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Watch Dogs Fan Mod That Improves Graphics Gets Final Release

Written By Kom Limpulnam on Rabu, 23 Juli 2014 | 23.37

Move the slider to compare Watch Dogs with (left) and without TheWorse's mod

The fan mod that dramatically improves the graphics in Watch Dogs on PC has been updated yet again, with this most recent release being its final one, according to its creator.

In a post on his blog, modder Frederico "TheWorse" Rojas released version 1.0 of his mod, which introduces several new changes, including tweaking rain, the bloom effect during storms, and the game's camera. He explains, "This is the last release of my modification. I did my best to improve graphics and performance as much as I could without degrading the quality."

You can download two different versions of the mod: one featuring a texture pack from another modder, Maldo, that can help reduce stuttering; and one that doesn't include these textures.

The mod was originally released early last month on the Guru3D forums and claimed to, among other things, activate effects that were still contained in the game's code but were rendered inaccessible to players. Ubisoft later confirmed there were indeed such options buried in the code, explaining that they had been intentionally kept away from gamers because of their effect on performance and gameplay.

"The dev team is completely dedicated to getting the most out of each platform, so the notion that we would actively downgrade quality is contrary to everything we've set out to achieve," Ubisoft said following the mod's initial release. "We test and optimize our games for each platform on which they're released, striving for the best possible quality. The PC version does indeed contain some old, unused render settings that were deactivated for a variety of reasons, including possible impacts on visual fidelity, stability, performance and overall gameplay quality."

Ubisoft went on to describe the problems that could arise from using the mod, saying, it "subjectively enhances the game's visual fidelity in certain situations but also can have various negative impacts. Those could range from performance issues, to difficulty in reading the environment in order to appreciate the gameplay, to potentially making the game less enjoyable or even unstable."

Watch Dogs was released on May 27 and became Ubisoft's fastest-selling game ever. In just one week, it sold over four million copies, and has gone on to ship over 8 million copies. It was also the top-selling game at retail in the US during May and June.

If you have the PC version of Watch Dogs, have you given TheWorse's mod a try? Let us know what your experience has been like in the comments.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Watch Dogs

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The Crew: Cruising Around the Closed Beta

If you've played Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, or Watch Dogs, then you are intimately acquainted with the Ubisoft open-world formula, and The Crew will surely ring similar bells. This upcoming driving game takes place in a large and lavishly produced online world stuffed with things to do and minor challenges to overcome. It sends you from location to location, busying you with tasks that seem connected in the vaguest of ways. The Crew is afraid you might become distracted, and so it provides its own distractions, reminding you of the many dozens of things you could be doing while you're headed towards another dozen things. There is always another waypoint to drive to, another goal to accomplish, another cutscene to watch, and another vehicle to drive.

The smorgasbord of activities includes street racing, drag racing, offroad chases, delivery missions, and more. Simply driving from one point to another means potentially activating drive-through challenges, and suddenly you're zooming around digital slalom gates or accelerating up ramps to catch some air. It's tempting to stop and enjoy this condensed vision of the United States: The Crew is lush and colorful, and scripted races often feature commercial jets or crop dusters soaring above for no more reason than to provide visual and thematic drama. However, the game is always insisting you stay on the move.

This is a formula that works, but it's also a formula that toes the line between keeping you busy and making you feel like you're just going through the motions. I've been playing the game's closed beta test, and I am not yet sure that The Crew will land on the proper side of that line. I can't deny its appeal, however. The beta speeds ahead from the moment you sign in, with a chase sequence that keeps you roaring forward. From there, I've gone to Detroit to Chicago to St. Louis to New York and places in between, pursuing missions and other tasks that earn me new parts that spruce up my two current vehicles, a Ford Mustang and a Ford Focus. I also earn perk points that I can spend on upgrades that provide boosts like experience bonuses.

In some sense, The Crew embraces the traditional role-playing formula and applies it to an open-world driving game. I rush to the next objective, I perform a task like chasing down rival gang members or rushing someone to another section of the map, and I earn a reward. It's the loot loop, compelling in that primal way that games like Diablo so often are, and like in an action RPG, I am not necessarily alone in this world. I wouldn't call The Crew a massively multiplayer game, but you still share your gameplay session with others, and you can join up with them to free roam cities and the stretches in between. If you don't know any of these folks (and considering The Crew beta uses Ubisoft's UPlay portal as its social hub, you may not), you can invite nearby players to join you whenever you activate a mission. Conversely, you frequently receive random requests to join others in their own cooperative tasks, and can join them with the press of a button. Afterwards, you and your crew can roam about together, or you can go your separate ways once the task is complete.

Click above for images from The Crew closed beta.

