AMD Announces Several New Gaming Evolved Titles

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2013 - 05:45 AM |
Tagged: thief, pc gaming, gaming evolved, gaming, amd

Earlier this week, AMD announced that several new PC games would be part of the company's Gaming Evolved program. First revealed in 2010, AMD's Gaming Evolved program is the equivalent to NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played initiative. The AMD program works with game developers to implement new technologies and to optimize games for AMD hardware.

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Specifically, AMD has announced that it has worked with developers under its Gaming Evolved program to develop the following games:

  • Castlevania: Lord of Shadow
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded
  • Murdered: Soul Suspect
  • Pirate 101
  • Shadow of the Eternals
  • Thief

These games are upcoming PC games, some of which will be available as soon as next month while others are still in-development. AMD worked with MercuryStream, Square Enix, N-Fusion Interactive, Airtight Games, KingsIsle Entertainment, Precursor Games, and Eidos Montreal respectively.

Screenshots of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Left) and Thief (Right). Click on image for a larger version.

These next generation games should work well on AMD platforms as a result of the developers' partnership with AMD. Hopefully that means next-generation visuals and games that will work best on the PC with all the usual customization and graphics settings options that PC gamers expect.

Source: AMD

Microsoft Offering Free 12-Month Xbox Live Gold Subscription To Yearly Office 365 Customers

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2013 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, productivity, outlook, office 365, microsoft, gaming, deals

Microsoft recently posted a new offer that seeks to sweeten the pot for customers interested in trying out the company’s Office 365 Home Premium subscription. Under the new promotional offer, users that purchase an annual Office 365 subscriptions will also receive a year of Xbox Live Gold for free. Not a bad deal, at all considering Office 365 Home Premium is $100 a year and Xbox Live Gold is $60 by itself.

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The offer is eligible for customers in the United States who purchase a yearly subscription to Office 365 Home Premium. The promo runs from July 18, 2013 to September 28, 2013. That eligible version of Office 365 Home Premium normally includes a basic suite of Office applications for up to five PCs and five mobile devices, 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage, 60 Skype minutes (per month), and a web version of Office.

Office applications include:

  • Word 2013
  • Excel 2013
  • PowerPoint 2013
  • Outlook 2013
  • OneNote 2013
  • Access 2013
  • Publisher 2013

With the promo, users can get a year of XBL Gold as well. Once Office 365 has been purchased, users will need to activate the subscription and then log into Office.com/xbox (before October 31, 2013) with the same Microsoft account that purchased the subscription to get a code that can be redeemed on Xbox.com or the console itself for a year of XBL Gold which gives users access to streaming services and multi-player gaming for the company’s Xbox 360 (and presumably the upcoming Xbox One) gaming console.

To find the full list of terms and conditionss for the promo, head over to this FAQ page.

Source: Microsoft
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Design

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With the release of Haswell upon us, we’re being treated to an impacting refresh of some already-impressive notebooks. Chief among the benefits is the much-championed battery life improvements—and while better power efficiency is obviously valuable where portability is a primary focus, beefier models can also benefit by way of increased versatility. Sure, gaming notebooks are normally tethered to an AC adapter, but when it’s time to unplug for some more menial tasks, it’s good to know that you won’t be out of juice in a couple of hours.

Of course, an abundance of gaming muscle never hurts, either. As the test platform for one of our recent mobile GPU analyses, MSI’s 15.6” GT60 gaming notebook is, for lack of a better description, one hell of a beast. Following up on Ryan’s extensive GPU testing, we’ll now take a more balanced and comprehensive look at the GT60 itself. Is it worth the daunting $1,999 MSRP? Does the jump to Haswell provide ample and economical benefits? And really, how much of a difference does it make in terms of battery life?

Our GT60 test machine featured the following configuration:

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In case it wasn’t already apparent, this device makes no compromises. Sporting a desktop-grade GPU and a quad-core Haswell CPU, it looks poised to be the most powerful notebook we’ve tested to date. Other configurations exist as well, spanning various CPU, GPU, and storage options. However, all available GT60 configurations feature a 1080p anti-glare screen, discrete graphics (starting at the GTX 670M and up), Killer Gigabit LAN, and a case built from metal and heavy-duty plastic. They also come preconfigured with Windows 8, so the only way to get Windows 7 with your GT60 is to purchase it through a reseller that performs customizations.

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Continue reading our review of the MSI GT60 Gaming Notebook!!

A good time to try Dishonored if you haven't played it through yet

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2013 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dlc, dishonored

Not only is it currently for sale on Steam at 40% off but there is brand new DLC being released that is more in the style of Half Life Episodes than extra content for the main game.  You play a different character than in the main game, the famous assassin called Daud a name which will be familiar to those who have played the game and even more familiar for those who played through the first DLC called the Knife of Dunwall.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN reveals some spoilers while describing their experiences in the second episode of Daud's adventures, The Brigmore Witches, so you might not want to read it all before you download and play the DLC.

