ATI has just released its Catalyst 9.1 driver package, bringing full OpenGL 3.0 support to the table, a feature which was made available to Nvidia videocard owners for the first time a month ago. While Direct3D has emerged as a front runner for Windows gaming, it should be noted that OpenGL 3.0's features can be enabled on both XP and Vista, and also Linux and Mac OS.
As can be expected are a number of bug fixes with the new driver, but perhaps surprisingly to some, ATI's Catalyst 9.1 shares the love with Linux, an area long considered a weak spot. ATI says the new driver introduces support for Ubuntu 8.10, while also enabling Hybrid CrossFireX. Also in the driver's bag of open-source tricks is MultiView support, which can be enabled using single or multiple GPU configurations.
(*And a conclusion that, I guess, could be considered a fifth thing, but that’d really be reaching.)
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage is the first drop in an irradiated stream of DLC that Bethesda has planned for its fantastic revamp of the Fallout universe. It sees your wastelander – presumably, by this point, an Iron Man-esque mishmash of cutting-edge weaponry, cold steel, and a 40’s-era radio – stripped right out of his/her tin can and flung (via simulation) into the future’s past that’s still technically our future. Once there, it’s your job to play border patrol for Alaska, keeping China’s Communist government from nabbing Democracy’s swank American job. And make no mistake, son – this is war. But is it a war worth fighting? Well, yes and no. Here’s why.
1. Installing it is like giving birth – Er, not that I’d know what giving birth is like, but I’ve installed Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage, which I’ve heard is a comparable experience. So here’s the rundown: Remember when you feverishly chucked GFW Live into computer limbo because, right after buying Fallout 3, you just wanted to play Fallout 3? Well, that’s actually important now. In order to purchase and subsequently install Operation Anchorage, you must rent out a portion of your precious hard drive to GFW. Then, if you don’t have a GFW or Xbox Live account, you have to snooze your way through some paper work too. Next up, purchasing Microsoft Points. No, your hard-earned dollars are about as worthless as bottle caps here, so you’ll need to have them irreparably mangled into Microsoft Points. After passing Microsoft’s battery of trials (note: I still haven’t said “finally”), you’ll be deemed worthy of downloading Operation Anchorage. Oh goodness, what’s this? Why, has this amount of ridiculous hoop-jumping necessitated a paragraph break – the first in “Five, or Four, or Whatever Things About’s” history?
Jump past the break to, er, find out? Really though, I think the answer's kind of obvious.
Stop the presses! (Ok, maybe not). We wanted to let you know that Best of the Best, our comprehensive list of our favorite PC hardware components, has just been updated and overhauled with new categories and parts that you’ll need to consider for your next PC build or upgrade.
In addition to three new processor categories (Extreme, $500, and $250), we’ve listed our pick for the top Core i7 motherboard. The budget through high-end GPU lineup as also been refreshed, and we now make two hard drive recommendations based on performance and capacity.
Activision Blizzard, aka gaming’s Death Star lurking in a system of Alderaans, is about the only game company to avoid placing hundreds of jobs on the chopping block in order to fuel rapidly waning economic fires, and there’s a reason for that: World of Warcraft.
According to Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, WoW subscriptions likely made up about half of Acti-Blizz’s earnings during its previous fiscal year. This means that World of Warcraft was responsible for earnings per share of around 30 cents out of a total 60 cents. The bottom line for those who don’t follow @thestockmarket on Twitter: Activision Blizzard pulled in $400 million from a four year-old game about orcs, elves, and cow people. Say what you will about Blizzard’s games, but they have some serious staying power.
So then, after all these years, do you still play WoW? You know what? Actually, that’s a dumb question. How about this: why are you still playing WoW, and do you see yourself continuing your genocidal rampage through Azeroth over the next year – even knowing that Blizzard probably won’t release another expansion until 2010?
If ever there was a case for parental controls, it's this: According to Virtual Worlds Management, there are now over 200 youth-oriented virtual worlds live, planned, or actively being developed. In other words, rather than grab a ball and glove after school, kids left on their own with access to a computer will literally have hundreds of virtual worlds to choose from and plenty of opportunities to spend their allowance.
When broken down into worlds targeting kids (7 and under), tweens (8-12), and teens (13+), VMW says "the kids market is the clear leader," noting 107 worlds are banking on at least part of their audience consisting of kids in the under-7 range. To make money off these markets, 59 of the virtual worlds use micro-transactions, giving users free access to the world but charging for virtual goods. Another 57 worlds follow the subscription based model, and 46 use advertising, VMW says.
