Diablo III Starter Edition Now Available to All

If you always wanted to check out Diablo III to see how the game looks and plays like, Blizzard has offered Diablo III Starter Edition. However, the Starter Edition could be checked out only with a Guest Pass – which was available to only those who had purchased the boxed pack in retail.

Diablo III Installer

That was until now. Starting from today, however, Blizzard has made available Starter Edition as downloadable by all. To download the Starter Edition, you’ll need to create a Battle.net account, or login to Battle.net if you already have an account. Once you’ve logged in,

  1. Click on the  Click the Play for Free link for Diablo III Starter Edition on the account summary page
  2. Enter the BattleTag of your choice, then click Create your BattleTag.
  3. Click Get Starter Edition.
  4. On the Diablo III License page, click Download Game Client for Windows or Mac.
  5. Once the game is fully installed, you may log in with your Battle.net email and password to access the Starter Edition

You’ll have to remember that the Starter edition comes with restrictions

  • Content wise, Act I up to the Skeleton King is available
  • Characters have a level cap of upto Level 13
  • Matchmaking available only with other Starter Edition players
  • No Auction House access (Real Money or Gold)
A word of advice: the Starter edition content may be small but probably is enough to get you hooked on to Diablo.

 

Steam Goes Beyond Gaming; Will Feature Software Titles Soon. But Will It Work?

Not quite content with occupying the lion’s share of the digital distribution games market, Valve’s digital delivery service, Steam is now set to expand into non-gaming titles. Making the announcement as a press release, Valve mentions that the first set of software titles are heading to the Steam store for both Mac and PC.

Steam logo

Valve mentions that applications ranging from creativity to productivity will available on Steam. The first set of software titles are set to hit the store from September 5th. What’s even more exciting is that SteamWorks — which allows for Cloud storage on Steam Cloud and auto-updates — will be available to software titles as well.

Will it work?

Steam did experiment with non-gaming media for digital distribution — particularly when Indie Game: The Movie was released on Steam store, which didn’t do too bad.  There are still couple of points that might stick out about software coming to the Steam store:

  • Cross-platform licensing:  Steam for Ubuntu is coming soon, Steam for Mac is already here. SteamPlay allows for a game license to be used across multiple devices and multiple platforms. Software title developers, however, are quite insistent about single-use-only licensing. We’ll have to wait and watch to see how many developers will be going ahead with single-license-multiple-platform approach.
  • Steam’s DRM: The popular opinion about DRM in Steam is that it’s DRM done well. Now I don’t agree that it’s done well — though it’s not that bad either. Steam games require that you stay online when you launch the titles. If you plan to play offline then there’s a “Go offline” option that must be explicitly used before you go offline — without doing this, the probability that you’ll be able to launch a title is less than 1%. These restrictions are unlikely to go well when we’re talking about productivity applications.
  • Going against existing, preloaded marketplace: Windows, OS X, Ubuntu — all feature their own built-in Stores. Windows 8’s Windows store features prominently as a Tile on the Start Screen, the Mac App Store has gained some traction amongst OS X users and with Ubuntu, you’re guaranteed to take a look at the software centre at least once a day. Will these be enough to deter the casual users from loading Steam?
Having said that, Steam’s approach to include software titles will be an interesting change to look at. Now all that I pray is that future Steam Sales will include software titles as well.

Codemasters Announces Grid 2

Codemasters, the UK based game dev studio, known for their immensely successful series of racing games — Grid, Dirt, Colin McRae Rally series among others have announced the sequel to their arcadish-sim driving game, Race Driver:Grid. Grid 2 is set for a summer 2013 launch and will be available for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and the PC.

Grid 2

With a minute-long trailer, Grid 2 showcases the 2 new locations — Paris and Chicago and the furious pace of racing that is known to Grid veterans. With over 2 years of pre-production and development, Grid 2 will feature the newest version of Ego game engine and a new TrueFeel Handling System to achieve car handling which hits the sweet spot between arcade and simulation.

Grid 2 will feature tracks from the United States, Europe, and Asia, with cities including Paris, Abu Dhabi, and Miami. Multiplayer wise, Codemasters will bring in a RPG-style progression system with customization and integration with its online community portal, RaceNet.

Although not many details about the game are known, Codemasters’ interview with Eurogamer mentions that Grid 2 will no longer feature the in-car cockpit view – triggering an avalanche of angry reactions. A playable version is expected to available during this year’s Eurogamer Expo, from 27th to 30th September. Till then, enjoy Grid 2’s debut trailer.

Path of Exile Beta Open to Public This Weekend for Stress Testing

If you’re an action RPG fan and want to take a break from those long hours of Diablo III sessions, then you’ll be pleased to know that Grinding Gear Games will be opening up Path of Exile beta to everyone this weekend as part of their stress-test program.

Path of Exile will be open for public on July 27, 2012 5pm PDT and the stress test will go on till Sunday, July 29th, 2012 11:59pm. To participate in the beta, you’ll need to create an account. Once created, download and install the game client.

You’ll be able to preload the game content so that you’re ready to start hacking and slashing once the beta stress-test window opens.

