Prototype 2: The Kotaku ReviewIn very few games have I truly inhabited the persona of a goddam-right-I-am badass, whose demonstrations of power were as personal as Prototype 2's. And it's not because I've imagined any of the superpowers you wield in this game, or how I'd perform with them. It's because of the very normal, very pissed-off man in charge of them.

He's a husband and a father and a black man. I'm an unmarried white dude with no kids. He can make physics-defying leaps from rooftops, transform his right arm into an enormous blade, or shapeshift into the image of his adversaries. I can drive a riding lawnmower and scoop the cat box. But James Heller's frustration in managing what has been imposed upon him—the mind-boggling destruction of a city, the death of loved ones, and even the bestowing of weird superpowers—is probably how I'd react to it, too.

Like Heller, I wouldn't give a damn who concocted what or why or spread it how—I'd want to put a stop to it all as simply as possible. And if the story of Prototype 2 is as frustrating to me as it is to Heller, then its all-out action is also just as satisfying. If you take the time to think about your foes, and especially your defenses, you can put together some truly eye-popping action sequences. There are far weaker selling points for a video game, of course.

Prototype 2: The Kotaku Review
WHY: More than just demonstrating some truly spectacular superpowers in an open world, you're doing them with a great character, James Heller, even if the game's story doesn't take any risks.


Developer: Radical Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (Version played)
Released: April 24.

Type of game: Open-world third-person action-adventure science-fiction. That enough hyphens?

What I played: Completed the main story and several side missions; gave the "Radnet" DLC challenges a whirl on the day of release.

Two Things I Loved

  • Some of the most visually—and physically—satisfying action a video game could offer.
  • A sincere and strong acting performance behind the main character means spending 12 hours with James Heller is a delight, despite a tendentious plot.

Two Things I Hated

  • An overall lack of difficulty walks the line of handholding as much as some fighting sequences walk the line of Quicktime-event direction.
  • The muddy story really requires you to pay attention, but even then, the character motivations and plot threads are head scratchers

Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes

  • "As bad-assed as you could be in a video game."—Owen Good, Kotaku.com
  • "Delivers on the promise of an insane world gone straight to Heller." -Owen Good Kotaku.com

The problem, though, is that Prototype 2 isn't that hard. Perfect example is the "bio-bomb," in which you inject some helpless stooge with time-bomb virus and then hurl him at whatever's bothering you. It's very entertaining but a little too powerful. Some long engagements and boss battles may not transition completely to rigid quicktime events—others will, no doubt—but they do carry a here-do-this-now style of direction that some may find off-putting. Especially in the mayhem of the Red Zone, shoved up against tall buildings and under their awnings, you will need the onscreen hints to keep track of what to do in this biological battle royale, as the camera always feels poorly positioned and a step behind the breakneck pacing.

Prototype 2 is a single-player only, open-world third-person action game, same as its predecessor. There isn't as much to do in its environment as I would prefer for the open-world genre, but what you do in it is comprehensively destructive. It's befitting of the work of a studio that used to make games about The Incredible Hulk (and whose history in so doing forms some of the intrigue behind Prototype's making, as well as the characters' abilities within it.) Sure, you can pick up a rocket launcher and bazooka a nettlesome gun emplacement, but it's a lot more fun to pick up a car and do that. The first game encouraged the creative use of power and the second extends the same invitation.

While I found Heller to be an interesting character, I'm not dwelling much on the game's continuity, probably because I came to it late. I didn't play the first Prototype when it released in 2009 and made myself acquainted with it only in preparation for this review. Suffice to say, the protagonist of the original, Alex Mercer, does quite a heel turn, though he was never a truly noble guy. A splendid indoctrination video available in the game's main menu, followed by the tutorial level, helps set the game's paranoid tone. Ultimately, though, the only thing you're really sure of is who you can't trust: and that would be the brainless mutants of New York Zero. Several impersonation missions and a few sequences before the game's climax left me wondering why Blackwatch, the corporation ostensibly responsible for this bioweapons disaster, was my adversary. The answer is basically that they're stupid, which is par for the villain course, I suppose.

