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Thursday, Feb 09, 2006

  

New America's Army

The promised new Link-up edition of America's Army: Special Forces is now available as a full install of the freeware shooter or a patch to update the prior version to the new version 2.6.0. The new edition adds a new server browser, new multiplayer missions, but ends support for Windows 98/ME. The patch is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, AusGamers, Filecloud, FileFront, GameArena, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, GameSpot, and Worthplaying. The full version is available on 3D Gamers, AusGamers, FileFront, GameArena, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, GameSpot, and Worthplaying.

New ATI CATALYST Drivers

ATI Technologies now offers new version 6.2 reference driver for ATI accelerators. The new drivers address a variety of issues, including a lengthy list of game-related fixes.

The Battle for Middle-earth II Demo

The demo for The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II is now available, offering the promised sample of the RTS sequel. Details on the demo are available in the read me, and the demo debuted on GameSpot, with mirrors of the whopping 1400 MB download available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, 4players.de, AOL Games, AusGamers, Computer Games, FileFront, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, Strategy Informer, VGPro, and Worthplaying.

Keepsake English Demo

Lighthouse Interactive announces the release of an English demo for Keepsake, Wicked Studios' now-gold fantasy adventure game. Word is: "With the English version having gone gold yesterday, Lighthouse would now like to invite fans of adventure games and fantasy settings in general, to breathe in the unique atmosphere in Keepsake. Players can explore several areas of the enchanted Dragonvale Academy, probe some of the game’s puzzles and get a feel for the main character in this 221 MB download." The demo is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, Computer Games, Filecloud, FileFront, FileNuts, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista Planned

Master Chief Dual-Wields His Way to Windows Vista (thanks ToTheGame) is the press release revealing plans for a version of Bungie's shooter sequel on the next edition of Windows:

"Halo 2," the award-winning sequel to the instant classic "Halo: Combat Evolved" to make its PC debut on the Windows Vista platform

"Halo 2," the game that redefined first-person combat and multiplayer action for millions of gamers worldwide, is set to explode onto PCs exclusively for Windows Vista. "Halo 2" for Windows Vista will be developed by a dedicated Microsoft Game Studios team in partnership with Bungie Studios.

Only for Windows Vista, "Halo 2" will offer gamers both the single-player campaign and multiplayer experience of the original, as well as the additional maps offered in the "Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack." Gamers will also have the exciting opportunity to build, create and customize their own multiplayer levels.

"Halo: Combat Evolved" and its sequel, "Halo 2," have achieved phenomenal success on the Xbox video game platform as gamers around the world follow the saga of Master Chief in his battle against the Covenant forces. In 2003, the original "Halo" roared onto Windows PCs. In "Halo 2" for Windows Vista, the action picks up where the first game ended. Master Chief, with the help of a small group of marines, has destroyed the religious artifact and artificial world known as "Halo," and is making his way back to Earth. There, he and the last surviving Earth forces will mount a titanic struggle against the marauding Covenant enemy. To date, the Halo franchise has sold more than 14.5 million games worldwide with over 600 million hours of multiplayer action logged across Microsoft’s Xbox Live online gaming service.

Ships Ahoy - WWII Tank Commander

Got Game Entertainment sends word that WWII Tank Commander is rolling into stores, and should be available in North America this weekend:

"WWII TANK COMMANDER" ROLLING TO RETAIL SHELVES ACROSS THE U.S. AND CANADA

Non-stop military action game in an easy to pick-up-and-play style for the PC lands in North American stores this weekend

WESTON, CT – February 9, 2005 – Got Game Entertainment and Merscom today announced that "WWII Tank Commander", a non-stop military action game for the PC, will begin arriving this weekend in game retailers across North America. Developed by Sylum Entertainment Ltd, "WWII Tank Commander" features an easy to pick-up-and-play style. World War II buffs, tank enthusiasts, and casual gamers will waste no time destroying enemy armor and infantry, escorting Allied convoys, rescuing hostages, and helping free Europe from Nazi rule in command of their Sherman tank in General Patton's Fourth Armored Division. "WWII Tank Commander" is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB for Violence. The game debuts for a suggested retail price of $19.95 (USD).

The gameplay of "WWII Tank Commander" is addictive as you rumble off road, exploring the historical World War II European landscape. As gunfire, mines, tracer fire, and explosions rip around you, experience fences, walls, and enemy obstacles crush beneath your Sherman tank, as you search for alternate routes to victory in more than 30 objectives over 10 levels, featuring multiple mission styles with objectives such as Assault, Escort, Defense, and Rescue.

"'WWII Tank Commander' is pure pick-up-and-play addictive," said Got Game Entertainment founder Howard Horowitz. "If you’re ready to be the hero in command of a powerful Sherman tank, immersed in non-stop World War II action, engaging the enemy and fighting the good fight, then this is the game for you."

To further your battlefield immersion, “WWII Tank Commander” also features AMD64-optimization and the knock-out sound of EAX(R) ADVANCED HD(TM) 4.0, with any Creative Lab's sound card, to make the campaigns of "Patton's Best" come thrillingly alive.