Grinding Gear Games mentions that during the stress-test weekend, the content available for play includes two acts repeated over four difficulties (about 69 levels worth of content), end-game Maps, Default and Hardcore leagues, six character classes, approximately 70 active skills, 40 support gems and hundreds of types of items.

You can sign up for Path of Exile’s public stress-test by visiting the game’s Official Website.

Zapak Gets into the Olympic Games Mood; Launches Zapak Gaming Olympiad

The 2012 London Olympic Games start tomorrow. In light of this, Zapak Digital Entertainment is all set to launch Zapak Gaming Olympiad.

London 2012 Olympics Clock
London 2012 Olympics Clock (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Zapak Gaming Olympiad aims to become an online destination for live updates from London 2012 and offers people a chance to participate in a virtual Olympic event.

Zapak Gaming Olympiad features specially created game titles that allow most people to experience a sport competition as big as the Olympics. Set over two week timeframe, the Zapak Gaming Olympiad features the following online games:

  • Field Hockey
  • Hurdles Run
  • King of the Ring ( aka Boxing)
  • Table Tennis

The Olympiad will be available on the Web at Olympics.Zapak.Com and on Mobile Web as well.

Commenting on the Olympiad event, Mr. Deepak Abbot, Head Product, Reliance Entertainment Digital said

We wish to give our users a virtual experience of the Olympic Games on their PCs and mobile phones. Not all Olympic enthusiasts have the luxury of time and place to see the match. We are the first ones to bring this experience in India.

It was also mentioned that the winner of each of the four competitions in the Zapak Gaming Olympiad will be awarded with brand new motorcycle.

Valve Quietly Rolls Out Steam Badges

Not quite content with introducing gamification in games using Achievements, Valve has quietly rolled out badges in their digital games distribution platform, Steam.

The badges are retroactively applied, though certain badges will require that you redo the action, even though you’ve already done them before — for instance — launching a game or publish a screenshot. You can see the badges that you’ve unlocked from your Steam profile

Steam Badges

Clicking on “All Badges” brings up a detailed listing of all badges.

List of all Steam Badges

With the Steam Summer Sale on, Valve seems intent on making people do more than just play games — Valve wants people to share their images, videos and essentially build up a small social networking community within Steam. And the results of the badges being introduced can be seen right away, as Jerwin so eloquently puts it.

Jerwin commenting on my uploaded image

Whether the comments and other such activity will be sustained, remains to be seen. For now, you can start acquiring your badges!

 

PSA: Steam Summer Sale is On

Few days ago, I had posted about the Steam Summer Sale being imminent. Well, you no longer have to wait, for the sale is live on Steam Store now.

Steam Summer Sale

The sale will run from today, July 12, 2012 through July 22, 2012. As previously mentioned, the Indie Bundle 1 is up for sale, indicating that all predicted game bundles will be up for sale as well. In a new addition, you also get to vote which game should be the next featured deal.

Steam Store’s currently under heavy load and was quite unresponsive while I tried to load, it should stabilize in couple of hours’ time.

Today’s deals include:

  • Terraria (75% off, $2.49 instead of $9.99)
  • Total War: Shogun 2(75% off, $7.49 instead of $29.99)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (50% off, $29.99 instead of $59.99)
  • Legend of GrimRock(60% off, $5.99 instead of $14.99)
  • Indie Bundle 1(75% off, $9.99 instead of $39.99)
  • Might & Magic: Heroes VI(50% off, $24.99 instead of $49.99)
  • Ridge Racer Unbounded(50% off, $24.99 instead of $49.99)
  • Portal 2(75% off, $4.99 instead of $19.99)
  • Crusader Kings(75% off, $9.99 instead of $39.99)

Now that you’ve read what’s on sale, you might want to head over to the site and grab some sweet deals. And do leave a comment mentioning what you’ve purchased.

Steam Summer Sale Looks Imminent; List of Games on Sale Revealed

By this time, most gamers would be waiting with baited breath — for it’s time for Valve to unleash their annual Steam Summer Sale. Traditionally round about this time we expect Valve to announce their annual Steam Summer Sale. This year, however, it’s been a little bit quiet — 10 days into July and still no whisper of the sale.

Till now, that is. An enterprising Redditor(via Eurogamer) took it upon himself to keep monitoring Open Steam Works’ database and discovered that the list of bundles have been uploaded.

