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Most Recent Looking to the Future news

Activision’s E3 Expo Lineup

With just over 24 hours till the official opening of this year’s E3 Expo, Activision have revealed what they’ll be wetting our appetites with at the show. Activision will be showcasing what they’re dubbing as “a new era” for the Call of Duty franchise with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the latest in the innovative Skylanders series and the hugely anticipated Destiny will be playable on the show floor, as will Skylander Trap Team.

“This year’s E3 has been years in the making for us,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. “Each game we are showcasing is the result of our commitment to quality and innovation: our first 3-year development and our first new lead developer on the  Call of Duty franchise in a decade with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Our biggest innovation since we invented the Toys-to-Life category with  Skylanders Trap Team. And the result of over four years of passion, partnership and investment to bring Bungie’s vision for Destiny to life. I think this is the best slate in Activision’s history and I can’t wait for gamers to get a closer look.”

 


Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 1Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

While Sledgehammer Games had a hand in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, they’re now running the show with the development of their first Call of Duty title in the new tri-annual Call of Duty cycle. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare promises to deliver gamers a truly exceptional experience with an immersive and compelling narrative, stunning visuals and all new gameplay which will redefine how Call of Duty is played. With the power of a mechanical exoskeleton, players become an advanced future soldier empowered by an arsenal of never before seen weaponry, new abilities and gameplay mechanics to match. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty is the first in the franchise to be developed with the now current-gen Xbox One and PS4 consoles as the primary development focus. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare retains its early November slot, this year releasing on the 4th on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and Windows PC.

 

Destiny_31Destiny

From the creators of the infamous Halo, Bungie brings us Destiny. An epic action-packed adventure title set in a mysterious universe that resembles our own. Destiny is trailblazing a whole new way to play first person shooters with a story-driven universe filled with single player, cooperative, competitive, public, and social activities, all seamlessly connected in a vast, persistent universe, creating the world’s first “Shared World Shooter”. Players take the role of Guardians of the last city on Earth, wielding incredible powers and exploring the extremities of our solar system. From September 9th, Destiny will be available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. 

 

 

Skylanders-Trap-Team_Snap-ShotSkylanders Trap Team

After the roaring success of Skylanders, see  our review here, Toys for Bob are hard at work creating Skylanders Trap Team. In the next chapter of the Skylanders journey, kinds will be able to take characters out of the digital world and bring them into the real world. In  Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most wanted villains in all of Skylands, taking them out the game by capturing them in Traps. Players can then send the villains back into the game where they become playable characters, fighting for good. Skylanders Trap Team will include the Traptanium Portal, a ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also capture villains using Traps.  Skylanders Trap Team introduces new heroes known as Trap Masters and will be available on October 5th in North America for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U. A completely unique version will be available on the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system.

 

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E3 Expo LIVE on UGP

E3 Expo LIVE right here on UGP!

 

E3 Expo 2014 was a fantastic event with some really awesome unveils and news coming out of L.A.

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Xbox One to get 45 new apps

 

With little time to go till the big annual Xbox briefing at E3 Expo, it has been announced that more than 45 new entertainment apps are coming to the Xbox platform. Some of the big names that folks will get excited about are Twitter (a specially designed app for viewing Twitter on a TV with additional functionality), Vine, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Comedy Central and Major League Gaming are all scheduled to release by the end of the year, alongside many more apps. With the addition of over 45 new apps, it will bring the total catalogue up to 225 apps around the world, just remember though that that number includes Xbox 360 apps as well!

Xbox say that with over 180 apps currently available on both 360 and One, entertainment usage of the consoles outside of gaming has continued to shoot up. With one of the core visions of Xbox One being a system that allows gamers to switch seamlessly between gaming and TV shows, movies, and apps they love, this announcement is just another step forward in providing that all-in-one entertainment system.

“Xbox fans are spending more time than ever on the console, spending more than five hours a day on Xbox One,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Devices and Studios at Microsoft. “Today as we announce new commitments from dozens of our partners, including deep integration with experiences like Twitter and Vine, we hit an important milestone in our journey to deliver unique experiences on Xbox. We’re thrilled to break new ground in social TV experiences like we’re doing with Twitter on Xbox One.”

 

Xbox One Twitter Mini-guideTwitter for Xbox One

A version of the Twitter platform is being designed and built specifically for  Xbox One. However, it’s useless to us in UK as we’ve got zero integration with television services other than the upcoming launch of Now TV, which you shouldn’t bother with incidentally, it’s cheaper to just go and get a Sky subscription and you’re given a better TV experience with more channels. There’s no mention if the Twitter app will integrate with Now TV, assume it won’t!

