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Thursday, May 26, 2011

  

Mass Effect Digital Comic

The Mass Effect Downloadable Content Page offers the semi-recent release of the Windows and Xbox 360 editions of Mass Effect: Genesis, an interactive digital comic from BioWare and Dark Horse comics originally created for PS3 users, since the original Mass Effect was never released on that platform. The 15 minute comic allows the player to make the key decisions from Mass Effect that carry over into Mass Effect 2. Thanks Andrew.

Alice: Madness Returns Hysteria Explained

EA and Spicy Horse Games send along details on Hysteria mode from Alice: Madness Returns, the upcoming sequel to American McGee's Alice. Here are some screenshots of the mode, and here's word on how it works: "Similar to the feeling of super power that players felt when using the “Rage Box” item in American McGee’s Alice, “Hysteria” acts as a conduit for Alice's intense rage and desire to win against her psychological demons. The new mode offers players a powerful and bloody way to pull Alice back from the brink of death and lay waste to her enemies."

THQ Signs Turtle Rock

THQ announces they have signed on to publish the next title from Turtle Rock Studios, developers of the original Left 4 Dead who were briefly known as Valve South. Details are sparse, but word is the new game will be an ambitious first-person shooter. "We’re thrilled to be working with THQ," said Phil Robb, COO, Turtle Rock Studios. "This project is the most ambitious thing we’ve ever attempted, and we’re inspired by the support THQ has shown to help us realize that vision. We’re going to take the first person shooter experience to a whole new level, and we can’t wait to show the game for the first time in the months ahead."

Call of Duty: Black Ops Patch Prepares for Mods

Steam News announces the availability of a new automatic patch to update Call of Duty: Black Ops, the military first-person shooter sequel. Significant changes in the new version include an improved DLC filter in the server browser and "support for mods in preparation for the upcoming tools release. The complete patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Dawn of War II: Retribution Patch and DLC

A new automatic patch is now available for Dawn of War II: Retribution, announces Steam News, with the patch notes showing this adds all sorts of paid DLC items. In conjunction with that, Steam also announces the release of the Dawn of War II: Retribution – Last Stand Complete Wargear Pack for both Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II- Retribution and Dawn of War II: Retribution – The Last Standalone. The change list for the new patch follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Total War: Shogun 2 Patch and Clan Pack

Steam News announces the release of a new patch for Total War: Shogun 2 , which coincides with the release of a new Ikko Ikki Clan Pack for the strategy sequel set in feudal Japan. Here's word on what the clan pack offers: "The Ikko Ikki Clan pack unlocks the iconic Buddhist rebel faction for single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as multiplayer battles. The content also adds a brand new agent type, the Ikko Ikki monk, to the campaign map in addition to adding eight unit variants for the Ikko Ikki and the unique Warrior Nun unit for other factions. On top of all this, there are also ten new retainers, new steam achievements, a unique Ikko Ikki General skill-tree, a new historical battle, new avatar armor sets for use in avatar conquest mode and much more." The notes for the new patch follow. Continue here to read the full story.

QuakeCon 2011 Premium Packages

With QuakeCon 2011 online pre-registration now underway, the Bethesda Blog outlines some all-new premium packages being offered, in addition to general admission, which continues to be free. These include a $20.00 Select-a-Seat Package which includes a mouse pad and t-shirt; a $35.00 Swag Pack which includes two t-shirts a signed Skyrim lithograph, and a pack of RAGE, Skyrim, and Prey 2 zipper-pulls; and a $50.00 QuakeCon done Quick Package (limited to 200) which includes a RAGE mousepad individually numbered and signed by hoop stud Tim Willits, a limited-edition QuakeCon 2011 zipper-pull, reserved seating for all events and express lane services.

Faxion Online Launches

UTV True Games announces the launch of Faxion Online, which they describe as "the irreverent free-to-play massively multiplayer role playing game that pits players against one another in the eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell." Here's more:

Faxion Online delivers aggressive and robust PVP gameplay and a unique territory control system that allows the opposing factions to battle for the fate of the seven deadly sins. Players begin their quest for dominance of war-torn Limbo, battling their way through each location in the game represented by the sins. With a unique multi-classing system, players will have the freedom to play the way they want with achievement and glory through adventure and combat.

Three Kingdoms Brawler Open Beta

The9 Interactive announces the launch of open beta testing of Three Kingdoms Brawler. Here's word: "Three Kingdoms Brawler, a free-to-play action brawler, is an updated version of the classic side-scrolling arcade beat-em up games for the new generation of online gamers. Set to officially launch this summer, players can now participate in the pre-launch beta by visiting http://tkb.the9hub.com. While no beta key is required to participate in the pre-launch, The9 further announced that there will be no data wipe, and players will be able to keep their accounts, characters and all game data for the commercial launch."

World of Battles: Morningstar Open Beta

Open beta testing is now underway for World of Battles: Morningstar, a new free-to-play online real-time strategy game that "combines real-time strategy with action and a bit of tabletop wargaming. 8 unique races, deep strategy, tons of units to unlock and upgrade, [and] nice graphics."

