Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 02:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, mass effect 3, gaming, game, ea, bf3, battlefield 3
Update: Apparently EA has decided to pull the deal because it was too good of an idea :(.
The final installment in the Mass Effect trilogy is almost upon us, and for those itching to get a taste of Mass Effect 3 can now go and download the Mass Effect 3 demo for the PC via EA's Origin service. The demo delivers about an hour (they claim two hours, but I finished it in about an hour and I was purposefully taking it slow to take in the scenery and such) of Shephard battling against a (spoilers ahead) Reaper invasion.
Personally, from playing the demo I'm not convinced that it is going to live up to the hype, and it seems to be rather "dumbed down" compared to the first one. With that said, it was not terrible and I will likely pick it up if only to finish out the story. The story itself hits hard in the demo and I am excited for that aspect of the Mass Effect sequel, for example. If you have not already done so, check out the demo that's out now.
Anyway, if you do enjoy the demo and are getting pumped for the release this March, EA is currently running a rather good deal on Origin for those willing to Pre-Order Mass Effect 3 from the Origin store. According to EA, users who place a pre-order for Mass Effect 3 through the Origin store for any platform (including digital download, boxed PC copy, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3) before March 5, 2012 will receive a free digital PC edition of Battlefield 3 for free. The codes for BF3 will be emailed to customers when they become available.
As always, there are some caveats:
- The offer is only valid for those in US and Canada.
- You must pre-order through Origin and cannot be combined with any other discounts.
- You are not eligible for the free copy if you already own Battlefield 3 on Origin.
- The Battlefield 3 codes will be emailed no later than March 8, 2012.
That last one is a big one (for me anyway). Considering Battlefield 3 is already released, why can't those that pre-order ME3 get instant access to it? I was all for the deal at first as I have not yet purchased BF3 and if I could get it for free by pre-ordering a game I was likely to buy anyway it sounded like a sweet deal. Unfortunately, not being able to jump into BF3 to hold me over until Mass Effect 3 launched makes it less awesome. After all, once Mass Effect 3 releases, I'm not going to want to play Battlefield 3 anymore! Considering Battlefield 3 will likely still be approximately $60 on Origin in a few months, getting it free is still a good deal, but it's less of a impulse purchase knowing I might not get the Battlefield 3 code until after I have Mass Effect 3 downloaded.
It's there if you want it though, so go download the Mass Effect 3 demo and let us know what you think of it!
Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2012 - 03:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: portable, PC, microsoft, laptop, kinect
At CES 2012, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a Kinect sensor and SDK (software development kit) for Windows. In that same vien, the company is now exploring the idea of integrating a Kinect sensor directly into laptop computers.
Not the actual prototype. Just a mock up I concocted.
The crew over at The Daily managed to get their hands on two such prototype laptops with integrated Kinect sensors. They state tha the two machines resemble Asus laptops that are running Windows 8; however, upon closer inspection, the laptops have removed the typical 1.3 megapixel webcam that is common in today's notebooks and have instead placed a Kinect sensor bar at the top of the display instead. They claim that a source within Microsoft has confirmed that the two laptops are indeed official prototypes.
Unfortunately, there aren't many details beyond that. Whether Microsoft will forge ahead with this idea and license out the Kinect technology to laptop makers or if the prototypes will go into some bunker somewhere and never see the light of day still remains a mystery. Currently at $250 (to end users, OEMs could likely cut a much better deal), it is not likely that we will see a proliferation of Kinect sensors into all manner of displays for notebooks, TVs, and desktops. If Microsoft could get the cost of the technology down far enough that manufacturers could justify adding it, it could definitely catch on. In the end, I don't think we'll be seeing Kinect powered computers any time soon, but in the future when the hardware is cheaper and there are Kinect for Windows applications readily available, it could happen. Would you like to see Kinect in your laptop (insert Xzibit meme here) or desktop monitor, and if so what would you like to do with it?
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt
Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.
The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.
It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.
A Trinity powered laptop at CES
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 11:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, windows, voice, software, PC, microsoft, kinect, gestures
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that on February 1st, the new Kinect sensor for Windows would become available for purchase. In addition to the new Kinect for Windows sensor hardware, Microsoft is releasing an official SDk or Software Development Kit. Having the SDK installed on a Windows operating system will be required in order to use Kinect software applications. Currently, there are no (Microsoft official) consumer applications using Kinect; however, official hardware and an official SDK will surely spur software development.
