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Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Aliens vs Predator and Giants Updates
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Mac game publisher MacPlay yesterday released new patches for both Aliens vs Predator and Giants: Citizen Kabuto.

The Aliens vs Predator patch, which brings the version number up to 1.0.3, addresses a bevy of issues with Mac OS X, including mouse movement and OpenGL problems:

  • Fixes stuttering with rapid mouse movement and mouse buttons 4 and 5 work in OS X
  • Fixes OpenGL failure.
  • For systems that cannot start the OpenGL renderer in OS X, the game will switch to software rendering.
  • Minor code optimization.
  • Fixes from previous versions (included in this version):
    • Fixes issues between Aliens vs. Predator and Mac OS X 10.1.2.
    • Fixes flickering of cursor.
    • Fixes gaming going into window mode in 10.1.
The Giants patch, which brings it up to Build 7, mainly includes some GameRanger tweaks:
  • Text resizes in the game lobby when in 640x480 mode.
  • Skips to the main menu of Giants when launched from GameRanger.
  • Minor GameRanger improvements. Multiplayer Support Added.
  • Mouse config stays constant after exiting on 10.1.x systems.
  • PowerBook G4 Titanium incompatibilities remedied.
Both the Aliens vs Predator and the Giants patches are available at MacPlay's downloads page. They weigh in at 7 MB and 4 MB, respectively.

IMG Review: Aliens vs Predator: Gold
IMG Review: Giants: Citizen Kabuto
Aliens vs. Predator: Gold
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
MGF: Aliens vs Predator 1.0.3 Update (7 MB)
MGF: Giants: Citizen Kabuto Build 7 Update (4 MB)
Buy Giants: Citizen Kabuto

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IMG Previews Return to Castle Wolfenstein
1:52 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

IMG has posted a preview by Lucian Fong of Return to Castle Wolfenstein from Aspyr Media, the sequel to the legendary Wolfenstein 3D. Developed by Gray Matter Studios and Nerve Software in collaboration with id Software, the first-person shooter was Carbonized for Mac OS 9 and X by Westlake Interactive.

Here's an excerpt:

As an elite member of the Army Rangers, you're trained to use any weapons at your disposal. You start off with a knife and a Luger pistol, which can be equipped with a silencer. Although they may be weak compared to the hardware you come across later in the game, they are very effective if you are trying to be stealthy.

Among the other basic weapons is the Colt .45, which can be wielded John Woo-style if you pick up two. The American Thompson and German MP-40 submachine guns are fairly similar in damage, accuracy, and rate of fire, although ammo is much more plentiful for the latter. One weapon that is essential for stealth missions is the silenced Sten. If used properly, it can be extremely deadly. My weapon of choice for taking out enemies is the Mauser sniper rifle. Not only is it fun to pick off Nazis at a distance, but the sound of firing the Mauser is extremely satisfying. You'll feel like Dan Jackson in the bell tower in Saving Private Ryan.

Random gun fact: According to my gun-crazed friend, the Mauser in RtCW behaves much more like the World Ware II-era Russian SKS. The real Mauser 98k held five rounds and was bolt action, whereas the rifle in RtCW holds 10 rounds and is semi-automatic.

For the full text of our preview, follow the link below.

IMG Preview: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

WipeOut 2097 Shipping
1:27 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

WipeOut 2097, the popular racing game originally developed by Psygnosis for the Sony PlayStation and ported to the Mac by Virtual Programming, is now shipping.

Retailer Mac Games UK sent us word today that they have the game in stock, the first we've heard about this title since we reported in November that the game had gone gold.

While Virtual Programming's web site is a tour de force of stealth marketing, we can provide this description from last November's press release:

Wipeout caused jaws to drop the world over and became an instant classic. Now WipeOut 2097 is poised to take anti-gravity racing completely over the edge. Lightning-fast reflexes rule in this race n chase thriller where your goal is to stay in the lead and defend your craft against other pilots. Negotiate hairpin turns, make gut-wrenching drops and initiate jumps all while blasting your opponents with intimidating weaponry. With faster, smoother graphics, more tracks, more vehicles, and more weapons, WipeOut 2097 sets a new standard in 32-bit gaming!

The Mac version is true to the original, but also offers full network capability and blistering speed (up to an incredibly challenging 120 fps)!

The Mac Games UK web site lists the following minimum system requirements:
  • Mac OS 9.1 or Mac OS X in Classic
  • G3 or G4 333 MHz or faster (iMac rev B or later)
  • 64 MB RAM (96 recommended)
  • Rage Pro
  • OpenGL 1.2
  • QuickTime 4.0
IMG has contacted Virtual Programming for more information, and we'll keep you updated should they choose to reveal any.

IMG News: WipeOut 2097 Goes Gold
Virtual Programming

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IGN Interviews Black & White's Peter Molyneux
10:50 AM | John Rousselle | Comment on this story

The folks over at IGN recently spoke with game designer Peter Molyneux regarding Black & White and the forthcoming Creature Isle expansion. Molyneux talks at some length about the lessons learned from Black & White and the direction in which the Lionhead Studios team decided to go with the Creature Isle add-on:

It came down to two choices for the add-on disk. Originally we had planned to do two simultaneously but it was too much effort and work. The two choices were this: either we make an add-on disc which focused on the creature and enabled you to do things with your creature that you could never do before and made him smarter and cleverer and people could show off their creatures online. Or we concentrate on the world and villages and what they did, what you did with them, more to do with the micromanagement side and includes a few more spells and made the starting of the conflict in Black & White.

The choice came down to Jonty and his team and the people who have been talking to us about Black & White. Creature Isle won hands-down on that. That fits really nicely into our idea of where we want to take Black & White over the next ten years. This is very much the start. As you play the game in successive versions, time moves on. The world becomes more sophisticated and more technologically evolved and the need for gods becomes less and less. That's a really strong story thread. The Creature Isle disc fits into that very well.

This is an interesting read, especially since Graphic Simulations recently announced that they will be bringing Creature Isle to the Mac.

Molyneux also goes on to discuss Black & White 2, Project Ego, and BC in this lengthy interview. Follow the link over to IGN for the full article.

IMG Review: Black & White
IGN: Peter Molyneux Interveiw
Black & White
Black & White: Creature Isle
Lionhead Studios

nVidia Launches GeForce4
9:11 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Graphics chip maker nVidia yesterday unleashed the gaming press onto their latest and most powerful chipset yet, the GeForce4 Titanium, previously known by the code name NV25. IMG and fellow Mac gaming site MacGamer had representatives at the debut last night of the new chipset in San Francisco.

As we reported yesterday morning, Apple announced it will be offering the very impressive GeForce4 Ti as a build-to-order option next month, and the company even had a couple prominent employees on hand at last night's nVidia event (Phil Schiller and John Rubenstein) to ensure Mac gamers won't be left in the dust .

On the PC side, there will be three different GeForce4 Ti versions. All three will have 128 MB of memory, but the top of the line Ti 4600 will include a 300 MHz chip and DDR RAM clocked at 650 MHz. The lower GeForce4 Ti 4400 and Ti 4200 will feature lower clock speeds, but also significantly lower prices.

While one of the GeForce4 Tis will be available for the Power Mac G4, it's unclear which of the three versions will be shipped. Apple's store gives more detailed information on what the card can pump out:

The LightSpeed II memory architecture uses 128 MB of fast DDR RAM more efficiently than ever allowing it to achieve impressive statistics. It delivers a theoretical memory throughput of 10.56 gigabytes/sec, which can deliver over 87 million triangles and over 4.9 billion textured pixels (texels) per second. Using the latest 13 micron manufacturing process it delivers 63 million transistors and can deliver over 1.23 trillion operations/sec. For serious gamers and customer using high-end 3D applications there is simply no better graphics solution available for a personal computer.
[Update: Observant reader David Kasprzyk pointed out an image on Apple's Power Mac G4 Graphics page that indicates the GeForce4 Ti 4600 is the chipset on offer from Apple.]

For an excellent roundup of the new chipsets, read through the article at Tom's Hardware. They discuss the numerous different versions on the PC side, show stats with full scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) on, and compare it to the weaker (but much more cost-effective) GeForce4 MX. Tech Report also has a similarly in-depth article on the cards, if you're interested. Corey Tamas at MacGamer wrote up some quick feelings on the nVidia meeting, with plenty of anecdotes about the card as well.

While Mac gamers have been used to getting the short end of the stick, the feature set for the GeForce4 is promised to be fully supported on the Mac. Especially important is FSAA, which many will be anxiously anticipating. As Apple's OpenGL implementation for Mac OS X continues to evolve, more of the powerful features will receive support in upcoming games as well.

