WoWP The usual pleasure that the tier 8 I-250 fighter is


World of Warplanes:
This is a typical win for me at tier 8 with the I-250. The I-250 uses a dual engine system where it has a propeller engine in the front and an early jet engine in the back. The design is pretty crazy but it makes for some very good boosting. The arsenal is basically 3 20+ mm cannons which although they have a very good range they heat up pretty quickly. The plane is great at high and medium altitudes making it a great heavy fighter hunter.

MUSIC:
song: io2.s3m
title: Io 2: From a Distant Moon
author: gd / s!p (1995)

If you want to play World of Warplanes you can download it and play it for free at their homepage http://worldofwarplanes.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWP Chill sunday night game in the P-43 Lancer


WoWP Chill sunday night game in the P-43 Lancer

World of Warplanes:
This is a typical, chill victory over a late sunday night (it was around 2 AM). The P-43 Lancer is sort of like a mix between an interceptor and a heavy fighter. It has a very good amount of 12.7 caliber machineguns which are decent in dogfights because you can basically almost hold down the trigger since they cool fast. The design is not perfect though as they are mounted mainly in the wings which kills your handling and I’ve found it also affects accuracy.

If you notice in some parts in the beginning there was some lag which is an issue 1.9.2 (even 1.9.0 had it) has. This is a server issue that hopefully will get fixed. I mainly see it more in lower tiers where population is higher.

MUSIC:
song: cloud.mod
title: Cloud Traveller
author: Supernao
from: Ripped by Chaos from R.A.W. #7 from The Spaceballs

If you want to play World of Warplanes you can download it and play it for free at their homepage http://worldofwarplanes.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWP A very epic loss in the P-43 Lancer


World of Warplanes:
The game starts out with somebody saying hello to me and then I obsess over killing them. Probably that’s what caused me to lose this epic game. I did what I could but it was already too late for my doomed team.

The P-43 Lancer is pretty good but if it comes down to being in a furball with dedicated fighters, you’re pretty much dead!

MUSIC:
song: CJ-BRAIN.XM
title: Brains Reflector
author: Cj DiB of R/S (1996)

If you want to play World of Warplanes you can download it and play it for free at their homepage http://worldofwarplanes.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWS Why you should always kill destroyers ASAP in every game

World of Warships:
This video basically shows why you should kill most destroyers as soon as humanly possible in every game you play. The replay is provided by my friend Diode_mA (Diode Milliampere). He basically goes straight for the enemy base and one-shots with his entire torpedo barrage an enemy battleship of a higher tier. He then proceeds to cap the enemy base with the enemy team doing little to stop him. GG!!!

People don’t realize how important base defense is. I blame the enemy destroyers and especially cruisers for costing their team the game.

If you want to play World of Warships visit the game’s homepage and download and play it for free http://worldofwarships.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWP Meet the new awesome American tier 4 P-43 Lancer

World of Warplanes:
Meet the new American tier 4 Multirole fighter, the P-43 Lancer from the new Thunderbolt line! The new line overall seems to be really good at heavy fighter hunting.

As always, I play only with mouse and keyboard with custom sensitivity settings.

Download World of Warplanes here: http://worldofwarplanes.com/

Music from the c64 version of Neverending Story II. Written by Mike Tschogl, published by Linel in 1990.

Don’t forget to subscribe and like, and also leave us some good comments! o7 If you want tips on how to play well, ask me! 🙂

If you want to play World of Warplanes you can download it and play it for free at their homepage http://worldofwarplanes.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWS: A close game in the Tier 6 German Cruiser Nurnberg

World of Warships:
This game was very close. It stayed pretty even during most of the match with most people playing their roles correctly. My Nurnberg is fully upgraded but uses no equipment (I’m always broke). It’s Captain has 4 skills only. No flags were being used.

If you want to play World of Warships visit the game’s homepage and download and play it for free http://worldofwarships.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWP: close defeat in a C-1 Wirraway tier 3 British attack aircraft

World of Warplanes: close defeat in a C-1 Wirraway tier 3 British attack aircraft

A very close game (a defeat) in my tier 3 British gold attack aircraft the C-1 Wirraway. I play using mouse + keyboard with some adjustments to the default controls. I did manage to get an ace and a bunch of good kills but it wasn’t enough! o7

Here are all the details on the Wirraway: http://worldofwarplanes.com/warplanes/gb/wirraway/

If you want to play World of Warplanes you can download it and play it for free at their homepage http://worldofwarplanes.com/

If you like this gameplay and would like to see more gameplay videos check out our channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

WoWS: A disappointingly close loss in the Tier 6 Russian DD Ognevoi

World of Warships: A disappointingly close loss in the Tier 6 Russian DD Ognevoi

No matter how hard we tried we still lost but it was a good effort! o7 My Ognevoi wasn’t fully upgraded either. It was missing the final hull and final torpedo upgrade.

If you want to play this game go visit http://worldofwarships.com/

If you like this gameplay video and would like to see more like it please visit and subscribe to our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones Review

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones woman

I’ve had these headphones for two months and used them daily before writing my review. Always keep in mind how much time a reviewer actually spent with the item and how they used it before reading any review.

Right off the bat I can tell you that other than some Koss headphones I used in the late 90s-early 2000s these are simply some of the best sounding headphones that money can reasonably buy. I don’t remember the name or model of those Koss headphones but considering they were made in 1999-2000 they are way out of production even though I would recommend them as well. I’m only mentioning those Koss headphones because for many years those headphones set my standards so high for sound quality in headphones that I consider most headphones to have a garbage sound quality. These Blue Mo-Fi headphones however meet my high standards in sound quality, a nearly impossible feat. They are designed with a real audiophile in mind. With that in mind, know that the designers assume you know what you’re doing with your audio equipment. What I mean by that is that one of the first things you will notice is that these headphones don’t have a volume knob built directly into them. You have to regulate the volume from your audio source which can sometimes complicate their use but it’s also one less component that is less likely to fail over time. Volume regulation can be done directly from your sound source or through one of the modular cables the headphones come with.

The first things you will notice about the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones is how LOUD they can be. The headphones have internal batteries that require no maintenance. The only thing they require is charge should you desire to use the amplied modes. The headphones have three settings: OFF, ON, ON+. OFF is what a normal person will use or what you will want to use most of the time if you’re not doing anything intense. This mode is still pretty loud compared to other headphones and it’s fine for everyday use. ON is when they headphones start to use their internal battery to power the built-in amplifiers (notice I used a plural). In this mode they literally amplify their volume by about what to me seems like 500-700%. All while maintaining this power I didn’t notice distortion in sound quality. ON+ is what you will want to use if you are watching a war movie or listening to heavy metal/industrial/rock music. This mode seems to amplify the volume by about 1000% of what you hear in the OFF mode baseline. ON+ also seems to really kick in the bass compared to the other modes.

The headphones come with a warning on an external paper, in the manual, and on labels in the cable bags to be careful about setting the volume too high on the source of what you connect them to and rightly so this is for a good reason. Do you remember the intro to the movie Back To The Future where Marty McFly goes into Doc Brown’s garage and turns up all the speakers too high only to explode the entire sound system and nearly kill himself with the sound? Well, putting your sound source all the way up and on ON+ mode is sort of like that scene except that the headphones will be able to handle the output without losing fidelity but probably your ear drums will be destroyed! In other words, be careful, but the crazy part of my brain says to GO WILD and listen to them as loud as your ears can handle. Without exaggeration the Mo-Fi Headphones sound better and louder than the best music concerts and night clubs I have ever been to and that’s taking into account that in my younger years I liked to stand right next to where the speakers for those places were!

The sound is so crisp and loud that I am starting to hear parts of songs that I never knew existed. I’m even starting to hear all their imperfections. Since these headphones will let you hear everything from the source they will also let you hear any background noise that your source might have (that you probably never noticed before since you were using filtered headphones). On my main gaming PC I can hear the background noise the onboard soundcard makes because the headphones will boost all sounds from the signal source. This is only really noticeable to me when I have nothing playing. When I tested it with a better non-built-in sound card there was no background noise because of the superior components of the better sound card. When I tested them with my phone and a portable mp3 player I also heard no built-in noise. I only heard an internal buzzing sound when I was using them amplified and were charging them at the same time.

The next thing you will notice about the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones is how well constructed they are. All major parts are made out of metal. Every time I pick them up it feels like I’m picking up something that’s really well crafted. This feels as well constructed as the inside of a luxury supercar, they’re that refined. The side of the earpieces have hidden LED lights that light up based on the status of the battery (like when it’s charging, etc.). You can adjust the height of where the earpieces are positioned as well as the width of the top support so that people with any size of head can use them. The left earpiece has a connector which is modular so that you can connect one of the two cables it comes with to your preferred audio source. The cables are of different length so depending on what you intend to do you can swap out the cable on the fly depending on your needs.

The cables are also standard audio cables so they are easy to replace should they ever get damaged or lost. This is a huge advantage over most headphones as I can tell you throughout the years of always using headphones that over time cables WILL get damaged unless you are meticulous and/or don’t have any pets/kids. I’ve had to replace many headphones throughout the years usually because a major cable got ruined. One of the cables has a built-in volume adjuster control that will make life easier for you should you use a sound source with no volume control. The earpieces are so well constructed that they block out most external noises. Most of the time when people talk to me while I’m wearing them I can’t even hear them, especially if I’m playing something. This can be a huge benefit if you happen to live in a loud home like I do but there are down sides as well such as increasing the chance of missing phone calls. ;-] They’re great for helping you ignore the world and to me that’s always a good thing! The metal components feel cool and nice to the touch as well.

 

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones

The Good:
-Metal construction doesn’t mean they will fall apart or crack like plastic headphones usually do.
-Sound dampening will literally hide all external noises.
-They can be extremely loud while still maintaining fidelity.
-Modular cable lets you replace it should it ever get damaged.
-Standard audio cable lets you hook them up to almost anything.
-Built-in amp modes can amplify volume beyond what most people will ever need.
-Best headphones I’ve ever used for listening to rock music.
-Sound quality is so great they will make you want to go back and rehear your entire music collection!
-They come in a well packaged cube that’s worth keeping for storing them. Packaging also includes a bag for transportation as well as adapters that let you hook them up to anything.
-When used in amplified mode they will turn off to save battery should you close the headphones.
-One of the cables it comes with has a built-in volume control which is useful for connecting them to a sound source with no volume control (it’ll prevent you from going deaf!).
-No need to install any software or drivers to make them work.
-The manual is fun to read.

The Bad:
-High cost of $350 can be prohibitive for a lot of people but if you want quality you must pay for it.
-Metal components make them slightly heavier than lighter material counterparts.
-They must be charged in order to use with their amplification (this takes 3-4 hours according to the manual and what I observed in my testing). Good thing is that the battery lasts for a very long time (roughly around 12 hours of charge) and they can still be used unamplified if the battery is depleted. Charger also happens to use a fairly common connector.
-Although loudness is generally a good thing they can literally make you deaf should you crank them up all the way to a very loud sound source. Be careful!!!

Conclusion:
If you love immersion and especially music and can afford to get them these are a must own.

Technical Specs:
AMPLIFIER
-Output power: 240mW -THD+N: 0.004%
-Frequency response: 10Hz-20kHz -SNR, self noise: <105 dB
-Noise: < 20 uV -Battery capacity: 1020mAh

DRIVERS
-Type and size: 50mm, titanium-reinforced dynamic driver
-Impedance: 42 ohms
-Frequency response: 15-20kHz
-Enclosure details: Sealed enclosure with tuned damping materials

HEADPHONES
-Weight: 466 g (16.44 oz) -Outer dimensions (closed): 21mm x14mm x12mm (8.27” x 5.51” x 4.72”)
-Outer dimensions (open): 18mm x 29mm x 12mm (7.09” x 11.42” x 4.72”)

Mad Max The Game Review

mad max car

If you loved Saints Row, the Batman Arkham series of games, Borderlands, and the Mad Max movies then you will love Mad Max the game. The game consists of taking the role of Mad Max after his ride has been stolen, recruiting a crazy mechanic that will help you build a car that will let you get your ride back, and rebuilding civilization in the region along the way.

Pros:
-It’s Mad Max!
-Really captures the low technology and scarcity of the post-apocalypse world.
-Gives more insight as to what might have caused the Armageddon.
-Game engine performance is amazing (very well optimized).
-The sand storm parts are terrifying.
-As much carnage and slaughter as a Mad Max movie or anything from Warhammer 40k.
-Persistent auto-save system that works flawlessly so it doesn’t interrupt gameplay.
-Fast travel system that although convenient can also be used to cheat in many situations (such as low health/water).

Cons:
-Too expensive ($60 price).
-Too short.
-Car combat is not as good as Auto Assault.
-Game events/activities are too repetitive. Some events/activities you might expect are missing such as escort missions, etc.
-Game ending was TOO EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Game is badly in need of a 2nd campaign (DLC please!)
-Damage system is not realistic at all (I was ran over by a car going at full speed without dying).
-Pretty much no replay value (unless they add DLC that changes the game a lot).
-Mechanic fixes car too easily (it’s basically immortal if you know how to play).
-In a world of finite extremely-limited resources, you’re going around blowing up oil production plants which is the OPPOSITE of you would want to be doing in the post-apocalypse! This major logic-fail makes the game stupid when you really think about it.

Review score: 6.5 out of 10

World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 is an amazing video game history documentary movie created by the team made up of Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez, two awesome, young but thorough movie makers from Miami. Although World 1-1 automatically might make you think of the world start screen from Super Mario Bros., the film is actually about what I call the rise and fall of the original Atari (I would have probably called the film The Rise and Fall of Atari). The film covers the birth of video games from their origins in scientific labs, onto games being played on what at the time were time-shared supercomputers, to the creation of arcade video game machines, and onto the rise and fall of early video game consoles (video gaming at home).

world 1-1 movie poster

To say the film is thorough would be an understatement although the movie mainly focuses on arcade and console game development. Although I love this film a lot, I can criticize that it barely touches on what was going on in the home computer field, which although Nintendo saved the console gaming market (probably what World 1-2 will be about), home computers also saved video games and people’s interest in electronics and computers with great machines such as the Commodore 64, Atari computers, and later Commodore Amiga (much before IBM clones and DOS become popular).

Getting back to what makes World 1-1 so great, the film has many great interviews with not just most of the important people that worked in Atari and Activision but also many interviews by people who work in Microsoft (and other important companies) and many famous people in the video game world such as arcade specialists and many of what I consider to be experts in video game history. This movie is like entering a time machine and seeing what it was actually like to have worked at Atari. There are many great stories of crazy things that would happen or also recollections describing how many breakthroughs came about. Some of the interviews also talk about the important business decisions that took place both from the managerial perspective and how the engineers and the rest of the employees responded to such decisions. Just like everything in life all things must come to an end and the movie deals with the death of the original Atari corporation in a very classy and dignified manner.

I highly recommend you view the movie as part of what I call some of the best movies and shows in video game, internet, hacker, and computer history such as: Pirates of Silicon Valley, Micro Men, Middle Men, The King of Kong, The Social Network, TRON, Takedown, Silicon Valley, and Halt And Catch Fire. World 1-1 and those shows and movies are what I call to be essential to watch if you a true interest in video game history. Chances are that if you’re reading this you already have such an interest.

You can buy the movie directly from the creators’ website or you can even get it over at Steam.

If I have to give the movie a numerical score I would say it’s a 9.5 out of 10. Stop reading this and go watch it NOW! 🙂

Here is an interview we did with the creators from when they were trying to get the funding for the film:

Here is a further interview we did after it got funded. It talks more about the making of the film:

Megarace 2 Cut Scene Videos (Lance Boyle is a God!)

Megarace 2 was one of my favorite DOS racing games from the 90s. Sure, the AI in the game was really cheap (think of the catch up option always ON for the computer opponents only) but it had a unique style that in my opinion made it the best game of the entire Megarace series. Part of that style was the hilariously funny videos that were used as cut scenes before and after battles.

megarace 2 lance boyle and girl

These cut scenes consisted of Lance Boyle, the game’s host, and always his lovely assistant which either is a different clone every time or Lance is enough of a dick that he never remembers her name or calls her a random woman’s name just to troll her. If you’ve never seen it before press play and prepare to have your mind blown. Here are all the Megarace 2 cut scene videos!

You know that just became your favorite cheesy game scene set in a dystopian future!

Wasteland 2 Review

Wasteland 2 loading screen

Wasteland 2 Review by Honorabili

Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10

Wasteland 2 is the direct sequel to the original Wasteland, the game that Fallout was based on. Wasteland 2 takes the setting from the original game and updates it with isometric gameplay elements we love from similar games such as Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Jagged Alliance, Jagged Alliance 2, the X-COM series, and Silent Storm 2, as well as the lost Amiga classic RPG Perihelion. In spirit, to me, this game is what Van Buren would have been like for Fallout 3 rather than the Fallout 3 Oblivion-like game that actually got made. The writing for Wasteland 2 is also a lot like the one in the games I previously mentioned as well as Fallout: New Vegas.

Storyline:

The game takes place in an alternate timeline. The nuclear apocalypse happened in 1998 (although if you play the game it feels like 1988, maybe even 1983 based on the computer technology you find in the game) and it’s now nearly a hundred years after the end of the world. The kind of destruction of civilization and barbarity that take place would be at home in the Mad Max universe. Out of the chaos of the apocalypse, some engineers and military personnel in the territory that used to be the United States of America organized itself in the shattered remains of Arizona to become a paramilitary organization that would police the wastes. They are called the Desert Rangers. Your party are new members of this group that are quickly sent to investigate the murder of Ace, one of the characters from Wasteland 1.

Survival Elements:

Not only must you contend with the surviving psychopaths of the Wasteland but you are also trying to survive in an environment where you are not only battling radiation, limited ammo, limited healing, but also the lack of water. This is an element that was also found in original Wasteland and it will make you feel a lot like playing a Dark Sun Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

Gameplay:

Every location and they way you interact with the people in those locations affects the world in a large or limited way, depending on how relevant they are to the storyline of the game. Much like Fallout 2, this game is also filled with easter eggs, pop culture jokes, and inside jokes. Exploration is encouraged as the game will reward you with rare items which usually don’t seem useful but they may be useful to a character that you might meet after 10-20 hours of gameplay later. It’s this kind of depth that makes Wasteland 2 as enjoyable as playing all the RPGs I mentioned previously.

The game consists of making your characters explore and interact with locations (people and objects) as well as a LOT of combat. I would say this game is the polar opposite of Planescape: Torment (another favorite RPG of mine). Whereas Planescape: Torment had very little combat, the slaughter in Wasteland 2 is legendary! Combat happens very much in the same manner as Jagged Alliance, Fallout Tactics, and X-COM games. You position your crew in a square-system based grid and they move and shoot based on Action Points. These action points are based on your characters’ statistics as well as reduction in AP based on what armor you are wearing and also a bonus/penalty to AP based on whatever trinket you have equipped.

The game uses a hit point based system, much like most games do, which although is not the most realistic system is not as punishing to new RPG players as some other systems are (Vampire or Shadowrun proportionate health systems). Much like the original Wasteland, the game uses a very intricate healing system for which first aid and surgeon are two separate skills. First aid is mainly used to increase the efficiency of first aid kits in healing hit points, whereas surgeon is used to recover fallen soldiers and bring them back from the brink of death, as well help them recover from bleeding, and other status ailments.

Combat aside, the game has a very straight forward attribute and skill system. Most of the skills have a use which is self explanatory towards objects in the environments of locations. What’s interesting is that what is the speech skill in Fallout is implemented in this game instead as three separate kind of social skills: smart ass, kiss ass, and hard ass. Smart ass applies towards dialogue options in which logic is usually involved. Kiss ass involves towards stroking other people’s egos. Hard ass involves threatening (usually physically) some weak minded fools to bend to your will (basically intimidation). Much like many other games only social skills will open up special dialogue options that will lead to new plot lines.

wl2-1920x1200

SUMMARY:
Pros:
Deep storyline
Hectic combat is a lot of fun
Completely customizable player characters
Well written characters for NPCs (including party members and town NPCs)
Really well made audio (both sound effects and music)
Can run on most systems (even obsolete ones)
Amazing dialogue
Very immersive environment
Many hours of game relative to the cost of purchase
Buying this game will continue to fund more games like this
Using the radio saves having to return to home base and that saves time
NO DEADLINE (aka gun to your head) like in Fallout 1 and 2
The funny, detailed combat log from the old Bard’s Tale games as well as the original Fallout games is implemented in this game too
This game is proof that really good games that people need can come out of crowd-funding projects

Cons:

Single-player game only
No editor for making custom campaigns
AI is not that effective in combat (in fact, it’s pretty dumb)
Unity graphics engine looks dated
Unity engine is sluggish (latest updates have made it faster though)
Limited replayability
Inventory management could be a little bit more polished
People who did not play 80s-90s-early 2000s RPG games will be not interested in playing it
Lots of loading and saving because of sometimes ridiculous skill tests (10-13% probability of passing with 45% critical failure rates)
Loading games on a hard drive can be slow and since loading happens often because of critically failed skill tests the game can get boring
I found some bugs/expoits (they have been patching the game every week or two since it came out so soon there will be none)

CONCLUSION:
We finally got the Wasteland sequel that we needed. How much did we need this? Well, fans of the original game had reverse engineered that game in order to modify it. That was a project that took years and a lot of patience. It’s been years since an actually good science-fiction, especially post-apocalypse RPG has come out. The wait was worth it.

All fans of the original Wasteland and especially fans of Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics MUST play this game. I highly encourage you to BUY IT especially since inXile did such a great job and they will continue to make the RPGs we crave. Keep the dream alive! Now here’s to hoping they make Wasteland 3! 🙂

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 Review

logitech c920
logitech c920

I’ve been using this webcam for the past 5 months using it a couple of times a week. So far it’s been the best webcam I’ve ever owned. This camera is basically a Logitech C910 camera but on steroids.

