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Thursday, Apr 16, 2009

  

Left 4 Dead Survival Pack Details

The Left 4 Dead Blog has a lengthy post outlining details for the upcoming survival pack for Left 4 Dead, Valve's multiplayer shooter. The article includes more insights into the extensive research Valve uses to help with game design (though only one graph this time for you PowerPoint fans), describing how they determined the way difficulty will ramp up over time in survival mode.

FEAR 2 Map Pack

As announced in this press release, the F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin "Toy Soldiers" map pack is now available for Windows, Xbox 360, and PS3. The PC edition is available for free automatically via Steam and for manual download as part of a new version 1.03 patch, which can be found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. Here's the deal:

The F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin “Toy Soldiers” map pack allows players to experience multiplayer from a terrifying new perspective as they are reduced in size to be only inches tall and battle inside a pinball machine, a gruesome hospital lab room, and a playground sandbox.

        • FullTilt: Players battle inside a retro 1970s era pinball machine “Snake Fist” style as they use flippers, targets, spinners and pop-bumpers for cover in fast paced action. The multi-level playfield and authentic sounds set the mood for destruction.
        • Cockroach: Featuring a blood drenched hospital room filled with heart pounding action, players can climb up electrical cords, laboratory equipment and pill bottles in a tightly connected environment.
        • Recess: Players wage mayhem from the top of a giant sandcastle to the cockpit of a toy bulldozer.

This is the first of three DLC packs that will be made available now through summer 2009 on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, PlayStation Network and Windows PC. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin players can look forward to additional multiplayer Elite Powered Armor (EPA) maps in May, and more to be released late this summer.

ORDER OF WAR Announced

Square Enix Announces ORDER OF WAR, a World War II RTS game due for release this fall. The ORDER OF WAR Website is live with screenshots and a teaser trailer, and here's a bit:

In the summer of 1944, the Second World War entered its end-game when the Allies launched two major operations that would drive back German forces on both the Western and Eastern Fronts at once.

In the ultimate test of military strategy, ORDER OF WAR will challenge you not only to lead America's finest to victory in the west, but also place you in command of German forces charged with repelling the Red Army's seemingly unstoppable offensive in the east.

Even the keenest military minds will find that it's one thing to make history, but quite another to change it.

Do you have what it takes to command?

Features

        • Experience WWII warfare on an epic, cinematic stage; that truly captures the intensity and scale of the battlefield
        • Command of an entire armed force consisting of up to 1,000 soldiers, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and air planes
        • Players can choose between two different campaign modes offering completely different storylines, missions, objectives and environments
        • Experience the unique dynamic camera that allows players to command troops over huge geographical scale whilst maintaining movie-like vistas and detail
        • In-depth gameplay mode: two different campaign modes, multi-player, Deathmatch and Skirmish

Assassin's Creed II for the Holidays

Ubisoft officially announces Assassin's Creed II, though the stealthy sequel has already been confirmed. The announcement is accompanied by a piece of AC2 character art and a teaser trailer which can be found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell. Here's the announcement, which says to expect the game for the holiday season this year:

SAN FRANCISCO – April 16, 2009 – Today Ubisoft announced that Ubisoft Montreal is developing Assassin's Creed II on all current-generation platforms for a scheduled Holiday 2009 release. The initial installment of Assassin's Creed® was released in November 2007 to popular and critical success, selling 8 million copies worldwide and garnering awards such as Best Action Game 2007 from 1UP and Outstanding Achievement in Animation from the AIAS.

Assassin's Creed II is the product of over two years of intensive development by the original creative team behind the Assassin's Creed brand. In a vast open world environment, the game invites players to incarnate Ezio, a privileged young noble in Renaissance Italy who's been betrayed by the rival ruling families of Italy. Ezio's subsequent quest for vengeance plunges players into a captivating and epic story that offers more variety in missions, surprising and engaging new gameplay elements, diverse weapons and a profound character progression that will appeal to fans of the original Assassin's Creed as well as entice players new to the brand.

"Our creative team is working hard to top the experience of Assassin's Creed,” said Patrice Desilets, creative director at Ubisoft. "We've made improvements to every aspect of the game. We've plunged ourselves into the stunning history of the Italian Renaissance so that we can offer fans a unique, varied and innovative Assassin's Creed experience.”

Additional details on Assassin's Creed II are revealed in the May issue of Game Informer.

Cross Fire Live

Cross Fire is now officially live, offering a free online military-themed first-person shooter. Here's word on the launch:

The Cross Fire Official Launch is marked by a substantial update to the game which includes, three new game modes (including the long-awaited "Free For All" deathmatch and the knives-only battle-arena), playable female characters, and ranked clan matches on a dedicated server. In addition, the official launch will introduce loads of new in-game weapons, items, and accessories. Cross Fire officially went live at 1:00 AM on Thursday April 16th, 2009. The launch is also supported by an in-game event that allows players to earn extra experience for a limited time in order to level-up faster.

