system that provides a wide array of attacks and counters. Along the way, he will encounter a variety of weapons to battle these horrific monsters and solve deadly puzzles, discovering the darkest secrets of the town. Silent Hill Homecoming also features an all-new soundtrack by acclaimed series composer Akira Yamaoka.

Silent Hill Homecoming for the PC will be available as a digital download through www.steamgames.com and is expected to launch September 2008. For more information, visit the website at www.konami.com.

ANNO 1404 Announced, Movie

Ubisoft announces ANNO 1404, currently scheduled for a March 2009 release, so the next installment in the strategy/simulation series is a prequel of sorts, continuing an alternating back-and-forth pattern that began with ANNO 1602, followed by ANNO 1503, followed by ANNO 1701. The previous installment in the series was created by Related Designs, who were said to be working on a new ANNO game when Ubisoft acquired the series and a stake in Related (story), hence Ubisoft is now listed as the developer. This series has always been sold in North America as YEAR A.D., rather than ANNO YEAR, but the announcement makes no mention of 1404 A.D., so that convention may be ending. On a related note, a video interview about the game is on GameStar that is conducted in German, but offers English subtitles as well as some gameplay footage. Also, the 1701 A.D. Gold Edition (story) seems to now be available in North America. Here's the announcement:
Leipzig, GERMANY – August XX, 2008 – Today Ubisoft announced that it will develop ANN0 1404™, the highly anticipated sequel in the award-winning building-strategy ANNO brand. Designed for the PC, ANNO 1404™ is scheduled for release worldwide in March 2009.

Set in the Orient, ANNO 1404™ offers a richness of features never before seen, bringing the ANNO™ series to a new level. Exploring a strange and fascinating island world in the utmost East, players will get to know the culture and technology of the ancient Orient while learning the tricks of local trade, diplomacy and economy in order to build their own metropolis.

New customizable elements, dozens of embellishing objects and bigger islands and worlds will provide players with endless opportunities to express their creative vision, making all metropolises look truly unique. A new intuitive interface, as well as a motivating, fully modifiable sandbox mode will make it easy and enjoyable for everyone to play.

ANNO™ is one of the most successful strategy brands with over five million units sold worldwide to date.

Red Alert 3 & Quantum of Solace Cast Details

EA Announces Star Studded Cast for Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 has details on the cast for the live-action sequences in the coming RTS sequel, including Jenny McCarthy as Tanya. Other cast members include Tim Curry, Jonathan Pryce, and George Takei as well as previously revealed participants Gemma Atkinson and Gina "Conviction" Carano. There's a clip highlighting the cast posted on PCGH. On a similar note, Activision announces they have secured the rights to use the likenesses and voices of all the leads from the Quantum of Solace movie for the upcoming videogame tie-in with the next James Bond movie. In addition to Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and others from Quantum, they have also picked up characters from Casino Royale (including Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre), as the game encompasses both movies.

On the Possibility of a Dragon Age Demo

Eurogamer draws attention to a revelation from their interview with BioWare's Dan Tudge that indicates BioWare's intent to support the release of Dragon Age: Origins with "downloadable content, both pre-release and post release; free content, paid-for content; online achievements." When pressed about whether pre-release downloadable content is code for demo, Dan plays it coy: "I can't say. You can expect something very creative from BioWare; the details I can't really go into."

UK Anti-Piracy Campaign

Times Online has news that five developers, Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland, and Codemasters, are serving notice to 25,000 UK families demanding they pay a settlement, or risk being taken to court over software piracy (thanks Edge Online). Here's a portion:
The computer games industry has launched an unprecedented assault on illegal downloads, demanding payment from thousands of families who obtained the latest releases over the internet without paying.

Five of the world’s top games developers will serve notice on 25,000 people across the UK, requiring each one to pay £300 immediately to settle out of court. Those who refuse risk being taken to court. The companies will target their initial legal actions on 500 people who ignore the letters.

The companies involved – Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters – make some of the popular games, including The Lord of the Rings, the Colin McRae Rally series and Operation Flashpoint. It is estimated that as many as six million people in Britain share games illegally over the internet. The aggressive action marks a dramatic change in the approach to copyright on the internet. The British music industry, hit hard by illegal file-sharing, has taken action against just 150 people in ten years.

