Things guaranteed to happen each year: incrementally improved new versions of popular products, at least one earnestly predicted end of the world scenario, and QuakeCon, id Software's mega-LAN party/PC gaming celebration. This year the BYOC event will be held August 1st - 4th at its regular stomping ground, the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas.
Don't fancy lugging your rig across the country/world? Not to worry, Bethesda will also be showing off some of their upcoming titles for the first time in public. Chances are that means Elder Scrolls Online, but I've also got my fingers crossed for a possible Prey 2 revival.
As with previous years, attendance is free. The hotel is also offering a deal on rooms, details of which are available at the QuakeCon site.
In this week's debate, Evan argues that Crysis 3 is the best-looking game in gaming, while Tyler isn't wooed by its tessellated vegetation and volumetric fog shadows. It's undeniably impressive tech, but does Crytek still wear the graphics crown?
We assault, parry, and counter-parry on behalf of both sides in the debate below. Make your own case in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Evan, you've got the floor:
Evan: C’mon, Tyler, have you seen Crysis 3? Go ahead, look at it. I’ll wait here.
Tyler: Oh, I've seen it. CryEngine is technically fantastic. Just like Thomas Kinkade was a technically skilled painter. But do I like his paintings? Not at all. Now Evan, I know you've seen BioShock Infinite. If Crysis 3 is a Kinkade, BioShock Infinite is a Norman Rockwell.
Evan: BioShock is beautiful, and I’ve talked with Irrational a bunch about what they’re doing to make the game look as good as it can on PC. Infinite’s art direction is inspiring, but I don’t think its fidelity and effects approach Crytek’s stuff, to be honest.
Man, we sound like a stereotype of teen girls, don’t we? “Oh my god Tyler, Orlando Bloom is so much cuter than Ryan Gosling, I don’t even know you anymore.”
Which would be a better date, Crysis or BioShock?
Tyler: Psh, Gosling is way cuter, but I see your point. If not technical quality, we're arguing a subjective preference for one style or another. But we can still argue it. Art criticism is valid, and if it isn't, my doodles are just as special as Crysis 3’s art direction, because that’s just my opinion.
Evan: We have to consider both sides, though. Crysis is totally concerned with maximum performance, and that theme extends to the technology that drives the art as well as the art itself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all, but Crysis also wins from a quantitative standpoint. The gun models are carefully animated, but they’re piled with polygons. Wall textures in obscure corners of levels are given an unusual amount of care, but they look higher-resolution than any other game. In terms of raw texture quality and the 3D and 2D assets Crytek puts into the game, it’s evident that Crysis 3 is the prettiest thing on PC. Even the damn grass is innovative.
Tyler: I see we've hit the semantics hurdle already. It's hard to avoid in debates like this, but let's try to leap over it. “Prettiest” can mean a lot of things. I’m not taking it to mean “great anti-aliasing” or “look at all that grass!” To me, it could mean Limbo’s black and white film reel or Mirror’s Edge's stark playgrounds. Can you argue for Crysis 3 on those grounds?
Evan: Sure, but as PC gamers we’re interested in what our handmade machines can do. If someone asked you “I just built a PC. What game will really show me what my hardware can do?” would you recommend Limbo over Crysis 3?
Tyler: Alright, maybe not, but if you want to go technical, mods make Skyrim and GTA IV way more fun to look at than Crysis 3's rusted metal and overgrown foliage. iCEnhancer is insane.
Evan: iCEnhancer is a terrific mod. It’s a great demonstration of what’s possible on PC. And I don’t want to shrug off the effort it took to make it, but it isn't a comprehensive approach to creating something visual and interactive. It’s CG for the sake of CG. It’s novelty, to some extent, like the Star Wars special editions. Great visual design originates from an artistic vision and having the technology to convey that vision. Crysis has both sides of that.
Tyler: So you agree it’s not just about cranking up the polycount, but I disagree that Crysis nails the vision side of things. If I were going on vacation, I’d much rather book a tour through Skyrim’s snowy peaks and shimmering lakes.
Evan: Yeah, it’s obviously not all about stuff like polycount, but if we’re comparing two 3D, first-person games, the technical quality of assets matters. It’s the reason Skyrim’s characters appear slightly flat to me—they feel like inexpressive NPCs, and Psycho feels like a virtual person.
Skyrim's Mr. Corn Cob Horns
Crysis 3's Psycho
Tyler: Your counter-argument is vanilla Skyrim, but I'll go with it anyway. Yeah, it's got some blurry bits, but a trip to New Zealand with my glasses off is still better than visiting a movie set with 20/20 vision.
Skyrim is so full of character and variety. It's got this unique sense of scale, where mountains somehow feel like huge miniatures. It's got- well, I could go on, but instead I'll just show you my tribute to it:
Crysis 3 just doesn't do that to me—It's got some lovely swaying grass, but for all that foliage it doesn't feel alive.
Evan: Skyrim is pretty, but not nearly as impressive. I guess I judge visual experiences more on how intensely (and how often) they produce that feeling of “I can’t believe this is coming out of my PC.” Or “I can’t believe this isn't pre-rendered.” Those moments that raise the bar in my mind of what computers can do. Crysis does that more than any other game for me.
Tyler: Does it? Crysis 1 got us so used to holding the series up as the benchmark for PC power that it’s become our default, but it’s not 2008 anymore. Have you seen Witcher 2 with ubersampling? It’s called “ubersampling,” man, how could we ignore it? And don't forget about RAGE. We didn't totally love the game, but damn it looks good.
Sorry buddy, id is still the tech leader. Since you like comparing characters:
A passive gaze in RAGE.
Evan: Two bandanas? CryEngine can only render one; I am defeated.
But yeah, I actually had forgotten about RAGE. It speaks to id’s technical strengths that they can take a brown setting and make it look that beautiful. I’d be willing to say that RAGE’s acrobatic mutants are better-animated than Crysis’ bad guys. But I’d rather be in Crysis’ sunny, overgrown jungle than RAGE’s bright, barren desert.
Psycho in his debut role on Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Tyler: No fair choosing such delightfully dramatic lighting.
Evan: I just like the idea of Psycho telling me a ghost story behind that flashlight.
Tyler: It'd probably be way better than some silly story about slapping a “Nanodome” over New York. Forget about people faces, there’s something really special about RAGE's rock faces. Look at them for a while, and you realize that they haven’t had a tiled texture slapped on like, say, almost every other 3D game before RAGE. The whole surface has been hand painted with virtual texturing. Yeah, that’s something John Carmack invented. Have fun with your dumb non-virtual textures.
I asked id’s Tim Willits to help explain, and he said something that's hard to argue: “Michelangelo could not have painted the Sistine Chapel using procedurally generated textures.” Hear that? id Tech 5 would totally be Michelangelo’s preferred engine if he were alive today. Alright, maybe that's not exactly what he was saying, but it makes the point: an engine that removes limitations from the artist enables better art.
Evan: Virtual texturing is an exciting technique, and I’d love to see it used and iterated on more. But innovations in how flat, static surfaces are rendered don’t excite me as much as the improvements Crysis 3 made to lighting, animated vegetation, and character tessellation. The game has more moving parts, and they all feel authentic. Here’s a trailer that pans through some of the improvements:
Tyler: Alright, so that’s some stunning simulation. I especially like the “dynamic water volume caustics.” Still, I think you might have something else to say about “flat, static surfaces” when Arma 3 comes out. Its scale is incredible and the lighting is gorgeous, but check out that repeating ground texture. Blech! It and Crysis 3 would benefit from id’s technology and artists.
Evan: Oh, whatever. Arma 3 is a huge step forward from Arma 2, and I could even write a massive defense of Arma 2’s visual design, flawed as it is. The animations are rigid, and most of the textures look like they were picked up at a garage sale, but it’s one of the few games (with Crysis) where I go out of my way to run through grass because I love how authentically it animates.
It’s easy to be critical of all of these games. I don’t like Crysis 3’s overuse of motion blur (though some console commands can help with that). But we’re here to name a king—the best-looking game on PC. And I think Crysis’ sci-fi setting, neon weaponry, uncompromising approach to movie-like effects, and Crytek’s incredible engine represents the best-yet combination of aesthetics and technical quality.
