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Do the names Tycho Brahe and Gabriel ring a bell? If your first thought is for Danish scientists or biblical angles, you should probably just walk away from this review right now. And if you're offended by colorful language or potty humor, run - don't walk. Those of you who immediately thought of Penny Arcade's main characters probably don't need to read this review either, as it seems likely you've already made a purchase decision. For the rest of you, perhaps the best place to start is by heading over to the Penny Arcade archives and do some "research".

Anyone can critique games - after all, we're doing it - but it takes a lot more time and energy to try to create them. Long-time webcomic and pseudo-review site Penny Arcade has stepped out of the shadows and into the dark waters of game design. Joining with the people at Hothead Games, we were more than just a little curious to see what sort of offspring would result from this demonic union…. (We mean that in a good way - not all demons have to be bad, after all!)

Those of you familiar with the Penny Arcade webcomic are probably interested in knowing whether the game actually captures the spirit of PA. The setting is a new steampunk world with Lovecraftian trimmings called New Arcadia, so you won't find yourself among Twisp and Catsby or the Cardboard Tube Samurai. What you will find are Gabe and Tycho along with a few supporting characters, and plenty of snide comments, jokes, and an interesting blend of adventure/RPG/comic storytelling.

Many of us are fans of the Penny Arcade comics, and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins have done an excellent job of posting satire, sarcasm, and invective directed at various segments of the gaming community over the years. We were more than a little curious to see what they would bring to the table when it came time for them to make their own game. The result defies easy classification; whether you'll like it or not will at least partly depend on how much you enjoy crude and vulgar humor.

Besides looking at the game itself, we also want to examine the hardware and technical side of things. This isn't a game that will push the limits of computer technology - far from it, in fact - but there are still some interesting developments… one might even say Startling Developments… that warrant discussion.


03 Jun 2008 - Assassin's Creed PC

<p><font size="2">Most people don't like leftovers. A second round of heating can result in overcooked foods that are dry and/or tough. There's nothing worse than a high-quality filet mignon that's been overcooked. However, not all leftovers are bad, and some foods can even taste better the second time around as flavors are allowed to mix and mingle another night in the refrigerator.</font></p> <p><font size="2">If you'll pardon the terrible analogy, the same can be said of video games that are ported from one system to another. A half-baked port can leave users wondering why the developers even bothered to make the effort. <em>Halo</em>, <em>Halo 2</em> anyone? But sometimes you get a game that translates well to another platform, and with a few enhancements and upgrades it can even surpass the source material. Perhaps more importantly, plenty of people don't have access to all the various gaming platforms; if someone missed a game on the original platform it might just be worth checking out the ported product.</font></p> <p><font size="2"><span class="content"> <p>Today we'll be looking at <em>Assassin's Creed</em> (<em>AC</em> for short) for the PC, a port of a game that launched over six months ago on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Reviews were decidedly mixed on the console version, with some publications declaring it one of the best games of the year and others labeling it as merely okay. As usual, what you actually think of the game will depend a lot on what you're looking for, and there are certain to be users that will love this game and others that will hate it. We'll discuss the gameplay and the pros and cons of the game momentarily.</p> <p>One of the other interesting tidbits about the PC port of <em>AC</em> is that it's one of the first titles to launch with support for DirectX 10.1... sort of. Version 1.0 does indeed support DirectX 10.1 features, but Ubisoft decided to remove this functionality in the 1.02 patch. Whether it will make a return in the future is unclear, but signs point to &quot;no&quot;. Given that we're late to the game in terms of reviewing <em>AC</em>, we are going to spend a decent chunk of this review looking at the technology side of the equation and what it means to gamers.</p> <p><a href="">Read more...</a><br /> </p> </span></font></p>

08 May 2008 - Eight Months of Gaming

We're back to bring you a taste of some of the great games that you can expect see, and hopefully play, in the coming months. This is by no means a comprehensive list - we figure the average attention span for an article drops off rapidly past a certain point - but we've got some great stuff to talk about here. Let's get started.

<span class="content"><font size="2">As the biggest installment in the GTA series, Grand Theft Auto IV has garnered quite a bit of attention, even more given its reception of many perfect-score reviews. Given the sheer importance of a title like GTA4, and my love for virtual carjacking, I couldn&rsquo;t resist but putting together some quick thoughts on the game. By no means is this a thorough review, I'm no where near done with the game yet, but it&rsquo;s simply a collection of my thoughts on the title.<br /> <br /> <a href="">Read more...</a> </font></span>

Another year, another version of Futuremark's 3DMark benchmarking software – except they skipped last year and dropped the year from the name. Whatever. The important thing is, fans of 3D graphics benchmarks everywhere now some new software that can bring your computer to its knees... and then some. 3DMark Vantage officially launched today, and we thought we would do a quick update on what has changed and some general commentary on the newest release.

In terms of changes, the most notable areas are the hardware and software requirements. Like PCMark Vantage, Windows Vista is required in order to run 3DMark Vantage. That's hardly a surprise, but simply installing Vista won't be sufficient; you also need to have a DirectX 10 capable graphics card. If you happen to run a system that's no longer on the cutting edge of hardware and software, you can simply forget about running 3DMark Vantage. We installed it on a system with a Radeon X1950 XTX, just to see what would happen. There were no warning messages during installation, which was surprising, but as soon as we loaded up 3DMark Vantage we were greeted by a software crash. It would probably be more effective if Futuremark alerted users to the fact that their hardware is inadequate rather than simply crashing; most likely they will address this with a future patch.

Besides having appropriate hardware and software, you will probably also want to update your graphics drivers. On the test system, the first time we executed the program, we encountered several error messages and some display corruption. We were running the Catalyst 8.3 drivers, and upgrading to 8.4 at least eliminated the display corruption on the loading screens.


Afflicted with amnesia, one of our editors finds his way back to reality by escaping to a bewitched world... 

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