ONE OF THE things that can make a good game great, or a great game annoying is sound, and how it is presented. Computer sound has gone from interrupt driven clicks on the Apple ][ to 7.1 channel surround on a modern PC. It seems every week or so manufacturers add another speaker to the state of the art.
Intel is about to push things forward a bit, and replace the venerable, crusty PC97 audio with a newer, much more robust and higher frequency standard. This is a 'good thing', and will advance the state of the art. The only problem is that as far as audio equipment and speakers go, there is great variability.
All the hardware in the world does no good if a game will only put out stereo sound, and 7.1 channel surround sounds pretty bad when played through $4.99 speakers, even with fresh batteries. Programmers also waste their time to place realistic footsteps sneaking up behind you if your speakers are misplaced.
Well, THX is trying to fix some of these problems. On January 8th, it announced THX "Games Mode". This new mode is part of the THX Ultra2 Certification, and theoretically, all new THX certified equipment should support it.
This means if you have a PC, console, or anything else that plays games, and you buy a title with the little THX logo on it, your game should sound right. The bad guys will kill you unmercifully in proper surround, and the evil ninjas will sneak up behind you from the right angle.
Assuming you have the speakers set up correctly, all should be happy, and games will be all that much more realistic. This is a long overdue step, and with any luck, others will follow, and then we all win.
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News source: The Inquirer