AMD has made available its ATI Catalyst 10.9 software suite, which you can download directly from AMD or access via your Steam account.
There are only a handful of performance improvements in the latest release, including double digit gains in Stalker: Call of Pripyat benchmark for HD 5700 and HD 5800 graphics cards owners, and single digit performance gains in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena for HD 4800, HD 5700, and HD 5800 owners.
Some new profiles have been added and updated (Aliens Vs Predator, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, F1 2010, Kane & Lynch 2), as well as a handful of resolved issues for Windows 7, Vista, and XP.
We're pretty sure Dawn of War II is the only RTS in existence that requires more micromanagement before you're able to play the game than while you're clickity-clicking through the thick of battle. See, in order to even view the sci-fi strategy title's start screen, you have to first negotiate your way past two login menus – one for Steam and one for Games For Windows Live. In addition to that relatively minor annoyance, most of you probably know GFWL by its true acronym: SATAN.
Fortunately, THQ's decided that it's high-time Microsoft's online games “service”/dark lord of the underworld be kicked to the curb. From here on out, it's full Steam ahead.
"The move to Steamworks will also allow us to provide features like guest passes, free multiplayer weekends, pre-loading and the ability to provide fast turn-around on future patches and updates,” said THQ in a statement.
"This new back end will allow players to invite friends into matches from their Steam friends lists and take advantage of the full set of Steam community features including groups, achievements, and Steam overlay chat channels.”
Dawn of War II: Retribution, which is scheduled to launch in March 2011, will be among THQ's first to finally tell GFWL that “no means 'no'” and declare that its one true love has always been Steam. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, to continue the metaphor, will be singing its best rendition of 'N Sync's “Bye, Bye, Bye” to GFWL as well. Good riddance, eh? This makes us almost as happy as when we heard 'N Sync broke up.
Driver updates through Steam? Brilliant! AMD agrees and has now begun offering Catalyst graphics drivers through the Steam platform, an idea we're shocked no one thought of before.
"Steam gamers will never again have to worry about finding the most recent ATI Catalyst graphics driver," AMD said in a statement. "PC gamers can now detect and install the latest ATI Catalyst driver for their ATI Radeon graphics card directly from with Steam! Gamers using ATI graphics will not only be kept posted on the latest available drivers for their hardware, but with every update they'll know that they're getting the overall best possible gaming experience AMD and Valve can deliver."
AMD says the first ATI Catalyst update to made available via Steam will be ATI Catalyst 10.9
Well, this is a bit of a bummer. In the wake of Valve's release of Steam for OSX, there were rumors that a Linux version was in the works. In a recent interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Valve's VP of Marketing Doug Lombardi let it slip that Steam for Linux isn't in development. "There's no Linux version that we're working on right now," said Lombardi.
We'd like to point out he did qualify that statement with "right now." That could theoretically mean that a Linux version of Steam could happen in the future. He could have been more categorical in his denial, but it's still sad for fans of Tux. We're still holding out hope Valve is just building suspense for a big reveal at some later date. Hey, it could happen, right?
Do we need another gaming service? If OnLive succeeds the way its developers hope, it could be the only service you’ll ever use again. After sampling OnLive over several weeks, we believe in the technology—but we’re not at all sold on the licensing model.
Instead of downloading entire games—a la Steam—or buying discs from an e-tailer or brick-and-mortar store, OnLive streams games instantly. On the upside, the service boasts astonishingly low client-side hardware requirements, because OnLive’s servers execute the game code and stream 1280x720-resolution video to your PC (or Mac). Your computer sends packets containing your in-game actions back up the pipe to OnLive. All you need is a dual-core CPU. We’re talking any dual-core—even Intel’s Atom 330 will do the trick. You don’t need discrete graphics, either.
After Chell, GlaDOS, and the gang warped out of 2010, Valve’s release schedule would have actually been improved if the PC powerhouse announced Tumbleweeds and Cricket Chirps: The Game. At least it would have been something, as opposed for the heaping helping of nothing we’d resigned ourselves to. But as it turns out, the long, cold, Valve-less winter won’t be sold long, cold, and Valve-less after all. See, out of nowhere, Valve has released a game. It’s called Alien Swarm, and you might already know it from back when it was called, er, Alien Swarm.
“Two years ago Valve hired the talented team behind the popular top down co-op mod Alien Swarm. Since then they have been busy working on the Left 4 Dead Series, and now Portal 2. However, we never forgot about Alien Swarm and the team has spent a lot of time bringing the game to Source in between their contributions to the other Valve projects,” Valve said of the extraterrestrial that unexpectedly burst out of its chest.