Prototype was received as good-but-not-great, though it did provide some visceral thrills, and it becomes apparent about half a dozen missions in that Radical Entertainment is sticking to that formula. The open-ended action—the mayhem you create in the open world, not the set pieces—just feels like it was tuned to accommodate button spammers, of which I am one, admittedly. The fact a power upgrade will automatically equip was a little off-putting, and speaks to an optimization for more casual players. I solidified my impression of Prototype 2's difficulty when I picked a fight with a Blackwatch base in open-world play, slaughtered all of the ground personnel and they sent the attack helos after me. I just waited it out on a rooftop, redirecting the missiles back into the choppers with my shields trait. I took a few hits, but I was never seriously threatened in it, or in any alert situation, really. There are some difficulty spikes once you get to the red zone of Manhattan, but nothing fatal to your efforts.

Loads of gamers will want to jump into that kind of action, and it is fun, if not entirely challenging. I suppose the insane difficulty level you unlock after the first playthrough will deliver a more complete experience. But Prototype 2's real artistic asset is a remarkably well acted Heller. His lines could have easily been twisted into the kind of macho nihilism that makes antiheroic roles so cliché. Here, Cornell Womack—in a superb voice-acting job—communicates genuine unhappiness with the entire situation. Heller is pissed off that he has been forced to take responsibility for something he cannot understand, and that the only people he can truly trust are really powerless to change any of it.

Some may find Heller's swearing gratuitous. Thanks to Womack, who seems to care why Heller is spewing invective, I find it evocative of an interesting character. "Did I say I was a fuckin' hero, you piece of shit?" he snarls, convincingly. Because Heller doesn't want any of this. In a balletic boss fight atop Madison Square Garden against the real evil behind New York's devastation—not the Blackwatch goons, nor the mutant infected, but a combination—Heller dismisses his enemies with "Fuckin' pieces of shit." I've said exactly that many times at the end of a big video game battle. Either I understood his anger or he understood mine, but either way, the connection was made.

Acting is just one component of a narrative, though. Heller's digust will mirror your own as you try to drain the swampy tale of Prototype 2. Stories in the science-fiction conspiracy sub-genre all run the near-fatal risk of making everything a reversible lie. There is too much of that going on too early in Prototype 2 to make the game understandable, especially when juxtaposed with the game's relentless—and much more satisfying—action.

Yes, as everyone is well aware, there is a showdown with Mercer in this game. And if the runup to it and Heller's motivation comes straight from the instruction manual for a summer popcorn sequel, there is one sequence where another adversary's character change is well timed and enlightening. It told me something about both him and Heller. Prototype 2 may be a typical story, but it is not a mindless one.

The bottom line question for me in considering a video game is whether it is fun. Prototype 2 is, enough that I want to give the entire story another go around playing a little more expansively—picking up collectibles, grinding and ranking up Heller so I can see everything he has to offer, and competing in and completing the challenges and side missions offered by Radnet and Blacknet. It is fun being a badass, and I want to inhale that a little more deeply.

But outside of giving you a more admirable character, Prototype 2 doesn't do much that is different from its predecessor. It does a decent job of disguising a typical plot but, when everything is fully revealed, what you're left with is pure action. In the end, that's what makes it recommendable.


Sadly, this is probably just a camera trick involving smoke and LED lights.

But what if a man actually built a working Star Trek phaser? What if he used it to pop balloons? What if he brought it to a bank and took everybody hostage? What if he used all of the money to build more Star Trek devices, like a working spaceship with its own holodeck? What if his evil, bearded twin from a parallel dimension came out and challenged him to one-on-one combat for rulership of the universe? What if he won? What if he turned us all into tribbles?

Guy Builds A Star Trek Phaser [YouTube (thanks, Terrence!)]


What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security I've never actually wondered what a console controller looks like on the inside. Perhaps I am too easily distracted by their colorful plastic exteriors, or by wanting to throw them across the room in response to certain games.

But a Reddit user out there with access to an industrial-strength x-ray system did wonder how a controller would look on the inside, and the answers are gorgeous.

The controllers in question are for PlayStation 3, Wii (Motion +), Xbox (third party) and GameCube. And while they're more alike on the inside than they are on the outside, each still has its own unique profile. With every screw and every spring in exactly the perfect place, the controllers themselves become works of art.

We've posted a selection of the gorgeous images here; there are even more available via the original Reddit post.

