"Mwahahaha," I cackled gleefully as I skewered a yet another hapless Storm Trooper in the recent Star Wars: The Force Unleashed demo. "Help!" the poor soldier's cry echoed off the walls. But I didn't care. With a flick of my character's wrist, my foe's armor was put to its final test: a steel reinforced ceiling. My grin only widened when gravity yanked the Storm Trooper out of his skyward flight, planting him on the cold floor with a satisfying crack.
I'm a maniacal jerk.
Or at least I was -- in the game. Actually, "irl," I'd say I'm a fairly mild-mannered person. But unless you consider cheaply-constructed, mass-produced action figures to be an artistic medium, videogames are the only medium that allows us to act out our (seemingly sick) fantasies. Gaming's greatest detractors fault our hobby for being violent, and I'm not inclined to disagree with them. But hey, over-the-top violence goes hand-in-hand with interactivity. With the aforementioned action figures, many of us staged tumultuous battles, with swords, guns, fists -- everything -- in an almost primal manner. And it was fun.
Fact is, people are inclined towards violence. We wolf down popcorn while watching actors pretend to put bullets in each others' brains; we slow down traffic for a gander at a car accident. Our media expresses this -- caters to it, even. But society goes on. Few of our sane population are lugging around shotguns or holding up convenience stores with trusty stabbin' knives. Sure, circumstances cause people to do some pretty awful things, but generally out of necessity -- not for fun. And really, that's why videogame violence is great. It's catharsis -- a harmless arena in which we can live out our horrific, Trooper-smashing fantasies.
So, what's the most sadistic, cringe-worthy thing you've ever done in a game? To take things a notch further, think about the gamess you typically play. How many of them aren't in some way violent?
Today's Roundup features games that are, as you'd expect, violent, but one in particular uses its controversial brand of destruction to further a greater cause. In addition, you'll find Clive Barker's pie-in-the-sky dreams for the horror genre, hardware manufacturers' dirty little piracy-related secret, and more. It's all after the break.
Do you subscribe to Maximum PC magazine? If so, turn to page 11 in the recently released October issue (everyone else scroll down to the 2-free trial issuesl order form, or jump straight to the subscription page). In the sidebar, Tom Halfhill discusses how AMD isn't too big to fail, and should they fall, it would leave Intel as the sole provider of x86 chips to the high end consumer market. Even staunch Intel fans can recognize this to be a bad thing, and as Halfhill points out, "AMD's demise would [overnight] create a monopoly that's almost impossible for another company to break." Or would it?
According to one of the hotter rumors making the rounds on the web, Nvidia might be doing more than just looking to get into the x86 market, they might already be working on it. Preposterous? Maybe not. Few would consider Intel's and Nvidia's relationship to be a warm and fuzzy one, and as the divide between GPUs and CPUs look to close, it's at least within the realm of possibility that Nvidia could be hashing out a x86 chip.
One of the biggest sacrifices power users must make when picking out a notebook inevitably comes down to battery life. Lugging around a desktop replacement isn't just heavy, it also means portability becomes a PITA, as you better have a power outlet nearby when the battery loses its juice. But what if enthusiasts could have their portable cake and eat it too?
Intel looks to serve up such a dish as part of its Centrino 2 platform with switchable graphics. From within the OS, gamers and other power users will have the option of switching between discrete graphics during intense fragfests and internal graphics when hashing out that less demanding TPS report.
The power savings, according to Intel, will be as much as one-third, which in some cases could add up to an hour (or more) of battery life. More than just lip service, Intel held an onstage demonstration showing a laptop consume about 25 watts of power while using discrete graphics. Switching to integrated graphics dropped the consumption down to 15-16 watts.
Is this the feature power users have been waiting for?
Intel adds a few processors and drops a few prices this month in it’s CPU line up. There doesn’t appear to be any shakeups from Intel’s expected plans.
Intel's Core 2 Extreme Quad Core line remains unchanged, but in the standard line, the Q9650 joins the line up at the top, while the Q9550 drops 40% from $530 to the Q9450 previous level of $316. The Q9400 is also new, and enters at the same price as the Q9300 and Q6700 (a 65nm process CPU) at $266.
The only other prices changes were in the Xeon line, with the new X3370 coming out and the X3360 dropping 40% to $316.
All prices are in 1000 tray units.
We will certainly see more changes when Intel ships Bloomfield sometime in Q4.
We can all agree that the Mac commercials blasting all things PC (most of which revolve around Microsoft's Vista OS) aren't always accurate, but few outside the PC loyal would argue they're not funny. Or at least they used to be - there are only so many times you can watch Justin Long remind the world what a supposed hip computer user looks and dresses like.
Now it's Microsoft's turn, but rather than try to redefine 'cool,' it's reportedly going back in time a decade to snag an instantly recognizable spokesman who's most recent celebrity role involved a voice over for a talking bee. According to The Wall Street Journal, Jerry Seinfeld will be one of the key celebrity pitchmen for Microsoft's new $300 million advertising campaign, in which Bill Gates will also appear. Also fresh from the rumor mill, look for the new slogan "Windows, Not Walls."
The new ads are likely to debut on September 4th. Lulz?
Between raising the fee scale to censoring sellers from leaving anything less than positive feedback, Ebay has found itself under an increasing amount of scrutiny this past year. The online auction site is also finding that e-tailers are starting to offer more competitive pricing, a move Ebay believes is responsible for driving potential customers away from its auction format as buyers look for instant gratification.
"Buying online has changed," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of the market research firm ChannelAdvisor. "Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price."
To win customers back and prevent others from leaving, Ebay will once again change its fee structure, this time to the advantage of sellers looking to unload goods at a set price. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay just 35 cents to list a fixed price "Buy It Now" auction, representing a 70 percent reduction in upfront fees.
While the new pricing scale might not be met with a warm welcome by sellers who prefer the auction format, Ebay is quick to note that "sellers can still choose to list items in Ebay's auction-style-format, which, with a low start price, remains the most cost-effective way to offer many kids of items."
Comcast is not about to stop in its attempts to manage heavy users on its network after the hand slap from the Federal Communications Commission that found that Comcast had improperly blocked peer-to-peer programs.
Bloomburg reports that Comcast now has plans to slow Internet service to the heaviest users during periods of congestion. The internet speeds for targeted customers will be reduced for periods lasting from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, to keep the service running smoothly for other users.
How much of a slow down? Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services said it would back down to “a really good DSL experience''.
Internet Service Providers need a way to control bandwidth hogs during peak times in order to keep things profitable. The only other way is to add additional bandwidth that they would never even touch the rest of the time, which comes off their bottom line. Comcast’s first mistake was being sneaky about it and not disclosing the practice to consumers.
I actually like their latest idea, but from the sounds of this, they are about to repeat their second mistake; not defining what constitutes a heavy user and what exactly is this penalty phase with the bandwidth cap? The generalities just make users uneasy. Those same uneasy users will backlash if they unknowingly get caught up in Comcast’s heavy user slowdown, with what they see as reasonable usage. That reasonable usage is completely subjective, unless Comcast chooses to define it.
What do you think? Is Comcast’s latest plan an improvement?
With the emergence of eSATA combined with Firewire still sticking around, competition remains stiff for USB to stay on top of its game. Helping it do that, NEC this week expanded its wireless USB devices lineup with the introduction of the uPD720171 wireless USB host controller. The new controller ups the ante over NEC's previous model with higher throughput and higher performance.
"As the consumer appetite for wireless connectivity increases, the industry is requiring reliable, standardized interface solutions that can transmit data at speeds equivalent to wired USB connections," said Yoshiyuki Tomoda, Group Manager, SoC Systems Division, NEC. "By providing these performance levels, our new uPD720171 host controller is helping bring the industry closer to mainstream adoption of advanced wireless technologies."
NEC claims the new host controller supports data transfer rates of up to 480 Mbps within a maximum range of three meters, along with up to 32 connections to physical wireless USB compliant devices. Pricing and availability are yet to be determined.
Archos has divulged details of three new Internet Media Tablets, Archos 5, Archos 5G and Archos 7. The Archos IMTs run on the TI ARM Cortex microprocessor and offer WiFi and 3.5G HSDPA connectivity. Only the Archos 5G has inbuilt 3.5G connectivity and users will have to buy additional plug-ins for using 3.5G on other two tablets.
The Archos internet tablets offers 5 to 7 inch touch-screens and up to 320GB of storage. There are a lot of plug-ins and accessories like the high-definition video plug-in that offers 720p video playback. Throw in the DVR peripheral, the Archos turns into a digital video recorder and, additionally, it lets users browse the internet on their TV using a remote control. The DVR accessory even lets users beam live TV to a wide gamut of devices using WiFi – a portable media center of sorts.
The Archos 5 goes on sale sometime in September and will be available in three versions, 60GB ($349.99), 120GB (399.99) and 250GB ($449.99). The Archos 7 and Archos 5G internet tablets will be available in October and early 2009 respectively.