The best part? It’s already out. Like, now. And it’s completely free, which makes it a gift, which is awkward, because we didn’t get Valve anything. Still though, grab it if you haven’t already. We haven’t spent an extensive amount of time with it, so we can’t recommend it one way or the other. But really, what do you have to lose?
Is the summer videogame drought getting you down? Well, you know what always makes us feel better for about five minutes and then tremendously worse seconds afterward? Spending money. Lots of money. Fortunately, Steam’s price-slashing “Perils of Summer” sale has you covered on both fronts. After it leaves town on July 4, you’ll probably have plenty of games and little-to-no money.
As with previous seasonal Steam sales, Perils of Summer rolls out a new set of featured deals every day in addition to basically handing you a glass cutter and telling you the structural weak points of a treasure trove of gigantic game bundles. The deals, as per usual, are fantastic. Trine for $4.00, every Overlord game ever for $4.50, and BioShock 2 for $14.99 are just a few of today’s best deals. And don’t even get us started on the bundles. If we have to look at them again, we’ll probably just go ahead and write Valve a check that says “all our money” on it.
Nine more days of this will have our piggy banks squealing for mercy. These things add up over time, you see, and while our resolve to resist temptation is strong now, our armor can only hold up under constant fire for so long. Sharks, drowning, and mild sunburns nothing. This sale is the real peril of summer, and we’re pretty sure Valve is fully aware of that.
Has it really been ten years since Deus Ex first launched? We were expecting everyone in the real world to be part man, part machine, and part black leather trenchcoat by now. Oh well. At least Steam's still offering a nice consolation prize: Deus Ex in its entirety for so little that you can probably go take a quick dig through your couch cushions and announce, “I can now afford one of the greatest games of all time.”
Previously $9.99, Deus Ex is now available for the paltry sum of $2.50. Or, throw a couple extra dollars in the pot and you can nab both Deus Ex and its decent-but-not-amazing sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War for a grand total of $4.98. So basically, it's Deus Ex's birthday, but we're the ones getting the presents.
It's an excellent deal, and with Deus Ex: Human Revolution right around the corner, there's no better time to find out what all the hubbub's about. What else are you going to use $2.50 for? Some gum? Enough gas to get you to the pump right in front of you so you can refuel for real this time? This one sounds like a no-brainer to us.
Around this time last month, Valve officially opened up its Steam platform to the Mac community, and in doing so helped chip away at the argument that Macs suck for gaming. What they also did was reveal some interesting statistics about the machines their users are running.
As Steampowered forum member and Mac user "90rmbrown" points out, "facts are facts," and according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey, the average Steam gamer running an Apple computer has a beefier system than those running a Windows-based PC, at least in some areas. Mac users, for example, have more RAM (4GB vs 2GB) on average, while half of those running a Mac have an Internet connection of 2Mbps or higher, compared to 28 percent of PC users. Mac users are also more likely to have a dual-core processor running at 2.3GHz to 2.69GHz, or higher.
Before you whip out the pitchforks and light the torches, there are some things to note here. The sample size of Mac users is significantly smaller than that of PC users, so the hardware breakdown is dubious at best. And where it really counts for gaming -- in the graphics department -- PC gamers have more video RAM, and probably beefier videocards as well.
So what can we take from all this? As Sean Portnoy at ZDNet writes, PC gamers are still getting by with older hardware, while the early influx of Mac users with refreshed hardware could benefit from better graphics. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say -- we'll still take a PC over a Mac any day, especially when it comes to gaming.
What hardware are you running? Hit the jump and post your specs.
You may not be able to name every bone in your own body or all 50 states, but we're willing to bet you're intimately acquainted with each and every component of your bleeding-edge rig. What about other PC gamers, though? How do their PCs stack up? Fortunately for you, Valve's decided to douse that burning question with its latest Steam hardware survey.
First off, Nvidia's still the preferred GPU manufacturer overall at 61%, but Radeon's HD 4800 has sprinted to the head of the pack as the single most popular graphics card. Previously, Nvidia's GeForce 8800 wore that crown.
Meanwhile, the number of users embracing newer tech like Quad Core continues to increase, with 25% of users rocking four CPUs. Fittingly enough, then, Windows XP – tried and true, yes, but also a bit on the old and moldy side -- is looking about ready to give up the ghost. Once the most popular OS, it now sits at a mere 33% – a sharp decline from January's 45%. Windows 7, previously in close second, now takes first with 35%.
Also of note: Mac users – who finally hopped aboard the Steam engine in March – account for 8% of overall users. Which is a great start, obviously, but we're wondering how many of them only showed up for the free cake.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. If you're some kind of strange PC voyeur, put down those binoculars and click on that link. Valve's survey is ridiculously comprehensive, and well worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.