Video Quality:
The C920 has a full HD resolution of 1080p which works when you are making your own videos and when video calling somebody, so long as your network connection has enough bandwidth (1 Mbps for 720p and 2 Mbps for 1080p quality). The maximum video capture resolution is 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps. The camera natively takes 15 MP pictures as well. The camera comes with automatic low light correction built-in so it is good for using it in a dark room (like at night). The camera also tends to auto-focus on one’s face which is a really useful feature especially when video chatting with other people.

Audio Quality:
It has dual microphones for recording in stereo as well as built-in automatic noise reduction (could help with barking dogs, etc).

Compatibility:
Supposedly the C920 only works on Windows systems, although I have ran into some people that made it work on Mac. Some people have even gotten it to work on most Linux distributions.

I’ve used it with Skype and Google Hangouts and it was detected and worked automatically on my system, which is great because I have many peripherals installed (2 microphones and another camera connected most of the time).

Software:
The camera comes with Logitech software that you need to install to be able to use it to its full potential. You need it to be able to do the crazy video effects such as putting on a robot head on yourself and other silly/trippy video effects.

Mounting setup:
You can mount the camera to your monitor with the plastic mounting clips it has like the ones most webcams implement. If needed you are able to mount the C920 to a tripod because it has the required threaded mount for it. It has a 6 foot cable which should be enough for most applications (you can always use a USB extension cable to extend it).

The swivel support is not as good as I would want it to be but if you know how to place the camera on the correct surface then it’s not that much of a problem.

Hardware Requirements:
First off you need a free USB 2.0 port or better. USB 3.0 is highly recommended especially if you intend to use the built in microphones as well as record/broadcast at full 1080p. I would say to have at least dual core but since quad core CPUs seem to be the standard minimum these days that shouldn’t be a problem. Still, that’s something to consider if you are going to use this on an older system.

Value:
At the time I wrote this review this camera costs $72 on amazon with free shipping. Now yes there are webcams out there for about $20 but most people that would get something in that price range don’t usually care much about image quality. If you have a web show this is the best camera you can buy for the money right now that supports 1080p, hands down.

Conclusion:
I highly recommend the c920 – the image quality is well worth the price.

Saints Row IV

Saints Row 4 cover

Saints Row started out as a GTA parody (which in itself is supposed to be a parody of real life) but has grown into something beyond that… way beyond that! Although I haven’t played the first Saints Row game (which I believe only came out on the consoles) I have played every game from Saints Row 2 and up. In Saints Row 2 you are the leader of a street gang and are fighting all the other gangs for control of the city. In SR3 you are fighting an evil megacorp for control of the city (again). Well in 4 you skip the scale of trying to take over a state or a country by saving the world from nuclear Armageddon and becoming the president of the United States of America. That’s not all but very quickly after the game starts Aliens attack Earth, the humans lose, you and your friends get abducted and placed in a virtual jail.

So, right from the start the game skips being a GTA clone and quickly becomes something like the game Prototype, and that’s a VERY good thing. Imagine the movie Chronicle meets the Matrix except that instead of being a pussy like Neo you go around trying to break the rules of reality and morality by doing a bunch of crazy shit! You gain super powers that completely change the game around the more powers you gain, as well as upgrade them to be even more metapowerful. Effectively you are the comic book character The Flash mixed with the main character from Prototype as well as a mage… basically you are a God. 😀

Now think of how awesome it would be to be a God in a universe with little or no consequence as well as being inside of Saints Row a game with some of the best humor ever found in video games. This is a winning combination!

You will find all sorts of references in this game to TRON, the Matrix, Dark City, Chronicle, most super hero comics you ever read, something like Highlander and Buffy, text adventure games, 90s side scroller games, 80s-90s arcade games, every previous Saints Row game, the Commodore 64, space operas, Mass Effect, Inception, pop culture, Pleasantville, Shadowrun, Warhammer 40k, Keith David, They Live, Roddy Piper, and so on.

Graphics: 10 out of 10
The Havok engine is simply beautiful and is efficient!

Music: 9 out of 10
Holy shit they put real songs in this game such as music from Aerosmith and Paula Abdul and others. Some of the game’s score is a remix of SR3 music and that’s amazing!

Fun Factor: 10 out of 10
It’s fun telepathically picking up a flaming garbage truck and flinging it into a stack of aliens. Most of the game involves going around doing mini games which often results in a lot of explosions. It took me a long time to get bored of it.

Difficulty: 5 out of 10
I found the game easy even on hard. Yes, there are a few parts that are freaking hard on hard but it doesn’t take many retries to finally beat them. Since you can summon allies the more you hack the simulation it becomes easy (at least for me).

Value: 10 out of 10
I would say buy it at any price, especially if you have a friend that has it, you can play the co-op campaign.

Overall score: 10 out of 10
Stop reading this and go play it. The universe needs you to save it from an evil alien overlord.

Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset Review

We have been using this headset for about two months daily before writing this review.

logitech g430 gaming headset
logitech g430 gaming headset

Cable/Wire:

The connectors are standard, gold-plated mini-jack audio connectors that are not just compatible with all computers but MP3 players as well. The main cable is thin and it splits into a cable that you connect to a sound source as well as a cable that lets you use the microphone. If you don’t want to use the standard audio connectors the headset comes with an adapter that converts the two plugs into a USB adapter. It’s recommended to install the software that comes with the headset should you wish to use the USB adapter with full functionality and support, as far as using it with a Windows PC. The cable is bright blue which is useful in the sense that it can prevent you from stepping on the cable since it is much more visible than a standard black cord. It also has a controller that lets you mute and unmute the microphone as well as adjust the volume of the headphones. The cable is long enough that they will be adequate for most situations.

Comfort:

The headset is light which helps the level of comfort in general and after extended usage. The ear pieces are soft to the touch and are easy on your ears. Since the earpieces are made out of cloth they won’t get hot (like most full ear headphones do) since they vent your heat successfully. This is great for marathon gaming (the kind that we usually do).

The earpieces can be rotated a full 90 degrees which make them easy to transport in most laptop carrying cases with no problems.

Construction:

This headset is mainly made out of plastic, rubber, and cloth. The thing most people will notice is the usage of the neon blue color on the earpieces and the headband.

We’ve dropped them (a couple of times) to see how sturdy they are on a tile floor and they only suffered minor damage that did not affect functionality.

Microphone:

We have tested the microphone with Skype, Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, and Raidcall and it worked great with virtually no configuration needed on our part. The sound quality is crisp.

The microphone can be muted either from the volume control in the cable or also by raising the microphone up from it’s working position.

Software:

The headset came with an installation pamphlet that directs you to download the latest software for the headset from the Logitech website. Once downloaded it installs an application that for the most part is dormant and becomes active when you connect the headset to your computer. You can use it to play around with the equalizer and other adjustments of that nature.

Sound Dampening:

When using this headset the material of the earpieces successfully blocks most outside noise. This is great for when working or gaming but it can result in people screaming to get your attention because the headset does a great job.

Sound Quality:

The level of fidelity is high in this headset. It does not distort badly even if set at maximum volume.

Loudness:

This headset gets loud which goes well with how successful they are sound dampened. They can be heard 5 feet away if you take them off and you have them reasonably high.

Surround Sound:

The 7.1 surround sound that is built into this headset works great with gaming and movie watching, for which they are intended. The surround sound features are designed by Dolby and they are effective in creating a realistic surround sound environment.

Value:

These headphones cost around $100 new, which seems like a reasonable price to me.

Conclusion:

I recommend these headphones over the similar Logitech G35 Headset that I reviewed earlier. They cost about the same and work better with less configuration on the user’s part. They are almost the same except that the G430 does not include the programmable sound buttons (that most people don’t use anyways), and they are superior because they have regular mini-jacks as well as the ability to connect via USB.

World of Tanks 8.2 Review

World of Tanks 8.2

Let’s go over the highlights of this new build for World of Tanks.

New Regular Tanks:

The first thing you will notice is that 5 new American tanks have been added, leading off from the M7 (Tier 5 Medium tank). The new tanks are the T21 (Tier 6 Light tank), the T71 (Tier 7 Light tank), the T69 (Tier 8 Medium tank), the T54E1 (Tier 9 Medium tank), and the T57 Heavy (Tier 10 Heavy tank). All the new tanks have an Auto-Loader, which makes them be a lot like the French tanks. The armor on these new American tanks has been reported to be low so you will basically be playing them a lot as if you were playing French tanks.

You can see this video to learn more details about the new American tanks:

The T21 plays a lot like the Chaffee. The T71 is comparable to playing the AMX13 75. The T69 is mainly played as a support tank so don’t play it like as if you are Rambo. The T54E1 is a lot like the Patton except weaker and is more of a support tank. The T57 Heavy has the advantages of having slanted armor and a gun comparable to the AMX 50B that reloads faster as well as being more accurate. The low armor of the T57 will make you play as if you are playing a French Heavy tank.

Game Engine Update:

As far as performance of the game goes, the draw distance has been increased so that you better see your opponents.

Trees and bushes are rendered better giving us a yield in improved performance, all things being equal.

Game Mechanics & Interface Changes:

Fallen trees now provide partial cover.

Whenever you have a module damaged (red) and your crew is repairing it, now you see a progress diagram showing the proportion that has been fixed. This looks like a cooldown button for most typical MMORPG games.

The Tech Tree will now show you per tank how much more XP and Credits you need to earn to unlock another module or tank from the Tech Tree.

Map Modifications:

4 maps were remade to make them more fun, challenging, and to better take advantage of the physics engine introduced in 8.0.

Prokhorovka (the map with the yellow grass, tree line in the west, train in the middle east, hill in the south-east) has been reworked a lot and now includes bumps and hills in the main field. The west tree alley has been changed in that the amount of bushes in it has been decreased so it’s harder to hide there now. The island in the north-east corner of the map has been reworked so that now you can enter it from either the west or south side of it. The south-east mountain has been modified in that it now has a more downward slope.

Erlenberg (the cold map with hills on either side, a ruined town in the middle with a river) has changed in some ways as well. Rocks have been added to parts of the mountains. A house was added to the field as well, providing better cover.

Ruinberg (the huge city map with the train tracks in the west, open park in the middle, and the hill of death in the east) has been altered making more of the city now being in ruins. The alley part of the map has had the cover lowered dramatically.

Redshire (green map with two hills that can shoot each other, most people usually attack from the south-west part of the map) is altered as they have removed rock cover from the mountains. The river also has become harder to cross now.

Premium Tanks:

Three new premium tanks have been added: the TOG 2 (Tier 6 British Heavy tank), the AT-15A (Tier 7 British Tank Destroyer), and the FCM 50(t) (Tier 8 French Heavy tank).

You can learn about the three new premium tanks in this video:

The TOG 2 is HUGE, is slow as hell, has a ton of hitpoints, the armor is awful, and its gun is accurate as hell as well as it being able to fire quickly. The AT-15A has insane front armor, a highly accurate gun with a great angle of attack, but it is rather slow. The FCM 50(t) play a lot like a medium tank being very fast and has a gun with a high rate of fire. It’s disadvantages is that it is big and has poor armor.

New Achievements:

Lucky is awarded when a team mate dies within 10 meters of you by an enemy vehicle.

Cool-Headed is awarded when you receive 10 ricochets and non-penetration shots from enemies in a row and survive the battle.

Spartan is awarded when your vehicle has less than 10% hit points, get shot by an enemy having the shot ricochet or non-penetrate, and you must survive the battle.

Ranger is awarded for detroying all of the enemies light tanks so long as there are at least 3 enemy light tanks in play.

Patton Valley is awarded for detroying at least 100 Patton and/or M48A1 tanks.

Where are the Chinese Tanks in WoT 8.2???

They were deemed overpowered in the 8.2 Beta testing so they will be rebalanced and will come out instead in the 8.3 update! Be patient!!!

Creative Zen Style M300 MP3 Player Review

Creative Zen Style M300

I am writing this review after having owned the MP3 player and used it daily for the past 3 months.


Advantages:

– One of the first things one can notice about the Zen is its small size. Think of it like a fatter but shorter iPod.
– It is very light and you can hardly notice you are carrying it.
– No software installation required. You can add songs to it in their properly named folders almost as easy as if it were a digital camera.
– Amazing battery life! Up to 20 hours worth of life.
– Cheaper than some Apple products, with almost the same quality of construction. Amazing value!
– Built in radio function.
– You can expand it via MicroSD media up to 32 GB.
– Generic USB interface makes you be able to charge it almost anywhere.
– Bluetooth functionality that has very low latency.
– Although it is not official it has Mac support.
– Self-intuitive interface. I didn’t even need to read the manual the first time I used it. You can rewind and fast-forward a track by holding down the back or forward button.
– Supports the following file formats: MP3, WMA (DRM9), WAV, Audible Format 4, Audible AAX.
– Built in microphone that lets you record like an old tape recorder.
– Built in Equalizer function that has presets that cannot be modified.
– Can be used to view pictures as well.
– Since you can access it via Windows Explorer or your favorite file manager you can use it as a portable hard drive.

ZEN_Style_Feature

Disadvantages:
– Touchscreen can be too sensitive. It can be too small if you have hands the size of a troll!
– Cheap headphones included that aren’t that loud when outdoors. They are fine for indoor use.
– USB cable that it comes with is short.
– Screen is too small for its video playback capabilities.
– FM radio doesn’t work over Bluetooth.
– No FLAC, OGG, or M4A support.
– Limited video playback only supports SMV video files.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 120 GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 3K 120 GB SSD

Although J.A. Laraque has already reviewed the 240 GB version of the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD, I reviewed the 120 GB version, comparing it to the Patriot Memory Wildfire 120 GB SSD and to my 3 TB Seagate hard drive.

The drives were all tested on my main gaming PC, which may be familiar to you from my Gaming PC Benchmark Guides. The specs are the following:

OS: 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 3.7 Ghz per core 6 MB L3 cache AM3+ socket processor
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 6870 1 GB
Memory: Kingston HyperX 16 GB (4 X 4 GB) 240 pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800) Quad Channel Kit non-ECC unbuffered CAS 9 1.65V RAM
Sound Card: onboard sound via a Realtek ALC889 chipset
Storage: Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3 TB 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache SATA 6.0 Gb/s 3.5″ internal hard drive OEM
Case: Thermaltake Xaser III LANFire VM2000A Case
Power Supply: hec X-Power 780W (peak) 600W (mean) ATX12V v2.3/EPS 12V v2.91 SLI nVidia Hybrid-SLI Certified CrossFire power supply
Peripherals: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner

If you are concerned with the features of the Kingston HyperX SSD please read J.A. Laraque’s review as he talks about them in detail.

The benchmarks I use to test hard drives and SSDs are the AS SSD Benchmark, ATTO Disk Benchmark, and CrystalDiskMark.

Under the AS SSD Benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

AS SSD Benchmark Kingston HyperX SSD

Let’s look at the numbers in detail using Excel:

AS SSD Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Under the ATTO benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

ATTO Disk Benchmark Kingston HyperX SSD

Time to look at the numbers in detail in Excel again:

ATTO Disk Benchmark Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Under the CrystalDiskMark benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

CrystalDiskMark Kingston HyperX SSD

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Mambo Number 5 and by that I mean it’s Excel:

CrystalDiskMark Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Conclusion:

Overall, both the Kingston HyperX and Patriot Memory Wildfire seriously beat the hard drive in just about every test as shown in these tests. Comparing both SSDs to one another the Wildfire is faster under two of the three benchmarks and the HyperX is faster in one of the three benchmarks. I normalized the score of all three reviews and took the average of the normalized scores and I must conclude that the Wildfire under most operations is about 12.74% faster than the HyperX. In order words, the HyperX is only about 88.70% as fast as the Wildfire.

Now I know you must be saying “Well I thought this was a review on the HyperX, why did it get less performance than the Wildfire?” Well, the Wildfire is a more expensive SSD and the HyperX is more inexpensive and more mass produced. For what you get, both SSDs are highly recommended, especially when being used for your operating system drive. So yes, the Wildfire won the performance race but most likely you will end up buying a HyperX because the performance is slightly less and the price is significantly lower.

Logitech G27 Racing Wheel Review

Logitech G37 Racing Wheel

For those of you that know me well, you know that racing is one of my favorite activities to do not just in the gaming world but in real life as well. As far as reality goes, I’ve owned a track ready racing Mustang since 2004. I’ve been racing cars since about 1997 both on the street and at the track. The first time I ever raced a professional racing go-kart was about 1989. The first racing games I’ve played were Pole Position and Pit Stop 1 and 2 on the c64. The first arcade racing game I’ve ever played was Sega’s Outrun with the arcade console feeling like a car with pedals, steering wheel, and shifter. I’ve played almost every racing game ever made from games like RC Pro AM on NES, the Top Gear series on SNES, Lotus series on Amiga, Chase HQ on the arcade, Jaguar XJ 220 on the Amiga, Grand Prix Legends on PC, every Trackmania game on PC, every Need For Speed game on PC and consoles, every Codemasters racing game ever made, etc. I was ranked in the top 10 US players for Trackmania Nations when they were doing the world championship for the game.

Today I will look at Logitech’s G27 Racing Wheel. It is designed to be used with PC and with the Playstation 3 console.

rfactor

Setup – Installation and Software:

The installation on the PS3 is basically a plug and play procedure. For PC, you simply install the software from the drivers CD that comes with the unit. Shortly after installing the software and drivers you get prompted to plug in the wheel to one of your USB ports and it will be detected. You will know that the wheel is detected because it will spin like a bat out of hell for about two to three seconds and it will flash the tachometer RPM lights. After that, you can calibrate the wheel if it is needed. Once you’re done doing that, you’re ready to use it. Configuration and sub-calibration can be done through whatever game you are going to play.

The Wheel also comes with (RFactor) which is a very popular racing simulator.

Logitech-G27-full-set

Setup – Assembly and Physical Installation:

The first thing you want to do is connect all the subcomponents of the wheel to the main wheel unit. This means that you will plug in the pedals, shifter console, and AC adapter unit. After you have done so, you may need to assess your gaming desk area to make sure you have enough physical space to mount the wheel properly to a desk or table as well as find a comfortable chair and distance to your TV or monitor. You also want to make sure that all cables are tucked away so that they don’t interfere as you use the controller.

Both the wheel and shifter have plastic screws which you can use to secure them to the edge of your desk or table. I have found that they can slide off sometimes if the bottom surface of your desk doesn’t have the right kind of surface for them to stick to. I wish Logitech would have added a rubber surface of the plastic area that holds the controller in place. To me without such a surface friction it is easy for the controller to become loose while using it. Since I’m a low-tech-fix kind of guy, this isn’t much of a problem. I recommend to either glue a thin rubber piece to each plastic end or the even easier fix is to use a piece of cardboard in between the surfaces (just make sure you screw the plastic screws as tight as possible).

You might have to be careful as well with the pedals because the bottom is plastic as well. Since I have a tile floor all over my house I had to use a small portable rug to place it under the pedals as well as putting a heavy object behind the pedals to keep them from slipping further (remember you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on them with your feet).

Once you have setup the wheel as needed, the fun starts!

trackmania-nations-forever

Test On Multiple Racing Games:

I tested the wheel on RFactor, Dirt 2, Dirt 3, Dirt Showdown, Grid, Trackmania United, Trackmania Nations, F1 2010, F1 2011, and F1 2012. For most of the games the wheel was enabled through the game options of the game if it didn’t automatically detect it and set it as the default control method. You can enable the motion feedback to get a more real feel of driving a real car with the resistance would feel in a real steering wheel. I found that with the G27 it was more enjoyable to do so after first of calibrating it to feel as you need it to based on your driving style. Also, it was overall more enjoyable on racing games which are more simulator than arcade style racing games. Simulators need exactness, whereas most arcade racers can be played even with keyboard or a cheap handheld controller.

Using a racing wheel on games like the Codemasters F1 games is almost necessary. I found it nearly unplayable to play such games using just a pure keyboard. With a racing wheel such as the G27 it becomes a real F1 car that you’re driving rather than a musclecar like it would feel with a primitive controller. It’s all about precision when you use a wheel. For this reason although we have the computer technology to do it, we still use a pedal and steering wheel in real cars as opposed to using joysticks like a normal video game controller or the controller for an RC car.

Logitech-G27-Racing-Wheel

Construction and Feel:

The materials used in the G27 are sturdy and it feels almost like you are racing using a aftermarket racing wheel like a Momo steering wheel for a racecar. Although most of the parts are plastic the G27 is durable under most wear and tear situations.

The shifter is both soft and sturdy. I would compare it to using a shifter in a manual Japanese car like Honda Prelude or Nissan Skyline. The wheel itself has flappy paddles which can be used to much like in a real Ferrari or Lamborghini. It is a matter of personal preference and the G27 provides both the flappy paddles and the normal manual shifter. The wheel part has an LED tachometer, which is color coated green, yellow, and red, which makes using a manual gearbox a more viable option in your game.

Since the pedals are made out of drilled metal it feels like the pedals found in a modified street car or a racecar. As they are sturdy, it’s no problem to push down on them as hard as you can, if need be. With the inclusion of a clutch pedal that’s highly responsive you can power drift to your hearts content if you want to drive like that.

logitech g27

Conclusion and Recommendations:

If you are serious about playing racing simulators I recommend a wheel like the G27 to get the precision you need for competitive racing.

A racing wheel system like this one works extremely well when paired up with the Playseat chairs that are ideal for having a sturdy armature that keeps your controllers in place and gives you a much more realistic car feel. I haven’t tested the G27 with a Playseat chair but I have used a chair like that at multiple game conventions and they do make a huge difference and are much more favorable over using a regular chair and desk/table for setting up a racing wheel.

