SimCity for Mac Coming in June; No Repurchase Required

Good news for Mac users who’ve been meaning to play SimCity — EA has announced that the Mac version of SimCity will be released in about 2 months’ time on July 11th, 2013. The Mac version of SimCity was apparently being optimized for the Mac OS X by studio which isn’t Maxis, and will be available as a digital download on Origin.

simcity
The good news is that if you’ve already purchased SimCity, you will be able to download the Mac version of it without having to purchase it again. SimCity will require OS X Lion for you to play the game. The OS requirement might be a bit of problem for some — I know of few acquaintances who haven’t upgraded to Lion.

EA mentions that Retina support is ‘yet to be determined’, and going by the timelines, it’s unlikely that SimCity will have Retina support, at least at launch time. SimCity for Mac will be a digital-download only and you won’t see it on retail stores. And since the cities are saved on EA’s servers, you should be able to pick up your existing cities, regardless of  which platform you’ve been playing on.

Game4u to Hold Crysis 3 Midnight Launch in Mumbai And Gurgaon

About 5 years ago, Cevat Yerli’s team at Crytek introduced Crysis to us and blew our minds and our gaming rigs away with the sheer brilliance that was Crysis’ graphics. Come February 22nd and Crytek is all set to launch Crysis 3 and restart the “But can it run Crysis?” meme, all over again.

Crysis 3 Midnight Launch

Game4u will be conducting a midnight launch party at Mega Mall, Andheri (W) in Mumbai and at MGF Metropolis in Gurgaon. Customers who have pre-ordered are set to get the following goodies:

  • For PC: Hunter Edition + Stalker pack & Brawler Pack DLC + T-shirt + (Crysis 1 digital download for Team Elite Members) + 50% off on Crysis 2, Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Mass Effect 3 available in the ‘downloads4u’ catalogue
  • For PS3: Hunter Edition + Stalker & Brawler Pack DLC + T- shirt + (Crysis 1 digital download – for Team Elite Members)
  • For Xbox360: Hunter Edition + T-shirt (plus a yet-to-be-confirmed DLC)

The first customer to pick up a copy of the game will also get a “1st to own” certificate from Game4u.

Game4u Adds Mac Games to downloads4u

Few months ago, Game4u had introduced downloads4u, their digital download service for PC games. Today, Game4u has added several Mac titles available for digital download on downloads4u.

In collaboration with leading Mac games publisher, Aspyr Media, Game4u has introduced several Mac titles including triple A titles such as Borderlands 2, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and Call of Duty series with pricing on-par with the local retail prices.

Mac catalogueIf you’re wondering how downloads4u behaves like, check my post on impressions of the service. The Mac games available at downloads4u‘s Mac section – check it out and let me know if your experience is better than mine!

Dell Latitude 10 Tablet Review

Windows 8 has been with us for about few months now, and despite being the first consumer release of Windows which is optimized for both touch and non-touch interfaces, the supporting hardware from a touch-interface point of view has been basically non-existent. Sure, there’s the Surface, but trying to get it here in India isn’t exactly straightforward. Thankfully, Dell’s stepped in and released the Dell Latitude 10 Tablet. Dell sent me a review unit & I had a chance to play it for a week. Let’s see how it fares.

Tablet Specifications

The Dell Latitude 10 is based on Intel’s Atom Z2760 (Codenamed Clovertrail) processor & runs Windows 8 Pro, not the RT edition. Here’s some more detailed specs

  • Processor: Intel Atom  Z2760 @ 1.80GHz
  • Main memory: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 64GB SSD
  • Graphics Card: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator
  • 10.1″ IPS screen with 1366×768 resolution
  • Expansion & Misc ports: 1xUSB, 1xHeadphone out, 1xMini HDMI, 1x MicroSD, 1xMicro SIM slot

Packaging, Looks, Build Quality & Weight

The Latitude tablet was packaged in a box very similar to the one which came with the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. The box was a laptop briefcase-esque carton, thought unlike the XPS 13 carton, there was a lack of foam padding. Inside the “briefcase” was the tablet placed in the cardboard box. The box contents were minimal — the box featured just the tablet and the power adapter and power cord. The absence of other accessories is surprising, considering the expansion options that the tablet has — especially with the presence of mini HDMI port. A bundled mini-HDMI or a Mini-HDMI to HDMI converter would have have been much welcome.