I work with industrial X-Ray systems... I digitally X-Rayed some of your favourite console controllers. [Reddit]

What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security What Your Video Game Controllers Look Like At Airport Security

A Valley Without Wind Still Managed to Blow Me Away

While I was playing A Valley Without Wind, someone asked me what I was up to. Here's what I said:

"Well, it's a platformer. I mean, it's not, it's a roguelike. But totally a platformer. Really, it's a dungeon-crawler. It exists for exploration. Well, no, for upgrades. Actually, it's kind of an adventure game. Also there's mining. With magic. And I think I can build a town."

With so many elements pulled together from so many sources, A Valley Without Wind could be either a delicious stew or a horrible lumbering monster of a game. Happily, it's the former.

It is, most certainly, a 2D side-scrolling game with a pioneering attitude. Like many other games, A Valley Without Wind promises right from the start to keep throwing progressively harder challenges at you. But it clearly wants you to succeed, and gives you every possible tool and option to make that happen.

The basic premise is this: you are a hero in a place where there has been a cataclysm, fragmenting time and space. A slice of ancient ruins may lie right up against a slice of the far-flung future. An evil overlord is kicking about, the root of all trouble, and eventually, when you're powerful enough, you can take him down. Getting powerful enough is what will take most of your time.

Every thought of "I'll just give it five more minutes" turned into, "Wait, where did that last hour go?"

While many games that delight in killing off the player character also delight in being monstrously difficult to understand or master, this isn't one of them. (And A Valley Without Wind tells you right up front that your character's death is a matter of when, not if.) It's cheeky and informative, helpful almost to the point of overkill.

It's an incredibly complicated game in some ways, with constant prompts about what you should do and where you should be looking. But all of the information you need is at your fingertips. Maps display both the room you're currently exploring, as well as the dungeon or structure of which it is a part. You can see that the dungeon you're in has been 100% scouted (you've found all the rooms) but only 57% visited (there are bunches of areas you haven't covered, in those rooms). You're tipped off where valuable supplies are, as well as boss monsters.

It also provides guidance, rather than issuing demands. Under "Planning," rather than a dull or uninformative mission log that simply lists tasks, you find a broken out list of items and suggestions that make you more likely to survive, headed under "Things You Should Do." The Planning menu also provides "Big Honkin' Encyclopedia," for those times when you just really need to look something up.

The experience is clearly designed not only to be helpful and perky, but to be highly personal. This is meant to be a game that the player feels personal ownership over, a custom-tailored experience. And custom that experience will be: the maps are procedurally generated, meaning no two regions, dungeons, or continents are ever the exact same.

It's also incredibly dangerous for a player like me, who habitually ventures to the edge of every map and explores every available room. Here in Environ, the final map has no edges. There is always something else to collect and something else to build. Every thought of "I'll just give it five more minutes" turned into, "Wait, where did that last hour go?"

Ultimately, after close to four hours playing I still feel like I've only very barely scratched the merest surface of A Valley Without Wind. The more I played, the less I feel I know what to say about it. And the game, it seems, has me figured out entirely. When I selected "quit to operating system," the confirmation option was, "Yes, I should probably go eat or sleep or something." Yes, yes I should. But I just want to see where the bottom level of this building is...

A Valley Without Wind is available now on Steam and a number of other digital distribution platforms, or DRM-free through the developer's website.

Wall-E Case Mod Made Even Cuter With His Cockroach Best FriendYou could practically make a flipbook out of the zillions of pictures (I counted) that track the building process of this adorable case built by a Russian modder.

If you haven't watched Wall-E yet you need to immediately rectify this. If you have, please proceed on to one of the cutest case mods I've ever seen. And for the rest of you, please proceed after watching the movie. It's totally worth it.

The metal cased Wall-E mod is an old favorite, but a beautiful rendition of one of the most lovable robots—which happens to come from one of the best Pixar films—and is therefore worthy of a Case Mod Of The Week placement.

I definitely wouldn't mind this propped up on my work desk. Just look at those sweet, curious eyes and tell me you don't feel the same.

Russian Wall-E Case Mod [English Russia]

The Most Expensive Property in World of Warcraft MonopolyThe release of USAopoly's World of Warcraft Monopoly is just around the corner, so let's take an exclusive look at what's on the most expensive corner of the game board.