New Action Half-Life 2

A semi-recent post on Mod DB offers a new version 2 of Action Half-Life 2, which is a little surprising considering version 1 of this Half-Life 2 modification was released almost two years ago. Here's word: "The release version contains many animations and other things you have not seen during the open beta and also includes 9 official maps of which three are remakes of AHL classics. We also got a manual which not only tells you how to play AHL2 but also contains necessary information you need if you want to build maps or custom player models for AHL2. To celebrate the release we're proud to present an extra long release trailer, be sure to watch it fullscreen in the highest possible resolution." Thanks Ant.

New Via Digital Distribution

Games

Patches

On Sale

  • Aion: Assault on Balaurea on Direct2Drive. Save 50%.
  • ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • BioShock (Mac) on GamersGate. Save 30%.
  • Evil Genius on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Far Cry on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Far Cry Complete on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Far Cry 2: Fortune's Edition on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Frozen Synapse on GamersGate. Save 20%.
  • Frozen Synapse on Steam. Save 20%.
  • iBomber Defense on Steam. Save 10%.
  • Plants vs. Zombies on Games For Windows. Save 50%.
  • Total War: Shogun 2 on Direct2Drive. Save 33%.
  • Total War: SHOGUN 2 on Steam. Save 33%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Bambi rescued using the Jaws of Life. Thanks Ant. Very awesome. Wonder how it got in there to start with? Oh, and parents... keep your adorable children away from the jaws of life.

The Witcher 2 Patched, DRM Removed

The Witcher Website announces the new patch is now available for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, updating the RPG sequel to version 1.1, offering performance improvements, bug fixes, and "non-problematic" installation of the free DLC for the game (the patch actually includes "Troll Trouble" free DLC). In an unexpected development, the patch also removes the DRM from all versions of the game (the edition purchased through GOG.com had no DRM from the start). They offer the patch as a manual download, saying this will not download through the auto-patching system from the game launcher. There are several patches for different editions and localizations of the game, and some or all of these are mirrored on AtomicGamer Gamer's Hell, PC Games Forever, and The Patches Scrolls. Update: The Steam version of the update is now automatically available. Here's word:

Adam Badowski, CD Projekt RED Development Director, commented, “Our goal is to make our fans and customers happy and to reward them for buying our game and DRM schemes does not support our philosophy as they might create obstacles for users of legally bought copies. Our approach to countering piracy is to incorporate superior value in the legal version. This means it has to be superior in every respect: less troublesome to use and install, with full support, and with access to additional content and services. So, we felt keeping the DRM would mainly hurt our legitimate users. This is completely in line with what we said before the release of The Witcher 2. We felt DRM was necessary to prevent the game being pirated and leaked before release. This purpose has been served, so we are pleased to let our users enjoy the full freedom of game usage they deserve.”

Badowski also explained CD Projekt RED’s stance on DRM from another perspective, "It’s important to remember that the PC platform is far more complex than consoles. DRM adds another layer of complication and potential problems. We saw this clearly in our game. Pre-release tests showed only small performance differences compared to the DRM-free (GOG.com) versions. We were unpleasantly surprised when some of our fans reported much larger differences, up to 30% lower framerates. This was another clear signal that we had to remove DRM as soon as possible – the quality of our users’ gameplay experience is absolutely our number one priority!"

The Witcher 2 Patch Nears, DLC Workaround

The Witcher website offers a workaround for users who "have not been able to successfully download DLC from The Witcher 2 launcher application after registering the game." They offer a series of email addresses, saying that contacting the address appropriate to the DLC you are installing will provide an immediate solution to the problem. In a separate update they announce that the problems with the version 1.1 patch are cleared up, and the new version is on its way: "Currently the patch servers are being updated with the new patch version 1.1. As soon as the servers are back online you will be able to download the latest patch. Your patience is appreciated and we will inform you as soon as the patch servers are back online."

Capcom DRM Follow-up

A new Ask Capcom Forum Thread started by Christian Svensson indicates that a positive outcome may be possible after the negative backlash to the recent announcement that the upcoming Windows edition of Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition would use one of those DRM schemes that requires a constant internet connection (thanks Joao). Following much outcry, he is soliciting "a constructive dialog" on the topic of DRM, offering a Christian take on the four questions:

Question 1: Without using a secure network authentication mechanism of some kind (SSA, Steam CEG, Impulse GOO, SecuROAM, etc.) how can we validate that a copy is legitimate versus pirated?

Question 2: If it isn't what we've proposed, what form of limitations would be acceptable in the event that there in a "non trusted" mode, assuming that it can be secured?

Question 3: If there were a network validated install and we put in an offline mode that would allow you to have funtionality for some period of time, but require revalidation on a frequent interval, would that be acceptable?

