Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free To Play

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2012 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, pc gaming, gaming, free to play, F2P

Bioware announced on Friday that its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is now Free 2 Play. As a result, my productivity over the weekend suddenly dropped dramatically (heh). The subscription option is not gone entirely, but players are now able to create characters up to level 50 without paying anything. This approach is similar to the way World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online handle the Free to Play model.

Star Wars The Old Republic Screenshot.jpg

Installation is simple, and is just a matter of walking through a few standard steps and accepting the EULA. While the initial download for the installer is small, you cannot jump into the game until you download all of the assets -- and Star Wars: The Old Republic is far from a lightweight game with an asset download of about 25GB required to play (plus future smaller patches).

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As a free subscriber you get access to the entire game, but there are several other limitations that might just annoy you into purchasing a subscription. If you are vigilant, it is possible not to pay anything. Some of the larger restrictions include XP-rates, number of characters per account, medical probes, reduced reward choices, and not being able to sprint until level 15 of all things (!). After level 10, the rate at which you gain experience points is reduced compared to paying subscribers. As an alternative, you can purchase XP boosters to make up the difference. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase it with in-game currency. At least it’s another one-time charge instead of paying every month for a subscription. The number of characters per account is restricted to two, so you will need to delete one or pony up for a subscription if you want to play as additional classes to get their stories. That’s unfortunate, but not a deal breaker and something that Star Trek Online also does. Medical probes allow you to respawn in the same area as opposed to respawning at a medical center. This would not be so bad if it was not for the biggest issue I have with the Free To Play version: getting around the game takes forever! With a quick travel that has a 2 hour cooldown and not being able to sprint until level 15, it takes a long time to get from mission areas and back again. This became especially evident on Coruscant where walking from the taxis to the senate tower in particular was a slog.

With all the major limitations out of the way, I will say that the game is just as good as my friend has been trying to tell me since launch. In particular, SWTOR is really fun, and I would even go as far as saying it is addicting. While it is not KOTOR 3, it is really close and definitely fills in a gap. It definitely encourages you to go for the subscription option but it is enoyable enough that the restrictions are worth putting up with, however annoying.

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When I started out, the combat took a bit of getting used to, as you move around with WASD, aim the camera with the mouse, and also right click to attack. With ranged weapons it will likely not be an issue but when you are running in with a lightsaber, it may take a bit of training before you hurt the enemies more than yourself (heh). I wish that there was a keyboard key to auto-target the nearest enemy, especially since my companion just loves to walk in front of me when I'm trying to target someone with the mouse (KOTOR did combat that way, from what I remember). The force abilities of the Jedi Consular are satisfying indeed.

(Hint, if you go with the Jedi Shadow option as I did when you chose an advanced class, you get a free double bladed lightsaber in a backpack that shows up in your inventory--the game doesn’t make this clear at all and it took me reading on a forum after looking around the game for a couple hours trying to find a double bladed saber that is required for some of the Jedi Consular’s abilities... It ended up being in my inventory the whole time, d’oh).

You can grab the game from Bioware’s SWTOR website. If you are a Star Wars fan, I encourage you to try it out for yourself. The download is huge but ultimately worth it. Just keep an eye on the time as otherwise you may look up and notice it’s 5 AM and you missed all the Black Friday deals!

What do you think of SW:TOR?

Source: SWTOR

"It's better than Far Cry 2"

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2012 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: far cry 3, uplay, ubisoft, gaming

Being better than Far Cry 2 is not a difficult achievement but absolutely necessary if you want to entice PC gamers to pick up the third instalment and according to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN that bar has been surpassed.  While they are not in love with the mystic portions of the main quest they were fans of the dialogue and the fact that you are not a silent protagonist.  While you start with a single gun there is no reason you can't kill and skin a goat to make yourself another holster so that you can carry a second.  You'll have to wait a while longer to blow up crocodiles with claymores for yourself but in the mean time you can live vicariously through this review.

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"It’s also layered in skill trees, and a (largely superfluous) inventory, to make this game feel like it has a lot more going on than some other open-world shooters we could mention. The result is a little Skyrim-with-guns, yes, but in Skyrim I never caused two bandit jeeps to crash into each other, only to set fire to half of the jeep passengers with the flamethrower, and watch the other half be eaten alive by giant lizards. No, sir."

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Gaming

Let the difficulty of Dark Souls torment you, not the lousy resolution

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2012 - 03:06 PM |
Tagged: Dark Souls, dsfix, console port, gaming

If you are interested in grabbing the PC version of Dark Souls from Steam then you must read through the tips and the graphics mod over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  The DSfix mod from Durante will let you choose resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 which will make the game look far more attractive.  As well they offer .ini tweaks such as setting the game to a borderless fullscreen, uncapping the framerates and which ports to open when playing multiplayer.  While they do have a mod to help with smoothing the mouse and a cheat sheet for keyboard mappings, the game is still best enjoyed using a controller something common to direct console ports such as this is.

