Monday, December 19, 2011

3 Technology Link

3 Technology Link

Need for Speed World has $100 DLC car

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 04:00 PM PST

Need for Speed World has $100 DLC car

Do you really want a CCX “Elite” car in the virtual world that badly?

Put down your coffee before you choke into it again. Need For Speed World is offering a DLC car for $100, or over £64.

Need for Speed World has $100 DLC car

Presumably intended for those who just can’t cope with the weight of all their money in their pockets, the CCX “Elite” Edition car is available in the free-to-play MMO racer now.


To coax you into the idea, EA is currently selling it for $75, until December 21. Oh, well that’s a whole lot more tempting, isn’t it.

The CCX is billed as the first of presumably many “premium elite” cars headed to the racer/MMO hybrid.
Don’t all rush in at once.

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5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year…

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 03:49 PM PST

5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year…

With all the AAA games flooding in over the past few months, you might have missed out on some absolute gems. Or possibly, you missed out on games that critics didn’t score that well, but were actually decent.

There are probably even a few games that you didn’t buy because you weren’t even aware of their existence. There are also a lot of other games that you may have been reluctant to pick up either due to price or because you didn’t really want to take a gamble on it (Shadows of the Damned, for example).

In this feature we hope to shine a spotlight on some of them as we run down our picks of the top five underrated games of the year.

This is our list, and we’ve made an effort to show a little love to some of the games that might not get attention otherwise.

We know Shadows of the Damned is underappreciated but we’ll leave you to champion it, and any others you might have a passion for, in the comments below. Let us know your most underrated games of the year.

Serious Sam 3: BFE


5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year...

This is a game for those that like their shooters fast-paced, without any of that cover lark or that set-piece nonsense. Serious Sam 3 is a return to the golden age of first person shooters where the guns were big, and the enemies were bloody huge!

Everyone knows that most badass action heroes carry more than two guns at a time, so Sam “Serious” Stone packs up to thirteen weapons, and all the FPS classics are represented: the shotgun, minigun, rocket launcher, even a laser gun.

The enemies swarm in en masse and it’s pure shooting bliss from beginning to end. On the last level, it wasn’t uncommon for us to keep spraying our minigun non-stop for up to five minutes. And we mean non-stop – our finger genuinely didn’t come off the trigger for minutes at a time – the enemies just keep coming. You just don’t get that kind of action these days.

The game supports up to 16 player campaign co-op too, and it’s an absolute bloodbath with that many players all unloading bullets at once. It’s hilariously chaotic.

We do have a few criticisms though, namely the first couple of levels, which feel a bit too Modern Warfare-like, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a little our of place in Serious Sam. Fortunately, the vast landscapes and impressive archetecture in later levels more than make up for that.

There was also a severe lack of of puzzle-type rooms and death traps that made common appearances in the previous Serious Sam games. They helped break up the action every now and then, and the crazy physics made watching your partner plunge to his death or get crushed by a spiked ceiling over and over again a good laugh in co-op. Classic power-ups such as super-speed and invincibility are also absent, which is a bit of a shame.

Still though, it’s a great experience for old school shooter fans and, contrary to its name, Serious Sam 3 is perfect if you love loud, brash and fun shooters.

Payday: The Heist


5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year...

Think Left 4 Dead with bank heists and police instead of zombies. You’ve just imagined Payday: The Heist.

Payday won’t win any awards for original game design, because, yes, it does borrow heavily from Valve’s fantastic co-op shooter, but that doesn’t matter, It’s still barrels of fun and once you gather some friends together to go on a bank job.

The higher difficulties are extremely brutal, even more so than Left 4 Dead, and offer a serious challenge for hardcore players. The gameplay is fast, frantic and explosive; all the hallmarks of a great co-op experience.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and completely outgunned when the SWAT keep pouring in, which makes the experience even sweeter when you and your buddies only just manage to scrape through and successfully gun your way to the getaway vehicle as sniper fire shatters the glass around you to you from. The only thing that tops it is the moment of utter dread you feel when a massive, terrifying special unit (think Left 4 Dead’s special infected) lumber out of a nearby building and advance on you.

The PC version has decent score of 76 on Metacritic, and 69 on PS3. Although we think it’s a stronger PC title Payday is still worth picking up if you only own a PS3.

If you haven’t played Payday yet, you should definitely give it a go. In fact, the four pack on Steam would make a great Christmas present for you and your buddies, and it’s likely it will be discounted at some point during Steam’s inevitable Christmas sale.

So come on – put on your mask, lock and load, and go make some sweet green (money, not drugs).

Backbreaker: Vengeance


5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year...

We can’t understand how anyone could dislike Backbreaker: Vengeance. It’s an American football game for people who don’t like American football. It’s basically Total Wipeout crossed with the sport, add in the Euphoria animation system, seen in titles like Grand Theft Auto 4 and Red Dead Redemption, and every tackle and tumble becomes a bone-crunching hilarity. Along with a few different multiplayer modes it becomes hard to not find Backbreaker: Vengeance to be just sheer fun.

