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Monday, August 28, 2000

Alien Legion Bound For Mac?
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The prolific licensing of Epic's Unreal engine has already brought several titles to the Mac OS. Now a new shooter in development, one with an interesting twist on the genre, may be headed to the Mac platform as well. Alien Legion is a FPS/strategy title in development by NeXS Interactive, based on the Unreal engine which has been ported to the Mac OS by Westlake Interactive. This title combines the action of a typical shooter with squad-based warfare and tactical combat. Three computer-controlled allied commandos accompany you on your epic battle against the Skoraq, an alien race bent on total domination. Featuring an advanced particle engine, totally new gameplay modes and 44 levels total, this looks like a game to watch for -- and the title's executive producer feels that there is a very good chance this game will come to the Mac OS as well as PC.

We contacted Jonathan Navia of Nexus Interactive about the possibility of a Mac port of this game. Here is his reply:

We've been contacted by several well known publishing and representative
companies that want to see Alien Legion out there on the market. All of
these companies have a history of having their titles appear both on Windows
9x and MacOS platforms. Since the Unreal engine HAS been ported to Macs, I
see no reason why AL cannot be, eventually. Since Alien Legion is a first
person shooter, most of our code has been new .u files and some of the C++
headers as well for the new tech we've added. While this will have to be
converted, I believe it will be possible. So in a nutshell, we'll do one,
its just a matter of when and by what means. :)
This game is well along in development, and due in Q4 2000 for the PC. Here is a list of the game's features from the official web site:
Over 32 action packed singe player levels across 5 episodes. These 5 episodes contain multiple terrain from vast tundra to a deep jungle to a massive desert. Explore an alien space station and even walk on the exterior hull of your own ship. 14 Multiplayer levels and modes such as Flag Tag and DeathMatch 2.0. An important story that you guide by your actions, explains our own morals and why humanity, such a beautiful creature, is capable of nightmares. Three selectable characters. M21 ATCS system- brings coop play to singleplayer with 3 ally commandos each with own attributes and they can recognize complex commands you give them.

10 awesome weapons of destruction. 4 New deathmatch modes- Control The Base, Air Attack, Deathmatch 2.0 and Flag Tag. 17 new enemies, 3 new end episode generals.

Cutscenes explain the plot. In game radio communication between players via M21. Real time interaction with command ship USS Avenger. All new M21 commands. 10 music tracks .

NPC's will help you... if you help them. The ability to talk to NPC's and the Computer. Enhanced artificial intelligence.

Highly modified Unreal engine with Particle and Visual Effects engines to increase the number and quality of breathtaking effecs NeXS Interactive is well known for.

The game also features advanced Level of Detail (LOD) technology, which allows more creatures on the screen at a time by actively modifying the model geometry to use fewer polygons, in the interest of maintaining a steady frame rate. Only those 'actors' (allied or enemy player models) that are far away from your viewpoint are reduced in detail, so you most likely won't notice the difference -- but your video card will.

The other big selling point of this game is advanced artificial intelligence which allows both allies and enemies to behave in tactically intelligent ways. During the game you will have three allied 'bots,' each with different abilities; you can control them directly or issue them orders. You will also have the option of choosing which bots you want, and choosing your own character (from three options) at the beginning of each 'episode' (group of related levels.)

If you're interested in learning more about this title, the official web site is a good place to start -- there you will find screen shots, feature details and the long, involved backstory that sets this epic title in motion. This web site can be a bit quirky withsome browsers -- if you lose your vertical scroll bar, just re-size the window to get it back. And earlier this Summer Gamer's Central posted a preview of Alien Legion, based on an Alpha version, which has many nice screen shots as well as a decent description of gameplay.

Once again the cross-platform nature of the Unreal engine greatly increases the likelihood of a PC title being ported to the Mac OS. You can be sure we're watching this one closely, as it nears completion.

