Posts Tagged steam

Ran out of Steam – Prey SOLD OUT

Ran out of Steam - Prey sold out, no more disks left?

I can understand when I want a physical product that is high in demand, sometimes it may be sold out. But today Steam changed the online realm by selling out of a digitally distributed product. Is that even possible you ask? According to the sale home page they ran out of keys!! Quite possible, maybe on a Call of Duty title, but Prey? Who wants to buy that game? Personally I felt like throwing up trying to play it, the floor never really was the floor, and the walls, well they never really were walls either. Still despite this major disruption in the world of digital distribution, Steam carried on the Christmas spirit by supplementing the offer with a Bioshock deal. Well done Steam.

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Team Fortress 2 WAR – choose your side

My TF2 WAR contributions, 86 demomen down so far

My TF2 WAR contributions, 88 demomen down so far

Valve have come up with a creative pre class update, enticing hoards of TF2 activity before and no doubt after this double class patch for Soldier and Demoman. WAR was declared officialy, after a great teaser comic bringing life and character to the previously anonymous announcer’s voice. Pitting The Soldier against The Demoman in all out war, whilst Steam accurately logs every kill of each class, Valve is offering an unknown weapon for the side that tally’s the most kills. Since this announcement,  I have picked up my rocket launcher determined to fight the good fight for The Soldier.

A favourite class of mine, which I have put the most time into playing, picking a side was therefore easy, killing The Demoman however has proved to be a lot harder. The grenade spam that comes out of this Scottish, eye patch wearing, now declared sworn enemy is difficult to dodge and appears to be on endless supply as we patiently reload after 4 rockets. I found 2Fort to be the most efficient place to kill Demomen, and will continue to play here untill I rack up enough kills despite my love of payload maps Badwater and Goldrush.

As of yesterday night we appear to be in the lead, 1,429,578 dead Soldiers to 1,555,745 dead Demomen. Despite these confident figures I await today’s results, with the never ending sticky bombs from The Demoman I fear my mere 88 war contribution is not enough! So I am off to 2Fort, I must continue fighting through tonight and the rest of the week if that’s what it takes.

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Games On Demand vs Steam – Digital Distribution Wars

GFWL games on demand, a contender to knock steam off the podium?

GFWL games on demand, a contender to knock steam off the podium?

December the 15th 2009, the date Steam’s only possible contender is born? Games For Windows Live will extend its wing to digital distribution for PC games with its Games On Demand service, similar to the Xbox service launched not so long ago.

GFWL has been a touchy subject amongst PC gamers, personally I am all for the integration with Xbox. Increasing my Gamerscore when I play PC titles like Fallout 3 or GTAIV rather than having to slug through the Xbox slower and lower detail versions on a controller is a huge reason to play the title on mouse and keyboard. I will admit though, the GFWL software could do with a Steam makeover. Microsoft can learn masses from the Steam client, which has evolved with countless updates over the years.

Steam obviously already has the huge CS fanbase, as well as other Source engine Half Life & L4D franchise’s locked down, and now Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 it would appear to be a monopoly on digital distribution (seriously, who uses Direct2Drive?). I even made the move a few years ago to only purchase my games from Steam and thus unplugged my energy consuming DVD drive from my PC. Having all my titles in one place, stored for me in the cloud and integrated with my community of gamer friends, why else would I venture out into the cold and buy retail? I held off buying Mass Effect AND Mirrors Edge until late 2009 because they were not available on Steam, that is customer loyalty to the point of fanboy!

So Microsoft clearly have a lot of catching up to do, but what they do have is the money, power and Xbox experience to make this work. If I had the choice, if it meant extra Gamerscore I would definitely choose Games on Demand from Microsoft over Steam despite my years of loyalty. There is something about a large Gamerscore on my Xbox dashboard that keeps me coming back to games just for the achievements. And rightly so, some achievements make you explore a game in areas you might have missed, areas the developers spent forever and a day coding and crafting, rightly so these areas deserve to be explored even if it is for a mere 20G.

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Left 4 Dead 2 – PC vs Xbox 360

On the left PC - On the right Xbox 360

On the left PC - On the right Xbox 360

Left 4 Dead 2 runs like a tortoise on the Xbox 360. On the PC its as fast as a hare, and despite how the once upon a time story of The Toroise and The Hare ended in fairy tale land, in the real world PC L4D2 is the only way to win (or in this story, the only way to play). I setup both versions side by side for some in game comparisons. The first thing I noticed was the difference in load time, the PC version loads much quicker and gets you on the ground ready to kill zombies first. I managed to capture this load difference on video below, bare in mind the PC is on maximum settings whereas the Xbox, well, it has no settings.

Whats more difficult to show is the difference in graphics. Compared to the PC, the image quality on Xbox is obviously very poor, running at a sub ‘HD’ resolution with little or no anti aliasing. But what makes the Xbox version of L4D2 suffer the most is the frame rate, which in my opinion is unacceptable. I maxed out all the video settings on the PC, including AA and AF, and the game flies along perfectly with a constantly smooth frame rate. The Xbox however is extremely jerky, chugging along at nowhere near a steady 60fps, with motion blur at the slightest turn of your head, probably to cover up the slow frame rate.

First person shooters have gradually moved from the hardcore PC gamers to the mainstream, with titles like L4D doing well on console and of course Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 breaking sales records of all time. Do console gamers even realise what they are missing out on graphically on the PC. Is image quality and frame rate important to them and do they even know what these terms mean, terms that have been the foundation of PC gamers every hardware upgrade and driver update since Doom? Do they even care? Probably not. As first person shooters continue to be released across all the platforms, its clear that if you are hardcore, PC is the only way to play, after all, how can a game pad possibly provide the level of accuracy and control of the traditional mouse and keyboard.

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Steam now has total hours feature

omgI just noticed a new feature on steam which logs total hours played per game. Previously steam has only displayed hours played in the last 2 weeks, but they must have been accumulating these stats in the background, and shockingly I managed to rack up 131 hours on GTA4. I think the annoying rockstar taskbar app that runs in the background has pushed up this figure, or maybe I just cannot stay away from Niko Bellic. Bring on Episodes of Liberty City for PC.

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