EA Releases “Extended Cut” DLC for Mass Effect 3

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: origin, mass effect 3, gaming, ea, dlc

Today Electronic Arts made the Extended Cut DLC available for users to download. Reportedly, it would wrap up plot holes, explain the Reapers further, and actually be influenced by all the choices that you made throughout the game.

I’ll admit that I eagerly downloaded it and went in with high hopes for a better and more personalized (and meaningful) ending. I won’t spoil it for you but the new DLC adds a couple cut scenes to each of the three traditional ending choices and even adds an alternate ending as well.

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The download is a bit over 800 MB, and even around 10PM CST I was able to max out my Internet connection to download the full game and the DLC pack. To get the DLC, open up Origin, click on the “My Games” tab, then click on the little “i” icon in the lower left of the Mass Effect 3 icon. It will now open the Mass Effect 3 game details panel. In the upper right-hand corner, click on the “Shop for add-ons” button. Find the Extended Cut pack (free), and download it.

Once downloaded and installed, you will be able to start up the game and load a save just before you enter the Citadel in the final level. The steps needed to find and install the download were not as intuitive as the simple instructions EA provided, so I hope my path to the DLC will help you (I spent quite a few minutes trying to find the area they said to go to... may be related to a different version of the Origin client and me not being very familiar with the interface, but still).

Warning Spoilers after the break. You’ve been warned!

Source: EA

Progress on support for the Source Engine on Linux Steams along

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, source engine, steam

If you have ever bemoaned the fact that your gaming habit is the only thing preventing you from dumping Windows and moving to Linux then your excuse might just be about to expire.  As Phoronix informed us a few short weeks ago, Steam is taking gaming on Linux seriously and the project to get the Source Engine up and running on Linux moves ever forward.  Their team has recently grown with the addition of the designer of Battle for Wesnoth, David White and they are still looking for more Linux developers.  If you are interested in playing Portal on a Linux box, or if you are a Linux Guru who'd like to work for Steam, you should check out this post on Phoronix.

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"Things appear to be moving along nicely in the Linux cabal at Valve Software as they work to enable Steam and the Source Engine on the Linux desktop. Here's another one of the new tenured Linux developers that will be starting soon."

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Source: Phoronix

Max Payne 3 versus Tessellation, FXAA and MSAA

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, max payne 3, fxaa, msaa, ssao, hdao

Techgage recently took a look at the effect enabling tesselation and antialiasing has on the visual quality of Max Payne 3.  Visually the Phong Tesselation seems to only have an effect on close visuals of faces, as well as adding some volume to clothing.  FXAA and 4xMSAA had more effect, with FXAA not only offering smoother visuals but also having almost no effect whatsoever on frame rates.  They also took a look at SSAO and HDAO but for that you'd need to download their large screenshot to be able to tell them apart and ended by delving into the performance.  Check it out here.

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"With Max Payne 3 reviewed, how about we take a look at the game from a technical perspective? Wondering what the game brings to the tessellation table? How FXAA compares to MSAA? Whether HDAO is really worth the performance hit? We tackle all these questions and more, so read on."

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Source: Techgage

Get Ready for Gigabyte’s US eSports LAN Event

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2012 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: prizes, lan, gigabyte, gaming, event, esports

Last month we reported that Gigabyte would be hosting its first eSports LAN party in North America. Running from June 15 to June 17, the GESL event will feature tournament competitions, a bring your own computer (BYOC) LAN fest, case mod competition, event raffle, and a number of presentational speakers.

The Gigabyte eSports LAN will be offering up various pieces of hardware including Gigabyte G1 Sniper 3 motherboards, graphics cards, and memory (among others). StarCraft II and League of Legends are the two games that will be used in the tournament competitions and Gigabyte is offering up $11,000 and $10,000 prize pools respectively. The case mod competition will feature custom computers from participants of the LANFest, and CPU Magazine will be recognizing the winner in its magazine.

And because that was not enough gaming goodness, the MadCatz will be hosting its own Street Fighter X Tekken tournament below the GESL main event. The tournament will run throughout the weekend, with a championship tournament on Sunday. They will be providing fight sticks and winners will receive prizes from MadCatz and Dolby. The event requires gamers to have a LANFest or spectator badge ($15), but is otherwise free to enter. 