Here’s the list of bundles which are likely to be present for the sale

Indie bundles

  • Day 1: Anomaly Warzone Earth, The Baconing, Cave Story+, EDGE, Lone Survivor.
  • Day 2: Botanicula, E.Y.E, Oil Rush, Splice, Universe Sandbox,
  • Day 3: Bit Trip Beat, Braid, Bunch of Heroes, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Runespell Overture,
  • Day 4: A Valley Without Wind, Atom Zombie Smasher, Blocks that Matter, Sanctum, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP,
  • Day 5: Audio Surf, Gemini Rue, Greed Corp, Tiny Bang Story, Ys: The Oath in Felghana
  • Day 6: Awesome, Defcon, Space Chem, Ticket to Ride, Trauma
  • Day 7: Avadon, Dungeons of Dredmor, Qube, Vessel, Zombie Driver
  • Day 8: Demolition Inc, Hoard, Sol Exodus, Swords and Soldiers HD, Wings of Prey,
  • Day 9: Capsized, Jamestown, Revenge of the Titans, VVVVVV, Zeno Clash
  • Day 10: All Zombies Must Die, Beat Hazard, Bit trip Runner, Eufloria, Machinarium
  • Day 11: Hydrophobia, Orion: Dino Beatdown, Star Ruler, Waveform, World of Goo

Other bundles and packs:

  • 1C Collection Pack
  • Adam’s Venture Complete Bundle Retail
  • Anno 2070 Pack
  • Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City and Batman Gotham City Imposters Bundle
  • Bethesda Collection (BRINK, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, Hunted)
  • Bioshock Franchise Pack
  • BIT.TRIP.BEAT Bundle
  • BIT.TRIP.RUNNER Bundle
  • Carpe Fulger Bundle (Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Chantelise, Fortune Summoners)
  • Civilization Collection
  • Command and Conquer Franchise
  • Dawn of War Franchise Pack
  • Dead Island Complete
  • Duke Nukem Bundle
  • Foreign Legion Bundle
  • Kalypso Collection (Tropico, Jagged Alliance, Airline Tycoon, etc)
  • Majesty Franchise
  • Paradox Collection (Magicka + dlcs, Mount and Blade, etc)
  • Pendulo Adventure Pack
  • Railworks 3 – Summer Sale Collection
  • Red Orchestra Franchise Pack (ROW)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Bundle
  • Saints Row: The Third Franchise Pack
  • Sniper Elite Franchise Pack
  • Square Hit Collection (Hitman, Tomb Raider, Just Cause 2, Deus Ex, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Quantum Conundrum, Thief)
  • Stardock Collection Pack
  • Strategy First Complete Pack
  • Sword of the Stars Franchise
  • THQ Collection (Dawn of War, Warhammer, Stalker, Nexuiz, Darksiders, Metro 2033, etc)
  • Total War: Shogun 2 Pack
  • Victoria Franchise
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Pack
  • Wings of Prey

Now here’s hoping that the sale goes live soon, while I still have some cash in my wallet.

Thanks to @1starArchie for bring this to my notice!

 

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC is Available For Download

BioWare has made available Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC on Xbox Marketplace. The 1.9GB DLC is available on the Live Marketplace and can be downloaded for free. The PC version isn’t yet available –  though it should be out soon. PlayStation 3 players will have to wait till July 4 to get their on the DLC.

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC

As mentioned previously, the DLC doesn’t change the end game, neither does it add any new gameplay but is supposed to expand the meaning of original ending. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of closure BioWare aims to provide with this DLC. You’ll need to load a save game from before the attack on the Cerberus Base and play through to the end of the game to see how the game spans out.

And once you’ve done that, let me know in the comments on your thoughts about the ending.

System Mechanic 10.8 Review And Giveaway

It’s quite common to have your Windows system accumulate cruft after extended periods of usage. Be it because of unwanted programs adding themselves to the startup, or our mindless install spree – these cruft accumulate and tend to slowdown your system.

System Mechanic aims to speed up your install by cleaning up the cruft, removing useless programs and generally helping you out in keeping your Windows install shipshape.

On launch, System Mechanic presents you with a welcome screen. The welcome screen shows you how you can start making use of System Mechanic with links to video tutorials and guiding you what’s new in the current version.

System Mechanic Welcome Screen

Once you get past the welcome page, System Mechanic offers a quick overview of your system status, with an option to analyze your system and report the findings.

System Scan

System Mechanic offers two types of analysis –  quick and deep analysis. Deep analysis performs a more comprehensive analysis, including a hard disk scan.

System Mechanic Scan

Once the scan is complete, System Mechanic will provide you with a summary screen showing you a status of your overall system & security status and a report of the findings.

System Mechanic Analysis Summary

System Mechanic Report

Each of the reports have an option of letting System Mechanic perform an automatic correction or you can opt to fix these manually.

Automated Tasks

System Mechanic comes with a wealth of automated tasks. These tasks include

  • Clean up temporary files
  • Repair Registry problems
  • Declutter startup programs
  • Check for hard drive errors and correct them
  • Report and repair security vulnerabilities
  • Optimize hard drives
  • Repair broken shortcuts
  • Backup registry

and many more. These automated tasks are disabled by default and each of these can be enabled/disabled. The tasks can be further customized to start or to prevent from running under variety of situations as to not slow down your regular operation.

System Mechanic Toolbox

The Toolbox consists of tools which allow you to analyze, detect and clean up various system subsections. The toolbox is further subdivided into two categories – All-in-one tools and Individual tools.

All-in-one tools are a collection of various tools aimed at specific tasks. The tasks include

  • PC Accelerator
  • PC Repair
  • PC Cleanup
  • PC Security
  • Registry Revitalizer

These are combination of tools – let’s take a look at some individual tools.