Sunday, December 23, 2007

WTF: Beijing Teen Sets Fire To Classmate, Blames It On Being A "Fire Mage"

After losing a fight in school, a 17 year old boy in Beijing doused his classmate with petrol and lit him on fire. According to Beijing News the teen claimed that he “had lost himself in World of Warcraft” and “transformed into a Fire Mage.”

The teen has since been sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay the victim and his family 760,000 RMB (about $103,140 USD). (Wired)

Hell yeah, if I lost a fight in a public school playground I'd probably whip out my desert-camo Dragunov and start knocking off kids left, right and center too. Oh wait, you mean Call of Duty 4 isn't real life after all? Doh.

Beijing News

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Weirdest Gaming Records

From CVG comes the news that the Guiness Book of World Records, purveyors of ever-spiraling and progressively stupider world records, will apparently include a section for gaming for the first time ever. Woo. Someone count up the most days off work record for playing games and I'm in a close second. Till then, there's a few from that list after the jump below.

Longest prison sentence for playing a video game
In September 2002, the UK's Faiz Chopdat was jailed for four months for playing Tetris on his mobile phone on a plane. Nobody has been jailed longer for playing a video game.

Smallest Dance Dance Revolution Mat
The smallest DDR mat in the world measures 10 cm (4 in) wide by 11.5cm (4.5 in) long and weighs just 20 g (0.7 oz) and is the world's first hand-held dance mat.

First game to inspire a ballet
The first video game to inspire a ballet was Dragon Quest.

First gaming clan to legally bind their players
The success of Counter-Strike inspired the first ever gaming clan to legally bind their players to the clan. The clan, SK Gaming, subsequently became the first clan to have a player bought out of their contract when Team NoA bought Ola "elemeNt" Moum for an undisclosed sum in May 2004.

Most expensive home-made flight simulation cockpit
Australian trucking tycoon Matthew Sheil has spent the last eight years constructing a flight simulator cockpit based around the Boeing 747-400. To date the project has cost $300,000 Australian dollars (£132,000) - it is the most expensive home-made flight simulation cockpit in the world.

Largest virtual beer festival
Once a year the warring factions of the Horde and the Alliance put down their arms and celebrate "Brewfest"; the world's largest virtual beer festival.

Most wins on Wii Sports
Most consecutive one-game wins of Wii Sports Tennis by an individual against multiple players is 21 set by Sta Kostrzewski (France) at Virgin Megastore, Paris, France on 7 November 2007. pictured

Character with the most real life stand-ins
Having been officially portrayed by nine different models, Lara Croft is the video game character with the most real life stand-ins.

Most prolific video game character
Mario has appeared in 116 distinct titles (not including remakes or re-releases) making him the most prolific video game character of all time.

Largest instruction guide for a racing video game
In China and Japan, the first editions of Gran Turismo 4 included a 212-page reference guide. The book feature a car index, an introduction to racing physics and various professional tutorials.

Most collectable items in any platform game
The most collectable items in any platform game is 3,821, held by UK developers Rare for Donkey Kong 64, released in 1999. Players can collect 201 golden banans, 3,500 coloured bananas, 40 banana medals, 20 banana fairies, 40 blueprints, 8 boss keys, 10 battle crowns, 1 Nintendo coin and 1 Rareware coin. There are also many infinite-supply items to gather, such as banana coins, watermelons and headphones.

Most players in an online race
The biggest race ever staged online was in TrackMania, where 132 players took part in a single time trial. In addition to standard races, the game uses a turn-based system to achieve such large numbers of racers.

Smallest game of Tetris
With the aid of a microscope, a game of Tetris was played at the Physics of Complex Systems Department at Vrije University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in November 2002 using tetraminoes made of tiny glass spheres. Each block measured just one micrometre (1/1000th of a millimetre) across.

Most uses of the F Word in a game
During a one-hour lunchtime LAN session of Quake III Arena team produced 4397 profanities, including several uses of the F word that no one had ever heard of, and received two official complaints from the HR department. They also went through a box of PC mice, after slamming them on the desk every time they got shot with the rail gun on The Longest Yard.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Wii: Fuck You Nintendo, I Won't Play Your Wii

If you:

a) Remember Matthew Broderick as being the coolest actor of his time

b) Have owned every (or nearly every) single video game console ever made


c) Are a 'casual' gamer who loves owning a Wii and inviting 'friends' round to play virtual tennis

I highly recommend you read this blog post from my new favorite blogger. To quote (and whip up that appetite of yours):

(A) casual gamer is a term for someone who fucking sucks at video games, but plays them once in a while so they fit in with other beings of superior intelligence and manual dexterity. I’m a casual gamer for games that suck – I play them for 10 minutes and I shut them off – permanently.

If you can handle more - read on, this guy is brilliant. Link here (TommyV2)

And here is the rest of it

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

TECH: Turn Your LCD / TV Into A Touch Screen With a Wii-mote

This is pretty cool. That is, if you like dissecting electronic things and potentially destroying every new toy you buy.

More on this project here

And here is the rest of it

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Call of Duty 5 - WW2??

'Nooooo...' (at the thought of another WW2 shooter)

'NOOOOOOAAAAHRHRCCCCKKKHHHHHHHGGHHH!' (at the thought of crappy-COD3-developer Treyarch taking over the reins from COD4 demi-gods Infinity Ward)

(Ed. This actually sounds like a rumor, but we should all still be praying for Treyarch's immediate demise from the dev scene regardless)

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Think Those Bad Guy Characters Are Fictional? Think Again.

GamesRadar has an amusing look at some of the more criminally-minded celebs to have graced us with their gaming presence...

Name: Tim Allen
Appeared in: Home Improvement (SNES), The Santa Clause 3 (GBA)
Heard in: Toy Story 2 (PC/PSone), Toy Story Racer (PSone)
Rap sheet: Tim Allen's stint in prison is rarely discussed, but hardly a secret; before he was synonymous with family-oriented comedies, Allen (then named Timothy Allen Dick) was a cocaine dealer (Wtf). In 1978, he was nabbed in Michigan while carrying more than a pound (somebody's coke bitch?) of the stuff, and subsequently served more than two years in prison before turning his life around and embarking on a career path that included some of the most aggressively mediocre tie-in games ever made.

Oh, so many more funny ones following the jump below...

Name: Danny Trejo
Appeared in: Def Jam: Fight for NY (PS2/Xbox)
Heard in: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2/Xbox/PC), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP/PS2)
Rap sheet: In movies or in games, Danny "Machete" Trejo has always been a scary-ass mofo, largely because he used to be one in real life. Specific details about his early life of crime are sketchy, although in an interview with the UK Guardian, he claims to have started by smoking pot at eight, doing heroin at 12 and then graduating to armed robbery, all of which put him in and out of jail through his teenage years before finally landing him in at least three separate California prisons between 1963 and 1972. Prison boxing and a 12-step program helped Trejo turn his life around, and his record since his release has been spotless. Of course, that doesn't make him any less fun to play as in the raptastic Def Jam: Fight for NY, in which you can put his tattooed muscles and intense, mustachioed glare to good use hurling Flavor Flav through a penthouse window.

Name: Steve-O (aka Steven Glover)
Appeared in: Jackass (PS2/PSP/DS), ESPN NFL 2K5 (PS2/Xbox), Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2/Xbox/PC/GC), Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix (PSP)
Rap sheet: We never knew this before, but it turns out that getting naked in public and stapling your nutsack to your thigh isn't just a good way to have fun without drugs or alcohol - it's illegal, especially if you do it in Louisiana. Steve-O's most infamous run-in with the law began when the hyper-obnoxious and frequently nude Jackass star performed the "Butterfly" stunt at the Abyss nightclub in 2002, after which he was arrested, charged with obscenity and assault and eventually put on probation and barred from ever performing in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana again. Later incidents saw Steve-O arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into Sweden in 2003 (for which he paid a fine and admitted to drug possession), and charged with disorderly conduct after publicly pissing on potato chips (yes, really) during a Lollapalooza show in Pennsylvania.

Name: Macaulay Culkin
Appeared in: Home Alone (NES/SNES/GB/Genesis/Game Gear/PC), Home Alone 2 (NES/SNES/GB/Genesis/PC)
Rap sheet: Frankly, we're not really surprised that a former child star with a private life as reputedly effed-up as Culkin's has been arrested. What surprises us is that he's apparently been arrested only once, after Oklahoma cops found him carrying weed and prescription drugs during a traffic stop in 2004. After posing for a gruesome mug shot and being briefly jailed, the kid we fed to giant evil Christmas trees in Home Alone 2 was sentenced to drug counseling. Not exactly a harrowing tale of steel bars and hard time, but we are only getting started.

Name: Paris Hilton
Appeared in: Paris Hilton's Diamond Quest (mobile)
Rap sheet: Everyone already knows that media target/attention whore Hilton was jailed for 22 days in June 2007, after repeatedly violating her probation and driving with a suspended license after her 2006 arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. What you might not have known is that she also starred in her own cell-phone game, Paris Hilton's Diamond Quest, an odious piece of vanityware described by IGN as a hybrid of casual games Bejeweled and Jewel Quest. And that's really all that's notable about Hilton's connection to the world of gaming, aside from the fact that she was roundly ridiculed for getting the name of her own game "wrong" during a press event at E3 2006. Whether the title was changed because of her flub is up to history to decide, mainly because we don't care enough to take even a cursory look into it.

Heaps more on the GamesRadar site here

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Death of Gaming Part 3: Gamespot Editor Gets Fired Over Bad Review

(Click on the image above for PennyArcade's comic)

By now you may or may not have heard of how Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of huge-flashy-corporate-gaming-for-teens website Gamespot, was fired last week. What you may not know is why: apparently publisher Eidos Interactive threatened to pull the plug on a massive advertising campaign after Gerstmann dished out a low 6/10 review score to the rather mediocre Kane & Lynch: Dead Men -published by, yep, Eidos Interactive.

More after the jump below.

CNET (parent company of Gamespot), immediately issued an official statement declaring:

"For over a decade, Gamespot and the many members of its editorial team have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis"

Eidos threatens to pull the plug
Eidos reportedly threatened to pull a massive advertising campaign for Kane & Lynch if the "tone" of Gerstmann's 6/10 review wasn't changed. Apparently Gerstmann did in fact alter his review but it obviously wasn't enough to appease the demi-gods over at Eidos or CNET.

When asked about the situation, Eidos declined comment, "Eidos is not able to comment on another company's policies and procedures," said a company representative.

Sarah Cain, a spokesperson for CNET, did say,“We do not terminate employees based on external pressure from advertisers,”

Aw, isn't that nice to hear?

Gamespot digs an even deeper hole?
Now there is news of how Eidos is deleting hundreds of user complaints from its forums, citing: “There will be no further discussion”, an Eidos forum administrator bluntly warned visitors, describing the complaints as “ugly spam”.

Alex Navarro, an Editor for Gamespot had this to say on the state of CNET:

"Remember SimCity? Remember what a joy it was to build up a fully functioning, living, breathing city, full of life and wonderment? Then, at some point down the road, after you've built up your city to the peak of its productiveness, you'd start mashing the disaster button and a wide variety of tornadoes, earthquakes, and fake Godzillas would come tromping through, laying fiery waste to every bit of what you'd worked so painstakingly to create? Yeah. It's a little bit like that. Except someone hit the disaster button for me."

What does this all mean?
Not much really. Unless you're seriously misguided or just an eternally annoying optimist, you were probably able to put two and two together just after you'd left university and realized that;

a) The world wasn't quite as rosy as you thought for the first 21 years of your life


b) Its all about advertising, marketing and PR, baby....its all about that.

What can you do?
If you happen to be a reader or subscriber to anything related to CNET at all, you can stop reading and cancel any subscriptions as a way to voice your displeasure at this whole debacle. Just know that there aren't that many other sites out there who don't practise something similar already. CNET / Gamespot just got sloppy on this one, but don't expect IGN, 1UP or any of the other big sites to play any fairer.

Highlights from Gerstmann's review of Kane & Lynch:

Story and characterization

“It's impossible to care about anything that's going on in the story, because every single character in the game is almost completely unlikeable. There's no one to root for here, not even in a cool anti-hero sort of way. You're just left with a bunch of really ugly characters that just become impossible to care about over time”

“The dialog's not particularly great, though the voice acting's not bad, but really the problem is that every third word out of every character's mouth is the F-word... it's great when properly used, but here it's just so done to death... it just becomes a real crutch and stands out as just kind of lazy.”

“But it's not the story and the premise that are going to drive you away from Kane & Lynch Dead Men, the gameplay itself also has more than its share of flaws”

Gameplay flaws

A system for taking cover from enemy fire behind objects is “a real pain that you just never use because it's kind of a hassle”

“The squad tactics... don't work very well because the AI on both sides of the game is really pretty flawed”

“The enemies get stuck on cars and run in circles and do all kinds of dumb stuff. So that's not much fun either”

The game's multiplayer mode is “a really neat idea, but unfortunately that idea plays out in the context of Kane & Lynch, so it has most of the same problems that the story mode has”


“Probably not worth purchasing”

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

360: Gay Halo 3 Player Gets (Verbally) Shafted Online

Excruciating to listen to, this pretty much sums up everything negative I think of online gaming, use of headsets and the entire Halo franchise pretty much. All in 2:30 mins...

And here is the rest of it

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

PS3: Sony Lying About PS3 Sales?

After 1UP reported that PS3 sales were 'phenomenal' for October following a price cut and introduction of the 40Gb PS3 at $399, Sony CEO Howard Stringer said that the new $399 PlayStation 3, combined with the 80GB price cut, helped to sell over 100,000 consoles in America in the week ending November 11.

"It's the breakthrough we've been anticipating," he said. "We've been holding our breath."

The company reported that the PS3 has been selling about 35,000 consoles per week. Following the 80GB price cut, the company reported its sales rose to 75,000 in a week while the new 40GB model pushed it up to 100,000.

Now we have Bloomberg saying that the figure of 100,000 sales is actually the total number of Sony consoles sold for the week including the PS2. DOh. Way to go Sony. (Ed. Way to go 1UP!)

Click to read more

Thursday, November 22, 2007

PS3: Haze Delayed Until 2008, Ubisoft Congratulates

While Ubisoft are busy high-fiving themselves and fattening their expense accounts with news of a 52% boost in sales over 2007, the rest of us PS3 gamers will have to wait another 3 months or so before we see the light of day for Haze. Billed as the biggest (only?) first-person shooter PS3 exclusive since Resistance, the game has been pushed back from its December, 2007 release till 'sometime before March 31st, 2008'. Boo, fucking hiss. :( (Ed. who wouldn't get excited about a game involving big heavy machine guns, snipers and a drug-fucked protagonist loaded on 'nectar'? Thats another boo for you, Ubisoft.)


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EDGE Scores Mass Effect 7/10 In December Issue

Coming from the notoriously finicky gaming magazine EDGE, a 7/10 score is actually quite decent. But when we are talking about one of Microsoft's biggest blockbusters for the Xbox 360, things start to look a little shaky. EDGE has only ever given out five 10/10 scores in just over nine years, but in the last three months Halo 3, The Orange Box, and now Super Mario Galaxy have all been made recipients. I'm a big fan of EDGE normally and have more respect for them than any other gaming publication. Still, I was very surprised to see the 10 given to Halo 3. Anyway, here are the rest of the scores:

Super Mario Galaxy - 10
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune - 8
Assassin’s Creed - 7
Crysis - 9
Mass Effect - 7
Call of Duty 4 - 9
Kane and Lynch - 6
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground - 6
The Simpson’s Game - 5
Zack and Wiki - 8
The Witcher - 5
Bladestorm - 8
Castlevania Dracular X - 7
Silent Hill Origins - 7
Hellgate: London - 6
Timeshift - 6
Mutant Storm Empire - 8
Guitar Hero III - 6
Beowulf - 5
Need for Speed: Pro Street - 6

And here is the rest of it

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Blacksite: Area 51 Review (360 / PS3 / PC)

Been playing the PC version as thats all that got shipped to me - and I have to say, I'm underwhelmed. The storyline sounded cool; Iraq followed by Starship Troopers-meets-War-of-the-Worlds aliens in smalltown Hicksville. The squad tactics also sounded cool too - although a little too simplistic compared to what they were touting. Visuals are nice, but thats it - nice. Physics and character movement are a total letdown and just feel stale, and not very well thought out. It all plays out very much like an FPS I would have expected from 3-4 years ago (albeit with prettier graphics) than a 'next-gen' FPS. I've yet to get even halfway through, but to be honest - like Medal of Honor: Airborne, I've completely lost any desire to carry on. Its destined to be one of those games I'll go back to next June when there's a complete drought of games out. Simply put, up against the likes of Crysis and COD4, the bar has been raised....and Area 51 doesn't even come close to clearing it.


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360 / PS3: Was Assassin's Creed Rushed To Market Too Soon?

A lot of gamers who got their hands on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Ubisoft's latest game, Assassin's Creed, are reporting numerous graphical glitches, invisible walls and framerate slowdowns that exist throughout the game. Having viewed several videos, I am of the opinion; Yes, its a shabby piece of work. Ubisoft, why the rush for a mid-November launch when the run-up to Christmas is just weeks away? More after the jump.

DiggingTheWeb has a little mini-rant here about Assassin's Creed

The "Ladder Dance"

Double Assassin Glitch

The Horny Guard

The Wall Blunder

Glitches & Freezes

Potential fix for PS3 owners: disable the Information Board (press Triangle) and do not log in to PSN. Also, update to v2.01 as soon as its out.

Shameful isn't it? Makes you wonder just how much advertising space Ubisoft pays for on all those review sites that gave Assassin's Creed 9/10 - folks, you should be reviewing the game "as is" and "out of the box" - not according to whose paying you to have that second mortgage you just took out...

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PC: AMD Launches Phenom Processor

As much as I love the underdog, in this fight with Intel, AMD really needs to start pulling out some bigger hits than this. Continually delayed, under-performing and most definitely late to the party, comes AMD's newest line of CPU processors. The reviews are in, and they're not pretty...


PC Perspective

Hardware Canucks

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Think That Game Is Running In Full High-Def?

Think again.

Remember all those Microsoft and Sony adverts decreeing the death of standard-definition gaming? How the buzz words 720p and 1080p got hurled around like confetti at a fat, overpaid groom's wedding? How Samsung, LG, and Sharp, amongst others, made us think we needed Full HD LCD TV sets? Here's the truth for all you gaming-graphics-whores: Most games don't even render at 720p, let alone 1080p.

That LCD you splurged $3,000 for? Hardly being used. That $599 PS3 you shelled out for? Forget the whole HDMI-1080p hype. Click below to find out just how many games actually use the full HD spec...and then weep.

Here are two of the very latest games to be advertised as Full HD:

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (360) 1024×600p 2xAA
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3) 1024×600p 2xAA
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3) 960×1080 in 1080p

Neither Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or Uncharted run in the actual resolutions that are stated on the back of the box.

The reason most developers do this is to allow for more visual effects to be rendered on-screen without slowing the game down. Trying to code and develop a game with "next-gen" visuals, full-screen anti-aliasing, post-processing, and anisotropic filtering in full 1080p resolution is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming process. Even Sony's much-fabled Killzone 2 slated for release in 2008 won't be running at 1080p, but rather 720p.

Most gamers won't really notice the difference (did you before I posted this? No, didn't think so) but its still an interesting, if not contentious point to note, and one to definitely take on board next time you see gimmicky buzz words being bandied about. More from the pixel counter at Beyond3D.

Def Jam: Icon (PS3) 1152×648
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PS3) 1920×1080 FullHD
Transformers (PS3) 960×1080
Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3 720p): 960×720
Pirates of the Caribbean (PS3 1080p): 780×1080
Oblivion (360): 1024×600 (PS3 version is full 720p)
ICO (PS2): 512×224p (less than Tekken on PS1 at 512×240)
VF5 (PS3 720p): 1024×1024 (same as 360)
VF5 (PS3 1080p): 1024×768

Some older games from the same thread:

Full Auto 2: 1920×1080 AA 4x, bad framerate - PS3
NBA Street: 1920×1080 AA 4x (30-60fps) - 360
LocoRoco Cocoreccho 1920×1080 MSAA 2x -PS3
Tony Hawk Project 8: 1040×584 AA - 360
Tony Hawk Project 8: 1280×720 - PS3
Virtua Tennis 3: 1920×1080 AA 2x - PS3, 360
XMB: 1920×1080p - PS3
Dashboard: 1280×720p - 360
Perfect Dark Zero: 1138×640p - 360
Halo 3: 1152×640p - 360
Call of Duty 3: 1120×630p 360
Ninja Gaiden Sigma: 1280×720p PS3
Project Gotham Racing 3: 1024×600 360
Tomb Raider: 1024×600 360
Ridge Racer 7:
NBA 07: 1920×1080 - PS3
NBA 08: 1920×1080 - PS3
Tony Hawk Proving Ground: 600p - PS3
Tony Hawk Proving Ground: 720p - 360
GRAW2: 720p - PS3
GRAW2: 720p AA 2x - 360
Super Rub a Dub: 1600×1080 - PS3
GTHD: 1440×1080 - PS3
Super Stardust HD: 1280×1080 - PS3
Skate: 1536×864 - PS3
Skate: 1280×720 AA - 360
Bioshock: 1280×720 - 360
Harry Potter: 1280×720 MSAA 2x PS3 ?
Pixel Junk Racers: 1920×1080 PS3
Heavenly Sword: 1280×720 AA 4x PS3
Blast Factor Demo: 1920×1080 PS3
The Darkness Demo: 1024×576 PS3

There you have it. Sucks doesn't it?


Click to read more

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PC: Budget Builder's Guide (Anandtech)

In recognition for all my hard work and hours of Force 10 geekness, comes my first bona-fide article for tech-site-to-the-gurus Anandtech. (Nothing to do with whoring myself bountifully forum-wide, I promise you.)

Regardless of reason, if you're into building your own all-in-one entry-level office system for roughly $600, or are wondering how to build your own kick-ass gaming system for $1000 - including an LCD and all peripherals, look no further than the November Budget Builder's Guide. And yes, Dell, HP, Sony, etc - all rip you off. You can do it all so much better, and by yourself...

Click to read more

Monday, November 5, 2007

PS3: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Massive Attack Trailer

I have to say, its looking pretty cool. Coming on November 19th. Enjoy...

And here is the rest of it

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Writing a Game Review

Writing anything that resembles a professional game review isn’t something that can be done in 10 minutes and forgotten right after. It takes time and dedication. This is a small guide to help anyone who wants to create a game review. Note that I am in no way a professional game critic, nor did I receive any extra education on the subject. I would just like to share some of my techniques and advice and hope that it’s helpful in any way.

1) Don’t be redundant. If you wrote something that is pretty self-explanatory then there is no need for further explanation. For example, “Supreme Commander is an RTS or Real-Time Strategy game where you take control of a set amount of units on the battlefield and wage war against the enemy by using strategy”. That’s completely unnecessary information, especially if it’s for a hardcore gaming website. “Supreme Commander is an RTS”, and then you add specific information about the game and not the genre.

It’s important that you make your review coherent and to the point. You don’t want to bore your readers. Instead of saying “Your character is easy to control by moving your mouse and hitting the WASD keys to move your character” you can just simply say “Enemy Territory’s control scheme is simple to grasp”. That’s much more pleasing to read and much more to the point.

Don’t write overly fluff material, such as descriptions on all the weapons and vehicles found in the game or an entire strategy guide. Just write about the weapons or vehicles that stand out from the rest that are noteworthy.

2) Don’t be vague. If you write “Command & Conquer is fun” then write about what makes it fun. If you write “I hate Lair’s control scheme” then explain yourself a bit more by adding “I hate Lair’s control scheme because it relies on the Sixaxis’ inaccurate motion sensors” or something like that.

3) Focus on the aspects of the game that stand out, whether it is for good or for bad. Don’t go off focusing on meaningless things and things that are taken for granted, such as “In multiplayer you can hit a key and a chat box opens up”. That’s nothing special. However, “In multiplayer, you can’t type to other players”, that’s noteworthy information because it’s an important standard feature that wasn’t included.

4) Use spelling and grammar checkers. It is important that your review can be read and understood. Don’t write like a 3rd grader and use complete sentences.

5) Read your review aloud. If you read it in your mind you can accidentally skip over important mistakes, whereas if you read it aloud those mistakes can be identified by your ears. Make sure you read multiple times. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right then something isn’t right. Sometimes it’s best if you just tear down the entire paragraph and start from scratch. Be sure to let others proof-read so that they may contribute any important input that you may not have thought of. Don’t rush your review.

6) Vary your choice of words. Don’t be monotonous and basic. You want your review to catch a person’s attention and be entertaining at the same time. You can do this by being witty or funny, or write the review in alternate ways. Don’t make your review “Doom is an FPS. Doom is fun. Doom has 17 levels. Doom is scary”, write it like “Every second of the 17 levels contained in Doom is a heart-pounding shooter-fest where enemies may lurk in any corner, ready to scare your pants off…”

7) Try to put yourself in the shoes of a person who has never played the game but is interested in it. What do they want to read? What information is important to them?

This is just some advice from an amateur reviewer who has a lot to learn herself. I hope it helps a little.

Click to read more

Crysis Single-Player Demo Review

Here's another game review for's Games Review contest. This time its on the Crysis pre-release demo.

Quite possibly the most anticipated (and hyped) PC game of 2007, Crytek has officially released a taste of what’s to come in the form of a pre-release demo. Does it meet the sheer amount of hype that the game has garnered? No, it obviously doesn’t. Nothing ever meets up to its hype. However, the Crysis demo does not disappoint nor does it ever cease to be fun.

The plot goes like this: the USA sends in a highly advanced Delta Force team to battle North Korea over a bunch of kidnapped American archaeologists in an illegally occupied island and more importantly over a strange “meteorite” that had recently crash-landed. Crytek has already revealed enough of the story as is and if that’s not enough you can read the entire game script in a file called english.pak. Just open it up with a file extractor and enjoy the various documents within.

The most hyped facet of Crysis is its graphics and they’re just amazing. Unfortunately for some, it comes at a price. In order to play the game at any degree of superior visual quality, you must have at least a GeForce 8800 card and an Intel Core 2 Duo. Without these you will suffer terrible framerates or a not so pretty game.

The gameplay is equally as impressive as the graphics. You take control of a commando clad in a nanosuit who can utilize several impressive superpowers or abilities. These include a Predator-like stealth, superior strength and jumping, super-fast sprinting and armor. These powers use up your energy rather quickly, so use them smartly. In addition, you can customize your weapons by adding flashlights, suppressors, different aiming and tactical devices, etc. to suit your needs.

Crysis’ AI is pretty advanced. Enemy soldiers flank, take cover and coordinate with each other to take you down. What really struck me was the life in them. When you are overpowering the North Koreans, one of them may fire a flare gun to signal for reinforcements. While not in combat or on patrol, enemy soldiers may occasionally stop for a leak and chat with each other. When you begin attacking they will show some emotion, be that a sense of urgency or fright. This is just as well displayed facially.

The physics in Crysis are very advanced. You can mow down trees and crash through roofs which adds an extra degree of gameplay. There are some neat subtle effects, too, such as when you swim underwater and surface, water will drip down your HUD. Voice-acting is excellent although I wish there was an ability to activate Korean-speaking enemies on different difficulty levels and not just on Delta (the highest difficulty setting) as their broken English is a serious turn-off.

The Crysis demo includes an unprecedented 1 hour of somewhat nonlinear gameplay (not as much as Far Cry, though) that can be elongated by using the included Sandbox Editor to add all of the game’s weapons, an alien enemy, vehicles (including helicopters) and much, much more, whether by design or accident on part of Crytek.

The Crysis demo, just as any other pre-release demo, still needs some polish and bug fixes but so far the game we’ve all been waiting for appears to be very well worth the wait, kick-butt computer or no kick-butt computer.

RATING: 9/10

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World in Conflict (PC) Review

Here's a copy of a review I did for's Games Review contest. By submitting a 500 word or less game review you can win an unannounced AMD/ATI GPU and/or an AMD CPU! Be sure to rate it and give me your opinions.

From the opening scenes of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Seattle all the way through World in Conflict’s short campaign will you be full of heart-pounding adrenaline as you witness the game’s beautiful explosions and sheer destructive mayhem. You won’t see a more spectacular artillery barrage or nuclear explosion than the ones that World in Conflict offers. But don’t fret, two year old PCs should be more than able to handle the game without suffering from that icky taste of visual inferiority.

The game takes place in 1989 and pursues a “what if” scenario in which the Soviet Union went to war with NATO and the US rather than dissolving. The story borrows heavily from the 1984 film “Red Dawn” and Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising” of which the latter’s co-author, Larry Bond, was a main consultant for Massive Entertainment.

World in Conflict is an RTT or Real Time Tactics game, rather than an RTS or Real Time Strategy game. There is no base-building or resource collecting but rather a set amount of reinforcement points that you use to buy units to send to the battlefield. If those units die then you are automatically reimbursed. There’s also “tactical points” which you spend on airstrikes, artillery barrages and single-unit reinforcements.

The campaign is well written and features some excellent voice acting and cut-scenes but is unfortunately too short at only 14 missions. The campaign’s ending, however, hints at a possible expansion to continue on the story. The multiplayer portion of the game is excellent and addicting. Instead of having each player command an entire faction, players take on the role of either air, infantry, armor or support and systematically coordinate with other roles to successfully defeat the opposing army. Statistics are clearly tracked in-game, there’s also various achievements medals to play for and WiC features VOIP functionality leading to an excellent multiplayer game.

Overall, World in Conflict is an amazing game that many, including those who don’t normally play strategy games, will enjoy. Definitely one of the best strategy games of the year… and that’s saying a lot with previous excellent releases such as Supreme Commander and Command & Conquer 3.

RATING: 9/10

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

TECH: OS X 10.5 Leopard Coverage

Engadget has an in-depth review and mounds of coverage of Apple's latest OS X operating system. For anyone who has a Mac and is looking to upgrade, be sure to check it out. The beta version had some nice touches, and the final version no doubt sets OS X further beyond the reach of Windows Vista.

Read via Engadget
And here is the rest of it

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TECH: Eye-Fi Wireless SD Memory Card

Its been a while since Eye-Fi first mentioned word of their wireless memory card, but here it is at last. Able to transfer pictures, images and just about anything else directly from the memory card to a PC or Mac. At the moment the card is available with just 2Gb, but expect that to increase as the product stays in the market. Interesting...

Read via Adorama

Eye-Fi, a California-based company, announced this morning what they say is the world's first wireless SD memory card for digital cameras. The 2GB card, which will retail for around $99, is said to make it possible to send photos wirelessly from a digital camera to a Wi-Fi-enabled Mac or PC using wireless networks (also known as "hot spots"). The card works with any current SD-compatible camera, and will automatically upload photos onto pre-selected social networking sites or on-line photo labs when the camera is turned on. The feature, if it works as promised, could very well save photographers time spent uploading images to computers and then to web sites. The card is expected to be available immediately.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TECH: Asus Debuts its $299 Eee PC Notebook

This is a bit late, but better than never. Last week Asus launched their newest endeavor in the sub-notebook (read: tiny laptop) market dubbed the "Eee PC". Laptop Mag have already called this "pound for pound the best value notebook on the planet". And running at the same price as most mobile phones, there could well be a lot of people interested in this. Mind you, it doesn't run Windows or OSX, its missing a DVD drive, stacks up with only 4Gb of hard drive space and only has a teeny 7" LCD - but it does come with Wi-Fi, and its minus Windows - what more could you want from a laptop thats smaller than the size and weight of a hardback?

Read via LaptopMag

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TECH: Asus Debuts its $299 Eee PC Notebook

This is a bit late, but better than never. Last week Asus launched their newest endeavor in the sub-notebook (read: tiny laptop) market dubbed the "Eee PC". Laptop Mag have already called this "pound for pound the best value notebook on the planet". And running at the same price as most mobile phones, there could well be a lot of people interested in this. Mind you, it doesn't run Windows or OSX, its missing a DVD drive, stacks up with only 4Gb of hard drive space and only has a teeny 7" LCD - but it does come with Wi-Fi, and its minus Windows - what more could you want from a laptop thats smaller than the size and weight of a hardback?

Read via LaptopMag

And here is the rest of it

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TECH: How Vinyl May Be The Final Nail In The Coffin For The CD

One of the Wired blogs has an interesting article on how vinyl is going through a renaissence, and what that might mean for the recording industry (i.e. not much, its just a 6-month hipster trend, right?). Unfortunately, the article doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know - i.e. vinyls are strictly for the very nerdy, very rich, or those looking for another trend to call their own. Regardless, time to dust off those 1200s!

Read via Wired

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Monday, October 29, 2007

PS3 / PC: New Unreal Tournament 3 Trailer

Looking good, but boy does it resemble Gears of War...

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

TECH: Dreamworks / Paramount Caught Out in Transformers Boast?

Round 1557 started when Dreamworks / Paramount announced post-Transformers HD-DVD release that they had the best-selling Day One and Week One high-def title on either format since their respective launches, selling over 100,000 HD-DVDs on its first day of release, and over 190,000 HD-DVDs in its first week. The Blu-ray camp of course, have come out with Round No. 1558 - more after the jump.

Read via DeadlineHollywoodDaily

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PS3: White PS3 Coming on Nov 11th - in Japan Only

Damn, if that doesn't look a hundred times better than a 360. Here was I thinking that all white consoles (Wii included) looked puny and anemic.

Read via

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PS3 / 360: EA / MTV's Rock Band - Full Song Listing

EA & MTV's massive band-game-for-the-wannabes, Rock Band, is set for release worldwide on PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 20th. In case you haven't been keeping up, this virtual band simulation game is coming from Harmonix, the developers of the original Guitar Hero series. For the princely (outrageous?) price of US$169.99, gamers get a plastic guitar, drumsticks, mics and about 58 playable songs (karaoke style) straight out of the box, with more to be added later through downloadable content. Full tracklisting after the jump...


* Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter"


* Aerosmith "Train Kept a Rollin'"*
* The Who "Won't Get Fooled Again"
* Boston "Foreplay/Long Time"
* Mountain "Mississippi Queen" (cover)
* The Police "Next to You"
* David Bowie "Suffragette City"
* Black Sabbath "Paranoid" (cover)
* Blue Oyster Cult "Don't Fear the Reaper"
* The Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop"
* Deep Purple "Highway Star"
* KISS "Detroit Rock City"
* Molly Hatchet "Flirtin' With Disaster"
* The Outlaws "Green Grass & High Tides" (cover)
* Sweet "Ballroom Blitz" (cover)


* Rush "Tom Sawyer"*
* Bon Jovi "Wanted Dead or Alive"
* The Clash "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
* Faith No More "Epic"
* R.E.M. "Orange Crush"
* Iron Maiden "Run to the Hills" (cover)


* Foo Fighters "Learn to Fly"
* Metallica "Enter Sandman"
* Nirvana "In Bloom"
* Stone Temple Pilots "Vasoline"
* Weezer "Say It Ain't So"
* Smashing Pumpkins "Cherub Rock"
* Radiohead "Creep"
* Beastie Boys "Sabotage"
* Hole "Celebrity Skin"
* Garbage "I Think I'm Paranoid"
* Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"


* The Hives "Main Offender"
* Queens of the Stone Age "Go With the Flow"
* The Strokes "Reptilia"
* Jet "Are You Gonna Be My Girl"
* OK Go "Here It Goes Again"
* Nine Inch Nails "The Hand That Feeds"
* Pixies "Wave of Mutilation"
* Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Maps"
* Red Hot Chili Peppers "Dani California"
* Coheed & Cambria "Welcome Home"
* Fallout Boy "Dead on Arrival"
* The Killers "When You Were Young"
* New Pornographers "Electric Version"

Unlockable Tracks

* Bang Camaro "Pleasure (Pleasure)"
* Twelve more yet to be revealed


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TECH: Apple To Restrict Would-be iPhone Buyers

By refusing cash sales and limiting customers to just two handsets each, in a bid to control the rampant black-market exports that have made it possible for users in iPhone-less countries to pick up their own iPhones. Boo. Hiss.

Read: LA Times article

And here is the rest of it

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VIDEO: Where Ken & Guile Are Right Now

You didn't think they were still fighting did you? Check out the rest of the videos - some of them are pretty funny. Well, bits of them are. At times.

Sonic what, now?

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

TECH: Video Card Being Used to Crack Passwords

Vladimir thought he would finally put his mother's grumblings about staying up and playing computer games to rest by finding a real use for his $800 Geforce 8800 Ultra video card. Sadly, he's just hacked into your email account, mine and everyone else in your block in the time its taken to read this post. Doh!

Elcomsoft, a software company based in Moscow, Russia, has filed a US patent for the technique. It takes advantage of the "massively parallel processing" capabilities of a graphics processing unit (GPU) - the processor normally used to produce realistic graphics for video games.

Using an $800 graphics card from nVidia called the GeForce 8800 Ultra, Elcomsoft increased the speed of its password cracking by a factor of 25, according to the company's CEO, Vladimir Katalov.

More after the jump below

* 12:27 24 October 2007
* news service
* Andrew Brandt

A technique for cracking computer passwords using inexpensive off-the-shelf computer graphics hardware is causing a stir in the computer security community.

Elcomsoft, a software company based in Moscow, Russia, has filed a US patent for the technique. It takes advantage of the "massively parallel processing" capabilities of a graphics processing unit (GPU) - the processor normally used to produce realistic graphics for video games.

Using an $800 graphics card from nVidia called the GeForce 8800 Ultra, Elcomsoft increased the speed of its password cracking by a factor of 25, according to the company's CEO, Vladimir Katalov.

The toughest passwords, including those used to log in to a Windows Vista computer, would normally take months of continuous computer processing time to crack using a computer's central processing unit (CPU). By harnessing a $150 GPU - less powerful than the nVidia 8800 card - Elcomsoft says they can cracked in just three to five days. Less complex passwords can be retrieved in minutes, rather than hours or days.

It is the way a GPU processes data that provides the speed increase. NVidia spokesman Andrew Humber describes the process using the analogy of searching for words in a book. "A [normal computer processor] would read the book, starting at page 1 and finishing at page 500," he says. "A GPU would take the book, tear it into a 100,000 pieces, and read all of those pieces at the same time."

Benjamin Jun, of Cryptography Research based in San Francisco, US, says massively parallel processing is ideally suited to the task of breaking passwords. And, while concerned about the development, Jun also pays tribute to the achievement: "A number of us have been following advances in those platforms, and there's a lot of elegant, intelligent design."

Password cracking can be used to unlock data on a computer, but will not usually work on a banking or commercial website. This is because is takes too long to run through multiple passwords, and because a site will normally block a user after several failed attempts.

Jun adds that the trend towards encrypting whole hard drives with increasingly long cryptographic keys still means it is becoming more difficult to access sensitive data. "Should I throw away my web server and run for the hills?" he says. "I don't think so."

NVidia released a software development kit for its graphics hardware in February 2007. Known as CUDA, the kit lets programmers access the computing power of the GPU directly. It has gained a following among those with a need for high-performance computing, particularly in fields such as science and engineering.

"[CUDA] is a huge thing for the oil and gas industry, for the financial sector, and for scientists," Humber says. He adds that CUDA is also be being used by a company called Evolved Machines to simulate the way the human brain wires itself.

Elcomsoft says it took three months to develop code to take advantage of a GPU, and the company plans to introduce the feature into some of its password cracking products over time.

New Scientist Technology

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Monday, October 22, 2007

PC: Gears of War (Almost) Here

And looking better than ever - I was kinda expecting to be disappointed with the year-too-late PC version of last year's 360 hit, but everything thats been shown so far looks like Gears of War for the PC will be another hit for Epic Games. Pro-G UK has a fairly in-depth preview of it here.

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TECH: Samsung Shows Off World's Slimmest 40" LCD At 10mm

In keeping with the propensity for big Korean / Japanese manufacturers to try and out-do each other in the realm of slimmest / largest / longest / widest, Samsung has unveiled the world's slimmest 40" 1080p LCD at just 10mm. No doubt Panasonic, Sony, Sharp or someone else will come out with a 8.88mm panel in a few months. Or weeks. Scratch that, make it days.

And here is the rest of it

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TECH: Blu-Ray / HD-DVD War Heats Up

With the release of the $399 40Gb PS3 last week, and rumors of an upcoming Xbox 360 with integrated HD-DVD drive, is it really time for us all to abandon the ol' faithful DVD for the new HD-wunderkids that are appearing now?

In short, no. $400 for an HD drive is still simply too expensive for the masses to take up - give us a $99 HD-DVD / Blu-Ray player and then we'll start to see the death of the DVD by way of that other ol' faithful, the VHS. Till then, there's a distinct lack of 1080p LCDs in people's homes and upscaling DVD players to get past. has more on this, with an in-depth analysis of the state of the HD "war".

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PS3: How To Activate Your PSP On A PS3

Loot Ninja has a guide to setting up your PSP on a PS3 - to play those crappy PS1 games you downloaded, remember?


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TECH: Wi-Fi Security System Is "Broken"

The BBC is reporting current security measures designed to protect users while surfing on Wi-Fi internet connections have been comprehensively broken open. But with compatibility issues with the new measures, users are left with no choice but to continue using the existing and "wide-open" protection system. (source)

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

PS3: Capcom Announces Lost Planet for PS3

But does anyone give a shit? Come on, its been out for like what, a year already on 360? Who gives a fuck about a PS3 version now?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

TECH: World's Smallest Cooling Fan?

For cooling one's semi-circular canals whilst listening to MP3s?

Source - HKEPC

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

November's Great - For First-Person Shooters...

After the customary summer lull, comes autumn in full force:

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC / 360 / PS3 - November 5th)

Crysis (PC) - November 15th

Haze (PS3) - November 19th

Unreal Tournament 3 (PC - November 2007 / PS3 - Early 2008 / 360 - Late 2008)

Timeshift (PC / 360 - October 30th. PS3 - December 2007)

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WTF: EA Buys Bioware and Pandemic Studios

Great, just great. I know only time will tell if EA can fuck this one up just like they've managed to absorb (and fuck up) every other talented independent game studio they've bought over the years, but I can't help but hear Queen's 'Another One Bites The Dust' playing on repeat inside my head.

(Thanks to Destructoid for the image)

Follow the jump for the full report...

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced an agreement with Elevation Partners to acquire VG Holding Corp. -- the owner of both BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios. This acquisition gives EA a strong competitive position in key genres in interactive entertainment: action, adventure and role-playing games. The two studios have been recognized for creating some of the highest-quality games in the industry.

BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios have ten franchises under development, including six wholly owned games. BioWare Corp. is currently developing the highly anticipated Mass Effect, which will be published by Microsoft in November, and is in the early development stages of a massively multiplayer online game. Pandemic Studios is redefining open-world games with its upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames and Saboteur, in addition to several unannounced projects.

Pandemic Studios and BioWare Corp. employ roughly 800 people across four studios located in Edmonton, Canada; Los Angeles; Austin; and Brisbane, Australia.

These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and Im glad to be working with them again. Theyll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties, said John Riccitiello, EAs Chief Executive Officer. We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders.

Pandemic Studios is led by Andrew Goldman, Josh Resnick and Greg Borrud. BioWare Corp. is jointly led by Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. These teams will join the EA Games Label run by Frank Gibeau, President of EA Games.

Pandemic Studios remains focused on attracting the best talent and creating blockbuster action games, said Josh Resnick, President and Co-founder of Pandemic Studios. As a worldwide publishing leader, EA represents the ideal partner to bring our titles to market as global entertainment events.

We are truly excited by John Riccitiellos new vision for EA, said Ray Muzyka, Co-founder and CEO of BioWare Corp. This vision is consistent with BioWares focus on crafting the highest quality story-driven games in the world. It will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin.

EA will pay up to $620 million in cash to the stockholders of VG Holding Corp. and will issue up to an additional $155 million in equity to certain employees of VG Holding Corp., which will be subject to time-based or performance-based vesting criteria. EA will also assume outstanding VG Holding Corp. stock options. In addition, EA has agreed to lend VG Holding Corp. up to $35 million through the closing of the acquisition.

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TECH: iPhone v1.1.1 Unlocked by iPhoneSimFree Team

Well that didn't take very long now, did it?

Apparently the pay-as-you-hack iPhoneSimFree team have managed to unlock Apple's latest attempts to lock the iPhone from the prying fingers of non-AT&T-wishing users everywhere. After Apple's latest firmware upgrade "bricked" owners of unlocked iPhones (who in reply, have tried to sue Apple), hackers from the fee-charging iPhoneSimFree team have reportedly discovered a way around this latest firmware - and one that allows previously "bricked" iPhones to become, er, "unbricked" (see: working) again.

EDIT: Thats one way to spend $100 to fix your "bricked" iPhone - another way is to wait a week or two for the hack-for-free guys over at AnySim or iUnlock to come up with their own solution. Your decision...

More over at Dailytech

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WTF: Nintendo Wii vs. Vii Rush

I know this is quite old, but I could only find photos of this before - now at least we've got some info regarding this Chinese-brand Wii rip-off. More after the jump.

And just remember this is all translated from the Chinese Engadget via Google Translate:

Let us close this feeling under VII products: power rods vii, of the 2.4 g shock wireless controller. 360°感应玩家动作。 360 ° induction player moves. 定位是5岁+的儿童及其家庭,目前售价为1,280元(奇怪,好像之前是说不到1000RMB),虽然游戏扩展性不佳,但显然是为了蚕食WII没进入中国留下的市场空白,这款产品大约在10月底11月初上市。 Positioning is the age of 5 + children and their families, currently sells for 1,280 yuan (strange, as if that is less than before 1000 RMB), although the poor scalability of the game, but apparently not to erode WII entered the Chinese market left blank, this product around the end of October early November listing.

我们只能说,任天堂可能得重新考虑是否进入中国了,XBOX是不是也要紧张下,哪天跑出个中国版,别怪我们没提醒哦。 We can only say, Nintendo may have to reconsider whether to enter China, Xbox is also tense, which day outside the Chinese version, we do not blame remind oh. 瘾科技想听听大家对这款产品的更多观点。 Addiction Technology want to listen to your more of this product perspective.

Engadget China has more here (source)

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PS3: Improve Your PS3 Framerates

Found this little tidbit for all you PS3 owners:

Setting the BD/DVD upscaler set off, HDMI 24fps off, HDMI audio set on bitstream, PS2 upscaler/smoother set off.

Disable system display notify/ mediaserver off / all other automatic setting set to off / internet disable if not multiplaying and other setting etc will all help improve framerates...


And here is the rest of it

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