The game makers have appointed the law firm Davenport Lyons. This week Isabela Barwinska, an unemployed mother of two, became the first person in the UK to be ordered to pay damages to a manufacturer. She must pay more than £16,000 to Topware after downloading Dream Pinball through a file-sharing site.

Hearts of Iron 3 Announced

Paradox Interactive announces Hearts of Iron 3, saying they plan on releasing the next installment in their World War II grand strategy series in the third quarter of next year:
New York, USA (August 20, 2008) – Amidst a backdrop of fevered online speculation, Paradox Interactive has today finally revealed the true identity of "Project Mayhem" at the Games Convention in Leipzig. The next Grand Strategy title to be released from the Paradox Interactive development team is the third instalment in the critically acclaimed Hearts of Iron series.

The Hearts of Iron series has become renowned for beingthe biggest, most detailed and complete strategic game series on World War 2 ever made. Hearts of Iron 3 will follow that tradition closely while focusing on satisfying veteran players through a multitude of brand new features and systems, including a huge map with more than 10,000 provinces.

It's clear this is a game that fans of our titles have been eagerly anticipating", commented Johan Andersson, Head of Development at Paradox Interactive. "Before revealing the project, our upcoming announcement online forum received more than 14,000 page views in less than 24 hours with a third installment of Hearts of Iron seemingly being at the top of everyone's wish list."

Hearts of Iron 3 is scheduled for release in Q3, 2009.

Sims 3 in February

MCV has word from the Leipzig Game Convention on the release date for The Sims 3, the next installment in the lifestyle simulation. They say EA announced February 20, 2009 as the release date for both the standard edition as well as a collector's edition that will feature an exclusive sports car as well as other bonuses.

Team Fortress 2 Patch Notes

The Heavy Update is live in Team Fortress 2, but the patch notes haven't yet shown up on the Steam website, so here they are from Steam itself:
Updates to Team Fortress 2 have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The specific changes include:

Added 3 Heavy unlockables
    • Natascha, The Sandvich, The Killing Gloves of Boxing
    • Added 35 new Heavy achievements

Added Arena game mode
    • 5 arenas: Lumberyard, Ravine, Well, Granary, Badlands

Added 2 new maps
    • Badwater Basin, a new payload map
    • cp_steel, a community map by Jamie "Fishbus" Manson

Changes
    • Added server map timeleft to upper right of scoreboard
    • Added new firing sounds to The Backburner
    • Removed the Custom Tab in the serverbrowser, and added the Tags field to the base Internet Tab
    • Increased The Kritzkrieg's uber-charge rate bonus from 10% to 25%
    • 32 player servers can now support an extra slot of SourceTV
    • Made the freezecam item panel description easier to read
    • Players now broadcast whether they chose a team directly or use autoteam
    • Added proper handling of cart blocking recognition to Payload maps

Bug fixes
    • Fixed bug where switching from flaregun-wielding Pyro to another class meant you didn't get a full ammo loadout on first spawn
    • Fixed Spy watch arm not using team skins
    • Fixed weapon switching preventing you from using secondary attacks for a 0.2s window after the primary became available
    • Fixed players getting stuck in a bad animation state when class switching while spinning the minigun
    • Fixed a loophole that allowed players to pickup weapons of other classes
    • Fixed a bug that resulted in players earning more crit chance bonus in large, single damage events than they are supposed to
    • Fixed an issue with the floating HUD +X health indicators that resulted in them appearing incorrectly
    • Fixed a bug which caused the minigun spinning & firing sounds to occasionally stop while the Heavy was still firing
    • Fixes the Loadout player model panel causing the in-game player facial animation to perform incorrectly
    • Fixed spectators not having the target ID labels display correctly
    • Fixed the cart alarm sound occasionally getting stuck on in Payload maps

Tabula Rasa Update

Dev Corner: Tabula Rasa's Newest Deployment on PlayNC.com has thoughts from NCsoft's Starr Long on how their latest content update improves the new player experience in Tabula Rasa, as well as continuing to properly serve their veteran players. He also discusses the impact publicity from Operation Immortality, and how they have integrated aspects of that real-world event into the game.

More on BlizzCon Ticket Lottery

The BlizzCon 2008 Website has word on how the promised lottery will be conducted for tickets to the sold-out BlizzCon 2008 convention. The BlizzCon 2008 Ticket Drawing FAQ has all the specifics.

Aion: The Tower of Eternity Q&A

NCsoft’s Brian Knox talks about Aion on GameZone converses about Aion: The Tower of Eternity with Brian Knox, associate producer on the upcoming MMORPG. One topic they explore is attempting to appeal to global audiences: "It was really important to us that this game appeal to a global audience. So when the title was started, we went to the East, the West, Europe, everywhere and wanted to pick out the best features of all the games around the world and make sure that Aion would have that global appeal. We really feel there is not a lot of difference in the games around the world – a good game is a good game."

Ragnar Tørnquist Q&A

Ragnar Tørnquist Q&A Part 2 on Rock, Paper, Shotgun continues their conversation with the FunCom designer, this time focusing more on The Longest Journey.

Morning Preview

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

  • ASUS Radeon HD 4870 TOP 512MB Graphics Card on TweakTown.
  • ATi Radeon HD 4870 X2 Graphics Card on InsideHW.
  • Corsair TX750 750W PSU on Ninjalane.
  • Diamond HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 Graphics Card on Legit Reviews.
  • Diamond & Visiontek Radeon 4870 Graphics Cards on Boot Daily.
  • ECS GF8200A Motherboard on Overclockers Club.
  • ECS P45T-A Intel P45 Express Motherboard on PCStats.
  • Force 3D Radeon HD 4870 Vs. Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 Graphics Card on X-bit labs.
  • Fujitsu SAS Drives and Highpoint RocketRAID 2640X4 on Techware Labs.
  • GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3 Extra-Ordinary Budget Motherboard on X-bit labs.
  • Icy Dock 3.5" Screwless External Enclosure on ASE Labs.
  • Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse on ExtremeTech.
  • Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Graphics Card on bit-tech.net.
  • Thermaltake DuOrb Heatpipe CPU Cooler on Big Bruin.

Out of the Blue

The trip to Manhattan I made yesterday was to accept an invitation to check out Rock Band 2 at the offices of MTV. This was sort of a proof of concept to see if I could update from the road while attending such an event, though my stated affection for the game was a huge draw, while I was also curious to see what I could of the current state of MTV, where I once worked (this curiosity went unsatisfied, as we just saw elevators, a hallway, and an office). Unsurprisingly, there was nothing revealed about the game that has not already been announced, though it was interesting to see the interface changes they've made to better accommodate their ever-larger library of songs. We did get to play, however, and I have to say that the fine tuning to the code and hardware was evident: The guitar I played had a smoother feel on both strumming and button presses than previous Rock Band and Guitar Hero pseudo-axes. The new drum surfaces have actual rebound as well as sound deadening for an, I don't know, million percent improvement over the first-gen drums (not to mention a metal reinforced bass pedal that will last through more than one Who song). And nearest to my own heart, we were told the vocal recognition engine has been entirely re-written, and that broken "talkie" segments should be less of a nightmare for singers. We didn't play any songs from the original game for contrast, but it was still obvious during Rock Band 2 songs that pitch recognition is a good deal better in Rock Band 2 than the original. I can't wait.

Rocking Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Snowparty.
Links: How to win a fight against twenty children. Where was this when I needed it?
10 most unbelievable lines of dialogue from Too Human.
Stories: Lawsuit says eatery to blame for 9-foot tapeworm. Where's my cracker?
To college freshmen, GPS has always been there. Thanks xXBatmanXx.
Science: Sizing Up the Universe as It Expands. Thanks j.c.f.
Confused sea turtles march into Italian restaurant.
Music and memory: How the songs we heard growing up shape the story of our lives.
Images: Windows It's a Windows Window! Get It?
Media: TF2 Companion Cube Soccer.
Best. Trailer. Ever.
Woolf.
Teh Funnies: UserFriendly.
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