Borderlands Screenshot

The Borderlands Website now offers the promised screenshot showing off the game's somewhat controversial new art direction. The screenshot is posted in normal and high resolutions, offering your the chance to judge for yourself whether or not that it cel-shaded.

Thief 4 Rumor

GameSpot Rumor Mongering Control hashes through indications that Eidos Montreal may be getting set to announce Thief 4. The evidence is this image discovered by the Through the Looking Glass forums, which uses a Thiefy font.

Grand Ages: Rome Steam Patch

Steam News has word that a new update is automatically available for Grand Ages: Rome, imbuing the Steam edition of the historical strategy game with the same changes as last week's version 1.11. Bug fixes, balance tweaks, and UI improvements are the order of the day.

Warhammer Online Patching Underway

The Warhammer Herald has word that maintenance is now in progress to add the new version 1.2.1 patch to Warhammer Online, as described here. There is some unscheduled maintenance being done at the same time to some realms, and there's also a note for participants in a current siege: "We are aware Phoenix Throne is currently in the middle of a city siege on Altdorf, once the servers are online the timer will reset and you will have a full two hours to continue your assault."

StarCraft II Movie, CE

StarcraftWire has the second Blizzard shoutcast for StarCraft II, offering gameplay footage from the sci-fi RTS sequel. The site adds their expert analysis to what is seen in the clip for your speculative needs. Also, IncGamers confirms plans for a Collector's Edition for StarCraft II, as Blizzard has spilled the beans about work on a behind-the-scenes video to include with the CE.

Wolverine Movie

Another trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine is now available with a behind-the-scenes look at the retelling of Wolverine's and Sabretooth's pasts. The clip is found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

Mobilization

Metaverse

Safety Dance

Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Demigod Patched

Demigod Day 2 Update on the Impulse Website has news of a new patch that's now automatically available for Demigod via Impulse, intended to address multiplayer issues in the recently released action/strategy game. Included in Brad Wardell's description of the patch is the admission that this "isn't a silver bullet" for problems with the game as well as confession that such a patch would normally run through a couple of rounds of beta testing, but these are unusual circumstances. Brad also says they expect to release another patch "in the next few days." Here's the change log:

+ Connection dialog now allows the host to eject players trying to connect.

+ New NAT Connection Server now isolated so not affected by general server load resulting in much faster, better connectivity.

+ Eliminated check for update on launching the game

+ CVP calls asynchronous (a server hicup on our side is a lot less likely to cause users to be disconnected)

Activision's Fiscal Optimism

GamesIndustry.biz reports that Activision Blizzard has announced it expects its upcoming quarterly earnings report will reflect higher than projected net revenues and earnings per share. They do not specify how far beyond the 8 cents/share prediction they are expecting to report, but say the good news is based on strong global consumer response to the Call of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft. The report also comments on Blizzard's break with The9 to publish WoW in China and their new partnership with NetEase: "We believe this new relationship will promote a consistent level of quality and service in mainland China for each of the games that Blizzard Entertainment is partnering with NetEase on, including Warcraft III and StarCraft II, as announced last year."

More on Midway Incentives

Gamasutra has more on Midway's attempts to help sell itself by offering incentive bonuses to employees who help facilitate the sale of the company's assets. Poking through the company's bankruptcy filings reveal that Midway hopes to generate net proceeds of at least $30 million from the sale, and is offering a cash pool of "no more than" $600,000 to eligible employees.

Mars Video

The Mars Website has a new gameplay video from the PS3 edition of Mars, the upcoming action/RPG in the works at Spiders, a new indie developer founded by the creators of Silverfall and Earth Awakening. We initially mistook this for a console-only title, but word is the game is due for release in late 2010 for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Here's a description: "Mars is an action RPG for next generation consoles. It blends the sensation of power and rhythmic aerial battle of beat’em alls with the progression, immersion and storyline of RPG’s in a dark and dreamlike post apocalyptic universe." The release is accompanied by a batch of new screenshots.

King's Bounty: Armored Princess Video

The King's Bounty: Armored Princess Videos Page now offers a new gameplay video introducing The Driller from King's Bounty: Armored Princess, 1C Company's upcoming strategy/RPG sequel. Here's the party line: "The Driller is controlled by the Gremlins and is a very dangerous enemy - with a powerful weapon and the ability to create droids that protect him."

Fallout Online Legal Woes?

No Mutants Allowed notes that Interplay's annual 10-K filing is online, and in it they've uncovered indications a legal battle is brewing over the rights Interplay retains to create an MMO Fallout game, provided the project meets certain criteria established when Bethesda bought rights to the Fallout franchise. One of those stipulations is that the project should begin development within two years of that deal, which would make such the deadline for that a couple of weeks ago. Under the "legal proceedings" section of their filing, Interplay indicates they expect to be hearing from lawyers about this situation soon:

Interplay recently received notice that Bethesda Softworks, LLC ("Bethesda") intends to terminate the trademark license agreement between Bethesda and Interplay which was entered into April 4, 2007 for the development of FALLOUT MMOG. Despite the fact that no formal action is currently pending, Bethesda claims that Interplay is in breach of the trademark license agreement for failure to commence fill scale development of same by April 4, 2009 and to secure certain funding for the MMOG. Interplay adamantly disputes these claims. Although the potential damages are currently unknown, if Bethesda ultimately prevails and cancels the trademark license agreement, Interplay would lose its license back of the "Fallout" MMOG and any damages resulting therefrom are unknown at this time.

