ATI recently updated its Catalyst driver package, and now the company has released a hotfix to address problems gamers might have been having in Far Cry 2, Stalker Clear Sky, and Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Specific fixes include:
Performance boost in Far Cry 2 with DX9 and CrossFire
Performance boost in Far Cry 2 with DX10 on both single-card and CrossFire setups
Performance boost in Stalker Clear Sky with DX10 and DX10.1 on both single-card and CrossFire setups when running "higher resolutions"
Addresses a corrpution issue in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway on the 'Black Friday' level
The hotfix applies to both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista and XP starting with ATI's Radeon X1600 series and moving on up to the Radeon HD 4800 graphics cards.
With a struggling economy and an uncertain market, economic times are tough all around, but not just in the real world. Virtual worlds are feeling the crunch as well, as Second Life netizens are unable to escape their first life financial troubles.
News outlet Silicon Alley Insider reports Second Life's base of paying customers continues to decline. But that's just the beginning. Prices for virtual land have bottomed out, the site says, and Linden Lab hasn't been able to introduce new land into the virtual environment for months.
The inability to sell new land is bad for Linden Lab, who's business model largely revolves around this source of income as opposed to selling advertising. It's also bad for existing players, as Linden Lab just announced a revamped pricing model for its "Openspaces" virtual land. Beginning January 1, 2009, the monthly maintenance fee will increase two-thirds from $75 to $125 per month (those are U.S. dollar signs, and not Linden dollars).
For those not familiar with the game, "unlike normal regions that effectively get a CPU to themselves on the server, there can be up to four Openspaces on a single CPU (so 16 on a quad-core machine), sharing the resource." Linden Lab says that these Openspaces were originally intended for light use - ocean and green spaces - but they're instead being used with more content and heavier traffic than expected, hence the price hike.
Is Linden Lab justified with its price increase, or are existing customers footing the bill in what Silicon Alley Insider says is Linden Lab's Bailout Plan? Hit the jump and sound off.
With all the hoopla surrounding Intel's Centrino 2 platform, it might be easy to forget that AMD is also a player in the mobile market. But who hasn't forgotten is MSI, who just released a pair of new gaming notebooks to the U.S. market with CPU support for AMD's Turion X2 Ultra dual-core mobile processors.
On the lighter end of the spec sheet, MSI's 15.4" GX630 utilizes Nvidia's MCP77 chipset with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. Gaming duties are handled by Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT with a 512MB frame buffer, and two speakers tackle audio chores.
Depsite its Nvidia-centric name, the 17" GT735 runs on AMD's RX781+SB700 chipset, also with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. That also means an ATI based videocard, specifically the Mobility Radeon HD3850 along with 512MB of GDDR3. Audio gets an upgrade as well with four speakers plus a subwoofer.
Both notebooks boast a 320GB SATA hard drive, DVD burner (optional Blu-ray), 802.11b/g/n, webcam, an HDMI port, a 4-in-1 card reader, eSATA, and two (GX630) or three (GT735) USB 2.0 ports. But while the specs may seem standard fare, both machines will come with the option to overclock by way of a button, which MSI claims will increase the speed of the CPU by as much as 15 percent.
The new notebooks are available now from several online e-tailers, including Amazon.com, Buy.com, ZipZoomFly, and Mwave for between $1050 to $1115 (GX630) and $1230 to $1300 (GT735).
Much has been made in the media over Spore's DRM scheme, which now limits gamers to five activations (recently pushed up from three activations amid an intense internet backlash). By and large, Electronic Arts has caught most of the criticism for saddling Spore with a modified version of SecuROM, arguably the most hated form of DRM in the gaming community. But should some of the ire be directed at Will Wright as well?
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more," Wright told Jim Reilly from Kotaku.com. "It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate, which makes it more in line with iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
Take from that what you will. While it sounds like Wright has been drinking some of John Riccitiello's Kool-Aid, who recently downplayed DRM with claims that it's only an issue for 0.2 percent of gamers, at least Wright acknowledges the other side of the coin, which is that gamers tend to be enthusiasts who frequently change around their system.
Does EA deserve all the blame on this one? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
If you're a game publisher, what do you do when one of your most anticipated titles sparks an internet backlash over its DRM scheme resulting in thousands of Amazon user 'reviews' contributing to an abysmal 1.5 star rating with mostly vile comments, a cracked copy being made available since day 1, and encouragement from some to pirate the game as a form of protest? If you're EA, you rub salt in the wound while it's still fresh.
During an Q&A session at the Dow Jones/Nielson Media and Money Conference, EA Games CEO John Riccitiello downplayed all of the above with claims that the majority of gamers aren't bothered by DRM.