The G27 costs about $200 retail so it might be outside the budget for many gamers but then again there aren’t that many racing simulation gamers out there anymore and those that are into that genre are always concerned with having as good of a controller as possible to be able to execute precise maneuvers.

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 2

Chris Avellone metal

 Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment

Be sure to read Part 1 here!

General Questions About Gaming And Game Design:

What do you think about games that are based around an alignment based system? Are they too limited? How would you enforce the alignment role-playing aspect?

I don’t always believe in a game imposing morality unless it’s part of a franchise (Star Wars). In Alpha Protocol we did away with a player morality bar because in the espionage world, it’s difficult to say whether you’re “good” or “bad,” you’re just out to accomplish your mission and your reasons are your own. I do feel it’s fair if you set up reputation bars for other people, companions, and factions because it’s easier to imagine how NPCs and communities would judge your actions that us trying to judge the player and slap a +/- on it.

I did dislike the alignment system in D&D because it always assumed the player should choose an alignment before adventuring in the world. So in Torment, we let the player be a blank slate and let the alignment evolve (and reverse) over time depending on your actions. We felt that this was a better interpretation of the alignment system and it made more sense in the context of the narrative.

What do you think about the trend that we see in modern gaming where people consider MMORPGs to be RPGs? Is this correct or have they simply not had then chance to play a real traditional RPG?

Advancement schemes are similar, and some of the cause and effect you experience in RPGs is there, and I’d argue the ability to form your own party from other players provides the equivalent of an RPG experience in many respects. You may not always be able to make your decisions and actions felt in the environment because you can’t disturb the MMORPG equilibrium to the same extent as you can in a single-player RPG, but some of the core elements are there, yes.

If you had to remake a classic RPG made by another studio, which one would you remake and why?

SSI Wizard’s Crown or Eternal Dagger because I loved the way they showcased the dungeons and allowed you to develop your character. Pool of Radiance would also be fun (the 1st Goldbox one) as would Dark Sun’s Shattered Lands (which I loved).

What is the most influential yet obscure game you have ever played and why do you find it so important in your gaming history?

Well, in terms of influential yet obscure, that cuts a lot of games out – I feel a lot of the more common games have had a big influence on my designs (Portal, Chronotrigger, Ultima Underworld). If I were to name some “obscure” ones, I’d probably say System Shock 2 is the top of the list (it’s basically a design doc for how to make a great game), Amnesia: The Dark Descent for introducing a challenge mechanism that could simultaneously terrify you, Bastion’s narration mechanics, and Wasteland for proving to me how you could use game mechanics in the context of a “conventional” RPG to make some truly brilliant levels if you took a step back and thought outside the box.

What was your favorite character from RPGs you have worked on and why?

That’s tough, and it varies. I liked most of the Torment cast for different reasons, even Ignus and Vhailor. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Fall-From-Grace, I always enjoyed the premise of a puritan succubus who’s simultaneously the nicest, wisest, and gentlest people you can meet on the Planes. Jennifer Hale did a great job with her voice.

Who is your favorite co-worker and why?

Brian Menze, our concept artist and the lead artist on South Park now. I’ve known Brian ever since the Black Isle days, and he’s been my friend for a very, very long time. We still try and do comic book Wednesdays every week, and the studio would be a sadder place without his presence. He’s brought a lot of characters in the studio to life, and he’s incredibly modest and humble about his pieces, which makes me like him all the more.

Who in computing or video game history has been your idol and why?

Tim Cain, Tom Hall, Richard Dansky, to name a few. Tim reimagined how RPG mechanics could work for me, Tom Hall reimagined how design aesthetics could be applied in unconventional ways (Anachronox), and Richard Dansky never stops being a great guy and helping people.

I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but those are the people that jump to mind. I have the good fortune to work with Tim Cain on this project, and that’s one of my life goals on my bucket list.

First Project Eternity Screenshot

What do you watch/play/listen-to/read while trying to get creative ideas for projects?

Mostly trance music. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while writing a character, I find the words and inner speech of the character I’m writing gets all jumbled up.

Going to see a live show or play I’ve found is one of the best means to stir the creative pot up when I have writer’s block (or even if I don’t). I have a lot of friends in the theater or who play in bands, and watching them live is enthusiastically contagious.

Other times, I immerse myself in research. Often when tackling an area, concept, or type of game, I try to read as much literature and watch as much media relevant to it (example, for Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road, I re-read Damnation Alley again, watched The Road, etc, etc.). When I got back into Wasteland, I started listening to a lot more 80s music, watching 80s movies and even researching 80s commercials to get a feel for the era… I’m embarrassed to say my memories of the 80s have slipped away, so it’s a shock to remember some of the big moments and media of the decade.

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

I always loved the interaction between my party members in some of your previous games, especially in Planescape: Torment. I did not like how rare these interactions did happen though. Do you plan on implementing a more ongoing interaction between the party companions? Have you considered adding interactions that will only happen when you have certain companions in the party?

Yes and yes, we feel companion commentary with each other is a strong means of showing how alive and reactive your companions are – not just to the world and your actions, but to each other’s presence. Plus, they’re fun to write, I certainly enjoyed writing the ones in Torment and would have loved to have written more.

Are we going to be limited in party size? Yes, it would probably make the game a lot easier to be walking around with an army so what we are asking is, what would be the magic number and how can you logically limit the size? Have you considered implementing the hiring of mercenary NPCs?

Party size will be a single player character and up to five companions – or as you mentioned above with mercenaries, you can also round out your party with recruited allies (which you can customize and build in the Adventurer’s Hall).

How do you plan to sell the game once it is finished and live? Retail? Steam? Impulse? GOG?

GOG (DRM-free) and Steam are our digital distribution outlets. We are also going to see if we can work on distributing the boxed version at retail as well, but we have not specific plans on that yet.

Have you considered making certain parts of the game have a randomized value that would add to the replayability of the game? Have you considered randomizing major plot points or the true intentions of certain characters?

Right now, our efforts have been focused on the hand-crafted elements that will make up the spine of the game.

project eternity wallpaper

Will gear be generally usable by most characters or will it require a certain adjustment for use? By this I mean, can a mage wear at least some level of real armor. Also, a dwarf wouldn’t be able to wear a troll’s armor unless he had an armorer make a suit of armor from that troll’s armor. Do you plan to implement that kind of level of equipment realism in the game? Will gear have wear and tear? Will the game offer some level of crafting element?

We won’t restrict gear according to player race. If you find armor, any race can wear it.

Would somebody be able to simply play not caring what the game’s plot is trying to get us to do? What I mean is similar to what’s found in the game Mount & Blade, for which you can pick what you really want to do such as hire one-self out to work for the highest paying empire or faction.

Like an Infinity Engine title, there is a plot, and while we will have dungeons that respawn and events in the world that you can cause to happen through your actions (such as turning a town or city hostile), the game requires some interaction with the plot from the player to progress. That said, we do want the player to feel free in how they approach the plot and feel that they can make the choices they want to make.

Will you give players the option to dramatically change the world in the RPG such as by ending it or potentially creating utopia?

The story hasn’t been nailed down yet, we’re still crafting it. We do want the world to persist in some fashion after the first installment, and even if great changes occur in the first game, there’s still plenty of world to explore in future games.

Would we be able to have our character fall in love with other characters in the game? Do we get to choose this or what if the game chose for us? Would it be possible to start a family, such as in the Fable games or Europa 1400 The Guild?

There’ll be a variety of mature relationships in the game, and you can choose to interact with them as little or as much as you want.

How is time handled in the game? Will the game take the course of a year? Will it take many years with some of the effects from the earlier part of the game affecting the mid and end game?

We’re handling time in a similar fashion to the BG and IWD games. Events happen in more-or-less real-time (real game time, that is, not literally minute per real world minute) except for rest sequences. We probably won’t be advancing time artificially off screen (“Act 1 is over, so X years pass,” for example).

Will the game offer any kind of multiplayer, such as letting our friends take over our party members in combat?

We want to focus on the single-player experience and make sure that’s solid. We don’t have any multiplayer plans at this time.

Would you let players submit translated versions of the game in other languages that haven’t yet been scheduled for translation?

They would most likely be part of the translation efforts if they wanted to volunteer. We’d welcome the help, and we’ve already received a huge amount of support from international fans that would love to do the translations for us (and if you are one of them and you’re reading this –thanks again).

Do you plan on updating the game with expansions once the game is released? How often would this happen? Would players be able to make their own mods or expansions once the game is live and would an editor be made available eventually?

We would like to do this, although we’re still examining how the pipelines for expansions would work. We don’t want to promise something that we couldn’t do until we’d done more research. We recently released an update with our modding views – we like modding, we want to encourage it, but we don’t want to promise it unless we know we can do it, or else we’d do our players and backers a disservice.

Although I have asked about technology already, since this is such a game changer, I made it a separate question: Will this universe have guns or gunpowder?

It has both. Gunpowder weapons exist, though they are single-shot wheellock variety, and are primarily used to give mages an unprecedented run for their money.

Will all the major races be humanoids or will you implement at least one really weird non-humanoid races a major player in this world?

We’ve got a selection of races, both seemingly-traditional and ones that are more off the beaten path. Some of the concept pieces we’ve released (notably the female dwarf) should give some clues as to what to expect from the choices for race in the game.

What’s the major mode of transportation in this universe?

Foot travel is the primary mode of transportation, although occasionally players may find themselves magically transported somewhere. To speed up overland travel, we will implement a map UI so the player can quickly move their party to locations they’ve already discovered. Note that our map UI is similar to what’s been found in the Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate games, not Elder Scrolls or Fallout 3/New Vegas-style fast travel.

What kinds of religions will we see in the game?

This will fall on Josh Sawyer (our resident theologian). More to come on this as the world is fleshed out in future updates.

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 1

 

Chris Avellone suit picture

Chris Avellone

General Questions:

What non-gaming things have inspired you to become a better game writer and also gamer?

Going to see live plays that were made on a tight budget – the amount of emotion and lighting they can bring to a scene with a minimal amount of props and effort really makes me think about how you can do the same with modern RPGs. Comic books are another (both reading and writing them). They don’t always get the respect they deserve, and the way they unify visual storytelling and writing… well, there’s a lot to learn there, especially for describing and storyboarding cut scenes and making each line impactful with the right stance, action, and backdrop.

Neal Stephenson (with Snow Crash) is not only a huge host of design ideas on just about every page of his books, but he taught me when it was important to describe something and when it was not – there’s a end chapter line in Snow Crash that simply says “and a car chase ensued.” He had no need to describe anything further, that was enough, and it was simple, elegant, and I appreciated he didn’t try to force details and action when none was needed. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics to this day makes me understand why it’s better to have less voice and less focus on ultra-realistic visuals if you truly want a player to empathize with a subject. Sometimes it’s easier to empathize with a stick figure than a highly-rendered 3D model, and it’s because the viewer is able to project more of themselves onto an abstract than something someone else has excessively detailed.

There’s more, but most of the rest is gaming related.

What is something you have wanted to implement in a game in the past that you worked on but were never able to before? It could be a scenario, feature, just about anything.

I wanted to have a spell system based on harnessing sound effects you find and create by interacting and exploring your environment (the death howl of a wolf, the crashing of the tide on shore, walking into a forest and hearing the wind whistle through the trees). The mage could then assemble these SFX pieces into new spell combinations to defeat opponents. We tried to do something vaguely like this in Old World Blues with the sonic gun that could be equipped with various SFXs, but that’s not exactly the same thing.

Games we've worked on

What is your favorite classic game, and why? What did that game teach you?

Wasteland. It taught me that with the right kind of game mechanics and “thinking outside the box” when it comes to level design, you can move mountains… such as using your mental attributes to fight mental battles in an android’s brain, for example. The exploration of Finster’s brain in Wasteland 1 where you fought nightmares, your doubts, and even restarted your own brain waves to fight back was incredible, and it’s still one of the best levels I’ve ever explored in a video game from a sheer creative standpoint. I thought it was brilliant.

What is your favorite modern game to play and why? It can be any kind of game, even a cell phone game. It could even be a modern board or card game!

League of Legends and Battlestar Galactica (board game). I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Chez Geek and Lunch Money.

What is your favorite stat in an RPG and why?

Intelligence, because often it determines dialogue options and/or can be used in cool ways in some of my favorite titles (Wasteland and Wasteland 2). Generally any stat or skill in an RPG that increases the verbal weapons and tools at my disposal (and experience more options in the story) are great.

Project_Eternity_logo

 

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC4w9GdFPrg[/youtube]

Will Project Eternity use a level system (most RPGs) or an open ended skill upgrade system (Shadowrun, Vampire The Masquerade)?

There will be traditional leveling and advancement options (and classes). However, we want to make sure that a character’s growth is also tied to the world, the lore, and the narrative. So as much as the player levels up, there is also a selection of soul-based advancement elements tied to the world itself – these elements exist outside of your class, and they can be shaped and grow according to a player’s individual choices and backstory.

Will we see realistic moral choices that are beyond the usual “good, bad, and neutral” choices?

Yes. While we don’t have a morality bar, we do want the player to feel like they’re making meaningful decisions, and rather than good/neutral/bad range, we’ll allow for simply a range of “options” that reflect decisions you want to make that aren’t colored by morality.

Do you plan on making voice-overs for most of the dialogue in the game?

We plan on doing what most of the BG and IWD series did and only have limited VO for NPCs and companions. We don’t want to do a fully voiced game, as that comes with a number of technical hurdles that limit iteration, and that’s one of the things we wanted to do differently with this project… the ability to make a larger range of reactive text (like we did with New Reno in Fallout 2, for example – the only limit to this kind of reactivity is the cost for VO and localization). Limiting the VO also allows for any necessary changes during the final months of a project without the huge costs involved with altering VO and doing pick-ups.

Our world

Do you plan on implementing cut-scenes, especially for major plot points in the game? I have found that when going back in playing old games cut-scenes are the parts of the games that have aged the worst. Have you considered implementing rather than a video, as you are playing the game and talking to NPCs you see your character’s and the NPCs face react based on the emotions being brought out by the conversation? An example of this is the classic adventure game Sanitarium.

Not at this time. Cut scenes you can’t interact with or paralyze the player’s movement always leave me a bit sour, especially if they hamper actions I would otherwise take – for example, being forced to stand and watch when an adversary appears you’d normally shoot on sight, or if a companion or family member is killed in front of your character and you can do nothing about it. I don’t feel cut scenes are the best means of storytelling – and there’s much better ways to communicate plot points without cut scenes.

Will the game take place on one super continent or do you plan to just say it takes place in one part of the world, with the potential for an expansion in the future?

It takes place in one part of the world with potential for expansion in the future – there’s definitely more going on beyond the borders of the game, and our hope is you’ll be able to visit those locations and nations in future titles.

Do you plan to implement other worlds, like how it was done in Planescape: Torment?

Our goal with location design is to make amazing locales for the player to explore, much like in Icewind Dale 1 and Icewind Dale 2 (Dorn’s Deep with the frozen museum, Dragon’s Eye, the still-enchanted elven fortress of the Severed Hand that was literally a giant citadel shaped like a hand rising from the earth, etc.). Having dungeons like these allow for plenty of diversity among locations even though they all take place in one section of the Eternity world… the Endless Paths of Od Nua (which we’ve described earlier as our mega dungeon) is one such locale, and we plan to do many more locations equally unique and interesting for players to explore.

Obsidian Entertainment

We know Project Eternity will feature magic but what level of technology will the world have? Looking back I myself thought Final Fantasy 7 had too high a level of technology but games such as Final Fantasy 6 (3 in the US) and Arcanum did it just right.

Eternity has a 16th century technology level much like our high or late Middle Ages with the exception of the printing press. The level of technology depends on the region of the world – while most large civilizations have 16th century tech, other regions of the world are more primitive, more along the lines of Stone or Bronze Age of development.

How adult will the game be? By this I mean, would an 8 year old child be able to play the game or would it be too serious of a game for them?

Depending on how insightful the 8 year old was, they may or may not understand the repercussions and dilemmas in the game. We didn’t want to shy away from a range of relationships (I don’t mean romances), situations, or edit ourselves from an idea that we thought was interesting to explore because of fears of how players might react. In previous titles at the studio, we’ve explored sexuality, religion, contrasting political ideologies without a clear cut right or wrong, and we’d like to take the themes even further in Eternity.

Crazy RPG kind of Questions:

If you had one wish, what would it be? Note: this wish may or may not have consequences; would you risk making the wish?

It would depend on the theme music that was playing at the time when the wish was offered. I often find the background music to be the best indicator as to whether I’m in a sinister poetic justice “make a wish and you screw yourself’ or a Disney made-for-kids romp. That said, I’d probably go with a bug-killing forcefield around myself or the ability to shrink my car and carry it in my pocket when I drive to a destination because finding parking sometimes is a pain in the ass. Yeah, I’m sure there are better wishes out there, but they all seem scary to me and would probably result in me being recruited or killed by various shadow governments once they discover I have super strength or photographic reflexes.

Project Eternity - Kickstarter Goal

Stand by for more articles and interviews with Chris Avellone and Obsidian Entertainment in the near future! Time to think of more crazy questions! -Ignacio/honorabili-

!!! Click here for Part 2 of our interview with Chris Avellone!

World of Tanks 8.0 Review

 

World-of-Tanks-8.0

What is World of Tanks?

In a nutshell World of Tanks is the best tank simulator MMO out there. Think of it like a modern day Panzer Commander. They’re basically the same game except that World of Tanks is infinitely superior in every way: more units, online multiplayer, it’s free, it’s updated all the time, it has excellent support and community, etc. Then again I was comparing it to Panzer Commander which was made by the defunct SSI (Strategy Simulations Inc), which back in its day was sort of like the modern day company Paradox Interactive, who still make classic strategy games and other games that SSI would make back in the day!

If you still haven’t played World of Tanks then stop wasting your time playing stuff like Hello Kitty Online and get it here. Nothing against HKO, I play it too! If you want my advice with World of Tanks, read my World of Tanks strategy guide for beginners.

World of Tanks 8.0 Review

Chances are if you are reading this 8.0 Review you already know what WoT is, so let’s get down to what’s so good and bad about it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWlAwC4P0rY[/youtube]

Graphics:

The game has a completely rewritten game engine that makes it look a more real than before. The graphics to me feel so much cleaner now almost like the difference from a DirectX 9 to DirectX 11 game. It’s that good of a change.

On most systems I’ve tested it, it has gained much performance. I compared it to it having the same settings. On my girlfriend’s laptop which has a really poor integrated video card by Intel, she went from getting usually 6 fps to getting 16 fps while having the game look much better. I went myself, on my 2011 main gaming PC, from getting about 35 fps on max everything to now getting 45-65 fps with the same settings.

World-of-Tanks-8.0

Physics:

No longer are we faced with invisible immortal air walls that prevent your tank from running off a cliff or a slope. Now not only can you do that if you want but you can push people off areas, or even flip them over if you run into them hard enough. Shooting, especially from a light tank will make your tank move along with the direction of the recoil. It is now possible to slide down a hill if you don’t have enough traction or the correct momentum to make it up. Tanks also now can be destroyed by putting themselves in places that they are not designed to be in, such as under water.

All this is really great but it also presents a problem because now I often, in at least every other game, see what I call “a bunch of retarded 12-year olds” do stuff like try to jump over a river then smash into it and blow up. I’ve also seen the 12-year old retards do things like try to jump fly over a bridge that is 200 feet high in the air and then have their tank shatter into pieces once it hits the ground. I report them because this is the kind of thing that ruins a game. To me it’s the equivalent of griefing the team such as feeding would in another game League of Legends.

If I were in charge of Wargaming, I would dramatically increase the penalty for committing suicide in the game in such an obvious way over and over to be the equivalent of team killing. Sure, the game already had team killing prevention but it’s simply not good enough to prevent all the 12 year olds from ruining the game, especially for the people playing who have spent money on the game and don’t have all day to game.

World-of-Tanks-8.0-4

Maps:

Most of the maps have been redone either to fix some annoying exploits or to take advantage of the better terrain and more destroyable features of the landscape. This in itself completely changes how you now play the game. It’s time to relearn most of the minor details of maps and that to me makes the game more interesting again!

Sound Effects:

Most of the combat sound effects have been improved to make them sound more real. All the cannons have a unique boom that’s specific to the specifications of the weapon. Armor damage, ricochet, and dings sound a lot more impressive than they did pre 8.0 Even the noises the ground makes as you drive over it and break stuff sounds a lot more real. This greatly improves my enjoyment of the game.

I wish though they would finally hire some voice actors to talk in the native language of whatever tank I am using. It’s really annoying to hear some American sounding guy saying “Well that’s gotta hurt!!!” or “Let’s move out!!!” as I use my German, French, or Russian tanks. Fix it! The quick fix would be just to remove the voice that’s there right now. I’d rather hear just the sounds of warfare than this guy talking!

world_of_tanks_8.0-1

Conclusion:

This is the best update I’ve ever seen for World of Tanks. Wargaming really keeps me coming back to this game with the monthly updates as well as the promise of World of Warplanes and World of Warships. Since the games will eventually share your unified account, it’s not a big deal to grind on World of Tanks since I know one day I will be sharing my XP, Credits, and Gold with my other “World of (blank)” accounts!

Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset Review

 

I’ve had this headset for about 5 months. Keep in mind how long a product was used when reading a review!

Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset

Cable/Wire:

The headset connects through USB connector that is attached to a thick, very sturdy cable. This is great design improvement over other headsets that have a cable that’s thin and easy to get cut or broken. The cable is also long enough that you probably won’t need to get an extension for them. Even if you need an extension, USB cables are cheap to extend these days so that is not really an issue.

