Our help was needed—again. Such is the fate of a hero. In the world of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures all manner of fishermen, pirates, merchants, guards, beer wenches, and assorted ne’er-do wells require assistance. This motley cast of characters imbues the game with a vibrant sense of life; we just wish that they showed even a bit of initiative and took care of some of their own problems. We were tasked with passing along loads of messages in order to drive the story forward, but in truth, we quickly lost interest in the game’s narrative, as it simply took away from the game’s finest achievement: its fighting system.
Gamers have enough trouble trying to come up with a game plan to beat pesky end bosses and single-handedly defeat armies of mutant soldiers. Saving often gives gamers an endless advantage and cheat codes can help in a pinch, but neither of these tactics will do any good against an increasing amount of real-life threats the online gaming scene.
More than just an annoyance, time spend in virtual worlds like Second Life can translate into real currency and it's attracted the attention of organized criminal gangs. According to security software vendor ESET (best known for its NOD32 Antivirus products), "high volumes of malware intended to steal passwords for online gaming and virtual worlds" have been detected since 2007, resulting in a "dramatic upsurge."
The alarming news comes courtesy of ESET's mid-yearly Global Threat Report, which focuses on broad trends in malware over the past six months. In addition to an upsurge in attacks against gamers, ESET notes that malicious software that tries to use the Windows Autorun facility to self-install from removable media continues to flourish.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the company reports email bound malware is in "dramatic decline," at least when it comes to dirty attachments. Malicious URLs passed through email messages have taken the place of attachments.
Further reading to keep yourself (and your virtual self) protected:
The contest prompt: Create your best mod featuring a brand, character (or characters), or theme from a game of your choice. Winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to PAX.
We had a really hard time picking the winners for this one - they were all so good, we wish we could have chosen them all. But that's not how this works, so in the end our intrepid panel of judges had to pick just three: one Grand Prize winner, one Second Place, and a Juror's Prize for best first-time mod.
You knew it would happen sooner or later, and now it has; a Wii controller knockoff for the PC. Sort of. Asus has dubbed its new Wii remote lookalike as the Eee Stick, "an easy-to-sue use yet highly versatile Plug and Play wireless controller for the PC platform that translates users' physical hand motions into corresponding movements onscreen."
Interestingly Asus has no plans of selling the Eee Stick as a standalone peripheral and will instead bundle the motion controller exclusively with select models of the Eee PC and the Eee Box. Huh? We don't understand it either, but Asus justifies the move by saying the Eee Stick is "perfect for gaming on-the-go."
The vibration capable controller connects via a 2.4GHz RF dongle with a broadcast range of 10m. Two AA batteries are required to power the Eee Stick, which Asus claims will provide up to three days (72 hours) of continuous play.
Will the Eee Stick entice potential customers to pick up an Eee PC or Eee Box, or is Asus making a mistake by not offering the controller as a standalone device?
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 looks and plays like a rehash of last year’s original. Put both action shooters side by side and you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between them. This doesn’t mean Vegas 2 is terrible—the first game was a righteous shoot-’em-up that melded quick pacing with exciting firefights. The follow-up fleshes out the story and completes the plot lines left unfinished in the last go-round, but it falters from the same tiresome action sequences that are more frustrating than challenging.
The next time your Xbox Live opponent threatens to destroy you with their mind, he might actually mean it. The same holds true for the Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles, as OCZ is considering bringing its Neural Impluse Actuator to all three major consoles.
In sci-fi fashion, the NIA interprets electrical signals from your brain to issue commands and so far the device is only available for PC gamers. But in a meeting with TechRadar, OCZ's director of marketing Tobias Brinkmann said his company is actively looking into porting the controller over to consoles.
"It's definitely something we are looking into," Brinkmann said. "The thing we think would be most cools is to get the NIA working with the Nintendo Wii - that would be good. But of course it would be great if we could get it working with all the consoles."
OCZ isn't the only company that sees a future in thought controls. Brinkmann claims that Microsoft once tried to aquire the NIA technology from OCZ, perhaps in an attempt to separate its Xbox 360 console from the PS3 and Wii.
Is mind control the next big thing? Post your thoughts below, or just think them.
Microsoft made headlines recently by proudly proclaiming it would support Netflix streaming video to Gold members starting this fall at no additional cost. They have also announced plans to open a community application store whose concept very much mirrors the approach taken by Apple with the iPhone app store. Anyone can apply to join the XNA Creators Club, as long as you have the $99 application fee and a unique idea to work with. Microsoft will distribute content at prices ranging from $2.50 to $10.00 taking a mere 30% cut of the profits. Most readers know this approach is about as creative as the mii2 avatar’s but is still a step in the right direction. With community application support and streaming video now coming to the Xbox, it speaks to a larger trend. Consumers are increasingly looking for a one box solution to their entertainment needs. And the battle for the living room is just starting to heat up.
Click the jump to see to see why the future of all in one entertainment devices is bright.
One of the big announcements at this year’s Gamefest – Microsoft’s XNA developers conference taking place in Seattle right now – is the next step for the Games for Windows initiative. We spoke with Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows, who gave us a breakdown of the updated service and how it’ll affect current GFW account owners. Kevin also clued us into the details from the official DirectX 11 unveiling, including what three new features have been added to the API.
Click through the jump for more details, and how this affects gamers who've already paid for GFW LIVE accounts.
Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek finally have a role-playing game that’s worthy of their love. Mass Effect takes the most compelling themes and ideas of both franchises and mind-melds them into one of the best science fiction games we’ve ever played.
The full review of this stellar science-fiction epic is after the jump!
Being an early adopter doesn't always net you bragging rights. Just ask your neighbor how his HD-DVD player is working out for him, or your co-worker what he bought with his Apple gift card after being one of the first to own an iPhone. And in the world of PCs, being the first to own a Geforce GTX 280 means you're stuck watching others pay $499 for the same videocard you plopped down $649 for just weeks ago.
It's because of this that XFX's latest announcement comes as an epic win for its customers. The company says it wants to "thank you for your loyalty and believing in the XFX brand," and to prove it, XFX is issuing up to $120 cash back for anyone who purchased an XFX-brand Geforce GTX 280 or 260 videocard between June 16, 2008 and July 11, 2008. This from the same company that offers a double-lifetime warranty on all its videocards.