Rage3D Kombuting // September 28th edition

Author: Panagiotis Vagiakos
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: September 28th, 2012

This week: Torchlight 2, project Eternity, WinRT tablet pricing and Trinity

Is it a blog? Is it my rumblings with a spice of memes? Is it Stuff That Are Entirely My Opinion And Do Not Reflect That of Rage3D? Guilty as charged on all accounts. Enjoy and comment away :)

Torchlight 2 is finally here!

I admit it. This is the true reason this column is late and didn't come out last week: Torchlight 2. So, without further ado, impressions!

For action RPG fans, Runic's gem was a sleeper hit when it first hit retail back in 2009, offering gameplay true to its Diablo roots (several Runic developers also worked on the first Diablo at Blizzard), very good graphics that didn't tax your graphics card (I confess I even played it at work :p). It didn't have multiplayer, which was an obvious disadvantage, but the single player experience was spot on. So what do you do for v2? Include multiplayer, and make it larger, and more varied. That's exactly what Runic did, and it certainly took its time delivering the new Torchlight. Graphics are improved; but nothing earth-shattering, which will help players with lesser rigs to get a good gaming experience. You now have multiple cities, big maps to explore, brand new classes were introduced (I usually play with paladin/barbarian characters, and now I am rocking with a Berserker on Veteran difficulty), stuff that were good in the first game were enhanced (your pet can also buy stuff like portions now when it runs to town, a welcome addition) and I believe they have struck a great balance with the way your character is progressing in the game. You feel powerful enough, but you still get your butt handed to you on several occasions - which means loots are consistently good. I am a level 26 at the moment and I have already had my share of enhanced, rare and unique items. And of course you have the multiplayer and easily-moddable nature of the game that will keep it relevant for months to come. It does have some flaws (run into a couple of bugs, nothing earth shattering of course, and the story is easily forgettable) but nothing major to distract you from the true protagonist here: the gameplay.

I am sure that you started reading this wondering what everyone else is wondering. Is it better than Diablo 3? The answer is, after having played for many hours already, the Diablo comparison isn't even relevant anymore. Torchlight 2 is a game worth playing and at $20, it's a steal. Runic, thank you for immersing me back into your wonderful world. Highly recommended.

Project Eternity on Kickstarter

Keeping up with the gaming trend of this week's column, we're off to Kickstarter land, where something really important happened. Die-hard gamers know who Chris Avellone is; but for the rest of you, I am certain that games such as Baldur's Gate, Planetscape: Torment, Icewind Dale and Fallout will ring a bell (or ten). So together with the rest of Obsidian Entertainment, they announced a Kickstarter project, called "Project Eternity", which aims to bring an old-school isometric RPG title to the fans, with the same style, presentation and theme as these old great titles.

The response? Overwhelming. The project gathered $1.1 million in its launch day, and at the time of writing this, it was up to $2.1 million with 19 days to go. If anything, Kickstarter has managed to present new and exciting opportunities to many games developers, and because of the fan support, many titles are coming to fruition, titles that would never be made if it was just up to big game publishers who only look at making/milking sequels and profit these days, and not launching original IPs. Project Eternity should be out sometime in 2014, and personally, I can't wait.

News on the Windows RT tablet pricing saga

So I read up Ballmer's interview about Microsoft Surface prices starting from $300 up to $700-$800 and I am like

but then I read about Asus' leaked pricing slides and I am like

I won't go about stating the frigging obvious, but mark my words; if Windows 8 tablets, which are running a cool but unproven OS, cost an arm and a leg, nobody will buy them. I am secretly hoping that these are x86 tablet prices, and not Windows RT tablets -hopefully Microsoft and the rest of the OEMs are not that short-sighted. Surface and Windows 8 tablets in general need aggressive pricing to succeed, just take a look around the internet and see what happened when the rumour came out that Surface would cost $199 - the "take my money already" sentiment was universal. I am not very sure about OEMs, but Microsoft can certainly sell these with marginal profit (or a small loss) in order to solidify the platform as a viable alternative to iOS and Android. Will the fragile relationship between the Redmond giant and the OEMs keep the company from doing so? End of October is near.

AMD Trinity and first impressions

So the big day came and the NDA was lifted. Ok, just partially lifted. For those of you not in the know, AMD Trinity is the successor to the highly popular A38xx CPUs from AMD, which combine CPU and GPU into one neat package. I say partially lifted because only GPU/gaming benchmarks and feature overviews are released (you can read up our excellent platform preview by our very own James Prior); reviewers can't bench the CPU yet, that will come at a later date.

(picture blatantly stolen from Anand's Trinity preview)

Interesting choice of strategy there by AMD, but I can see why. Its star right now is the GPU; not the CPU. Trinity is based on Piledriver CPU cores, which means same tech as its current AMD FX CPUs in both performance and power consumption. If you want more CPU performance, you'd better wait for Steamroller and Excavator; codenames for the next two revisions of the Bulldozer AMD FX core, which will be more focused on improving performance. In any case, as I said, the star here is the integrated graphics processor, based on the wildly popular Radeon 7xxx line of GPUs, which helps performance a lot and gives you all the latest DX11 bells and whistles; and it shows. As you might expect, Intel's GPUs are no match for these beasts in games, making an AMD Fusion CPU a solid purchase. Pricing is under NDA at the moment, but I expect this to be priced very competitively against Core i3 and i5 processors. I've got to wonder though... imagine what these babies would do if AMD CPUs stepped up in raw performance. Still though, AMD wants you to focus on overall performance; and for the market these are destined for, I can't really blame them. I still have my A8-3850 system connected to my HDTV and I am 100% pleased by its performance and features. Maybe it's time for a second generation DX11 upgrade after all :)

Tune in next week, same Komb-time, same Komb-site.