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Monday, January 28, 2002

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Apple Debuts 1 GHz G4, GeForce4 MX
8:29 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

With remarkably little fanfare, Apple today released new Power Mac G4s and is the first computer maker to announce the inclusion of nVidia GeForce4 MX graphics cards. The towers now come in 800 MHz, 933 MHz, and Dual 1 GHz flavors, with prices at a very reasonable $1599, $2299, and $2999, respectively. The ATI Radeon 7500 graphics card is an option on any machine and is standard on the low-end configuration. This 800 MHz model also lacks the 2 MB L3 cache and any SuperDrive option. All machines feature a 133 MHz system bus, two USB ports (plus two on the keyboard), and two FireWire ports.

Details about the GeForce4 MX are sparse, though Apple does say this about the card:

The nVidia GeForce4 MX offers performance that is more on par with high-end visualization workstations. It features even more on-card fast DDR memory, 64 MB, to support larger textures for 3D objects in current and future games and professional applications. It also delivers up to 40% more 3D performance than the entry Power Mac configuration.
Both the GeForce4 MX and the Radeon 7500 can drive two monitors at once, and to help you out, Apple is offering up to $500 off when you purchase an LCD display with your computer.

Apple is brave enough to tout actual Quake III benchmarks on their graphics page for the new Power Macs. At the highest settings, 1024x768 resolution and 32-bit color, they compare their new lineup:

  • Power Mac G4, Dual 1 GHz with GeForce4 MX: 115 fps
  • Power Mac G4, 933 MHz with GeForce4 MX: 83 fps
  • Power Mac G4, 800 MHz with Radeon 7500: 62 fps
  • Power Mac G4, Dual 800 MHz with GeForce2 MX: 59 fps
Showing how far Apple's new lineup has come, the last machine was Apple's fastest configuration yesterday.

No matter how you cut it, the speed bump and price drop are both great things for Mac gamers. As the system requirements for new games keep rising, it's good to know the Power Macs can keep up. This move also ensures the revamped iMac won't cannibalize sales of Apple's professional line. For much more information, see the Power Mac mini-site and the Apple Store.

What do Mac gamers think of the new Power Macs? A discussion on the new machines has already started in the IMG Forum. Be sure to share your opinions as well.

Update: The OEM Radeon 7500 available from Apple has the same specs as the retail Radeon 7500 in the PC market, but with 32 MB of DDR RAM instead of 64. Not to be confused with the retail Radeon 7000 Mac Edition, the 7500 is not available for the Mac at retail. For more information on the PC Radeon 7500, follow the link below.

Apple: Power Mac G4
ATI: Radeon 7500 (PC Edition)
IMG Forum: New Power Macs

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IMG Reviews Vampire: The Masquerade
12:58 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a review by Brian Rumsey of Vampire: The Masquerade — Redemption, the role-playing game from MacSoft.

Here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetite:

The computer game of Vampire: The Masquerade is actually based on a tabletop RPG by the same name. The original tabletop game has a highly developed world, which has carried over into the computer version. Vampire is more strongly story-driven than your average RPG. Much of the story is centered on various clans of vampires and their relations with each other. This background would not have been there without the tabletop game, and while it would have been possible for the designers of Vampire to come up with the story lines as they built the rest of the game, I doubt that their results would have been quite as impressive.
For the full text of our review, simply follow the link below.

IMG Review: Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption
Vampire: The Masquerade
Buy Vampire: The Masquerade

NeoCairo Mac Launcher & Troubleshooting Tips
11:54 AM | John Rousselle | Comment on this story

In a quick followup to the release of the Beta Five version of their massive Unreal Tournament mod NeoCairo, the coders at Team Orbit have released a Mac launcher.

Westlake Interactive's port of Unreal Tournament for MacSoft makes the vast majority of the huge number of third-party modifications for UT available to Mac gamers, and this mod is one of the most ambitious, allowing players to take control of attack mechs and aircraft as well as mixing it up on foot with more traditional infantry weapons.

Features include:

  • Ten mechs and aircraft
  • Nine weapons
  • 20 Maps
  • Multiple HUDs
  • 12 Pieces of Music
  • Ground AND Air Combat
  • New "Alien Attack" game mode

Some Mac users have reported trouble with the launcher, and discussions of workarounds are ongoing at the Team Orbit forum referenced below.

The mod weighs in at 92.2 MB and is available for download at the Team Orbit web site.

Team Orbit: NeoCairo
Team Orbit Forums: Macintosh installer
NeoCairo Beta 5 and Mac Launcher

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Help Beta Test Lineage for Mac
8:16 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

At Macworld Expo San Francisco, NCSoft announced that it would be bringing its popular online-only RPG, Lineage: The Blood Pledge, to the Mac.

Now IMG readers can help beta test Lineage for Mac OS X. On Thursday, January 31, 2002 at 12:00 PM PST, we'll be posting a special URL where you can go and sign up for the beta test. The sign up page will be open until Sunday, February 3.

How many people will be selected for the beta test? Chris Sherman of NCSoft told IMG, "We will be selecting only a limited number of people for the beta but everyone who signs up will receive a Lineage Mac CD by mail when it's available."

