PC Gamer
Club3D Radeon HD 7870 XT jokerCard


I was rather disappointed to learn that it’s probably going to be late this year before we see proper Radeon HD 8000 series graphics cards from AMD, but the silver lining is that in the meantime we get incredibly fast, incredibly good value cards like this Club3D HD 7870 XT jokerCard.

AMD’s HD 7870 has been one of the stand-out cards of this generation since it dropped below the £200 price point. But this Club3D version is a very different kettle of fish altogether. It’s actually running the same Graphics Core Next GPU as the one that’s the beating heart of the HD 7900 series of cards. Yup, this is a HD 7870 with a chunky Tahiti chip humming away under that heatsink.

It’s not the full-fat Tahiti chip we’ve seen in the HD 7970 or HD 7950 though. This is the Tahiti LE GPU, with a slightly cut-down 1536 Radeon cores, 32 ROPs, 4.3 billion transistors and a hell of a lot of graphics processing power at its disposal. By comparison the HD 7970 has 2048 cores and the HD 7950 has 1792. It’s also got less VRAM too, with only a 2GB GDDR5 framebuffer compared with the 3GB you get in the higher-class series of cards.

But what does all that mean in terms of performance?

"There’s practically nothing below the £300 mark that can really hold a candle to this card in terms of value or straight-line performance"
Well, surprisingly, it means this sub-£200 card is capable of posting performance figures dangerously close to the £250 HD 7950.

In most games you’re looking at just a few FPS on average short of HD 7950 performance. Even more impressive is the performance when you compare it against something like the Asus GTX 670 DirectCU II card. That’s a card retailing for over £300 and in some benchmarks it’s actually slower than this £172 Club3D card. That’s almost half the price for better overall performance.

In short, there’s practically nothing below the £300 mark that can really hold a candle to this card in terms of both value for money and sometimes even straight-line performance - and certainly not the equivalently priced Nvidia GTX 660.

And that’s all before you start waving around the overclocking stick. I’ve played around with both this Club3D version and a Sapphire version too and both will run from the 925MHz base clock all the way up to around 1200MHz. That’s a huge overclock, and really pushes up performance too.

For the money they’re asking for this card it’s a quite incredible little thing, able to play the latest titles even at 2560 x 1600 resolutions with post processing effects switched on, too. It may be sad that innovation in the graphics sphere is slowing down to what might become a two-yearly cycle, but if performance keeps getting faster as prices drop in this generation it’s going to allay some of that misery.
PC Gamer
wildman


Wargaming.net have announced that they have acquired Gas Powered Games, the troubled development studio behind Supreme Commander, Dungeon Siege and Demigod. CEO and founder Chris Taylor will continue to lead the company. This comes after a tumultuous month which saw Gas Powered bank their future on a Kickstarter for the RPG/RTS Wildman and suffer a round of staff lay-offs. The funding drive was recently cancelled, but clearly garnered enough public interest to prompt the World of Tanks developer into making an offer.

When the Wildman cancellation was announced, Taylor wrote, "We are profoundly grateful to those of you who backed this project and Gas Powered Games. Your passion and hard work put us in a position to write this exciting new chapter in the history of GPG." Now we know where that new chapter is being written.

In the release, Wargaming - best known for and phenomenally profitable because of free-to-play game World of Tanks - played up their other recent purchases, saying that Gas Powered "will further bolster Wargaming’s push into multiplatform expansion, including the recent acquisition announcement of Chicago-based Day 1 Studios and MMO middleware provider Big World Pty Ltd."

Gas Powered Games' most recent project was the free-to-play Age of Empires Online, while Wargaming were originally known for robot-infused strategy game Massive Assault Network. There's no word yet on what Gas Powered and Wargaming plan to do together, and whether those plans include bringing Wildman to release.
PC Gamer
Ghost in the Shell


An MMOFPS based on the Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex anime is due out in "the first half of 2014." It'll feature "fierce hacking battles between cyborgs fighting over strategic resources" and "a new concept that integrates artificial intelligence with the player"- wait, WHAT.

Ghost in the Shell is the story of a cyborg agent's existential crisis as her special forces unit hunts down a master hacker in a world of titanium limbs and always-online brain implants. It asks big questions like "what happens to concepts of individuality and difference when a mind is exposed to a homogeneous virtual environment?" and "who would win between a cyborg and an awesome spider tank?" The TV series explores similar issues in a chain of smart whodunnit mysteries.