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Further, Odyssey Gaming will be holding a GESL pre-party with several professional StarCraft II players. While space is limited, gamers with spectator badges are welcome to attend and there are also a few slots open for those that wish to play some StarCraft II. The pre-party event attendees will also get a pre-party raffle ticket, extra GESL raffle ticket, and free photo booth access. For those that wish to play, they will need to purchase a GESL Pre-Party Gan Pack with includes 4 hours of gameplay time and will cost $20. Otherwise, gamers with spectator badges are welcome to attend free of additional charges. The professional players on-site will include viOLet, DeMusliM, Clide, Ryung, and Alicia.

The GESL Pre-Party will be held on June 12, 2012 from 6pm to 10pm PST. The location is about 15 minutes from the main GESL event (California Polytechnical University in Pomona, California) at the Odyssey Gaming cyber cafe.

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The is coming up fast, so those interested in attending should purchase a spectator badge as soon as possible (which will cost $15). For those interested in the LANFest but cannot make it to the show, Gigabyte will be streaming the event in HD for free. In case you missed the details in our earlier article, the GESL will be held at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California. More detailed information on finding your way around the university can be found on this FAQ.

In addition to Gigabyte, co-sponsors of the GESL include Kingston and Cooler Master who will be giving away some swag and computer hardware to attendees at the show. More information can be found at the GESL website at thegesl.com. Will you be attending the LANFest? Are you at least excited to watch some Starcraft II? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Gigabyte USA

Computex: MSI Showing Off Five G-series Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd

MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.

MSI GX60

The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.

The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.

MSI GT70 and GT60

The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).

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The MSI GT70 gaming notebook

The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.

MSI GE70 and GE60

The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.

All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.

Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.

Below you can find a video by eTeknix that goes into more detail on the MSI gaming notebooks. You can further find the official MSI press release here.

Source: MSI

Computex: ASUS G75VW Allegedly World’s First 802.11ac 5GHz Laptop

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged: wireless, gaming laptop, gaming, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac, 5GHz wifi

Earlier today we posted a couple of teaser photos showing off some of ASUS’ upcoming products. One of the devices was a gaming laptop called the ASUS G75. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some more information regarding a variant of the G75 – the G75VW. According to the site, the gaming laptop is rocking an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, GeForce GTX 670M, and DDR3 memory (known because of the CPU used). That hardware is then powering a 1080p display, which the GTX 670M should have no problem driving but is a bit depressing to see on a high end laptop of this size (approximately 17”). The real kicker though is in the wireless card that it is allegedly packing: an 802.11ac card.

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The ASUS G75 gaming laptop

Engadget states that although the information sheet next to the laptop at ASUS’ Computex booth did not list any 802.11ac compatibility, wireless chip maker Broadcom (manufacturer of chips that are used in many wireless routers and NICs) has stated that it does in fact have an 802.11ac NIC in it. Senior Vice President Michael Hurlston told members of the press at Computex 2012 that the ASUS G75VW is the “World’s first 5G Wi-Fi laptop.” He further stated that the computer would be arriving in the hands of consumers “very shortly.”

Interesting stuff, and although the “5G Wi-Fi” – so called because it is the fifth generation of consumer grade Wi-Fi (though not the 5th gen if you count all iterations of the wireless 802.11 standards) – is not yet official and set in stone, it is very close and I would not be surprised to see the technology in a laptop like this particular ASUS at this point in the game.

And to think that I just got done upgrading my network to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n about two months ago! Even so, I’m excited for the upcoming standard because I want to test its usefulness in getting live TV from my CableCARD tuner to the living room and Katy’s wireless laptop without stuttering – something even wireless N with MIMO can’t do with devices in the same room. So far, the only thing stable enough has been wired Cat5e Ethernet (both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps hardware seem to work without issues). And because it’s proving difficult to get a wired connection from the router to the TV (Xbox 360 used as Windows Media Extender), I’m ready to try out some 802.11ac stuff to see if it can really deliver on the increased bandwidth!

Source: Engadget

ASUS Republic of Gamers Gear Pictured

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 6, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, laptop, headsets, gaming, ASUS ROG, asus

Today we received a number of photos from ASUS that show off some upcoming hardware from their upcoming Republic of Gamers line. Except for the Xonar Phoebus (which has launched), the hardware in these photos is not yet released and ASUS has not revealed when it will be available for sale – or how much it will cost. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than getting a glimpse of some shiny unreleased hardware – especially when I get to share it with you!

Motherboards

First up is a new Replublic of Gamers motherboard called the Maximus V Extreme. This board is similar to the mATX Maximus V GENE board that was announced recently, but the Extreme motherboard is full ATX.

While full specifications are unknown, from the photo you can see that the board has an LGA 1155 socket, making it compatible with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Further, it is sporting four DDR3 DIMM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots. Other features of the board include ASUS’ Extreme Engine Digi+ II digital power control technology, power and reset buttons on the board itself, voltage check points, Lucid Virtu MVP GPU virtualization technology, and AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support. The VRM area and southbridge area of the board is covered by large black and red heatsinks.

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Rear IO includes five USB 2.0 ports (one to be used with ROG Connect), two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio output, PS/2 port, five analog audio outputs and a TOSLink connector. Additionally, the board features CMOS clear and reset buttons, a mini-PCIe + mSATA combo card, and a Republic of Gamers OC Key accessory. The OC Key plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card and provides an on-screen-display for overclocking information and voltage tweaking.

In addition to the ASUS Maximus V Extreme, the company is producing the Maximus V Forumula motherboard, which is then further available with or without the ThunderFX audio accessory. The Formula board is another socket 1155 board with a red and black color scheme that is ready for Ivy Bridge processors and multi-GPU setups (SLI or CrossFireX). The heatsinks on the formula are a little less beefy than those on the Maximus V Extreme, but the VRM heatsinks are ready to be integrated into a water cooling loop. Further features include four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA connectors, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot.

 

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The board also features the SupremeFX integrated sound card (which has been isolated from the rest of the board by routing the wiring through its own PCB layer) and a mini-PCI-E + mSATA combo card. One version of the motherboard also comes with the SupremeFX accessory which you can see in the photo below.

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Rear IO of the Maximus V Formula motherboard includes four USB 2.0 ports (one for ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, DisplayPort, HDMI, Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, five analog audio jacks, two optical audio outputs, and CMOS clear and reset buttons.

The Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a device called the ThunderFX that is a high end headphone amp and DAC offering 120dB SNR, and noise cancellation technology.  The included GamEQ comes with three preset profiles but also offers you a wide range of options to tweak your sound to your own desires.  There is also onboard audio in the form of the SupremeFX IV audio chipset which will keep those who prefer speakers more than happy with their audio quality. 

You can also see that the large anodized aluminium heatsinks have barbs for you to include them in a watercooling loop so that all components on your motherboard can be cooled without resorting to fans to move air.  GameFirst II is the name ASUS has given their networking software and it is designed to examine an prioritize packets to reduce lag and ping times.  It comes with both an EZ Mode as well as offering advanced options for those who know what they are doing.  As we have seen on other boards, the Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a mPCIe Combo card with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.  This board is also shattering records in Super PI 32M, 3DMark05 and Heaven to name a few. 

Check out more from ASUS from Computex including ROG graphics cards, audio devices and laptops!!

Source: ASUS

Max Payne 3 at Max resolution

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2012 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: max payne 3, crossfire, sli, gtx680, HD 7970, gaming

For the tests they ran, [H]ard|OCP used the latest Catalyst beta, 12.6 and ForceWare 301.42 WHQL as both drivers proved able to provide proper multi-GPU performance on Max Payne 3.  In AMD's case it provided improvements to single card gaming as well.  The games graphics options provide a nice tool which displays how much VRAM your configuration will require so that you can get an idea if your card will be able to handle the settings before you even play the game.  SLI did scale better than Crossfire but even still, both multi GPU rigs could handle the max settings at 2560x1600 and when used singly could still sit around the 60fps mark.  Check out the full review here.

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"HardOCP is on top of Max Payne 3 to find out what graphics options it supports and how a GTX 680 and a Radeon HD 7970 perform. We also wanted to know if SLI and CrossFireX worked, and how performance scales. In this preview of performance and image quality we take a look at all of this in the first chapter of this game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Users Will Be Able to Play Hawken On Gaikai Before Release

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 03:20 AM |
Tagged: streaming, Hawken, gaming, gaikai

Mech Shooter Hawken will launch on December 12th, 2012 but streaming gaming service Gaikai has made a deal with Meteor Entertainment to allow gamers to play the game before launch to demonstrate its playability through its streaming service using NVIDIA’s GRID cloud gaming technology.