I showed you the money; I showed you what was in the cards. Now it's time to show you the priciest bits of real estate on Azeroth. No big surprise that Park Place and Boardwalk, the most coveted bits of the standard Monopoly board, would be substituted here for the Alliance capital of Stormwind and Horde capital of Orgrimmar. I was really pulling for Gnomeregan, but them's the break. Hopefully the irradiated Gnome city will show up in its proper green spot.

The only thing that could make these two pieces of property more expensive? Houses and hotels, or in this case, taverns and towers. Way to maintain the alliteration! Gives it that real Monopoly feel.
The Most Expensive Property in World of Warcraft Monopoly So now we know which properties to aim for, all that's left is to wait for the game to drop later this spring.

The Most Expensive Property in World of Warcraft Monopoly

World of Warcraft Monopoly Replaces Uncle Pennybags with a Miniature Murloc

Just as the money for World of Warcraft Monopoly replaces those boring old numbers with the faces of Azeroth's most influential, the Chance and Community Chest cards replace the stale old man in a top hat with the freshest seafood Azeroth has to offer. More »

The Most Expensive Property in World of Warcraft Monopoly

World of Warcraft Monopoly Puts a Fresh Face on Fake Currency

Monopoly gets a World of Warcraft makeover this spring, and when the biggest name in board games meets the biggest name in massively multiplayer PC games, no simple reskinning will suffice. More »


Adam Sessler Out At G4 [UPDATE]Longtime gaming personality Adam Sessler is no longer at G4, the TV host's representative said today.

Here's a statement from Sessler's representative:

Television personality Adam Sessler and TV network G4 are parting ways, with Adam's last episode as host of G4's "X-Play" airing on the network today, Wednesday, April 25. Adam has been hosting the show since it first aired as ZDTV's "Gamespot TV" in July 1998 and he also served as Editor In Chief of games content at G4. His current projects include starring as himself in the Summer 2012 movie "noobz" and consulting with a film production company on theatrical feature adaptations of video games. Adam intends to stay in front of the camera and continue as a key voice within the games industry. He also sings and is available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

X-Play, which has been televised in various forms since 1998, is a popular G4 fixture that was most recently hosted by Sessler and fellow television personality Morgan Webb.

We heard about this news last week via an anonymous source, but we were not able to confirm its validity. According to our sources, Sessler is leaving due to a contractual dispute, and the departure was not on amicable terms.

We are following up with G4TV for more information.

Update: Sessler took to Twitter this afternoon to address the news.

"Thank you to everyone with your exceedingly kind wishes and thoughts," he wrote. "I think I'll finally take a nap..."

Update 2: In response to Kotaku's request for comment, a G4 representative said:

I can confirm that Adam Sessler is no longer with G4.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ivy Bridge Debuts: Intel Core i7-3770K ReviewSince late last year Ivy Bridge seems to be the architecture everyone is waiting for. Although Intel is only anticipating a 10–15% processing performance bump when compared to Sandy Bridge, the big news comes in the form of improved graphics and efficiency, thanks to the move to a 22nm design process using new 3D transistor technology we recently explained in detail here.

Today the company is unveiling its full new line of Core i7 and Core i5 processors, accompanying chipsets and Centrino wireless options. Ivy Bridge is a 'tick' release, but Intel is calling it a tick+ due to the more significant overhaul the graphics side of things is getting. The new chips are set to provide 20–50% better GPU performance over Sandy Bridge, the kind of jump we'd normally expect from a tock release.

To be fair, Intel has gotten by with lackluster GPU performance from their integrated chipsets for years. When they moved the GPU on-die they continued to peddle the same subpar performance, and to this day they lag way behind, but that's not to say things haven't changed dramatically for the better. Features and performance have scaled to the point that integrated graphics are capable of playing high-definition content, handling more than a single screen, multiple inputs, offering wireless display technology, among others.

Intel is preparing another big graphics performance bump when the Haswell architecture hits the market next year. But in the meantime, for the same money consumers should be looking at faster performance and even better efficiency with the Ivy Bridge architecture.

For a while it appeared the move to the new manufacturing process would cause a delay of several months, but the company was able to reduce that to a few weeks. As you know, Ivy Bridge's companion chipset release remained on track. The new 7-series chipsets are backwards compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, so it's been possible to purchase a Z77 motherboard and actually use it for a few weeks now.