IMG News: GeForce4 Titanium for Power Mac G4s
Apple: Power Mac G4 Graphics
MacGamer: nVidia's New GeForce4
Tech Report: A Preview of nVidia's GeForce4
Tom's Hardware: PC Graphics Beyond Xbox

Icewind Dale II Announced for PC
6:00 AM | David Finley | Comment on this story

This week, Black Isle Studios formally announced the development of the sequel to their popular role-playing game, Icewind Dale (which is scheduled to ship in March from MacPlay). Also set in the Forgotten Realms and governed by Advanced Dungeons and Dungeons: 2nd Edition rules, Icewind Dale II picks up the story quite a bit later than the first game:

A generation after the events in Icewind Dale, a grave new threat has arisen in the North; a threat that seeks to cut off the Ten-Towns from the rest of Faerun in a bitter power struggle. A vicious horde of goblins, orcs, and bugbears have gathered beneath the mysterious banner of the Chimera and are attacking the port town of Targos. The town of Bremen has fallen, goblin raiders ride the plains, and a stream of refugees are fleeing southwards to Bryn Shander and beyond. Fearing that they will be overrun, Targos has sent out a call for all able-bodied adventurers, soldiers, and mercenaries to sail north to stand with the town's defenders against the encroaching horde, and it's up to the players' small band of adventurers to save Targos from destruction. Yet nothing is as it appears and as the shadow of the horde falls on Targos, the players find themselves drawn into an escalating conflict that plunges the region of Icewind Dale once again into war.
Among the refinements and new features to be found in Icewind Dale II:
  • Over 50 new spells and a total of more than 300 spells.
  • 3D acceleration and other improvements to the Infinity Engine introduced in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
  • Over 100 new special items when playing in "Hearts of Fury" mode.
  • New character abilities such as dual weapon wielding.
  • New class kits including Mercenary, Giant Killer and the Dreadmaster of Bane.
  • Addition of many sub-races, such as Drow and Tiefling.
Although no mention has been made of a Mac version, the success of the Baldur's Gate series and the upcoming release of Icewind Dale should make it only a matter of time before Icewind Dale II is properly ported and available for Mac gamers.

Icewind Dale II

Click to enlarge
Blizzard Talks Warcraft III, Promises Starcraft II
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

A recent interview with Bill Roper, vice president of Blizzard Entertainment, was kindly translated into English by Korean Warcraft III fan site Warmasterz from the popular Korean gaming publication Gameshot. The interview itself covers general information about Warcraft III and has Roper reiterating Blizzard's targeted release window.

Real-time strategy gamers, particularly Starcraft fans, may be aware that Korea is said to be one of the biggest markets for RTS titles. Roper acknowledges this popularity, even noting that Warcraft III may show some influences from Korean history and culture, similarly to Diablo II, which contained some traditional Korean items.

The boldest statement Roper makes in the interview is about Warcraft III's release window. The beginning of the interview contains a blurb that states:

Although Blizzard Entertainment is well known for delaying release dates, he stressed Blizzard will never delay this time.
Roper is also asked directly about the release date:
GameShot: Known estimated release date is June 2002. Can you assure it?

Bill Roper: Exact date is quite hard to tell, but I can promise that release date is in the first half.

Not willing to let him get away with just Warcraft III questions, Gameshot also asked about Starcraft II, to which Roper replied:
I promise Blizzard Entertainment will make Starcraft II at a later time.
The rest of the interview covers basics about Warcraft III's gameplay, including heroes and the focus on an aggressive strategy. Those interested can find the translated article at WarcraftIII.Net.

IMG Preview: WarCraft III
WarCraft III
WacraftIII.Net: An Interview with Bill Roper
Buy WarCraft III

Mac Games News for Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Devine on OpenGL in Apple's Wolfenstein Preview12:30 PM
IMG Posts New Mac Hall Comic12:09 PM
USB Overdrive for OS X Updated to Beta 210:41 AM
Neverwinter Nights Set for Summer Release10:25 AM
Custer and Cate Get Cozy10:07 AM
Lineage Mac Beta Available on iDisk9:57 AM
Alternative Myth 3 Server Gets Green Light9:50 AM
GeForce4 Titanium for Power Mac G4s9:41 AM
Radeon 7500 vs GeForce4 MX Shootout9:41 AM
Skewered Perspective on MacPlay9:41 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, February 5, 2002 on one page

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