Plants vs Zombies: Game of the Year Is On the House

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2017 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, origin, ea, popcap

Plants vs Zombies is now available “On the House” through Origin. This means that it’s free, forever, if you claim it onto your account while it’s still active. Think of it as a timed, 100%-off sale.

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Plants vs Zombies is one of those games that was released more recently than I remembered. It apparently launched just before I went to teacher’s college. The game was re-released in 2015 as “Plants vs Zombies: Game of the Year Edition” with a little irony, being five years after the year that it would have been game of the year for.

The gameplay is simple, but cute. It’s a multi-lane tower defense where zombies try to eat you brains. You plant defenses to stop them. Each plant has its own power. The plot advances, and you get harder and harder zombies, different terrain, and so forth. Again, it’s a multi-lane tower defense game.

As an aside, am I the only one who thinks they missed an opportunity by not adding a daisy called “DayZee”?

Source: Origin

The Origin of the worlds most powerful DRM revealed!

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2017 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, origin, DRM, assassins creed origins

More powerful than a speeding Core-i5, able to crash a Ryzen 3 in a single launch process; it's not a demo, it's not a plane, it's SuperDRM!  Not only will Ubisoft's new creation prevent pirates from taking over this non-pirate verison of Assassin's Creed (for a few days or so) it can also prevent people who did not invest enough money in their rigs from playing the copy they bought!  This masterful scheme should ensure that only those truly worthy souls, with a machine capable of creating a virtual machine for the game and the Denuvo DRM software to run on will be able to learn the true Origins of Assassin's Creed.  The Inquirer's story also points out that your GPU power does not matter, if your CPU can't handle the completely reasonable request to create and run a VM for the DRM and its sidekick, then your GPU will be stuck waiting on the bus. 

You can vent your Steam here as you wait for Ubisoft to figure out how to get out of this one.

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"EARLY ADOPTERS of Assassin's Creed Origins are have been quick to moan that the open world game is using excessive CPU resources, and it's thought that Ubisoft's implementation of piracy-thwarting DRM tools is to blame."

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Source: The Inquirer

Ryzen powered PC pre-orders

Subject: Processors | February 22, 2017 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, maingear, origin, ncix

I am not one to recommend preordering anything but there are plenty of consumers out there that are, as you can tell by how quickly the new Ryzen processors are selling.  Here is a quick look at three of the system builders offerings you can order as of today.

CyberPower

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They offer four different systems, with all but their new Hyper Liquid model using a Corsair H60 CLC for cooling and 8GB of dual channel DDR4.  All systems come with a 3-year limited warranty and lifetime tech support
 

Maingear

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Maingear is more cooling focused, with custom watercooling available in traditional soft tubing and hardline options.  They also offer MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking, so your Ryzen powered system will arrive already running at higher that reference frequencies.  You will pay a little more but they do put effort into the paint and aesthetics.

Origin

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Origin's systems start shipping on March 12th, with NEURON, MILLENNIUM and GENESIS desktops which come with free lifetime US-based 24/7 support.  They offer  Variable Mounting which allows you a choice between four motherboard mounting orientations, choose the appropriate one based on your preferred cooling solution.  You can also add remote controlled LEDs and in some models, up to 34 drives can be installed.

NCIX

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Last but not least is NCIX who not only offer several choices of custom systems but also list a wide variety of AM4 motherboards and compatible coolers for you to order individually.  The lower end B350 boards look to retail around $150 while some of the high end X370 boards are over $400.  The X370 above features two M.2 NVMe PCIe x4 slots with heatshields while the B350 has only one, exposed to the world. 

 

Mass Effect 2 Is Now "On the House"

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: mass effect, pc gaming, ea, origin

Just a few months out from Mass Effect: Andromeda, EA has put Mass Effect 2 into their “On the House” promotion. As usual, this is a temporary 100%-off sale; if you get it, then it’s yours. All you need to do is log in to the Origin store, browse the “On the House” sub-section of Free Games, and add it to your library. I’m sure EA would like you to install it and get hooked on the franchise as soon as possible, but you can just leave it there for a while if you’re busy at this point in life.

