Narrowly power-walking past Duke Nukem Forever in the Vaporware Race to The Starting Line, it seems Phantom is actually doing something. Oh, Phantom? No, we don’t blame you for 404-ing that one. See, originally, the Phantom was planned as a PC-console marriage of sorts – download PC games to a sci-fi pizza box connected to your television and let the good times roll.
But in the end, Phantom was quite an apt name.
Now, one four-year-long facepalm later, here we are, and Phantom Entertainment is hanging a gaudy “Grand Opening” sign on the functioning half of its original plan: an online storefront. We’re sure Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are breathing relieved sighs into megaphones at this very moment.
“Phantom Entertainment today launched its highly anticipated online game store, located at gamestore.phantom.net. The game store features an impressive catalog of over 2,600 PC games including top sellers like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2. The store allows for outright purchasing of video games or try before you buy, and features level 4 merchant abilities,” read the press release.
Apparently, the service will also begin streaming titles in early ’09, which at least has the potential to be all kinds of cool.
So, anyone care to join us in partaking of Phantom’s steamy new service? Or do you plan to wait four years before giving Phantom’s bank account some love? After all, turnabout is fair play.
Ubisoft has had a strange, and ugly history with DRM (read: Far Cry 2), but it looks like they’re aiming to change that.
The latest Prince of Persia game will have zero DRM on the PC in the name of an experiment. “You’re right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games,” stated UbiRazz, a Community Developer for Ubisoft. “A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as [Prince of Persia] PC has no DRM we’ll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.”
It’s nice that Ubisoft is giving the PC gamer market an honest chance in the world of DRM. This blogger just hopes that it actually helps our cause, and doesn’t end up making things much, much worse.
Gaming with just a mouse and keyboard might soon be considered old school if all the new tactile feedback technologies gain traction. There already exists several virtual reality devices (see Norman Chan's Killing Box column in the Holiday 2008 issue of PC Gamer), and coming soon, VR technology will start knocking around your noggin.
TN Games, the same company responsible for the 3D Space Gaming Vest, announced it is working on a force feedback helmet. The company says the HTX helmet is designed to work in conjunction with its gaming vest and will deliver "blows to the head when are you are fired upon." Near-misses will also be registered, letting you "feel bullets whizzing by your helmet."
Rather than use haptic feedback, TN Games' approach to force feedback involves a small air compressor system capable of delivering up to five pounds of force per actuator. As TN Games puts it, five pounds of force feels similar to dropping a roll of pennies on your stomach from six inches above. The question is whether or not blows to the head can be considered safe, and TN Games says it is, claiming the helmet will pose no physical danger so long as it's used according to the instructions.
No pricing information information is yet available, though TN Games says you can expect the helmet sometime in 2009.
It looks like Toshiba has been keeping the Japanese gamer market satisfied lately, with a very beefy line of Qosmio laptops that boast some pretty impressive stats.
The Qosmio line has been pretty successful, releasing some 20 notebooks over in the land of the rising sun. Their most recent additions include the Qosmio FX (15.4-inch screen) and GX (18.4-inch screen). Both feature a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600, an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB HDD.
Their even beefier SpursEngine G50 will feature the same specs of the FX and GX, but with the addition of a SpursEngine graphics system, a second 250GB HDD, a digital TV Tuner, four USB ports, a eSATA socket, 1.3-mexapixel camera, a fingerprint sensor and a dual-layer DVD burner.
The pricing has been listed between $2,327 and $3,767, and they should be available before the end of the year.
Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
Well, looks like EA finally came to its senses. After waving away the issue by, uh, talking about it, the mega-publisher finally popped a wedding ring on Tim Schafer and co.'s baby. Schafer, naturally, is super stoked.
“This is awesome news!” he said. “The quality and creativity of the games EA Partners has been involved with make it a perfect home for our baby, Brütal Legend. Some people were starting to wonder if the saga of Eddie Riggs would ever see the light of day, but now I think it’s clear that this game, like Metal itself, cannot be killed!”
Bit of an odd match, if you ask us -- but then, we're talking Tim Schafer here; only a publisher owned and operated by hundreds of other Tim Schafers would fit his curves.
Really though, we just hope EA doesn't pull a Microsoft before things are all said and done. Our poor hearts are still retching from the last rollercoaster ride.
With pirates closing in on all sides, many publishers abandoned PC gaming's ship as though it were already a potential set for Little Mermaid 9: I Don't Want to Be A Mermaid; I Want to Be A Boat. PC Gaming Alliance president Randy Stude obviously wasn't one of those naysayers, but he does have a few choice words for them.
"If someone wants to leave the PC market [because of piracy], we’ll miss you," he told Gamepolitics. "We’ll watch with admiration as your titles ship in a diluted fashion without a whole lot of game play innovation, at least until you copy the innovation that occurs on the PC. We'll find the great games on PC and we’ll play those."
On top of that, Stude believes PCs and consoles aren't so different from each another, and thinks the two walks of life will end up meeting somewhere down the road.
"The guts of every console should tell you that the capability is there for the PC to act as the central point for all the consoles," he said. "If you bought a PC and as part of that equation you said, Okay, when you’re on the phone with Dell, 'Hey, Dell, on this PC, this new notebook I’m buying, can you make sure it has the PlayStation 4 option built into it?'"
"Well, why not? Why shouldn’t that be the case? [Sony is] certainly not making any money on the hardware. I mean, can’t they create a stable enough environment to specify that if Dell’s going to sell that notebook and say that it’s PlayStation 4 [compatible] that it must have certain ingredients and it must meet certain criteria? Absolutely they could do that."
According to a new study by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana, senior citizens should trade in their Bingo nights and fire up an RTS game instead. By doing so, over-60 seniors have a good chance of improving their cognitive functions.
The test consisted of 40 seniors playing Rise of Nations, a turn-based real-time strategy game with a heavy focus on building cities. Half of the test group received 23.5 hours of training in the game, while the other half did not. Each participant was assessed before and after playing on a variety of tests designed to "measure executive control functions," such as the ability to switch tasks, short-term memory, and other cognitive functions.
Senior gamers who underwent a training session were found to be "significantly better -- and faster -- at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group" with no training. Working memory, short-term memory of visual cues, reasoning abilities, and the ability to identify rotated objects was also improved after playing Rise of Nations.
Now you know what to buy your grandparents for Christmas if you're having trouble coming up with a gift idea.
Call of Duty: World at War, Spore, and Fallout 3 definitely got in a few chomps before getting turned to paste under the weight of WoW's millions, though. Left 4 Dead also made the "November Top Ten" page of 2008's gaming yearbook, though in a somewhat unspectacular fashion -- probably because NPD figures only cover retail sales.
Check out the full list below:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
So, did you pre-pay your respects to a game retailer's barely breathing form last month? And if so, what'd you buy?
Think Bethesda shouldn't have spilled so much Oblivion into the good ol' Fallout formula? Think you can do a better job? Well, here's your chance. After heralding its arrival a couple weeks ago, it's our pleasure to inform you that the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is here! Break out the irradiated champagne bottles!
On top of that, Bethesda has also blown the cover off its G.E.C.K. wiki, a "community-run site where you'll find everything you need to use the The Garden of Eden Creation Kit and make mods for Fallout 3." Or, if you only have text-reading eyes for Maximum PC, you can ride the Internet over to Bethesda's blog, where you'll find a number of handy video tutorials.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to craft the Fallout 3 equivalent of a child's first macaroni drawing. We sure hope our mom likes it enough to tape the computer to the refrigerator door. That'd just be tops!