For more information, visit www.WWIITankCommander.com.

Dear Diary - Gal Civ II Demo Plans

Preparing for release day on the Galactic Civilizations II Website (thanks Frans) is a diary entry related to completion of the space strategy sequel, including preparations for digital distribution, as well as a bit on plans for a demo:

The demo version obviously needs to get done. A lot of people won't buy a game without at least trying out the demo. The demo won't show up before release though. We want all our development effort put first to the people who are buying the game sight unseen. Those people have put faith that we'll treat them well and I want to make sure we do what we can to make sure they feel like they aren't let down.

So once the game's released, we can put together a demo pretty quickly. Even though the game requires 2 CDs to install, I really am hoping we can put together a demo that is less than a 200 meg download. Maybe even less than 100 megs. The tough part will be deciding what's in the demo.

America's Army Update Today

The America's Army Community Rally Point has a SITREP on plans to release a new version 2.6.0 update for the Army's first-person shooter. Uncle Sam sends word to expect the "Link-up" update later today, and here's word on the included multiplayer maps and an improved server browser that will coexist with the existing GameSpy browser:

The U.S. Army invites all America’s Army players to ‘link up’ with gamers around the world with the new America's Army: Special Forces (Link-Up) game made available today for download at www.americasarmy.com. Multiplayer gaming in America’s Army has been greatly enhanced with the implementation of the new Master Browser System (MBS), allowing players to easily find other players and get into the action. When fully deployed the Master Browser System will offer players the ultimate America’s Army gaming solution with features ranging from match-making to dynamic content delivery to detailed gaming stats to communications tools such as buddy lists. America's Army: Special Forces (Link-Up) also contains two new multiplayer missions -- Dusk and Border.

The Movies to Expand?

The Movies Expansion in Production on IGN has word that in spite of the cancellation of the console editions of The Movies, a recent forum post suggests an expansion for the PC edition of Lionhead's cinema simulation is in the works.

Dear Diary - SiN Episodes Trailer

A new installment in Shawn's log on the SiN Episodes Website discusses the release of the official Emergence video showing off the first installment in SiN Episodes. Word is Ritual is just days away from the beta testing stage of the upcoming shooter sequel.

Site Seeing

Thanks Frans.

  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent
    A new Splinter Cell: Double Agent Website is online as home to the new adventures of silent Sam Fisher.
  • Flight Simulator X
    A new Flight Simulator X Website has launched as home to the upcoming Xth installment in the high flying series. Included are 8 new screenshots.
  • GTR 2
    The German GTR2 Product Section is online, including some new screenshots from the upcoming racing sequel.
  • Paradise
    What says French paradise more than a Jerry Lewis Film Festival? The French Paradise Website, which replaces the previously multilingual home to the upcoming adventure game. The site offers 13 screenshots and a movie trailer.

Rome: Total War Gold Edition

SEGA officially announces Rome: Total War Gold Edition (story). Word is:

SAN FRANCISCO (February 8, 2006) – SEGAÒ of America, Inc. today announced that Rome: Total Warä Gold Edition will be available at retail outlets across the country beginning February 15, 2006 for a suggested retail price of $39.95. This official compilation combines the critically acclaimed real-time strategy game Rome: Total War and its expansion, Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasionä, giving new gamers the opportunity to enjoy the greatest Total Warä games ever made in one amazing package.

“The Total War franchise has become synonymous with epic warfare and unprecedented scale, and Rome: Total War is the best in the series so far,” said Scott A. Steinberg, Vice President of Marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. “The press and fans have expressed incredible enthusiasm for the gameplay in Rome and Barbarian Invasion, and we are pleased to present a collection that allows new gamers to experience both critically acclaimed titles at once.”

Since its launch in September 2004, Rome: Total War has achieved unprecedented critical acclaim, earning the Strategy Game of the Year award from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences* and from leading Internet magazines, GameSpot and IGN. Barbarian Invasion also garnered the Expansion Pack of the Year award from Computer Games Magazine in 2005.

In Rome: Total War, you are put in charge of one of three Roman families. You must increase your family’s power in Rome through diplomacy, economic skill, and of course, war! Fight epic battles of awe-inspiring scale, commanding 10,000 men, while negotiating a century-spanning campaign across Europe and Africa. Ultimately you must take Rome and forge the greatest empire of the ancient world.

The official expansion, Barbarian Invasion, turns the tables and challenges you to destroy the Roman Empire. Rome has passed its zenith and the mighty empire now lies weak and crumbling. As one of several new barbarian factions, will you show mercy to Rome or crush your oppressors with the same callous and calculated tactics they used to enslave you? Rome will be your prize; claim it!

For more information about Rome and the Total War series, visit www.totalwar.com.

Xfire & Yahoo Settle

Gamecloud reports that the pending lawsuits between Xfire & Yahoo (story and story) have been settled. The source of this is the Xfire's forum, but neither that post, nor subsequent follow-ups have uncovered details on the settlement.

Morning Q&As

  • Prey
    Prey for Something Different on Next Generation asks Human Head's Chris Rhinehart to pray tell of their upcoming first person shooter: "When we were first talking about Prey, we wanted the ability to walk on walls and walk on the ceiling. Because we're dealing in alien environments, we can do that - it's part of the alien structures. While we were doing this, we decided we didn't need ladders or anything more either, so we trimmed those out of the design. If you want to get from a low-point to a high-point, we've got these wall-walk surfaces. You're basically kind of stuck to them, so if you get shot, you're not going to get knocked off of it. Originally, we made it so you would fall off of them, but that was totally not fair. The only way you can get off of these surfaces is if you walk off of it or jump, so you just hit the jump key and you'll flip off."
  • TimeShift
    Gamecloud's Timeshift Q&A talks with Matthew Karch of Saber Interactive about their 4D first-person shooter: "In some respects it has made the game harder and in some it has made it easier. It is harder because we have had to design the game very differently than standard shooters. The ability to control time has required us to come up with creative ways to place opponents and to ensure that the level of difficulty is just right. From both a design and programming standpoint, the time features have made the game much more of a challenge than a standard shooter."
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
    Shacknews' Neverwinter Nights 2 Q&A talks with Ferret Baudoin of Obsidian Entertainment about the D&D RPG sequel: "We started with the Aurora engine as a base, but many parts of it have been rewritten completely. But having Aurora has freed us up to do a great deal. We've got new spells, new feats and a new ruleset we're using. The AI has also been taught a few new tricks which should make dungeon romping a tad more exciting. (Insert DM cackling when those fun little tricks are revealed!)"
  • Auto Assault
    The Auto Assault Q&A on GameSpot discusses 'Polishing, Tweaking, and Last-Minute Additions' in NetDevil's upcoming MMORPG with Scott Brown: "Players are really having fun with the destructive nature of the game. It seems to be a great deal of fun to drive around and destroy just about every object in the world. Auto Assault is still a role-playing game, however, and as such, people also seem to enjoy the dynamic loot system, which generates a large variety of unique loot."
  • C&C: The First Decade
    Gamecloud's Command & Conquer: The First Decade Q&A discusses the just-released RTS compilation with EA's Louis Castle: "One of the things that I found surprising is that even when you are certain you have designed every possible combination of units or strategies, minutes after letting a group of fans play, you find out you didn't find half of what's possible. This single aspect of RTS keeps me coming back again and again. It is a puzzle that has no closed solution set."
  • EverQuest: Prophecy of RO
    The EverQuest: Prophecy of RO Q&A #2 on MMORPG.COM continues to discuss the upcoming MMORPG expansion with lead designer Travis McGeathy: "The ability to set traps will be available to players through a series of new disciplines and spells that players can learn. By using these abilities, players can place a trap where they are standing and when an NPC comes within range of it, the trap will trigger and cause harm to the NPC. There are a wide variety of traps that players can set, ranging from simple bear traps to magical wards. Player-set traps can only be triggered by NPCs in most cases, even in PvP environments."
  • Lord British
    An audience with Lord British on GameSpot is a Q&A with the designer about his career and joining the AIAS hall of fame: "Hmm. I have three games that I'm really the most proud of. They're Ultima IV, Ultima VII, and Ultima Online. I think what you'll see--especially in the first two examples-- that I'm most proud of, is trying to imbue in the computer games not just game mechanics, but also a sense of literary storytelling. To try to create settings and characters and reasons to be there and things to do while you're there that go beyond 'fight the next monster, collect the next level of treasure, cash it in and then level up."
  • Music
    The Stephen Rippy Q&A on Music 4 Games talks with the composer about the soundtrack for Age of Empires III.

The Sims 2: Nightlife Patch

TheSims2.com now offers downloads of a new patch for The Sims 2: Nightlife, updating the expanded edition of the wee people simulator to version 1.2.0.355 (thanks Frans).

Postal 2 Mac Patch

As noted in Ryan Gordon's .plan, Icculus.org offers downloads of a new patch for OS X Postal 2, updating the Mac edition of Running with Scissors' first-person shooter to version 1409.2.

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Thanks Frans.

Madden 06 Roster Update

This EA Sports Page now offers downloads a new roster update for the PC edition of Madden NFL 06 for those unable to install it automatically. The update is required to compete online. Thanks Frans.

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Safety Dance

Thursday Hardware Reviews

etc., etc.

Out of the Blue

Ran quite late after being slowed with some ear pain, and ended up crossing over into the future, hence this morning update instead of last night's evening round-up.

Damn, we don't have hovercars yet?

Futuristic Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Link: The Road Ahead - 10 years on.
Stories: Star Trek fan files for bankruptcy. Thanks banddirector.
Science: McDonald's Says Fries Have More Trans Fats. Thanks Digg.
Robotic toy makes a big impression at the DEMO convention.
Milky Way accused of million-star theft.
Media: Desperate For Superbowl Tickets. I'll say.
Dactyl Fractal Zoom.
Dont Mess With Baby Stewie.
Auction: BMW 3-Series. Thanks dakslf.
Follow-up: Steve Fossett Seeks Nonstop Distance Record.



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