Showing posts with label ati. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ati. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Redefined performance

What wasn't expected was Apple Computer's refresh of its ubiquitous iMac range yesterday! Tuesday's prediction was pretty much on the mark. The high end machine now boasts a panoramic 24" screen and GeForce 7300GT GPU.

From an avid gaming and computer graphics perspective, it's comforting to see nVIDIA back in the consumer desktop range, which is in preference to ATI. I'd start writing my Christmas wish list if it weren't for the following!

So, what's Santa Steve Jobs got in his toy sack that's so special and warrants an early iMac debut?

Friday, 31 March 2006

Hooray for "Hollywood"

IGN’s sources revealed that the Revolution will operate on an extension of the Flipper and Gekko architectures that powered the GameCube. The “Broadway” CPU (as supplied by IBM) has been clocked at 729MHz; in comparison, the Xbox 360’s CPU runs at 3.2 GHz, whilst even the original Xbox had a CPU that clocked in at 733 MHz.

The “Hollywood” GPU in the Revolution (a component developed and provided by ATI) runs at 243 MHz - the GameCube’s GPU ran at 162 MHz. “The ‘Hollywood’”, said one developer to IGN, “is a large-scale integrated chip that includes the GPU, DSP, I/O bridge and 3MBs of texture memory.” The Revolution will also boast 88MBs of system RAM. In direct comparison, the PS3 and the Xbox 3 boast 512 MBs of RAM.

Remember hardware specs do not maketh the game! My money is on Revolution in terms of pushing the gaming 'interface' forward. Think Macintosh.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Cel-shaded Conspiracy

XIII Preview
With the imminent release of the Macintosh port, it’s IMG’s “raison d’être” to tackle the daunting task of another hands on preview courtesy of those fine folks at Feral Interactive. And a rare chance for this comic book fan (and former fine art student), with a predilection for the darkness of an American McGee's Alice, to experience an interactive 3D graphic novel (graphic novel was a term coined by Will Eisner; comic book with high quality storyline and artwork)!

If 'Retro Chic' found favour in the quirky No One Lives Forever (a veritable pastiche on UK television's The Avengers) and its first sequel, XIII takes the First Person Shooter (FPS) into the labyrinth of 1920s to 1950s inspired Dark Deco!

Bourne Again
Acclaimed French/Canadian developer UbiSoft serves up a self-referential cocktail in which film director Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity stars X-Files superstar David Duchovny (as the titular character). And Adam West (General Carrington), television’s 1960's Batman, returns to a setting that acknowledges the source medium that made him an international cult star - comics.

XIII is a complex story of betrayal and intrigue based on the original French comics by Belgian's William Vance and Jean Van Hamme (who took part in the production of the game). The XIII comic series is replete with Byzantine plots that would delight even the most demanding fan of ABC’s award-winning Alias television show.

JFK
The President of the United States has been assassinated, and everyone (most notably large guys with guns) possesses a compelling argument that you did it - even you're not sure! As the story unfolds, you'll learn more about your mysterious past, discovering that you are number XIII (shades of Patrick McGoohan's seminal TV series The Prisoner) of The Twenty, a mysterious shadow organization, the group that perpetually want to see you dead - there's no chance to discuss 'issues' over cappuccino in a virtual Starbucks. Your eventual goal will be to clear your name of all charges (if only you could remember your name…), and get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

So it's clear that the story is a little more involved than, say, the riveting backstory behind Doom! To do the job, you'll have the usual array of weapons and gadgets. There are 13 standard weapons, including crossbows, assault rifles, and rocket launchers, each with an alternative-fire mode. You'll need to choose your weapons and tactics carefully, though, because you can only hang onto four weapons at a time.

Sans Solo
XIII is not entirely flying solo as he is accompanied, at key stages, by Major Jones, a sassy female operative voiced by multimedia diva Eve. During these stages XIII will have to battle enemies while receiving covering fire from Jones and vice versa. So be prepared for some bombastic fire fights with other characters as you progress through the game.

As a counterpoint to the adventures with Major Jones. Adam West’s General Carrington is bereft of any armoury, so it’s your duty to act as human shield during the rescue mission!

On top of the world
From the Baywatch opening (not the O.C?) to rooftops and snowy mountains, the Mac gaming tourists amongst you will be well served as you unearth that most post-modern of questions – Who am I?

Enter the Manga Dimension
Sometimes referred to as Manga Dimension or non-photorealistic rendering (NPR), cel-shading arguably entered the video game lexicon in the seminal Jet Set Radio Future (JSRF) (From Sega development team Smilebit) and, perhaps most famously, changed the look of Link in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. XIII (Thirteen) witnesses cel-shading's maturation in the over populated FPS genre!

Cel-shading is much more than a superficial stylistic treatment in XIII; it underscores the game’s comic book roots and (excuse the terrible pun) is a marvel to behold! For example when an enemy appears, he'll get a close-up panel (a comic book convention sometimes referred to as a box or frame) of where he is, so you can home in on his exact location. A direct kill will witness his timely demise in delicious close-up and includes the obligatory "AARRGH!" (literally known as a sound effect by comic book artists)!

Gore
While not on a par with the visceral thrills of a Resident Evil, XIII splatters stylised blood in a manor akin to Grand Theft Auto (GTA). This title is not recommended for the faint hearted or younger players - an audience it adroitly askews.

Battling the Dark Side
The single player (SP) mode serves a solid storyline encompassing 13 missions (which cover 34 levels) that should take around 25 hours to complete (depending on the player's prowess). However, the multiplayer (MP) option secures greater repeat play value since it combines all the modes present in the PS2, GameCube, and PC and XBOX iterations. And the crowning achievement is that all too elusive Holy Grail - Mac vs. PC conflict!

It must be noted that Bot AI in SP mode isn't showcased in a glowing manner here, but MP Bot engagements can get intense!

God is in the detail
Although my preview hardware was within the minimum system requirements (Mac OS X 10.3.3, 800 MHz iMac G4, 512 MB RAM and GeForce 2MX), sound was choppy and poorly synced. The sound effects are all in a real time. Therefore evincing the need for more powerful hardware such as nVIDIA's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra and ATi Radeon 9800 Pro cards.

Adorned in the stylistic trappings of the graphic novel tradition and powered by Epic games’ UnrealEngine2 (a.k.a. Unreal Warfare Engine); Ubi Soft invested 2 years of R&D! XIII promises to deliver a unique, if not signature, FPS experience for those gamers whose hardware can smoothly run Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and the Unreal Tournament franchise.

Feral Interactive sent IMG a preview based on a very robust beta build (1.0 RC5), which is the current version being tested by Ubi Soft. Last minute tweaks and installation changes (my preview copy was sent on 3 CDs) notwithstanding, it gave this reviewer an excellent insight into what to expect. The retail edition of XIII will bow on a single DVD. Feral Interactive's Edwin Smith kindly shed light on the decision to adopt the DVD medium:

• To preclude the need for a multi CD ROM release
• Only one installer needed
• Nice and clean look and feel with 1 disk, which is more "Mac like"
• Add enhanced video files with higher file sizes, desktops and even other demos to a game DVD
• Anti-Piracy

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Eye of the Tiger

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger's popularity is assured as Amazon UK's dispatch date continues to slip. So, I thought I'd let MacDevCenter describe my reasons for performing an Erase and Install AKA "clean install". Read Housecleaning Tips for Tiger and Everything You Need to Know to Install Tiger. The next fortnight should see further third party patches (and a possible 10.4.1 release).

The first revision of the iMac G5 is too compelling for words! From 512MB to built-in wireless, Apple has served-up a post Tiger treat. The ATI Radeon 9600 GPU is more aligned to the insatiable demands of gamers.

Retro arcade gamers can snap up the latest official MacMAME here. The front-end is to undergo a rewrite and may include a Spotlight plug-in.

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Proper Crimbo

Santa's little software helpers are ever industrious at this time of year! Aspyr's Brad Oliver is beta testing a new patch for Jedi Academy (1.01c). This will improve online game play and finesse the dynamic glow of lightsabers in the Mac port. Dark Forces is my favorite Star Wars licensed game and there's a new mod for Jedi Academy based on the classic FPS.

Those fine folks at Cupertino may be releasing Mac OS X 10.3.7 as soon as tonight. A revised version of OpenGL with updated ATI and nVIDIA graphics drivers is just one of the new attractions!

And Aaron Giles (of JPEGView fame) continues to rewrite the Sega System 16 driver for a future release of MAME.

Time to prepare a DVD-ROM archive for 2004.

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

All I Want For Christmas

In keeping with the spirit of the upcoming holidays. The following list features all my computer and video game hardware owned to date. Most of which were received as gifts at this time of year!

*Atari VCS 2600
*Binatone Mk6 Game System
*ZX Spectrum 48K
*ZX Spectrum+ (same as above, but with 'improved' keyboard)
*Commodore 64 and 1541 Floppy Disk Drive
*Nintendo Game & Watch (various Mario titles)
*Sega Megadrive (Genesis)
*Atari Lynx II
*Super NES
*Apple Macintosh Performa 5200
*N64
*PSOne
*iMac DV SE
*Sega Dreamcast
*PlayStation 2
*XBOX
*GameCube
*LCD iMac G4
*GBA SP

Over the years I purchased innumerable video games from The Fuse Box. During my teens the store, an independent brick-and-mortar retailer located in Exeter's Sidwell Street, was a treasure trove - Rescue on Fractalus!* and Koronis Rift, displayed on the in-store monitors, held me spellbound - before its untimely closure and the advent of etailing. Somewhere in the attic of our house is a dusty old cardboard box that contains Atari, Commodore and Spectrum games (cartridge, cassette and diskette formats) in their original packaging! I've no idea whether or not my Commodore 64 still works (1992 being the last time it was used) and the first ZX Spectrum was passed on to a younger relative only to meet an untimely demise.

Watching Back to the Future II (1989) I noticed Nintendo's PlayChoice-10 in the Cafe 80's scene (a veritable advertising blitz). To reiterate comments made in a previous post. PlayChoice-10 provided Nintendo with a platform to profit from the lucrative arcade market, and uniquely showcased NES titles including Mega Man 3, Super Mario Bros II and III before their home cartridge launch. PlayChoice-10 existed for 5 to 6 years and was briefly superseded by Nintendo Super System. MAME emulation of PlayChoice-10 is not yet 100% accurate, but all known titles are available including The Goonies.

nVIDIA is to produce a bespoke GeForce GPU for Sony's PS3 after Microsoft allied itself with ATi. Combined with an IBM PowerPC G5 processor and possibly OpenGL, the PS3 shares APIs with Apple! Curious said Alice. In a contractual twist, that inspires literary allusions to the one ring, IBM will power all three next generation consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Can you say NDA?

*Rescue on Fractalus! was the first time I'd ever seen the Apple ][ logo. Little did I know that years later the Apple Macintosh would have a profound impact on my creative life.