According to gaming website Joystiq, Gaikai has signed a deal with publisher Meteor Entertainment to allow gamers to test out the mech shooter PC game running on Gaikai's streaming service ahead of the game’s official release on 12/12/12. First demonstrated at GTC 2012, the free-to-play game uses NVIDIA’s GRID technology to reduce latency on the server and client sides.

 A video of the NVIDIA demonstration.

Mark Long, CEO of Meteor Entertainment stated that "HAWKEN wants to be free and it wants to be everywhere - and with Gaikai, it will be.” The game has proved quite popular and has hundreds of thousands of gamers signing up for the closed beta. The free-to-play game is returning to a PC gaming classic with mech fighting and if Gaikai is able to deliver it will be a game that will be accessible to all kinds of devices from tablets to high powered gaming PCs.

That last bit is the real question though, and one that many gamers have on their minds. Gaikai is offering up the game pre-release to prove itself as a viable platform, and that is going to be a make it or break it situation. Here’s hoping that the NVIDIA GRID technology delivers and results in a playable game with real world performance benefits. While they have not set an exact date for when it will go live, gamers will be able to access it via the playhawken.com website. Will you be checking out Hawken streaming for yourself?

Source: Joystiq

Future Frostbite Engine Based Games Will Require 64-bit OSes

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: gaming, frostbite, ea, bf3, 64-bit

Last month, Johan Andersson posted on twitter a tweet that stated future Frostbite engine based games in 2013 would require a 64-bit operating system. The full tweet is shown in the image below. He suggested that it would be a good idea to upgrade to Windows 8, though it is difficult to judge sarcasm in text (hehe). That bit led to a big explosion of tweets as the Internet revolted against what they thought would be required: an x64 version of Windows 8. Mr. Andersson later clarified that any recent x64 version of Windows would be fine.

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You can see the tweet on Twitter here.

The Windows 8 suggestion aside, I was very excited about the news that 64-bit Windows would be required. Currently, games are developed with both x64 and x86 versions in mind, which means that games are shackled by the limitations of the x86 (32 bit) operating system. As an example, Sins of a Solar Empire is a game that generally runs great from beginning to mid-game on large maps, but as players build up fleets of ships and have a lot of data to keep track of, the game starts to run out of memory and starts to chug–even when running the game on a 64-bit operating system. The CPU and GPU are not fully utilized, it is a RAM limitation as reported by a number of users and a situation I have found myself in numerous times as well.

32-bit operating systems (and I’m being general here) have a hard limit of about 4GB of RAM, from which the GPU, other expansion devices, and overhead steal a chunk of address space that the OS cannot use even if there is physically 4GB of RAM DIMMS in the system. With 2GB GPUs being common, that leaves a system running 32-bit OSes with 2GB of addressable system memory. From that, the OS can allocate programs, caching, and other system tasks to that 2GB of total available RAM. Modern games can easily hit 2GB or more of RAM usage, but on 32-bit systems they are severely restricted in how much they can use.

By requiring a 64-bit operating system, developers can focus on producing games that can make full use of RAM on modern systems. RTS and other strategy games are going to benefit the most, but even shooters like Battlefield (4?) will run smoother by being able to store as much data in RAM as possible without those pesky restrictions of 32-bit systems. Unfortunately, the upcoming Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion game will still suffer from RAM issues (though it is said to be managed better than previous releases) as it is being developed around the possibility of running on 32 or 64-bit OSes. Here’s hoping that the next SoaSE game will require 64-bit OSes just like Frostbite engine games will.

The best part, aside from performance benefits of course, is that the majority of gamers will not have to do anything when these games come out as they are already running a 64-bit version of Windows. Even OEMs have started loading x64 versions on pre-built systems in the last couple years (since Windows 7 and RAM became so cheap). Most gamers will be able to jump right in and enjoy the benefits immediately because gamers are inherently required to have at least somewhat recent hardware to play the latest games.

In the end, requiring 64-bit operating systems is a good thing, and hopefully more developers will follow in DICE’s footsteps. By freeing themselves from the limitations of 32-bit systems, they can focus on using gamers’ hardware to the fullest–at least until games start using more than 8TB of RAM (which would require a new version of Windows anyway as Win 7 x64 (Ultimate/Pro) can only address 192GB).

Source: