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Futuremark 3DMark Review
3DMark is the ultimate cross-platform benchmarking solution and the first to allow you to test DirectX 9, 10 and 11 level hardware using a single tool.

ATI CATALYST 6.8 Performance Report
A new version of ATI's CATALYST driver is upon us. Promises of performance improvements are put to the test. Is your godly uptime worth sacrificing for a driver upgrade? You decide.

Making and Customizing an Unattended Windows Install CD
Neoseeker's first guide in a series of gigantic Windows customization, tweaking, and tuning guides. Learn how to create your own unattended and customized bootable Windows installation CD with integrated service packs, drivers, and hotfixes!

OS & Software News

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare adds 'Boost Jumps' and 'Grappling' for enhanced movement

12 comments Rory Young - 4:25pm (PST) Like Share

With an exoskeleton, even nerds can become soldiers without training

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Early details on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare have been released by Activision and Sledgehammer Games along with a handful of screenshots. Players should immediately spot that solders in the game are wearing what we can now confirm to be high-tech "exoskeletons" that will "provide unparalleled strength, awareness, endurance and speed." While how exactly this translates into gameplay isn't quite clear yet, there were a couple of teasers related to movement.

Specifically, it's noted that players will now have access to "Boost Jumps" and "Grappling" intended to increase the verticality of the game. The immediate comparisons are quite obviously Titanfall, which employs a double jump mechanic as well as wall-running. The descriptions for Advanced Warfare's mechanics, however, imply something a tad different. Boost jumps sound more like larger than normal jumps, not double jumps, while grappling implies holding onto walls or the ceiling rather than any sort of wall running.

Clearly there's much left to the imagination and until a gameplay trailer is shown showcasing the changes in movement everyone will simply have to rely on their own speculation. My guess would be that Sledgehammer hasn't had the time to truly evolve the Call of Duty core gameplay to something comparative to Titanfall. It's much more likely to expect that classic Call of Duty only with, as Activision says, more verticality. Expect ceiling and roof campers, maps with multiple levels, and hopefully a lot more shooting from the hip.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be launching November 4 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Expect more information as we approach the Sunday, May 4 countdown date and beyond.

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Borderlands 2's 'Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2' raising the level cap again, hits Sept. 3

9 comments Rory Young - 10:41am (PST) Like Share

Combine the Vault Hunter packs for massive damage

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Gearbox just isn't willing to quit with Borderlands 2 DLC content. They're going to wring this towel dry of every single drip. Crazily, they're still pumping out awesome content, so keep it going, guys. Case in point, the Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2: Digistruct Peak Challenge, to be released on September 3. Can you say 11 additional levels, tons of weapons, and a whole new mission?  

It doesn't end there, apparently , because Gearbox wants to reward players who have been dedicated and purchased both Ultimate Vault Hunter Packs. Not only will owning both packs give players 22 additional levels off of the base game, but it will unlock new weapons, new legendary class mods, and "Overpowered Enemies and Loot" too. How do we even keep track of the content anymore?

Oh, well this is handy. Here's the official bullet point list for the new DLC:

  • Raises level cap by 11, for a new level cap of 72 when combined with the first Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack.
  • Characters gain a skill point with every level, for a total of 11 more skill points.
  • A challenging new map and mission, Raid on Digistruct Peak.
  • Powerful new Legendary class mods and rare Pearlescent-grade weapons.
  • The ability to unlock overpowered enemies for more powerful loot.
  • New heads and skins to unlock.

Borderlands 2's Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2: Digistruct Peak Challenge will be released September 3 on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation for $4.99. That's the same price as the previous pack, though the previous pack came bundled with the DLC Season Pass. This second pack is not bundled in with that, unfortunately. Check out the comparison chart below to figure out what content goes where.

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The Walking Dead '400 Days' DLC available this week starting with Tuesday release on PSN

0 comments Rory Young - 2:41pm (PST) Like Share

Only a few days until 400 days...

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Oh me, oh my, the day is finally here! Telltale announced today that The Walking Dead Season One's DLC "400 Days" will be releasing this week. Starting tomorrow on PlayStation Network, Wednesday for PC and Mac, Thursday on Xbox Live, and finally on iOS Thursday the 11. Pulling off a global release for a downloadable title is probably impossible, but Telltale's doing the best they can do.

I got a taste of 400 Days at E3 and I won't be be happy until I'm able to play the entire thing. Really though, I'm not sure if my excitement is more about the events of the DLC itself or just the idea that it may tease even a moment of Season Two. The Walking Dead's first season ended... abruptly. I can't even sleep at night anymore thinking about what we can look forward to.

Make sure to pick up The Walking Dead's 400 Days on the platform you played Season One on, because several decisions carry over. Personally, I'm a PC guy, and also an Xbox 360 guy. I wonder which of those I should carry over first. Love me some The Walking Dead.


Microsoft reportedly dropping Windows Live Messenger in favor of Skype

15 comments Lydia Sung - 1:28pm (PST) Like Share

Company slowly making the transition over several months

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Hope you're not too attached to Microsoft's native IM client, because reports are saying that the company is phasing out Windows Live Messenger in favor of Skype. Several unnamed sources have stated that Microsoft is planning to retire their messaging service, instead replacing it with Skype integration.

Over the last several months, Microsoft has already begun merging the two systems, to a point where 80 percent of instant messages sent through Skype now utilize Messenger's systems.

While Microsoft hasn't issued a comment over the news, official word is expected to come soon, perhaps within the next few weeks. Users can already link their Microsoft accounts to Skype, with Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows, which offers the option to log in using either your Microsoft or Facebook credentials.

Thanks for the tip, Avalith!

Categories: OS & Software

Microsoft spending over $1.5 billion on Windows 8 launch

16 comments Lydia Sung - 3:50pm (PST) Like Share

Biggest product launch in industry's history

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Windows 8 is an expensive gamble for Microsoft, with the company pouring between $1.5 to $1.8 billion into the new OS' launch. Yeah, that's a lot of money, and between Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, and the new Surface tablet, we're not all that surprised.

Microsoft is certainly sparing no expense, making Windows 8 the biggest product launch in the history of the industry. Years ago, Windows 95 only cost Microsoft $200 million in marketing.

This isn't just about the OS either, but whether Microsoft can effectively compete against Apple and Google in the mobile market. As analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group notes, this is one "big risk" for the Redmond company.

Enderle also remarks that "the marketing effort is on a scale you don't see outside presidential elections."

Categories: OS & Software PC Games

Steam for Linux beta launches in October

1 comments Troy Crumley - 2:10pm (PST) Like (2) Share

Private external one for 1,000 users

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Linux faithful everywhere can rejoice, as Valve announced an internal beta of Steam for Linux starts next week, with a private external beta for 1,000 users in October. There were no specific dates mentioned for the external one, but it's welcome news either way.

The beta supports Ubuntu 12.04 and higher, and includes a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 to test. It'll be interesting to see L4D2's performance across multiple systems, especially since Valve tweaked the game to run faster in Linux than Windows. Additional games will not be included, nor will Big Picture mode, but the beta gives Valve a chance to show where it is with the Linux version. Any Linux user interested in trying to have a chance at the beta should read the following:

We will be using a sign up page for the external beta. Information about the sign up will be announced in a future post.

For those new to Linux, we recommend waiting for a subsequent release where more features are implemented along with improvements to the user install experience.

Keep it tuned for updates on how to get into the external beta and future improvements to Steam for Linux.

Categories: OS & Software PC Games

Latest Steam beta allows for multiple installation folders

7 comments Troy Crumley - 9:12pm (PST) Like (1) Share (1)

Finally a built-in way

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Steam's Big Picture beta arrived earlier this week, but there was something else hidden in the files. Luckily, a couple of Redditors discovered the pretty big secret, as Steam now allows for multiple installation folder for the games. A bit of work is needed to pull it off, but it is well worth the effort.

There are some utilities available that do something similar, but this is the first time multiple installation folders have been built into Steam. What you need to do is create a new shortcut for the Steam.exe, but at the end of it add either -dev or -console, like so: "F:\Steam\Steam.exe -dev". Some Reddit comments also claim that -dev adds to the startup time for Steam, but either method will work.

Once that addition has been added and Steam starts, there should be a new "Console" tab up top. Click on that and at the bottom is a text entry box, which is where you type "install_folder_ui". A new window pops up that lets you add in new installation folders for your Steam games. Close that window and then you will be able to install nearly any Steam game to another hard drive, which is ideal for SSD users. Not every Steam game is able to install to a different drive, but a good number do. That's all there is to it, so enjoy!