This structure allows you to easily hop from place to place provided you've already driven once to the area you're visiting. Occasionally, I bounced from one city to another using the quick travel system, but I enjoyed driving across the beautiful stretches of midwestern farms and towns, even though those expanses are far smaller than their real life counterparts. (I drove from Chicago to New York in under ten minutes.) There are moments, however, when I long for a thematic thread to tie The Crew together that's stronger than the neverending quest for more powerful cars. I suppose the story is Ubisoft's attempt to ground The Crew in a theme, but at least in the beta, it is absolute nonsense, full of ridiculous dialogue that lacks the gung-ho silliness that could have made it mindless fun. It's a parade of meaningless characters floating around a protagonist with the face of Gordon Freeman, the voice of Booker DeWitt, and the personality of a used tissue.

As for the driving, I admit I am spoiled by Need for Speed: Rivals' slick handling. In The Crew beta, vehicles don't behave consistently, sometimes careening off of the smallest objects as if they'd bounced from a trampoline. Making contact with other vehicles doesn't always result in the collision you expect, but rather might send you ricocheting away as if the cars were covered with a thick layer of rubber. There's undoubtedly plenty of time to tune up the physics, of course, but it was hard not to notice the quirks. In The Crew beta, the driving is serviceable; it's the sheer variety of tasks and the constant call to group up, to go to a different city, to do one of a dozen available challenges that keeps you on the move.

Lest I sound overly judgmental regarding a game in closed beta, let it be said that I'm looking forward to seeing how The Crew blossoms as the game nears its full release this November. It's a big and ultradetailed game that in its current beta state comes as across as random and unfocused. A few major tune-ups could make The Crew an appealingly smooth ride, and one that you could put a lot of miles on.

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Xbox One
Xbox 360
PC
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 3

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Xbox One and Xbox 360 Ship 1.1 Million Consoles Combined From April-June

Microsoft sold in a total of 1.1 million Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles during its fiscal fourth quarter (April 1 - June 30), the company announced today as part of its quarterly earnings report.

As has been common with the sales numbers Microsoft has provided for its gaming consoles this year, it's important to note that "sold in" refers to the number of consoles shipped to retailers. This is as opposed to the number of consoles actually sold through to consumers--a figure we haven't been updated on since Microsoft announced 3 million Xbox One consoles had been sold to consumers as of December 31.

The 1.1 million consoles shipped is a steep drop compared to the prior three months, when Microsoft shipped 2 million consoles (1.2 million of which were Xbox Ones). The company noted that it "drew down channel inventory" during this most recent quarter, referencing plans it announced in April to slow shipments in order to allow retailers to sell the consoles they already have on store shelves.

Without providing any specific figures, Microsoft announced last week that Xbox One sales had "more than double[d]" in June (as compared with May) following the release of the $400 Kinect-less model. That system went on sale on June 9 and brought the system's price down to that of Sony's PlayStation 4, which has outsold the Xbox One to date. As of April 6, the PS4 had sold 7 million units worldwide.

As part of its earnings report, Microsoft renamed its Devices & Consumer Hardware group, which will now be known as the Computing and Gaming Hardware group. Despite the name change, it will continue to include both Xbox and Surface. During Q4, the group posted revenue of $1.44 billion, a 23-percent year-over-year increase. That was thanks in part to a 14-percent increase in revenue for the Xbox platform (which accounts for the Xbox One and Xbox 360). Revenue for Microsoft as a whole was up 18 percent to $23.4 billion.

CEO Satya Nadella recently offered a showing of support for Xbox, though the platform was not completely unaffected by the layoffs outlined last week. Most notably, Xbox Entertainment Studios--the group responsible for developing original TV programming for Xbox--is being shut down. A select number of its projects (including Halo: Nightfall, the Halo TV series, and Quantum Break) will be unaffected.

In a formal statement today, Nadella briefly discussed the decision to refocus on gaming with Xbox One. "With our decision to specifically focus on gaming, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios and streamline our investments in Music and Video," he said. "We will invest in our core console gaming and Xbox Live with a view towards the broader PC and mobile opportunity. I hope you can see that we have bold ambitions and we have made a lot of progress."

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
Filed under:
Xbox One
Microsoft

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Batman: Arkham Knight Preorder Bonuses

Batman: Arkham Knight may not be coming until next year, but preorder it through GameStop and you'll be entitled to a downloadable content pack that lets you play as Red Hood.

With today being Batman Day, GameStop announced the Red Hood Story Pack. There were no details shared beyond the fact that you'll get the chance to play as Red Hood, who is traditionally a Batman villain. Given this is a "story pack," we can probably expect this to entail more than just a reskinned version of Batman.