The two player modes are where Backbreaker really shines. In the ‘Tackle Alley’ mode players compete for the highest score whilst trying to dodge obstacles and linesmen, all the while trying to run to the other end of the pitch.

Sounds simple enough, but the difficulty quickly ramps up and you soon find yourself dodging and weaving frantically whilst trying to pick up the bonus points and throw in the odd cheeky taunt to rack up further points. It’s soul destroying and absolutely hilarious in equal measure to have a big combo going but forget to jump at a hurdle, and consequently watch your player trip and soar through the air as the points reset to zero. Crushing.

‘Vengeance’ mode flips the tables and lets the player dish out devestating tackles. There are still obstacles to avoid and you still have to dodge other oncoming bodies, but instead of sprinting for the other side of the pitch you have to chase down another man and tackle him before he makes it to the touchdown zone, or be the first to tackle him if you’re playing in multiplayer.

With every new level the opposing team’s numbers increase, and the tricky courses make getting near the guy you have to tackle a tough challenge, but it’s all the more satisfying when you do pull it off.

‘Supremacy’ is the third and final game mode, and it has up to four characters at once racing to the other side of the pitch whilst, again, avoiding obstacles. Points are awarded on a position basis so whoever gets there first will be rewarded with the most points. Pickups scattered around grant extra points and other players can be pushed into hurdles or into the out of bounds area. Whoever gets the least amount of points at the end of each round becomes the tackler and then has to try and take down the other players.

Supremacy is probably our least favourite mode. It’s not bad by any means, but we prefer the huge number of enemies chasing us down and the tight courses that require precise jumps and turns. The lack of a four player mode when there are four characters in this game mode is also bizarre.

Nevertheless, Backbreaker: Vengeance is just good old fashioned arcade mayhem, and we love it. It is a bit pricey though due to its rarity.

Duke Nukem Forever


5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year...

Whoa, hold your horses. Don’t scroll down to the comments just yet and say “Duke Nukem Forever? LOLZ!” then compare the game to a mini mountain of coiled cow excrement. You can do that after.

The game might be bad overall, but there’s still some fun to be had somewhere in there.

Forever was in development for 14 years; it changed engine a number of times and eventually changed developer completely. This doesn’t excuse the games below average quality by any means, but for a game in development that long, and with a development cycle that troubled, it was never going to live up to the hype.

The gunplay does feel a tad clunky and unsatisfying, a lot of the jokes are completely outdate and the majority of the levels are dull, but Duke Nukem Forever still has its moments, we’ll admit to gleefully gunning our way through the mini-Duke levels in DukeBurger.

It’s hard to explain. When you play Duke Nukem Forever you can feel that it’s outdated and it needed more work before release, but parts of it are also fun to play. Perhaps it’s because we’re happy to finally see Duke Nukem back on our screens after all these years, or maybe we just have a higher tolerance for rubbish games. We don’t know.

Duke Nukem Forever undeniably tarnished the franchise (if the various spin-offs hadn’t already), but regardless, we do want to see a Gearbox-developed Duke game in the future. They only had the task of polishing 3D Realms’ game, so it would be interesting to see their take on the series and see if they can do the legend justice and make the game he deserves. If you can pick it up on the cheap, which isn’t hard these days, Duke Nukem will provide a few chuckles.

You can compare it to buffalo dung now.

To the Moon


5 most underrated games of 2011 Hidden gems from the last year...

To the Moon isn’t exactly well known. It’s a little indie RPG-ish, point and click title from Freebird Games. It’s a bit light on gameplay because it’s mainly narrative-driven but don’t let that put you off – To the Moon tells one of the greatest stories in a video game this year, possibly even this generation, or ever.

To the Moon is set in the not-too-distant future where technology that allows doctors to enter a patients mind and create artificial memories exist. Though because the new memories are permanent and conflict with a person’s true memories, the operation is only performed to patients on their deathbed as they lose the ability to function properly after.

The technology, with the influence of the doctors, allows the patient to live an entirely different life inside their head, which means they can fulfill their lifetime wishes on their deathbed, or at least have the illusion of doing it. If all goes well, the patient will awake and embrace a moment of blissful fulfilment, before drawing their last breath.

To the Moon tells the story of Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts as they travel through the memories of Johnny Wyles in an attempt to discover why he chose what he did for his dying wish and attempt to fulfil it. His wish? To go to the moon.

It’s a genuinely heartfelt tale, and it’s backed up by the incredibly emotive soundtrack. The game packs in nods to other video games and pop culture too, and as well as getting you a bit misty eyed, can truly make you laugh as well.

Whether To the Moon is actually underrated is debateable. It currently sits at a very respectable 84 on Metacritic, but personally we think it should be higher. Criticisms for the lack of gameplay are perfectly legitimate points, but we think the story alone is what sets To the Moon apart, and why it deserves massive success and recognition.

Most of all, it proves you don’t need high-res graphics or Hollywood voice actors to craft gaming excellence.

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How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 02:31 PM PST

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

1. Create a New Playlist

Creating a new playlist is simple. Just click the “New Playlist” option on the sidebar menu.