"We implemented a form of DRM and it's something that 99.8 percent of users wouldn't notice," Riccitiello said. "But for the other 0.2 percent, it became an issue and a number of them launched a cabal online to protest against it."
To be fair, EA didn't cast a completely deaf ear to the outcries and increased the number of allowable activations from three to five PCs. But that makes it all the more curious why Riccitiello would seemingly taunt gamers after throwing them bone.
Do you agree with Riccitiello in that the majority of gamers wouldn't have noticed the DRM scheme had a minority not protested so loudly, or do you view this as a slap in face? Hit the jump and sound off.
Nvidia this week has released new WHQL videocard drivers - version 178.24 - applicable for GeForce 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, and 200-series owners. The 85MB download sports a number of improvements, including PhysX acceleration on all GeForce 8-, 9-, and 200 series GPUs with at least 256MB of graphics memory. Intel X5400XS motherboard owners can now run up to 3-way SLI with the new driver package.
Gaming looks to get a sizable boost with the new drivers as well. Nvidia claims both Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock (DX10) will see a 15 percent gain by running 178.24, while Assassin's Creed (DX10) will get an 11 percent bump on a single card setup. For those sporting 2-way SLI, World in Conflict (DX10), Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (DX10) are said to run at least 10 percent faster.
If there's one surefire way to piss off Maximum PC readers, its by mixing politics with technology news. But despite the ire that will inevitably ensue (don't worry, we're not telling you who we think you should vote for), sometimes the two sections overlap to where we must risk the torches and pitchforks in order to report what's going on.
In this case, the real subject matter is in-game advertising. Love it or hate it, in-game ads are here to stay and they might even help decide who our next president is. At the very least, it could become a growing trend. We're talking about political ads preceding an election, and helping to set what could become a precedent, Barack Obama's reaching out to Xbox 360 gamers through virtual billboards. The ads have been spotted in Burnout Paradise, which apparently have been purchased for an undisclosed sum.
"I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout," Holly Rockwood, directory of corporate communications at Electronic Arts, told Gigaom.com in an email. "Like most television, radio, and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates."
EA went on to clarify that the ads' subject matter "do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development team." But that might not matter if gamers feel that mixing politics with videogames is taking advertising too far.
Do you have a problem with political billboards appearing in games? Hit the jump and give us your take.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. According to the latest rumor, Microsoft plans to offer an external Blu-ray drive for its Xbox 360 console. Wait! On second thought, just hear us out.
We've heard this rumor time and time again, and in each instance, Microsoft has been quick to deny the speculation. So what makes this time any different? Possibly nothing, but it's worth noting that Microsoft hasn't publicly squashed the rumblings, at least not yet. Nor has Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology Corp (let's just call them TSST), a joint venture that XbitLabs says has been contracted to produce the external drives. If the rumor pans out, the targeted price point will be in the vicinity of $100 to $150.
Hit the jump to learn why Microsoft should go through with this.
The era of quad-core mobile gaming draws closer as Asus gears up to release its G71 gaming notebook. Quad-core processors in notebooks are nothing new, but the G71 will use a true mobile quad-core CPU, specifically the Intel QX9300.
The 17-inch notebook uses a GeForce 9700M GT videocard with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM to push gaming pixels on the display's 1920x1200 resolution. Users can configure up to 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory, and on the non-volatile storage front, up to two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB. In other words, it will be a long time before you have to decide between installing a new game or storing porn.
Other features include a 2MP webcam, secondary keyboard display so you can keep an eye on your MSN Messenger IMs while gaming, optional Blu-ray drive, HDMI, eSATA, and everything else you'd expect to find on a modern high-end laptop.
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but did we mention it comes with a quad-core processor?
The writing has been on the wall since back in 2007, and now it's official - Google's AdSense for Games is ready to be rolled out. The in-game ads will focus on browser-based Adobe Flash games, giving web-based game developers and publishers the ability to integrate video ads, image ads, or text ads in a variety of placements, including in between level changes.
Today's launch will see Adsense for Games introduced in about two dozen games from publishers Konami, Playfish, Zynga, Demand Media, Mochi Media, and more. To be eligible, Google requires publishers have a minimum of 500,000 game plays with 80 percent of traffic originating from the U.S. or U.K. The application also stipulates that the content must be family safe and targeted at users age 13 and up.
How receptive online gamers will be to the new ads remains to be seen, but an earlier report on the topic suggests there probably won't be any angry mobs à la Spore/Amazon. In a survey of 400 gamers, Macrovision found that 83 percent would have no problem watching a 30-second ad in exchange for free game play, although they probably weren't thinking about Flash based games.
Thoughts on Adsense for Games? Hit the jump and let us know!