Monthly Archives: January 2015

Mario Maker May Launch Later Than We Expected

Mario Maker, the Wii U game that will allow players to create their own Mario levels, may arrive later than we’ve expected.

The game was scheduled to release in the first half of 2015 when it was first announced at E3 2014, and is still listed with that release window on Nintendo’s site. However, Nintendo’s recent earnings release for the nine-month period that ended on December 2014 includes a list of the company’s upcoming games and launch dates, which now shows Mario Maker with the less specific release date of “2015.”

Project Guard, legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s experimental tower-defense game that relies heavily on the Wii U gamepad, which was also scheduled to release in the first half of 2015, no has a “2015” release date as well.

For more on Project Guard, check out our hands-on impression of the game from E3, and for more on Mario Maker, check out GameSpot’s previous coverage.

Watch Star Citizen Devs Talk Wormholes, In-Game AR, and Much More

Last week, Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games held its 2015 Town Hall presentation at PAX South, where it discussed various aspects of the space sim at length. Yesterday, Cloud Imperium uploaded videos of the presentation to YouTube, where you can watch the developers discuss the game’s wormholes, persistent universe, and much more.

In the first part of the persistent universe presentation (above), you can see some early NPC character models, and early concept footage of what jump point navigation will look like. It also includes footage of Star Citizen’s in-game AR, MobiGlas. It’s a functional, contextual interface solution for shopping, accessing information, and any other part of the game where you’d need a menu or head-up display (HUD). You can read an exhaustive explanation of the team’s plan for MobiGlass on Star Citizen’s website.

Overall there’s around six hours Star Citizen talk, which you can find in the links below

Star Citizen, which is already the most successful crowdfunded project in history, is now closing in on $72 million, up from $70 million just a week ago.

For more on Star Citizen and Roberts himself, check out part one and part two of GameSpot’s interview with the legendary designer.

Twitch Hits 100 Million Monthly Viewers

Last year, Twitch hit the impressive milestone of 100 million unique viewers per month, the games streaming service has announced.

Twitch launched a little website yesterday highlighting that impressive number and other stats from 2014. Last year, the site also hit a peak of 1 million concurrent viewers, 11 million total videos broadcast per month, and 1.5 million unique broadcasters per month.

You can see the most impressive milestones in the image above, and check out the full 2014 report on Twitch’s website. If nothing else, it help to explain why Amazon, which bought the company in August of last year, thought it was worth $1 billion.

Earlier this month, Twitch introduced Twitch Music, a library of 500 of pre-cleared, mostly EDM songs that streamers can use without having to worry about copyright infringement.

Square Enix’s Project Code Z Is a New, PS4-Exclusive Spelunker

A new Spelunker game, Minna de Spelunker Z, is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4, publisher Square Enix has announced.

Earlier this week, the Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider publisher launched a teaser website for an upcoming game with the working title “Project Code Z.” Today, during the Tokaigi 2015 event in Japan, the company revealed that game is based on the original Spelunker, which was first released in 1983.

These days, you might better recognize Spelunker’s gameplay from a more recent popular game it inspired, Spelunky. As you can see in the trailer above, much like Spelunky, Spelunker is a 2D platformer, where you venture into a cave, jump around, climb ropes, and collect treasure.

Minna de Spelunker Z is being developed by Tozai Games and will release in Japan on March 19. It will be free-to-play, and while it’s not yet clear how Square Enix plans to monetize it, we can see an inventory system in the trailer where you can equip your character with different items and outfits.

Alienware Alpha Review – GameTech

PC or Console? Alienware’s $500 Alpha tries to tackle both.

Alienware Alpha Review

Numerous Steam machines debuted at CES 2014, but Alienware’s solution, the Alpha, stood out from the pack. It wasn’t an underpowered or rebranded product, and it also wasn’t sitting next to a four figure price tag. Alienware’s little box looked to be the most viable looking console-sized and console-priced offering of the lot.

Alienware started shipping the Alpha late last year for $549 (the high-end version with a faster CPU, more RAM, and an SSD costs $849), but it recently cut that price down to $499. The Alpha is still more expensive than consoles, but also fairly cheap as far as gaming PCs go. Obviously it’s not as powerful as the quintessential PC gaming tower, but it may give Sony and Microsoft’s latest consoles a run for their money.

With a slightly overclocked 860M GPU based on Nvidia’s GM107 chip (the same one that’s found in Nvidia’s 750 Ti desktop GPU), 4GB of RAM, and Intel’s Core i3, the Alpha has all the makings of a good, entry level gaming PC. The 5400 RPM hard drive is a slight disappointment, and it’s likely the source of the Alpha’s occasionally long loading times. Otherwise, the rest of the components make for a surprisingly capable gaming PC given the Alpha’s relatively low cost.

System Specs

Hardware Alienware Alpha
CPU Intel Core i3-4130T @2.9GHz
GPU Modified Nvidia GTX 860M
RAM 4GB DDR3L
Storage 500GB 5400 RPM 2.5″ Hard drive, 6Gb/s

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Performance

While the Alpha simply can’t fulfill the desires of every PC gamer who dreams of pushing graphics settings to ultra, that doesn’t mean that medium or high settings are out of reach. While you can get away with these settings at 1080p in most cases, you may need to kick the Alpha down to 720p if you want to inch closer to 60 frames per second and take advantage of greater lighting and post processing effects. Although Alpha’s GPU supports 4K output, it can’t realistically play games at such a demanding resolution. Despite its PC roots, the primary appeal of the Alpha is like that of a console, such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In the interest of competition, let’s see how the Alpha fares against Sony and Microsoft’s latest consoles.

Tomb Raider, 45-70 FPS: high settings, 1080p, FXAA, TressFX off, tessellation off
The Alpha can’t handle advanced hair found in the PlayStation 4 version of Tomb Raider, but it still handles the game quite well with high settings at 1080p, staying well above 30 frames per second.

Titanfall, 45-60 FPS, high settings, 1080p, 2x MSAA, bilinear texture filtering
Though the difference is only noticeable on occasion, the Alpha stands above the xbox One so far as Titanfall is concerned, one of the system’s flagship games,

Watch Dogs, 35-50 FPS, medium settings, 1080p, texture quality high, antialiasing off, ambient occlusion off
The Alpha struggled a bit with Watch Dogs on high settings, so we had to dial the effects down a bit to hit a reasonable frame rate at 1080p. Still, next to the PlayStation 4 version, it’s hard to notice any major differences.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, 35-45 FPS: High setings, 1080p, ambient occlusion on, tesselation on
Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor could have ran closer to 60 FPS on the Alpha with more conservative settings, but Alienware’s little box stayed above 30 FPS when we turned on advanced settings like ambient occlusion and tessellation, remaining totally playable while looking good, too.

Game Alienware Alpha Xbox One PlayStation 4
Tomb Raider 1080p, 45-70 FPS 1080p, 30 FPS 1080p, 30-60 FPS
Titanfall 1080p, 45-60 FPS 792p, 40-60 FPS n/a
Watch Dogs 1080p, 35-50 FPS 792p, 30 FPS 900p, 30 FPS
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 1080p, 34-45 FPS 900p, 30 FPS 1080p, 30 FPS

These tests make it clear that the Alpha is, on average, as capable as PS4 and Xbox One when it comes to sheer in-game performance. Unlike those systems, the Alpha’s RAM and CPU are upgradeable. If you spend a little more money, you can push the Alpha further than we have in our tests, but at that point, $850, it may be worth investing in a traditional PC with a stronger GPU.

Is it a PC or a console?

Although some people refer to the Alpha as a console, it’s driven by Microsoft Windows, a PC operating system, and with that the Alpha exhibits the same general capabilities and limitations as any other Windows gaming PC. What is unique about the Alpha, and why some consider it to be a console, is Alienware’s custom user interface, which boots up on top of Windows and is 100% controller friendly.

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Currently, the Alpha has only integrated Valve’s Steam service within its UI, because Steam’s Big Picture Mode makes it easy to access its marketplace your own library of games with only a controller. Neither EA’s Origin nor Ubisoft’s Uplay touts a controller friendly interface, and while they are still accessible through the Alpha’s windows 8.1 desktop mode, there’s no way to properly and seamlessly access games purchased through those services within Alienware’s custom UI. In most cases, Ubisoft and EA games purchased directly through Steam will work without any problems. The only caveat: you may need to make use of the Alpha’s virtual mouse mode.

Every Alpha comes with a wireless Xbox 360 controller that, with a simple hotkey combo, can function as a mouse using the left analog stick. It’s handy when you need it, such as the initial setup when you power on the Alpha for the first time, but the need for such a feature reminds you that you are indeed using a PC and not a system that’s completely controller friendly 100% of the time. The virtual mouse suffices, but it’s not an elegant system.

Apart from the backlit Alienware logo, the Alpha is rather unassuming and less ostentatious than most of Alienware’s other systems. If you don’t like the color of the default backlight, or you want to turn off the lights completely, you only need to hop into the Alpha’s settings menu and adjust the color to your liking.

The Alpha has the basics covered when it comes to connectivity. There are two USB 2.0 ports on the front of the box and two USB 3.0 ports on the back, right next to the ethernet, optical audio, and HDMI in and HDMI out ports. The HDMI in port is an unusual feature, but similar to the Xbox One, it lets the Alpha handle video passthrough from another device, such as a gaming console or Blu-ray player. Alienware hasn’t invested in this feature as much as Microsoft–you won’t find guide apps and the like that sync with your cable provider–, but its a handy feature to have just in case you run out of HDMI ports on your TV.

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The Alpha doesn’t offer an experience that’s as composed or seamless as a console, but Alienware has done a decent job of consolizing the PC, outpacing the competition in some meaningful ways. The UI creates the illusion that using a console, and it’s a disappearing act that almost works 100% of the time. Though you can’t tap into Origin or Uplay within the Alpha’s console mode, you can if you boot into the Window’s desktop. Though the Alpha isn’t quite a console, it offers so much more as a PC than the Xbone One or PlayStation 4 ever could. Taking the Alpha out of the home theater and putting it on a desk with a mouse and keyboard open a wealth of functionality that cannot be overlooked. Apart from being able to upgrade the GPU and motherboard, you can do anything with the Alpha that you could with an equally powerful, traditional desktop computer.

With this in mind, the Alpha is a great value. It may be more expensive than consoles, but the difference of $100 is a small price to pay for a console-like gaming device that doubles as a Windows PC. If you like the convenience of the console experience, are interested in the hundreds of excellent games available on Steam, and could benefit from a new desktop PC, $500 is a very reasonable asking price. It may not blow consoles out of the water when it comes to performance, but it comes close. Manage your expectations accordingly and you won’t be disappointed by the Alienware Alpha.

Sony Teases Metal Gear Rising 2 — Report

It looks like Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, the character action game spun off from the Metal Gear series, might be getting a sequel.

The news comes from the 2015 Taipei Game Show, where during a sizzle reel of PlayStation 4 games, the number two, stylized like the Metal Gear Rising logo, appeared for only a second. It appeared specifically during a short clip showing off the PS4 exclusive third-person shooter The Order: 1886. As the character was counting down, the Rising tease flashed on the screen when she said two. You can find the exact moment in this Twitch steam at the 2:46:33 mark.

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima was at the show, but he didn’t discuss Metal Gear Rising. However, looking at his Twitter account, Kojima has been meeting Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta 2 developer Platinum games lately, most recently in December 14, 2014, when he met with Platinum President and CEO Tatsuya Minami.

Is it a confirmation? Far from it. It’s a very subtle tease at best, but one that does seem to fit Metal Gear and Kojima’s sensibility.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengence was released in 2013, and featured Raiden, the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, instead of of Snake, and fast-paced action and an innovative slicing mechanic instead of stealth. GameSpot’s review gave it an 8/10.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain launches in 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A PC version of the open-world game is also in the works, but Konami has not announced a release date for it.

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round Delayed, But Still No Online Multiplayer at Launch

Team Ninja’s fighting game Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has been delayed on PC by more than a month, but it’s online modes still won’t be ready by launch, publisher Koei Tecmo has announced.

The game, which was originally slated to launch via Steam on February 17, has been pushed back to March 30.

“In appreciation for your patience, we’ll be offering the Halloween 2013 Set (28 costumes) free of charge to all users who purchase Dead or Alive 5 Last Round on Steam,” Koei Tecmo said, explaining that it pushed the game back in order to provide players with “the best experience possible.”

However, this doesn’t change Tecmo Koei’s previous statement from back in December 2014 that the game will not have any of its online modes at launch. As the publisher said then “Online modes for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will be added in a patch within 3 months of release.”

Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja previously announced that Dead or Alive 5: Last Round will launch across Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 in North America on February 17, 2015. The game launches three days later on February 20 in Europe.

For more on the game, check out GameSpot’s previous coverage of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.

COD: AW Exo Zombies – GameSpot Plays

Kevin Spacey has given the undead exo-suits and it’s up to you to kill them all. Join Rob & Danny as they explore the latest zombie DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

GS News Top 5 – Ubisoft Deactivates PC Games; Free PS4/X1 Games in Feb!

Microsoft rolls out Xbox One sales details, Ubisoft cracks down on “fraudulent” game copies, and find out what games you can get for free next month!