Alternatively, you can got to “File,” “New Playlist.” If you’re feeling snazzy, you can also hit Control + N.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

2. The New Playlist

Try to give your playlist an imaginative title!

If you plan to publish your playlist (more on that later), you might want to add the appropriate music era, mood or genre to the title in order to make it more search-friendly.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

3. Searching for Music

Spotify’s native search is decent — you may find that its slightly fuzzy results help you build your list.

If you know exactly what songs you want to include, then try The Pansentient League’s Spotify Super Search for more advanced results.

Enter a “Private Session” during the search process, so as not to blast your Facebook friends with your research.

You can do this either by clicking “File,” then “Private Session,” or by clicking on your name at the top right of your screen and again, “Private Session.”

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

4. Dragging and Dropping

Drag and drop a song into your list.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

5. The Right Click Add

Or right click to add it.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

6. “Publish” the Playlist

When you’ve completed your playlist, the sharing fun begins.

“Publish” your playlist by right clicking on the playlist in the sidebar menu.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

7. Your Published Playlist

Once complete, the list appears under “Published Playlists” on your Spotify profile.

To view your profile, click on your name at the top right of your screen, then “Profile.”

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

8. Making it Collaborative

If you’d rather share your list with a more select group, don’t “Publish” it. Instead make a “Collaborative Playlist.”

Right click on the playlist in the sidebar menu and select the collaborative playlist option. Now, people with whom you share the list will be able to add their own tracks.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

9. Sharing on Spotify

To share it with friends on Spotify, right click on the list and select the “Share to…” option.

Select the “Spotify” option and start typing a friend’s name. You can also add a 128-character message.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

10. Inbox Notification

Your Spotify contact gets a link in her inbox to your shiny, new list.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

11. Your Shared Playlist

Your friend can then subscribe to the list and share it by selecting the relevant options at the top.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

12. Sharing to Twitter

Share your music to Twitter by right clicking the list, hitting “Share to…” and selecting the “Twitter” option.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

13. The Tweet

Spotify adds default text to the tweet, which includes the #NowPlaying hashtag, but you can edit if you wish.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

14. Sharing to Facebook

Another option is to share the playlist to your Facebook Timeline.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

15. The Wall Post

The wall post lists the first few tracks alongside thumbnails of the list’s various album covers.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

16. Sharing Via URL and URI

Finally, share music via the playlist’s unique HTTP link or Spotify URI.

The HTTP link will look something like this:

The URI will resemble this: spotify:user:amymaeelliott:playlist:3QwXom0JSlcykLWCsYZAzZ.

Generate either of these by right clicking on the playlist in sidebar menu.

The URI will open the playlist in Spotify, and the HTTP link will open a browser window with a redirect to Spotify, so use accordingly.

How to Make and Share Spotify Playlists for the Holidays

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Google will put Majel on the line to rival Siri

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 02:02 PM PST

Google will put Majel on the line to rival Siri

Google will put Majel on the line to rival SiriMajel is Google's voice controlled assistant in the wings and it is poised to compete against Apple's iPhone 4S-based Siri. The new chatter surrounding the yet to be launched Majel can be translated down to Watch out Siri: Android's coming at you. While smartphone users generally agree that no smartphone voice assistant has yet to rival Siri–a technology with roots in a DARPA project with a history of research before Apple bought it in 2010 — Siri is in for more serious competition.

Based on tips circulating this week, Android Voice Actions will be followed by a newcomer that will be further up in the voice recognition hierarchy and it’s called Majel.

The site Android and Me has published a story that Majel will make its debut shortly. A better conversational experience will challenge that from Siri. The key factor that has held Voice Actions back was a rigid verbal command syntax, say observers, whereas Siri 's AI capabilities have entertained as well as helped iPhone users.

According to reports, Majel will get natural language processing capabilities. End users will be able to speak to their phones Siri-like, using natural speech rather than having to think of ways to phrase their questions to make their phrase or sentence understood.

While Majel will be intelligent, it will not have Siri's personality traits. Majel will not have much of any personality, say the tipsters. If Siri is a coy, sophisticated mate, Majel will be just a helpful voice assistant. Majel will make no effort to be "spunky" but will just "talk, listen and interpret," says a report.

Google's company purchases in 2010 and 2011 may have something to do with attempts to ensure Majel talks, listens and interprets extremely well. Smartphone users seeking useful information from a personal voice assistant are likely to find Majel up to the task.

The company acquired Phonetic Arts in 2010, a UK-based speech synthesis business. Google reportedly intends to use the technology to improve the sound of its automated voices. Also, Google recently acquired Clever Sense, the developer behind Alfred, a context-aware, curated recommendation engine. Alfred has proven its worth as a discovery engine that can make restaurant recommendations for users based on information gathered about the user's tastes. Google also bought restaurant authorities Zagat in September, further bolstering its information trove.

Some say Majel could be released by the end of next month, while others assume an early 2012 launch to be more likely. What's more, Android watchers point to Google's June I/O event as a fitting time for the company not only to announce the next release of Android but also to announce that Majel is integrated into the platform too.

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