If you haven't heard of Lineage, here's some more information on the game:

Lineage players can choose from four different character archetypes — a heroic knight, clever wizard, nimble elf, or royal prince or princess.

Creating a character is quick and easy. New players can immediately jump into the game and learn the ropes in a Lineage new player area where they may quickly level up and learn the basics in preparation for the adventures and perils that lie ahead. And unlike other subscription-based games, Lineage offers FREE updates that expand the game world to exotic new lands filled with fierce creatures.

Lineage comes with a 30-day free trial. After the trial period, players are charged US$15 per month. Players can save money by purchasing four months at a rate of US$11.25 per month. An Internet connection is required to play Lineage.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for details of the beta test. Also be on the lookout for IMG's very own preview of Lineage soon.

IMG News: Lineage Coming to Mac

Where are the Web Ads?
7:58 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Could it be? A web site with no ads? Has hell frozen over? Well, sorry to say so, but no, the ads haven't disappeared forever. Good wishing though :)

This weekend we began the massive project of upgrading our two servers, and the machine that serves the ads is currently being upgraded. So fret not, the ads will be returning soon. In the meantime, enjoy a day of adless Mac gaming entertainment!

Inside Mac Games

Laminar Hosts Airplane Design Contest
6:00 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Laminar Research, maker of the popular general-aviation simulator X-Plane, has announced a design contest revolving around a revolutionary new jet engine being produced by engineering firm Williams International in cooperation with NASA.

Williams International is now introducing the FJX-2 supersonic turbofan engine, a reportedly low-cost jet engine that promises to be the "next revolution in aviation," according to Laminar Research. While aircraft designer Eclipse has successfully drafted an aircraft utilizing two FJX-2's, the real challenge is producing an aircraft bearing only one of the low-cost turbofans.

Laminar Research has announced that it will award an as-yet-undisclosed prize to whomever can design a stable and economically viable aircraft using X-Plane and its aircraft-design tools. Contest entries will be judged based on range, speed, economy, stability and handling, and appearance. As of yet, this contest is not being sponsored by any major aircraft design firm.

The FJX-2 is a supersonic turbofan engine weighing 100 pounds and capable of producing around 700 pounds of thrust. X-Plane is Laminar Research's advanced aircraft design and simulation tool, allowing owners to fly pre-designed or custom-built airplanes in a realistic simulation environment.

Laminar Research
Williams International: FJX-2
X-Plane Design Contest

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Alice: Girl on Film?
6:00 AM | Tristram Perry | Comment on this story

Electronic Arts' hit title American McGee's Alice is slated to be a major motion picture, according to CNN/Money's Chris Morris. Following in the footsteps of game-inspired films like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy, Alice is only one among the many titles that may soon be making their debut on the big screen.

With Scream director Wes Craven tapped to direct, Dimension Films is gambling that Alice will be the breakthrough hit that proves the game-to-film genre is a winning formula. According to McGee, Dimension Films also has first right of refusal on the movie rights for his upcoming title, Oz, and claims that other Hollywood studios have expressed interest as well.

Since leaving Electronic Arts, McGee and former Transmeta developer Dave Taylor have founded a new concern called Carbon6 Entertainment. Their new venture is intended specifically to develop games with an eye towards movie-making. Said McGee:

We're learning a lot about story telling — applying the way Hollywood works to the gaming world. What's important for a film is you've got to have a believable universe. Most games don't have a good lead character and a universe that can be imagined on the screen.
Another game-movie project in the pipeline is Resident Evil, starring Milla Jojovich, and there is speculation that top-selling Max Payne may also make the leap from small to big screen in the near future.

American McGee's Alice
CNN/Money: A New Kind of Movie?

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15 Video Cards, One Engine
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

While most computer gamers acknowledge that a good video card is a must for running most of today's games, deciding which cards are actually good, if not the best, is a subject of constant debate. Among the factors complicating this debate: To compete, hardware developers are driven to make cards bearing features that have yet to be implemented in any existing game, while benchmark tests, the most widely accepted method of weighing the power of cards, use older game engines such as Quake III's.

Hardware analysis site AnandTech, acknowledging these issues, has set out to try to clear the air a little regarding the testing of video cards, particularly high-end cards such as the GeForce3 and the Radeon 8500. To do so, AnandTech used one of the latest builds of the Unreal engine, currently being used to create the upcoming titles Unreal II and Unreal Tournament II:

It is the latest build of the Unreal Engine that Epic has used to spin off what is being tentatively called the Unreal Performance Test 2002. This benchmark is designed to stress today's systems, from CPU to GPU, using a game engine that will be widely used in the very near future. With Epic's help, we'll be able to provide you all with an idea of exactly how your systems will perform in games that will be coming out in the near future. It's time to put the manufacturers' claims to the test and find out what platforms are truly built for the next-generation games.
The overview of the Unreal Performance Test 2002 is designed to closely simulate a player's perspective during play. Sharp turns, 14 bots with pseudo-random movements, and environments consisting of up to 100,000 triangles make up the flyby.

The testing was done on an AMD Athlon XP 2000+ and was run through the usual gamut of resolutions. Those interested in the results should check out the article at AnandTech.

For those that don't feel like staring at charts, here's the short story: the Radeon 8500 came out on top at every resolution tested except for 1600x1200, at which the GeForce3 Ti 500 topped the chart.

Bear in mind that this is not the end of the story. AnandTech, besides noting that the results are hardly conclusive, anticipates continuing the investigation as the Unreal engine continues its development.

AnandTech: 15-way GPU Shootout
Radeon 8500

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Shadowbane: Beta Tester Impressions
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

With a development history long in the tooth, Wolfpack Studio's upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game Shadowbane has had fans of the genre waiting in the wings for what seems like an eternity. As is usually the case with such things, doubt has started to creep into the hearts of many as to whether or not Shadowbane will be worth the wait when it finally sees the light of day.

To set these doubts to rest, a beta tester by the alias of Deyth has posted a small offering of his first impressions at the Combine Gaming Guild web site. The article doesn't actually reveal much in the way of game details, as it had to be subjected to both Wolfpack's and Ubi Soft's scrutiny before being approved, but it does manage to reveal some generalities as well as the overall message that "Shadowbane isn't going to suck."

One of the details Deyth brings up several times is the number of options available in the game. The user interface is said to contain a huge number of options "totally superior to any before it," and the class variety is said to be huge:

It will be unlikely that two people of the same class will be identical, it's all those pesky options again. They are making an effort to balance things in such a way that there won't be an ideal template per class. This will be a headache to balance, but not that bad because everyone has access to the same classes. I guess if the extreme best and worst of each class template are within a certain range in comparison to all others, we will be within the range of ideal balance for Shadowbane. Very feasible, very likely.
Those interested in reading the rest of Deyth's initial impressions can find them at the Combine Gaming Guild.

Combine Gaming Guild: Shadowbane: First Impression
Wolfpack Studios

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Worms Blast Site Opens
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Team 17 opened their official web site for Worms Blast recently. It provides a lot of information on the game, as well as a number of screen shots of this puzzler in action. Worms Blast is a divergence from the rest of the Worms series, but the UK developer plans to include the same humor and cute graphics that made the original series popular. The game is coming to the Mac thanks to the folks at Feral Interactive.

Worms Blast features over 60 individual missions, a number of game modes, and multiplayer head-to-head battles. For a good description of the gameplay itself, look no further than the web site's introductory page:

Worms Blast takes place on water, which is lucky really as your character only has a boat to get around in. Above you, colored blocks move closer to you every so often. Fortunately you can shoot the blocks to destroy them, however your weapon is color coded and you must hit blocks of the same color as your weapon to destroy them. Hitting a block of a different color from that of your weapon will recolor it (and the surrounding blocks) to the weapon's color. If you destroy a block, blocks of the same color touching the destroyed block will also be destroyed.
The multiplayer gameplay in Worms Blast is very similar, except that two players will share a split screen, getting the opportunity to blow each other out of the water as well. Feral has said work is still very early on the Mac port of the title, but they expect something later this spring.

Worms Blast
Feral Interactive
Buy Worms Blast

Contraband Adds 'Wargames' Project
6:00 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Over the weekend, Contraband Entertainment added yet another game to their already lengthy page of upcoming titles. This one has been given the code name "Wargames" and is still in early development for the Mac. The Contraband news page is very quiet about the title, not saying anything more about what it might be:

Contraband goes to war!

We are starting a new project which you can find a little more info on the status page. The project goes by the name of "Wargames."

IMG has yet to confirm whether Matthew Broderick or Ally Sheedy have any hand in the brewing trouble, but we'll keep you posted as any new information on the title becomes available. If you would like to speculate on what it might be, head to the IMG Forums to throw out some ideas.

Contraband Entertainment

Custer Salutes WingNuts
6:00 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG's prolific Brad Custer turns his artistic talents this week to Freeverse Software's recently-released arcade-style shooter, WingNuts:

It's been over a month since WingNuts started shipping. I realized the other week when we posted the IMG Review that I had never created a desktop for a Freeverse title and I knew this had to be corrected immediately. The selection was designed with several images obtained from art the gang at Freeverse provided and is titled, "Temporal Navigators" after the game itself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it. :)
Head over to Custer's Desktops for this week's helping of eye candy.

IMG: Custer's Desktops

Mac Games News for Friday, January 25, 2002

IMG Reviews Sacrifice3:00 PM
Gaming Groove Interviews Jake Simpson2:26 PM
Beta 5 of NeoCairo Mod for UT Released1:59 PM
Interplay Founder and CEO Brian Fargo Steps Down1:36 PM
Aspyr Newsletter: RtCW, 4x4 Evo 2 System Reqs8:36 AM
Bioware & Interplay Make Nice on NWN8:36 AM
Elite Force Testers Needed for SMP Patch8:36 AM
WarBirds III for OS X in March; Retail Version Planned8:36 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Friday, January 25, 2002 on one page

Recent Mac Games News

Thursday, January 24, 2002
Wednesday, January 23, 2002
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