This a GameStop-exclusive DLC pack, meaning a GameStop preorder is the only way to get your hands on it. Doing so will also entitle you to the previously announced Harley Quinn Story Pack. That DLC includes four challenge maps and lets you play as Harley and "utilize her unique weapons, gadgets, and abilities." This preorder bonus, unlike the Red Hood DLC, is available through other retailers.

The only other preorder bonus to be announced so far is one through Walmart for a "prototype Batmobile." We don't yet know exactly what it entails, but this version of the Batmobile is said to include "exclusive gameplay features."

We'll keep this story updated with any additional bonuses announced between now and Arkham Knight's launch.

Combined with the PlayStation-exclusive Scarecrow nightmare missions announced at E3, it's going to be difficult to get your hands on every bit of Arkham Knight content that's out there. At least in the case of the preorder bonus DLC, though, it's possible it could be sold as standard DLC at some point following Arkham Knight's launch.

Originally scheduled for release this fall, Arkham Knight was delayed last month until sometime in 2015. The version of Gotham City available for players to explore is "five times larger than the game world of Arkham City" according to its developer. For more on Arkham Knight--which is coming only to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC--check out our latest preview here.

Which DLC pack are you most interested in trying? Will it convince you to preorder? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Batman: Arkham Knight

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Super Comboman Review

At first glance, Super Comboman looks like the kind of average action platformer that overwhelms Steam's front page. But it isn't. Rather, it's bad, and sometimes amazingly so. Nearly every success is met with an equivalent failure, and that leads to a cycle of hope and despair that perfectly encapsulates the Super Comboman experience. The art style is charming enough, as the game makes all of its characters and environments look like cute stickers, but the animations often fail to load, leading to visual clutter and confusion. Some of the music is amazing, but it wears on you when it loops every 30 seconds or so. And perhaps most damning, Super Comboman occasionally makes you feel incredibly powerful before doling out some excruciating forearm cramps.

The strange, almost dualistic nature of Super Comboman is clear from the outset. The star is Struggles, an out-of-work comic book geek desperate for some cash to help with his mortgage. To make a bit of money, he sets off with his sentient fanny pack in the hopes that he can one day learn how to fight as well as his hero, the eponymous Super Comboman. Immediately, there's an awkward clash between heavy poignancy and camp that ultimately drifts off into a nonstop barrage of groan-inducing Internet memes.

These types of vertical climbs highlight how bad Super Comboman's wall-jumping mechanics are.

After that introduction, you're thrust straight into the heat of combat and taught how to string together attacks and combo like a pro. At first, you have a few basic moves, such as light and heavy attacks. For the most part, these are functional and help you juggle foes or slam them through a brick wall, but when the action gets going, the cracks in the foundation become too big not to notice. Even under the best circumstances, you can only ever attack in one or two directions, though you often have foes attacking from several elevations in addition to being in front of or behind you. Escape is tough, because it opens you up to other attacks, which can put you in an animation cycle that ends only when you die.

Guarding can help, sometimes, but more often than not enemies just wear you down and kill you. Your only recourse is to parry attacks, which is done by tapping forward. Even that comes at a cost, namely your stamina. With most incoming attacks, a small bubble appears that alerts you to a parry, or at least that's how it's supposed to work. Sometimes there is so much happening onscreen that you just blindly tap forward so you can parry any incoming attack and avoid nasty animation locks. That's fine for a while, but it doesn't take long for that tactic to get exhausting. Add that to the constant flurry of attacks, blocks, and dashes that you perform, and on some levels, your forearms will be cramping inside of 10 minutes.

It's easy to get caught between two enemies and just...die. It's not fair, and just makes the game that much more frustrating.

If you can defeat enough foes, you steadily earn a bit of cash, which you can spend on more-advanced attacks that are supposed to help rack up damage a bit more quickly, but they're really tough to pull off thanks to input lag. Every once in a while, everything lines up just right, and you can perform really slick combos that feel amazing, but those moments are far too rare and end all too quickly. In a game like this, boss fights should be a full test of everything you've learned up to that stage--tough, but ultimately empowering. Instead, I found that the best option was simply to double-jump in, use one attack, and then jump back out before I took a hit. The bigger, fancier moves Super Comboman tries to encourage are especially risky when facing off against a particular baddy that can knock away half your health with one good shot. Ultimately, combat is far and away more aggravating than fun.

Combos also bring up a smooth-voiced announcer that says things like "Noobtastic," "Scrubtacular," and "Smizzle" when you've performed combos that exceed five, 10, and 20 hits respectively. While the exclamations warrant little more than a dry smirk the first time, given that the game is based on performing combos as many times as humanly possible, the constant audio feedback quickly becomes mind-numbingly obnoxious. It's also representative of the kind of grating humor that pervades the entire game. Some of it can be offensive, depending on your sensibilities. I recall one enemy that's meant to represent homeless men, and after he attacked by flashing his penis offscreen, I couldn't help but think Super Comboman was presenting and reinforcing some of the worst stereotypes of the homeless with a touch of snarky homophobia. That crass and sophomoric humor runs throughout and is usually a miss.

