Despite its record-setting sales success, Diablo III has seen its fair share of criticism. Yesterday saw a damning new accusation leveled at Blizzard: several Battle.net and WineHQ forum users claimed that they'd been banned from the game simply for playing it on Linux, using Wine. The flames fanned rapidly, with the thread rapidly growing to over 45 pages in length in less than 20 hours. But is Blizzard really swatting the banhammer at Linux lovers?
Blizzard's decision to add a real-money auction house to Diablo III prompted the developer to force users to have an active Internet connection in order to play, to cut back on possible fraud. This has caused much consternation amongst gamers. Another fraud-protection scheme has generated a new wave of anger as digital Diablo downloaders have found their games nerfed until Blizzard verifies the payment, which takes anywhere from one to three days. To make matters worse, a bug in a recent update dumps downloaders into the "Starter Edition" of the game until verification occurs.
FEAR THE BANHAMMER! That's always been the response to cheaters, modders and exploiters in online games. Screw around and you'll get the boot. Unfortunately, that means that someone who plopped down their hard earned cash to play the game no longer can (even if that person is a jerkface cheater). That's part of the reason why Rockstar's approach to cheating in Max Payne 3 is so awesome; rather than swinging the banhammer, the company will let cheaters keep on playing and cheating -- but only with each other.
Meticulous detail, motion-controlled swords and PC exclusivity: that's what noted sci-fi and historical fiction author Neal Stephenson is bringing to the table if his arena-style blade-dueling game, Clang, meets its $500k funding goal. Stephenson, you see, is sick of seeing guns, guns and more guns in games and he -- with the help of Subutai, his Seattle-based media company -- wants to bring back old-school sword duels in virtual form, all powered by Razer's Hydra motion controller.
With all the launch-day DLC, upgradeable options, premium packs and "microtransactions" permeating games these days, sometimes it feels like the $60 you plunk down for a new game is just the down payment. Do microtransactions hurt less if the game is free to play to being with? Crytek's betting on just that; the company plans to go the Tribes: Ascend route and focus solely on F2P titles sometime in the future, after its current slate of big box games -- like Crysis 3 -- are finished and shipped.
OUR SHEPARD LOOKS like hell. He’s got shadows under his eyes that’d frighten the seediest of back‑alley dwellers. Even when he smiles—for instance, while warmly embracing an old friend—there’s a palpable weariness to the gesture. This man, this hero we’ve piloted through countless near-apocalyptic trials and tribulations, is at the end of his rope. The Reapers have decided that all organic life is ripe for the picking, and Earth’s looking mighty juicy. Shepard’s got the weight of the entire universe on his shoulders, and little by little, every agonized step forward breaks his back a bit more.
After playing through Mass Effect 3, we look a lot like our Shepard, but for different reasons. We clearly haven’t slept, and basic hygiene has become so foreign a concept that we reply to the word “shower” with, “Yeah, it’s about 4:27 p.m.” Mass Effect 3, you see, is one of those experiences. By no means is it perfect, but it’s a tale so gripping as to have its own gravitational pull. It's Shepard’s darkest hour, and we had no intention of seeing the sun until its credits roll.
AMD’S MARKETING pitch for the new Radeon 7800‑series GPUs suggests that “serious gaming starts here.” Built on AMD’s Graphics Core Next, the 7800 series, previously code-named “Pitcairn,” offers impressive performance for less than the price of AMD’s 7900 series. Let’s take a quick look at key features, as compared to the Radeon HD 6870 and 6950 GPUs, AMD’s previous players in the midrange.
The 7870 has 1,280 stream processors—more than the 6870, but fewer than the 1,408 in the Radeon HD 6950. The 7870’s 1,000MHz stock clock speed is 11 percent higher than the 900MHz of the 6870, and twice the 6950’s 500MHz clock. In the Black Edition HD 7870, XFX boosts the core clock an additional 5 percent to 1,050MHz. The 7870 ships with the same 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 as the 6950—double the 1GB of the 6870.
The Black Edition ships with XFX’s semi-custom dual-fan cooling solution. As with past cards in this class, the HD 7870 requires two 6-pin power connectors. One disappointment: XFX is continuing its policy of leaving out monitor adapter connectors, so if you don’t have a DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort connector on your monitor, then you’ll need to shell out a little extra for one. It’s mostly not a problem for single-display users, but people with multiple monitors may need to acquire adapters.
Getting your hands on a hot new PC game isn't as simple in China as it is in the United States. The Chinese Ministry of Culture needs to clear a title before it becomes available in stores, a process that's been known to take months, or even years. As a result, impatient Chinese gamers looking to engage in demonic hack n' slashing have resorted to pineapples, phonics and search trickery to get their hands on the much-coveted game.
A few weeks back, we highlighted Nvidia's supercomputer-powered "GeForce Experience" initiative, which wants to use the power of the cloud to scan your hardware and offer one-click graphics setting optimization for PC games. Nvidia announced another cloud-based graphics platform at the same time: the GeForce Grid, a Kepler-based GPU that gaming services can use to power games at a remote location, then stream them to you over an Internet connection. (Think OnLive, but powered by Nvidia.) Nvidia boss Jen-Hsun Huang says he thinks Grid's potential for cross-platform ubiquity could break down barriers and create legions of new gamers.
Would-be demon slays ran into a big problem during Diablo III's opening week; nasty errors and server issues forced many first-day buyers into involuntarily sheathing their swords. The congestion highlighted concerns about the game's always-on DRM, but it turns out there was a good reason for the bad server woes: Blizzard claims Diablo III is the fastest selling game in PC history. Wait! Isn't PC gaming supposed to be dead?