Age of Empires Online

Two day ago Microsoft Studios released Age of Empires Online. Created as the next chapter in the best-selling Age of Empires PC game franchise, the game features two of the greatest ancient civilizations–the Greeks and Egyptians–and offers more than 40 hours of gameplay for free!

The game starts with your small village that needs to be built in order to face the challenges of a huge world. Your progress through the game depends on how you can manage to collect resources, build structures, arm your forces, and how will you develop new technology. If you can master all these you will be able to grow your civilization from a small village to a huge empire in order to conquer the world.

In the beginning there are some basic quests to go through that will teach new players the basics of this game. But as you will progress, the gameplay becomes more interesting because of the social side of it. You are free to chat with other players, trade with them and even send your armies to attack them.

Microsoft kept the RTS gameplay that made Age of Empires franchise so popular. The player has to build mighty empires, manage resources, earn rewards, and battle his way into rich new worlds full of lively villagers, epic warriors, and historically-themed architecture. It’s like the whole classic gameplay concept has been improved in order to deliver awesome moments in an online environment.

Most of the features are offered for free, but if you want to accelerate your expansion and become a respected ruler you can buy Premium Content Packs (not necessarily at a reasonable price) which include new civilizations, booster packs, new game modes and campaigns.

download Age of Empires Online

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AMD launches ATI Catalyst 10.8 drivers

AMD just rolled out this month’s major Catalyst software suite release, Catalyst 11.8 WHQL. The software provides the latest WHQL-signed drivers for AMD Radeon GPUs, AMD accelerated processing units (APUs), and AMD chipsets with integrated graphics. This release sees the fusion of AMD Overdrive System (CPU) with GPU overdrive. Both AMD processors and Radeon GPUs can be tweaked using a single application in the Vision Control Center. CPU Overclocking in Vision Center, however, is only supported on Black Edition processor models.

In the GPU driver front, Catalyst 11.8 brings a few major performance improvements, including a 10% performance improvement for Crysis 2 DirectX 11, for both non-Anti-Aliasing, and application enabled Anti-Aliasing modes; 8% performance boosts in FEAR 3 DirectX 11 with application enabled Anti-Aliasing; and a significant 20% boost in Call of Duty Black Ops for single and multi-GPU setups. AMD has redesigned Morphological Anti Aliasing (MLAA) code to boost performance of all applications with MLAA enabled, by up to 30%.

The ATI Catalyst 10.8 drivers can be downloaded here.

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Create stunning 3D text and logos with this easy to use tool

Pictures paint a thousand words.  Sometimes, presentation is just the ticket. When you need to make an impression, it’s often best to have the right tools at your disposal.  This is one of the reasons why I like Maker 3D.  It’s a text enhancement tool for Windows. 3D design software for many ordinary people may be unfamiliar. Whenever you want to promote an image, web page, display text or graphics to add effect, your first thought may send you to tools like 3DSMax or to more complicated tools like, Photoshop. Thankfully, you don’t have to go down that road. Instead, you can use Maker 3D from Aurora 3D Software.

Read the full review | Download Maker3D

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10 apps to tune-up you PC for the best gaming experience

There are two major steps to create your perfect gaming experience. First of all you have to buy a PC with a suitable hardware configuration to meet all the necessary requirements. In case of gaming, this rig can cost you thousands of dollars, but you won’t get the best results if you don’t install and use the right applications that will improve you system.

So the second step to take is to configure your PC by installing all the necessary software that will maintain and improve the performances of your computer. So here are ten apps to choose from:

Your video card is the most important tool while playing, so you should keep it up to date by installing the latest drivers. Many users have asked why is it so necessary to always track and install tha latest versions. In general every new version brings improvements and fixes bugs, but the major reason is that each new version comes with an updated games library that includes all the necessary tweaks for the latest major titles. The good part here is that there are only two major types of video cards, the ones with NVIDIA (download NVIDIA Forceware Driver) chip and the ones with ATI chip (download AMD ATI Catalyst Drivers).

Installing and uninstalling games can cause your system to become clumsy. Caches get full, drives get fragmented, registries get littered with orphaned entries. The only solution is to install and use any type of tune-up utility. I recommend Tune Up Utilities 2011 or Windows Winset. Both are all-in-one system utilities to optimize, clean up, maintain and speed up your computer.

 

Besides the tune-up utilities, you need also a harddisk manager that can perform all kinds of tasks to maintain, repair and even partition your local HDD. An ALL-IN-ONE partition solution and disk management for 32 bit and 64 bit systems would be EASEUS Partition Master 9. With the free edition of Partition Master 9 you can safely merge different partitions without data loss on the same physical disk. It comes also with the ability to wipe data on unallocated space. This option is very useful when you want to get rid of sensitive data.

Your gaming experience should also be secure. Playing all kinds of online games demands some trusty antiviruses and firewalls. I recommend AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, avast! Antivirus Free or Avira AntiVir Personal Edition, all three with good results and light hardware requirements. Some of them have even a game mode through which, the application reduces its processes when running a game.

 

Installing and running your games from their discs will cause your optical unity and even the disc to wear. So why not copy them on your local disk and run them from there. This can be easily done by using the Virtual Clone Drive that can emulate and run ISO’s of your games with ease. The application is small, simple in functionality and easy to use. Another alternative is the popular Daemon Tools Lite that can emulate also MDF’s and cue-bin files.

Every hard-core gamer uses the Fraps application. Fraps is a universal Windows application that can perform several tasks while playing. It can show how many Frames Per Second (FPS) you are getting from your game, can take a screenshot with the push of a key, and can capture audio and video up to 2560×1600 with custom frame rates from 1 to 120 frames per second!. Fraps can be used with games using DirectX or OpenGL graphic technology.

Let’s say that you have captured a video sequence with the help of Fraps. How can you edit it and upload it on your beloved social network? Install and use Camtasia Studio from Techsmith. It is more than a simple screen recorder. It is more of a virtual studio that can generate sophisticated, effective screencasts faster, easier, and with more consistency than other similar products.  Camtasia Studio 7 comes with the 32-bit and 64-bit TSCC codec which can export your recording files to a wider range of 3rd party applications, and keep the high-quality look you love.

You may believe me or not, but some games require additional video codecs to be installed. Otherwise the users won’t be able to watch the cinematic videos. The best solution that works in most cases is to install the DivX Plus Codec Pack. The Pack includes everything you need to play DivX or MKV files in third-party applications. In case you own a DXVA capable graphics card, with DivX you can smoothly play high definition videos on it, which means no more blocky videos or dropped frames.

Online games demand a voice communication tool in order give orders to your team or control a raid. With TeamSpeak 3 all these can become reality. TeamSpeak is a VOIP application suitable for voice communication via the Internet. TeamSpeak is created on a platform that offers a client-server architecture where client and server software is clearly separated. This means that the server product runs as a dedicated server, rather than peer-to-peer. In this way the TeamSpeak server software is literally capable of handling thousands of simultaneous clients or users.

If you consider that your rig is ready to enter into the gaming universe, maybe you want to become a member of a community that shares the same passion and plays the same games as you. Welcome to Garena, sign up and join millions of gamers around the world and play your favourite titles together with them. And it’s all free! Garena features also an online service and provides direct support for games like League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth.

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Reason – your virtual studio rack with all that you need to turn your ideas into music

If you’re a professional musician or a serious amateur wanting professional tools, finding the right software isn’t easy. Mixing, sampling, noise reduction, audio compression… finding the right tools with the right presets, the right settings, can be just as laborious as composing and arranging your original music. If you’re serious, then be serious and give Reason a serious look.
Reason is one of the most complete audio mixing tools on the market today. It combines complete recording tools with some of the best mixing consoles and equalizers into a single, integrated tool. With it, you’ll have access to multiple channels, multiple, parallel racks, and tons of effects. Reason’s fully equipped mixing desk adds a big studio signal chain to all your sound sources.

Read the full review | Download Reason

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Valve announces Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), just announced Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO).

Targeted for release via Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam (for PC and Mac) in early 2012, CS: GO will expand upon the team-based action gameplay that it pioneered when it was launched exactly 12 years ago (CS beta 1, August 1999).

CS: GO features new maps, characters, and weapons and delivers updated versions of the classic CS content (de_dust, etc.). In addition, CS: GO will introduce new gameplay modes, matchmaking, leader boards, and more.

Counter-Strike took the gaming industry by surprise when the unlikely MOD became the most played online PC action game in the world almost immediately after its release in August 1999,” said Doug Lombard, VP of Marketing at Valve. “For the past 12 years, it has continued to be one of the most-played games in the world, headline competitive gaming tournaments and selling over 25 million units worldwide across the franchise. CS: GO promises to expand on CS’ award-winning gameplay and deliver it to gamers on the PC as well as the next gen consoles and the Mac.

CS: GO is being developed by Valve in cooperation with Seattle-based Hidden Path Entertainment. The title is targeted for release in early 2012 and will be playable at this year’s PAX Prime and London Games Festival.

For more information, please take a look here.

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Time-limited giveaway – WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe (no longer available)

The giveaway has been closed on August 23, 2011.

The truth about Santa Claus: Santa Claus is real! Oh well… sort of. Ladies and gentlemen, right here, right now, without any contest, for a short period of time, we’re giving you: WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe for free! That’s right, the giveaway is 100% free and there are no functional limitation, and it will be closed on August 23, 2011 – so grab your copy soon and register it !

We have partnered with WinX  to award our readers with this cool piece of software which is normally available for $39.95. Just download a copy of WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe and simply register it using the the following license: AF-TDTTYXTV-JXMBEK

Download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe | More Info

Note: Use the giveaway license code before August 23, 2011! Please note that after that period you won’t be able to register the software any longer but if you already registered the software, you can continue using the program full functional. Also, if you need to reinstall your OS or the software, contact WinX support team (contact@winxdvd.com) and just let them know that you’ve got the software from Soft32 and they will provide you with a new license code.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe gives you ultimate control over your video files, packing 160 video codecs and 50 audio codecs, while working as all-in-one HD video converter, DVD burner and Youtube online video downloader. It owns powerful capability to meet all your video conversion requirements without assistance of any third-party codec.

 

Download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe | More Info

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An optimized hard drive isn’t the end of optimizing your PC. Check out this important utility for additional tweaks!

Taking care of your computer isn’t easy. With malware everywhere, bots, bot nets, viruses etc., you’ve got your hands full. Once those risks have been mitigated, you’ve got PC performance to worry about. Keeping your computer running worry free isn’t just about optimizing your hard drive. It should be about your entire PC. This is one reason why I like WinMend’s Registry Defrag. It’s a must have Windows utility.WinMend Registry Defrag is a free registry defragmentation and cleanup tool. It can rebuild your registry index safely; and can clear wasted registry space to make it easy for Windows and applications to find required data more efficiently. After the Windows registry is reorganized, you will notice a marked improvement in system performance. This tool is safe, reliable, and simple to understand and use.

Read the full review | Download WinMend’s Registry Defrag

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