Microsoft is confident that the launch of the SDK and specially tuned hardware will spur development of software. According to MSNBC, the company is working with over 200 companies to develop software applications for Windows using Kinect. Microsoft's partners include Toyota, Mattel, American Express, and United Health Group. These corporate partners seem to indicate that initial Kinect applications will be designed for consumers to use in a business setting, say on a sales floor of car dealerships, at hospitals, or point of sale devices (maybe American Express is planning a "card swipe" application where holding the card up to the Kinect can be used to purchase items. Software for consumers to use at home is also likely in the pipeline and users will see them in the future.
Due to the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor not being subsidized by Xbox 360 games and accessories, the PC version is $100 more than the Xbox 360 version, and will retail for $250 USD. Amazon currently has the device (for pre-order) here for a whole penny less at $249.99.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 04:15 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, fps, ea, bf3, battlefield 3
As many readers of the site will know, the PC Perspective guys have been a “bit” interested in EA’s latest multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) Battlefield 3. Ryan for one has been “testing” Battlefield 3 extensively since the game’s release as he admitted on the latest TWICH podcast.
According to EA, the PC Per staff are not the only ones to enjoy the game (despite some game issues; I’m looking at you Origin) as Battlefield 3 has sold a whopping 5 million copies. It seems as though Battlefield 3 has emerged from the battle against stability issues to win the war and be a successful release. Battlefield 3’s sales have also impressed Electronic Arts who claimed the 5 million copies have surpassed their “best expectations.” Unfortunately, they have yet to release the numbers (that I want to see) concerning the percentage of sales of the PC versus the consoles.
Another bit of positive BF3 news is that almost 99 % of the game stability issues have been fixed. M ore information on the game issues can be found here. Until next time, feel free to hit up the PCPER BF3 platoon and play with some fun people!
A few months ago, there was talk coming from Hewlett-Packard regarding their Personal Systems Group, which is the OEM/PC Manufacturing aspect of the company. Management talked and seemed to decide that they would pull and IBM and sell off their PC division to become a services company. This plan was pushed by the (now) former CEO Leo Apotheker who came from a services background. The company stopped rolling out WebOS devices including the HP Touchpad, and was further considering getting rid of the whole PC division.
A surprising "whoops" emanated from HP today as the new CEO Meg Whitman reversed the previous plans to spin off the PC or Personal Systems Group division. According to Ars Technica, HP’s PSG isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The site quoted the new HP CEO in stating “it’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers, and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees.” She believes keeping the Personal Systems Group makes HP stronger.
Not only is HP keeping the OEM aspects of the company alive, they are planning on expanding their current lineup in the mobile space with, and you guessed it, an ultrabook of all things! While this is likely much to the chagrin of our own Jeremy Hellstrom who would rather have 2 X79 motherboards duct taped together than an ultrabook, consumers and fans of a certain other fruit flavored slim form factor computer will likely appreciate some more competition in the ultrabook space to bring down prices a bit.
HP’s Executive Vice President over the PSG, Todd Bradley, has been quoted by several sites in a conference call yesterday as saying an HP Ultrabook is coming very soon.
"We’re very focused on having a suite in that ultramobile space. And you’ll see that very soon."
-via Maximum PC
What do you think of this move? Does HP need a lesson in moderation in a time when they are either all on or all off on decisions (that are further flip flopping back and forth), or will jumping into the Ultrabook game be a good thing for the company?
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 06:19 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: skyrim, PC, gaming
Although most of you are busy blasting away at Battlefield 3, there are likely quite a few that are also interested in the RPG genre, and in that vein Kotaku has recently gotten their hands on and released the minimum and recommended system requirements for the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim PC game. Keep in mind when looking at the recommended system requirements, that they are for running the game at "High" graphics settings and not "Ultra" which will require more powerful specifications.
The minimum system requirements for Skyrim are as follows:
|CPU (Processor)||Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz|
|GPU (Graphics Card)||DirectX 9c compatible w/ 512MB RAM|
|RAM (System Memory)||2GB|
|OS (Operating System)||Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64 bit)|
Those are fairly tame, and most computers around today should be able to at least run the game, with some concessions. The recommended system requirements bump things up a bit for those that prefer shinier graphics in their RPGs.
|CPU (Processor)||Quad Core Intel or AMD|
|GPU (Graphics Card)||DirectX 9 compatible w/ 1GB RAM|
|AMD 4890 or Nvidia GTX 260 or higher|
|RAM (System Memory)||4GB|
|Sound Card||DirectX compatible|
|OS (Operating System)||Windows XP or 7|
Interestingly (though not surprisingly to some), Windows Vista doesn't make the list for recommended specs, which may or may not be a mistake. As you can see, even the recommended specifications aren't too high, at least compared to other (more demanding) new releases this year. Is your PC ready for Skyrim?
Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 11:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in. One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3. We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures." At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.
The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.
Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole). Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized. Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).
Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality. "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive." What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition. Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).
What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive. Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?
Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2011 - 10:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, caspian, bf3, beta, battlefield 3
The Battlefield 3 open beta is almost over; however, the full experience of a 64 player map with vehicles has not been accessible to the general public. Until now, that is. EA has announced that the once password protected Caspian map will be available this weekend to stress test the servers. To give you an idea of the map, PC Perspective was able to get onto one of the Caspian servers during our live stream.
The EA representative noted that the beta may be prone to crashes and network issues, and that they are (likely) not indicative of the final product. They are currently experiencing a bug where users may be kicked from the server with a message indicating it was due to an administrator's actions. The representative noted that the message does not mean that the user was kicked by an administrator but rather was due to being dropped from the server (due to network issues). Starting Friday afternoon, PC players will be able to log onto the Caspian maps, which will be available until the end of the beta on Monday, October 10th.
Have you tried out the Caspian Battlefield 3 beta map yet?
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 10:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rage, PC, id, gaming, carmack
Many of the PC Perspective staff members have been testing out RAGE this week, and were among the countless fans that had been waiting impatiently for id software’s RAGE (to be released) since the first Mega-texture screenshots surfaced of the first person shooter a few years ago. As the game finally unlocked (on steam) on Monday night; however, the game’s enemies were not the only thing catching fire. The Steam Users Forum started lighting up with numerous complaints, bug issues, crashes, and graphical woes and rolled into an uncontrollable wildfire.
id Software's RAGE, when it's working
The major issues of RAGE include the trusty “CTD,” a crash to desktop, after the initial cut scene in the campaign as you emerge into the game world, screen tearing, mouse super sensitivity, and texture pop-in. According to Maximum PC, Bethesda has stated that this error is caused when using AMD’s Battlefield 3 Beta performance drivers. I experienced this issue myself when testing out RAGE, and switching to these RAGE performance drivers fixed that particular crashing issue. There are also reports of crashing during other parts of the game; however, they are more varied than the previous crash issue and do not manifest themselves on all systems. On the mouse super sensitivity front, using a mouse on in game dialog menus can be problematic as well. The mouse sensitivity seems to skyrocket, making it difficult to hit the “accept” and “decline” options compared to the mouse speed when using guns or walking around in the game world. The same physical motions seem to be greatly magnified on the in-game menus, as shown in the video below.
The remaining major issues do not necessarily affect gameplay; however, they can be distracting and certainly can interrupt the immersion factor of the game. Specifically, there is currently a texture streaming problem such that when the player turns too fast (or at all in severe cases), the textures of the game “pop in.” What this means is that the game looks blurry and missing detail until the engine is able to “catch up” and present the gamer with the (correctly) detailed textures. Bethesda indicates that this texture lag/pop in problem is due moreso to driver issues than problems with the engine. It remains to be seen whether updated drivers will be able to fully fix the texture streaming issue, however. The video below shows the texture pop in issue quite well.
The texture issue is not only a PC issue, however. Giantbomb noted in their Quick Look of RAGE that the Xbox 360 version of RAGE also experiences the texture pop in issue, though not to the extent of the PC. Beyond texture pop in, the PC version also succumbed to screen tearing issues. As an example, when entering the Wasted Garage level, the left two-thirds of my screen became filled almost completely with a solid yellow color where the image was torn in multiple places. This image below is of another user’s screen tearing experience which was less severe than mine but still enough to cause problems in playing the game.
GameFront is having RAGE screen tearing issues as well.
Finally, RAGE does not play nicely with FRAPS, which saw a massive slowdown in framerate when recording (much more than the normal dip experienced in other games). (UPDATE: the new AMD driver (updated Rage Performance Driver) seems to have fixed this for the most part.)
Some of these graphical issues may be attributable to the automatically adjusting nature of the game’s graphical settings as the game may not be able to cache/reuse textures it has recently loaded if the engine determines that the graphical settings need to be lower or higher, resulting in the engine needing to reload textures, and thus having what feels like lagging textures even in areas you’ve recently looked around. The extent to which it happens though is likely caused by a number of factors, that many hope a patch will mitigate. On the other hand, Bethesda is indicating that the texture issue is not due to the engine but rather is due to graphics drivers.
Either way, gamers are not happy with RAGE and are waiting impatiently for drivers and/or a patch to fix the various issues, whichever the case may be. It may be prudent to take a "wait and see" approach to the game before jumping in, if you haven't already purchased it of course. Are you running RAGE right now, and if so what sorts of issues (and hopefully solutions) have you run into? Vent your rage about RAGE in the comments below!