Watch The Witcher 3 running on my Geforce 660Ti

OK, so I last night I used nVidia’s Shadowplay video capturing software to record just under 10 minutes of game play from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I just wanted to show you how the game looked on what is considered the minimum specced GPU for the game.

As I said yesterday, I’m running the game on what I  consider to be an ageing GPU: A Geforce GTX660Ti but it seems to handle the game OK.

Every thing is set to medium and I have locked the frame rate to 30FPS so I can ensure a consistent  experience. Things look nicer on medium settings than on low, especially the grass and other foliage. It’s just a pretty game, to be honest.

Sadly, I forgot to activate the FPS counter while I was playing so can’t see what the  frame rates were doing but everything seemed smooth and very much playable. There was no combat so I can’t see what happens during heavy combat but if I get the chance over the next day or so (work commitments dependent) I’ll record some more footage with the FPS counter running.

Any questions, post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for watching.

Well, well, my Geforce GTX can make The Witcher 3 look good!

While my PS4 copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hasn’t materialised yet (it was mailed out on May 15, apparently), I was lucky enough to get a PC code from the game’s distributor in Australasia (clearly my annoying him with emails worked).

I’m nowhere near a review yet – nor impressions – but I thought I’d post some screen shots taken using Fraps. My PC is has the CPU grunt – it’s running an Intel i7 – but only meets the minimum for GPU: An nVidia Geforce 660Ti.

I was expecting it to struggle but, frankly, it hasn’t, posting frame rates in the high 50s on low settings and the mid to high 40 frames per second on medium settings. Imagine what a more recent GPU will do!

In the meantime, feast on these images (low graphics settings) and I’ll post more impressions as the days follow.

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The Witcher 3: Monsters!

I’m excited about The Witcher 3. I’ve even pre-ordered the game from nzgameshop.com – that’s how excited I am for this.

May 19  can’t come soon enough but to help pass the time here’s another developer diary from CD Projekt Red.

This one’s about the monsters in the game and how the developer wants them to be as believable as possible (believable as monsters can be) and not be impossible things that can defy the laws of physics.

Enjoy.

State of Decay Year One Survival edition: Still rough around the edges but fun

 

It seems the video game industry has a fascination with the Remaster, a phenomenon where games that were released on last gen hardware are given a spit and polish and released on current gen hardware.

Resource management: In State of Decay, it's not just about smashing zombies. It's also about managing your scarce resources.

Resource management: In State of Decay, it’s not just about smashing zombies. It’s also about managing your scarce resources.

One of the latest to receive the Remaster treatment is State of Decay, a game that originally released on the Xbox 360 (and later Windows PC), and while it still has the game play that made the original fun to play I really don’t think it deserved the Remaster treatment.

Set after the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, State of Decay did things a little differently than just task the player with smashing his or her way through countess hordes of shambling undead to reach objectives in that the player had to lead a band of fellow survivors and consider things like morale and trust, base defences and dwindling resources.

Zombie smashing: OK, there is a lot of zombie killing in State of Decay.

Zombie smashing: OK, there is a lot of zombie killing in State of Decay.

Yes, you can bash an approaching zombie in the face repeatedly with a stick – and you will, often – but you also have to consider that bashing said zombie will make a lot of noise – potentially attracting nearby zombies – so do you want to take that risk?

What I liked about State of Decay was that killing zombies wasn’t the focus. The focus was assessing situations, building defences and collecting resources (food, ammunition, building materials) to help your survival. Players can build bases, defend them then relocate if the current base is overrun by the undead. The game is all about finding other survivors and making things work (or not, depending on the direction you want to go), rather than piling up the bodies.

So, the Xbox One version is just as much fun as the Xbox 360 version for game play, and being a remaster must mean that it’s got all matter of graphical wizardry to herald its appearance on new hardware? Well, not exactly, and if I’m being honest, while the graphics might have received a bit of a tart up, I actually thought I was playing the Xbox 360 version at times. It suffers from low resolution texture, and even has some of the original game’s technical issues, like constant clipping and weird AI quirks of NPCs. One chap was so keen to descend the ladder that I was descending that he passed right through me!

And that surprised me because for most Remasters, the power of new hardware promising shiny eye-popping resolutions is the draw card but for State of Decay that doesn’t seem to be the case, despite apparently now outputting at 1080p. Yes, yes, it also has new Achievements and supports the Xbox One’s game DVR function but still I expect more from a game labelled a Remaster.

This new version does have bundled DLC, new weapons and some other stuff, but ultimately, it’s not enough to warrant a repurchase if you’ve played the game before,, despite it being fun.

Make no mistake, State of Decay Year One Survival Edition is a lot of fun, but it’s not worth an upgrade for those who have already played it before. It’s a Remaster that wasn’t needed and if you already own it on Xbox 360, fire up that console and play it on that instead.

State of Decay Year One Survival Edition’s target audience is players who haven’t played State of Decay at all. Those are the people who will be attracted to the game, keen to play a different take to the zombie genre where the focus is survival, resource management and the tough decisions that go with that rather than piling up the bodies.

Game of Throne’s Tywin Lannister is in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

British actor Charles Dance will be known to many people these days as the man who plays Tywin Lannister in the rather wonderful Game of Thrones TV series but he has branched out and lent his rather remarkable voice to CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Voicing Emhyr Var Emreis, the emperor of Nilfgaard and one of The Witcher 3’s most formidable characters, Dance admits that this is the first time he’s been involved in a video game and he found it “quite exciting, actually”.

In the latest hype blast on the game, Dance says that the rise in popularity of fantasy [as a genre] was quite extraordinary and was no longer the realm of “children’s entertainment … the whole thing now appeals to quite discerning adults”.

I’m seriously starting to regret cancelling my pre-order of the game’s collector’s edition now: The game is looking superb.

I think I’d better start saving some pennies so I can pick it up when it’s out next month.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided? SquareEnix, take my money now

The hype has well and truly started: The next game in the Deus Ex series has been announced by SquareEnix.

It’s name is Mankind Divided. And it’s bringing back Adam Jensen, the likeable augmented main character from Deus Ex Human Revolution. I couldn’t be more pleased.

It’s been confirmed for PC, PS4 and Xbox One (not last-gen support which is no surprise) but no release date has been given. It apparently takes place two years after Human Revolution in a society where augmented citizens are starting to push back against their non-augmented oppressors. Apparently, Jensen is part of an Interpol-like organisation that is tasked with tracking down augmented terrorists.

Yes, this is a cinematic trailer but, my God, it looks so damn good (much stabbing, many bloods) and has me hyped for the next game in the series. Hopefully, developer Eidos Montreal have learnt its lesson from Human Revolution and won’t outsource the boss battles like it did originally in Human Revolution, which had to be fixed with the Director’s Cut release.

Fingers crossed, Michael McCann is doing Mankind Divided’s soundtrack, too: His work on Human Revolution is next to brilliant. Update: I just watched the credits at the end of the trailer and McCann is doing the soundtrack on Mankind Divided. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Are you excited? I know I am.

All aboard the Hype Train! Toot! Toot!

 

 

 

LG G Watch R review: The future on my wrist

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Two weeks on and sending a text to someone by talking into my phone hasn’t got tired.

I still get a kick out of it, actually, and it’s something that I love about my LG G Watch R smart watch. It’s something that impresses people, too, which is a nice bonus.

I wasn’t planning on buying a smart watch: It was something that was on my “It would be nice to have” lists but wasn’t a necessity. I had other things that were more important. But when I saw a near-new LG Smart Watch come up for sale on TradeMe then a Buy Me price appear, I just had to have it, despite internally debating with myself on whether I should buy it or not.

A few clicks later and it was mine.

I can’t say I’ve regretted it, either. I feel like I’m living in the future being able to do things like send texts and emails, start up external apps on my phone like Strava and search for directions.

The design

Why did I pick an LG G Watch R? (I’m still not sure about the name, though). Well, I wanted a smart watch that looked like a normal watch and not some techno-gadget from the future.

And LG’s latest smart watch looks like a normal watch, and I like that about it. I also don’t mind the size of it, either. I’ve read complaints about its large bezel and size but as someone who has worn Casio G-Shock watches since  I don’t  know when I find the size perfect for my wrists – and I don’t have massive wrists.

I like the fact that the glass itself is recessed below the bezel, too: It offers protection from some knocks, although I wear it to my part-time job which is physical and I did wonder whether I could damage it. People at work that have seen it have mentioned that it looks like a watch and not a piece of tech. That’s something  that I wanted from a smart watch: Something that does the things a smart watch does but looks like a standard timepiece. It helps that it has a leather strap not a plastic strap.

Heart rate: The heart rate sensor is in the middle of the backplate. The five brass charging pins are to the left.

Heart rate: The heart rate sensor is in the middle of the backplate. The five brass charging pins are to the left.

This watch looks classy and expensive, so LG have nailed the design perfectly. Interestingly, there is a heart rate monitor sensor on the underside of the watch and you can use your voice to get the watch to take your heart rate. It’s a cool feature after exercise but I found that it works better with the sensor up against the underside of your wrist.

The watch came with a cradle that you put it into to charge it (there are five pins on the underside) that match the pins on the charger. Like my smart phone, I tended to charge it every night – it’s just a routine that I’ve got into – but I could probably get away with charging it every two days.

The software

Like other Android-based smart watches, LG’s Watch R uses Android Wear to run apps. It needs some fine tuning but overall, the experience has been positive so far.

During the initial set up process you choose your language and connect it to your phone via bluetooth, meaning it has access to stored contacts.

There aren’t a lot of useful apps for the watch yet but I’m sure over time that will improve. Let’s face it: Smart watches aren’t a necessity so developers are probably still working out how popular they are and what to build for them.

I haven’t installed any third-party apps yet.  I’ve just stuck with what was pre-installed on the watch and I’ve mainly used my smart watch to send texts to friends and family and do things like find out what the weather’s like where I am, how far it is to somewhere I’m going and start up apps like third-party app Strava when I’m bike riding or going for a run.

These are all things that I could start with my phone but it’s just so much easier to talk to my watch and do it. Sending texts is as easy as saying “Ok, Google”then dictating your message. I found that if you pause too long between words the watch will thing you’ve finished and send the message to the recipient.

In the beginning I send quite a few half-written texts because I’d paused too long while thinking what to say. I’ve also learned that I have to say “fullstop”, “question mark” and “comma”if I want to insert those punctuation devices into a text. I have to say, though, I’m impressed with Google’s voice recognition software as many devices just can’t seem to pick up the New Zealand accents peculiarities.

As a test, I wanted to see how the watch would handle me sending a text message to my daughter Siobhan,  a name that has caused teachers consternation so I guessed it would do the same for a smart watch. I was wrong: I expected the watch to throw up all variations of her name when I dictated a message to her but no, it got her name right first time.

Every now and then, though, it would have trouble understanding what I’d said and I noted that when there was a lot of background noise it would take a while to respond to my commands, but overall, the voice recognition worked really well.

It had a few missteps, though: Once the voice recognition activated when I coughed while driving in the car.

Sapphire and world clock Two of the pre-installed watch faces on the LG G Watch R.

Sapphire and world clock Two of the pre-installed watch faces on the LG G Watch R.

IMAG0301The watch comes pre-loaded with quite a few watch faces, which you can change by pressing and holding the screen then scrolling through until you find the watch face you like. There’s a good selection of pre-installed ones including one with a world clock, a moon face, a hiking one with a compass and a classic watch face. You can download more faces from the Google Play Store (some are free, some cost a dollar or two).

Niggles

There isn’t a lot I dislike about the LG G Watch R but for some reason, every three days or so, the Watch R decides to loose the bluetooth connection with my phone and no matter how many times I tried to re-connect it, it refused to play ball. It meant that I had to reset my watch, meaning I had to go through the whole pairing/tutorial process again. That was frustrating to say the least.

Also, I quickly learned that to keep the phone connected to my phone I had to have it with me: A couple of times at the start I left my phone in, say, the kitchen then went to my bedroom, suddenly realising bluetooth doesn’t stretch that far.

What that means is that I’m still dependent on having my phone with me at all  times: Were not at the stage where I can leave my phone in the car, nip into the supermarket and still have connectivity through my watch.I still need to use my phone to respond to social media and the like.

The navigation using the watch isn’t that great: It misunderstood the street near my house several times so I gave up. I think if all you want is the nearest petrol station or restaurant then you’ll be fine but if you want the strangely spelt street near your house, you might be out of luck. It seems to be able to find directions to the nearest petrol station if you ask for directions to the nearest gas station.!

The price is also a little off putting. I wouldn’t have paid $479 (I think that’s what the LG G Watch R retails for in NZ) for it. I’m just lucky I found a cheap one ($200 does seem cheap) on an auction website. If I change anything, I might look at replacing the watch strap, but because it uses a standard watch size that should be easy. I hear LG does a sports model that is rubbery not leather.

The verdict

I’m loving my LG G Watch R and what it can do and I really think I’ve checked my phone a lot less since I’ve had it. Now, if I get a notification or an alert I just quickly glance at my watch and if it’s important I go to my phone but if it’s unimportant I disregard it.

It’s meant I spend less time looking at my phone and more time aware of what’s going on. Android Wear is a work-in-progress and I’m sure it’ll improve over time as will the number of must-have apps for the watch.

I have to say, though, the biggest thing I like is that  LG’s latest smart watch looks like, well, a smart timepiece not a futuristic wrist computer. I like that.

A smart watch isn’t a necessity – I know that – so I can’t recommend you rush out and buy one, but it is pretty cool having one where you can dictate messages to it and it’ll send them to people. I’m sure over time the functionality will improve, too.

But right now, I’ve got some Minority Report shit happening on my wrist.