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"Dark Souls’ existence on PC is a story of hope and disappointment. Petitioned by over 90,000 fans to bring the game onto PC from consoles, around the time that the Doublefine Kickstarter was gaining momentum, it seemed like a golden age when game developers were finally listening and giving gamers exactly what they wanted. However, fans were disappointed that even after all of the petition’s noise and success, the Dark Souls developers weren’t able to deliver anything more than a functional PC port, where traces of the game’s console origins remain in plain sight."

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Gaming

Medal of Honor: GPU Fighter

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, medal of honor, warfigher, 14th installment, frostbite

Medal of Honor is the game which just refuses to stop, with the arrival of Warfighter which is thie 14th version of this venerable series.  It uses the DX11 Frostbite 2 Engine, the same as BF3, which is famous for needing high end graphics cards to get the most out of the effects available to the engine.  [H]ard|OCP took three of the fastest AMD GPUs and three of the fastest NVIDIA cards to see how they fare against this new game.  You may be pleased to hear all six cards could play at 2560x1600, it was only the MSAA settings which needed to be altered.  Neither company was a clear winner, it seems that just about anyone with decent graphics capabilities will be able to play this game and experience the best the engine has to offer.

That is not what PC Perspective will be playing tonight on PC Per Live, we will be continuing our preferred choice of retro gaming with the original Battlefield 1942 game.  It is now available for free on Origin, so if you want to play with us tonight you'd better start downloading it now!  You should also think about tweaking the .ini files to enable resolutions that were not a choice 10 years ago!

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"Medal of Honor: Warfighter uses the Frostbite 2 engine which was made popular by delivering realistic graphics and physics in Battlefield 3. We will be finding out if the image quality has improved or stayed the same compared to Battlefield 3, and what kind of hardware is needed to take full advantage of the game."

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Limited Linux Steam Client Beta Begins With 26 Games and Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, steam, linux, gaming

The developers at Valve have been hammering away at a Linux version of its popular Steam client and software distribution service.While Windows is currently the dominant platform, CEO Gabe Newell has shown his displeasure at with Windows 8 and the Windows Store such that development has been expedited to support the alternative operating systems and port Valve’s own titles to the platforms. Last month, Valve announced a limited public beta would start soon, and that it was taking applications.

That beta is now in effect, with a small subset of the total 60,000 applications the company received being invited to participate in the beta build. Intended for Ubuntu 12.04, the Linux for Steam beta includes the client itself, and several surprising additions (that were previously thought to not be included). Big Picture Mode and 26 games will be part of the Linux beta.

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Big Picture Mode is Valve’s 10-foot interface for the Steam client. It is designed to work well with remote or controller such that Steam functionality and games can be easily accessed from the couch with Steam on the living room TV. (I took a look at Big Picture Mode earlier this year if you are curious about what the interface looks like.)

The list of games includes:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • And yet it Moves
  • Aquaria
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • Cogs
  • Cubemen
  • Darwina
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • eversion
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Space Pirates and Zombies
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Trine 2
  • Uplink
  • Uplink/Darwinia Pack
  • Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo
  • World of Goo Demo

Needless to say, there are a number of games more than the previously expected TF2, though Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are noticeably absent (as are the rest of the Valve/Source collection). Space Pirates and Zombies is sure to suck some productivity out of Linux users’ days, however!

Valve has stated that additional users will be added to the beta from the pool of applicants over time. The company is also looking at making the Linux client available to other Linux distributions as well (even HML?). If you want a chance at getting into the beta, Valve is still accepting new applications via this survey (you need to log in with your Steam credentials).

Have you tried out the Steam for Linux beta?

Source: Valve

What does it take to be a Warfighter

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, medal of honor, warfighter

Warfighter uses DICE's Frostbite 2 engine, the same as BF3, and on the PC they recommend having a 3GHz quad-core processor and at least a GTX 560 or HD 6950 to play.  TechSpot tried out 29 graphics cards paired with a Core i7-3960X to see if this is true as well as if the top end cards can handle Ultra quality settings.  At the moment it is the AMD cards which top their charts, though only by a slim margin, which could change as the game receives updates along with the graphics drivers.  Even though this game has been released on numerous platforms it seems that MoH remembered its roots and delivered a much better experience to PC gamers.

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"Medal of Honor: Warfighter calls for no less than a 3GHz quad-core processor paired with a GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6950. Given those upper-end requirements, we expect the title to be fairly demanding with its visuals maxed out, and we'll be putting a ton of past and present-gen cards through their paces.

It's worth noting that unlike 2010's Medal of Honor which used separate engines for single player and multiplayer, Warfighter uses DICE's Frostbite 2 engine -- the same software that powers Battlefield 3.

We'll be testing 29 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from AMD and Nvidia across all price ranges with their respective latest beta drivers that claim to improve performance."