Comfort:

These headphones are extremely comfortable to use. The ear piece parts are well designed enough that it won’t make your ears sweat much and they will hug your ears providing great comfort as you use them. I haven’t gotten my ears to hurt by using these headphones for an extended period of time. I’ve used them 14 hours non stop and I haven’t felt uncomfortable during that period of usage.

Construction:

This headset is pretty sturdy. It seems to be made of aluminum, rubber, and the ear parts of imitation leather. I’ve dropped them from 8 feet and they only barely got scratched.

The headset has buttons on the left side of the ear muff that you can use to trigger functions such as launching your favorite media player, controlling it, reconfiguring them, etc.

Microphone:

The microphone works whenever you have the mouthpiece down; the rest of the time you can turn it off by lifting it up. The light on the piece helps you know when it is on or off. I’ve gotten good response from my guild/clan mates regarding the default sound quality of the microphone (tested using Skype and Teamspeak, using auto calibration).

Software:

It’s completely optional to install the software that comes with them but the software is useful for when tweaking the settings of the headset. The software/drivers sometimes go a little crazy if you decide to plug them in or unplug them during system critical points like in the middle of booting windows. From my experience this is a program that most USB audio peripherals seem to have versus traditional audio plugs. Sometimes I have to manually set my output to either be the headset or my speaker set depending on what I did.

Some games require you to quit them in order to use the headset correctly if you plugged them in while you were using speakers before. Usually the newer a game or program is, the less likely it is to have this problem. For example, Guild Wars 2 works like a charm but World of Tanks requires restarting the game for the headset to work.

Sound Dampening:

These headphones are extremely efficient when it comes to blocking out external sound. Usually when I am using them while talking to my guild on Teamspeak and my girlfriend is talking to me, I have to put one ear offset to be able to hear what she is telling me. I love this feature because I live at a house where there are plenty of loud noises most of the time (dog barking, people watching TV at airport noise level volumes, etc.).

Sound Quality:

For me, the best way to test sound quality is to play all different ranges of music on whatever audio equipment I’m testing. The sound quality is really good all throughout except for the bass when at maximum volume. Although the bass is decent enough when gaming, when playing bass heavy music you see a limitation in the bass feel of these headphones.

Loudness:

The G35’s max volume is loud enough to appease most users. I’ve had more powerful headphones in that past that were so loud that people two rooms away could hear them. Due to the better design, only the wearer can really hear the sound when they are worn.

They are loud enough that some games might shock you. I don’t classify them as being loud enough to make one go deaf but then again this is subjective.

Surround Sound:

The surround sound in these headphones is even better than the 5.1 Surround Sound speakers I use and they are also from Logitech. I was very impressed by them, especially when gaming and they make you have a significant advantage while playing a game with a good audio engine. The first time I used these headphones I was playing World of Tanks at 4 AM, at max volume, and it was amazing to hear cannon shells flying by and exploding all around me. It felt like actually being in a real battle.

The surround sound capabilities are specifically useful for hearing things behind you in games and in movies that take advantage of proper sound channel placement.

Value:

Right now the Logitech G35 Headset can be bought for about 90-100 US Dollars. I think that’s a fair price considering what you are getting.

Conclusion:

The Logitech G35 Headset is great to get if you are a gamer, live in a loud place, or need to use Skype/Teamspeak/Ventrilo privately with a good microphone.

Beginner’s Guide to World of Tanks

World of Tanks Screen Image 6 from 8.0

This guide should help a new player make the correct choices when dedicating themselves to becoming good at World of Tanks.

First things first is figuring out whether you will want to or not spend money on this game. If you don’t plan to, pick ONE country and stick to it. I recommend either USSR if you like fighting up close or USA if you want overall good tanks, although France seems to be the most OP faction (patch 7.4-7.5). With the tutorial completed, which you can pause (it says abort but ignore that) and unpause any time, you will end up with 6 regular tanks. You can eventually have all the highest tier USSR tanks plus if you want you can keep that useless tier 2 USSR gold tank (premium tank) they give you. I prefer to keep it since it will become a guaranteed money maker and tank trainer later on (which you will eventually need).

I sold mine but that was a mistake. It could be worth keeping just to power level your tankers. Just to clarify, a gold tank is a game that is bought using gold which is the real-life-money money in the game. It can only be bought or earned from Clan War matches. Clan War matches is what you should be trying to get into if you really want to get deep into this game. You should also keep your eye open on the main World of Tanks website because they sometimes have promotions or special events that could get you huge discounts or free things.

world of tanks gameplay

The most important rule to know about WoT is that every time you have to do a conversion, you lose a significant proportion of whatever it is you are converting. Crew training on all tanks should be as max as possible, usually spending 20000 credits per crew member is the way to go, especially if you own at least one gold tank. You can convert experience points from gold tanks for gold as well as XP from Elite status tanks. This is time efficient if you have money to spend. Converting gold to credits has horrible returns so never do it.

Always run with consumables on all your tanks and try to buy them especially during the 50% off sales. Make sure that it’s worth using the consumable such as in a game where it comes down to just 2 tanks per side and it will make a huge impact on whether you win or lose. I always run in this order: health kit, repair kit, and fire extinguisher. If a tank you are using is too slow I recommending swapping out the fire extinguisher for high octane gasoline. It will make a world of difference between you hating the tank and learning to tolarate it.

world of tanks gameplay

Getting tanks is really easy in the early tiers but eventually you’re going to hit a wall of either XP or credits. Credits are even more important and harder to generate. Either check with other people or the forums to see what people are currently running to make money. If you will spend money on the game, I found that the Super Pershing is the best bang for the buck for the Tier 8 tanks for making money, if not the reasonable Tier 5 Churchill III. The Churchill III is the cheapest and sometimes the funnest to play. It’s only 1500 Gold most of the time (roughly $7-8 in cost). Myself I spent a good amount of money in the game. I also bought tank slots for every type of branch in the game and I’m slowly making my way there with every class of tank for every country.

Doing this, playing the game like crazy, it takes me about 6-7 hours to do all my tanks, to try to get the daily bonus. As a macro strategy I this saves the most time as opposed to straight grinding, if you want to save the most time AND have everything in the game unlocked. Most people don’t have time to do that every day so although that to me is the most money efficient thing to do (to run all non-gold tanks, every kind), most people don’t have time for this! The other thing to take into account is whether you want to pay for the Premium Account or not. While this is on all tanks yield a +50% bonus to the generation of XP and Credits. Technically if you have Premium and you do the first win of the day for a tank, rather than get the double XP bonus that it gives you would get triple (1.5 X 2 = 3). It’s a huge bonus but I only myself recommend it if you have a LOT of time on your hands, then it’s a great value! Since I started working more in real life, I run a year of premium in World of Tanks all the time, which comes out to about $8 a month to play the game which is an amazing value to me for this game.

world of tanks gameplay

A general thing to know about Gold tanks is that they are meant to generate pure credits and also they can be used to train crew faster for any crew of that specific country and that specific vehicle class. For example you can put a heavy tank crew from a KV1 in a Churchill and they can use it with no penalties. Alternatively, if you want to save money and power level any crew of that country, so long as they are 75% experience and up, you can stick them in anyways but they will perform with a -25% penalty but even then it can still be done effectively so long as you stick to the 75% experience minimum rule. I don’t recommend putting in crews from a different vehicle type because not only will they have the penalty but they will also get an XP penalty.

General combat tips:

Now, look at this video to understand how to position your tank during battle so you don’t die in every one on one fight.

Never EVER use the right mouse button to lock on to a target. It’s useless and dumb and it won’t target specific areas of tanks that you MUST hit. On top of that it’s highly inaccurate and a gateway into being an eternal noob in the game. Since it targets the center of mass of a tank and does NOT lead targets it will miss very often. It is only really useful if you are a light tank doing a carousel move around a slow tank and you need to concentrate all your energy into driving.

If you’re fighting while driving up a hill, I would say that 90% of the time, you’re dead!

If there is artillery in play and you just killed one of their team mates, if you’re standing still you’re very likely to get hit. Try to drive forward for a second, rotate 30 to 45 degrees, and move for one or two seconds.

If you’re an artillery and something just shot at you, you BETTER be moving ASAP if you want to live. Also I recommend moving up slightly with the front so you just all your shots, especially if you are steam rolling the enemy team.

Try to rotate your front always towards the enemy that you’re fighting if you’re pinned down in a slugfest kind of fight!

Aim for areas in the enemy such as the rear of their tank or wheels if you want to stop them from moving.

world of tanks gameplay

Know your role and act like it most of the time. If you’re a light tank, you’re the scout (sometimes). Find as many of the enemies as possible especially their artillery and scouts and kill them (those two, you are not supposed to take on a heavy tank other than maybe to get a lucky shot in their fuel tank). If you’re a tank destroyer fight from cover most of the time since you have less health than a medium tank and almost no armor. If you’re a heavy, you need to “tank” but don’t necessarily be out in the open. If you’re a medium your job is to do everything! If you’re artillery, try hitting all the heavies first. The only time you should not play your role is when the team you’re with is failing so badly that you need to pull a Rambo just to survive!

Map awareness: memorize every map. Try to fight from higher ground, especially if there’s cover but know that a good artillery will shoot all their memorized cover spots in such hills.

Generally, if you’re out in the open and nobody else on your team is around or you’re ahead of everybody, you’re in grave danger!

world of tanks gameplay

Vehicle upgrades: For most tanks always upgrade the gun as much as possible (to me penetration is the most important stat). DO THE MATH – calculate if the new gun can be handled by your suspension. Every ton = 1000 kg and the game provides module weight in kilograms. If you’re a scout or an arty, go for radio first as it will help you relay information more accurately. For scouts I recommend engines (for better acceleration) as well as tracks for better turning, as well as turrets for better line of sight (you see people faster or further).

Teching up: Try to tech up in a straight line down that path to your desired tank. For example, if you are trying to get russian arty maxed out, try to go for that directly rather than the KV-2 path because it will be insanely more expensive.

About ammunition: I find it a WASTE to use premium ammo on anything but tournaments or clan wars. Also, before you enter any match make sure you look at the gun tier of your tank; this is a rough estimate as to what tank tier you are expected to damage with that gun (assume damaging a medium tank of that tier). Should you find yourself at the bottom of the food chain in a match make sure to have brought some HE (high explosive ammmo) because it’s better to shoot a higher tier tank with this than bounce off 90% of your shots and at least you will be able to risk getting a tracked hit on that big tank that a team mate can kill for you. This is especially effective I found once I F2 tag the target then type in chat “I tracked him”. You will be surprised how quickly that tank will turn into the local punching bag.
***
Well, I hope this guide helps you get better at World of Tanks, let me get back to playing my 30 tanks! =P

Samsung Series 7 Gamer 700G7C-S01 Review With Benchmarks

Samsung 700G7C-S01 laptop notebookLet me just come right out and say that this is the fastest gaming laptop I’ve ever tested and played on. The system is a monster and I like to think of it more like a portable desktop than a laptop. The system has a full sized keyboard, including the number pad, which makes it ideal for gaming as well as work (unless you are used to a funky sized keyboard).

This review took place in August 2012 with version S01 with a review sample that was manufactured in May 2012.

Let’s look at the specifications of the Samsung Series 7 Gamer 700G7C-S01:

Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

CPU
CPU/Processor: Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor
CPU Clock Speed: (Max.) 2.30 GHz
CPU Cache: 6MB L3

Screen
Display Screen Size 17.3″
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Brightness 400 nit

Memory
Standard System Memory 16GB
Memory Type DDR3

Storage
Hard Drive Capacity: 1.5TB with ExpressCache™ Technology, 8GB

Graphics
Graphics Chip: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M Graphics

ODD: Blu-Ray

Speakers: 4 W Stereo Speaker (2 W x 2) sub-Woofer

Web Camera: 2.0 MP

Connectivity
Wireless LAN: 802.11 abg/n
Bluetooth: Bluetooth v4.0
WiDi: Yes
Wired Ethernet LAN: Gigabit LAN

I/O Ports
VGA: Yes
HDMI: Yes
USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 (1 Sleep-n-Charge)
Headphone Out: Yes
Microphone In: Yes
Multi Card Slot: 7-in-1 (MS, MS Pro, SD, SDHC, MMC, MMC plus, xD)
RJ45 (LAN): Yes

Input Devices
Keyboard:101 Key Backlit
Touch Pad: Yes

Security
Kensington Lock Slot: Yes

Power
AC Adapter: 200 Watt
Number of Cells / Cell Type: 8 cell / Li-Ion

Design
Color: Black

Compliancy
ENERGY STAR Rated: Yes

Dimensions (W x D x H): 16.1″ x 11.2″ x 1.29″ ~ 1.96″
Weight 8.39 lbs.
Warranty 1 Year Standard Parts and Labor

Since most of our readers are gamers, let’s look at gaming performance!

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Benchmark tests (performance review for gaming):

I only use benchmarks that are actual games (no Futuremark or games running with FRAPS). First off, I only use free benchmarks that everybody has access to. Also, I don’t believe in testing with games that don’t have a built in benchmark feature because that tests hard drive limits and you are rarely going to be playing your games recording it every single time you play them.

If you would like to know further why I picked these benchmarks read my old benchmark guide here.

Battleforge test settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

The tests gave us an 69.7 average fps result, a minimum 5.9 fps result, and a 232.8 maximum fps result.

DiRT 3 test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1028
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8 x MSAA
VSync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Auto
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lightning: High
Shadows: Ultra
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Characters: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Distant Vehicles: High
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: High
Post Process: Medium (again this loves to set itself to this over and over so just leave it like that)
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: Ultra
Cloth: High

Test results were that the laptop got 48.66 fps average and 40.14 fps minimum running the Dirt 3 with the previously listed settings.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX test settings:

Game version: DirectX 9 for legacy compatibility purposes
Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

On this test we got an average of 181 fps and a maximum 353 fps.

Trackmania Nations test Settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

The benchmark yielded a result of 79.6 fps.

X3 Terran Conflict benchmark test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Ansitropic Texture Filtering: On
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Glow enabled: On
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

The Samsung laptop got a score of 105.439 fps on the X3 Terran Conflict benchmark.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Hands-on Review:

The machine is very comfortable to work with. It does tend to get a bit hot and I recommend using it on a desk or tabletop.

The onboard sound of the laptop is amazing and comes with probably the best equalizer software I’ve ever used. It is made by Dolby Laboratories and includes many sound altering effects. The speaker setup is impressive and loud for a laptop. Using the software you can change the ambiance of what the speakers put out. Certain parts of the keyboard light up and will glow based on music being played on the computer based on your settings (it is on by default).

Since the system has a blue ray player, should you want to watch a high definition movie from a disc, you would be able to as well as enjoy it in HD with the high quality display that is extremely sharp in image quality.

The laptop has a physical knob that can be turned to adjust the different aspects of the performance regarding speed, fan noise, power saving modes, etc. When you switch into gaming mode the laptop does an animation showing a target lock-on cybernetic image that is an attention getter (this is on by default). I think having a laptop such as this one would want somebody to enforce their bragging rights and that cool animation is certainly a way to get people’s attention!

Running full power mode (no power-saving modes enabled) the laptop has a battery life of 2.5 hours for doing work (MS Office) level of applications. Longer battery life times are possible depending on using more power efficient power profiles. Since this is a gaming laptop, the battery life cannot be expected to be too long especially the more complicated a game is. With a system like this, I recommend using it plugged in via the AC adapter rather than running it off battery power.

The wireless card built into this laptop is so strong that it gets about 50% more wireless networks than my current laptop as well as stronger signals all throughout.

As far as the way the laptop looks on the outside, it looks like it’s a serious laptop that means business and I like that a lot. The machine looks sharp, sort of like what I would equate to the Aston Martin of modern gaming laptops.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Conclusion:

This laptop is ideal for a power gamer and user that needs to be able to take their desktop with them but cannot carry a tower, monitor, and speakers with them. The hard drive is massive (1.5 TB) allowing storage of many file libraries, which is rare on a notebook. The rest of the parts on the system make it a strong performer for nearly any computing need a power user will have, whether gaming, 3D rendering (strong video card), music editing/engineering, etc. The current price $1600-1900 as off 8/8/2012 is what I would expect a laptop like this to cost and is reasonable.

Run-down summary:

Pros:
-Can run every game that’s out there.
-Speakers sound amazing for a laptop.
-Enough hard drive space to install almost any game collection plus a huge file collection for almost everybody.
-Enough power to seriously game as well as run other operations such as 3D rendering and audio engineering programs.
-16 GB of RAM is more than enough memory for almost 99.99% of users out there to multitask like crazy.
-Super strong wireless card with support for all current wireless protocols.
-Has what I consider to be a real keyboard for a laptop rather than a tiny one that’s the usual punishment in most laptops, making it much better for a power user and gamer.
-Has external lights and knobs that let you manually change the features of what the laptop is doing as well as see hard drive operation activity, etc. This useful for when doing heavy applications.
-Easy to take apart (two simple covers with standard screws make life easier).

Cons:
-Can get hot temperature-wise. I didn’t have any stability problems even when gaming in a hot room.
-Too expensive for budget gamers, but then again they would probably most likely not be buying a gaming laptop.
-Can be bulky to move around (space and weight-wise), but then again I like to think as a really compact portable desktop.

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries Atlas

In the spirit of Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries came out Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries. If you’ve never played Battletech or any of the Mechwarrior games, this is a great place to start other than Mechwarrior 2. This game should hold you out until Mechwarrior Online comes out! 😀

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries Atlas

Mechs are customizable based on what they look like. Some mechs will only use missiles or cannons or energy weapons if that is what they used in the original tabletop Battletech game. Only Omnimechs have no such restriction.

The Good:
– Addicting and fun fun fun!
– A large variety of mechs and all sorts of updated weapons from both the Inner Sphere and Clan factions.
– Whore yourself out to the highest bidder and get paid well.
– As difficult as needed without it becoming impossible to beat.
– Nice music made in the spirit of the music from Mechwarrior 2 but not as good.
– Fun even though it’s old and feels dated. Since Battletech games are nowadays rare, we’ll take it!
– You can play the game free if you download it at MekTek.
– Some people still play this online together.

The Bad:
– The controls are really dated. The mouse control is horrible. It is designed to be used with a joystick which not that many people use anymore for PC gaming other than mainly flight sim people.
– The graphics are really dated.
– The game has an ending.
– Sometimes when you repair a Mech if you don’t have enough parts in your stockpile, it will repair the Mech but some of the weapons will be missing. The requires you to micromanage your configurations after a nasty mission every single time!
– Some missions are pretty frustrating.
– Damage engine does not show realistic depiction of damage on units.
– The Mechlab might be a little intimidating to new Battletech players especially with the variety of configurations available.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Need For Speed The Run Review

Need For Speed The Run Shelby Mustang

Need For Speed The Run Review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Need For Speed, Michael Bay Edition”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10
Need-for-Speed-The-Run-gameplay-screenshot
The Good:

– Pure action
– Think of this game as Gumball Rally and Cannonball Run meet Ronin.
– Music keeps the action pumping.
– Most cars that you would drool over are in this game; the problem is that many of them require a little grinding to unlock them. I enjoyed my 2nd playthrough more as a result of this since I had unlocked just about everything.
– Super customizable difficulty that you can change on the fly per race. Hardest difficulty is even challenging.
– Pure will make your computer and eyes orgasm eye candy.
– It actually feels like you are racing across the United States.
– Every girl in the game looks like a slut.

Need-for-Speed-The-Run-gameplay-screenshot

The Bad:
– Not the most realistic racing game.
– Most of the driving in this game would get you killed in real life, like instantly.
– Damage engine? Never heard of it other than super wrecks where there wouldn’t even be a finger left from the crash.
– Many races don’t make any sense. Yes, a Nissan 240Z would NEVER beat an upgraded Nissan GTR Skyline (the newest one), no matter if you drop over a million dollars of parts into it, in an open road race. YES, an Audi R8 will always beat a piece of shit Nissan 370Z. The list goes on…
– Ridiculous Nitro system where the more dumb shit you do the more Nitro you regenerate from air.
– Storyline written by porno writers.
– Quicktime events don’t belong in games especially racing games. This isn’t Dragon’s Lair!

Need-for-Speed-The-Run-gameplay-screenshot

Conclusion:
Finally a Need For Speed game that’s as much fun as Need For Speed Underground (1).

Don’t Copy That Floppy!

So what the fuck did we just see? These kids that look like they were from a 90s Nickelodeon show or Blossom or Boy Meets World get attacked by DP, Double Penetration, I mean Digital Protector, yeah that’s it and got informed of how copying software will end the world of software. ~Honorabili

Don’t Copy That Floppy!

don't copy that floppy

Remember the days of the Bard’s Tale 3 copy protection wheel and having to go into manuals to enter a word to prevent copying? Well I do! And now so will you with this horrible PSA from back in the day.

So what the fuck did we just see? These kids that look like they were from a 90s Nickelodeon show or Blossom or Boy Meets World get attacked by DP, Double Penetration, I mean Digital Protector, yeah that’s it and got informed of how copying software will end the world of software.

Well, looks like I finally got the message!

However, the people who made this crap didn’t so DP is back in 2009 to keep you from downloading a car:

I so much prefer the anti piracy ad from The IT Crowd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALZZx1xmAzg or even the laughable one that says “You wouldn’t download a car”

Well…

You Wouldn't Download A Car?

Just imagine how many cars will get downloaded when 3D printers are a commonplace thing. That will be the next big internet problem like in 2031.

