Never Settle Reloaded Bundle Gets a Level Up Bonus

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 15, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: tomb raider, never settle reloaded, never settle, level up, Crysis 3, bundle, amd

AMD dropped us a quick note to let us in on another limited time offer for buyers of AMD Radeon graphics cards.  Starting today, the Never Settle Reloaded bundle that we first told you about in February is getting an upgrade for select tiers.  For new buyers of the Radeon HD 7970, 7950 and 7790 AMD will be adding Tomb Raider into the mix.  Also, the Radeon HD 7870 will be getting Crysis 3.

Here is the updated, currently running AMD Radeon Level Up bundle matrix.

nslevelup2.jpg

Now if you buy a new AMD Radeon HD 7970, HD 7950 or HD 7870 today you will get four top-level PC games including Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Tomb Raider. 

This is a limited time offer though that will end when supplies run out and we don't really have any idea when that will be.  Check out AMD's Level Up site for more details and to find retailers offering the updated bundles. 

I am curious to find out how successful these bundles have been for AMD and if NVIDIA has had a feedback on the Free-to-play bundle they offered or the new Metro: Last Light option.  Do gamers put much emphasis on the game bundles that come with each graphics card or does the performance and technology make the difference?

UPDATE: I have seen a couple of questions on whether this Level Up promotion would be retroactive. According to the details I have from AMD, this promotion is NOT retroactive.  If you have already purchased any of the affected cards you will not be getting the additional games.

Source: AMD

Hair Quality is now a graphics setting

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2013 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: tomb raider, tressfx, gaming

Tomb Raider is as divisive a game as Halo, either you love the series or can't understand why people are interested in it at all.  As is usual, [H]ard|OCP put the gaming considerations aside to take a look at the technology showcased in the game as well as finding the settings which provide the best gaming experience on several different single and dual GPU systems.  Those who want to experience AMD's new TressFX feature will be glad to hear that you can enable that setting even on a GTX 660Ti.  As far as general performance, high end card owners will be able to use Super Sample AA while others will have to content themselves with FXAA, for resolutions over 1080p you are going to want a pair of GPUs as single GPU solutions struggled to meet even 1080p with high or ultimate settings.  Read on to see how your system will perform and discover which side of the fence [H] is on when it comes to Lara Croft.

H_hair_settings.jpg

"Tomb Raider is the first game to sport AMD's new TressFX feature. This DX11 effect creates a new sense of realism in-game with each strand of Lara's hair reacting to her movement and environmental features like wind and rain. Crystal Dynamics has worked hard to advance our expectations as gamers and enthusiasts alike!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

New Beta NVIDIA GeForce Drivers for Tomb Raider

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2013 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, tomb raider

The last month has been good to PC gamers: from Starcraft, to SimCity, to Tomb Raider, all with the promise of Bioshock Infinite just around the corner. We are being dog piled by one bulky release after another... most of which we are theoretically able to play.

10-nv_logo.png

Of course this is a call to action for GPU driver engineers. The software required to make your video card run is extremely complex with graphics instructions being compiled and interpreted at runtime for routinely shifting architectures. Performance increases are often measured in the double digit percentages albeit for some set "X" of components in some set "Y" of games.

GeForce 314.14 beta drivers launched early in the month with decent performance increases particularly for setups with SLi-paired 680s. Tomb Raider fans found themselves quite a bit left out with the reboot of the franchise doing everything but rebooting their PCs with NVIDIA and Intel hardware.

Now, two weeks later, NVIDIA has released yet another beta driver, dubbed 314.21, aimed squarely at Tomb Raider. Performance increases are claimed to be an average 45% higher than previous versions with some configurations seeing upwards of 60% increases in performance. The delay was allegedly caused by the hardware developer not receiving the game code with enough time before launch to create the updates.

If you are a Tomb Raider, check out the drivers at NVIDIA's website.

Source: NVIDIA

PCPer Live! Tomb Raider Game Stream - Win Games and Graphics Cards from AMD!

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2013 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: video, tomb raider, tahiti, radeon, never settle reloaded, live, crysis, amd

UPDATE: Missed the live stream?  Relive the incredible experience right here!  

On March 5th on the PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some game action of the new Tomb Raider.  In what might be one of the most impressive game series reboots in history, this iteration of the action-adventure gameplay is definitely the most impressive looking to date.  And don't forget all the hair animation we are likely to see...

We will be teaming up with AMD once again to provide a fun and exciting PCPer Game Stream that includes game demonstrations and of course, prizes and game keys for those that watch the event LIVE! 

UPDATE: We are excited to announce that Crystal Dynamics' Brian Horton, Senior Art Director for Tomb Raider, will be joining us on the PC Perpsective Game Stream to answer questions and to give us more detail on the visual effects at work in the PC version of the game!

tr1.jpg

Tomb Raider Game Stream

5pm PT / 8pm ET - March 5th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Warning: this one will DEFINITELY have mature language and content!!

The stream will be sponsored by AMD and its Never Settle Reloaded game bundles which we previously told you about.  Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy, you could get some amazing free games including:

  • Radeon HD 7900 Series
    • FREE Crysis 3
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
  • Radeon HD 7800 Series
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
    • FREE Tomb Raider
  • Radeon HD 7900 CrossFire Set
    • FREE Crysis 3
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
    • FREE Tomb Raider
    • FREE Far Cry 3
    • FREE Hitman: Absolution
    • FREE Sleeping Dogs

nsr_matrix.jpg

AMD's Antal Tungler (@ColoredRocks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as helping me with some co-op gaming!

Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Tomb Raider Game Stream:

  • 2 x Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 OC 2GB graphics cards (plus Tomb Raider & Bioshock Infinite)
  • 1 x HIS 7850 iPower IceQ Turbo 4GB graphics card (plus Tomb Raider & Bioshock Infinite)
  • 3 x Combo codes for both Tomb Raider AND Bioshock Infinite

gboc.png

Pretty nice, huh?  All you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winners!

Stop in on March 5h for some PC gaming fun!!

tr2.jpg

AMD and Crystal Dynamics Use TressFX to bring GPU Compute to Hair Simulation

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 26, 2013 - 07:04 AM |
Tagged: amd, tressfx, lara croft, tomb raider, crystal dynamics

Last week we got an email from AMD teasing an upcoming technology called TressFX that had something to do with hair and something to do with graphics.  It should come as no surprise today that AMD has announced that TressFX is a hair modeling technology that utilized DirectCompute for simulation.  The proper rendering of hair has been a thorn in the side of game developers for decades now and it seems that with every generation of GPU released by either NVIDIA or AMD/ATI we would see a tech demo about how hair modeling "has been changed forever."

This time though, we are seeing the technology in a AAA gaming title.

lara1.jpg

TressFX Hair revolutionizes Lara Croft’s locks by using the DirectCompute programming language to unlock the massively-parallel processing capabilities of the Graphics Core Next architecture, enabling image quality previously restricted to pre-rendered images. Building on AMD’s previous work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT), this method makes use of Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage.

lara2.jpg

DirectCompute is additionally utilized to perform the real-time physics simulations for TressFX Hair. This physics system treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting for forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara’s hair in a realistic fashion. Further, collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara’s head, clothing and body. Finally, hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force.

It's a lot of technology for a little bit of rendering - but realistic hair presents a very unique problem and I am very interested to see this in action when Tomb Raider releases on March 5th. 

I asked AMD a couple of questions including if this was going to be a technology that NVIDIA users would be missing out on.  Their response?  "We don't create features that lock out other vendors."  That doesn't mean GTX 600-series card users will have access to this accelerated hair technology or that it will perform similarly if they do, but I'll take a look when I get my hands on the game.

lara4.jpg

We are hoping to get some video to go along with our screenshots as I think that will have a stronger impact.  You can find more details on AMD's TressFX landing page

Source: AMD

AMD Never Settle Reloaded Bundle Campaign Includes Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 2, 2013 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: tomb raider, never settle reloaded, never settle, Crysis 3, bundle, bioshock infinite, bioshock, amd

You might remember over the holiday season of 2012 that AMD had a simply amazing bundle of games to entice PC gamers to choose purchasing Radeon graphics cards instead of GeForce.  That bundle included Medal of Honor, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution and Far Cry 3.  We were stoked to see that kind of comittment to the gamer and even did a set of three game streams with AMD on each games' release. 

Well after a behind-the-scenes battle that was finally decided just about two weeks ago, AMD is ready to announce the "Never Settle Reloaded" bundle that might actually be MORE impressive based on the games included. 

nsr1.jpg

First up is the reboot of Tomb Raider, a fresh look at the Lara Croft character that I got to get hands on at an event in Toronto last year.  Due out on March 5th, the visuals in this game are damn good.

nsr22.jpg

Bioshock infinite is the third game in the acclaimed series and has a few DirectCompute additions to the game engine code.  Release is set on March 26th.

nsr3.jpg

DMC Devil May Cry is included for the APAC region (instead of Tomb Raider).

nsr4.jpg

And the biggest name in the bundle is no doubt Crysis 3 - a game that many PC gamers have been looking forward to and one that promises to push gaming performance on high-end GPUs to their limits.  I was playing this on a GTX 680 recently (the MP beta) and couldn't get more than 40 FPS at 1080p and Ultra settings. 

So how doese the bundle break down?

nsr5.jpg

If you buy a single Radeon HD 7970 or HD 7950 you'll be able to get keys for both Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite, completely free!  HD 7800 series buyers will get both Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider.

nsr6.jpg

Just to make things MORE interesting, if you invest in a set of HD 7900 cards for CrossFire, or even a dual-GPU HD 7900 card like the Devil 13, you'll get Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs.  That is 6 full PC games worth at least $300 that you'll get keys for just for picking AMD's Radeon cards over NVIDIA's GeForce.

nsr7.jpg

A not-so-subtle jab at the competition...

So there you have it, the Never Settle Reloaded bundle.  This iteration doesn't include anything for HD 7700 series cards but I think most enthusiasts are going to stay in the HD 7850 and above range of options anyway. 

NVIDIA has definitely fallen behind when it comes to these kinds of deals for PC gamers and I want to know what YOU think - do these bundles affect your purchasing decision?  We heard from AMD that at least one major reseller of PC hardware saw an "order of magnitude" increase in sales during the holiday season with the original Never Settle bundle and they even won a Newegg award for best marketing campaign. 

Get ready for game streams again as well - we'll be hosting a few of them in February and March with more hardware and game keys to give away!

UPDATE: These deals are live right now!  You can find a list of the HD 7970 cards at Newegg.com, starting at just $379 and even the HD 7950 cards starting at $295 that come with Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite keys!  If you are looking more in the HD 7800 series range, you can find HD 7870s starting at just $209 with Bioshock and Tomb Raider keys!