What the Twitter app will do for those in the USA is thus. Twitter will integrate directly with the Xbox One’s TV viewing system and optimised to run on any size of screen, much bigger than the traditional laptop, desktop, tablet and mobile phone screens Twitter is currently viewed on of course! While watching a programme, viewers will be able to see Tweets relating to the show currently viewed in real time, while watching. Additionally, TV listings will have Twitter integration in the OneGuide where viewers will be able to see what shows are currently “trending” on Twitter so if you care, you can stay up to date with what’s popular…even if it’s utter tripe! During advert breaks in shows, Twitter springs into action and presents to the viewer what is being said about the current show in the Twittersphere.

“People turn to Twitter every day to enjoy and engage in the real-time conversations about their favorite TV shows,” says Jana Messerschmidt, VP Business Development and Platform at Twitter. “We’re enhancing that experience on the Xbox One with a unique Watch with Twitter integration. It will now be easier to discover what shows are trending in real-time on Twitter, tune-in and follow the conversation right from within the Xbox One interface. We are excited to work with the Xbox One team and continue to deliver unique entertainment experiences.”

 

More partners come to Xbox

Twitter integration is just one example of how we’re expanding the world of entertainment on Xbox this year.” says the Xbox Wire blog. 

The blog post goes on to say that Major League Gaming is building an app for Xbox One after the success of their Xbox 360 app and Vine is getting in on the action with an app of their own also.

Here is the full list of new apps being released on the Xbox platform throughout 2014. The list shows app, console and what countries the app is to launch in.

  • Antena 3. Xbox One: ES
  • ChiliTV. Xbox One: IT
  • Comedy Central. Xbox One: US
  • Crunchyroll. Xbox One: AU, AT, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IE, IT, MX, NZ, UK, US
  • ENCORE Play. Xbox One: US
  • EPIX. Xbox One: US
  • Filmbox Live. Xbox 360: AR, AU, AT, BE, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DK, FI, FR, DE, GR, HK, HU, IN, IE, IL, IT, JP, MX, NL, NZ, NO, PL, PT, RU, SA, SG, SK, ZA, KR, ES, SE, CH, TW, TR, AE, UK, US
  • Fox Play. Xbox One: MX, BR. Xbox 360: MX, BR, AR, CO, CL
  • Frightflix. Xbox One: US
  • FXNOW. Xbox 360: US
  • Gol TV. Xbox One: ES
  • GoPro. Xbox One: US, CA, MX, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, AU, BR, AT, NZ, IR
  • HBO GO. Xbox One: US: Xbox 360: MX, BR, AR, CO, CL
  • iHeartRadio. Xbox One: US
  • Infinity. Xbox One: IT
  • IVI. Xbox 360: RU
  • KDrama. Xbox One: AU, AT, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IE, IT, MX, NZ, UK, US. Xbox 360: AR, AU, AT, BE, BR, CA, CL, CO, CZ, DK, FI, FR, DE, GR, HK, HU, IN, IE, IL, IT, MX, NL, NZ, NO, PL, PT, RU, SA, SG, SK, ZA, ES, SE, CH, TW, TR, AE, UK, US
  • maxdome. Xbox One: AT, DE
  • MLG. Xbox One: US, UK, CA, AU
  • MOVIEPLEX Play. Xbox One: US
  • MTV. Xbox One: US
  • NBA. Xbox One: AT, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IE, IT, MX, ES, NZ, UK, US
  • NHL. Xbox One: US, CA, MX, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, AU, BR, AT, NZ, IR. Xbox 360: US, CA, MX, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, JP, AU, BR, NL, SE, RU, TW, PL, IN, HK, TR, BE, AT, NZ, SA, AR, NO, CH, SG, ZA, IR, DK, CO, CL, FI, CZ, HU, IL, GR, PT, SK
  • Now TV. Xbox One: UK
  • Picturebox. Xbox 360: UK
  • Popcornflix. Xbox One: US
  • Showtime Anytime. Xbox 360: US
  • Sky News. Xbox One: UK, IE, US, CA. Xbox 360: UK, IE, US, CA
  • Sky Online. Xbox One: IT
  • STARZ Play. Xbox One: US
  • STV. Xbox 360: UK
  • Syfy Now. Xbox One: US
  • Target Ticket. Xbox One: US
  • TuneIn. Xbox One: US, CA, MX, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, AU, BR, AT, NZ, IR
  • TV2. Xbox 360: DK
  • Twitter. Xbox One: US
  • USA Now. Xbox One: US
  • VEO. Xbox One: MX. Xbox 360: MX
  • Vevo. Xbox One: CA, US, AU, FR, DE, IR, BR,ES, IT, UK, NZ
  • VH1. Xbox One: US
  • Vine. Xbox One: US
  • WATCH ABC. Xbox 360: US
  • WATCH Disney Channel. Xbox 360: US
  • WATCH Disney Junior. Xbox 360: US
  • WATCH Disney XD. Xbox 360: US
  • Watchever. Xbox One: DE
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Conflict Minerals: How savagery in the darkest parts of the world are making your video game consoles unethical