NeXS Interactive
Alien Legion Preview at Gamer's Central

PCI Versions of GeForce 2 MX Arrive
4:11 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

When graphics chip maker NVIDIA announced their GeForce 2 MX series of low-cost, high power chipsets, Mac users took notice -- for that company promised that this series would include Mac OS compatibility, and that they would be entering the Mac market at some point in the future. Already available for the PC market in an AGP configuration, this chipset provides remarkable bang for the buck: the legendary image quality and speed of the GeForce series with several special features, all for under $170.

Now GA-Hardware has noted that InnoVISION Multimedia is releasing a GeForce 2 MX-based card in PCI configuration. While this card is still PC-only, it does prove that a PCI version of this card is certainly feasible, excellent news for those without AGP support in their Macs who were considering moving to an NVIDIA card in the future.

The extensive list of features provided proves that while this is a low-cost chipset, it certainly does not lack in features. One remarkable aspect of this chipset is TwinView, the ability to drive two monitors with a single card. You can even use multiple features of the card at once, such as watch DVDs on one monitor while organizing your files within the other.

Here are details on this PC card:

InnoVISION Multimedia is excited to launch Industry's First GeForce2 MX PCI Bus Accelerator. The Inno3d TORNADO GeForce2 MX PCI is an exciting product that offers Digital Vibrance Control, TwinView display options, and a unified driver making it the ultimate graphics solution for one of the most powerful PCI bus upgrades. It leverages the GeForce2 GTS architecture, including features such as second generation transform and lighting (T & L), NVIDIA Shading Rasterizer (NSR), High-Definition Video Processor (HDVP), supports razor-sharp renders, crystal-clear 2D even at demanding resolutions as high as 2048 x 1536, in 32-bit color and altogether at an affordable cost. This rich feature set, combined with its amazing cost structure, makes the Tornado GeForce2 MX PCI truly a GPU graphic solution for the best PCI bus upgrade for the Intel 810 embedded graphic or equivalent type of system board and system.

The Tornado GeForce2 MX PCI provides stunning graphics experience, its transform and lighting engines provide over 20 million sustained triangles per second and its rendering subsystem provides 700 million texels per second. The Tornado GeForce2 MX PCI includes the NVIDIA Shading Rasterizer (NSR) that enables advanced per-pixel shading capabilities. This breakthrough technology simultaneously processes up to seven pixel operations in a single pass. With Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) technology built-in, it makes all visuals more crisp, colorful, and vibrant. In most office environments, fluorescent lighting makes visuals washed out and muted. With DVC, 2D and 3D graphics, images, and video are much brighter and cleaner thereby reducing eyestrain and improving the viewing experience.

TwinView Technology

In addition to blazingly fast 2D and 3D graphics, the Tornado GeForce2 MX PCI provides unparalleled display flexibility and alternatives with its new TwinView display architecture. Through TwinView, it supports a dizzying array of multidisplay configurations. Various combinations of multiple monitors, flat panels, and TVs can be connected to a single 3D accelerator. TwinView even supports two independent digital flat panels, an industry first, providing relief for severely constrained desktop environments. For example, a user could configure her PC to surf the web on her primary monitor while simultaneously watch a DVD movie on a television screen.

While NVIDIA has been quiet about the precise date they plan to enter the Mac market and by what means, we're certain we will see some serious developments by late Fall. Read the rest of the press release for details, and our article on the GeForce 2 MX for more information.

Nvidia GeForce 2 MX In-Depth
Inno3d GeForce2 MX PCI on GA-Hardware

Details on Mia 2: Romaine's Hat
3:50 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

MacCentral has posted a detailed review of Mia 2: Romaine's New Hat by Kutoka Interactive. This delightful childrens' title is designed to encourage children's skills in science and computer use. Here's an excerpt from the review, describing gameplay:

Children are invited to control Mia every step of the way. Mia is easily guided in and around her environment by moving the computer mouse to the left or right using real-time control. Mia can pick up and store objects in her backpack to be used elsewhere in the game. Mia must earn or collect a special currency called "Sparklies" to buy back her mother's hat from the sinister Romaine. Players are able to practice moving Mia and learn about game controls by playing the instructions movie at the start of the game.
Jump to MacCentral for the rest of the review, or to the Kutoka Interactive web site for more on this and other titles. Mia 2 is available now at major retailers for $19.95.