Nearly every success is met with an equivalent failure, and that leads to a cycle of hope and despair that perfectly encapsulates the Super Comboman experience.

Platforming is just as awful. Super Comboman often transitions from large open areas to cramped vertical segments. To manage the transitions, the designers opted for long vertical tubes that rely on several successful wall-jumps in quick succession. What makes that problematic, though, is that the wall-jumping here is terrible and without qualification the worst I've ever seen in any game. Wall-jumps are typically difficult maneuvers, sure, but game designers have found many ways to make them simple enough to be doable for average players. Mega Man X lets you slide gently down and jump at your leisure, while the Metroid series requires you to properly time only a few button presses and automates the rest.

Super Comboman gives you no such help. You need to jump toward a wall and then quickly switch to moving out and away. The problem here is twofold. With the game's input lag, it's almost impossible to get that timing right consistently, and without a system like that of Mega Man X, where the game gives you a larger window to make that jump, platforming comes off as ludicrously frustrating. It's made much worse in some timed segments where obstacles and enemies are placed in front of you, and failure means an instant death. That is punishingly, brutally hard for absolutely no reason. After several runs, I found no consistent pattern for what let me succeed and what caused me to fail. Sometimes the enemies would lock me in one of those animation loops and I'd be dead before I could react. At other times I seemed to do everything wrong and still make it through. With levels like this, Super Comboman made me feel like my success was arbitrary and completely divorced not only from my actual level of skill, but also from what I'd managed to learn and ultimately apply within the game.

In this screenshot, the camera is stuck above the action as a wall of insta-death blades approach. That's a recipe for guaranteed frustration.

Super Comboman is severely flawed, but buried beneath controller-snapping frustration is a game that with some control tweaks, less lag, and some bug fixes could have been enjoyable. Sadly, in addition to its numerous deficiencies, it is riddled with annoying bugs that keep the camera from focusing on you or that prevent your character sprite from loading at all, though to the developer's credit, patches have been frequent. Nonetheless, Super Comboman is still a frustrating mess that's more likely to cause wrist injuries than it is to inspire cries of platforming joy.


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Crypt of the Necrodancer on The Lobby

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The Crew, Oddworld: New n' Tasty, Crypt of the NecroDancer - The Lobby

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Halo: Nightfall To Star Mike Colter As Agent Locke

Mike Colter has been announced as the protagonist of live-action miniseries Halo: Nightfall. Colter is best known for his role in the CBS drama, The Good Wife. He will play the character Agent Jameson Locke.

Agent Jameson Locke on the Halo 5: Guardians teaser.

No further details were given, although footage from the series will be revealed for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con this Thursday at 11:45 a.m. PT.

Agent Locke first appeared as a featured character in the Halo 5: Guardians teaser image. According to 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross, the character will have "a key role in Halo 5: Guardians". His backstory and origin will be explored in Halo: Nightfall, which is being directed by Alien director Ridley Scott. The first episode will debut around the release of the Halo: Master Chief Collection on November 11.

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Halo 5: Guardians
Xbox One
Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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The Crew Beta First Impressions

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Xbox One With 1 Year of Xbox Live, $100 Gift Card Available for $440 at Dell

Written By Kom Limpulnam on Rabu, 16 Juli 2014 | 23.37

Similar to its recent offer for two PlayStation 4 bundles, Dell is currently offering a deal on an Xbox One that comes with a $100 gift card for $440.

The deal includes the $400 Xbox One system (that's the one that doesn't come with Kinect) and a year of Xbox Live Gold, which ordinarily costs $60 but can be had from time to time for around $40. Even at their regular prices, that means the $440 offer saves you only $20, but provided you're willing to shop at Dell again, it becomes a much enticing offer thanks to the $100 gift card.

The free gift card will show up once you've added the bundle to your cart, though you'll have to wait 10-20 days for it to land in your inbox before you can use it. If, like me, you're not a frequent Dell shopper, you'll be happy to know its website does sell games--including those for Xbox One--that you'll be able to put your gift card toward.

Xbox Live Gold is no longer required for certain features, such as using Netflix, but it does entitle you to free games that you can play for as long as you remain a subscriber. Provided you get your hands on the system and Live this month, you'll be able to download Guacamelee and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood for free.

This isn't the cheapest price we've seen for an Xbox One so far--the system on its own was available for $360 not long ago--but factoring in the gift card, it is a solid deal. Is it enough to get you to finally pick one up?

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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Xbox One

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Haunting the House - Wayward Manor Gameplay

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