Ethnic cleansing, human slavery, sexual violence and dehumanisation are not usually in the same sentences as video gaming – unless you’re reviewing GTA of course. And before you fear UGP has been taken over by the Guardianistas, bear with me. New laws enacted by the US Government to counter the illegal mining and sale of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo will have wide ranging impact on the video game sector. The DRC is one of the world’s darkest regions. This central African country has been ravaged by civil war for decades as armed groups vye for control over the country’s mineral resource riches. This has caused massive hardship in the country and has forced the EU and now, the US government to crack down on the use of such conflict minerals.

GoldYour Xbox One or PlayStation 4 (along with your Xbox 360 or your PlayStation 3), and not forgetting your Nintendo Wii, 3DS or even your PC, uses Gold, Tungsten, Cobalt and Tantalum in the manufacture of main boards, processors, ports, jacks and connectors. You might be asking, well it’s just one country? And therein lies the issue.

Around fifteen to twenty percent of global Tungsten and Gold is mined (currently) from the DR Congo. This war-entrenched country makes up nearly a quarter of global supplies. However, Tantalum is the mineral which is the biggest problem. You’ve probably heard of Gold or Tungsten. However, Tantalum you might have missed. However, the Tantalum capacitors have made our digital world smaller. They are used in everything from smartphones to smart watches, and video games consoles in use today. Here’s the kicker – 53% of the world’s available Tantalum deposits are in, you guessed it, the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are not giving up our digital lives any sooner – the move by Intel, who jumped rather than being pushed as one of the world’s biggest users of Tantalum, has created a new way of sourcing which avoids conflict minerals. Microsoft is already looking at the Intel model. Sony is similarly engaged in a process of sourcing new supplies.

However, according to research conducted by third sector charities, around 32.2 per cent of next gen consoles have conflict minerals – mined from illegal mines operating under harsh conditions where men and boys work 48 hour shifts and where wives, daughters and sisters are used as sexual leverage over the men and boys in order to keep up ‘productivity’. Video gaming is about fun – but this fun shouldn’t come at the cost of human dignity, human security and the centrality of human existence and freedom. This change was too long in the pipelines – too many lobby groups suing the EU and the US against the move. It’s a long time coming, but hopefully it can stop this barbarous and heinous act and give back the innocence video gaming deserves.

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Ubisoft and NVIDIA continue strategic partnership

Ubisoft LogoUbisoft and NVIDIA announced today that they’re teaming up to tackle a few titles between them some more. The next stage in their strategic partnership will see Ubisoft and NVIDIA working together on titles such as Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, The Crew and Tom Clancy’s The Division. 

The partnership means that NVIDIA’s GameWorks Team will work closely with Ubisoft’s development studios to bring the latest, cutting edge visual technologies and innovation to gamers that will delivery mind-boggling realism and immersion in game worlds. NVIDIA’s GameWorks techs currently TXAA anti-aliasing, the latest in anti-aliasing, which generates Hollywood-levels of smooth animation, soft shadows, HBAO+ (horizon-based ambient occlusion), advanced DX11 tessellation, and NVIDIA PhysX technology.

“Working with NVIDIA has enabled us to bring an enhanced gameplay experience to our PC players,” said Geoffroy Sardin, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ubisoft. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with NVIDIA on our biggest upcoming titles.” 

Today’s announcement builds on the hugely successful collaboration that has seen NVIDIA bring stunning visual effects to Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, Assassins Creed IV Black Flag and Watch Dogs. 

“We’re excited to continue our long-term partnership with Ubisoft in bringing our latest PC technology to their games”, said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of Content & Technology at NVIDIA. “Through GameWorks, we have been able to add unique visual and gameplay innovations to deliver amazing experiences for these stellar Ubisoft games. I can’t wait to play them myself.”

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ASUS unveil new kit at Computex 2014

NX500 LaptopAt Computex 2014, ASUS have unveiled to the World a whole host of new and exciting products including the Zenbook NX500 laptop, as pictured.

ASUS Chariman Jonney Shih had this to say at the event:

“As we celebrate 25 years of innovation and engineering, we are excited to introduce these new products designed to provide the ultimate digital life for everyone. 

We are passionate about technology and driven by innovation, and we will continue to dream, dare and strive to challenge the boundaries of the possible as we move forward on our journey in search of incredible.” 

 

Transformer Book V

This is the world’s first five-mode, three-in-one converged laptop that features a Windows and Android laptop and tablet as well as an Android smartphone.

Transformer Book T300 Chi

The ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi is a detachable notebook that has a 12.5-inch tablet display, a fanless 2-in-1 design powered by Intel’s next-gen processor based on the Core micro-architecture. The detachable tablet is also the thinnest Intel Core-powered tablet at 7.3mm thick. The T300 has a 2560 x 1440 WQHD IPS display.

Fonepad and MeMO Pad Series

The Fonepad 8 (FE380CG) is an eight-inch tablet with built-in 3G connectivity and phone functionality. It has a narrow 5.06mm bezel, an HD 1280 x 800 IPS display and a 72.2 per cent screen-to-body ratio. Featuring the latest 64-bit Intel Atom Z3560 1.8GHz quad-core processor, Fonepad 8 also has dual front speakers and ASUS SonicMaster audio.

The MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) is a seven-inch 64-bit Android tablet with a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera, plus a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core processor (up to 1.86GHz).

The MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL) claims to be the world’s lightest eight-inch LTE tablet with a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 2.3GHz quad-core processor, Ultrafast 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity and a Full HD IPS display. It weighs 299g and is 7.45mm thick.

RT-AC3200 router

This delivers combined data speeds up to 3200Mbit/s, features SmartConnect, which increases Wi-Fi performance by up to 200 per cent by automatically selecting the ideal band for network clients depending on their location and needs, and setup takes 30 seconds.

ProArt PA328Q 4K/UHD Monitor

This is a 32-inch 4K/UHD monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio, WLED display and a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. With a pixel density of 138 pixels per inch (ppi), the PA328Q provides over eight million pixels, four times the pixel density of standard Full HD displays.

It’s capable of displaying 1.07 billion colors, has a 350cd/m² brightness and a 100,000,000:1 ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR). Built-in Picture-in-Picture (PiP) and Picture-by-Picture (PbP) functionality lets users view content from two different sources simultaneously, with the ability to switch video between sources easily.

Zenbook NX500 (pictured)

Zenbook NX500 is an Ultrabook powered by an Intel Core up to i7 quad-core processor and up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M graphics, supported by 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. Its Broadcom 3-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi delivers fast network speeds and SATA 3 RAID 0 or PCIe x4 SSD storage provides stunningly fast read and write speeds.

It’s the first Asus notebook with a 4K/UHD display with VisualMaster technology. Its 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 resolution IPS panel provides a large workspace, and it boasts titanium-film speakers and SonicMaster audio technology, incorporating ICEpower Bang & Olufsen technology.

Portable AiO PT2001

The 19.5-inch touchscreen All-in-One PC weighs 3.2kg, has a high-definition 19.5-inch IPS 10-point touchscreen display and is powered by Windows 8.1, a 4th generation Intel Core processor and a NVIDIA GeForce 820M GPU.

It also features gesture control that lets users interact with and control the PC from a distance, plus it optionally includes support for Near Field Communication (NFC).

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Still a while yet till Xbox One goes full HD

forza5The holy grail of video game graphical output is 1080p. This is the highest, if we leave 4K alone for now, available graphical output. Microsoft has long stated that DirectX 12 would re-ignite Xbox One and give it the full HD output needed to compete against PlayStation 4. Sadly, developers working on a plethora of different titles – from Shadow Warrior to Watch Dogs – have all stated that the DirectX 12 Update is a relatively poor update from Microsoft.

For those that do not know, DirectX is a collection of Microsoft created application programming interfaces (APIs) that are designed to handle high-end multimedia output. They are conditioned especially for video game programming on the myriad of Microsoft platforms. The DirextX perspective allows developers to create mind-blowing content that really accentuates the Microsoft platform. This cross-dimensional approach allows DirectX to get the very best out of video game output. This has generally been the case on the PC platform for many years and before you keyboard warriors start, there are many issues but a large part of the community supports the platform!

The soon-to-be released DirectX 12 will work on Xbox One, Windows 8 (and the 8.1 Windows Phone/RT environments) along with the Windows server software. It is earmarked for general release in December 2015. However, Beta versions have been dispatched to top multimedia companies – including Ubisoft, Codemasters, Square Enix and Rockstar to name but a few.

DirectX 12 therefore, as more and more developers go public, might not be Xbox One’s saving grace? The industry honchos discussing DirectX 12 seem to be arguing that 1080p is not the default – in fact it could help in the porting of games from PC to Xbox One but otherwise might be a huge flop. However, since the DirectX 12 edition is still in beta it is too early to completely ‘bin’ the API. But, Microsoft has form here – DirectX 10 was panned and Microsoft just went ahead and released it! That said, the current state of the Xbox One compared to Sony’s PlayStation 4 could, along with the massive re-structuring at Microsoft, cause the head managers to focus on quality and not deadlines and targets. All we can do is hope. The Xbox One needs a coup de grace if it is to avoid mediocrity and uselessness.

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