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"Bum. I’ve just realised I’ve not actually finished the previous Dishonored DLC, The Knife of Dunwall. I’m halfway through the second mission. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem, but Arkane took the odd decision to make their DLC episodic, and Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches continues the story they started in the Knife of Dunwall. You are still Daud, fighting for redemption. If anyone else is in my position then it’s best you don’t look below the cut. Spoilers!"

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MSI Launches Factory Overclocked GTX 770 With 4GB GDDR5 Memory

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 17, 2013 - 01:58 AM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 770, GK104, gk-104, gaming, factory overclocked, 4GB

MSI recently announced the GTX 770 Gaming 4GB which combines a factory overclocked GK-104 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and the company’s Twin Frozr IV cooler on a custom PCB. This card joins the existing MSI GTX 770 with 2GB of memory in the company’s GPU lineup.

MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming 4GB Graphics Card N770 TF 4GD5slashOC.jpg

Specifications the new graphics card include a GK-104 based GTX 770 GPU with a base clock of 1137 MHz and a GPU Boost clockspeed of 1189 MHz. This compares to the 4GB Zotac GTX 770’s base and boost clockspeeds of 1059 MHz and 1098 MHz and to the reference NVIDIA GTX 770’s 1046 MHz base and 1085 MHz boost. In short, the upcoming MSI card is one of the fastest-clocked models with 4GB of memory. Unfortunately, that 4GB of GDDR5 does not come factory overclocked, and is instead left at the stock 7 GHz clockspeed.

MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming 4GB Graphics Card Breakout.jpg

Further, the MSI card is cooled by the company’s Twin Frozr IV cooler. This HSF features two 100mm fans that cool an aluminum fin stack. In turn, that fin stack attaches to the GPU block via five heatpipes. There is no backplate, but the card does have a reinforcing plate between the PCB and cooler (which also, likely, helps dissipate a small bit of the heat generated by the VRMs and RAM).

The card is essentially the same card as the existing 2GB version, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The model number on the 4GB card is N770 TF 4GD5/OC. MSI has not released pricing or availability, but expect it to be around $430 and up for grabs later this summer.

More photos of the upcoming 4GB GTX 770 GPU can be found over at TPU.

Read more about GTX 770 graphics cards at PC Perspective!

Source: MSI

You will be Miserable if you miss this S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2013 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: stalker, mod, gaming, call of pripyat

Back in the ancient days of 2009 a group of developers decided to release what S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was supposed to be, a game called Oblivion Lost with vehicles to drive, significantly more Sci-Fi elements and much less movement restrictions.  While the Misery 2.0 mod for Call of Pripyat will not be quite that different it will completely refresh the S.T.A.L.K.E.R sequel by bringing together a large amount of mods and some of their own secret sauce into a re-imagined world.  Not all will directly effect gameplay, one of the best things about these two games is the dark creepy atmosphere, which the mod should enhance.  The trailer, shameless lifted from Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN, also highlights the new ability to harvest and sell or cook mutant meat.

"I decided I wanted to pretty up the original game: I wanted pitch black nights, livelier fauna, blowouts, lovely skies, and more interesting weather. Unfortunately I’d forgotten I’d already modded it, so I ended up with a broken mutant of a game. I’m reinstalling now. It wasn’t at total waste: on my hunt for the Shadow Of Chernobyl mods I discovered that the long-awaited Misery 2.0 for Call Of Pripyat is out this month. And it has a trailer."

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You can't keep a good Syndicate down

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2013 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: syndicate, Satellite Reign, Mike Diskett, Kickstarter, kick ass, gaming

Syndicate and to an extent the sequel Syndicate Wars, have a golden reputation among gamers, some of whom were not old enough to have played it when it was originally released but ended up playing it on an emulator.  In these games you tried to take over the city using whatever methods you could, from the agents you controlled to the persuadatron along with a good overall strategy.  Mike Diskett, who originally designed these games is now back with a new twist, in Satellite Reign you are trying to take down the Syndicates, though the interview does hint that you might have a chance to rule the city if you don't bother to recruit citizens to your cause and only use them as meat shields.  Check out the interview at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN which dives deep into the world, the trailer is below but what you should do is head to Kickstarter and help make this game incredible.

... oh, and change your Ubisoft password.

"Satellite Reign is a new open world cyberpunk city RTS from the lead progammer of Syndicate Wars, yes, but it also another chance for man who has been embittered by the worst aspects of our industry’s commercial ferocity. In picking up a gauntlet forged in the 1990s, he found the grit to fight back. Help him. Do it now."