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Gaming

Source: TechSpot

The darkness of Doom 3 makes more sense when you are playing a Thief full conversion

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2012 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: the dark mod, gaming, Doom 3, thief, mod

The Dark Mod is a total conversion of Doom 3, but not the Doom 3 BFG Edition apparently, not that you should be to worried with the upcoming open sourcing of the Doom 3 source code.  It is not intended to be a remake of the Thief series, the world is similar but the main characters and plot do not follow the original games which will help it feel new even to those who've recently replayed the originals.  The actual mod story is fairly short but now there are community made missions available for download to extend your play.  Drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a link to download the mod and to read the extensive change log of the new patch if you already know about this mod.

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"With Dishonored reactivating long-dormant stealth glands the world over, now seems a fine time to revisit perhaps its primary ancestor, the Thief games. Doom 3 total conversion The Dark Mod is a mightily ambitious attempt to recreate Thief – its mechanics if not its actual missions – in a more modern, and very much darkness-orientated, engine. It’s just had a major update and a promising new mission added too."

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Gaming

AMD and the intelligent design of gaming

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: never settle, gaming evolved, gaming, amd

We don't see much of Ruby anymore the AMD Gaming Evolved screen is becoming a common sight when launching a game, much the the competitions 'The Way It's Meant To Be Played' screen has been in the past.  The DiRT series has always been a showcase for AMD, new AAA games like Deus Ex HR and Sleeping Dogs now bear AMD not NVIDIA branding as will upcoming releases like FarCry 3 and Bioshock Infinite.  The Tech Report spoke to Peter Ross, the man behind the success of this program, as well as game developers at a meeting in Markham, Ontario where they discussed the benefits of Gaming Evolved for makers and buyers of games as well as the changes which have taken place at AMD recently.  Read on to learn about the future of this program as well as the incredible Never Settle card plus games bundle that AMD is offering right now.

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"The number of games bearing the AMD Gaming Evolved logo seems to be growing exponentially. Why is that? We've traveled to AMD's offices and spoken to game developers in order to find out what's been happening behind the scenes."

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Tech Talk

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission wasn't designed by Derek Smart, but it could have been

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2012 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: gaming, battlecruiser, Carrier Command: Gaea Mission

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission puts you in control of an aircraft carrier and all of its assets, at least after an hour of gameplay The Inquirer describes as "like a demo product rather than a final game".  However if you can make it through that beginning you end up in a very tough game in which you can not only control the movements of your troops and assets from the bridge you can hop in and manually control anything in the game if you wish.  This is a completely open game and will be unforgiving to those who do not plan ahead and consider their attacks carefully.  If you are into completely open worlds and insane amounts of troop and research management this will be right up your alley, if you prefer mission based play with clear goals you might want to give this one a miss.  It has not been confirmed that you will be permanently banned for daring to ask a question in the forums.

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"THE ORIGINAL CARRIER COMMAND game was released all the way back in 1988 offering gamers a comprehensive 3D futuristic aircraft carrier simulation experience.

Sadly, despite positive reviews at the time, outside of a few hardcore circles the game didn't garner mainstream success.

Years later the game has returned, with Carrier Command: Gaea Mission offering the same mix of hardcore real-time strategy and vehicle shooter elements, tasking you to take control of a powerful aircraft carrier and use it to conquer the world."

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Source: The Inquirer

Corsair Raising Money For Charity With 24 Hour Gaming Marathon

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2012 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: gaming, extra life 2012, donations, corsair, childrens miracle network hospital, charity

What is better than a 24 hour gaming marathon? A gaming marathon that raises money for a charity that helps kids that need medical help, of course!

Popular memory and PC chassis manufacturer Corsair has assembled a 12 man team of gamers that will be participating in the Extra Life 2012 gaming marathon. Lasting 24 hours, teams will play a game of their choice all day. Much like a traditional run/walk marathon, the teams and members are sponsored by donators. In this case, the “runners” are gamers, and 100% of the donations pledged to Team Corsair go to the member’s local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Founded in 1912, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Oakland provides medical care to approximately 200,000 patients a year that otherwise could not afford treatment.

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Senior PR Specialist for Corsair Robert Pearce blogged about the upcoming marathon and is the team captain for the Corsair team. He stated that he found out about the Extra Life marathon through a Reddit post and hopes to beat last year’s numbers. Specifically, Extra Life 2011 raised a total of $1.2 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and the Reddit team in particular managed to raise $2,740 in donations from its 10 man team gaming for 24 hours. At the time of writing, Team Corsair has 12 members, and has $2,582 in pledged donations – or 52% of their $5,000 goal.

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Interestingly, Corsair will be live streaming their 24 hour long gaming session. You will be able to see your marathon gamers in action and know that your donation is going to a good cause (it’s actually for the kids heh). The Corsair live stream will begin at 8 am (PST) on October 20th, so be sure to check that out and give the Corsair team a virtual pat on the back. If you want to sponsor the Corsair team with a donation, you can find their Extra Life 2012 team page here.

Source: Corsair