With an all-black body the Latitude looks pretty slick. The front of the tablet gets a big 10.1″ highly glossy reflective screen, with a GorillaGlass protection, while the back of the tablet has a more subdued, matte-grey with rubber finishing to prevent slippage. There’s a pretty thick bezel however, that tends to detract from the looks of the tablet.

Dell Latitude 10

The rounded corners on the tablet edges mean that you wouldn’t run into any sharp cuts. The Latitude 10 weighs in at about 650g for the 2-cell battery version. However, the review unit came with the optional 4-cell, 60Whr battery, tipping the weighing scales at a hefty 820g. With either versions, it’s practically not possible to operate the tablet with one hand, and you’ll definitely not be using it as a bed-side device for reading.

Connectivity options

For a tablet, the Latitude comes with a bunch of connectors – you get a USB port, a mini-HDMI port, headphone jack, a microUSB port for charging, and a dock connector. In addition, there’s also support for a SD card and a microSIM port. The microSIM slot, however, is very easy to ignore and dismiss – much like cell phones, the microSIM slot is under the battery which also makes hot swapping SIM cards impossible. Despite these connectivity options, you’ll have to invest in your own cables and accessories — Dell, in it’s infinite wisdom thought it was a great idea to skip out on all cables and leave you with the job of getting your own cables.

Touchscreen, Display & Audio Quality

Touchscreens generally make or break a tablet – I’ve played with few el-cheapo tablets which gee-whiz-bang specs, only for me to not look at them at all because of their pathetic touchscreen response. With this in mind, I’m very happy to say that the Latitude’s touchscreen is simply fantastic. There was nary a touch that went undetected. To make things even better, the the Latitude’s 10.1″ IPS screen is simply brilliant. Though not in the same league as the iPad’s Retina displays, one glance at the screen with Windows 8’s Start Screen & Live tiles on and it’s near impossible to turn away from the screen. The combination of the brilliant display and fantastic touchscreen response means that you’ll find it very hard to keep your hands off the tablet. The weight of the tablet, however, will make you want to keep it down on the table, or attached to a dock however.

To achieve the fantastic display quality, however, Dell’s opted for a highly reflective, glossy screen. I’m not a huge fan of glossy screens – the light reflection tends to hit my eyes hard, and with my vision problems, causes unwanted strain on my eyes. The Latitude is no different, with even a tubelight lit overhead will result in tubelight rays bouncing off the tablet and hitting your eyes. To make matters worse, the screen is also huge fingerprint magnet – just a day of swiping about and the screen was coated with my fingerprints. I had to resort to using my LCD screen cleaner to keep the fingerprints at bay and I suspect this is likely to be a daily affair.

Dell Latitude 10

Dell Latitude 10 screen

The Latitude’s audio quality wasn’t too bad.  The built-in stereo speakers were loud enough to be heard on a average sized room and performed well. There’s only a 3.5mm jack for connecting a headphone/earphones. The tablet also comes with a 2MP front facing camera & a 8MP rear camera with LED flash. I didn’t get a chance to try out either of the cameras, so I can’t  comment on the picture quality.

Performance And Battery Life

When I first discovered that the tablet features an Atom processor – I wondered what sort of performance I should expect from it. Traditionally, Atom processors aren’t exactly known for the processing prowess. The newer Atom processors codenamed CloverTrail however – performed admirably well. The response of the tablet was pretty zippy, and there was no sign of lag even with a bunch of Modern UI apps running in the background. I didn’t bother running any of the traditional PC-based benchmarking programs, since the scores will be low and there’s no real way to compare the numbers against anything else. Suffice to say, the Tablet was able to cope up with most content consumption activities – be it using YouTube, watch a hi-def movie using VLC or anything else for that matter – the tablet just hummed along fine

Battery performance on the tablet was just brilliant. Throughout my week-long review period, I charged it just once, with an average usage of 2-3 hours, on WiFi. With continuous usage, I think it’s fair to assume that the tablet should last a business day quite easily. Granted, this was on the 4-cell, 60Whr battery, but even on the regular 2-cell battery, the tablet should easily give you about 5-6 hours of battery backup.

Pricing And Conclusion

With all of these goodies, the Dell Latitude’s pricing isn’t too bad – it retails at Rs 47,290, excluding taxes and comes with a 1-year warranty. While strictly not an Apples-to-apples comparison, the current gen iPad with 64GB capacity and 4G is priced at about Rs 52,000 to give you a fair idea where it stands at.

Ultimately though, the Dell Latitude 10, while being a great device, doesn’t seem to be targeted at the home/average user. With the Latitude branding that’s popular among corporates, the security features make it clear that that’s their target audience. Which is a shame because with a little bit of tweaking on the price, the Dell Latitude 10 can be a worthy alternative for the iPad, especially if you don’t want to give up on your existing Windows applications, while simultaneously trying out the Modern UI apps that Microsoft is going with the road ahead.

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Great display and touchscreen performance
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • Highly reflective screen which is also a fingerprint magnet
  • Weight adds up at the higher end of the tablet

 

Game4u Announces End of Season Sale

Game4u, India’s leading games retailer has announced the launch of their end of season sale. The end of season sale runs till February 28th, and is valid at all offline Game4u retailers as well as their online store. With over 70 titles up for sale, with discounts ranging from 20% to 50% this is a great time to purchase those games you wanted.

Game4uSome of the most popular games, including Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Assassin’s Creed 3, FIFA 13, Borderlands 2 are on sale. Head over to Game4u online, or to your nearest retailer to grab these while the offer is still on.

Blizzard Previews Patch 1.0.7 for Diablo III, Patch to Introduce PvP

Since the launch of Diablo III, fans have been vociferously asking when Diablo III will get Player-versus-Player or PvP combat mechanic. PvP is an integral part of multiplayer RPGs and often the main driving force for player to grind for better items.

 

After much waiting, Blizzard has finally announced that Patch 1.0.7 will bring in the PvP system. The patch is still under development and is yet to hit the Public Test Realm(PTR) indicating that we’re still a few weeks off till it lands in the game. Blizzard, however, has detailed the mechanics of the PvP system, called “Dueling”, in their latest blog post.

Here’s how the Dueling system works:

  • Dueling is completely opt-in. Unlike Diablo 2, for the current Dueling system, there will be a separate area for PvP
  • Players can opt to duel by speaking to Nek the Brawler at the Inn in New Tristram
  • As mentioned above, Dueling will take place in a completely new zone, the “Scorched Chapel”
  • Dueling supports up to four players in a Free-For-All format
  • As of now, there’s scoring or objective system – so it’ll be just a big, fat bash-’em-up area.

Blizzard also mentions that death is not permanent, even for Hardcore characters. While the dueling system is very minimalistic for now, knowing Blizzard and how they’ve built the game mechanics such as the Infernal Machine over the past few patches, I think it’s safe to assume that there are grand plans for Dueling.

Besides dueling, Blizzard’s bringing a bunch of changes for the Wizard and Monk classes

  • Skills like Arcane Orb, Blizzard, Shock Pulse will get a damage buff
  • Monk’s Spirit Spender skills will get a damage buff

From an item hunting/finding point of view, Blizzard will add new set of Rare crafting recipes which will create account-bound items — much like the Hellfire ring. The Monster Power mechanic, introduced in the previous patch also gets a buff with all Monster Powers giving an increased experience percent in Inferno difficulty, up from it’s base limit. In addition, Monster Power can also be applied to public games.

These are just a sampler of the changes that 1.0.7 is set to bring in. I believe 1.0.7 should give many Diablo players who’ve stoped playing an incentive to get back into the game.

A Look at Some of the Top Selling Games in India for 2012

2012 is coming to a close and the New Year will be upon us soon. It’s been a fairly good year for gaming – lots of blockbusters, new IPs, new sequels being released.

game4u logo

Game4u, Milestone’s retail unit for PC and video games, got in touch with me and and sent me the charts for the top selling games of the year on Game4u, and here’s how it looks like.

Platform-wise break up – Top 5 Games

PS2

  1. FIFA 12
  2. FIFA 13
  3. Ra.One
  4. WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2010
  5. God Of War

PS3

  1. FIFA 13
  2. Assassins Creed 3
  3. Call Of Duty Black Ops II
  4. Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception
  5. Sports Champions

Xbox 360

  1. FIFA 13
  2. Kinect Sports Season 2
  3. Call Of Duty Black Ops II
  4. Assassins Creed 3
  5. Halo 4

Nintendo Wii

  1. Family Party 30 Game
  2. Super Mario Galaxy
  3. FIFA Soccer 12
  4. FIFA Soccer 13
  5. Need For Speed:The Run

PSP

  1. WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011
  2. GTA Liberty City Stories
  3. Cars 2
  4. FIFA 13
  5. God Of War:Ghost Of Sparta

