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Ubisoft is now giving away Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory on PC
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Ubisoft's 35th birthday celebrations continue, as following the Assassin's Creed Chronicles promotion from last week, this time the company is giving away copies of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Highly regarded even now by fans, the title was the third game in the popular stealth series starring Sam Fisher.
Released in 2005, Chaos Theory has Fisher infiltrating many secret facilities of foreign governments for intelligence as part of NSA's Third Echelon covert-ops branch. In addition to the series staple light meter for blending into environments, the game also introduced a sound monitor as a new mechanic. The title can be played in both lethal and non-lethal methods.
Keep in mind while co-op and multiplayer are listed as features, official servers have been shut down since 2016.
Here's how the store page describes the bleak setting of Chaos Theory:
The minimum requirements for the classic are as low as expected:
The Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory giveaway will run through November 25 and can be claimed on its dedicated portal here or by using Ubisoft's Connect client. The game comes in at $10 normally. Even with two giveaways in the bag, Ubisoft anniversary celebrations are continuing. It appears there's at least one more giveaway planned as well.
By Asher Madan
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy on Xbox Series X — Cult classics lacking polish
by Asher Madan
Last week, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. The package includes remasters of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. All three titles are regarded as cult classics, but how do they play with modern controls and upgraded visuals on Xbox Series X? Read on to find out.
Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas run at 4K resolution and up to 60 frames per second (FPS) on Xbox Series X. They offer two modes, Fidelity and Performance, which appear to lock the frame rate to either 30 or 60 FPS. By default, the game is set to Fidelity so you don't notice any FPS drops. Unfortunately, the input lag is horrendous at 30 FPS so I'd recommend switching all three of the titles over to Performance from the Options menu.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy features upgraded visuals like car reflections, water reflections, high-resolution rendering, and different character models, but the games still look quite dated. It's clear that the remastered bundle is meant for existing fans of the franchise. They won't attract that many new players in my opinion.
Despite the upgrades, including revamped controls, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas need a lot more work to look like contemporary games. Had these titles been along the lines of the recent Resident Evil remakes, they would've been more appealing. While all three games still tell amazing and relevant stories, they suffer from performance and visual issues that detract heavily from the overall experience.
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III was released before Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Due to this, it feels rougher around the edges than the other two. While all three exhibit performance issues to some degree, Grand Theft Auto III on Xbox Series X has the most frequent frame rate drops to 20 FPS, even when the 60 FPS mode is engaged. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a close second.
Apart from that, I noticed that the default brightness and contrast needed adjusting. I had to raise the brightness to 100% and lower the contrast to 25% to clearly witness the action. Even during the day, the title looked dark. Since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City didn't exhibit this issue, I think it's a bug with the high-dynamic-range (HDR) lighting in the Grand Theft Auto III remaster.
Luckily, the game's plot redeems this port to some degree. You step into the shoes of Claude who's betrayed by his girlfriend Catalina. It's an old-school tale of revenge and involves making a name for yourself in the city by causing all sorts of mayhem.
The controls are standardized across all three games. However, the sensitivity seems a little too high when you're playing with an Xbox Series X|S controller. Again, this is mostly an issue in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Depending on what you prefer in terms of thumbstick sensitivity, you'll have to spend some time tweaking various settings to figure out what you like.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City tells my favorite story out of the three because it plays out like an old-school Martin Scorsese film. Plus, beloved actor Ray Liotta voices the protagonist Tommy Vercetti. It's all about experiencing 1980's flair and ruling the city, two combinations that are hard to beat. A major drug deal goes south due to unknown assailants and it's up to you to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is probably the most polished remaster out of the lot. The only change I made was to switch the game to Performance mode from Fidelity to improve controller responsiveness. Unfortunately, even then I noticed some stuttering during gameplay, especially when driving around town, but it didn't detract too much from the title because the drops were few and far between. The drops are less frequent than in the Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas remasters.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City uses bold colors so they pop on a modern display. Additionally, the reflections on cars are the most noticeable in this version. They add a layer of complexity to the visuals that wasn't there before. The controls are relatively good, but I'd still recommend turning down the sensitivity a little to gain more precision, especially when aiming and firing weapons.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tells the story of Carl Johnson, simply known as CJ, as he returns to the city of San Andreas due to his mother's murder. You have to help rebuild your gang while also uncovering what really happened to her. It's a compelling journey even though there are a lot of performance and visual glitches, some that can even cause your console to crash.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also suffers from the dark HDR lighting issue like Grand Theft Auto III. Luckily, it's not as severe so you just need to turn the contrast down to 40% and the brightness to 70%. As expected, the performance issues are back and the frame rate drops to around 25 FPS when you're driving around town. Unfortunately, it gets stranger.
All three games feature weather effects like rain, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has some odd lighting during storms. When it's dark, rainfall streaks across the screen like white bullets. It's the strangest phenomenon I've ever witnessed in a game. It actually hurts your eyes and makes it impossible to see anything. I would've taken a screenshot, but at that moment the game also crashed my Xbox Series X. Luckily, many users on YouTube managed to record it.