Kutoka Interactive
Hands On With Mia 2: Romaine's New Hat

Alpha Centauri in Italian
3:26 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Luciano Pecorella of the Italian Mac gaming site games4mac.it notified us that a free patch is available on their site that translates the text of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a turn-based empire-building game recently published by Aspyr Media, to Italian.

They also have a patch for the antiterrorist shooter Rainbow Six in the works as well. If you would prefer playing these games in your native tongue -- or perhaps you are a student of the language, and want some incentive to help you learn -- these patches will 'localize' the games for Italian speakers. Visit the web site for more details.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Review

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Deus Ex Walkthroughs
3:15 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Unreal Universe pointed out that DeusEx.org has posted walkthroughs for Ion Storm's Deus Ex, covering missions seven and eight of this RPG/shooter's extensive solo game. These are the last two missions from this sci-fi epic, from New York's Hell's Kitchen to the final showdown.

These walkthroughs, accompanied by screen shots, are only for those who are seriously stuck or are going through the game a second or third time -- they will definitely spoil the fun for you, if you prefer to discover the nuances of this game on your own. Ironically these cheat guides actually reveal just how flexible and replayable this game is, as their 'solutions' to some levels of the game may vary dramatically from how others have completed these levels. However, if you have been through the game and want to see if there is anything you have missed, these guides are a good source of information.

If you haven't tried Deus Ex yet, the demo just shipped on the latest IMG CD-ROM issue, or you can grab it from Macgamefiles.com -- nearly 9,500 users already have!

Download Deus Ex Demo
Deus Ex Walkthroughs
Unreal Universe
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Click to enlarge
New Tribes 2 Images
1:17 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

GA-Source has posted eleven new screen shots from Dynamix's upcoming teamplay-based shooter Tribes 2. This set features shots of the vehicles, the new weapons, aerial combat and several player models in action.

Several of the shots appear to have been taken at very high resolution and then reduced in size, resulting in some blurriness, but overall they are quite nice. For those not familiar with this title, it is a first-person shooter (despite the third-person screen shots) which focuses on teamwork and squad combat defending your base against enemy attack. Players will be able to drive (or fly) a variety of vehicles, choose from one of three armored suit classes (heavy, medium, light) and fly with a jetpack over huge 3D terrains. This game has been quite long in development, but is finally nearing release for the PC.

Recent reports have suggested that the MacOS version of this game is in doubt, but Dynamix's position on this game has been the same for quite some time -- the PC version of the game has priority, but the Mac OS version is still a likely possibility. The game was constructed with cross-platform technologies in mind (OpenGL, an open networking standard) so we feel such a port is quite likely. In the meantime, feast your eyes on these shots and cross your fingers for a speedy port.

Tribes 2 Web Site
Tribes 2 Screen Shots at GA-Source

Stupid Invaders Preview
1:05 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Last Spring we brought you word of Stupid Invaders from Ubi Soft, an adventure game in the classic style. Stephen Granande of the About.com Guide to Interactive Fiction has posted a short preview of this title, with several screen shots.

While the preview is cluttered with annoying pop-ups and other trappings of About.com, it does provide some information about this upcoming title. Here is a short introduction:

It appears that, despite claims to the contrary, adventure games are still being made. To wit: UbiSoft's upcoming graphic adventure game Stupid Invaders.

There are games which tell of titanic struggles between the forces of good and evil, games in which mighty heroes beat back the darkness no matter the cost. Lives are gambled, decisions made, the course of human history wrested from its banks and its direction changed.