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Mass Effect 2 is generally considered to be the best in the series, at least thus far, so it’s both nice and logical that EA would choose this one for the promotion. The first one had a few technical issues, and it was also the introduction to the series; the team could see what worked and what didn’t, and have the confidence to add new mechanics and so forth. Also, it was apparently designed to be welcoming to players who missed the first game.

Personally, I tried the first Mass Effect but had to reformat my PC before I got more than a couple hours into it, and I never really installed it again. This promotion might be a good excuse to get back into them if I can spare a little time, which, for Mass Effect, means quite a bit of actual time.

Source: EA (Origin)

EA Continues to Give Away Battlefield 4 Expansion Packs

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, pc gaming

EA's “On the House” promotion is basically a 100%-off sale, with the intent of periodically bringing you back to their store. Whatever you acquire is free forever, but you only have a handful of days to claim it. Even if you're not interested in downloading it at the moment, it's good to poke in, press download, and just not actually download it until later. Maybe you'll buy something, too, while you're there. Either way.

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This time is Battlefield 4: Naval Strike. If you have Battlefield 4, but do not have the Premium subscription, then this is your chance to grab a portion of its exclusive content for free. As the name suggests, it includes four, navy-focused maps, a hovercraft, and a new game mode. If you've played 2142, you might remember the Titan mode, where you would capture missile launchers throughout the map to weaken a flying carrier, and eventually destroy it. Similar idea, but with an aircraft carrier.

Also, the Westwood-developed action RPG, Nox, is “On the House” as well.

Source: EA (Origin)

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst DRM Rumors Are Wrong

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2016 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: ea, dice, DRM, origin

GamersNexus wrote a piece that claimed Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has DRM that limits the number of hardware changes to four. According to an email from EA's press contact, it turns out that GamersNexus' article is not accurate. According to EA PR, if Origin detects five activations in a single day, the user will need to wait until 24 hours after their first activation to attempt again.

So you can change your hardware as many times as you want over the life of the game, just not more than four times in a single day, on a single account at least.

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Image Credit: GamersNexus
This message didn't seem to say what they were implying it did. Turns out, it doesn't.

I decided to ask EA when I read the error message that GamersNexus posted -- the article's  interpretation didn't seem right. The wording was as follows: “Too many computers have accessed this account's version of Mirror's Edge(TM) Catalyst recently. Please try again later.” It seemed very odd to me that the wording “recently” and “Please try again later” would be attached to a permanent bricking of the game.

Again, it turns out that this is not the case, unless our press contact was not up to date about this specific title. As much as I dislike DRM, being a proponent of art preservation and archival, this part of Mirror's Edge's DRM should not affect the vast majority of users. This is something that should only affect people who are literally benchmarking a half-dozen (or so) graphics cards.

In short, it sounds like this is a non-issue after all.

Source: GamersNexus

A trio of high powered gaming laptops

Subject: Mobile | May 19, 2016 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, origin, eurocom, gaming laptop, GTX 980M

You have likely run into the 17.3" MSI GT72S Dominator Pro Dragon Edition but have you seen either the Origin EON17-SLX or Eurocom SKY X9 gaming laptop.  The Eurocom especially is rather impressive, a 4K panel powered by two GTX 980Ms in SLI, the other two have only a single GPU, though it is the desktop version of the GTX 980.

The least expensive of these laptops is $2899, the most expensive is $4837.  Take a look at how these beasts perform over at Hardware Canucks.

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"Gaming performance of high end gaming notebooks is quickly closing the gap with desktops. In this roundup we look at over $11,000 worth of desktop replacement options from MSI, Origin and Eurocom."

