Weekly Byte for 6/1/2010

New Releases

Tuesday June 1st

Alpha Protocol – $49.99, The Espionage RPG

Sims 3 Ambitions – $39.99 – Meticulous career control for your Sims

News Bytes

  • DRM Alert!!! So this week, we have good news and bad news on the DRM front.  First, the good.  A Blizzard representative was quoted saying that Anti-piracy efforts, on the PC platform, are an outright waste of resources that would be better devoted to making better games.  They acknowledged that piracy and software cracking teams were exponentially greater than the developer teams, and that anti-piracy measures are futile at best.  They seem to believe that, if correctly implemented, Battle.Net will offer enough features to lure players into wanting to play with a legitimate, paid copy rather than a cracked torrented one, and isn’t that what we have been saying here at EDG?  Make the game better and continue to innovate, and the majority of players will gladly pay for the experience.  On the downside, Namco Bandai, while echoing the futile sentiments of anti-piracy measures, have said that they are choosing to support the “always on” DRM scheme that Ubisoft has flung at us, like plague ridden bodies over a castle wall.  They admit that it is not the best scheme, but it is the best option for them, at this time.  So how will Test Drive’s new game and The Witcher 2 be affected?  Only time will tell.  However, if you are a Test Drive fan, head over to the Test Drive Unlimited 2 site, or click here, to apply for the game’s beta.  Keep in mind, that while Blizzard’s statements are a remarkable breath of fresh air, Battle.Net 2.0 still requires a log in for single player gameplay—-although it would appear that an offline mode, a la Steam’s offline play, should be an option.  Keep your eyes peeled for the EDG SCII Beta preview, coming soon—–and keep at those Zerg rushes, the Beta has been extended until June 7th!
  • Were you one of the lucky 25,000 first gamers to jump into OnLive’s pre-order? Were you looking forward to the free first 3 months that were promised?  Well, that’s not the deal anymore!  Take heart true believers, OnLive has not taken away, but upped the ante to one year free AND one free game.  Sounds like a great deal no?  Also sounds like an attempt to attract attention from their competitor, Gaikai, who has been drawing much attention of their own with their pricing structure and network of server sites.  It will be interesting to see this clash of the titans, and the news they unveil at E3!
  • Need For Speed World Online prepping pit crews. The official launch date of the online racing MMO will be July 20th, with beta access for pre-orders.  The new iteration in the NFS universe will allow free play until level 10, after which a $19.99 ‘Starter Pack’ purchase will be required and will up the level cap to 50.  Also available with a pre-order is an exclusive car, early access and a power up pack.  I assume there won’t be any balancing issues with the exclusive content, but then again that statement would assume that there is enough of a NFS following willing to make the jump into MMO territory and play long enough to uncover these balancing issues.
  • More Call of Duty ups and downs, as Treyarch announces that they are solely committed to the Call Of Duty franchise. Sure, it’s good news, but it’s also worrisome if they are not cautious to avoid the same pitfalls that Infinity Ward fell prey to.  On another front, Black Ops details are hitting like tracers lighting up the night sky.  Apparently, we can gladly move on from World War II as the new game’s setting will span across multiple fronts such as the Cold War and Vietnam.  Joystiq aired a developer interview, withe Treyarch’s Dan Bunting, here, but if you are reluctant to read it, I will post the highlights here :
  1. True to Call of Duty form, you will control multiple characters across many frontiers in the 60’s and 70’s timeframe, enclosed in a single, over-arcing storyline.
  2. Four player co-op and two player split screen has been announced, along with a beefed up COD4 graphics engine.
  3. DLC was not addressed, a PS2 port was confirmed DOA and a Wii title, handled by another team within Treyarch, will be enrolling for active duty.
  • Heavy Rain will not be storming onto the PC. Well, we can put this rumor to rest apparently, although, even with the mixed reviews, I can say I would still like to see Heavy Rain get ported over.  In a large list of games supporting Nvidia’s PhysX technology on an Nvidia website, gamers spied that Heavy Rain would be supporting the technology that shined in Arkham Asylum, among other titles.  Without a game announcement, this seemed like an accidental announcement for an interesting PC port.  Unfortunately, the PhysX guys have declared this a mere typo and corrected the website.  True, this does not completely rule out the game’s weather conditions changing direction to the PC, but it makes it a lot more skeptical, for now.

Geared Up

Well, I can thank our own, Patrick Adams, for this week’s ‘Geared Up’ entry.  I was a little uninformed with last week’s discussion of Nvidia’s current 3D PC technology, so what better way to get caught up than to get up close and personal right here!  The 3D kit currently retails on NewEgg for $199.00, with a copy of James Cameron’s Avatar for the PC.  As I mentioned, the tech runs best on a monitor with a refresh rate of 120Hz, but it is not required.  This particular kit only includes the software, glasses and IR transmitter to transmit the image up to 15 feet wirelessly to one or multiple sets of glasses.  It’s the LC lenses in the glasses that are the key to the whole technology.  The lenses flicker at a rate far beyond the eyes detection, allowing the images corresponding to each eye to be seen as 3D by the wearer.  Like our console wireless controllers, they are charged by USB to be ready for use in-game, but I found no details on how long they could be used before requiring an additional charging.  Sure, this only creates the illusion of 3D, but judging by the spectrum of reviews, it can be excellent—-provided you have the tech to pull it off.  I have been able to find prices for 22″ monitors starting at $249 and climbing online-which is probably not unreasonable if you are in need of a replacement monitor, but seems expensive if you already have a good resolution reliable monitor and are upgrading for the sole purpose of 3D support.  One of the interesting features that I came across, that one might not think of, is the ability of Nvidia’s 3D tech to create it’s own crosshair in any title supported.  Why in the world would they do that, you ask?  Well, in case the game did not adapt it’s built in crosshair to the 3D support, Nvidia does the work for them so that your crosshair will not disappear behind objects and enemies rendered in 3D, causing targeting difficulties.  If you are curious about the technology and it’s presentation, check the links below.

For a full list of supported games, as well as links to product descriptions, check Nvidia’s page here.  I have to say, the list of supported titles is absolutely staggering, and I can easily see myself dusting off many of these games when my budget catches up with the falling prices of the monitors and tech.

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