This is not one of those games.

Stupid Invaders appears to be a comedy piece, much closer to Starship Titanic than The Dig. With over 50 characters to interact with and 2000+ lines of dialog, this game looks to be fairly amusing, and is due in September or October. The game will ship for Mac, PC and Dreamcast. Read the preview for more information.

Stupid Invaders Preview
Stupid Invaders Web Site (Flash required)

Planetary Conqest Beta
12:47 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

AvisNocturna has released a beta version of Planetary Conquest, a shareware turn-based strategy game with an advanced 3D OpenGL-accelerated engine. While this version of the game is only a slight taste of what is to come -- it lacks many planned features, and comes without documentation -- the speed and overall look of the game has great promise.

Very few details about the game itself are available, including any instructions on how to actually play it, but it is an interesting demo of the technology. Screen shots of the more advanced levels of the game are available at the web site. Grab this small beta if you have a 3D card that supports OpenGL acceleration, and are curious about this 3D strategy game in development.

Download Planetary Conquest Beta (2.8 MB)

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Voyager: Elite Force Goes Gold for PC
10:43 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

The much-anticipated first-person adventure from Raven Software, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, has 'gone gold' for the PC, which means that the final version of the game has been shipped to the publisher for duplication. Our Gamecenter Alliance partner Stomped pointed out two items of interest -- the announcement at the quirky web site Gone Gold that confirmed the status of this game, and a short interview at the even-more-quirky site Think-Games with Raven's "Environmental artist" Les Dorscheid.

Besides inspiring monstrous screen shot galleries and dozens of previews, the visuals of this game based on the Quake 3 Arena engine have cause fits of spontaneous drooling in many a Trekker. Here is an excerpt from the interview with Dorscheid, explaining some details on how those gorgeous scenes came into being:

2. How Was Producing art for a Star Trek game different to Usual?

[Dorscheid, Les]  It was very challenging to create art assets that faithfully reproduced the Star Trek look, and worked within the parameters of a first person shooter.  Try building a model of BeLanna's hair, with a limited amount of polys, and not make her look boxy. On the flip side, creating known environments, and characters, has generated allot of excitement. Seeing the Voyager bridge, or the Borg Cube, as apposed to an ambiguous setting, is special. 

3. Did Paramount Copyrighted Laws stop you in Drawing Added Art?

[Dorscheid, Les] Not at all.  We created numerous designs that are based on Trek designs, but are completely new for Elite Force.  The imod weapon is a good example.  The Borg can't adapt to it because it's constantly changing it's modulation.  We needed an effective weapon against the Borg to make gameplay fun, and Paramount gave us the freedom to make those decisions.

Now that the PC version of this game has gone Gold, its release on store shelves is mere weeks away for PC users. A Mac OS version of this game will most likely not be far behind -- we have learned that a publisher and programmer have been secured, and work is currently in progress. We'll bring you more details soon.

Interview with Les Dorscheid at Think-Games
Elite Force Gold Press Release
Gone Gold
Aspyr Media
Raven Software
Westlake Interactive
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

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Neverwinter Q&A
9:50 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

GameSpy has posted a Q&A featuring several members of the team creating the 3D RPG Neverwinter Nights . They chat with BioWare's Rob Bartel and Dr. Greg Zeschuk, discussing the game's inclusion of the newly-released AD&D 3rd Edition rules. Many aspects up the updated system are discussed, the stuff AD&D fans live for. Here's a clip:

GameSpy: During character creation, people often lowered their charisma and intelligence to pump up other statistics. Is there more incentive for people not to do this in Neverwinter Nights?

Rob: This has been one of the key advancements made in 3rd Edition, in my opinion. Even an ability score as low as 12 or 13 will give you a +1 bonus on related skills and activities and a score or 8 or 9 will give you an equivalent penalty. There are plenty of good reasons to have an intelligent fighter, a dexterous mage, or a charismatic barbarian. Preston, one of the designers on the team, actually prefers his fighter character to be entirely unexceptional as it means he doesn't receive penalties to any of his skill checks.

Neverwinter Nights is a solo and online RPG which not only adheres strictly to the 3rd Edition rules, but also attempts to recreate the experience of pen-and-paper RPGs by bringing the Dungeon Master back into the game. Players will be able to create and host their own dungeons on the Internet, and dynamically participate as groups of adventurers attempt to conquer the murky depths. NWN isn't due until next Spring, but we've got a feeling that it will be worth the wait.

GameSpy NWN Interview
Neverwinter Nights Web Site
Neverwinter Nights
Buy Neverwinter Nights

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DS9: The Fallen Preview
9:44 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Eurogamer has written up a short-but-sweet preview of The Collective's upcoming Star Trek title, Deep Space Nine: The Fallen. They look at many aspects of the game, including the ability to play as one of three main characters, the changes made to the Unreal Tournament engine being used for this game, and some of the locations you will explore as Sisko, Kira or Worf. Here's an excerpt about some of the items in the game:

Other favourite Star Trek items also make appearances in the game, including the ever-present medical hypo-sprays to heal your wounds and remove toxins from your system. The tri-corder is also present, offering an almost Elite-style 3D map showing you the location of nearby equipment and life-forms, and allowing you to scan items to find out more about them.

Want to know what you just zapped with your phaser? Scan the corpse! Maybe that rock formation looks a little unsteady? Scan it to see if you can blow it up to access another part of the level. It's a nice touch...

No, your monitor is not on the blink; the screen shots that accompany this preview are extremely dark. We're looking forward to The Fallen being released for Mac and PC this Fall. Thanks to the game's use of the cross-platform UT engine, it should be a near-simultaneous release.

The Fallen Preview at Eurogamer
Simon & Schuster
The Collective
DS9: The Fallen
Buy DS9: The Fallen

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Marathon: Resurrection Update
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

One of the most anticipated conversions for the multi-platform first-person shooter Unreal Tournament has to be Unpfhorgiven's Marathon : Resurrection project -- an ambitious attempt to convert all the wonder of Bungie's masterpiece shooter Marathon to the amazing full-3D engine of UT. After some downtime, the project's web site at PlanetUnreal has returned, with a fistful of new weapons, screen shots and QTVR for us to oogle.

The site's FAQ explains the object of this total conversion:

Q: What is Marathon: Resurrection?

A: Marathon: Resurrection is a project that aims to bring Bungie Software's classic, Mac-only FPS into the modern world of gaming. We are doing this by recreating the maps, textures, weapons, etc... on the Unreal Tournament Engine. Marathon's original 2.5D engine is very old and outdated. Even though open-source projects like Aleph One (which brings Open GL acceleration to Marathon) do enhance the game greatly, we want to give the game a full makeover. Although not intentionally planned this way, games such as id's new DOOM, and the Xatrix's Return to Castle Wolfenstein, usher in a newfound popularity in older games. Back in its day, Marathon was considered to be as good or better then the original DOOM. While we don't have the full resources of these newer, in development games, we've got plenty of talent, and a bit of sweat to make something that will allow the Macintosh fan to wallow in nostalgia, as well as introduce the PC gamer to this classic.

Make sure you check out the site -- with a very impressive new look -- for all the new content, including QTVR objects of the weapons and screen shots from levels in development. Currently there is no date for completion of this project, but they plan a 'beta' release in the near future to test out the new weapons and physics. UT and Marathon fans, keep your eyes on this one -- we can't wait to see a full-3D model of a Compiler floating down a hallway towards us...

Marathon: Resurrection
Marathon: Resurrection

Sports Gaming and the Mac
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Last year's release of Madden 2000 marked the first time a big-name sports game was brought to the Mac OS in recent memory. The Madden series is largely acclaimed as the best American football game on the market, so it seemed like a logical choice for Westlake Interactive and Aspyr Media. Unfortunately, the game didn't sell anywhere near expectations, and there are currently no announced plans to port Madden 2001. In a recent post to Usenet, Westlake president Mark Adams explained the situation in detail:

Madden did not come close to meeting projections on the Mac. Probably
for many reasons, but certainly a lack of international sales was key.
Aspyr & Westlake knew sales would be pretty much North America only, but
we wanted to try Madden as our first Mac sports title because it
historically does a lot more units than anything else in North America
on the PC.

M2000's slow sales definitely had some impact on Aspyr (and our) choice
not to do Madden 2001, but its more of an effort to regroup, not a
retreat from the sports market. We definitely hope to bring a couple
other sports games to the market in the next year, hopefully ones that
have some more international appeal as well.

And we also want to build the Madden franchise long term on the Mac, and
plan to do as much as possible to bring Madden 2002 to the Mac next year.

We're also trying to figure out a way to support the current Madden 2K
owners (and any who will buy it this Christmas at its bargain price),
especially with player/roster updates. This turns out to be more
complex than we originally thought, the roster files changed format
drastically in 2001, and there are some thorny licensing issues with the
NFL/NFL Players Association that have to be worked out. But we're
definitely hoping to keep everyone happy until we can do the next major

It's sad that this weak area of the Mac gaming market got started on such a sour note. There are many other excellent sports titles out there, and we'll definitely keep our ears open for hints about any coming to the Mac; we have very good expectations for the racing sim genre, and we know of several titles in development that will thrill fans of that sport. If you've never tried Madden 2000, be sure to head over to Macgamefiles and grab the demo. If you like it, be sure to pick it up and try out the full game.

Madden 2000 Demo (37MB)
Aspyr Media

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Sims Utilities on the Way
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

SimsForMac, the site dedicated to everything about playing Maxis' unique title The Sims on your Mac, has recently asked a few questions of Aspyr Media, the company which published this title on the Mac OS. Their Q&A covers the Livin' Large add-on pack, future add-on object to be ported, and this interesting bit about Mac ports of The Sims utilities:

Will there be a utility so mac users can make walls, floors, and objects?
How soon until we can get our hands on that? Which utilities will be

A: Phil Sulak and the Westlake Interactive team are currently putting the final touches on the SimsShow, the first official Skins tool. Other tools are also in the works, more details to come.

SimShow is the utility that allows users to preview custom-made 'skins' for their sims characters. This is likely one of the most requested tools for the game, though there are other utilities that may be on their way.

Head on over to SimsForMac.com for more info, including a revamped skins section and word on new topiaries -- decorative shrubs, don't you know -- at Aspyr's web site. We'll be sure to let you know when SimShow is near release.

SimsForMac Q&A with Aspyr Media
The Sims for Mac at Aspyr Media
Aspyr Media
Westlake Interactive
The Sims: Livin' Large

Mac Games News for Friday, August 25, 2000

Miniature Golf Review6:25 PM
Tread 3D Coming to Mac6:14 PM
Another Molyneux Interview5:49 PM
Issue 8-3 Shipping Soon5:25 PM
More Elite Force For Your Eyeballs4:58 PM
IMG Debuts New Search Tool3:07 PM
GameSprockets 1.7.5 Released12:03 PM
Become Part of the IMG Network11:15 AM
MacBrickout 4.1 Released11:07 AM
Interview with Neverwinter's Oster10:48 AM
Combat Mission 1.0.5 Released10:41 AM
Wheel of Fortune in Beta10:39 AM
ATI Radeon Available for Pre-Order9:50 AM
4x4 Evolution Screen Shots6:00 AM
Aleph One Moves to Linux6:00 AM
MacMAME Hits .37 Beta 66:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, August 25, 2000 on one page

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Thursday, August 24, 2000
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