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PC Gaming Services Want Your Black Friday Money Too

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2015 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: uplay, steam, pc gaming, origin, GOG

While everyone's in a turkey and gravy coma, retailers are hoping that you'll feel a bit browsy with your drowsy. Black Friday deals are popping up everywhere; some are good, but some are token at best... including the Black Friday sale on tokens at the local arcade.

Too soon?

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Anyway, four (edit: Fixed typo) of the largest PC gaming services are Steam, UPLAY, Origin, and GOG.com. Steam is predictably the largest sale. It's another “Exploration Sale,” which is another way of saying, “Here's a few examples of great deals; browse for crap you like. You might find something cheaper. I dunno.” Speaking of a few examples, Elite Dangerous is now just a third of its price. Grand Theft Auto V is now reduced too, although it's not yet in the impulse buy territory. Call of Duty Black Ops III also received a little chop in price, which is unusual for the franchise. You'll probably want to browse Steam in general, especially if there's a game that you've been eying but couldn't justify buying yet.

UPlay's sale is a bit more... weird. If you played Tropico 5 but put it down before buying the DLC, the pack of boosters is now 75% off ($11 CDN here). Surprisingly, the vast majority of sales have nothing to do with Ubisoft titles, and the three exceptions are from 2013 / 2014.

Origin is a bit more rounded in terms of old and new titles. FIFA 16, released just this fall, is about 40% off where I am. Tomb Raider is in the mid-single digits of dollars. Battlefield Hardline is about $10. Do not buy The Witcher 3 here though, if the Canadian prices carry over to the US. The sale even extends back to Command & Conquer: The Ultimate Collection, NHL 09, and Medal of Honor: Airborne. It just keeps scrolling.

Now for GOG. This is, again, a sale that you should probably browse. If you were interested in The Witcher 3, purchasing it from GOG instead of Steam will get you the same sale but DRM-free. Its new price is $29.99 USD, unless you're Canadian. We get it for $23.49 USD at GOG or $29.99 CDN at Steam. I guess they feel like giving a slightly larger discount to compensate for the lack of turkey-goggles. Browse the “On Sale” tab in the bottom right before you leave too.

Origin's Newest "On the House" Promotion Is SimCity 2000

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, on the house, SimCity, simcity 2000

Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, occasionally runs a promotion that is called “On the House”. The best way to think of it is an abrupt, 100%-off sale. If you “purchase” the free game before they put a price tag back on it, then it is yours to keep. Today, the promotion has been applied to SimCity 2000. Log in to the Origin Store and add it to your catalog.

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EA is using money hacks...?

On a related topic, can you believe that SimCity 2000 is just a few months away from its 20th birthday? Some believe that it is the best of the series, although I have never played it. This is one of the many titles that I overlooked, jumping from the original SimCity (Super Nintendo, rented a few times) up to SimCity 3000: Unlimited, which I played until SimCity (2013) launched. Ironically, I received a free copy of SimCity 4 because of the launch issues, so I now have everything from SimCity 2000, onward.

SimCity 2000 is currently free, but will go back up to its regular price at any time.

Source: Origin

Wing Commander 3 Is "On the House" (Free).

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2014 - 08:35 PM |
Tagged: origin, on the house, free, free games

Origin, with its On the House program, has been releasing games for free, to promote their distribution platform. This time, they dug deep in the back catalog and pulled out Wing Command 3: Heart of the Tiger. This DOS-era game is the last of the three focused on "The Confederation" versus "The Kilrathi". It was also the first to use "full motion video", headlined by Mark Hamill, rather than animated cutscenes. "On the House" makes it free forever, if you declare your interest before the promotion ends.

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Not sure if free...
... or Fry from Futurama.

It is also available at Good Old Games, for $5.99, but it does go on sale from time to time. At the very least, it is probably worth picking it up on Origin and, if you like it, pick up the DRM-free version at GoG.com for safe archival.

And if you don't like it? Well, you're not out much, are you?

Source: Origin