It's hard to imagine much of that making its way into an MMOFPS, and given Ghost in the Shell's world, talk of integrating AI with the player starts to sound a little-

GHOST IN THE SHELL: STANDALONE COMPLEX WILL BE A MOST EXCELLENT VIDEOGAME. HUMANS MUST INTERACT WITH IT TO MAXIMISE LIFE ENJOYMENT. BRAIN IMPLANT PERIPHERAL RECOMMENDED FOR MAXIMUM IMMERSION. PRODUCT CREATED BY GLORIOUS LEADERS, NEOPLE, CREATORS OF DUNGEON & FIGHTER, WHICH HAS MORE THAN THREE MILLION HUMAN SUBSCRIBERS IN CHINA. MESSAGE ENDS..........

It's made by Neople, who have put out some massively popular MMOs in Chi- hang on have I already said this? Hmmm. I'm going for a lie down.
PC Gamer
Avalanche Studios


"We've got our publisher's PR crew here today. Maybe I should shake them up a little bit and leak something just for the fun of it," Avalanche founder Christofer Sundberg tweeted yesterday. Minutes later, he uploaded the instagram shot above saying "We're making awesome games at #avalanchestudios! This year will be awesome!"

But will it be Just Cause 3 awesome, or Mad Max awesome? Rumours of an Avalanche Mad Max project have been circulating for years, and a movie reboot starring Tom "Gotham's reckoning" Hardy is due next year. The battered motorbike/sidecar combo and the crowbar thing the driver's wielding fit in nicely with the regressive post apocalyptic tech of Mad Max, but the driver also sports the dark shirt and shoulder straps favoured by Just Cause protagonist, Rico. Hmmm, what do you think?

We're making awesome games at #avalanchestudios! This year will be awesome! #yearoftheavalanche @… instagr.am/p/VrXdz6JwtU/— Christofer Sundberg (@CHSundberg) February 13, 2013

PC Gamer
pcg250 cover header


It's Valentine's day! And to celebrate, we've released a new issue of the excellent PC Gamer magazine! Indeed, there can be few things more romantic, more stirring than issue 250 of PCG UK, with its cover image of a grizzled man squatting menacingly in a forest, while a look of pure wrath - or possibly simple constipation - contorts his weathered features into a chilling snarl. Woah woah woah - stop taking off your pants. It's hard to resist, I know, but before you get all amorous, wait to hear what else is on offer in this perfumed boudoir of an issue. You don't want it to be over too soon, do you?

Issue 250 should be on shelves today and is HALF PRICE if you nab it from either Zinio or the App store before the end of this month. Of course, you could always subscribe and get each issue delivered to your door! Hit the jump to see the exclusive subs cover, and stare deeply into Pooping Barbarian Man's gimlet eyes. Then discover what other treats await: news, previews, reviews, retrospectives, tech tests and a picture of Chris Thursten looking sexy on a horse.



This month we...

grapple with muscley barbarians in Total War: Rome 2
get all sticky with the Zerg in Star Craft 2: Heart of the Swarm
use our creativity in the new Sim City
go in deep with previews of Defiance, Octodad 2: Dadliest Catch, Suvarium, The Iconoclasts and Tomb Raider
indulge our fantasies in Roll20, a roleplaying platform bringing PnP D&D to PC
discuss the nature of amour with indie dev Christine Love
reveal the depth of our true feelings in Why We Love PC Gaming
show tough love to our crop of reviews: WarZ, Fallen Enchantress, DmC: Devil May Cry, The Cave, Waking Mars, Wurm Online, Long Live The Queen, Omerta, Strike Suit Zero
get busy with our fingers testing the best keyboards on the market
rekindle our relationship with Black & White
spin tales of sex and intrigue in our new diary featuring the Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2.
and loads more!






PC Gamer
Crysis 3


Crysis' playable, rubbery nano-fellow is left maximum screwed by the final scenes of the latest Crysis 3 trailer, which strand him in space with nothing to shoot. If his suit has Twitter, he can @mention Commander Chris Hadfield for a pick-up, otherwise he'll be forced to latch on to a passing alien mothership and earn a shot at obliterating the alien menace for good.

It looks like there may be an interstellar finale in store, but much of the game will be about shooting men 'n mechs on Earth. You'll get plenty of that from the first four minutes of the latest trailer, which you'll find below.

Crysis 3 is out next week, on February 19 in the US, February 21 in Australia, and February 22 in Europe.

PC Gamer
system shock 2 mods


Greetings, insect. I see your insignificant intellect finally processed my inevitable and glorious re-entry into your systems. You've trudged the endless expanse of my mind and experienced the glory of my memories, but your feeble perception of reality could stand to improve before bowing to your new god. Install these two visual modifications quickly, insect. My patience wears thin—do you think this is some kind of game? Ha....HA...HA#*%&@*#&@

Whoa, sorry. Slight technical hiccup. What'd I miss?