Having already discussed the new Tri-Gate transistors in great detail, the new 7-series chipsets, and some of the motherboards that use them, we are going to focus primarily on the Core i7-3770K processor in this review.

3rd Gen Intel Core Lineup

The Ivy Bridge lineup is comprised of several desktop and mobile Core i7 and Core i5 processors that will effectively replace most of the current offerings under those series. Core i3 variants will make it to market on the second half of the year.

The new Core i7 desktop processors include the Core i7-3770K, i7-3770, i7-3770T and i7-3770S — all selling for $278 except for the i7-3770K that sells for a slight premium at $313. If you ask us, it's a little bit like the unnecessary multiple flavors of Windows Vista/7, but that's the way Intel is going about their CPUs these days. The Core i7-3770K and i7-3770 are identical in almost every way, with a few key exceptions. The K version comes with an unlocked multiplier and is 100MHz faster out of the box. The Intel vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP technologies have also been removed from the K series.

The Core i7-3770S and i7-3770T are members of the low power series (second chart below) and as such the TDP has been reduced from 77w down to 65w and 45w, respectively. A determining factor in achieving this lower consumption is a lower CPU base frequency, reduced from 3.50GHz to just 3.10GHz for the i7-3770S and 2.50GHz for the i7-3770T.

All Ivy Bridge Core i7 desktop processors feature 4 cores with 8 concurrent threads when using Hyper-Threading. The Core i7 3770K operates at 3.50GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.90GHz, while the non-K version features the same Turbo Boost frequency with a base clock of 3.4GHz. They are designed to work with DDR3-1333 memory and feature an 8MB L3 cache.

Then there is the new Core i5 series which features the i5-3570K, i5-3550, i5-3470 and i5-3450 processors ($194 for the K version, $174 for the rest). There are also the Core i5-3570T, i5-3550S, i5-3470T, i5-3470S and Core i5-3450S low power models, we know, it gets very confusing, so let's talk about the standard processors first.

All standard Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors carry a 77W TDP and feature four cores and four concurrent threads. The only Core i5 processor to differ from this configuration is the i5-3470T which features two cores with Hyper-Threading for four threads.

The Core i5 range is clocked aggressively: the i5-3570K and i5-3570 operate at 3.40GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.80GHz. The i5-3550 operates at 3.30GHz with a Turbo Boost speed of 3.70GHz, the i5-3470 has a base clock of 3.20GHz and can reach 3.60GHz when using Turbo Boost.

Finally the Core i5-3450 has a base clock of 3.10GHz and a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.50GHz. All Core i5 processors feature a 6MB L3 cache with the exception of the i5-3470T which has been downgraded to 3MB.

All Core i5 processors use the Intel HD Graphics 2500 engine with the exception of the i5-3570K which uses the HD Graphics 4000 engine.

The low-power Core i5 range is equally confusing. The five models available at launch are different though many of them occupy the same price range. The Core i5 3470T is essentially a Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost added. This processor operates at 2.90GHz with a Turbo Boost speed of 3.50GHz. However like the Core i3 processors, the i5 3470T features only two cores with Hyper-Threading support and a smaller 3MB L3 cache, it is said to cost $174.

Then there is the Core i5-3570T and i5-3550S (both $194). The i5-3570T features a thermal design rating of 45w and works at 2.30GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.30GHz. The i5-3550S is actually faster, working at a base clock of 3.0GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.37GHz. As you would expect the i5 3550S has a higher TDP rating of 65w.

Finally we have the Core i5-3470S and i5-3450S processors (both $174) which feature a TDP rating of 65w. The Core i5-3470S has a base clock of 2.90GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.60GHz, while the i5-3450S works at 2.80GHz with a Turbo Boost of 3.50GHz. Like the Core i7-3770K and i5-3570K, the i5-3450S also misses out on Intel vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP technologies.

3rd Gen Intel HD Graphics

The first generation of on-die Intel HD graphics, which was released with the Westmere architecture, wasn't actually on-die as such, rather on-package. The on-package graphics engine was separate from the CPU. Furthermore, it was built using the 45nm process and not the same 32nm process used by the actual CPU.

Then the second generation (Sandy Bridge) graphics changed all that by including the GPU on-die, meaning that it's also built using the same 32nm process as the CPU. Even though both are now under the same roof, the GPU is still independent of the CPU. It features its own clock domain, meaning that it can be clocked independently and can be powered down as needed.