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Categories: OS & Software PC Games

Microsoft logo gets a new look for the first time in 25 years

40 comments Troy Crumley - 4:54pm (PST) Like Share

Minimalism and squares are in

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Earlier today Microsoft unveiled its new logo, which is the first update to it in 25 years.

Posting on its blog, Microsoft said it was time to change the logo as a new wave of products are about to be rolled out. Nearly everything in the company's lineup is getting a new version this year, and all of them will feature the sharper squares. Says Microsoft:

This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.

The familiar titled shape and curved tiles of the Microsoft logo are no more, as the company has instead opted for a simple square shape. The colors remain the same, but the shape and even the font are different. The font is also different ("Segoe"), which will also be used in marketing communications and products.

Microsoft's new logo will appear first in three of its stores -- Boston, Seattle's University Village, and Bellevue, WA -- while all remaining stores will get the upgrade in the next few months. Televisions ads around the world will end with the new Microsoft logo and any marketing material will feature it. The old one may appear from time to time during the transition, but eventually everything will be changed.

Categories: OS & Software

Comedy Central's comedic political trivia title Indecision Game now available for iOS and Android

0 comments Rory Young - 9:31am (PST) Like Share

Answer trivia, earn "voters", take the country by storm -- no Jon Stewart included

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Comedy Central's Indecision 2012, the cable channel's satirical coverage of election year, is just heating up -- in all the right ways. Just check out this clever headline from their website: "Congressional Hearings Are Sausagefests." Hilarious, right? Anyways, in order to celebrate and/or capitalize on their political coverage and nerdy demographics, Comedy Central and 2K have released the Indecision Game for mobile platforms.

What is this Indecision Game you might ask, but I'm not sure even it knows! Doho, that was a hilarious joke -- indecision, get it? Anyways, the Indecision Game is a humorous, politically-themed trivia game at its heart. That heart is wrapped in a quirky shell with avatar creation (make your own candidate) and an election theme to see which of your friends can win the presidency. Earn voter support by answering questions correctly, rely on political aides to help you on rough questions, and head to your election headquarters to check out real-time results. It might just be more entertaining than the real election, in a depressingly cynical way.

Steve Lux, VP of business development at 2K contributed:

"As the real world race heats up between Obama and Romney, it's refreshing to play a game where smarts count and ballot peeks, smear campaigns, filibusters and investigative committees are all part of an honest day's work."

The best part of all is that Indecision Game is absolutely free, because otherwise it might come across as tactless cash-grab. Good form, gentlemen! You can pick up the Indecision Game on the iTunes app store for your iPhone, iPad or iPod, at the Amazon Appstore for Android and Kindle Fire or on Google Play.

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Categories: OS & Software

Long awaited Minecraft 1.3 release date finalized, time to build an emerald city

55 comments Rory Young - 3:32pm (PST) Like Share

The update includes multiplayer optimizations, but increases resource load of single player

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It feels like forever since the last Minecraft update, patch 1.2.5 I believe, but Jeb and Mojang are finally ready to release 1.3. The new patch will be fully released on August 1, and will include not only a ton of new content but will also make dramatic changes to the client -- for better and worse.

While multiplayer will receive a number of optimizations, single player will now require more system resources than ever. In order to prepare the Minecraft client for the upcoming modding API, single player had to be rebuilt into a shell on top of a background multiplayer server. Mojang is planning to optimize this process, but not in time for the 1.3. Expect more news leading into patch 1.4, which will include the modding API.

Let's get serious though, what can we expect in terms of hard new content? How about:

  • Emeralds, ore, and blocks! Trade emeralds with villagers to acquire all sorts of items including trade-exlusive stuff like chainmail and bottle o' enchanting.
  • Write in books for up to 50 pages! Book recipes now include three pieces of paper and one piece of leather.
  • Several biome changes, such as making mountains in Desert Hills and Ice Mountains taller,  a desert village, and desert and jungle temples.
  • Choose to begin a game with a bonus chest, full of goodies to help you get started in Minecraft.
  • Tons more...

The new Minecraft patch should include more than enough content to keep fans happy until the big modding patch comes out in 1.4. Of  course, the mere delay of the modding API might frustrate some fans. Such is the storied history of Minecraft development, oh well. Look forward to 1.3 anyways, starting August 1.

Categories: OS & Software PC Games
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