The Witcher 2 Will Melt Your PC (System Specs)

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Courtesy of a link at Blue’s News, we’ve got some Witcher 2 system specs to throw your way this morning:

Recommended:

- Processor: Intel Quad Core or equivalent AMD
- Graphics Card: GeForce 260, 1GB memory / Radeon HD 4850 with 1GB memory
- Memory: 3GB on Windows XP and 4GB for Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Hard Disk: At least 16GB of free space

Minimum:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or equivalent AMD
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 8800 512 VR or similar ATI
Memory: 1 GB for Win XP / 2 GB for Win XP
Hard disk: 16GB

Ouch…

Truthfully, these specs aren’t that surprising, and really, the minimum specs are more than reasonable, assuming you can in fact play the game at those settings at a resolution above 1024×768. We saw Witcher 2 first hand at E3 last year and the game is gorgeous. You don’t show off what they had running on four year old hardware. Not only that, I think this is actually a good thing for PC gaming. The fact of the matter is a current PC with a decent graphics card is much more powerful than the current crop of consoles, which are built from tech that was readily accessible over six years ago. There aren’t many AAA-production PC-centric developers anymore, so this is the time for the ones that are left to show off what they can do with modern hardware. If The Witcher 2 can do that, while being capable of backing off enough to let some older systems stay in the loop, then so much the better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see about a new motherboard and processor.

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #62

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just another ho-hum week of Jumping the Shark this week. Except not really, because EA2D’s Soren Johnson joins us to talk about his latest project, Dragon Age: Legends. Woo! If you’re not familiar, Soren’s past credits include Spore and a little gem we’re fans of around here, called Civilization IV. We skipped the what we’ve been playing portion of the show this week to keep the dialog focused on Legends. In the process we also talk about the past and future of social gaming, the development challenges and perks of trying to make an actual game in an arena largely known for Farmville knock-offs, and maybe, just maybe, a little Civ IV chatter too…


iTunes Link
Direct Download

This week was a normal multitrack edit, which usually means you’ll get the best quality we can deliver. I hit a couple snags this time that I couldn’t work my way around, so if you hear a bit of a hum or a high-pitched whine that go in and out, my apologies. I did my best to get rid of that and through 95% of the show it’s not noticeable. The hum was very likely a PC fan that, for some reason, was much more prominent in the opening minutes of Soren’s track than it was later on. Hopefully you don’t even hear the high-pitched whine that comes in and out with some of Dani’s audio. Binky doesn’t hear it. Bill hears it, but only just barely. I think it’s finger-nails on a chalkboard, but then, I was wearing some fairly decent headphones. Let us know if you notice it as I’m curious.

As for the content this week, Soren’s an engaging guy to talk to and we’d very much like to have him back on in the future. Just an incredibly friendly and gracious person. As for his game, the thing that strikes me about Legends is that it really does work as a game. I don’t play other Facebook games, but it strikes me as a cut above the usual Farmville type stuff. No, it’s not like playing Origins or anything, but as a sit down and play for ten or fifteen minutes while waiting for spaghetti to cook kind of game, it’s pretty neat. You get your character, you march down a path to an encounter, recruit the characters of some of your buddies, and play out a turn-based battle. In between you build up a castle with rooms that help load you up with potions, equipment, etc. This stuff will, in turn, help you get through some of the tougher encounters. In some ways, I dig this dynamic better than the encounter system in DA2 because of how it integrates a lot of out of combat decisions with what you’re able to do and how effective you are in combat. I won’t be forking over real world dollars anytime soon, and I’d hardly skip playing DA2 to put 40 hours into Legends, but if you’re looking for a neatly-balanced game, that a couple times a day, you can throw a half hour at, Legends is well worth checking out.

Machinarium coming to PSN

Danielle reviewed this charming point and click adventure game on the PC in January of 2010 for GameShark. She loved it. So news of the game heading for the PSN is worth noting.

Also worth noting is that Microsoft turned down the company’s offer to move it to Xbox Live Arcade. What’s up with that?

“They weren’t interested because the game was already released for Mac and Windows, and Microsoft demanded it as part of an exclusivity deal.”

Oh, that’s what’s up. Nice. Anyway look for Machinarium “later this year.”

As seen on Casual Gaming

Star Wars: The Old Republic Jedi Progression

A new trailer is available for the upcoming Star Wars MMO from BioWare. This one shows some of the progression branches for the Jedi class; from humble beginnings to dual-wielding bad-assery. Worth a look.

The Dumbing Down of Street Fighter

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Eurogamer has an excellent interview with Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono regarding the perceived dumbing down of Street Fighter IV for the 3DS. I can tell you that the Lite control options, where combos are mapped to giant buttons on the touch screen, makes the game more accessible for newcomers but it doesn’t necessarily make it easier. I lasted maybe three fights on Medium and seven or eight on Easy before getting my ass handed to me. Pro tip, don’t miss on an Ultra Combo. The AI will punish you for it. Ono makes an excellent point about the Lite controls being a way to get people into the game that maybe would be turned off by something as brutally technical as a fighting game of Street Fighter’s caliber. Honestly, this is a situation where I don’t know why hardcore elitists would care. More Street Fighter is good for everyone and if you filter out the Lite control using folks when searching for battles, what do you care? The reality is that these games are expensive to make and catering to an increasingly exclusive base of hardcore fans ain’t gonna get it done. I wish I were just better at the game because it really is an impressive piece of software.

Has Street Fighter been dumbed down for 3DS? on Eurogamer.

Calendar Man – Week of 3/28

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Welcome to Calendar Man where I outline all of the games you can spend your hard earned cash on. This week has the release of a new handheld system, the newest entry in the PGA series, as well as new wrestling and NASCAR games. Something for everyone, provided everyone wants to race in a circle for five hours or hit a dude with a chair.

New Releases

By now, the 3DS has launched and hundreds of thousands of people are enjoying glasses free 3D, blurry vision and splitting headaches. Kidding! If you haven’t picked up a system yet, skip to the Deals section to see where 3DS games are on sale, or go to this page from earlier in the week, or, follow the following links to buy them from Amazon and save yourself trips to the store:

If you still have your DS, or want to try out the backwards compatibility on a movie tie in game for a flick about a wannabe Easter Bunny, Hop for the DS comes out this week. The movie looks amusing, but I thought the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie was downright hilarious, so perhaps I’m not a good judge of humor.

The PGA Tour juggernaut continues with the Masters taking front and center in this year’s spate of releases. I’m interested to see how the Playstation Move version fares against the Wii version as the Wii version of this game has been spectacular for two years running.

505 Games continues their DS tie-in game releases with Johnny Test for the DS. I’ve seen the show. It’s amusing, but it makes me think of Johnny Quest and that show was sooooo much better.

For all you wrasslin’ fans out there, THQ’s WWE All Stars releases this week on just about every platform including the PS2. The PS2! I didn’t know dev kits for that system were still floating around.

Koei let’s you get with both the hacking and the slashing this week with Dynasty Warriors. I’m always amazed at how well these games sell as they all seem the same to me. Then again, I’m buying Nintendogs again so maybe I’ll just be quiet now.

The Legend of Heroes series brings Trails in the Sky to North America for the first time with The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky for the PSP.

Parasite Eve fans rejoice! The The 3rd Birthday is upon you! I hope there’s cake, and gifts and balloons. What? Monsters? But, it’s a birthday party! Let’s hope the monsters bring cake.

If you want to get your race on, how about Shift 2 – Unleashed? As opposed to the original Shift which was leashed, this one is unleashed which means, what, I have no idea.

Should the unleashedness of Shift 2 not scratch your racing itch, how about a little NASCAR action?

Deals

Toys R Us – Buy one 3DS game, get one at 50% off, $39.99 games only. Free $10 Pay Per View cash towards WrestleMania XXVII with purchase of any WWE All Stars game.

Target – Wii Fit Plus Bundle plus the Biggest Loser (Wii) for $89. This includes Wii Fit Plus, the balance board and the Biggest Loser.

Best Buy – Free $10 gift card with purchase of any two 3DS games. Free $75 gift card with purchase of PS3 320GB Move bundle. Save $25 when buying two of the following Move games; Killzone 3, Playstation Move Heroes, the Fight Lights Out, Fit in Six. Free copy of Talledega Nights on DVD or Blu-Ray with any purchase of NASCAR 2011 on 360 or PS3. AC: Brotherhood , NBA 2K11 and Read Dead Redemption are $29.99. Epic Mickey and Michael Jackson the Experience for $34.99. Halo Reach for $39.99. Marvel vs Capcom 3, Dragon Age 2, Bulletstorm, Call of Duty: Black Ops for $49.99. Tangled for the Wii for $19.99. Free Best Buy $10 gift card with purchase of Country Dance on the Wii. Free copy of Just Dance Kids with purchase of Just Dance or Just Dance 2.

Kmart – Save $25 on a 3DS game with the purchase of a 3DS system. Save $10 on the following Kinect games: Game Party in Motion, Brunswick Pro Bowling, Fighters Uncaged, Sonic Free Riders, Motionsports Play for Real. PS3 Killzone 3 bundle and Killzone 2 for $299.99. Save $10 on the following PS3 games: Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age 2, Bulletstorm, Fight Night Champion. Save $10 on the following Wii games: Just Dance, Just Dance 2, Michael Jackson the Experience, Just Dance Kids. Free Pictionary or Dood’s Adventure uDraw game with purchase of uDraw tablet.

Steam – $15 off of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Neverwinter Nights 2 Platinum for $9.99 and other deals, all on the Steam specials page.

Impulse – Nothing jumps out at me on the Impulse sale page, but feel free to check it out for yourself.

Sunday Time Waster: So You Want to Write About Videogames?

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As someone who manages a game site, I get a lot of unsolicited writing samples sent my way. This is partly the case, I imagine, because GameShark actually pays its writing staff. We don’t pay a lot – but we do offer some compensation outside of a free game.

I’m writing this Sunday Time Waster because I have also received a surprising number of inquiries and unsolicited writing samples sent to my NHS email address. So, to celebrate the coming of spring even though it remains 28 degrees outside as I write this, I’m going to offer some friendly advice to everyone who fancies themselves a game critic.

Every manager is different but here are some Abner Guidelines on how to submit your work to an editor…

Rule #1

Don’t do that.

Don’t submit your work to an editor.

Sending in a blind, hope for the best writing sample is a tad presumptuous. An email inquiry is always the best way to approach this; introduce yourself, don’t come off like a stalker, and politely inquire if there are any openings. This is also a good opportunity to sell yourself. Even if you have never written for another game site, you need to make said editor at least curious to read your work.

“I love games!” isn’t going to cut it. I did receive one of those emails recently. and while I appreciate anyone’s love for games, well, my daughter loves games, too. She’s 10.

Rule #2

Do your homework.

I see so many people screw this up and it’s bad form. When you do eventually submit an article to an editor you need to do some research on the website.

Follow THEIR format – not yours. (And for god’s sake don’t use another website’s format.)

Does the site publish reviews in 1st person? 2nd? Every site is different. I’ve written for magazines that refused to allow writers to use the word “I” in a review. So…do your homework. It helps. Whatever you do don’t switch them around.

This is what I mean: http://classweb.gmu.edu/WAC/somguide/123person.htm

Along these same lines you have to watch tense. Switching from past to present and then moving to future is annoying and all too common. Find out how the site functions and live there.

How are the articles formatted? What’s the tone of the site? Does the site have any intro doo dads to its reviews? (Like GameShark’s What’s hot/not stuff). How long (in words) are the reviews? 700 words? 2,000?

Taking the time to show the editor that you want to write for THEIR site specifically can go a long way if there’s limited room on the freelance staff and it comes down to the person who took that extra time and the one who simply sent in a generic article.

Rule #3

Stay in your wheelhouse.

This is your chance to show the editor what you can do, so pick a game that you know like the back of your hand. Contrary to what some think, it doesn’t have to even be a brand new release. A good editor will look at the way you lay out your criticisms and not just that you reviewed the current ‘hot’ game. Don’t be afraid to tell the editor, “I don’t do shooters.” (Or whatever) You will make their job much easier if they know what you can and can’t do. There’s no shame in being unfamiliar/hating a particular genre.

In addition to this, you need to realize that editors read samples all the time. Why should they care about yours? When you are done writing your article, and let’s just assume it’s a sample review even though sending in other forms of game writing is a good idea too, you should feel like yours is the definitive review of that game. This doesn’t mean it needs to be 1,500 words long and cover every piece of minutia but at the end of the day the editor needs to feel like your review was not only well written but that your criticism and observations were special because frankly, if you write a generic review you will be looked upon as a generic writer.

And that’s usually a one way ticket to the “thanks for playing” folder.

Rule #4

Send a document and not a link.

Don’t make the editor go to another website if you have work published elsewhere.

(I learned this lesson the hard way back when I was freelancing. Sorry Jeff Green. Really man…my bad.)

It also doesn’t hurt to attach a resume. You are applying for a job—act like it.

Rule #5

Misspellings are instant killers.

Running ‘spell check’ isn’t enough. If you misspell a word or use weird grammar in your sample you have effectively wasted everyone’s time. Also, please, know the difference between its and it’s.

Rule #6

Stay tight.

Reviews should be lean, mean, fighting machines. (There’s never a bad time for a Stripes reference.)

Do not waste words. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of experience to be able to write an effective ‘long’ review. Most people will, quite simply, tune you out if you begin to ramble.

A very effective tool that you can use is to take the game you are using as your submission piece and write the review using no more than 100 words. Not 104 words. 100 words or less.

It’s a bitch, but it’s a fantastic teaching tool which forces you to cut out the bullshit. You can always go back and use all of the pretty adjectives you can think of to describe how neat-o a game’s graphics are after you finish but you should be able to convey your thoughts and get to the meat of your criticism on any game in 100 words.

This is harder than you think. This isn’t even criticism but have you ever thought about the TV show descriptions you read when you are channel surfing? Try using 35 words to describe the movie or TV show you just watched. Tough, eh? It’s like Twitter, but useful.

The point is that if you can make your reviews razor sharp and make every sentence count for something the editor will certainly notice it, whether they agree with your opinion on a game or not should be irrelevant if the editor has a clue. If you submit an article and the editor replies with “You didn’t like Game X!?” Chances are you don’t want to work there anyway.

Rule #7

You can always resort to just plain bribery.

(I like a good Riesling and Gevalia Coffee.)

***
OK enough of that. Let’s get to the good stuff and that’s announcing the winner of the Homefront Steam code contest!

After spinning the Wheel of Contest Destiny the winner of the code is:

RorinRune

I’ll be sending RorinRune an email shortly which guarantees lifetime loyalty to No High Scores.

Thanks for entering and we’ll have another giveaway soon.

Game of Thrones RPG In the Works

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French site FactorNews is reporting that Cyanide isn’t working on just a Game of Thrones RTS but also a Game of Thrones RPG. That’s a lot of Westeros themed acronyms. The story follows alongside the events of the books, first being told from the viewpoint of a Night Watch brother up on The Wall and then switching to that of a Red Priest who is returning from a 15 year exile. The plot and characters were created with cooperation from the creators of Westeros.org, and Cyanide went to so far as to sit down with Martin himself to present the premise. It sounds interesting however as I’m pretty sure Dance of Dragons will ever come out (summer release date, my butt), this Ice and Fire skepticism tends to permeate all other properties as well.

Seen at Joystiq.

Second Expansion for Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition Announced

Well, this came out of nowhere.

Today, Fantasy Flight Games announced a rather unexpected expansion for one of its flagship titles, the six-year-old Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition. It’s called “Shards of the Throne”, and according to the announcement page it’s bringing a lot of new material to the already content-packed game- perhaps as much as Shattered Empire, the previous game-changing expansion from 2007, did. Three new races, race-specific technologies, mech units, mercenary pilots, more planets and most intriguing of all, some advanced political/diplomatic elements including representatives, promissory notes, and assassins.

For those unaware, Twilight Imperium is about as close to a Master of Orion/Galactic Civilizations board game as you’ll find. It’s pure 4x gameplay. Yes, it is complex, long, and cumbersome. But it’s also unquestionably epic, massive, and for its biggest fans it’s practically a way of life. For some groups (like mine), it’s a notoriously difficult game to get to the table due to the sheer logistics involved with it, but it is a truly great experience and it’s definitely an event every time. FFG releases a lot of garbage expansions these days, but I’m definitely on board for this one- even if we only play it once or twice a year.

Hey, want to win a copy of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (360)?

There’s an easy giveaway going on at the Gameshark Facebook page. The winner takes home a copy of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for the 360. All you’ve got to do is like the page, and for there to be at least 650 likes by Monday (there’s 577 now). The page is also a good way to keep with the NoHS crew’s paid(-ish) gigs.

I loved Lords of Shadow, so I can vouch for the game. I thought it was second only to Bayonetta as the best beat ‘em up of 2010 and if you’re an open-minded Castlevania fan that might favor a more Western approach to the franchise’s core values, then I think you’ll like it too. So have at it- free great game, there’s your mandate.