“Moving ahead, Microsoft will continue to invest in Windows as a first–class gaming platform through great Windows out of box experiences, our online gaming services including Games for Windows – LIVE, MSN Games, and Messenger games, and through new games for Windows developed by Microsoft Games Studios," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
"Our Windows gaming service efforts will be led by General Manager Ron Pessner, who is joining Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. He comes from within Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division.” “Beyond these changes, we are not commenting on specific personnel issues at this time.”
But enough talk; outside of an admittedly nice redesign, GFW’s actions haven’t made a peep as of late. So c’mon, guys – give us your best “Have at you!” The world is watching. Now deliver.
We’re not going to lie; relations with our Xbox 360 have been strained as of late. Its once-alluring vanilla sheen has faded to a dull gray. At one time effortlessly slim and sleek, its hard drive has fallen into a self-destructive cycle of binge downloading and purging. The passive-aggressive blog posts aren’t helping. And now, as though a sign from the heavens to ease our conflicted minds, Resident Evil 5 is officially infecting PCs the world over. Or, at the very least, in Poland.
"We know for sure that a PC version RE5 will be released. We don't know when exactly but we expect that it will arrive to shops in second half 2009,” said Jerzy Cichocki of CD Projeckt, the company that publishes Capcom titles in Poland.
However, the Xbox 360 isn’t ready to relinquish its control on our Gamerscores (and consequently, our hearts) just yet. Fable II’s radioactive crumb trail, sadly, has no intention of illuminating a path to the PC – at least, not in the near future.
"We're not working on a PC version of Fable II... If this changes we'll make sure you know about it on our website(s),” said Lionhead community head “Woody” after rumors of a PC port surfaced.
MSI hopes its new GT627 notebook will satiate both gamers and overclockers alike. The GT627 is the first notebook in MSI's lineup to incorporate Nvidia's GeForce 9800M GS graphics processor with a 1GB frame buffer, and the company's Turbo Drive feature allows end users to overclock the CPU when on AC power.
"Whether viewing or editing photos, finding directions, playing a game, or watching a hi-def movie, the MSI GT627 with the NVIDIA® GeForce® 9800M GS GPU runs silky smooth, with amazing visuals," said Rene Haas, General Manager of the notebook business unit at NVIDIA. "With the GeForce 9800M GS handling the graphics, video and physics acceleration, MSI customers will be ready for the visual computing movement."
The 15.4-inch notebook also ships with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor on a 1066MHz frontside bus, up to 4GB of DDR2 memory, a 320GB hard drive, optional Blu-ray drive, a 4-in-1 media card reader, optional 9-cell battery, 802.11a/g/n, HD audio, webcam, HDMI, eSATA, and a touch sensor.
The PC gaming market isn’t exactly known for clear skies and inviting waters, so one can only imagine that attempting to ford the ol’ river during these harsh economic times would likely result in an unceremonious game over. And so, we speculate, went Microsoft’s logic when it quietly told Games for Windows Live general manager Chris Early to take a hike.
When contacted by Venture Beat, Microsoft simply replied that Early’s time at the software company “has come to a close.” Apparently, he fell off the giant's back along with 1,400 other unfortunate employees.
Frankly, no matter how you look at this, things seem dicey for GFWL. If its head was deemed so non-essential as to be lopped off, you have to wonder how much longer its deaf, dumb, and blind stump of a body can continue to stumble through the buzzsaw forest that is Microsoft in its current state.
As always, we wish Early the best of luck (though technically, this is the second time we’ve done it) and hope he lands in a place where he’ll be able to more effectively pick off the buzzards that everyone seems to think are swarming PC gaming these days.
Have the first shots in the long-brewing Digital Distribution vs. Retail Wars been fired? About two weeks ago, GameStop.com abruptly stopped taking pre-orders for THQ’s upcoming Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II, and scrubbed any mention of the game from its site. While no one has been able to get an official reason out of either GameStop or THQ, the speculation is that the conspicuous disappearance is connected to the use of Valve’s Steam service as copy protection—GameStop is probably peeved that in order to install DoW2, gamers will have to install Steam and be presented with an option for fabulous deals on PC games that doesn’t require hauling their asses down to the mall and digging through all the Barbie Horse Adventure games on GameStop’s depressing PC corner shelf.
Further investigation, though, may indicate that this is no coincidence.