On Riddick DRM

The Atari Forums have an "explanation" of the DRM in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, focusing on why DRM is used and their three activation limit that is the focus of many objections (thanks Voodoo Extreme). The post points out that people do actually attempt to pirate games (they say one activation key has been tried over 50,000 times), but they feel their limits suit most users, in "only about 10% of all the Riddick PC games sold have been activated more than once." The post conclude with these reassurances:

DRM is not designed to keep you from playing the game, nor is it designed to combat any after market sales. After market sales for PC games are nowhere near what they are for console games anyway, aside from ebay, craigslist and yard sales I can’t even really think of anywhere to get used PC games.

I want to make it clear that there are people who are monitoring activations so if and when we get into an issue with people not being able to play that issue will be addressed. Should the case get so severe it effects a large portion of the gamers, more activations will be set in place as needed. Further down the line the DRM will be removed and a new unprotected exe will be released.

So to summarize if you buy Riddick legally on the PC we are going to do our best to make sure you can play it for as long as you want. I hope this helps answer some of your questions / concerns.

No PC Bionic Commando Demo

Shacknews has word from Capcom that PC (and PS3) users should not expect a playable demo for Bionic Commando, for which a multiplayer demo is planned for the Xbox 360. When asked for a reason, Capcom offered "no comment."

CITIES XL Beta Signups

The Cities XL Website is now accepting signups for closed beta testing of CITIES XL, Monte Cristo's upcoming urban planning game. This will be limited at first, as word is: "After completing the registration process, a few lucky beta testers will be selected. The Cities XL team will accept qualified testers as they are needed, and participants will be notified via the email address provided in their registration account settings."

Demigod Fix Plans

Demigod PC Games Behind the Scenes - Urgent Issues video on IGN offers a brief tour by Brad Wardell of Stardock's offices in Michigan, showing how they collaborate with Gas Powered Games in Seattle via Skype. Brad discusses the issues they've been experiencing with multiplayer in Demigod since the recent launch of the action/strategy game, and what is being done to fix them going forward. Brad outlines some solutions they are working on, which they hope to roll out by Friday.

Forge of Freedom Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for Forge of Freedom, updating the Civil War strategy game to version 1.12.2. Here's the deal: "Specifically for fixes, VPs are now properly assigned only for decisive battles and the National Will bug for capturing empty cities is now fixed. There are also many other improvements and tweaks with detailed battles, especially with the AI and with reinforcements now adding to the Will to Fight. In addition, the US will now lose one additional National Will point if it loses a decisive battle in a US province and the CSA will gain one NW point in the same situation. New features include 10 new special abilities for units, improvements to generals’ statistics, new generals’ biographies (now 300 in total), and much more."

Op Ed

The Brainy Gamer- Voice for change. Thanks Kotaku.
"Voice actors in games can't find their meat and potatoes because they are routinely denied the basic information they need to do their jobs well. Lacking this, they rely on instructions issued into their headphones: 'Say it louder and angrier, and throw in an evil laugh at the end.' They deliver the goods, and the result is an amateur performance with a professional sheen."

Gatherings & Competitions

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well April 15 has come and gone, we got our taxes in the mail with a good 12 hours to spare before the midnight deadline. I was flipping channels and saw a comment on the odd nature of making the annual tax deadline here in the US on the anniversary of the death of one of our most beloved presidents (Lincoln), but that seems to make sense to help maintain it as a perpetually somber occasion.

Somber Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Warriors Game.
Collider. Thanks Jay is Games.
Bulwark 53 Part 2.
Links: 12 Game Heroes Who Look Like Villains.
15 Unfortunately Placed Ads.
15 Film Production Credits Explained. Thanks Digg.
Stories: A New Sugar Substitute Joins a Street Fight.
Honda's Robolegs Help People Walk.
Police: Man used stroller for shoplifting.
Science: Curved laser beams could help tame thunderclouds. Thanks Slashdot.
First Cloned Camel Born in Dubai. Camel born without a hump.
Coral Study in Mexico Suggests Rapid Sea Rise From Warming.
Images: Unreal Engine Comparison. Thanks Digg.
Media: Left 4 Dead- Macho Man Randy Savage mod.
Laptop Hunters: Homeless Frank.
Do You Remember The BoardGame MouseTrap? AVGN Does! NSFW.
Follow-ups: Pilot Loses License Flying the Too-Friendly Skies. Thanks Neutronbeam.
The Funnies: xkcd - Borders.



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