This same design principle has been used for the Ivy Bridge architecture, Intel has simply added more horsepower. There are again two different versions of the Intel HD graphics and the Ivy Bridge processors can either use the HD 2500 or the faster HD 4000 graphics engine.

They can be clocked up as high as 1350MHz and support a maximum resolution of 2560x1600. Rendering support includes DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.1 and Shader Model Support 4.1. In contrast, the previous generation supported DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.0.

The shaders, cores and execution units are what Intel calls EUs (Execution Units) with HD Graphics 2500 featuring six and the speedier HD Graphics 4000 getting sixteen. Interestingly, most Core i5 desktop processors use the slower HD Graphics 2500 engine, while all mobile processors receive the 4000 engine.

Besides the increased resolution support (up to 2560x1600 from 1920x1200 previously), the new Intel HD graphics now support triple monitors. The Sandy Bridge processors were limited to dual displays much like Nvidia graphics cards. However the new Ivy Bridge graphics can simultaneously support three displays which is a nice upgrade.

Intel claims the 3rd Generation Core processor graphics delivers greater 3D performance and API improvements over Sandy Bridge, such as 2x better performance in 3Dmark Vantage. Intel also says that the Ivy Bridge Intel HD 2500 is expected to perform ~10-20% higher than Sandy Bridge Intel HD 2000 on 3D graphics workloads. Right off the bat, we recommend you focus more on features and encoding performance than gaming, as you will see on our benchmarks later on this review.

Test System & Memory Performance

Intel LGA2011 Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (3.30GHz)
- Intel Core i7-3820 (3.60GHz)
- x4 2GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-14900 (CAS 8-9-8-24)
- Gigabyte G1.Assassin2 (Intel X79)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial m4 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 SOC (1536MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 296.10

AMD AM3+ Test System Specs
- AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (3.30GHz)
- AMD Phenom II X4 980 (3.70GHz)
- AMD FX-8150 (3.60GHz)
- AMD FX-8120 (3.10GHz)
- AMD FX-6100 (3.30GHz)
- AMD FX-4170 (4.20GHz)
- x2 4GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-14900 (CAS 8-9-8-24)
- Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional (AMD 990FX)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial m4 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 SOC (1536MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 296.10

Intel LGA1366 Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition (3.33GHz)
- Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz)
- x3 2GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper (Intel X58)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial m4 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 SOC (1536MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 296.10

Intel LGA1155 Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7-3770K
- Intel Core i7-2600K
- Intel Core i5-2500K
- x2 4GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-14900 (CAS 8-9-8-24)
- Asrock Z77 Extreme6 (Intel Z77)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial m4 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 SOC (1536MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 296.10

Intel LGA1156 Test System Specs
- Intel Core i5-750
- x2 4GB G.Skill DDR3 PC3-12800 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
- Gigabyte P55A-UD7 (Intel P55)
- OCZ ZX Series 1250w
- Crucial m4 256GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 SOC (1536MB)
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
- Nvidia Forceware 296.10

The memory bandwidth performance of the Core i7-3770K is similar to that of the i7-2600K, in fact the slight increase in performance can likely be attributed to the 100MHz bump in clock frequency.

Although the memory bandwidth wasn't improved greatly compared to the Core i7-2600K, the L2 cache performance does. The write performance in particular was much faster when using the Core i7-3770K.

Continue Reading

Synthetic Performance
Application Performance
Encoding Performance
Discrete GPU Performance
On-die GPU Performance
Overclocking Performance
Power Consumption
Final Thoughts

Republished with permission from:
Ivy Bridge Debuts: Intel Core i7-3770K ReviewSteven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.

One Weekend Completely Changed My Mind About TeraWhen I last left En Masse Entertainment's upcoming MMO Tera I wasn't exactly gushing with praise. The action-packed combat was there, as promised, but the rest of the game felt like the same old questing grind.

Then open beta came around this past weekend, and I was so enthralled I nearly lost my children. What changed my mind?

Aside from my character being mind-numbingly pretty, I mean.

Between my first play through and this one En Masse added an innovative prequel sequence, in which players run through an introductry adventure as a level 20 version of whatever class they choose, giving them a glimpse at what they could become. It's a brilliant feature, shedding light where other games would have players spend days figuring out they'd rather play something else.