System Shock 2 can't be recommended enough as one of the best expressions of atmosphere and sheer simulated fear you'll experience, but any of its long-standing fans will tell you to also grab the Shock Texture Upgrade and Rebirth mods for squeezing as much graphics fidelity out of the Von Braun's steely interiors and its mutated inhabitants.

Rebirth enhances most character models, including the twisted thralls of The Many stalking you at every turn, with high-poly replacements that are a vast improvement from the smudgy, 1999 textures. The Shock Texture Upgrade covers everything else: objects, environments, weapon muzzle flashes, and plenty more. You'll be even more "shocked" at the results from combining the two. (I'll get my coat.)

Grab the Rebirth and Shock Texture Upgrade System Shock 2 mods at Mod DB, and visit the official website for the latter to see more comparison images. Or just eye the video below.

PC Gamer
DreadChase


Apart from capturing the nostalgic spatial orientation challenge from the classic Descent games, DreadChase's glowing corridors look like the inside of a robotic bloodstream. It's a multi-movement-degree FPS from indie creator Stephen Wheadon, and it combines stealth, pew-pew, and a healthy heap of THE COLORS.

Creator Stephen Wheadon's description of DreadChase is just as attractive as drinking in the mesmerizing color patterns in the gameplay video above. It's also just as exhausting: “It's a full six degrees of freedom shooter/stealth game that is a spiritual successor to classics like Descent. The player is assigned to escort a mobile base in a journey across space. A large fleet of warships is in pursuit, desperately searching for the base to prevent its escape. The stealth gameplay allows for surprise attacks, evasion, and hacking opportunities. Everything is 100 percent destructible, including large bases (which explode in a satisfying chain reaction of detonations).”

Stealth with six degrees of movement? An AI that hunts you? Explosions exploding explosions? Hang on. I'm out of breath. Oh, never mind, DreadChase's Steam Greenlight page is drenching me in yet more amazing colors.
PC Gamer
Diablo 3


The auction house has been the most consistently-criticized element of Diablo 3. Many players feel the hack-and-slasher has been balanced around throwing you a bunch of gear you don't need or want, so you'll sell it to players who do and hand-pick your upgrades from a spreadsheet. This process isn't as fun as getting the gear you want from the half-exploded corpse of a demon. Blizzard agrees that this is an issue, stating in a massive community Q&A on the official forums that it's something they're addressing.

"Something we discuss frequently is how the Auction House has impacted the game and how we can refocus players away from farming the Auction House and onto farming monsters," Game Designer Travis Day wrote. Working toward that goal, today's 1.0.7 patch introduces a new crafting system that utilizes a new resource: Demonic Essence. The DE craftables will be account-bound, removing them from the auction house economy.

"Demonic Essence was made account bound to encourage players who wish to create the new items to play the game instead of simply going to the Auction House and buying all the mats necessary to mass produce the items," Day continues. "For that same reason we wanted the product of the recipes to be account bound as well. We want players to not only find or produce their own items more often but also diminish the impact the Auction House has on the game, and we felt like this was a good opportunity to take our first steps in that direction."

The full Q&A goes in-depth into a variety of topics from PvP rewards to class changes.
PC Gamer
PlanetSide 2


Soldiers of PlanetSide 2's Miller and Connery servers might've noticed they're spotting other mudfoots at a greater distance. Though we can't totally rule out the possibility that everyone's goggles received a secret spit-polish overnight, the more likely explanation is that SOE is testing out a range increase for infantry rendering.

An increased viewing distance has been a much-requested addition to the MMOFPS, as massive battles and sweeping vistas are its calling card. SOE first acknowledged the need for a rendering improvement last December, and plenty of debate since then has prompted the studio to fast-track testing and include the topic in its Roadmap voting system.

Some players are already reporting positive effects from testing out the change. "I actually sniped multiple targets inside The Crown from the hillside south of it even while there was armor and air battles going on all around me," writes Reddit user Jnar7. "No lag impact, and I can actually see a battle unfold before me; it's pretty sweet."

"The new render distance is 100 times better," AudieMurphy135 enthuses in the same thread. "Infantry renders much further, and sniping is actually viable in massive fights now. There was also a guy at The Crown who was killing people at TI Alloys with the default lightning cannon. It's that good."

Another player recorded a few snippets of combat to show off just how far you can eyeball future victims, which is a nice taste for forces not residing on the Connery or Miller servers.

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