PC Gamer
lara croft chart jan 11
Lara Croft knows a thing or two about spelunking - the exploration of caves. Though the dark recesses she probes in her next outing for PC are mainly in her own head, rather than of the literal variety.

The British heroine - starring in the March reboot of Tomb Raider - is back at the top of many folks' 'most wanted' list, judging by the latest sales chart from online retailers Green Man Gaming. She's beaten off competition from another pre-purchase game - The Cave - which does thrust players underground. The adventure is the brainchild of legend Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion fame and forged with the help of Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions, so it's no wonder people are DRAWN to it. CAVE. DRAWN. See?

Other pre-purchase games getting people excited enough to get their order in early include the return of Dante in Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry reboot - in at number seven - and the revival of EA's SimCity which is at number nine.

There's no room in the chart for long-time GMG community favourite Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, with sneaky assassin Dishonored sneaking in at number 10.

Here's the chart in full, people...
1. Tomb Raider (pre-purchase)
2. The Cave (pre-purchase)
3. Guild Wars 2
4. Sine Mora
5. Far Cry 3*
6. Bioshock Infinite
7. DmC: Devil May Cry (pre-purchase)
8. Borderlands 2
9. SimCity* (pre-purchase)
10. Dishonored

*Not available in some regions

Brought to you in association with Green Man Gaming.
PC Gamer
Gravity Gun 1

The Half-Life 2 Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator Replica will go on sale in April, but they're going to be pretty tough to get hold of. Joystiq have noticed a sales page on Think Geek offering NECA's 1:1 model for $150. There will only be 5000 sold worldwide. Once they sell out, "they're gone forever!" The two foot gun features "orange LEDs, 2 handles, 2 triggers, 4 unique sounds from the game." You'll find a list of pre-order links here on the NECA pre-order page.

I think I prefer their Portal gun, but sadly that's flown out of stock. All that's left is a little note saying that the entire batch went in less than half an hour. There's more merch on the NECA site, and you can get a closer look at the Gravity Gun replica in this photograph right here.

PC Gamer
Dragon Age 2

In interviews I've found that some designers are a little reluctant to talk about the nitty gritty of their day to day work, perhaps because from their perspective talking about meetings and workflow doesn't seem interesting. The actual block-by-block process of putting a big game together often goes undiscussed, and the hard work that goes into making games passes unseen.

All of which makes David Gaider's account of writing on a big project at Bioware especially interesting. He details the entire process in a series of articles on his blog, communicating the ups and downs of life in the "Writer's Pit," as they call it. It's illuminating, full of advice and offers neat insights into the sort of arguments and exchanges that ring through the corridors of Bioware Edmonton as the production cycle picks up.

There are lots of juicy bits like this, for example:

"...it’s not like we sub-leads go, “yes, sir, Mr. Lead Designer sir!” and then run off to do his bidding. We argue. We argue like nerds on an Internet forum argue, albeit with a slightly greater grasp on the reality of the situation. If you’re not someone who’s willing to collaborate, who understands what that entails, you won’t last long in game development. Throwing a tantrum and going, “I’m a writer! I refuse to allow such things as budgets and technical limitations to affect my art! How dare you, you philistine, presume to have ideas on the story! The nerve!”… well, that wouldn’t go over very well. You’d be out the door in no time.

And this:

"...from time to time I’m asked “I have an idea for a game! Who do I tell to get it made?” …and the answer is “nobody”. The people like Project Directors, the ones at that level? They have their own ideas. Getting the chance to make a brand new IP occurs so rarely in one’s career, do you honestly think they wouldn’t have some thoughts? Do you think they got into game development with no dreams about what kind of game they’d like to someday make, they’re just waiting for someone who hasn’t paid their dues to come along and tell them what to make? As the marvelous Ken Levine said— well, he didn’t say this exactly, but I still smile at the memory of the panel where he mentioned it— “Fuck your ideas.” Everyone in the industry has ideas. I have ideas. Ideas are cheap. If you have an idea you want to turn into a game, don’t tell anyone about it— make it."

And there's lots, lots more in ten parts. They went up November/December last year, but it's all still relevant. Here's PART ONE.

Oh, and speaking of Ken Levine, Polygon have a huge profile on him that may also be relevant to your interests.
PC Gamer
Crucial M500 960GB SSD

Memory maestros, Crucial, have just announced their first high-capacity, terabyte-class SSD that will actually be affordable for people not on MP’s salaries. While they’re not actually creating a full 1TB drive in the new Crucial M500 series of solid state drives, they are going up to capacities of 960GB.

That should give you a bit of space for your Steam library.

But what do we mean by affordable? Well, Crucial is claiming you’ll be able to pick up the 960GB M500 for under £450 (inc. VAT). That’s still a hell of a lot of cash to drop on storage, especially when you can pick up a 4TB HDD for around £250. But considering the speed of the latest SSDs that’s not bad.

By comparison OCZ’s latest Vector drive is sitting around £400 just for the 512GB version.

Still, the presumably Marvell-controlled drive is going to be limited by the SATA 6Gbps interface, so you can expect standard read/write speeds of up to 500MB/s and 400MB/s respectively. In terms of IOPS (input/output operations per second) you’re topping out at 80,000.

Quite whether the 960GB version will be able to hit those peak speeds though is still up for debate.

In my tests SSD performance peaks around the 240-256GB mark, with 480-512GB SSDs generally posting slower benchmark numbers. I think that's down to the extra number of Flash memory chips still being run by the same number of memory controllers.

If the 960GB drive houses a similar ratio of chips to controllers to the 240GB drives then it may well still have that top performance.

Crucial is also releasing the M500 range in a variety of form factors, including the teeny-tiny mSATA, perfect for those mini ITX machines. And with capacities going up to 480GB for such a tiny SSD that's impressive.

I should have the high-capacity 2.5-inch drive landing in my test bench as soon as the samples become available, and then we’ll know for sure.
PC Gamer
Skulls of the Shogun

17 Bit's turn based tactical game of undead samurai war, Skulls of the Shogun, is coming out on January 30, but only on Windows 8, Xbox Live Arcade, Windows Phone and Surface. Marsh has played it and he says it's ace, which makes it all the sadder to think of it trapped in the purgatorial wastes of the Windows 8 store while strategy gamers stuck on earlier operating systems miss out.

Anyway, enough griping. If you DO have Windows 8, and you like the idea of Advance Wars with analogue movement, undead warriors and lots of skull-hoarding then you should check out the Skulls of the Shogun site for more details, and catch a blast of SotS' affable charm in the latest trailer below. Skulls of the Shogun will cost $15 on Windows 8 and Surface, and $7 on Windows Phone, and supports cross-platform battles.

Thanks, Eurogamer.

There's also a bit of in-game footage in the midst of this PAX trailer from last year.

PC Gamer
Razer Edge

Razer were busy teasing this device as Project Fiona a year ago. It re-emerged from the obscurity of Razer's R&D shroud this week at CES this week with a new name and some new moves. The ungainly handlebar controllers that we saw a year ago are detachable, the base unit can slot into a keyboard to turn it into a more conventional desktop unit, or you can carry it around and use it as you would any touchscreen tablet.

It's also quite powerful. An Intel Core i7 chip, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a solid state HDD and an NVIDIA GT 640M LE GPU should push decent framerates to the 10.1" 1366x768 screen. The downside? You'll need $1,299.99 to buy one. Razer are giving potential customers a chance to register interest on the Razer Edge site now alongside a video showing off the Edge in its various guises. Watch that and grab the full specs below.

Here are the tech details for the Pro version of the Edge.
Processor: Intel Core i7 Dual core w/ Hyper Threading Base 1.9GHz / Turbo 3.0GHz
Memory: 8GB DDR3 (2x4GB 1600MHz)
Video: Intel HD4000 (DX11), NVIDIA GT 640M LE (2GB DDR3, Optimus Technology)
Display: 10.1” (IPS, 1366x768) 10-point capacitive touch
Operating System: Windows 8
Storage: 128/256GB SSD (SATA-III)#
Network: Intel WLAN (802.11b/g/n + BT4)
Others: Stereo speakers
Codec supports 7.1 (via HDMI)
HD Webcam (front-facing, 2MP)
Array microphones
Dolby Home Theater v4
USB 3.0 x1 (green, SuperSpeed)
Audio jack (3.5mm, 4-pole, stereo out / mic in)

Well, I definitely like it better than Lenovo's giant table tablet PC. Would you buy one?
PC Gamer
Crysis 3

Crysis' bionic being of pure muscle shoots men back to life in the latest Crysis 3 trailer, which shows a killing spree in reverse for no good reason beyond the fact that it looks funny when he un-kicks a confused guard onto a ledge. If time reversal is a new suit power, Crytek haven't mentioned it, though I imagine a bit of backwards bullet time would be pretty useful if you'd just fluffed an action scene by farting or falling over. Not that that proved any help at all to Chris Martin in Coldplay's 2002 video for The Scientist - a tragic short film about a man who crashes in Grid but lacks the flashbacks to save his girlfriend from death :(

Crysis 3 is out on February 19 in the US, February 21 in Europe and Australia, and March 7 in Japan. Trailer follows.

PC Gamer
The Witcher 2

A message hidden in yesterday's Cyberpunk 2077 trailer hints at a big reveal for an unnanounced CD Projekt Red game on February 5. The text, screengrabbed and transcribed by Redditor, hotweels258, suggests that this "other project" is "much closer to being completed" than Cyberpunk, which is scheduled for a blurry date that looks like it could be 2015/2016. Like Cyberpunk 2077, this other project is a "fully open-world game with an intense story"

"You can probably guess the game we're talking about," they add. If it's not The Witcher 3 I'll eat my headset.

The text pops up at 2:14 into the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer if you want to sleuth it out yourself. The message also mentions that CD Projekt Red are still hiring developers for Cyberpunk through the careers@cdprojectred.com email address.

Like most expensive CGI trailers, the Cyberpunk trailer gave us a a good whiff of what the world will be like, but no indication of what it'll be like to play. The secret message says that it will be a "story-heavy, nonlinear, open world RPG." For more news on Cyberpunk, keep an eye on CD Projekt Red's development blog.

For those with eye augmentation, or for anyone who enjoys squinting really hard, here's that trailer message:

PC Gamer
Fallout Project Brazil mod
Project Brazil preludes the factional fencing matches between the New California Republic and New Vegas' other groups.

Fallout: New Vegas deviated from the post-apocalyptic franchise's extreme isolationism by populating its ruins with lots of people, smelly dogs, and those freaking annoying butterfly-hornet things. The wastelands seemed alive—but the tale of how people flocked to New Vegas remains untold. Until now: The in-development Fallout: Project Brazil mod sets up the backstory.

"Project Brazil is a quieter, more harsh and severe world than Fallout 3 or New Vegas," writes modder Thaiauxn. "It feels like a real place spotted with rare moments of absurdity and fear, split between multiple rising civilizations all trying to fight for what they want or need in a world recovering from the Great War."

Easily earning the spotlight is the amazing intro cinematic seen above. Though the famous "war never changes" line isn't uttered by Ron Perlman here, the narrator's low growl sets the mood. Plus, he sounds slightly like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. Don't you want Bane telling you the consequences of a world consumed by nuclear fire?

As Project Brazil's Mod DB entry states: "This mod adds an all new story around a new player character, an adopted resident of Vault 18, embarking on a quest to a hidden complex called 'Brazil' in the ruins of Los Angeles. Along the way, you'll discover a pitched battle between the Survivalist Army, the New California Republic, and The Super Mutants, which shapes the politics and events leading to the NCR's invasion of the Mojave. The story takes place in 2260—many years before the 'Courier' awakes in New Vegas, while the Enclave struggles to rise again on the West Coast."

Thaiauxn's plans to release several chapters starting sometime in the next few months, with the mod's first split into three parts. The full campaign will eventually contain 16 primary quests and "several side stories, all related to the player's journey through Vault 18 and the wasteland of San Bernardino." It's definitely a work-in-progress, though, and Thaiauxn is seeking additional help from writers, scripters, and modelers.
PC Gamer
SimCity intro trailer

When you click on SimCity's presumably building-shaped icon on March 5, you'll meet more buildings. And when those buildings slide past during your flyover, you'll spot a shape on the horizon: yes, more buildings. How do we know? The answer might have come from this intro cinematic trailer from Maxis, but we'd like to think we're all-knowing PC gaming masters. The video shows off the styles of cities you might grace with your mayoral machinations, including an industrial sludge-zone, a casino city, and a science utopia complete with a rocket launch pad. All impressive sprawls, but you'll likely need help from friends (who will always be online when they're playing anyway) for the truly spectacular metros.