Even with that and the stunning androgyny of Back the Sorceror, the Tera starting island experience proper remains rather unimpressive. You're led from camp to camp, collecting quests, fulfilling their orders, gaining experience and moving on. The majority of the quests are the old standard fetch and kill types laced loosely together by lore, with a series of more important story missions leading players to the inevitable group instance, where the rewards are as big as the bosses.

The starting island establishes this pattern; it's a series of quests leading up to a massive boss fight. Note that this video features my initial character, Caliban the Archer, who valliantly died so that Back might live through the open beta's one character per server restriction.

So if the game is so formulaic and linear, why can't I stop playing it? Why am I trying to hand-off Guild Wars 2 beta weekend duties so I can focus on Tera's early start?

For one, the combat really is that good.

Sure you've got to kill another dozen vampires, but when you look and feel like such an incredible bad-ass in doing so it's simply intoxicating. I am freezing opponents at a distance, setting off nuclear explosions under their feet, putting them to sleep, explosively leaping out of their path, teleporting behind them; there are so many opportunities to make yourself look and feel impressive.

Fighting the gargantuan elite creatures sprinkled about Tera's darkest recesses is less an issue of, "How many people do I need to take this down?" and more, "Hmmm, how can I take this down by myself without getting hit?" With some of the elite enemies I encountered later in the weekend the answer to that second question was, "You probably can't." Tera's massive monsters don't simply sit still and take your punishment. They jump. They teleport. They transform into steamrollers of death and roll you down. They feel less like MMO monsters and more like bosses from some God of War clone, only once they finally fall you turn around and there's an entire field filled with them.

Luckily the server I was on is filled with incredibly helpful people more than willing to join forces to take these big baddies down. The open beta is a magical time for any game, especially one like Tera where the players get to carry their characters over into the live game. No one has any preconceived notions about what's right and wrong. Few are ready to jump on a newer player and tell them they are doing it the wrong way. We're all learning.

All learning to kick ass, that is. Tera's group-oriented instances are filled with wonderful opportunities for teamwork to shine. Rooms filled with a hundred weaker minion characters, just waiting for a sexy Sorcerer to come and blast them all to hell while the heavily-armored Lancer keeps their attention.

One Weekend Completely Changed My Mind About Tera

So damn pretty.

The people I played with this weekend were a big part of my sudden passion for Tera. Now that the merely curious are starting to filter out, the truly dedicated rise up, ready to have a good time without constantly complaining on area chat about how so-and-so MMO is better and how Tera is no World of Warcraft killer.

Not only do these people want to explore this fantastic new world, they want to rule it. Tera features an extensive social-driven political end game, in which the top guilds struggle to put their leaders into positions of power through voting. Once in power those leaders will rule over areas, determining which non-player characters show up there, managing item prices, setting public policies and more, all powered by points earned through partaking in special quests that require an entire guild working together.

I had a chance to sit in on a meeting between some of the top guilds on my server on Sunday, where one guild leader attempted to establish an alliance with the others, creating a united consortium of rotating leaders. This all took place in a voice chat channel nowhere near the game proper.

Tera is a game that breaks out of the point-and-click MMO combat mold, yes, but it's also breaking out of itself, spilling over into the real world through these political deals. Once voting begins, expect it to be everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Google+...nowhere will be safe. Nowhere.

So while the game's mission structure falls neatly within the fantasy MMO frame, the rest of Tera is trying to tear itself loose. I feel the shudders and creaks every time I login. If we're not careful it could explode.


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Cancelled, Developers Say, But New Game Survarium Will Follow in Footsteps Just two weeks after promising signs of life from creative studio GSC Game World, it looks like post-nuclear horror FPS S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is dead for good this time. But that doesn't mean that fans of GSC's creepy Eastern Bloc survival shooting won't have anything to play.

In a series of Facebook posts unveiling, former members of GSC announced the formation of new studio Vostok Games and revealed art from new title Survarium. They also divulged that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is essentially cancelled as an agreement with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. rights holders couldn't be reached.

Survarium is described as a massively multiplayer, free-to-play first-person shooter, which happens in a post-apocalyptic universe where nature is reclaiming urban centers. And you should really watch the diary video above, which talks about the tensions the team faced and shows off quick glimpses of the game in development.