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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

F1 2011 VS. F1 2010 - SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON   *   21.09.2011
F1 2011 is out this week. Codemasters have promised lots of improvements over last year's game.

One of the things on the list is graphics. The main difference is a completely reworked set of lighting and post-processing. A lot of the community complained about the yellow filter that was so obvious in F1 2010, as well as the much too intensive bloom. All this has been changed this time around, the game looks a lot more natural, albeit a bit less spectacular, at least in normal weather.

On the other hand, rain looks absolutely mind-blowing. It is even more intensive than it was in F1 2010, we can also see a lot more water on the track's surface. Singapore at night, in the rain, is something I am going to play all the time, I only wish I had a bigger TV.



I did not crop the videos, I scaled them down to 75 % in order to see more on the sides. If you do not like the black bars, just download the video and zoom in with your media player. You can also go through it frame by frame to better see the differences. F1 2010's clips might seem to stutter a bit, that is because I had to use time-stretching to match the laps as closely as possible. Sound is from F1 2011.

Both games are rendered in DX11 at 1920x1080 with MSAAx8 and all details maxed out.

I have not had much time to do some actual racing, but from what I have seen so far the handling has not changed too much. Still, the car does not feel so sticky anymore, and it is definitely easier to spin out with traction control off. All in all, the cars' behavior on the track looks more natural, but the handling without any assists should be a lot more difficult. I played some F1 simulator last year, and it was absolutely impossible to use the first or second gear in very slow corners, and even taking off below the third gear was tricky. A pro-sim mode definitely should have been included by Codies.

I will play the game some more over the next few days, so I should be able to say something more about other changes. I like what I am seeing so far.


BATTLEFIELD 3 - PRE-ORDER STEELBOOK   *   17.09.2011
Retail stores have started offering an exclusive steelbook packaging for those who pre-order Battlefield 3. You have to pay a specific amount of money for it (about 10 $ in Poland), and that amount will be deducted from the price of the actual game, once you go to pick it up.

I got myself one of these babies, and it is quite a neat little box. It is just plain black with BF3 and DICE logos on it, no other writing is present. Inside there is space for two discs and a booklet. We also get a sheet of paper with the Physical Warfare Pack code, which will be redeemable after the game has been released.

The box does not contain a code for the Back to Karkand DLC map pack, so I do not know if they are going to offer Limited Editions post release date, or maybe you will not be able to get the map pack by pre-ordering this way. Just the box then? It does not really matter to me, as I have already pre-ordered the game in a UK online store, I just wanted to have the box in my collection, but I am sure many people are wondering about this.

Battlefield 3 steelbook


HAUPPAUGE COLOSSUS IMPRESSIONS   *   16.09.2011
I finally got my hands on the Hauppauge Colossus high definition video capture card.
I read about it a few months ago on AnandTech, and I decided to buy it in July. There were some complications along the way, but I finally got everything working a few days ago.

I decided to write a few words about the card, maybe it will help you if you are thinking of getting one for yourself.

You can read the impressions here.

ArcSoft ShowBiz


MAX PAYNE 3 - FIRST TRAILER   *   15.09.2011
Rockstar Games have released the first official trailer for Max Payne 3.

As with most sequels, the whole world is having mixed feelings about what Rockstar have shown us so far. An old, bald Max, in a completely different setting. Anything else?
I have never really been a fan of the Max Payne series, so it does not really matter to me what they do with it, as long as we get another good game. Even though MP3 is being developed by Rockstar Vancouver (one of their smaller studios), I keep my hopes up. After all it was them who developed Bully, a very cool game, was it not?



What do we see in the trailer? Well, from the technical point of view, the game looks good.
It uses Rockstar's RAGE engine coupled with NaturalMotion's Euphoria physics engine. This is obviously console footage (not too many details, substantial aliasing), so I am hoping the PC version will offer a lot more in terms of graphics, just like GTA IV did. It is a good thing the game is coming out for all platforms at the same time.

The trailer does not show us any gameplay, but it is still looking to be a very good, action packed shooter.
I am not overly excited, but I am not disappointed either. We shall see.

More info here.


NFS UNDERGROUND 2 - TEXTURE MOD V2.0 BY DRAGOZOOL   *   04.09.2011
After I remembered the drag flip video a few weeks ago I decided to do a little research about mods for NFS U2, and I found a few that make going back to this game even more worth it.

The first one is Texmod v2.0, a texture pack made by Dragozool which replaces roads, curbs, fences, as well as some wall and sky textures. They mostly look really good, very detailed, the only complaint I have is about the sky textures, as they look like overcompressed images with macroblocks or other artifacts. Fortunately it is not that noticeable while racing.

The second mod is the Universal Widescreen Patcher that adds support for virtually all available resolutions, including multi-monitor setups. By default, the top and bottom of the image are cropped for widescreen resolutions, and the field of view stays the same. That is where the FoV Hack by Racer_S comes in. It allows to freely adjust both the horizontal and vertical field of view (in-game as well), and it comes with recommended settings for 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios, so you do not have to figure them out for yourselves.



The game looks superb, it is vital that the texture mod preserves the overall feel of the game, I absolutely love Underground's atmosphere, mostly because of the lighting. Coupled with a nearly perfect arcade handling and an awesome soundtrack, this is definitely the best racing game I have ever played.
And now I am going to play through the entire game once again.

Of course the game is rendered at 1920x1080 with MSAAx4 and maxed out details.

Links:
Texmod v2.0 by Dragozool
Universal Widescreen Patcher & FoV Hack


GTA IV: SAN ANDREAS - BETA V0.3.2 GAMEPLAY   *   01.09.2011
Guys from the GTA IV: San Andreas Mod Team have released the first public beta of their conversion bringing San Andreas to GTA IV.
The whole point of this mod is to make use of the amazing RAGE engine powering GTA IV, which is praised especially for the use of the Euphoria physics engine, as well as some rather interesting lighting (thanks to a rendering technique called "deferred rendering").

Even though it is more of an alpha version, I have to say I am amazed by the work those guys have already done. We can drive around the whole state of San Andreas, and even though there is nothing else to do there, it is a very pleasant experience.



Converting the map is one thing. The hardest part will be bringing the world to life, as well as adding classic San Andreas features that are not available in GTA IV, if it is even possible.

Right now there a tons of glitches in the game, it likes to crash as well, we can see some major HDR issues around Tierra Robada, there are various invisible walls on the map, as well as places where we can fall under it. Curbs on the sidewalk are also a major pain in the ass, as we crash into them all the time like they were half a meter high or something.

Anyway, I am very pleased to see this mod working. The crew is quite big, so I am expecting to see some updates in the coming months. The most important thing is to bring the game to life by adding vehicles and pedestrians, after that they should try to eliminate as many bugs as possible. A fully playable free roam would be a good place to start adding other features.

I installed the mod on regular GTA IV patched to version 1.0.3.0, mostly for performance reasons. I think EfLC will be a better option for later versions of the mod, especially as far as helicopters (and planes?) are concerned. With GTA IV as a foundation we cannot even fly a helicopter on top of Mount Chilliad, which would be possible in TBoGT.
On the other hand, with GTA IV (patched up to 1.0.5.0) we can get ENBSeries downscaling to be fully compatible. It would work in EfLC, but only the rendered scene would be downscaled, the HUD or menu would not. I did not use downscaling for this video, I wanted to get acceptable framerates at 1920x1080. I might take a few screenshots with downscaling soon, they could make great wallpapers.

Keep up the good work, I am really looking forward to seeing this mod get better and better. Respect.

You can follow the mod at the official website or at GTAForums.com.
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Top 5 Games:

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3. Fallout 2
4. NFS Underground 2
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Top Games of 2016:

1. Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC)
2. The Division (co-op)
3. Forza Horizon 3
4. American Truck Simulator
5. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex