Xbox 720 Rumor Round-Up

Microsoft Xbox 360 Closeup

Microsoft Xbox 360 Closeup

The Xbox 360 celebrated it’s 7th birthday last week.  That’s quite a long life for a gaming console, and that means its time to get excited about the next generation of consoles.  Nintendo has already kick off the next generation of consoles with the Wii U, so everyone is waiting to see what the Xbox 720 and PS4 has to offer.  We have compiled all of the Xbox 720 rumors we believe have merit into one article.

CPU

The Xbox 720 is rumored to be powered by a 16-core IBM PowerPC, compared to the current generation Xbox 360 with a 3.2GHz Tri-Core PowerPC processor.  Although we don’t know the clock speed of the processor in GHz, the fact that the processor will have 16-Core means that game developers and gamers alike will have massive amounts of computing power for their Eighth Generation console games.

RAM

The Xbox 720 is rumored to contain 8GB of RAM.  This is a massive jump in memory compared to the Xbox 360 with 512MB of shared memory.  That is 16 times the memory of the Xbox 360.  Even if the 8GB of RAM the Xbox 720 will be graced with is shared that gives the developers a lot more room to store AI algorithms  textures, models and code to cram into the memory.

Optical Disc

The Xbox 360 was released too early to receive an HD disc format, and even still Microsoft put there money on an external HD-DVD drive.  We all know that HD-DVD lost the format war to Blu-Ray, but the Xbox 360 never got an HD optical storage disc in mid-life refreshes.  Will this generation of Xbox finally include Blu-Ray?

Rumor has it that the Xbox 720 will include a Blu-Ray Disc drive or not include an optical drive at all, but instead rely on downloaded content.   My money is on the Xbox 360 including at least a Blu-Ray Disc drive.  The shear power that will be packed into the Xbox 720 means that AAA games will require a massive amount of storage, and this would cause the gamers to wait an outrageous amount time before getting to play their games.  Microsoft is also pushing the Xbox as an all-in-one media center, so playing Blu-Rays would just add one more trick to its list.  At minimum I believe Microsoft will include a proprietary disc format based on the now defunct format of HD-DVD, but I believe this is unlikely.

GPU

The Xbox 720 is rumored to receive a AMD Radeon HD 7670 Series GPU which is seven times more powerful then the Xbox 360’s GPU.  This seems to be a little underwhelming compared to the massive jumps the CPU and RAM received.  This still puts the Xbox 720 graphics chip on par with the PS4’s rumored GPU, but will outpace the Wii U’s AMD Radeon HD 5670 by leaps and bounds.

Controller

The Xbox has had quite an interesting history with controllers.  Starting with the massive “Duke” controllers of the original Xbox, which ended up getting slimmed down in the S controller.  The Xbox 360 received it’s own controller based heavily on the privious generations S Controller.  The Xbox 720 is rumored to be getting an updated version of the 360 controller with a twist.

The rumor has it that the new controller will receive an HD touchscreen in the middle of the controller.  This will be similar to the Wii U tablet controller, but about the size of a Playstation Vita.  This is a welcome improvement in my book, as long as the near perfect controller formula doesn’t change to much.

Kinect 2.0

Xbox Kinect 2.0

The Kinect 1.0 was an amazing advancement in motion/controller-less gaming, and we are excited to see the next generation of the Xbox Kinect.  In addition to an updated Kinect sensor there has been rumor of Kinect glasses floating around as well.

Kinect 2.0 is rumored to support tracking of up to 4 players at a time with precise tracking of small movements like fingers.  How the new Kinect will pull this off is unknown, but may have something to do with the multiple Kinect sensors rumor.  As you can see in the picture there appears to be two separate Kinect sensors place on opposite sides on the TV.  Such a setup would give Kinect a better and wider view of the player(s), thus allowing improved tracking and 4 player support.

The above picture that was part of a 52-page leaked document above also shows the rumored Kinect glasses.  The kinect glasses seem to allow for multiple players to experience 3D virtual reality in games.  The prospect of having virtual reality in addition to controller-less control is exciting to say the least.  An additional perk the Kinect glasses allow for is multiplayer support taking screen looking out of the picture for same room play.

Conclusion

The Xbox 720 has some big shoes to fill, and if the rumors hold true the Xbox 720 will have no trouble doing so.  With a improved Kinect and Kinect Glasses powered by 16-Core processor, 8GB of RAM and a powerful AMD Radeon 7000 series GPU the 2013 holiday season will blow gamers away.

OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 1 released, adding all XBMC 12 features

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

The OpenELEC team has been busy. They just released version OpenELEC 2.0 a few weeks ago, and now we get OpenELEC 3.0 beta 1 that includes XBMC in all of it’s glory 12.0 glory.  This includes PVR support,  the modern audio engine that now supports formats like TrueHD and DTS-HD, the Linux kernel 3.6 and support for ARM devices in the form of Raspberry Pi boards.

For those of you that are not familiar with OpenELEC it is, for the most part, an unmodified version of XBMC that runs with only the minimum amount of software needed.  This makes OpenELEC more stable and easier to use.  The setup is even more simplified then the XBMC installer(didn’t think it was needed).  Of course if you would still like the flexibility of Ubuntu or Windows under the hood you can still download the installs over at http://XBMC.org.  Essentially OpenELEC is a XBMC distro of Linux that can auto update itself.

New Features:

  • Based on XBMC 12.0 Frodo
  • ARM Support (Raspberry Pi)
  • Linux 3.6 kernel
  • Improved PRV support
  • Brand New Audio Engine with True HD and DTS-HD support
  • Updated Drivers
  • Boot to RAM option

Manual Update Instructions:

  1. Browse to your OpenELEC boxes SAMBA share  in operating system of your choice.   (if you don’t know what the IP address is, go to the menu of the OpenELEC machine, and browse to the main item “System” and then its subitem “System Info”. This will open a page that shows the IP address among with other information.)
  2. Once you have found the SAMBA share navigate to the “Update” folder.  This is where you will copy the files in step 5
  3. Download the latest version of OpenELEC for your device.  Available for download here: http://openelec.tv/get-openelec
  4. Extract all files from the downloaded file.
  5. Navigate to the “Target” Folder which will be found in the location you extracted the downloaded file.
  6. Copy the files from the “Target” folder to the “Update” folder found on the SAMBA share. The files are KERNEL, KERNEL.md5, SYSTEM and SYSTEM.md5.
  7. Restart OpenELEC and the update will be installed automatically.
  8. When the reboot has finished navigate to the “System > Settings > System > Audio output” menu.  Make sure that the output settings properly reflect your receivers capabilities. (ie: Does your receiver support TrueHD?)

Source: http://openelec.tv/

Hello Linux Mint 14

Screenshot from 2012-11-28 22:12:40

Everyone’s favorite Ubuntu variation Linux Mint has reached version 14.  Currently Linux Mint comes in two GUI variations MATE, that is based off GNOME 2, and Cinnamon, which is based off GNOME 3 project.  The KDE GUI will inevitably follow in the near future.  Update:  KDE and xfce have been given an RC release.

Overall Linux Mint 14 seems to be as stable as ever with some useful GUI tweaks.  I have been using Linux Mint 14 with the Cinnamon GUI for several hours to complete some work while watching Hulu on my second monitor.  The HD Hulu stream ran with any hiccups while writing this blog entry, browsing the web and work on other websites.  Considering that I am running Linux Mint 14 on a USB pen drive it has been quite stable and snappy.

Linux Mint has always been my preferred Desktop Linux distro, and Linux Mint 14 continues the trend of stability and ease of use on the first boot.  I threw MKV, MP3, WMV and several other media formats at Linux Mint as usual Linux Mint didn’t hesitate to play the files.  For those of you that want to use Linux on your desktop machine, but don’t want to get use to Ubuntus’ Unity GUI give Linux Mint a try.

New features:

  • MATE 1.4 (Fork of GNOME 2)
  • Cinnamon 1.6 (Fork of GNOME 3)
  • MDM
  • Software Manager Updates
  • System Improvements
  • Artwork Improvements
  • Upstream Components

For a complete overview and to see screenshots of the new features, visit: “What’s new in Linux Mint 14“.

This Article was written while running Linux Mint 14.

5 products that save you money on your power bill

Philips LED Light Bulb

5) Belkin Conserve Valet with Energy-Saving USB Charging Station

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$39.99

Energy vampires will Nickle & Dime your power bill to death. What is an energy vampire? Most AC adapters like your phone or iPod charger draw power 24/7 to charge you devices, even when its not connected to the charger. An average a home has at least 3 USB wall chargers multiplying the problem further.

This problem can be solved with the Belkin Conserve Valet USB charger. The Valet can charge up to 5 USB devices at once, and will shut off completely after the device charging is complete. Not only does the Valet save you from up to 5 power sucking wall chargers, but it organizes the mess at the same time.


4) Belkin Conserve Socket with Energy Saving Outlet

Manufacturer:
Belkin
Cost:
$29.99

This device slays power vampires as well, but these are much larger and suck even more power. The Belkin Conserve Socket plays multiple roles by acting as a surge protector to keep your devices safe from surges, at the same time saving you from the 24/7 draw of you home electronics.

This power strip is best suited for home entertainment systems with multiple devices. The TV or AV Receiver acts as the master on/off switch. When the TV is OFF all the wasteful standby power is cut from the other devices, while the power is restored when the master device is ON. This is an easy solution to a very wasteful problem.


3) Watt Stopper Motion Light And Fan Switch

Manufacturer:
Watt Stopper
Cost:
$29.99

Most families have someone in the house that seems to forget that lights also turn off. This wastes a lot of power, burning up the life of the bulb and wasting money on your power bill.

The Watt Stopper Motion Activated light turns on your lights or exhaust fans when it detects motion in the room and turns them off after a preset time when motion is not longer present. In addition to limiting power usage with motion the Watt Stopper also keeps light off when enough ambient light is present from the sun or other sources. The Watt Stopper also features a “force off” mode that prevents the light from turning on when you don’t want them on.


2) Philips Dimmable LED 12.5 Watt(60 Watt equivalent) Light Bulb

Manufacturer:
Philips
Cost:
$21.23
Life expectancy:
22.8 years
Energy savings:
$130.62 per bulb

With the incandescent light bulb being banned in the United States in 2014 you will have no choice but to use a more efficient light bulb. Most people are familiar with the CFL(aka Compact fluorescent, aka squiggly bulb). These bulbs are an excellent energy saver, but have about half the life expectancy with the nasty side effect of releasing toxic mercury into landfills when disposed of improperly. That’s right, CFL bulbs are to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Save your self the trouble by investing in an energy saving bulb that doesn’t have to be handled as hazardous waste.

Philips 60 Watt LED equivalent bulb consumes only 12.5watts of energy, lasts 22.8 years, can be used on a standard dimming circuit and will not fade fabric or colors. That all sounds great, but a common argument they cost twice as much as a CFL. Keep in mind that that negligible 1.5 Watts saved with an LED light over a CFL is over the 22.8 years life span, which is over 3 times longer then the CFLs 7 year life span. Pay twice upfront, save energy and get and extra life out of the bulb. That sounds like a winner to me.


1) Nest Learning Thermostat

Manufacturer:
Nest Inc.
Cost:
$249.99
Energy savings:
20% of HVAC bill

Your heating and cooling bill is typically 50% of you energy bill. This fact alone means small improvements in efficiency will save you a lot of money in the long run. The Nest thermostat can save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling bill. The Nest thermostat allows such savings by learning your living patterns, controlling your HVAC system more efficiently and allowing for remote control of your heating and cooling system via your computer or smart phone.

All of these features can be added to your home in less then 30 minutes. Not only will you save yourself some money on you monthly energy bills, but your thermostat will look a whole lot “cooler.” The savings of 20% on half of your energy bill, essentially paying itself of the first year, makes this the number one pick for saving money on your energy bill.


Mars One gives lucky astronauts one way ticket to Mars

Mars One


Mars One has plans to settle mars by the year 2023. What makes this plan easier to accomplish then NASA or any other colonization attempts? The settlers are getting a one way ticket to mars, without the chance to come back to earth.  The colony will initially survive with frequent resupply missions, new settlers as well as using the natural resources of Mars to expand and maintain the colony.

The idea of settling another planet like mars without the option of ever coming back seems like a crazy idea.  When the explorers of the 1400’s began to settle the new world they faced and arguably similar situation.  Granted the settlers of today will have a completely different set of problems to overcome.

The Mars One team plans on funding the project by broadcasting the entire journey to the citizens of earth.   Real World Mars anyone?  Lets just hope the sponsors are in it for the long run…

Project outline

  • 2016 – The initial supply mission will make its way to the surface, and a communications satellite will be placed in orbit.
  • 2018 – A large planetary rover will be sent to Mars as a scout.  The rover will find the best location for the Mars colony.
  • 2020 – The settlement components will be delivered to Mars.  This includes the living units, life support units, another rover and more supplies.  While the colony waits for its first settlers the rovers will get everything in order.
  • September 2022 – The setting crew departs earth.
  • April 2023 – The first humans will land on Mars, and become the first human beings to colonize another planet.

Mars One settlers colony will initially be composed of multiple capsules.


Source: http://mars-one.com

Review: ReadyNAS NV+ v2

ReadyNAS NV+ v2

ReadyNAS NV+ v2We received our ReadyNAS NV+ v2 just over 3 months ago now, so we felt that we had received enough real world usage to write a good review.  This will be our second ReadyNAS device we have used in our office, while the outgoing model was the ReadyNAS Duo v1 with the Sparc CPU.

In addition to the two units we have used in our office, I myself have managed several ReadyNAS Pro 6-Bay powered powered by Intel Atom x86 CPUs for several clients.  Having using all three variations of the ReadyNAS for more then there intended uses I’ll let you know how the latest ARM powered ReadyNAS Duo v2 and NV+ v2 stack up against their predecessor and big brothers, the x86.

All ReadyNAS devices are based on a customized version of Debian Linux.  This allows users with linux experience to customize their NAS beyond the constraints of the web based interface.  Do you want your NAS to host a VPN server, a Zoneminder surveillance system or any other Linux program?  This is possible thanks to Netgear allowing users access to the shell via SSH, and not stripping out the apt package management system.

 Hardware Specs

Duo v1

Duo v2

NV+ v2

Pro 6

OS

RAIDiator 4.1.10

RAIDiator 5.3.7

RAIDiator 5.3.7

RAIDiator 4.2.22

CPU

280MHz Sparc

1.6GHz ARM

1.6GHz ARM

1.8GHZ Intel Atom

RAM

256MB DDR2

256MB DDR3

256MB DDR3

1GB DDR2

#of Bays

2

2

4

6

Maximum Capacity

4TB

6TB

12TB

18TB

# of Ethernet Ports

1 -10/100/1000

1 -10/100/1000

1 -10/100/1000

2 -10/100/1000

# of USB Ports

3 USB 2.0

1 USB 2.0

2 USB 3.0

1 USB 2.0

2 USB 3.0

3 USB 2.0

Active Directory

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

CPU

Above we have included the specs for the Duo v1, Duo v2, NV+ v2 and the Pro 6 to give you a general overview of the ReadyNAS line.  The Duo v1 and NV+ v1 have received a significant upgrade going from a 280MHz Sparc processor to a 1.6GHz ARM processor.  The CPU improvement alone will allow for more performance, increased hack-ability and brings the Duo and NV+ to a mainstream processor architecture.

The ARM processor allows for a much quicker web interface browsing experience.  In addition, the ReadyNAS is no longer coughing up blood when streaming 1080p content to a DLNA certified device.  In fact we were able to stream two different 1080p movies to two independent DLNA enabled TV’s without a hiccup.

One note with the ARM cpu is that the Plex Media Server is not able to trans-code content to client devices, while the x86 family does with ease.  This may be added in the future, but it’s unlikely due to the fact that it would push the ARM cpu to its limits, as well as, require a major rewrite of the server for the Plex team.  This only affects the Plex Media Server, as DLNA server just push the content to the client without processing the audio/video stream.

Overall the ARM cpu smokes the outgoing Sparc processor in every aspect, but the much more power x86 line wins without contest.  The x86 processor may allow you the freedom to use any existing Linux Debian package on your NAS without going through the trouble of compiling the source.

RAM

One unfortunate change is that while the RAM remains unchanged, it can no longer be upgrade in the v2 models.  This was most likely to curb the stability issues many users experience after an upgrade.  This will definitely impact power users in a negative way.

While we didn’t run into any major memory issues, we are huge advocates of the fact that you can’t have too much RAM.  The x86 line still allows for memory upgrades.

Storage

A significant change for the Duo/NV+(aka Prosumer NAS) is the support for 3TB drives and the ability to upgrade when larger hard drives are available. This gives Duo users an additional 1TB of space in RAID mode and 2TB more in JBOD mode.  The NV+ gets even more space with RAID getting an additional 3TB, and JOBD receiving 4TB in storage capacity.

Other Changes

Additional changes include 2 USB 3.0 port on the back of the ReadyNAS.  This will come in useful for external Hard Drives.  Another feature that has been added is support for Active Directory or LDAP user profiles.  This allows you to manage users centrally with both Windows Server or Samba 4.  This feature has always been available in the Pro series, but is a welcome addition to the Prosumer line of NAS devices.

Interface

The latest 5.x iteration of RAIDiator has introduced an all-new user interface.  This has been long overdue as the interface has changed little since its introduction.  While the interface seems more visually appealing and user friendly, it lacks some features and information provided by the old-school interface.  This will most likely be added in the future.  Once these features are added we would like to see the x86 Pro line receive the latest generation of the RAIDiator OS.

Conclusion

The ReadyNAS Duo/NV+ v2 both offer a huge bang for your buck, while the more expensive and flexible Pro line are for the hardcore user/businesses with massive data and processing demands.

Purchase on Amazon.com

Samba 4 RC5 has been released

SAMBA Logo

SAMBA Logo

The free alternative to Windows Server Active Directory/Domain Controller, Samba4, has been in the making for years and continues to inch closer to a stable release.  The feature set is now frozen and the development team is busy squashing major bugs before labeling Samba4 stable for production use.

Our experience with Samba4 as a small office domain controller has been a stable, bug free experience.  The installation on our Ubuntu server was fairly painless when following the HOW-TO located on the official Samba website.  The DC has yet to crash or cause any problems with the PC’s on our diverse network.

Samba4 packs everything you expect from a Windows Domain Controller into a free open source package.  Samba4 is in a unique position to shake up the Domain Controller market by making a free option to pricey Microsoft options.  I am excited to see Samba4 reach the stable release, so that I can begin implementation outside of our networks.

Samba4 Features

  • Samba 4.0 supports the server-side of the Active Directory logon environment used by Windows 2000 and later, so we can do full domain join and domain logon operations with these clients.
  • Our Domain Controller (DC) implementation includes our own built-in LDAP server and Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) as well as the Samba3-like logon services provided over CIFS. We correctly generate the infamous Kerberos PAC, and include it with the Kerberos tickets we issue.
  • Samba 4.0.0rc5 ships with two distinct file servers. We now use the file server from the Samba 3.x series ‘smbd’ for all file serving by default.
  • Samba 4.0 also ships with the ‘NTVFS’ file server. This file server is what was used in all previous releases of Samba 4.0, and is tuned to match the requirements of an AD domain controller. We continue to support this, not only to provide continuity to installations that have deployed it as part of an AD DC, but also as a running example of the NT-FSA architecture we expect to move smbd to in the longer term.
  • For pure file server work, the binaries users would expect from that series (nmbd, winbindd, smbpasswd) continue to be available. When running an AD DC, you only need to run ‘samba’ (not nmbd/smbd/winbind), as the required services are co-coordinated by this master binary.
  • As DNS is an integral part of Active Directory, we also provide two DNS solutions, a simple internal DNS server for ‘out of the box’ configurations and a more elaborate BIND plugin using the BIND DLZ mechanism in versions 9.8 and 9.9. During the provision, you can select which backend to use. With the internal backend, your DNS server is good to go. If you chose the BIND_DLZ backend, a configuration file will be generated for bind to make it use this plugin, as well as a file explaining how to set up bind.
  • To provide accurate timestamps to Windows clients, we integrate with the NTP project to provide secured NTP replies. To use you need to start ntpd and configure it with the ‘restrict … ms-sntp’ and ntpsigndsocket options.
  • Finally, a new scripting interface has been added to Samba 4, allowing Python programs to interface to Samba’s internals, and many tools and internal workings of the DC code is now implemented in python.

Source: https://wiki.samba.org/index.php/Samba4/Releases/4.0.0rc5

4TB WD Black HDD Ships

WD Black 4TB Hard Drive

 WD Black 4TB Hard Drive

Western Digital has increase the maximum capacity of their WD Black line of hard drives to 4TB with a snappy 7200RPM and 64MB cache.  Western Digital designed this hard drive not only to have the largest capacity on the market, but to also be blazing fast a the same time.  The spec sheet for the WD 4TB Black reads like a performance drive with a 7200RPM spinn speed, 64MB cache, dual processor and dual actuator technology.  Western Digital also included NoTouch™ ramp load technology to keep your hard drive safe while transporting it to your next LAN party.

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]

Specs

  • Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
  • Form Factor: 3.5 Inch
  • Speed: 7200 rpm
  • Cache: 64 MB
  • Capacity: 4 TB
  • Price: $339

[/mantra-pullquote]

Press Release

WD® EXPANDS ITS HIGHEST-PERFORMING DESKTOP HARD DRIVES TO 4 TB CAPACITY

New WD Black Hard Drives Offer Uncompromising Storage Performance for Enthusiasts, Gamers.

IRVINE, Calif. – Nov. 20, 2012 – WD®, a Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) company and a world leader in hard drives, today announced its highest performance, highest capacity desktop hard drive, the WD Black™ 4 TB, 3.5-inch, 7200 RPM drive. Shipping immediately, the fast performance and extreme capacity of the award-winning WD Black drives make them perfect for gaming, high-performance desktop systems and workstations.

WD Black hard drives combine 7200 RPM spin speed, 64 MB cache, dual stage actuator technology, SATA 6 gigabits per second (Gb/s) interface, and an integrated dual processor to deliver ultimate performance in a maximum-capacity drive.

“Maximizing the features and functionality of power computing applications such as gaming, multimedia and video editing, the new WD Black 4 TB hard drives offer capacity and performance-without compromise,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD’s client storage group. “In choosing WD Black hard drives, WD desktop customers get the best possible mix of capacity, performance and reliability to handle intense desktop computing with ease.”

WD Black 4 TB hard drives feature:

Dual processor – Twice the processing power to maximize performance.

Dual actuator technology – A head positioning system with two actuators that improves positional accuracy over the data track(s). The primary actuator provides coarse displacement using conventional electromagnetic actuator principles. The secondary actuator uses piezoelectric motion to fine tune the head positioning to a higher degree of accuracy.

IntelliSeek™ – Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise and vibration.

StableTrac™ – The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations.

NoTouch™ ramp load technology – The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit.

Price and Availability

The WD Black 4 TB GB (model WD4001FAEX) hard drives are available through select distributors and resellers. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the WD Black 4 TB drive is $339.00 USD. More information about WD Black 4 TB desktop hard drives may be found on the company’s website at: http://www.wd.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=760.

WD Black drives are covered by a five-year limited warranty, see: http://www.support.wdc.com for details.

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 released

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 has been released to the public, and with it bringing features that many have been waiting years for.  This major update brings with it support for Android, Raspberry Pi and Live TV/PVR support.

New Features

  • HD audio support, including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD, via the new XBMC AudioEngine
  • Live TV and PVR support
  • h.264 10bit (aka Hi10P) video software decoding for anime
  • 64bit support in OSX to match the 64bit support in Linux
  • Improved image support, allowing the database to accomodate numerous additional image types
  • Support for the Raspberry PI
  • Initial support for the Android platform
  • Improved Airplay support across all platforms
  • Advanced Filtering in the library
  • Advanced UPnP sharing
  • Translations now powered by Transifex
  • Bug Fixes

 Downloads:

Free Game: Battlezone 1 (1998)

Battlezone 1 1998 Cover Art

Battlezone 1 1998 Cover Art

Release Date: February 28, 1998
Publisher: Activision
Platform: Windows

Battlezone got a refresh in 1998 as a FPS/RTS hybrid(aka Action-Strategy).  The genre combination sounds odd but worked out extremely well.  You play as a commander in the first person view, while building a base in a similar manner to other RTS on the market.  The game was released in 1998, but after shutting down the multiplayer servers Activision released the game under GNU license.  The game is available for free at: http://www.Battlezone1.com

Story

The story in based in an alternate cold war era universe in which the moon missions are a cover up for a much larger campaign.   The US and the Soviet Union have moved an entire military to space in the pursuit of a extraterrestrial material called “Bio Medal”, which had landed on earth via meteors.  This “Bio Medal” was created by an ancient alien civilization called the Cthonians.

Single Player

The single player is divided into two campaigns; one following the United States(NSDF), the other follows the Soviets(CCA) forces.  Throughout each mission you will build up your RTS style base, offensive and defensive units in attempt to defeat the opposing forces.

Multi Player

The multi player system includes two modes: Strategy and Deathmatch.  Strategy plays like the single player campaign and allows two or more players to collect resources, build units and the winner is determined by the last man standing.  Deathmatch gives two or more players a map with power-up to kill each other.  The winner is determined by the highest score.

Expansion pack

An expansion pack know as “The Red Odyssey” was released that featured the US, Soviets and Chinese.  This expansion contains an entirely new Single Player story arc pitting the Chinese Red Army forces against both their allies, the CCA, and their enemies the “Black Dogs”.  This expansion was also released under the open source GNU license, but has not yet received the compatibility updates for the latest versions of Windows that the original campaign has been given.

Whats new in the open source v1.5

  • Bug fixes
  • Windows compatibility updates
  • Multiplayer exploits closed
  • Xbox 360 controller support
  • Support for HD and widescreen resolutions

Conculsion

This classic games from the 90’s has held up very well over time, and to this day still has active players on the multiplayer servers.  The compatibility fixes for the latest versions of Windows made avaliable thanks to the fact that Activision released the source code under the GNU license.  The game play has also received small tweaks to improve game play.  Multi player exploits have been closed to make sure that Battlezone’s multiplayer afterlife is just as fun as the original.

Download

Both the original and Red Odyssey campaigns can be legally downloaded for free at: http://Battlezone1.com/downloads.index.htm

Screenshots