Atlantica Online Review

Atlantica Online screenshot

One Sentence Review:
“A modern day MMO that’s a mix of Ogre Battle and Shining Force”

Overall Review Score:
8 out of 10

The Good:
– MMO version of a remake of Ogre Battle (SNES) and Shining Force (Sega Genesis).
– Free to Play MMO that for the most part has no subscription system.
– Laid back MMO for PVE.
– Great music creates a nice atmosphere.
– Great auto travel system.
– Gets-the-job-done auto combat system (for PVE).
– Awesome crafting system.
– Awesome party system for power leveling other players.
– Addictive.
– Daily and weekend special events.
– Many optimized gameplay functions that are taken from other great MMOs.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question (making it more like a real RPG or old text adventure game).
– Guild to Guild, Nation to Nation warfare, cross server warfare.
– A guild can control one town and run it (infrastructure, improvements, population, etc.).
– Cross server based player crafting run economy.
– Referral and mentoring system for getting benefits of referring new players and power leveling them faster.
– World based on Earth’s map so you don’t need to learn the geography of some random fantasy world.
– The art style of the game looks a lot like Soul Calibur.
– Most of the time you can play the game while afk or alt tabbed, when doing pve.
– So much killing… oh and when you kill, you craft at the same time!
– All the concepts and items that can be bought with real world money can also be bought with in game money.
– In a high level area, a mob of mobs of monsters can potentially jump you. That makes the game a lot more challenging (feels like a last stand kind of fight).

The Bad:
– Addictive.
– Some game functions do require having almost like a subscription because they expire in X amount of days.
– You don’t get to directly do stuff with your high level friends until much later in the game when you are all top levels. The game feels like a single player RPG until then.
– The servers can’t sometimes handle the load of having many players on it, like on the weekends during special event days (when most people play).
– Some common known bugs in the game are not addressed by the developers.
– Quest givers are retarded.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question.
– Some people use bot programs but there are ways to rob their stuff.
– Referral program does not have a URL link with your account name embedded where a new player can download the game to give you credit for the referral automatically.
– Western audiences might be turned off from the game looking like a Korean MMO but hardcore gamers won’t be.
– Most parts of the game will be too laid back for the pvp mmo crowd (the kind that shouts all the time over ventrilo or team speak).
– The AI is pretty retarded.
– A lot of grinding.
– Repetitive kind of quests (kill, collect, buy, go here) … just the setting changes.
– Pay to win “free-to-play” problem. Some super characters that can only be bought at the real money store cost about $50 EACH. This is a game breaker for most people. They should learn from World of Tanks and League of Legends and only make the premium characters about $10 each maximum. Although this is true, they do give you about $60 worth of free stuff (licenses) which makes power leveling a LOT faster. There are sales sometimes for premium stuff and rarely you can get them from a special in game event but most people won’t wait for that to happen.
– Some UI problems like it giving certain chat windows priority over others making you waste time clicking.
– There is an PVP execution called King’s Judgement where a guild leader that is in a level 5 nation can challenge a player to punish him. If the defender loses then he permanently gives the challenger a piece of equipment.
– More drama than a spanish soap opera, except without all the hot bitches.

Conclusion:
A great game to play at work or if need to go afk a lot.

Download Link for Atlantica Online:
http://atlantica.nexon.net/

Free Stuff – Pure Pwnage

Pure Pwnage logo
Pure Pwnage logo

Pure Pwnage is the show about the “uber gamer”. If you don’t know Jeremy and his friends, you’ve been missing out. The show is about The Pwner, an uber gamer that has no life and is worse than a Korean Gamer. He owns at every kind of game but really shines in RTS games. The show is about Jeremy and his friends and how they deal with being hardcore gamers when all the normal people in the real world try to bring them down. Get a job? WTF. Cooking food, oh you mean crafting food… that kind of stuff.

The link to watch the entire show on hulu the show is http://www.hulu.com/pure-pwnage Click here for the main website of Pure Pwnage.

League of Legends PVE AI Update

League-of-Legends-
Before I start ranting, let’s see what they promised in this update upgrade:

So they finally released the AI update but it is still really easy. They increased the roster of PVE enemies up to around 40 and that’s a lot better than fighting the same 8 bots all the time but the AI still doesn’t know bush warfare or jungling or ganking to save its life. This patch introduces Dominion PVE which might as well be called free IP. Every match I’ve played ends with the human team having 400 out of 500 life left in their home base.

Riot Games said that the AI would be as good as human players and it is far from that. I would say maybe it’s as good as level 3 human players that just installed the game but even then, they at least know what a bush might be.

The AI is still flawed in the regular 5 vs 5 game because it doesn’t hide in bushes, nor does it know how to kill dragon, or kill Baron or even jungle. If you see an AI bot with a buff that means a bad team mate fed that buff to them; they will never get it on their own.

At least now there are new characters for you to SLAUGHTER, instead of the regular Ashe Bot, Annie Bot, Nunu Bot, Warwick Bot, Ryze Bot, Soraka Bot, Miss Fortune Bot, Shen Bot, Taric Bot, Renekton Bot, Trundle Bot, Cho’Gath Bot that you’re used to raping.

The full Rise of the Bots roster now includes:
Annie Bot
Ashe Bot
Brand Bot
Caitlyn Bot
Cassopeia Bot
Cho’Gath Bot
Fiddlesticks Bot
Galio Bot
Garen Bot
Graves Bot
Irelia Bot
Jax Bot
Karthus Bot
Kayle Bot
Kog’Maw Bot
Leona Bot
Lux Bot
Malphite Bot
Malzahar Bot
Miss Fortune Bot
Morgana Bot
Nunu Bot
Rammus Bot
Renekton Bot
Ryze Bot
Shen Bot
Shyvana Bot
Sivir Bot
Sona Bot
Soraka Bot
Swain Bot
Taric Bot
Tristana Bot
Trundle Bot
Udyr Bot
Warwick Bot
Wukong Bot
Xin Zhao Bot
Zilean Bot

Hey Riot Games, where is the Hard or Nightmare difficulty for PVE? That’s what I was expecting this patch to be.

Conclusion: YAWN… stick to PVP please.

Saints Row 3 Soundtrack

Saints Row 3 Soundtrack

Saints Row 3 is a crazy ass game and one of the parts that keeps the game going with such action is the incredible soundtrack. Here is the 8-track original soundtrack for Saints Row: The Third. The soundtrack was written and produced by Malcolm Kirby Jr.

Let’s have a listen!

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 01 – Saints Row The Third

The theme song is one of the best songs in the game. It has hip hop beats which go great with the theme of gang warfare that the game is all about.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 02 – When Good Heists Go Bad

Nice tense song. Sounds like it would be perfect for a stealth combat mission.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 03 – The Mission Part 1

This sounds like a perfect song for a robbery or probably from something out of Shadowrun.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 04 – The Mission Part 2

The continuation of The Mission. Such tense music is a perfect blend of rock and techno.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 05 – Oleg And Kinzie

This one is still tense but not as action packed as the other ones. Nice change in pace.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 06 – Killbane And The Syndicate

Now this is more like it. This one is a strong rock track with militant elements to it.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 07 – STAG

This one makes me think of 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with Terminator and mixed with TRON Legacy. This is the theme for STAG, the super badguys from the game.

Saints Row: The Third [Soundtrack] – 08 – End Game

This nice mellow yet strong hip hop track wraps it all up.

If you want to check out more video game soundtracks we like and share, check out the Obsolete Gamer Music Hall!

Saints Row 3 Cover

Bastion

One Sentence Review:
“A modern remix of the original Zelda, Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore… sort of.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Bastion

Overview & Gameplay & Fun Factor & Replayability:

The game is a mix of the original Zelda, Terranigma (a lost SNES gem), Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, and Final Fantasy 6. Those are already all must-play games so imagine how great this game is. The gameplay is a lot like most of those games.

This is a hack and slash game that is a very special distinct style. The world just ended in a magical apocalypse and you’re one of the few survivors. Pretty much everybody you knew is dead and you’re trying to find a way to restore the world.

The game has a special style of its own. The world feels like an extreme fantasy world with the culture and civilization of the world looking like the old west. The music (see below) is a lot of folk, country, and electronic music and it reflects this. The game is original because there is a Narrator describing everything the main character The Kid does, feels, and thinks. This adds a lot of depth to what is otherwise a simple game (simple is NOT bad).

When I sat down to play this game, I figured I would do so and be done with it, not necessarily because I heard anything about this game other than seeing it came out, but rather because I bought a bunch of games on sale on Steam for Christmas. It was late on a Wednesday and I figured I’d play a quick game, beat it fast, and go to bed. By the time I thought it was 10:30 PM that maybe I should go eat something it was in reality 2:30 AM and my body was screaming at me that I was starving. This game is quite a lot of fun since action RPGs generally are that way. The narration keeps you engaged in the game. Not only that but since the game autosaves, you don’t pause to do that either. I give Fun Factor a score of 8 out of 10. Why that score? Well that’s because after a while the game does sort of become repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, the story is great and everything but when you replay the game the story is pretty much the same except when you get to the ending of the game and you have 4 different choices to make. I give Replayability a score of 6 out of 10. The game opens up different modes in which to play the game in after you beat it but I don’t feel like going through the story all over again, myself.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

You get to super customize how hard you want this game to be through the use of the Shrine building in the game. You can’t change it in real-time through the menu but you can go back to The Bastion and reconfigure which Gods to piss off, I mean pray for, determining how hard you want to make the enemies.

The default difficulty with no Shrine modifications was really easy for me. You can literally make this game NES-hard, and I’m talking about the original Megaman games level of difficulty. Since you can customize it so much, it’s up to you to make your own challenge. I give both the Difficulty and Difficulty Versatility scores of 10 out of 10. Don’t be a wimp!

Value:

I bought this game and the soundtrack on Steam for $10 during the holiday sale they have every year. I would say, I’d pay at most $15 for it (for the game alone), considering how good it is. It’s worth having played it at least once, sort of like Trine was to me.

Sound:

The sound effects are respectable and are often ques for whether you should dodge or shield yourself. The Narrator (Stranger) makes the game really engaging because he keeps the game flowing by describing what The Kid is thinking about as he continues on his quest, as well as tells you more about the history of the dead world. I give Sound a score of 10 out of 10. The narration really did it for me in making this game rise to a whole new level. This game could have easily have been made on DOS, Amiga CD32, Sega CD, or Playstation 1 but instead of using the CD technology of those systems to create something like this they tried to pack it with shitty video instead but I am getting sidetracked.

Music:

The music for this game is probably one of the best soundtracks for any game that came out in 2011. The music is a mix of folk, country, and electronic music. The general level music sounds a lot like the music from SNES action RPG games like the ones I mentioned before. There are specific folk and country songs that are so good that they are almost chilling to hear, especially with the way the action, the narration, and storyline mix along with their introduction.

The introduction of such music was perfectly made especially with the atmosphere of the game. You’re in a fantasy post-apocalypse world, so imagine getting to hear such beauty in the middle of death. Made me think of some of the best parts of Fallout or Final Fantasy 6.

Now most of the music in the game is the electronic SNES kind of music, I just wanted to post the best folk songs here especially since they’re sang so well and the lyrics are so relevant to this game.

The music kind of made me think of some of the music by Tom Waits, especially this song:

If you never heard of Tom Waits before, here is one of my favorite songs by him:

Anyways, the music for this game is TOP! I give the Music a score of 10 out of 10. The music makes you FEEL what’s going on. Rather than do some stupid cut scene that makes you have no interaction and makes it like a movie (the opposite of what a video game should be), you live the music as you play the game. A lot of BIG game developers have a lot to learn from this little game.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashed, not even while I alt-tabbed, running a bunch of stuff in the background. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10. The music gets lower while in the menu and alt-tabbed but does not mute itself.

Controls:

You control The Kid with both keyboard and mouse (for the PC version). The controls are pretty self intuitive. You block with SHIFT and roll away from enemies with spacebar. The left mouse button does your melee attack (unless you change what weapon goes there) and right mouse controls your missile weapon (again unless you decided to have two melee weapons, which is not that smart). Q unleashes your super attack. The controls were great except that the game sometimes lags with some of the weapons kind of making them be useless to me (chaos launcher, sometimes the rifle) but you’ll identify them soon and I recommend you avoid those weapons. In fact, I recommend using the polearm, dual pistols, and pistol super skill all the time. I give Controls a score of 7 out of 10. Maybe it’s just the PC version that has that problem but I think they should have tested this game a little more in development and made sure all the weapons worked flawlessly.

Graphics & Performance:

Here is a game that’s so well put together it’s almost art-like. The character drawings will remind you of playing Terranigma, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore on the SNES, only more polished sort of like having the same kind of graphics as games from the Warcraft 2 era or maybe like Revenant but having much higher resolution. The game has its own style of art, sort of like a Korean anime style. I liked the drawings of the characters and cutscene drawings. For a small game this was really great, blend all that with the narration and music and you have something that is superior to the original games that inspired its style. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10. A game doesn’t need to be 3D in order for it to be eye-candy.

Performance was nearly flawless, only having a few minor hickups that didn’t have too much of a penalty in gameplay. I give Performance an 8 out of 10. I do run a lot of stuff even while I game since I multitask work stuff a lot. You could see minor lag here and there but if you run with nothing in the background you should be fine.

Conclusion:

The game is nearly perfect except for the few flaws that I mentioned. It feels good to have a game that makes you feel something. Feeling good in a Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy 6, and Psychonauts way is something more games should have. Remember, technology “improving” is not always a good thing. Casablanca > Transformers 3, for example. Empire Strikes Back > everything else SW that came out after, except for KOTOR and Old Republic.

This game is worth playing, at least once. Live the experience that Bastion is!

Mech Commander 2 Review & Strategy Guide

Mech Commander 2 Review & Strategy Guide by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“The greatest RTS game ever made for Battletech.”

Overall Score:
7 out of 10

Mechcommander 2 box art cover
Mechcommander 2 box art cover

Overview:

Think of this game as a more modernized version of BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception and BattleTech: The Crescent Hawks’ Revenge except without all the RPG aspect. You play the role of a commander for a mercenary outfit that got hired and got put in the middle of a civil war that just started between House Davion and House Steiner. On top of that House Liao is also trying to take over the planet that you’re on, in middle of the ongoing chaos.

Although this game now is pretty old, since it came out in 2001, it still captures all the charm of the Battletech universe. It might not have every Battlemech ever made but it does have some of the original best mechs and it introduces some newer mechs that are from the most recent storyline for the Battletech universe.

Mech Commander 2 Unit Selection Screen
Mech Commander 2 Unit Selection Screen

Controls & Gameplay & Fun Factor:

The controls are pretty archaic as far as an RTS game goes. They by default only use the left mouse button and the only other key that you really need is to press the space bar while giving out move orders to make your mechs run. The game uses the classic convention of being able to group units with CTRL + number convention. Controls get a score of 6 out of 10. They’re really primitive and are actually obsolete.

As far as RTS games go, the gameplay feels really dated. Sure it’s fun to see a lance of Atlas running around blowing the living crap out of everything. I do think that the Mechwarrior games are much better though, although they are a completely different kind of game. Gameplay gets a score of 7 out of 10.

This game was fun for me although it doesn’t have the fast pace of a modern RTS game. A lot of times a mission requires having a lot of patience. The game will make you wait for the enemy to attack. Sure, you can go out and get them but that defeats the point sometimes of fighting inside a fort that has turrets supporting you. Compared to some newer RTS games such as League of Legends, Battleforge, or Dawn of War 2, the game can be pretty boring. Since I grew up playing tabletop Battletech, this game was a blast from the past that an old gamer like me needed! I give fun factor a score of 6 out of 10. I wish they’d make sequel for this but there’s always lawsuits going on for the Battletech franchise. At least Mechwarrior Online is supposed to come out 2012 so we’ll see.

Mech Commander 2 Atlas fighting
Mech Commander 2 Atlas fighting

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility & Replayability:

This is where I have a problem with the game. If you play it on Veteran, the default 2 out of 4 difficulty then the game will be realistic as far as your weapons go as far as damage and accuracy BUT if you put it on the harder difficulties the game becomes bullshit and nearly impossible to beat. If you put it on 3+ difficulty then you will see shit like a hovercraft owning your mechs like nothing. This is where the game FAILS.

For that overall the Difficulty gets a score of 4 out of 10. Some of the missions even on regular difficulty were really challenging. The last mission was so damn easy though. 🙁

Difficulty Versatility gets a 1 out of 10. Super fail in this. Because of this the game has no replayability for me almost except playing it once every couple of years when you get the urgue to play something Battletech related.

Value:

How you go about getting this game really depends how much of a computer person you are or what format you want it in. If you want the original, you can ebay the CD for it. The cost will be whatever the market will bear. Microsoft released the source code for this game in 2006 and you can download it here. If you can make it run, there you go, enjoy it!

Sound:

The sounds for all the battle sounds were pretty realistic. It made me think of lot of the older Battletech games and that’s always a good thing. The lasers sound like they should, so do the PPCs, Gauss cannons, Auto Cannons, etc. The feedback from the Mechwarrior pilot was also pretty great, along with the digitized video of them getting shot up inside their mechs as well as your field assistant giving you updates on the status of your mission. Great job and we don’t see a lot of games that have this kind of banter anymore. The video acting was great too. A lot better than the ones in the Command & Conquer games, which is outright B movie grade. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

Although the music is not as good as the music from Mechwarrior 2, the music does make you feel like you are playing a real Battletech game. I still love this soundtrack though.

I give the music a score of 7 out of 10. Click here to listen to more music from the Mech Commander 2 soundtrack.

Stability/Reliability:

On my modern PC running Windows 7 and doing ALT TAB like crazy, the game never ever crashed. I’m usually doing a million things while gaming so this game is rock solid. That’s to be expected by a game good enough to be published by Microsoft. This deserves a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

The graphics are really dated and haven’t aged well. They are Direct3D for a really old version of DirectX and no matter what parts you have the textures will look ugly by today’s standards. Oh well, at least the mechs look like what they should though. I give the graphics a score of 4 out of 10.

This game runs like a beast even on the worst computer I own. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10. It would fly even on a non-gaming PC.

Conclusion of Review:

If you are a hardcore Battletech fan and you’ve never played this, go out and play it NOW. If you want to play an RTS game that requires patience, you will like this game too. I don’t think they’ll ever make another game in the Mech Commander series again, which is a real shame. We’ll see though… If MechWarrior Online starts to do well when it does come out, there is hope. It’s nice to see that Battletech is not entirely dead. It has a special place in my heart alongside Warhammer 40k.

Strategy Guide:

Not much to it. Always use as heavy a mech as possible. Save every Atlas you ever salvage. Salvage every single battlemech on the field, even if you have no money left as you can sell them back for more money in the outfit and refit screen. Outfit every Atlas you have with as much armor as possible then load it up with as many Clan ER Medium Lasers as possible. That’s the optimal mech for the entire game.

Mario’s Changing Style

Mario KartIf you were lucky enough to have been born in the late 70s or the 80s, chances are you were hit with the video game bug that was gathering up kids by their thousands in arcades and homes across the world. These video games brought with them a host of new characters who would soon become household names: Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and, of course, Mario. The star of the Mario platform video game series and the hugely popular racing series Mario Kart, Mario, is everyone’s favorite stout little Italian-American plumber, but he’s done a lot of changing over the years to get where he is today.

Created by Shigeru Miyamoto whilst he was in the midst of developing the arcade favorite Donkey Kong, Mario was originally known to the designer as Mr Video and Miyamoto had plans to integrate him into every video game he developed. The character picked up his famous name from the warehouse landlord for Nintendo of America, Mario Segale. Segale had been chasing then-president Minoru Arakawa for back rent and as a way of appeasing him they opted to rename Mr Video in Mario Segale’s honor.

Mario’s distinctive look is a product of happenstance more than design. Back in 1981 when he was still Mr Video, Mario was visualized as a carpenter due to the game taking place on a construction site and gave him a large nose as this made his character design more recognizable as a silhouette. When he appeared again in Mario Bros. in 1983, the setting of the game transformed him into a plumber and this, along with his nose, inspired Miyamoto to give Mario roots in New York. The instantly recognizable red overalls, blue shirt and cap all came about due to design issues owing to the limitations of arcade hardware: Mario’s clothing was designed to make him stand-out and contrast against the background, while his cap and mustache were added to get around the problem of having to animate hair, eyebrows and facial expressions.

After his turn on the arcade machines, Mario finally make his first fleshed out, 3D appearance in 1996’s Super Mario 64. From here Mario’s appearance continued to develop and he was given a white and red “M” emblem on his hat, as well as white gloves, and his costume colors reversed to give him blue overalls with a red shirt. This would be Mario’s final form and the one he has gone on to sport ever since.

The rest, as they say, is history and this feisty little plumber has been making that history ever since
his introduction 30 years ago. He may be one of the oldest venerable video game characters around, but he’s still one of its brightest stars.

Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD 120 GB Review

Patriot Memory WildFire 120GB SSDPatriot Memory Wildfire SSD 120 GB Review by Honorabili

In recent years we have seen SSDs drop a lot in price and are becoming more standard each passing day. Most people will get one just to run their operating system on as well as allocating all their virtual memory on it, since the performance benefits of an SSD over a typical hard drive are significant. We decided to test how significant this difference is by testing a popularly selling SSD versus a pretty strong hard drive. I tested the Patriot Memory Wildfire 120 GB SSD and compared it to my main system’s Seagate ST330006 51AS 3 TB hard drive.

For the testing suite I decided to use AS SSD Benchmark, ATTO Disk Benchmark, and Crystal Disk Mark. Each of them have their own benefits, but the data will show us the real advantages of having an SSD over a hard drive.

Under the AS SSD Benchmark, the Wildfire yielded the following numbers:

AS SSD Benchmark Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD

Under the AS SSD Benchmark, my hard drive yielded the following numbers:

AS SSD Benchmark ST330006 51AS

Let’s get down and dirty with the number analysis of the AS SSD Benchmark: (click picture for full resolution image)

AS SSD Wildfire final benchmark results

Based on this data, the Wildfire was insanely faster than the hard drive in every performance aspect, not just in raw speed but in responsiveness as well. In a the pure MB/s tests, both including reading and writing, it was about 90.97 as fast as the hard drive. That is a huge difference and in the real world I felt this when I compared how fast the SSD would load games and copy data over in comparison to my hard drive. Under this benchmark, the Wildfire responds 203.29 times faster than the hard drive on the average for any kind of activity. The benchmark gave us a score where the Wildfire is 19.28 times as fast as our lovely hard drive.

Under the ATTO Benchmark, the Wildfire yielded the following numbers:

ATTO Disk Benchmark Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD

Under the ATTO Benchmark, my hard drive yielded the following numbers:

ATTO Disk Benchmark ST330006 51AS

Let’s analyze the numbers of the ATTO Disk Benchmark results: (click picture for full resolution image)

ATTO Disk Benchmark Wildfire final benchmark

If we look in detail at the data from the ATTO Disk Benchmark we see that for super small file transactions, the hard drive is actually faster but as data density increases it cannot keep up with the raw speed and superior hardware architecture of the Wildfire SSD. At one point the Wildfire is only 0.578 as fast as the hard drive but when we get to huge file operations the Wildfire is 3.148 as fast as the hard drive. On the average, ATTO shows us that the Wildfire is 2.088 as fast as the hard drive. This benchmark I think is both more and less useful than the other ones. It’s good for analyzing speed with data density but since in the real world you’re not going to do stuff based on data density it’s not that useful. It’s useful for a geek like me!

Under the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, the Wildfire yielded the following numbers:

CrystalDiskMark Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD

Under the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, my hard drive yielded the following numbers: (click picture for full resolution image)

CrystalDiskMark ST330006 51AS

Numerical analysis of CrystalDiskMark data:

CrystalDiskMark Wildfire final benchmark

CrystalDiskMark just cares about raw MB/s performance tests. In this benchmark we see the Wildfire on the average is 70.59 as fast as our Seagate hard drive. Again, the speed difference is HUGE.

If I had to compare the difference between the Wildfire to my hard drive in car engine terms the Wildfire would be like a supercharged V12 and the hard drive would be an inline 6 engine. Sure the inline 6 gets the job done but it’s not a monstrous supercar engine like the Wildfire is.

An SSD feels as difference from a hard drive as a hard drive feels as fast as an old floppy disk. It’s like the load speed for a console that uses a cartridge versus one that uses slow CD technology. This technology is the present and future, now if only their price could drop further, we will all start using them as our primary drives, rather than just the performance enthusiasts using it for the majority.

As far as the Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD, I really like the packaging, the mount for the drive looks really cool, and the fact that it is MADE IN USA! I hadn’t seen that on a computer part for years and it really brought a smile to my face. Right now the cheapest Wildfire, which is the 120 GB one we tested, is sold at newegg for $224.99 (with rebate, if not 264.99) and that’s a good chunk of change but it’s not incredibly expensive. Most enthusiasts will spend easily $1,000 on a custom computer and that’s about a 22% difference which might make or break this option for some people. It depends on how much you need the crazy performance but as a system drive you will see a huge difference in your computer, that’s for sure. Load times will be a thing of the past.

I’ve had the Wildfire since about late August 2011 and I’ve used it a lot. I haven’t had any problems with it as far as reliability goes. I usually spend a good hour or two a day recording and editing a lot of audio and it’s been a dream to use this card to almost autosave my projects. The card also has been amazing for last minute backups of some of my client’s data that never back their stuff. I used it to open up their desktops and just copy stuff immediately off their dying machines. Really useful in the real IT world!

Conclusion:

If you’re a hardware enthusiast, you should be using this or another SSD already. If you’re in IT, I recommend having at least one for crazy last minute backups. Since I got the card the price has dropped to 224 dollars from the 300 it was when I first got it. It might go down in the future but it’s already becoming really affordable. The only advantage that hard drives have over SSDs are huge capacities and lower prices. For the performance, it’s totally worth having an SSD over just having a hard drive. I remember reading about SSDs in the mid 90s and I’m glad that they’re finally here in force. Welcome to the 21st century!

Warhammer 40K Space Marine

Warhammer 40K Space Marine title screen

Warhammer 40K Space Marine review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Finally, a game as good as Halo or Gears of War for the Warhammer 40K universe.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview, Fun Factor, & Replayability:

From Relic/THQ, we see yet another great game for the Warhammer 40K franchise. This time instead of commanding your space marines in RTS style they bring us the gore and grittiness of fighting for the Imperium of Man in a 3rd person kind of FPS style. Think of the game kind of like a mix of Halo, Gears of War, and Dead Space as far as gameplay goes.

Warhammer 40K Space Marine orksThere’s two modes to play as of this writing: the single player human Space Marine campaign and the online multiplayer capture and deathmatch games. The single player campaign lets you take the role of one of the top heroes from the Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter and fight off an Ork and Chaos invasion from one of the sacred and rare Titan Manufactorum Forge Worlds. The campaign can take you 8 to 12 hours to play if you play it at a good pace. The online multiplayer is pretty straight forward, and is sort of like playing games like Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament. The gameplay for the multiplayer actually feels a lot like the game Transformers: War for Cybertron. You can either play the mode where you capture and hold points with the first team that reaches 1000 points winning or you can play for whoever gets to 41 kills on their side first. In the online multiplayer, teams alternate playing Space Marines and Chaos Marines against each other.

Warhammer 40K space marine bloodyFrom what I heard there is a free DLC expansion coming out in October 2011 and it is supposed to make the campaign co-op multiplayer as well as they are supposed to be adding a Last Stand Mode for online multiplayer similar to The Last Stand mode from Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2. That should be great fun and that might make it more inviting for regular gamers to want to buy this game rather than mainly Warhammer 40K fans.

The game is pretty fun. You have to constantly be focusing on shooting enemies while knowing they will descend down on you at melee range and you’re going to have to start chopping everything down into a pile of meat as soon as possible. In the single player your character has access to a lot of special relics and wargear that makes him much more powerful than your multiplayer’s cookie cutter marine. Both are fun because even the single player is challenging enough that you will get killed even by a simple enemy (especially the squigs that have a pack of bombs attached to them… who ever knew that the orks were terrorists!). I give the Fun Factor overall a score of 7 out of 10.

I probably won’t be replaying the single player campaign unless I have nothing better to do. The meat and potatoes of the game mainly comes from the online multiplayer. I think it’ll add a lot with the upcoming update in October so that will add a lot of replayability to the game. The online multiplayer is pretty fun, especially when you are playing with friends online which is pretty easy because of the Steam integration that it has that’s almost as good as playing online games of Left 4 Dead. I give the current replayability a score of 7 out of 10. I’m just waiting for the expansion now to get excited about this game again.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

So far I’ve played the single player campaign once on the Normal Difficulty. There’s Easy, Normal, and Challenging, and even Normal was a little challenging for me. I wouldn’t say it was hard but it was hard enough that I had to pay attention all the time. If I were to play it again I would play it on the hardest difficulty but most likely I will wait to see how the campaign becomes after they add co-op and whether it will scale the difficulty based on the number of players. That’s all as far as single player goes.

As far as multiplayer goes, the matchmaking system is… well, not that good I think because I’ve had games where the high end players (your account rates on a scale of levels 1 to 41, which each level unlocks new wargear and perks for multiplayer in the style of COD:MW1 and COD:MW2) all got bunched together and beat the living shit out of the low level cannon fodder characters. I hope they’ll fix that!

chaos vs ork war bossValue:

The game is currently sold for around $50 US. I got it mainly because I’m a huge fan of the Warhammer 40K universe. I’d say pay that much if you really like that universe that much. I’d say for a normal person to pay around 20-30 tops for this game if you are just getting it as a game.

Sound:

Both the voices they chose for the Space Marines, Chaos, and Orks all sound as they should, again like in Dawn of War. All the weapon noises and the slashing and chopping sound great! You really feel the chaos of battle, especially when you play the game really loud.

My only complaint about the sounds in the game come from the multiplayer. If you have a microphone, it will automatically transmit sounds from your computer with your entire team. There is no push to talk as far as I know. So… you will get to hear people laughing or talking to other people. I even played a game where some guy was singing folk music over the mic. Yeah… WTF. FIX THIS SHIT!

I give the sound effects a score of 9 out of 10. Great shooting, great explosions, great voice acting!

Music:

The music is as good as I would say Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 1. You really feel inmersed in the Warhammer 40K universe with it. I give the music a score of 8 out of 10.

Hi! I'm a Chaos Lord... my mommy doesn't love me!
Hi! I’m a Chaos Lord… my mommy doesn’t love me!

Stability/Reliability:

The game never crashes and I usually alt-tab a lot while playing. Stability and Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls of this game are streamlined when compared to Darksiders. The movement is based on the WASD system plus mouse. I haven’t yet tested it with an Xbox 360 controller but it should be the same to play with that on a PC as on an actual Xbox 360 console. Controls get a score of 7 out of 10. They get the job done but they are not as streamlined as pure PC FPS games.

warhammer 40k space marine titanGraphics & Performance:

Finally, we have an FPS action game that lets us see the Warhammer 40K universe up close in good detail. Everything in the game looks great, for all factions. I would say the graphics look as good as any game based on the Unreal 3 engine, which this game doesn’t use; instead Relic wrote their own game engine, the Phoenix Engine. I give the Graphics a score of 9 out of 10.

Overall the performance is pretty great. The single player ran like a champ on my new gaming PC but I did run into problems with the multiplayer. It may just be me but I did hit a LOT of lag spiking in the multiplayer games and I’m using a 3 Mbps DSL connection with no activing on the connection other than just running the game. I think a lot of this problem comes with the stupid microphone always on problem that I mentioned above. Maybe the voice chat client is really inefficient. I suffered less of the problem when I played it on matches where almost nobody used it. I give the single player Performance a score of 9 out of 10. I give the multiplayer performance a score of 5 out of 10. I just always expect this to lag until they patch it. Sometimes it works but hey, I’m not too much of an optimist.

space marine inquisitorConclusion:

If you love Warhammer 40K then get it. If you love the Dawn of War series and want to play something a little different but in the same twisted universe then get it. For most people I would say, wait until the price goes down unless the upcoming DLC expansion is simply bloody amazing. I wish they would have let me play as the Orks too in multiplayer… Most people right now are still playing the new Deus Ex instead but I don’t regret buying this one. Dead Island on the other hand… THE END!

Youda Fisherman

Youda Fisherman menu

Youda Fisherman review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“A really fun RTS economy management flash game for people of all ages”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview & Fun Factor:

Youda’s Fisherman game is about you taking control of a failing fishing company and turning it around. The game is kind of silly as you have to control your fishing boats, while managing the selling and trading resources to keep your company afloat, while you battle pirates (Nigeria anyone?) and mother nature (sharks, whales, and storms). The game is a lot of fun because it requires so much micromanagement that it won’t even let you look away. There’s pretty much always something for you to activate or ship, while the computer attacks you. You have to complete different maps/levels which all have a time limit. You can either get a gold, silver, or bronze medal and the better the medal the more the rewards you’ll get from completing that map. You in turn use those rewards to research better fishing, manufacturing, and transportation technologies which you can use to complete missions faster and are eventually needed to complete all maps while getting all gold medals. You get both technologies and passive improvements which increase the amount of money you get for goods and other factors as you rebuild the corporate headquarters and infrastructure of the fishing company.

There are many different resources for you to manage in the game’s economy such as fuel, wood, gold (money), metal, as well as all the raw goods, which you turn into products. Some of those products require other raw goods that must be purchased only and cannot be produced by any of the buildings, such as olives, tomatoes, chili peppers, silver rings, etc. This game is all about resource and time management as well as reflexes.

I was surprised as to how hectic this game gets but in a good way. It will keep you on your toes because of the constant ticking of the clock that you are fighting against. Each map has its own strategy and the top concern is to keep your eye on the objectives. Sure, you might build up a super manufacture infrastructure but if you are already getting a bronze medal your rewards will be marginal.

I give this game a score of 8 out of 10 in Fun Factor because it kept me entertained for the 12-14 hours it took me to beat it and it can be fun enough that it can be addictive enough to make you want to keep progressing through the levels as fast as possible.

Difficulty, Difficulty Versatility, & Replayability:

For a casual gamer, this would be a challenging but beatable game. I play a lot of competitive RTS games so I found the game easy but then again this game targets the casual gamer audience. There is no way to make the game harder so that will affect replayability in the future. I will probably play this game in a year or so since the missions are always the same, rather than randomly generated. For casual gamers I’d give the game a difficulty a score of 8 out of 10. For more hardcore gamers I’d give the difficulty a score of 6 out of 10. Difficulty Versatility I give a score of 5 out of 10 because the difficulty stays just about the same throughout the game and rare gets harder, as well as you not being able to adjust it. The only difficulty really is trying to get gold medals on every map and even then eventually you will be able to do it if you go back and play old missions once you unlock everything in the research tree. Because of these factors I give the game a Replayability score of 5 out of 10. Not much of a challenge but I do like this game so I might play it even after I beat it over and over.

Value:

The game is usually sold directly by Youda Games through their website at this link for $9.95 US Dollars. I beat the game playing nonstop in about 12-14 hours. Considering that’s more gameplay hours that are actually fun versus me playing some much more popular games which only lasted me 4-5 hours (like Fallout 3) and were much more expensive, I think it’s a great value for ten dollars. If you have children and would like to enhance their micromanagement RTS skills, then this is a really great starter game for that. If you’re new to RTS games yourself, this is a great game to practice and learn with. I give the Value category a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are well made and are an integral part of the gameplay. There is a lot going on in this game and audio ques are extremely important. You literally will be clicking on units and products constantly and it’s important to know when you are under attack, a unit needs maintenance, etc. All the sounds for every action are easily identified after a short amount of playing the game and they do their job right. The samples are quite good for such a small game. I give sound a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music fits the theme of the game really well. It’s not as memorable as say the music in Plants vs Zombies or Angry Birds but it does have nice calm tunes for a nice family game. I give the music a score of 8 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

No crashes or complaints here, not even when multitalking and doing alt tab a lot, on Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate edition. I give stability a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You only need a mouse to play this game. It’s really simple and that’s something that makes it great and easy for anybody to play. Simple controls are always a good thing. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

This game can run on any PC. Even a netbook should be able to run it. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

The Graphics are nice and polished for a flash game. The boats look like real fishing boats and animals such as the shark and whale look cute and funny (especially when you smack them out of the water). I didn’t like the rendered non-animated cut scenes that would give you plot information that much. I thought they looked really cheesy and dated. Graphics get a score of 8 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you want a fun RTS economy simulator that will run on any computer, get this game. If you are new or old to RTS games, you will most likely enjoy the level of micromanagement this game offers. I strongly recommend its purchase.

Gaming PC Benchmarking Guide August 2011

Gaming PC Benchmarking stopwatch

It’s been a couple of months since I last wrote a benchmarking guide and since then the video card of my old machine started to fail more eventually leading to me replacing it, not being happy with the performance and last month building a nearly state of the art gaming system.

All the theory I talked about in my original benchmarking guide still applies but my new system is able to run all modern games with every setting super maxed out. Since everybody will not have a super new computer, I will keep my recommended benchmarking settings high but still reasonable so you can compare new systems to legacy systems.

The specifications for my new main gaming PC, which I built, now are:

OS: 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 3.7 Ghz per core 6 MB L3 cache AM3+ socket processor
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 6870 1 GB
Memory: Kingston HyperX 16 GB (4 X 4 GB) 240 pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800) Quad Channel Kit non-ECC unbuffered CAS 9 1.65V RAM
Sound Card: onboard sound via a Realtek ALC889 chipset
Storage: Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3 TB 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache SATA 6.0 Gb/s 3.5″ internal hard drive OEM
Case: Thermaltake Xaser III LANFire VM2000A Case
Power Supply: hec X-Power 780W (peak) 600W (mean) ATX12V v2.3/EPS 12V v2.91 SLI nVidia Hybrid-SLI Certified CrossFire power supply
Peripherals: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner

Again, this benchmarking guide consists ONLY of things you can download for free. Everybody can test with these free tools so it requires no spending on your part, just time and patience.

Let’s see what programs now got added, and why, and which ones got removed and why:

The RealStorm Benchmark 2006 test has been removed. This is rather unfortunate as this IS the ultimate single core CPU performance test I’ve ever used. The reason for the removal is that the real storm website was permanently taken offline and there are no plans for it to be brought back online in the future. If you can still find it somehow, I recommend using it. I might post it in the future for download and I can give you a copy via Skype or chat if you really need it. Just ask.

The Battleforge 1024×768 test has been removed as this resolution is too low and most people won’t use it to game anymore. I usually just run every game these days at a minimum 1280X1024. Yeah, my system can run stuff at much higher but I’d rather get 200 FPS than 120 FPS just to get more eyecandy. I’m more concerned with the smoothness of the graphics such as anti-aliasing options being turned on and high framerates. Like always, LAG is a killer.

Battleforge is a FANTASTIC free-mmo-rts that has kind of been abandoned by EA but it’s still free and many, many people still play it. I have mastered everything in the game and my friends are now all bored of it but I will play it once in a while. You can check my original review of the game here as well as check out my first strategy guide here for doing Battlegrounds as well as my second strategy guide for Battleforge here that shows you how to farm the mission Raven’s End by yourself.

Anyways, this full game is FREE and it includes a built in benchmarking tool. The way to use it is to login first to the game and then not login to your character, instead hit back, and select options, and go to the graphics screen and select to run the benchmark.

Again, if you never checked out the game, I encourage you to do so, especially if you are a massive RTS player. I like this game and benchmark because it taxes your CPU, RAM, and GPU. Every unit in the game moves and attacks in a complex way and it’s a great example of showing how well your system performs playing a real time war game with a ton of units.

The updated criteria for benchmarking with Battleforge is the following:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download the Battleforge benchmark and full game from: http://www.battleforge.com/

Some of the options in this benchmark and others to come are either off or set not to max because the benchmarks are too picky and unless you have a 700 dollar video card, it will not let you run them. I’d rather everybody be able to test. The faster systems will yield insane numbers anyway.

My new PC got an average of 78.5 FPS, a minimum FPS of 7.1, and a maximum FPS of 182.7. You can compare that respectively to my old computer’s 6.8 FPS, 0.5 FPS, 53.5 FPS. It just blows it out of the water.

The Dirt 2 benchmark test still stays because it’s still a modern game engine and DiRT 3 is almost the same thing. That one was added too to the list as we’ll see below.

Dirt 2 Test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8x MSAA
Vsync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Normal
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lighting: High
Shadows: High
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Crowd: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Drivers: Ultra
Distant Vehicles: Ultra
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: Ultra
Post Process: Medium (this setting is annoying and usually defaults to this)
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: High
Cloth: High

Download from: http://download.cnet.com/DiRT-2-demo/3000-7513_4-10977053.html

Codemasters games are pure unadulturated eye candy, especially Dirt 2, GRID, and F1 2010. The games keep getting prettier and still run very efficiently despite the graphic quality increase. These games are also system killers because of how great they simulate the physics needed to create a realistic racing and driving experience.

My current gaming machine yielded an average framerate of 105.5 FPS and a minimum framerate of 85.7 FPS versus my old machine’s 15.7 FPS and 13.4 FPS.

Moving on to a newer game we are now using the DiRT 3 game to benchmark as well. It’s the same as DiRT 2 but the game engine is tweaked a little more. The game is usually bundled often with most current video cards so either get it from there or download the demo for testing. You can check out my review for DiRT 3 here.

DiRT 3 test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1028
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8 x MSAA
VSync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Auto
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lightning: High
Shadows: Ultra
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Characters: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Distant Vehicles: High
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: High
Post Process: Medium (again this loves to set itself to this over and over so just leave it like that)
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: Ultra
Cloth: High

I couldn’t find a direct download link for the demo because Codemasters is crazy enough that they don’t really have a main website anymore. I recommend getting the demo from Steam. Having a demo not be available would proabably encourage piracy but since this game is now being bundled with everything you’d probably find a product key easily with any AMD or ATI purchase at this moment.

With all the added graphic features to DiRT 3, my system got lower framerates with this one compared to DiRT 2. It yielded 66.39 FPS average, and 55.74 minimum FPS in this test. The game looks amazing.

I was considering adding the HAWX 2 benchmark to this guide but since the demo even includes the draconian Ubisoft you-must-be-online-and-make-an-account-like-an-mmo copy protection SCHEME then I refuse to. Sure, the game looks amazing but I don’t want to subject people to Ubisoft’s bullshit. Let’s stick to the original HAWX, which is still a great benchmark and doesn’t require all that drama to run.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX test settings:

Game version: DirectX 9 for legacy compatibility purposes
Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

Download from: http://www.gamershell.com/download_40308.shtml

If you never play this game, I recommend it still, and you can read my Tom Clancy’s HAWX review here.

My new computer gets an average framerate of 163 FPS and a maximum framerate of 392 FPS… WOW. My old system got an average framerate of 23 fps and a maximum framerate of 127 fps. What a difference!

The X3 Terran Conflict benchmark demo continues to be an amazing testing tool not just for performance but for system stability. This IS the benchmark I use the most to either make or break a system.

X3 Terran Conflict benchmark test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Ansitropic Texture Filtering: On
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Glow enabled: On
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

Download from: http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3tc/demos_en.php

This game engine will rock the socks of your CPU, RAM, and GPU. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how detailed the final part of the benchmark was when I saw the massive, super-detailed space station being rendered as it was, on my old gaming PC. Even on my new gaming PC, this benchmark will bring your system down to its knees and make it cry like a little girl.

This benchmark is old but it even comes with a built in warning that it WILL really ABUSE your video card.

My new computer got a score of 91.303 FPS. There were some parts in the benchmark when performance dropped to about 22 FPS, like the warnings said. My old machine used to get 17.012 FPS.

Trackmania Nations, free as always and still a solid full game with a simple benchmark feature built in.

Trackmania Nations test Settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

Download from: http://trackmaniaforever.com/nations/

This benchmark now yields a 69.7 FPS on my new machine versus the 31.8 FPS I used to get from my old system. It’s much more enjoyable to play this again with everything on.

***

There is the updated list! I moved on from Windows XP especially since 32-bit Operating Systems have both RAM and hard drive allocation limitations. Windows 7 is okay but I’m surprised as to how few games have pure real DirectX 11 support. Only super megacorp insane-budget titles seem to have this so far, so I’m disappointed.

Share your benchmark numbers with us either as a comment below, on our facebook page, or forums. Stay tuned for more hardware reviews and articles.

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

If you care at all about computers or technology or business or the future, this is a movie you MUST watch. The movie goes hand in hand with other amazing technology business movies such as Micromen and The Social Network. This movie shows you how the megacorps we know as Microsoft and Apple started, according to writer and director Martyn Burke. It was also based on the book “Fire in the Valley” written by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. I’m not saying it’s exactly what happened, but it’s close enough. I used to obsess as a kid wanting to know the exact details of the true history of something but I’m not a time traveler so such details no longer bother me.

It’s easy to watch the movie as they have multiple copies of it on youtube.

The movie shows two camps: Apple with its technology loving engineers and hippie turned businessman turned devil and Microsoft with its college nerds who love to play poker and jocks turned executive geniuses. You get to see Steve Jobs go from this rebel non-conformist into him signing over his soul to the devil to then becoming the devil himself. Gates is just ambitious from the start and his ambition never wanes.

Like all pioneers, nobody at their time took them serious or understood what they were trying to do. They were creating a revolution in technology, in the way we live our lives (especially if you’re a computer person like me). Think about where we would be without the personal computer. Even the things that came after, like cell phones, smart phones, laptops, mp3 players, the internet, social media… none of that would be possible without the work of engineers and businessmen such as these. I’m not saying they were the definite cause for all this but they were major contributors. We must also accredit other people such as all the fine people at Altair, Commodore, Atari, Nintendo, IBM, Sega, Sinclair, Acorn, and more.

Back to the movie… The movie shows both sides eventually doing whatever it needs to get ahead. The movie is not called The Super Nice Nerds of Silicon Valley, it’s The Pirates. Yes, they WILL cut your throat if you are in their way to success. Now, I’m not saying they’re as evil as wall street or the banks that just robbed the world, but they’re no saints!

A recurring theme in the movie is to get people to want what they don’t really need necessarily, which you might not even have yet but you want them to want it, creating demand (and getting the money to get it made).

One of the most important scenes is at the 1977 tech show when Gates tries to talk to Jobs, explaining what they were doing at Microsoft, only to get blown off by him, which in turn starts part of their war against each other.

The best part of the movie is probably when Microsoft sells DOS to IBM. I’ll let this clip speak for itself:

The other best scene of the movie is when Apple gets the GUI from Xerox. I couldn’t find a video of that clip to post here. It is also really interesting when an Apple employee confronts Gates telling him that instead of Apple thinking IBM is big brother that they don’t realize that Microsoft is their true enemy. He points this out to Jobs while he was trying to woo the Apple employees during a conference by showing them the famous 1984 Apple commercial.

Microsoft had the foresight to see that without software the hardware did nothing. Sure, you could have the most incredible monster machine but if nobody can do things with it, who would buy it?

Gates reminds me a lot of myself. He is characterized as being a very good poker player, the kind who will never let you know how good or bad of a hand he has and will make you make the wrong decision. Especially in the beginning, he uses a strategy of making you think that he has many business deals going on, when in reality he had none. Both sides did that actually. He got in trouble with the law, especially speeding (that’s me!), and doing other crazy things (not so much me, well, actually…) such as wrecking his friend’s car. Throughout the movie and in real life, he is a very competent negotiator.

Steve Jobs was just evil to me all throughout the movie. In real life, I still don’t like him, which is funny because I hated everything Microsoft for many years when I was younger, but in reality I didn’t like how he reacted to being informed at the number of record suicides at the Foxconn factories, which make a LOT of Apple products. The transformation this movie shows goes from stoner hippie to egoist pioneer to evil business genius. I just think he’s a real asshole. Through the movie he kept denying that his daughter Lisa was actually his.

Throughout the movie, the characters I enjoyed the most were Steve Wozniak (the Woz) and Steve Ballmer. I felt bad for the Woz because he just wanted to create and then he had to deal with all the drama and bullshit from Jobs, as well as seeing Jobs putting down people and destroying the Lisa. Woz was always trying to do the right thing, like not fuck his friends out of stock or treat employees like subhumans. I felt terrible for him when he quit the company after Jobs had pretty much created a civil war inside Apple (Macintosh vs everything else). Ballmer was just a total trip. He was this crazy jock that would always have the common sense, especially when it came to getting girls, that Bill Gates and Paul Allen did not have.

As a movie critic I give this movie a score of 7 out of 10. As a computer geek I give this movie a 9 out of 10. I think Micromen was a much better movie, about a similar topic. The music selection throughout the movie is excellent and I was really shocked by this as this was a made-for-TV movie. Noah Wyle as Jobs just blew my mind, which you might know as the science teacher from Donnie Darko. John DiMaggio was great as Ballmer, which is a real treat because he is usually known for his voice work in cartoons such as Futurama and also voice work for many video games.

Go watch it.

DiRT 3

DiRT 3 Review by Honorabili

dirt3

One Sentence Review:
“They could have just released a bunch of DLC tracks for DiRT 2 but this is a more polished game (even if just by a little)”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview & My History With This Game:
Welcome to the third installment of DiRT. If you’re not familiar with DiRt feel free to read my review of DiRT 1 and DiRT 2. The DiRT series are a highly successful series of racing games based on the rally racing discipline, brought to us by the racing game masters at Codemasters. Like previous DiRT games, it offers both modern and retro rally cars.

Dirt 3 America Fuck Yeah
Dirt 3 America Fuck Yeah

There are different kinds of races such as rally, trailblazer, head 2 head, rally cross, land rush, and gymkhana. Rally is a standard rally race, point to point where you race from the beginning to the end seeing who gets there in the least amount of time, with the help of a navigator. Traiblazer is the same thing except you race super rally cars (700+ HP usually) and have no navigator to tell you where to turn. Head 2 Head usually consists of running on two separate lanes in a closed circuit to see who will get to the finish line first. Rally Cross also involved racing in a closed circuit track, with more open tracks thank head to head, and you are race next to other cars with full contact. Land rush is the same thing except with trucks and buggies. Gymkhana is a stunt discipline which involves doing stuff like making your car jump, do donuts, break obstacles, drift, etc. The current world champion is Ken Block and he is INSANE as seen here:

The game consists of a single player campaign which is rather short and the remainder of the game consists of playing it online in multiplayer matches. Overall, I recommend for you to try the rally, trailblazers, and head 2 head disciplines while playing it online if not you’ll get a bunch of 12 year olds that will do nothing but crash into you if you’re winning, and usually crashing is turned off in the manner that Trackmania does it. This is HIGHLY inaccurate and in real life would result in a disqualification from a race. This is racing, not demolition derby (although that’s fun, there’s other games specifically for that).

Dirt 3 1st place
Dirt 3 1st place

You race both the single player campaign and multiplayer campaign accruing reputation and fame (each mode’s way of saying XP) which unlocks more stuff in the game (mainly teams, not tracks or DLC cars). My beef with the game is that you keep gaining different racing teams and sometimes some cars but you will NEVER be able to unlock the cars and tracks they’re now FORCING you to buy via DLC. That’s really upsetting especially when I found out that I couldn’t get to drive my beloved Lancia Stratos.

Dirt 3 Alpine Renault
Dirt 3 Alpine Renault

I’ll say a good thing about the multiplayer though: it is usually much harder than playing against the computer. It’s fun to talk smack with online players. A lot of Europeans seem to be playing this game as I’m often stuck racing against Germans. =P

Dirt 3 Audi
Dirt 3 Audi

I got DiRT 3 because I had bought an ATI 6870 video card and the game came bundled with it. A DVD did not come with it but instead a code for me to sign up for some AMD promo over at this site which after entering the promo code they provided me with a code that added the game to my Steam account. This seems to be a standard method of distribution these days for bundled games and gifted games, especially since platforms like Steam dominate and soon physical media will be a thing of the past.

Dirt 3 Champion
Dirt 3 Champion

Fun Factor & Replayability:
The variety of cars plus different modes of ranked online playing make this both a fun and very replayable game. The single player mode is rather short and I get the feeling that they are trying to force-feed DLC down our throats (the current trend in gaming).

Dirt 3 Eat My Dust
Dirt 3 Eat My Dust

Fun Factor is definitely high since this game has a TON of historical rally vehicles, which I’d rather play than space age modern rally monsters. My favorite ones are the rally super cars like the Toyota Tundra that were insane machines back then and still today. I give Fun Factor a score of 8 out of 10.

Dirt 3 Fighting For First Place
Dirt 3 Fighting For First Place

Replayability will mainly come in the form of Multiplayer. I have a feeling that eventually if you want to keep playing and having fun you will need to start buying some of the DLC, especially new tracks and cars. The game comes with what I consider to be a very limited selection of tracks. Sure, the reverse of the tracks is available but even DiRT 2 had more tracks. I really don’t like any DLC especially since this game pretty much just came out and they’re already trying to get your money. To me that’s like releasing an incomplete game and then charging people for patches and updates. Replayability gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Dirt 3 Flying High
Dirt 3 Flying High

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:
You can now customize the difficulty of the game per race much better than before. This level of scalability lets you set the handicap at which to play and makes the game a lot more enjoyable, especially for both beginners and hardened racing game veterans. I wish they would have made the crashing and damage a LOT more realistic. If it weren’t for that I’d give it nearly a perfect score. Difficulty gets an 8 out of 10 and Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Dirt 3 Ford
Dirt 3 Ford

Value:
I got this game for free so it was an amazing value to me. Rather than say how much it costs, from now on I’ll just say what’s the most I would pay for it. That amount would be $20. I would also say pay more for it if you are a BIG FAN of rally racing and would love to play a game with lots of modern and old rally cars.

Dirt 3 Hyundai PM 580
Dirt 3 Hyundai PM 580

Sound:
The sound effects are realistic, just like in the previous games, maybe slightly better. I give sounds a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:
The music is amazing but again, I guess Codemasters doesn’t read my reviews for all their games: you can only hear it in the menu and never during the racing. That kind of makes the game boring for most people who are not dedicated racing game players. The techno/electronica music is wasted like that. Other than that I give the music a score of 9 out of 10, especially the electronica. Rock music shouldn’t be in a game unless it’s heavy metal or it’s classic rock and the game is about muscle cars.

Check out one of the best songs (South Central – Demons) from the game here:

Stability/Reliability:
This game actually ran really well, even on my machine with a damaged ATI 3870. Even when the video card crashed, the game kept running fine 99% of the time. It never crashed at all, not even while alt tabbing like crazy. I ran the game on a ten dollar video card and even alt-tabbing with this piece of shit, the game never crashed. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:
You can customize them as much as you want so even playing with a keyboard is a breezes. I played DiRT 3 at E3 2011 with different controllers and the game supports a large variety of them. Max score of 10 out of 10 is deserved.

Graphics & Performance:
The game runs like a beast even on my oldest computer, with still really good looking graphics. Before I mentioned that the previous Codemasters games had a problem with some buffering of the game engine, but now that problem is basically gone. I know it wouldn’t happen at all on a brand new computer but this IS Obsolete Gamer and I do test stuff on old machines too. The game was even very playable on a 2005 medium-range gaming PC. I give both the Graphics and Performance a score of 10 out of 10.

Dirt 3 Monaco Victory
Dirt 3 Monaco Victory

Conclusion:
If you’re going to upgrade soon, most video cards out there on sale by ATI (AMD) pretty much all qualify for the DiRT 3 promo so you might as well get a fun racing game for free. If you don’t plan to upgrade, like I said above, try to get it at a discount or simply get it if you’re a racing game junkie. Multiplayer can be challenging especially if you don’t feel like paying for DLC (like me). I will continue to play Codemasters games so long as they keep their DLC in check.

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

[youtube id=”8PKR6lx79r4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. ~Honorabili

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

Basically, for the past month or two my girlfriend has been alien to me so I’ve reverted back to my old girlfriend: MY COMPUTER. This happened shortly right after I got back from my trip from E3 to which she did not get invited to go with! =P Anyways, half a week after I got back AT&T decided to be a bunch of useless fucks and decided to have my internet connection go down for about ten days… this in the middle of my addiction to League of Legends (which was already starting to die) and World of Tanks, which I had just dumped 20 dollars into and had a subscription to which has now expired.

Internet Serious Business
Internet Serious Business

What to do, what to do? Go back to the basics! I pretended it was the 1996 and that I didn’t even have internet gaming (for the most part). My brother and I were going nuts as to what to play, since without internet connection we were cut out (literally) from the virtual world needed to play a modern pvp game (since few companies make hotseat stuff anymore, other than for usually some console games). We both said at the same time “Master of Orion 2, multiplayer, over the LAN”. What a brilliant solution to being stuck in the dark ages. After a little bit of work and installing the IPX network protocol, we got the game to work like a charm over the LAN using DosBox. We even made a CD image of the game which runs better than a full HD install and streams from a hard drive anyways. After a few days we were playing as if we had never stopped playing in the first place. Even when the internet came back on, I went on League of Legends and I thought the level of strategic thought now required to play it was nothing compared to the complexity of a legendary 4X strategy game.

Anyways… after a short while I checked my email and saw they had sent me some free codes for games to play so I logged into my Steam to add and download them. Boy, what a mistake… They were having a huge sale with stuff 90-75-50% off, so I just wasted about 200 dollars on that shit and then started to game non-stop. Like basically, since then days have been a blur. I haven’t posted anything on here in a good while, not since my E3 article which took J.A. Laraque forever to get me to finish it (well after the event had already ended, which was already when nobody cared to read it). I am now awake on some fucked up schedule that lets me play with all the European gamers as well as the Asians! I take power naps, drink about 3-4 cafe con leches (cafe lattes) AND 1-2 Red Bulls a day before I start playing pvp games. I go from Mount & Blade, to Master of Orion 2, to League of Legends (doing my daily XP bonus), to World of Tanks (again with that daily XP bonus bullshit, feels like a job!) to Dirt 3 (I beat it today, so now doing multiplayer races against a lot of Germans) to Fable 3 (which I just destroyed) to Monday Night Combat to AI Wars to … well you get the idea. Gaming nearly 24 hours a day, I barely begin to scratch the surface of even a fraction of all the games I have… On top of that my PC keeps dying more and they keep releasing more cheap (and in my case sometimes free) games.

I bought an ATI 6870 card to replace my dying underclocked ATI 3870 but I only had it for 3 days since I sold it to fix a client’s machine. Now I think I’m going to build a machine that uses the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor but we’ll see since they’re always releasing new ones but I’m pretty sure that will be the winner.

This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. (insert rant saying something like “fuck all games with DLC” here) =P I’m starting to get a system down as to when a game will be shorter than a day for me, it pretty much sucks, especially if it doesn’t change as I replay it and it’s currently selling for around 40-50 bucks on Steam or some other distro. (ahem, Fable 3 in this case) I don’t have any children or a wife and yeah sometimes I forget to eat while gaming but even then I’m a fat bastard so it’s not like I’m at risk. ;] I’m Korean for my games but not just for Starcraft or Guild Wars, but all of them!

On a serious note, much during my internet down time I got to read the Master of Orion 2 manual A LOT and it made me really sad that they no longer make 200 page user manuals like that that were actually worth reading and it also made me really sad that Microprose (probably my favorite game company) has been dead for a long time. They sure don’t make them like that anymore! Klackons FTW!

Anyways, I’m out, going to go troll some noobs and work more on my trolling reviews of more games I wasted my money on! Game on!!!

E3 2011: My E3 Guide

E3 2011: My E3 Guide by Ignacio/honorabili

E3 2011

Guide:

Before going, the first thing to do is see if you can get in there for free! Well, the way I did it is by having this website and registering as soon as I could for the event. Starting this year, E3 was capping the number of passes they would give out to media, requiring your website to have 8000 unique visits per month per media pass given out. If you don’t even get 8000 a month then they would make you buy your ticket instead, which could making going to the event really expensive.

Like most of these kind of events, try to book as early as possible, both your travel arrangements and lodging. We booked 9 months before and paid 700 dollars a person for 6 days. We used Orbitz and that price included complete air fare (flew American Airlines), lodging (we stayed at the Ramada Inn in Koreatown, which I found to be a great place and neighborhood), and a rental car (Avis, which broke down and then they tried to rip us off when we returned the car; listen to the podcast to hear Laraque complaining about that!). I really recommend going to E3 especially if you already live in California or nearby, so it’s much cheaper.

When you get to the event, get one of the free magazines that is pretty much a quick guide to the event plus the IMPORTANT PART is the map in the center of the magazine. You can simply look at the map and see which booths interest you the most. If you mainly go there to see the next big game, you can easily find them on the main floor in megabooths. If you have media passes, you can go talk to their reception desk and they give you priority to test them, instead of making you wait in line most of the time.

E3 2011 - Konami

Some people like to go to E3 to demo the new games and hardware, mainly from the megacorps. Other people like to go to see what small companies are there and to see what big thing they brought to the show. Many of the small companies or the companies that are not coming out with a big product usually have a booth in the meeting rooms in the Concourse Hall. Those are better for you if you are into networking and seeing more unique things that the public usually cannot. There’s a more private version of that area on the second floor that you can only access if you have a VIP pass. There’s where you can see unreleased stuff more and negotiate business deals.

If you go, don’t expect to sleep much. You pretty much walk and stand most of the day and after the show, if you have connections expect to go to a ton of after parties (there’s one pretty much every day); this is where you can really make connections with developers, vendors, etc. If you go there trying to setup some business deals, bring a stack of business cards and some nice clothes. I made more contacts wearing dress clothes than simply the Obsolete Gamer T-Shirt.

As far as being in L.A., bring a lot of money because things there are PRETTY EXPENSIVE. Most places we went to charge a bare minimum of 3-5 dollars an hour to park, with many places having a 15-30 dollar parking fee, even like going to a local mall. Food at most restaurants will cost you about 20 dollars a person unless you want to eat a lot of fast food. At E3, the food is very expensive and we’re talking like 6 dollars for a pizza slice kind of expensive and 5 dollars for a can of Monster (no Red Bull, which is my crack). A cheapskate trick is to go to the Concourse Hall and munch on the snacks (cookies mainly) and free soft drinks that a lot of the companies have there. Hey! You wanted a real guide, now you know how cheap I am!

E3 2011

When at E3, try not to take breaks. Be smart and go have a meeting where you can sit down to rest, while you keep working and networking. Again, I mainly recommend going to the event if you are in the industry, whether you have a game company, gaming website, resell video games, blog, shoot funny videos (like Mega64), otherwise, you can pretty much watch everything at the show for free on the internet on some of the mega video game sites or directly from the main companies websites, in the form of trailers.

If you are media/press, pick up every free bag of goodies they give you. The best stuff I got was from World of Tanks, which gave me a bunch of toy tanks, a special bag, a World of Tanks T-Shirt, mouse pad, and special game bag, as far as the main floor went, and the biggest gift I got was from Topware which gave me a Collector’s Edition of Two Worlds 2 and a ton of T-shirts. Even if you don’t like a game, who knows, a friend of yours might like it! If you have a gaming website, some of this swag would be great to giveaway in the form of a contest.

My Experience:

E3 2011 - Cooking Mama

The day before E3 I was rushing to get some Obsolete Gamer shirts over to J.A. Laraque’s house as well as a camera I bought him and some micro SD memory cards when the engine of my 1998 Mustang GT decided to die a block away from my house. After pushing the car with some neighbors up my driveway, I had my mom help me to drop the OG gear off at JA’s house. I stayed up pretty late playing League of Legends with my brother and his friends until we lost so badly that I had to go do something else. I remember drinking some rum while watching episodes of The Three Stooges on Hulu.

My old man took J.A. and I to the airport like around 5 PM EST on Tuesday, the first open-to-the-public day for E3 2011 and we quickly met up with Alienware’s Patrick Theodore and Ashley Brito. Even though Orbitz booked us on Alaskan Air, we quickly had to go running with all our luggage to the American Airlines concourse and go through the TSA checkpoint. After seeing old ladies from Miami Beach get checked to see if they have C4 in their shoes, the terrorists won! Anyways, they let us through and after a short while we were on the plane. I played the living shit out of Solitaire on the plane, which going to L.A. we had a 777 (great ride). Laraque played a lot of games on his iPad like Streets of Rage and some Homer Simpson game which was a lot like the original Simpsons arcade game. I slept on the plane but for the duration of this trip I was pretty much tired a lot.

As soon as the plane landed we hauled ass to Avis, and then drove fast to the show. Parked (see me bitch above about the parking, which in this case was 15 dollars cash [be sure to bring a lot of cash]) and then we got some of the food they sell there (again see above if you want to hear me bitching). Afterwards, we walked off into the main floor. My first impression was that this was a huge arcade. Colors and colors everywhere. We saw the Sony Online Entertainment booth, which we have been trolling on the podcast a lot lately, and I got a bunch of the free mints they had there. The only games they had which interested me were Payday (co-op bank robber game) and some Magic The Gathering strategy game, but that game looked pretty dated. I hit up Capcom, then Kalypso, which to my surprise is remaking (and this is much needed) Jagged Alliance and is making Tropico 4, another sequel to one of my favorite dictator sims of all time.