Tyler: We'll see about that. You managed to derail my train and put it on the tech track, but now I’m re-railing it: objectively, both CryEngine and id Tech are superior to Unreal Engine 3, but BioShock Infinite is still better-looking. It’s got more style than Crysis 3 has blades of grass, and that’s where it counts. The magic isn't in the fancy shaders or even virtual texturing: it’s in the idea-havers and the art-makers.
Follow Evan, Tyler, and PC Gamer on Twitter to react to our battle prompts as they happen, and see how the community responded to this one on the next page.
@pcgamer modded or un-modded? Because I'm pretty sure you can make Skyrim look better than real life if you install enough mods.
— superkillrobot (@superkillrobot) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer technology wise? Probably. Art direction? Imagination? Notsomuch.
— Tony Heugh (@standardman) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Definitely, no contest.
— Jake (keyboardN1nja) (@keyboardN1nja) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer For me, I gotta say Battlefield 3.
— Tribesman Gaming (@tribesman256) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer it is definitely, by far, the best unmodded game in terms of raw graphics ever. It just is. Real time caustics. 'Nuff said
— Kai Moseley (@Kibby_Cat) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Yes, from a tech perspective. Psycho's model is IMO the most realistic looking human model in a game yet, coming from a #BF3 fan.
— Gerardo Pena (@Tobi5480) February 20, 2013 @pcgamer Crysis 3 does look fantastic, but something. about the snowstorms in Skyrim just blow me away.
In the grand tradition of releasing a new thing for a game just as we're beginning to forget all about it, iD software have bolted the official toolkit for Rage onto Steam. You can finally build your own environments, guns, mutants, cars or whatever else. Perhaps you could swap John Goodman's character Dan Hagar for one that looks more like John Goodman, or create a mod that changes the colour palette from 'very brown' to 'less very brown' - whatever your heart desires. However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind with the download, not least the fact that it's a whopping 35+ GB in size.
There's a welcome document accompanying the toolkit, which makes clear that the kit is "provided on an 'as is' basis only for the technically sophisticated and adventurous." iD's John Carmack tweets that "The toolkit release is not something that we consider consumer friendly, but it does let you get a look inside the construction process."
To download the toolkit, head to Tools section on Steam (it's helpfully listed as Rage Tool Kit).
While you could sum up Valve's plans for Linux compatibility as "full Steam ahead," it seems that not everyone is as sold on the OS's role in mainstream gaming. Yesterday, John Carmack questioned the wisdom of development studios working to make their games run natively in Linux. He tweeted, "Improving Wine for Linux gaming seems like a better plan than lobbying individual game developers for native ports. Why the hate?"
Carmack later expanded on his comments in a thread on Reddit's r/Linux, saying, "I don’t think that a good business case can be made for officially supporting Linux for mainstream games today."
"I wish Linux well, but the reality is that it barely makes it into my top ten priorities (Burn the heretic!); I use Linux for the flight computers at Armadillo Aerospace, but not for any regular desktop work. I was happy to hear that Rage ran in Wine, but no special effort was made to support it.
Carmack notes that Zenimax, Id's owner, doesn't publish Mac titles - instead partnering with Aspyr. "I would be stunned if they showed an interest in officially publishing and supporting a Linux title. A port could be up and running in a week or two, but there is so much work to do beyond that for official support."
And Carmack is no stranger to the Linux market. "The conventional wisdom is that native Linux games are not a good market. Id Software tested the conventional wisdom twice, with Quake Arena and Quake Live. The conventional wisdom proved correct. Arguments can be made that neither one was an optimal test case, but they were honest tries."
He argues that, despite the technical stigma, emulation is a more viable move. "Translating from D3D to OpenGL would involve more inefficiencies, but figuring out exactly what the difficulties are and making some form of “D3D interop” extension for OpenGL to smooth it out is a lot easier than making dozens of completely refactored, high performance native ports."
"Ideally, following a set of best practice guidelines could allow developers to get Linux versions with little more effort than supporting, say, Windows XP," Carmack finishes. "Properly evangelized, with Steam as a monetized distribution platform, this is a plausible path forward."
Running a website called Dead End Thrills (about pictures of grafix), I spend a lot of time playing with visual mods. When PCG asked me to list my favourites from 2012, I agreed thinking I could do it in the style of the prize round from Bullseye. "You'll be up all night 'cause it don't look like shite." "Act well-heeled with this depth-of-field." But that wouldn't work overseas, they said, and stopped being funny after two examples.
Here's a straightforward top ten, then, in no particular order. SweetFX Battlefield 3 screenshot by Jim Snook (jim2point0)
No sooner had Nvidia's Timothy Lottes introduced FXAA (a 'fast approximate' antialiasing solution effective, unusually, upon deferred rendering and shader aliasing) than 'some dude' (their username - bet it's a lady) weaponised it into a DLL injector for most DirectX games. Copy it into the same folder as the game's binary and it hooks the calls to DirectX, softening the edges most AA methods can't reach.
Then things got interesting. Tonemapping, digital vibrance, luma sharpening and other neat effects got thrown into the mix, giving us the power to customise the look of most modern games. It's also one of the most reliable, no-nonsense screen capture tools: just hit your assigned hotkey and a lossless image plops into the game's folder.
Christian Jensen's SweetFX is the next evolution. Using SMAA for antialiasing, its features include S-Curve contrast adjustment and a filmic Cineon DPX treatment. Popular presets for these injectors include the Mass Effect 3 'Illumination' mod and James Snook's work with Borderlands 2 and Dishonored. When it comes to cheap, powerful tweaks to colour, image quality and luminosity, PC gamers have never had it so good.
Smarteck's Mass Effect 3 textures Additional screen.
Back in February, the official Mass Effect Twitter account confirmed that “when the full game releases, hi-res textures will be built into the game!” And so we learned that when BioWare uses an exclamation mark, it's because it can't quite believe what it's saying - because it isn't true. Altogether now: 'Crikey, these textures are taking a while to update. Oh, they have updated and the costumes still look like Ceefax.'
Some months later Smarteck, a member of BioWare's long-suffering community forum, has led an effort to retexture not just Mass Effect 3 but all of its DLC as well. Inspired by the sterling efforts of 'Jean-Luc' with his ME2 textures, he's made the game's costumes and environments palatable, if not strictly 'hi-res'. Some detail texturing here and artistic licence there can't always cover the initial upscaling that's gone on.
The other quirk is that you need ancient memory patcher Texmod to actually inject the stuff into the game. It adds something in the region of ten minutes to the initial load time and can cause issues of varying severity if you try and inject too much. All of that said, it has the not-insignificant effect of making the game compatible with your eyes.
Durante's 'DSFix' for Dark Souls Screenshot by Midhras
I'm going to paraphrase a bit here. From Software: "We can't do it." NeoGAF poster Durante: "I bet I can do it in half an hour." 23 minutes later: "Look at that! Sometimes I surprise even myself." An awkward silence now follows into eternity, save for all the whooping and cheering of users who'd just about written off the PC port of the magnificent Dark Souls.
Unlocking the game's internal frame buffer with his 'DSFix', Durante revealed assets that were clearly fit for more than pitiful sub-720p rendering. Then, among other things, he added ambient occlusion, uncapped the framerate and improved the game's texture filtering. And there was much rejoicing - and nagging for further features.
It's hard to recall a PC version that's been rescued from the brink of utter rejection quite like Dark Souls, and certainly not rescued by players themselves. The wrong lighting model going into Resident Evil 4, the performance tailspin of DX11 Arkham City: such things are usually patched with some urgency by the developers. Souls fans had barely lit the torches, much less found the pitchforks and a way to still type, by the time the game was fixed.
ENB Series for Skyrim and Fallout 3 Outspoken graphics programmer Boris Vorontsov might just be one of the most important people in PC gaming right now. No joke. His ENB wrappers and injectors have brought to many games the kind of generational leap in quality people expect from modern graphics cards, but seldom receive beyond those tech demos where fairies in Nvidia-branded loincloths ride turtles into battle with Decopunk death balloons. Those exist, right?
But where do you begin? Vorontsov has banned the hosting of his core dlls anywhere but on his own website; then you have the community-made presets. That's where effects like indirect lighting, subsurface scattering and complex ambient occlusion are wrangled into something complementing (or wildly departing, depending upon taste) the game's original look.
The last year has seen several masters of this bizarre artform emerge. In one niche you've got Midhras and his deep and luscious 'Midhrastic' presets for Skyrim and Fallout 3. In another, Trillville (aka Anthemios) and his muted but cinematic 'TV ENB', again for both games. And there's the fantastical (but surprisingly GPU-light) Seasons Of Skyrim by Bronze316. There's loads, basically, so get looking.
Sikkmod/Wulfen's Textures for Doom 3 Additional screens: 1, 2 and 3.
Not strictly from this year but here by virtue of significant recent updates. If Rage left you questioning the genius/foresight/influence/marbles of one John Carmack, let the properly modded Doom 3 splash all over your grumpy face like a hyper-demonic poo pump (or whatever those things are).
To put it really crudely, user Sikkpin brings the effects while Wulfen (and to a lesser extent another modder called Monoxead) brings the textures. There's a lot more to it, though. Sikkmod adds a beautifully implemented list of options to the game's menu, letting you toggle but also heavily customise things like ambient occlusion, colour grading, bloom and HDR. The icing on the cake, though, is the experimental parallax occlusion mapping (POM).
Given supporting ultra-quality textures like Wulfen's, POM adds a relatively primitive relief effect to the game's grungy surfaces. It's also an effect, though, that makes you want to reach out and touch all the stuff you really don't want to have on your fingers. The caveat - and it's a big one - is that it's far more demanding and less reliable than tessellation in a DX11 game. When the effect breaks, it breaks bad. Still worth it? Absolutely.
REX: Real Environment Xtreme Alternative screens: 1 and 2
Of course you're aware that the flight sim community takes things rather seriously. Where modding is concerned, they build planes like they're actually building planes. The manual for one of these suckers is bigger than the manual for my car; in fact, the 2005 Honda Jazz feels less realistic all round. Meanwhile, when these modders are building the weather, they do it better than God. His clouds have been rubbish for years.
You'll get the lot if you invest the considerable time and money required by Flight Simulator X and its biggest mod, Real Environment Xtreme. The latest version is called REX Essential and is soon to be improved by REX Essential Overdrive. Assuming your mind can handle something so essentially overriding, what that gives you is almost 10gb of clouds, runways, dawns, dusks, reefs, waves... an awful lot of photorealistic stuff.
The way the mod works is to build a weather profile for the particular flight you add to your planner. It takes a while to import the necessary textures and runs a background app to keep track of them, but it's well worth the rigmarole. Add it to things like TileProxy and a high-fidelity terrain mesh and you have a game that makes Microsoft Flight look like... well, Microsoft Flight.
Skywind/Morrowind Overhaul Screenshot from Morrowind Overhaul site.
The heart says Skywind but the head says Morrowind Overhaul, the one you can actually play. The magpie in me likes Skywind’s shiny stuff, but the historian bristles at the idea of just transplanting Morrowind into the framework and tech of a really quite different game. Not that it stopped the Dragonborn DLC, but that's not quite the same thing.
The screenshots of Skywind are marvellous, of course, in that specific way that most ENB-assisted shots are. Beautiful art and beautiful technology on occasionally decent terms. Can the authors pull it off without inflicting a violent mood swing on the game? We're a long way from finding out: they just made the difficult decision to take several steps back in order to bypass some serious obstacles, and now there's just a skeletal worldspace to explore.
Morrowind Overhaul has had a lot longer to gather its greatest hits collection of mods for the original game. Crucially, it suffers none of the legal issues surrounding asset-porting that affect Skywind and its Oblivion-based predecessor, Morroblivion, so isn't such a kludge of community-only content. And hey, even if you don't like it, the divine beauty of its installer will still come to you in dreams.
GLSL shaders for Minecraft When no one can even agree on Notch's motives for the game's look - I want to call it 'Voxel Art' but its polygons won't let me - you can imagine the confusion over how Minecraft should be modded. Maybe that's the beauty of it. At the very least you get the comedy of people striving to make it 'photorealistic', as if waiting for the mod that shrinks each block to 1 cubic pixel so they can make a perfect replica of Crysis.
Better, I think, to flatter the blocks without pretending they're something they're not. I'd love to see realtime radiosity in Minecraft but suspect my computer wouldn't. (You should have heard the noise while rendering these 4K screenshots.) What we do have, though, is the ongoing work on daxnitro's abandoned GLSL Shader mod. Some of it's awful, like the lens flare and depth of field effects, but you can turn those off in the shader files and still enjoy sumptuous light and shadowing.
What I was looking for was a realtime version of the renders described here. It warms me to know I'm still looking at a game. I have to warn you, though, that finding the right shaders for the right version of the mod, for the right version of Minecraft, was an utter chore. Each small update of Minecraft requires a new version of the mod, and each new version of the mod tends to break something, whether it's the lovely new water shader or Nvidia compatibility. It might not even work at all.
You need to learn this stuff for yourself, really, as there's a lot of trial and error. Start by reading the thread for Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders (SEUS). Then look at Sonic Ether’s updates page on Facebook and figure out why he chose such an abhorrent solution as Facebook for an updates page (hint: you can’t). If, like me at 2AM, you’ve followed all of these instructions and have more questions than answers, you could always try chocapic13’s preset here which I turned to in desperation, and which actually worked.
Crysis 2 MaLDoHD Mod
Screenshot from MaLDoHD site
Real soldiers don't look at the enemy, they look at the floor. They stand by their fallen comrades, lower their guns and think, "That is a dirty puddle, all right, but is it a wow puddle?" Then they get shot. Bleeding out, they look up at the sky and think, "No, those clouds aren't doing it for me at all. This is simply unacceptable."
Thanks to the jargon-tastic MaLDoHD mod, the shoegazing soldier doesn't have to die disillusioned any more. Fears that Crysis 2 would become any less MAXIMUM with age can be safely laid to rest.
He's suffered for his mod, this Maldo. His computer "burst" in October, reveals his blog, and some believed he was dead. So you'll just have to settle for the "1894 textures and 1297 materials" in the existing beta version of MaLDoHD; those, and all the effects such as SSDO, object tessellation and penumbra shadowing. Sucks, huh.
The RAR file is 1.5gb and expands to over 2gb. The configuration process remains, as even MAXIMUM GAMER Craig Pearson had to admit, "a bit of a faff". His install guide still applies, though, so check it out.
Deus Ex New Vision Screenshot from Deus Ex New Vision ModDB page.
Any visual mod for Deus Ex has its work cut out. My lasting memory of the original graphics is how freshly waxed the floors looked, not how the characters resembled ice sculptures on a balmy day. Accept the rather mathematical art as a style choice, though, or a trade-off for the game’s complexities, and you’ve ticked the first box for installing New Vision.
As well as enabling DX10, New Vision gives most of the game’s textures a fourfold increase in size and quality, bringing them into line with a modern game. It does it by exploiting the seldom-used S3TC standard of the original Unreal Engine.
Installing it is simple, especially if you have the Steam version which includes the required patches. The single installer asks if you want to install a modified launcher (you do if you want FOV options and enhanced resolution options) on top of the new textures, then you just run the game as usual.
Sucked helplessly into Ion Storm's universe for what’s probably the tenth time, you might just realise that old geometry and HD textures aren’t always a bad combination. New Vision is the work of top-tier artists with an obvious respect for the source material, and these are genuine 1024x1024 textures rather than horrid upsamples. Rather than drag the game kicking and screaming into 2012, though, they invite you back to 2000 with augmented eyes.
So it turns out RAGE has DLC. DLC that's coming out a year after the game, with all the marketing bluster of a mouse's fart. But hey: we enjoyed RAGE back in the hazy mists of 2011, so perhaps it's time to get excited. Scorchers will set you back a relatively modest $4.99, and it's actually sounding pretty substantial, offering half-a-dozen new areas and a shiny (well, rusty) new gun, among other things.
Here's the skinny, from Bethesda's newly minted Scorchers webpage:
"Battle an all-new maniacal bandit clan, wreak havoc with new brutally efficient weapons and explore undiscovered areas in RAGE's new official add-on pack, RAGE: The Scorchers™. Fight alongside new allies to thwart the Scorcher clan's deadly plot to destroy the Wasteland. The add-on pack also includes 'Ultra-Nightmare', a new high difficulty mode, as well as an 'Extended Play' option that allows you to play past the original ending of the game - giving you the opportunity to finish collecting items and achievements."
So it seems almost akin to Fallout 3's Broken Steel expansion, offering up additional story quests and the ability to return to the world after the credits have rolled. Also of note: a new season of Mutant Bash TV, and a new Nailgun weapon with "three distinct ammunition types". It's hitting the post-apocalypse next week - Tuesday to be exact, three days before our own apocalyptic event.
Quake II was one of the first FPS epics to espouse the pristine logic of firing rockets at one's feet to jump higher. Id's memorable shooter didn't skimp on the bullet count either, and in celebration of its 15th anniversary yesterday, Creative Director Tim Willits shared a few did-you-knows (via Eurogamer) surrounding the art and multiplayer.
For instance, just three artists crafted the 2D and 3D visuals for Quake II's entirety, delivering an orange-tinged world of metal and flame shuddering beneath a massive human military offensive. An earlier suggested title for the game was WOR, but id changed the name after realizing Quake II's fast-paced action better suited the renowned series.
Lastly, Willits' multiplayer arena of choice, The Edge, hides over 50 trick jumps for handy hoppers, though Willits only designed two of them. The rest were discovered by early adopters of ye olde drum-and-bass jump videos.
The remainder of December holds further commemorations for PC gaming greats of the 1990s. WarCraft II hits 17 in just two days, with id following right behind with a 19-year-old Doom anniversary on Monday. Planescape: Torment, Black Isle's masterful RPG, turns 13 next Wednesday. Id returns yet again with tough platformer Commander Keen's 22nd birthday on the 17th, and nothing boosts holiday cheer like the sorcerous cultists of Raven Software's Heretic which dings 18 on the 23rd.
The team over at RGB Classic Games is giving us our nostalgia fixes in the form of Java-based DOS emulation. They currently host over 300 games from days of yore including Doom, Commander Keen, Earthworm Jim, and many more that didn't get spotlighted because they were too far down the alphabetically-organized page. And it's totally free.
It almost seems too good to be true. You might expect the hammer of legal action to be looming just above the dusty library of classics, but the site's intentions appear noble. As it explains: "The highest ideals of this site are to support the authors by providing links to their web sites and ordering information for the full versions of games that are still sold, and to encourage the authors of classic games to preserve their games for future generations by making them available for sale or as freeware. If you enjoy a shareware game, please consider buying it from the author.
"All of the games on this site are freely distributable because they are shareware, freeware, or because the copyright holder has officially and legally released all rights to the public domain (abandonware)."
Assuming that's the case, the site shouldn't see any problems, but if it does offend a copyright holder, we'd expect a simple removal of the game in question to suffice. Cue up some Nirvana and have a look for yourself.
Clear your schedule and make room on your hard drive: there are over 9000 mods up for consideration as ModDB's 2012 Mod of the Year award nominees, and only a little over five days to nominate them. A big green button on each mod's page makes it hard to miss the opportunity to give your favorites a bump.
There isn't much time, so we'll get straight to it after this obligatory acknowledgement that we said "over 9000" on the internet: tee hee, references. Moving on, DayZ and Black Mesa are tough to ignore, and The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod was a valiant community effort. Those might be the most talked about and praised mods this year, and we expect they'll secure nominations, but there are so many more that deserve recognition. Which are you voting for?
If you need a refresher, you might want to browse our recent mod coverage to see if you've missed any driving elephants or My Little Pony conversions.
In the beginning, there was Doom 3. And it was not particularly well-received, on account of that gun/flashlight blunder. Then, after a long time, Doom 3 came back again as the BFG Edition, just in time to see its older version yanked from the face of Steam. Now, at last, this epic tale comes to its thrilling conclusion, because Bethesda have seen sense and put original game back on sale. Hooray!
Doom 3 can now be yours for £5.99, or £7.99 if you want the Resurrection of Evil expansion thrown in too. There are around 92 reasons why you might want the original game rather than the BFG do-over, and they're all listed on the game's Moddb page. Of particular note is The Dark Mod, the ambitious total conversion that transforms Doom 3 into Thief.