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Cooler Master Launches CM Storm QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2013 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: quickfire xt, mechanical keyboard, gaming, cooler master, cherry mx red, cherry mx green, cherry mx brown, cherry mx blue

Cooler Master has launched its new CM Storm QuickFire XT mechanical keyboard that joins the existing QuickFire Rapid under the company's CM Storm branding.

The QuickFire XT is a full-sized 104-key mechanical desktop keyboard measuring 17.3" x 5.2" x 1.1" (440 x 132 x 29mm) and weighs 2.43 lbs. The keyboard features a slim design with a matte black finish. More importantly, the keyboard uses Cherry MX switches with laser-etched key caps and an embedded steel plate in the keyboard body for added durability.

Cooler Master QuickFire Storm XT Mechanical Keyboard.jpg

Cooler Master bundles six alternative key caps, a key removal tool, and a detachable USB cable with the QuckFire XT.

Other features of the QuickFire XT include NKRO (N-Key Roll Over) in PS/2 mode as well as 1ms rated response times when used in USB mode. Media functions are handled by the dual-function, well, function keys, and the Windows key can be disabled when in "GAME mode."

Cooler Master QuickFire Storm XT Mechanical Keyboard Close Up.jpg

The mechanical keyboard uses Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Green, or Red keys. It appears as though only the Blue and Red switches are available right now, however. The following chart details the switch options and corresponding Cooler Master model numbers.

Cherry MX Switches Used Storm QuckFire XT Keyboard Model Number
Cherry MX Blue SGK-4030-GKCL1-US
Cherry MX Brown SGK-4030-GKCM1-US
Cherry MX Green SGK-4030-GKCG1-US
Cherry MX Red SGK-4030-GKCR1-US

The Cooler Master Storm QuickFire XT mechanical keyboard comes with a 2 year warranty and is available now with a MSRP of $89.99. More information can be found on this Cooler Master product page.

Also read: CMStorm QuickFire Rapid Review: Everything You Need

DirectX 11.2 Will Be Exclusive To Windows 8.1 and Xbox One

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2013 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, Windows 8.1, tiled resources, microsoft, gaming, directx 11.2, DirectX

The release of a Direct X 12 API may still be uncertain, but that has not stopped Microsoft from building upon the existing DX 11 API. Specifically, Microsoft has announced an update in the form of DirectX 11.2, which makes some back-end tweaks and adds some new gaming-related features.

First shown off at BUILD last month, Antoine Leblond demonstrated Direct X 11.2, and one of the API's major features: tiled resources. He did not go into specifics, and Microsoft has not yet released documentation on DX 11.2, but during the presentation Leblond described tiled resources as a mechanism for supporting very high resolution texutres by allowing the game engine to use both dedicated graphics memory and system memory to store and read texture data. The demo reportedly featured 9GBs of texture data, which was shared between GDDR5 and DDR3 memory.

Microsoft DirectX Logo.jpg

I am not certain on exactly how this "tiled resource" technology differs from what current games and hardware is already capable of, where the graphics card can use some amount of system RAM for its own purposes when it has data that cannot be stored in the limited GDDR5 space. Perhaps Microsoft has found a way to make the swapping process more efficient, or it could be a completely new way of enabling shared memory that would support HUMA/HSA-like strategies behind the DX abstraction layer to make it easier for game developers. This is all speculation, however.

The other major takeaway from the announcement is that the new DirectX 11.2 API will be exclusive to Windows 8.1 PCs and the company's Xbox One gaming console. It is suprising that Windows 8 is not included, but seeing as Windows 8.1 will be a free update it is not that big of a deal. Windows 7 users are not likely to be pleased with Microsoft witholding it as an incentive to get gamers to upgrade to its latest operating system. Hopefully some good will still come out of the exclusivity in the form of better ported games. Because the Xbox One supports DX 11.2, I'm hopeful that it will encourage game developers to take advantage of the latest technology and support it on the PC version as well when they do the port of the game.

Source: Bit-Tech.net

A Humble Bundle for those on the go

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2013 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, humble bundle

If you are unaware of the Humble Bundle then you have really let yourself down as a gamer, while you won't find AAA titles in the bundles you will find a wide variety of quality games at a price you get to choose.  The latest bundle that was assembled comes with support for a new platform to the bundle, Android 6.  Overclockers Club are not totally in love with the games offered in this bundle but with the extra games available for those tossing in about $5.00 or more you still get a great value and support charity as well.  Check out their overview of the bundle, or just head straight to the Bundle page and pick up a selection of cross-platform games.

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"Overall the Humble Bundle with Android 6 is not the strongest bundle we have seen, but certainly has its strengths. It is hard to see why you would not want to get at least the base games, while the two BTA titles may only be worth the few dollars more to a smaller group of you. No matter how you look at it though, the bundle is a great deal and even if it had only one strong title, it would be a great deal. If additional BTA titles are added at the halfway point, as typically happens, the bundle will only get better."

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