E3 2011 - Square Enix

I had a meeting with Indiecade, which showed me a lot of board games, which we will probably review later on The Inverted Paradox and a couple of Indie games. I got to play this experimental game project called Deep Sea where the game has no graphics and its just you attacking a sea monster based on what you hear only. Pretty original idea and it generates a feeling of solace and dread being stuck on a submarine with a leviathan around you. I also saw a game that was a rogue-like clone and also a cute strategy game called Skulls of the Shogun which is a like like Shining Force and Ogre Battle.

We went to the after the show parties for AMD and also for S2 Games, the makers of Heroes of Newerth. Both parties had free bars and the AMD party had AMAZING food! =P It was fun talking to AMD about the new APU that already got released by now as well as talking about old hardware with some of the people who helped design it, like Marc who helped design my favorite CPU the AMD K6-3. 😀 The AMD party was also very special for me because I got to speak in person with my friend Alfred Giovetti who runs The Computer Show. In the middle of people talking about the latest and greatest we sat for a good while talking about stuff like the rise and fall of Microprose and Interplay and games such as Darklands by Microprose. I recommended he try out Mount & Blade which is a lot like Defender of the Crown mixed with Darklands.

E3 2011

Back to the show, I got to meet up with the people from Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends which let me see upcoming champions (hero units) for that game, one of my current addictions.

The people from World of Tanks gave us some goodie bags which was put to good use in-game (another one of our addictions now).

I got to meet (finally in person) with my long time internet friend Seth Sternberg (8 Bit Weapon) and got to hear them live. We interviewed both band members and you can check out the 8 Bit Weapon interview here.

We stayed in L.A. for 4 days after the show and it was a nice vacation for us.

In conclusion, the E3 experience was a good one and I highly recommend it, especially if you can go there cheap or get somebody to sponsor your trip! ;-]

WarFactory PCs’ The Sentinel PC January 2011 model Review

Cooler Master HAF 912 caseThese days there are many manufacturers which make custom or prebuilt gaming PCs, but which one is the right one for one to choose? There are many factors to take into account such as price, choice of parts, real world performance numbers, the reliability of the system, the quality of construction and assembly, the availability of support as well as the duration and quality of the warranty, and especially these days whether or not the company will be around during the life of the product to be able to help you with or help repair the system. There are many brands and companies to choose from whether big or small, such as Alienware, Dell, OriginPC, IBuyPower, LanSlide PCs, WarFactory PCs, and many others. I’ve seen many companies come and go so most people will usually only want to purchase from a bigger company but even some of those are starting to disappear. It’s important to choose the right brand. Today, we will be looking at The Sentinel, the model offered around January 2011 by the manufacturer WarFactory PCs. I will discuss its real world performance, how I found the construction and finish to be, and talk about what I thought about WarFactory PCs based on my interactions with them.

What are the specifications of the Sentinel – January 2011 model?

Price As Configured: $1238
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T BE 3.2GHz stepping: AACAC AC, CACAC AC
GRAPHICS PROCESSOR: ATI 5870 1 GB
MEMORY: G.Skill 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
MOTHERBOARD: ASUS M4A89TD/USB3
STORAGE: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB
CASE: Cooler Master HAF 912
POWER SUPPLY: Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650 Watt
PERIPHERALS: Asus DVD Burner

Performance benchmark tests:

The criteria used for my gaming PC benchmarking is shown in my Gaming PC Benchmarking Guide February 2011 article.

The Sentinel will be compared to my old gaming PC that I built in 2007. At the time it had all the parts needed to run anything and it still can run just about every game out there. That system has the following specs:

OS: Windows XP Professional (Corporate)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA770-DS3
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8 Ghz
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 3870 512 MB
Memory: G. Skill 4 GB DDR2 800 Mhz (limited to 3.4 GB by the 32-bit OS)
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Storage: Western Digital 750 GB 7200 RPM HD
Case: generic black case from newegg.com
Power Supply: generic 480 Watt
Peripherals: NEC DVD burner

Onto benchmarks…

Following the order of my benchmarking guide first we will see how well the systems compare in the RealStorm Global Illumination Bench 2006 test.

If you remember my benchmarking guide you will remember that this test shows a real world analysis of single core raw processing power. In this test The Sentinel is 43.79% faster than my machine. That means that each core is that percent faster per CPU core. This is important because not every program one uses is multi-threaded (supports multi-core processing).

The average performance in this test showed that The Sentinel is about 44.06% faster than my gaming PC in this single-core CPU test.

In this same test, this shows that at the bare minimum frames per second rendered, The Sentinel was 39.41% faster than my system. Minimum FPS tests are usually very important tests because this is when you notice the lag the most.

At their peak performance, we see a performance difference of The Sentinel being 47.35% faster than my gaming PC. Max fps is not as important as other benchmarks but I include it in my tests simply to see as high as peak performance goes.

Battleforge 1024x768 average fps

Battleforge is a free RTS MMO that I used to play a lot of and it still looks pretty amazing and is a great benchmarking tool for testing how good your system is at running a modern war game. I usually run my Battleforge settings to display 1024×768 so I wanted to benchmark it like that, as well as at a higher resolution. At 1024×768, The Sentinel performed on an average 757.60% faster than my old gaming PC. This is the proof I needed to remind myself to get a new gaming PC! The game supports all the latest graphic technologies for modern video cards as well as has modern multi-core support.

Battleforge 1024x768 minimum fps

Again, this is where a PC fails and we notice lag, which ruins the gaming experience. In this test, The Sentinel is 311.76% faster than my system. It put out 14 Frames Per Second, which is still under the desired 30 Frames Per Second that most of us would want, but then again this is with every option on, so a smart move would be to turn down some of the options before playing.

Battleforge 1024x768 max fps

In this test we see that The Sentinel is 240.61% faster than my machine. The game is obviously much smoother on The Sentinel system.

Battleforge 1280x1024 average fps

The Battleforge test gets more brutal as the resolution gets bumped up to 1280×1024 with everything on. The limitations of my own system are more obvious now and even The Sentinel has a hard time, but it’s still 845.58% faster in this test.

Battleforge 1280x1024 minimum fps

11.1 Frames Per Second are still not desirable so again, I recommend lowering the graphic settings. Still, it’s nice to bring systems down to their knees. Although in this test, The Sentinel does shame my old machine by being 2120% faster than it… Yeah…

Battleforge 1280x1024 max fps

This again is the fastest each system can run the benchmark. The Sentinel flies again, yielding performance 215.51% faster than my old gaming rig.

Dirt 2 1280x1024 max settings average fps

Like I mention in my guide, Dirt 2 is simply brutal and overall the best benchmark I recommend for testing the real gaming capability of a system since racing games require so much to run right. Lag is most unforgiving in racing games out of all games because one wrong move and you crash, so you need peak performance always. This test shows that The Sentinel is 280.25% faster than my machine. I will have to get a new machine before playing the next Codemasters racing game, although I do love how efficient they code them.

Dirt 2 1280x1024 max settings minimum fps

This is where we see that my system can no longer handle modern racing games. The Sentinel is 273.88% percent faster than mine. It’s Frame Rate at 50.1 is much higher than the 30 fps minimum we all need. This does make it a great gaming machine for modern gaming.

HAWX 1280x1024 max highest fps

Tom Clancy’s HAWX is still one of my favorite action flying games out there and it does showcase some of the best graphics I’ve seen come out in the past 2-3 years. The efficiency of this game engine makes me smile and the built-in benchmark tool does too. At peak output, which this test shows, The Sentinel is 181.88% faster than my machine.

HAWX 1280x1024 max average fps

Again, in this test The Sentinel shames my system by being 582.60% faster than mine. Its 157 Frames Per Second put my 23 fps to shame utterly.

X3 Terran Conflict 1280x1024 max average fps

This game is filled with super eye-candy and you really want to be able to run this game on a system that is totally up to par with the scalability of the game’s graphics engine. In this benchmark, The Sentinel was 397.80% as faster than my machine. The average FPS is at 84.686 which is way higher than the fabled 60 FPS that most people desire.

Trackmania Nations average fps

This test shows what a legacy game that still requires a good system to run will yield. The window closes a little but The Sentinel still beats the crap out of my system being 107.86% faster than it.

Performance Conclusion and Parts Analysis:

In the performance department, The Sentinel is sufficient enough of a gaming PC to be able to run any modern game at pretty much max settings, staying reasonably realistic.

The processor it comes with is great for both gaming and running heavy applications. It’s great for multitasking and multi-threaded programs and applications as well.

The video card has 1 GB of memory on it which is really important for rendering high resolutions. 1 GB of video memory is usually enough for most gaming needs unless you are one of those people that wants to set the resolution as high as your display can handle for every single game you play. It also has a strong GPU which keeps your framerates high while minimizing minimum framerates.

The RAM is quick but 4 GB is starting be a low number for modern PCs. It’s still enough to run anything, don’t get me wrong but this is probably one of the first areas that one will want to improve on if you are like me and run 10 applications WHILE running a game at once and alt-tabbing. The motherboard supports 16 GB of RAM max so it’s very future-proof and that’s a really great thing to have.

The hard drive only has 500 GB of space, which is not high compared to some other gaming machines but it does have enough speed to be able to load games up quickly. Anyways, I wouldn’t probably use the machine to store much on if you want it straight up for gaming and if you do want to store a lot, I would recommend adding a multi-TB hard drive for storage and using the main drive for applications and gaming. That’s a no-brainer. ;]

The case is a Cooler Master HAF 912 which looks both great in its jet black color and could pose well not only as a gaming machine but a professional server or business computer. Not many cases have such prestige to be able to pull that off. Great pick, WarFactory PCs on such an amazing case. The design of the case inside is so well done that it’s easy to install and remove components. This is highly desirable. All wiring came neatly assembled and tucked-in correctly as well.

Compared to my systems The Sentinel is relatively quiet. The fans barely make any noise even when under heavy load.

The Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650 Watt power supply is more than enough to handle the power requirements of the system and leaves enough free power for reliable operation as well as adding more parts and faster parts in the future.

Warfactory PCs emblemSupport and Warranty Information:
The basic price and system include a limited lifetime warranty. This means that you get a one year warranty on the actual parts, a three year labor warranty, and a lifetime of general support. Since there are manufacturers out there that will not provide any sort of support whatsoever for an out of warranty machine, WarFactory PCs beats them in with their lifetime general support warranty. At the time of this writing, support is available through a phone system at the number 708-667-5375 as well as through AOL Instant Messenger under the screen name WarFactoryPCs and email. It’s important to be able to call a company in the instance that the system is your only system and you have no way to get online to contact support. WarFactory PCs addresses this criteria with their phone system support channel.

My Impressions of WarFactory PCs:

They were very attentive to my many, many annoying questions that I used for formulating this review as well as asking them questions that showed me that they are a reliable and trustworthy company worth buying products from. If you guys know how annoying I am and how little life I have, you very well know that I am the kind of person that will contact a company in the middle of the night when normals are sleeping or having dinner. Gamers don’t rest! WarFactory PCs understand this.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a gaming PC machine right now that DOES have a manufacturer warranty and is set at a reasonable price, I would recommend The Sentinel to be among the systems you look at before making a purchase or build decision. Some manufacturers which I will not name right now (or yet) offer really shitty entry-level gaming PC solutions, but this is not the case with The Sentinel. Even the basic configuration is worth getting as it will be able to run every modern game. You can’t go wrong with a system like that for only $1238. This recommendation is coming from someone that only builds his own systems and never buys any built PCs. It might totally be worth the difference of spending 100-200 dollars more knowing that you have the manufacturer’s expertise to help you out when something goes wrong.

***

This review was done on a Sentinel PC lent to me by WarFactory PCs solely for review purposes. Stand by for upcoming reviews by other gaming PC manufacturers. Once I get a good list of reviews going and more data for my benchmarking database, stand by for a competition to see who is the best bang for the buck out of these gaming PC manufacturers!

Gaming PC Benchmarking Guide February 2011

Gaming PC Benchmarking stopwatchIf you are like me then you probably do not have the latest gaming PC out there. Even if you built a new machine it will probably have at least one obsolete part easily within a month or two. Because of this dilemma I have created the following gaming PC benchmarking criteria, which has some modern games and game engines as well as some older ones which still scale well.

A problem a benchmarker will face, especially when comparing an older machine with a newer one is that sometimes the older machine will not be able to run whatever game or benchmark as opposed to the new machine. Not necessarily saying the whole program won’t run but saying that it won’t run at the exact settings that the program runs on the faster, newer machine. Some settings will simply never run because the GPU will never ever have the ability to render those settings as it’s limited at a hardware level.

The specifications for my main gaming PC which is now old are:

OS: Windows XP Professional (Corporate)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA770-DS3
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8 Ghz
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 3870 512 MB
Memory: G. Skill 4 GB DDR2 800 Mhz (limited to 3.4 GB by the 32-bit OS)
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Storage: Western Digital 750 GB 7200 RPM HD
Case: generic black case from newegg.com
Power Supply: generic 480 Watt
Peripherals: NEC DVD burner

My concern was to create a benchmarking guide that a normal person that is not running the latest hardware AND does not have an unlimited budget can use to test their system against ours and all the upcoming gaming PCs and parts we plan to review. How to do that? It’s rather simple. I sat there and hunted down many free games and demos that are currently available on the internet for download.

These benchmarks are run at a reasonable resolution that will yield great graphics while getting high frame-rates which a real gamer will use in a real world without risking to suffer lag in a (ranked) game.

As far as my picks go, I could have picked to run other games and just have FRAPS show my the framerates but FRAPS uses the hard drive a lot, especially to record and that would quickly become a bottleneck.

I will discuss why I picked those programs to benchmark now rather than some others which might be more popular. The list is the following:

The RealStorm Global Illumination Bench 2006 test has the following settings:

Demo: 1/5 Global Illumination Compare
Resolution: 1280×1024
Shadows: On
Reflections: On
Anti Alias: On
Depth of Field: On
Volume Lights: On
Radiosity: On

Download it from: http://www.realstorm.de/

This is the default benchmark option for this old benchmarking tool that is now discontinued but it will destroy the living shit out of any system out there. This benchmark uses straight-up RAW CPU processing power. It does NOT have multi-core support and it will simulate the max speed a single core will deliver in a system. Not every program has multi-core support and it’s still extremely important to have each core be as fast as possible. To a limited degree this benchmark does test the RAM as well but it’s mainly for the CPU. It stressed the living shit out of the system by making the CPU render everything, ignoring the GPU.

On my system, under the settings I listed above my computer yielded 2569 raymarks (the raw score used only by this benchmark), as well as 2.61 fps (frames per second) average, a minimum score of 1.7 fps, and a maximum score of 9.27 fps. Yes, that’s really really low but go ahead and run the benchmark on your own system. I hope you have good cooling, because you will need it! ;]

The Battleforge 1024×768 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1024×768
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

Battleforge is a FANTASTIC free-mmo-rts that has kind of been abandoned by EA but it’s still free and many, many people still play it. I have mastered everything in the game and my friends are now all bored of it but I will play it once in a while. You can check my original review of the game here as well as check out my first strategy guide here for doing Battlegrounds as well as my second strategy guide for Battleforge here that shows you how to farm the mission Raven’s End by yourself.

Anyways, this full game is FREE and it includes a built in benchmarking tool. The way to use it is to login first to the game and then not login to your character, instead hit back, and select options, and go to the graphics screen and select to run the benchmark.

I picked this part of the test to run at 1024×768 because when I play the game competitively and most of the time, I run it only at this resolution to get the max amount of framerates and no lag.

At this resolution my system put out an average framerate of 9.2 fps, a minimum framerate of 3.4 fps, and a maximum framerate of 54.9 fps.

Again, if you never checked out the game, I encourage you to do so, especially if you are a massive RTS player. I like this game and benchmark because it taxes your CPU, RAM, and GPU. Every unit in the game moves and attacks in a complex way and it’s a great example of showing how well your system performs playing a real time war game with a ton of units.

The Battleforge 1280×1024 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

The same as above except with better eyecandy because of the higher resolution.

My average framerate was 6.8 fps, my minimum framerate was 0.5 fps, and my maximum framerate was 53.5 fps. Do you see now why I play it at a lower resolution? The game looks almost the same to me anyways, so might as well avoid lag!

The Dirt 2 1280×1024 max settings test has the following settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8x MSAA
Vsync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Normal
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lighting: High
Shadows: High
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Crowd: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Drivers: Ultra
Distant Vehicles: Ultra
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: Ultra
Post Process: Ultra
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: High
Cloth: High

Download from: http://www.codemasters.com/downloads/details.php?id=39424

In my opinion, you cannot get more intense for beating up your gaming system than playing a racing game OTHER than playing a real flight simulator game with all the options on. Think about how fast a system needs to render what’s going in a racing game, especially 200 MPH or higher being scaled realistically and you will see how these games are system killers.

Codemasters games are pure unadulturated eye candy, especially Dirt 2, GRID, and F1 2010. The games keep getting prettier and still run very efficiently despite the graphic quality increase. These games are also system killers because of how great they simulate the physics needed to create a realistic racing and driving experience.

Although I play it usually at a lower resolution, I tested it at 1280×1024 just to stay consistent with my future gaming PC reviews as well as my upcoming new gaming PC that I plan to buy this year so we can see the before and after results. My average framerate was 15.7 fps and my minimum framerate was 13.4 fps.

This IS the game that made me realize I needed to upgrade my machine to a newer system.

The demo (although I have the full game) includes a built in benchmarking tool so it’s a great test.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX 1280×1024 max settings test:

Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

Download from: http://www.bigdownload.com/games/tom-clancys-hawx/pc/tom-clancys-hawx-demo/

My friend Chris Mosso, which was my top Lieutenant in my massive guild in Auto Assault, always kept recommending for me to try out Tom Clancy’s HAWX saying it was an amazingly fun game and of course, he was completely right. I hadn’t had that much fun playing a game like that where you fly around fighting for your life since Descent: Freespace. The game is a permanent adrenaline rush and is simply total eye candy. I’ve shown this game to some friends of mine that are not gamers and it got them dizzy from just staring at the screen when I play.

Anyways, although this game is super eyecandy, it does have an AMAZINGLY efficient game engine. I like to include this game in the benchmarking guide because it represents for me what a well written game’s performance would be like with a typical game system. My system got an average framerate of 23 fps and a maximum framerate of 127 fps.

The fun demo includes the benchmarking tool, so it’s totally worth getting.

X3 Terran Conflict 1280×1024 max settings test

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

Download from: http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3tc/demos_en.php

My friend Ramiro became a huge fan of the X series after I lent and gave him a copy of X Beyond The Frontier many years ago. As kids, we grew up playing Elite 2: Frontier on my Amiga 600. We thought it was the most epic game every made and and I played it religiously exploring star systems and reading up on their composition and learning a lot about astronomy as well as doing missions nuking planets from space as well as other crazy things like assassinations. I even dabbled with Privateer 1 and 2 later on, but those games were much simpler than both Elite 1 and Elite 2: Frontier.

Anyways, although I played X: Beyond The Frontier a lot and a little of X2, I kind of gave up on that series, especially when I later got into playing Eve Online and found it kind of pointless to play a game like that single player. The people who make the X series have ALWAYS impressed the living hell out of me with how efficient their game engines are as well as how scalable, detailed, and completely beautiful they are.

This game engine will rock the socks of your CPU, RAM, and GPU. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how detailed the final part of the benchmark was when I saw the massive, super-detailed space station being rendered as it was, on my old gaming PC.

Let’s see the numbers… My system only got a framerate of 17.012 fps in this benchmark but believe me, considering the settings and how beautiful everything looks, that was still higher than I expected it to be. Still, I would maybe play X3 when I get my next gaming machine.

Trackmania Nations

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

Download from: http://trackmania.com/

Trackmania is still one of my favorite racing game series of all time. This benchmark is done using the game Trackmania Nations that has always been the free version of Trackmania and the one that most people in the world play. I highly recommend getting Trackmania United if you are serious about having FUN in playing a racing game MMO.

This game is a massive physics simulator and it has looked good right from the start. The game engine is probably even as efficient as probably the Unreal engine except that Epic Games doesn’t put out free games! At 1280×1024 my system puts out an average framerate of 31.8 fps.

Okay, so there’s the list. Yeah, you might say that who cares because my system is running Windows XP and therefore DirectX 9 but the way I see it, gaming is a lot like racing cars in the real world. You might run DX11 on your Windows 7 box but if you barely run stuff and my system gets higher framerates than yours, that’s pretty sad. Only real results matter in the real world! I say fuck it, compare apples to oranges. I just care if the system will be able to run a game 100% stable as well as with decent performance.

So that about wraps it up. I hope you use my February 2011 benchmarking guide to test out your system and post some results below as comments. I know my system is a 2007 average price gaming system but let’s see what my next PC yields! And let’s see what the gaming PCs I will review soon will show us. Will these brands defend their speed claims when being tested in the real world? Stay tuned!

Free Stuff: Solipskier

Solipskier
Solipskier

Once in a while a game will come along that comes out for all platforms and I am including phones in this that will simply be either a hit or extremely fun or both. Yeah, we all know other games like Angry Birds but there’s ton of other games out there that are fun as well!

Today for Free Stuff we give you Solipskier. The game consists of you guiding a skier, trying to reach certain gates as fast as possible (at the highest speed possible). You can get higher scores by making the skier go airborne while passing the gates.

You can play the game for free at the site I posted or you can also buy the app for your iPhone or Android phone.

This game is brought to you by Mikengreg which filled out a gamer profile here, where Greg Wohlwend from Mikengreg was talking about his favorite game Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire.