Author: Mike Doolittle

Demo roundup — Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, Dawn of War II, Darkest of Days

Demo roundup — Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, Dawn of War II, Darkest of Days

Today I downloaded the PC demo for the upcoming shooter Darkest of Days, which is a game that attempts to accurately re-create historical battles while taking minor liberties with the details, such as allowing you to carry an AR-55 assault rifle into the battle of Antietam. I couldn't figure out how seriously this game wanted me to take it, but upon completion of the demo, I can only say that I strongly support this slightly enhanced version of history being taught in our public schools.

Why isn’t PC gaming pushing technological boundaries?

Call of Duty: World at War Screenshot

When I was active on the now-defunct forums, I debated the apparent decline in cutting-edge PC technology with PC gamers many times over. It is inarguable that in many respects, it has never been easier on the wallet to be a PC gamer. Many games do indeed perform exceptionally well across a large variety of cards; the high-end configurations seem more suited to those who want to run very high levels of anti-aliasing and/or ultra-high resolutions. My own video card configuration, a pair of nVidia GTX 260s—a reasonably high-end setup—allows me to run even the most demanding games with extremely high image quality on my 22" monitor. While ATI and nVidia are preparing to release their next-generation DirectX 11 cards this fall, I truly see no need for an upgrade, particularly since it will likely be at least a couple of years before DirectX 11 is widely used.

But I think the reasons for this lessened pressure to buy expensive upgrades are more complex than the proliferation of multiplatform development. And I think that, despite the historical performance-per-dollar ratio we see in the video card market, games are continuing to push technological boundaries.

ARMA II quick impressions: I’m really trying!

ARMA II Screenshot

I downloaded the demo for ARMA II earlier this week, and I've spent some time dabbling with it. I never played the first one, but the concept of a realistic, broad-scoped military simulator/shooter sounded pretty neat. And, judging from the demo, it is indeed pretty neat. All it requires is a little patience. Actually, it requires mountains of patience. Despite my best efforts to really soak up the experience, the game just keeps getting in the way, and I admit, I just don't have the ambition required to get really immersed in this type of game.

Far Cry 2 Review

More isn't Always Better

Far Cry 2 Screenshot

HIGH Using real-time fire as a strategic advantage.

LOW Driving, driving, driving.

WTF People just leave diamonds lying around in the wilderness in unlocked briefcases?

The Witcher becomes one of the top selling PC games of all time

The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf Screenshot

This week, Polish developer CDProjekt announced, boastfully, that their 2007 role-playing fantasy game The Witcher had cracked the top 100 of the all-time best-selling PC games, having sold around 1.2 million copies. A reworked version of the game, called The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, is on its way to consoles this Fall as well.

I had actually intended to do a review for The Witcher long ago when I first bought the game shortly after its release in October of '07. Unfortunately, after spending many, many hours with the game, I re-installed my operating system and accidentally deleted all my save games. I shelved the game for a long time, as it's tough to find the motivation to re-start such a deep and complex game, but CDProjekt's release of the "Enhanced Edition" content—which was a free download for all owners and is now the de facto version of the game—provided a nice incentive to do just that. But unfortunately, by that time I was quite backlogged with numerous other totally new games that I wanted to play. I've plowed through most of that now, and have been re-playing The Witcher with the new enhanced content. I may still do a comprehensive review one of these days, but for now this humble little blog will have to suffice.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Review

The Zone has never been less inviting

Read review of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

HIGH Exploring the game's vast landscapes and detailed architecture.

LOW Shooting another character with a shotgun nine times from a few feet away and doing no apparent damage.

WTF What happened to the game I loved?

Enough with the freakin’ trilogies already

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 

Last year when Crysis came out, I think all of us who played it were a little disappointed in the abrupt, cliffhanger ending. It felt like the ending of Halo 2, where you think you're about to get the biggest, baddest level of the game, and then the credits roll. Crytek's reason for such a lame ending? "It's a trilogy". What? Why didn't anybody say anything before? Are they sure they didn't just run out of time to put in all the levels they wanted?

Today, EA announced that Mirror's Edge will be the first part of a trilogy. What? The first one isn't even out yet. We don't know if it will be any good or if it will sell worth a spit. Need I remind everyone what happened with Too Human?

Crysis Warhead Review

Crytek's flagship shooter returns with a bang

Crysis Warhead Screenshot

HIGH Combating scores of aliens while being pursued by nanosuited KPA soldiers through dense, frozen jungles.

LOW Realizing it has to come to an end.

WTF Plasma cannon? Oh yeah!

The state of PC gaming…. again

Last year, hype over the impact of piracy and the supposedly shrinking PC games market reached a head when the NPD reported that Crysis, in its first two weeks of sales, moved only around 86,000 copies. Unreal Tournament 3 reportedly fared even worse, tallying just shy of 34,000 copies. Both of these games received enormous hype, and these seemed like pretty dismal numbers.

Then came the piracy talk. Developers including id, Epic, Crytek, Ubisoft, and Infinity Ward suggested that piracy was so rampant on the PC that it was fueling their decision to focus more centrally on console development. Was CryEngine2 the last great PC gaming engine? Would PC gamers become increasingly subject to "dumbed-down" multiplatform games and belated ports like Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect, while PC exclusives that didn't fall into strategy or MMORPG categories faded into obscurity?

I'm relatively new to the PC gaming landscape. I played some PC games here and there over the years and once lost a whole summer to Quake 3, but until a couple of years ago I had always been a console gamer. But I had always looked at the PC with envious eyes, and had always wanted a really nice, high-end gaming rig. Of course, I realized that an uber-rig was not necessary to enjoy PC gaming. But I figured that since I was going to get a new PC and I could afford to treat myself, why not get something really great? In early 2006 (back when AMD processors still ruled the performance charts) I built my first PC. My first game was F.E.A.R., which at the time was still a PC exclusive. I haven't looked back since. As both a gamer and a hardware enthusiast, I can honestly say that I enjoy PC gaming far more than I ever enjoyed console gaming. But to listen to some people, I got into the game at a pretty dismal time. However, I think that a closer look at the facts tells a different story.