It's clear that Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy needed to be delayed to 2022. All of the games suffer from performance issues and some feature bizarre visual problems like dark lighting and white rain. As I mentioned in my Battlefield 2042 Xbox Series X preview, I understand that game development is also a business, but releasing products in such a poor state — where months of polishing are required — isn't acceptable. It only damages the reputation of the publisher, studio, and franchise.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy costs $59.99 on all platforms. In its current state, I simply cannot recommend purchasing it. Hopefully, developer Grove Street Games, with the assistance of Rockstar Games, will rectify this in a timely manner. It's unclear if that's possible because game development has shifted dramatically due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many titles, including expansions and updates, have been hit with severe delays due to the adjustment required to work from home.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is available on the Microsoft Store or the platform of your choice. The package launched on November 11, 2021. Due to some controversial files that are part of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the title has been pulled from PC until they're removed.
Rockstar Games provided a code for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy. The game was tested on an Xbox Series X console.
Ubisoft is giving away all three Assassin's Creed Chronicles games on PC
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Ubisoft is currently in the middle of celebrating its 35th anniversary, and as a part of its latest rewards for fans, the company is now holding a giveaway for Assassin's Creed Chronicles. It is a collection containing the three spin-off titles based in China, India, and Russia.
Developed by Climax Studios, the three games offer action, stealth, and parkour experiences in a 2.5D format involving various Assassin and Templar conflicts in the past. While at least some of the games have been given away before, this is the first time the full collection has been part of a promotion.
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China takes place in 1546 and tells the story of Shao Jun, a Chinese assassin trained by Ezio Auditore. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India takes players to 1841 for the tale of Arbaaz Mir. Lastly, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia takes place in 1918 with Nikolai Orelov arriving as the protagonist.
Here are the listed minimum requirements to play the trilogy:
The Assassin's Creed Chronicles giveaway will run through November 12 and can be claimed by heading here or using the Ubisoft Connect client on PC. Normally the games come in at $10 each. Keep in mind the company isn't finished with its anniversary celebrations, so there may be more game giveaways in store in the near future.
Rainbow Six Siege: Operation High Calibre brings a new mine user, a UI overhaul, and more
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
It is almost time for another Rainbow Six Siege Operation, and Ubisoft today gave a look at the fourth and final seasonal update coming to the tactical shooter in 2021. Titled High Calibre, the major update will be bringing in another new Operator, a map rework, plus quite a few new features and reworks to existing systems.
Starting with the Operator, Thorn drops into the Defending side with Razorbloom Shells. These mine-type gadgets can be stuck to the environment, where they wait for a passing enemy to trigger a deadly explosion. There is a warning before the detonation, so a quick reaction shot can take out the gadget before that.
Thorn is also coming equipped with a brand-new weapon being added to the game: the UZK.50GI, a powerful submachine gun that can rip through destructible environments. Meanwhile, the season's map rework is hitting Outback this time, a relatively new arena. Check out the developer video below to both have a look at refreshed map layout as well as Thorn's gadget usage and counters.
At the same time, Finka is getting a minor rework with the Adrenal Surge no longer removing recoil when triggered, and its cooldown is now doubled to 20 seconds. However, with the ability Finka can now revive herself as well. Camera wielding defenders are getting nerfs, with any camera placed outside the map only lasting 10 seconds.
High Calibre's other features include major quality of life changes to the user interface of Operators. On the HUD. the compass has been changed completely to increase readability as well as show marked locations and give height feedback. An extremely helpful counter that shows the number of drones destroyed is also available to Defenders at all times.
Team colors can be configured as well, with blue, red, and orange options available. Blue for allies and red for enemies are the defaults, with colorblind accessibility options coming later. Text prompts are being replaced by easy-to-read icons, and the developer is focusing on offering more HUD customization options.
With all this and more, Rainbow Six Siege Operation High Calibre is set to hit the test server on November 9. It will stay there until Ubisoft deems the update ready for live servers, which could take several weeks.
By Asher Madan
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack costs $49.99 a year
by Asher Madan
In September, Nintendo revealed that Nintendo Switch Online would receive a new tier that included Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. Nintendo Switch Online is the gaming giant's subscription service along the lines of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is the upcoming membership option that launches on October 25.
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack's price point wasn't announced back then, but the company gave us a complete rundown today. Keep in mind that the standard Nintendo Switch Online membership comes in at $19.99 a year, or $34.99 for the family plan. However, Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack will cost $49.99 for 12 months.
There's also a family plan in the works that'll cost $79.99 a year, and you can add 8 Nintendo Account holders. You can take a look at the video above for an explanation of the benefits and differences.
Fan reactions have been quite mixed since this announcement. While many gamers are praising the ability to play Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games on the Nintendo Switch, the limited library and high price point have been criticized by others. The fact that the newly announced Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise expansion is included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is also seen as a positive given the popularity of the base game.
More titles like Banjo-Kazooie and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will be added down the line. We'll have to wait and see how many Nintendo Switch owners upgrade to this tier come October 25. Are you interested in Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack? Let us know in the comments below.