PS Vita

  1. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  2. FIFA Football
  3. Assassins Creed 3: Liberation
  4. FIFA 13
  5. Unit 13

PC

  1. FIFA 13
  2. Assassins Creed 3
  3. Max Payne 3
  4. Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  5. Need For Speed:Most Wanted

Overall Top 10 games

  1. FIFA 13
  2. Assassins Creed 3
  3. FIFA 12
  4. Max Payne 3
  5. Call of Duty Black Ops 2
  6. GTA IV: Complete Edition
  7. Need For Speed:Most Wanted
  8. Battlefield 3
  9. Uncharted Drakes Deception
  10. Sports Champions

Top 5 Pre-ordered games

  1. Fifa 13
  2. Assassins Creed 3
  3. COD Black Ops 2
  4. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  5. Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Thoughts on the list

Looking at the numbers, it’s pretty obvious that FIFA rules the roost, with FIFA 12/13 being on top 3 of most platforms. Need For Speed: Most Wanted failed to make it to the top charts, despite being the #4 pre-ordered game. If you’ve played the game(review here), you’ll know why it’s not in the top selling list.

I was curious on knowing how Game4u’s downloads4u service performed, but Milestone refused to disclose the units sold and all I got was that

Battlefield 3 Premium and Hitman Absolution: Professional Edition were our big sellers

It’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming year will play out – especially with the Digital downloads service.

THQ Comes out with Humble Bundle; Offers 7 Games at Prices You Wish to Pay

Humble Bundles often showcase games by Indie developers. This time however, things have taken a turn with troubled North American games developer/publisher THQ keeping some of their top-hits on sale, with the usual Humble Bundle premise of pay-what-you-want.

The Humble THQ Bundle packs Company of Heroes (and its expansions Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor), Darksiders, Metro 2033, and Red Faction: Armageddon. If you pay above the average price, you’ll also unlock Saints Row: The Third. Unlike other bundles, the THQ bundle is not DRM-free, Windows only and you get keys for the games which can be activated in Steam. Besides the games, the bundle also packs in soundtracks for each of the games. The amount can be split to be paid to THQ, Charity(Child’s Play/American Red Cross) or the Humble Bundle site maintainers.

Though the lack of cross-platform support and DRM-free games slightly deviates from the Humble Bundle branding, the games included are fantastically awesome and is well worth the purchase. Head over to the site, play what you want and buy the games!

Update: With just under 18 hours remaining for Humble Bundle, THQ has added Titan Quest, Warhammer 40,000:Dawn of War and Path to War DLC for Red Faction: Armageddon since the past few days. If you’ve still haven’t bought it, now would be a good time to get it!

Battle.net outs Blizzard’s Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm Release Date

While Starcraft II fans have been eagerly waiting for the announcement of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm’s Release date, Eurogamer managed to go one step ahead and grab a screenshot of Battle.net offering StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm up for presale.

Starcraft II

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm will be released on March 12, 2013 and you can proceed with pre-ordering either the Standard version or the Digital Deluxe edition right now. Battle.net mentions that grabbing the Digital Deluxe edition gets you the original expansion, Wings of Liberty, along with in-game items for World of Warcraft and Diablo III.

The bonus items include:

  • Three StarCraft II Swarm-themed Battle.net portraits
  • StarCraft II Zerg Ultralisk “Torrasque” skin
  • World of Warcraft Baneling Battle Pet
  • Diablo III “Blade Wings” item – Queen of Blades-styled wings for Diablo III heroes
  • Diablo III Zerg banner sigil

Purchasing the Digital Deluxe lets you use Diablo III and World of Warcraft  in-game items right away, while StarCraft II items will have to wait till the game gets released. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is available for purchase from Battle.net.

DisneyUTV’s Indiagames Giving Away Games for Free This Week

It’s the festive season of Diwali here in India, and to celebrate the season, DisneyUTV’s Indiagames is giving  some of their popular games for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad for free.

Every day, for the next few days, one game will be available for free. The game giveaway schedule is as below:

If you missed grabbing each of these games, the apps will on sale for $0.99 for a week starting from November 23rd to December 28th, 2012.

The other games which will be on sale are

So if you’ve never grabbed these games before, now would be an ideal time to get each of these games for free — or at the sale price of $0.99 from November 23rd to December 28th, 2012.