Question 4: There seems to be a lot of supposition that the pirates will instantly crack whatever protections we put in place. One never knows, that could well be true. Personally, I'm not quite as defeatist. One at least has to try. Now, if we promised to "sunset" those protections in the event of a crack being created so that legitimate users don't have a substandard experience to pirates, is that an acceptable solution?

The Baconing Announced

Hothead Games announces The Baconing, "a new stand-alone experience about the mythology of the Bacon Fires" due for release this summer for Windows, OS X, "and other formats." There aren't any further details on the game other than what's quoted above, but lest anyone think that a delicious title is all they have cooked up for this project, they offer this teaser trailer, though that seems to indicate that this is precisely the case (and that the title wasn't even their first choice). Presumably more information will precede the game's release.

Company of Heroes Patch

The Company of Heroes Website announces the release of a new patch for Company of Heroes to update Relic's World War II real-time strategy game to version 2.602. Word is: "Patch 2.602 is now live for Company of Heroes - in order to update your game version you can simply launch the game and log in, you will then be prompted to download the new patch. The Steam version of the game needs to be updated through the Steam client, and that should be happening shortly." They also offer links to torrents of the various localized versions of the patch, all of which are mirrored on The Patches Scrolls (it seems the same patch will work on the base game as well as both expansions). Since the patch is now out of beta, Relic also announces the closure of the related CoH beta forums.

Red Faction: Armageddon Demo an OnLive Exclusive

OnLive is touting their playable demo for Red Faction: Armageddon as a "PC/Mac exclusive," as apparently the cloud-based service will be the only place Windows and OS X gamers will get to sample Volition's upcoming shooter sequel (thanks Kotaku). Those with a free OnLive membership can access the demo through this page, where they also link to the offer they previously announced of a free OnLive console with preorders of the game through their service.

Assassin's Creed Revelations Details, Trailer

Ubisoft offers new details on Assassin's Creed Revelations along with a new teaser trailer and some screenshots from the upcoming continuation of their stealth/action series. The clip is narrated by Ezio (who doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, it is Dos Equis), and it concludes promising a full-length trailer on June 6. Here's a bit from the announcement: "Assassin’s Creed Revelations follows master assassin Ezio Auditore as he walks in the footsteps of his legendary mentor, Altaïr, on a journey to recover five ancient seals that hold the keys to the future of the Assassins brotherhood. It is a perilous path – one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilize the region." The embedded version of the trailer follows. Continue here to read the full story.

F.E.A.R. 3 Contractions Trailer

A new trailer from F.E.A.R. 3 presents an introduction to the "Contractions" cooperative survival multiplayer mode from the upcoming horror-themed first-person shooter sequel Word is: "In the mode, players must band together to forage supplies and fend off the waves of enemies who are unleashed and eager to take down the squad. Once all squad members are incapacitated, the game is over, so players must work as a team." Here's the embedded clip Continue here to read the full story.

Chinese Gold-Farming Chain Gangs

Guardian.co.uk hears from someone claiming to be a former Chinese prisoner who explains how he and other convicts were forced to farm for gold in MMORPGs. He describes a scenario where prisoners were forced to play in 12-hour shifts on computers that were never shut off. "Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu (not his real name) told them. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off." As an aside, perhaps the most disturbing part of the story is the explanation of how this former prison guard ended up locked up in the first place, as word is he "was jailed for three years in 2004 for 'illegally petitioning' the central government about corruption in his hometown. Thanks Kxmode/Neutronbeam/Quboid.

Ships Ahoy - Frozen Synapse

Frozen Synapse is now available from the Frozen Synapse Website and Matrix Games, as was promised earlier this week. There is also an extensive The Making Of Frozen Synapse feature on SMTG (thanks Cliffski) with all sorts of background and other details about this indie simultaneous turn-based strategy game. Here's a bit from the release announcement:

"Each match immediately places you in an intense tactical situation: there's no waiting around for the fun part. Blast a hole in a wall with a rocket and then send in your close-range units, or take a stealthy approach and set up cover with a sniper: your approach is entirely down to your own creativity. If you can predict your opponent's moves, you can win the match: this game has been crafted so that superior tactics will triumph! Once you've outwitted your opponent with a series of perfect turns, watch your Global Ranking climb and export the results to YouTube instantly!

The Witcher 2 Patch Delayed

The Witcher 2 Website has word that the promised patch is delayed for The Witcher 2, the just-released action/RPG sequel:

The good news is that the patch is ready. The bad news is that we have encountered some problems with the server infrastructure, making downloading DLCs impossible. We want to apologize to our fans for not meeting our target of delivering the patch last night. We will update you when we know more.

Disney Universe Announced

MrsBlue's colleagues at Disney Interactive Studios announce Disney Universe, an upcoming "fast-paced" multiplayer action/adventure game coming this fall to Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. Word is:

In Disney Universe, players can select from more than 40 classic and contemporary Disney character costumes, including Alice (“Alice in Wonderland”), Mike (“Monsters, Inc.”), TRON (“TRON: Legacy”) and Stitch (“Lilo & Stitch”) to explore six different worlds inspired by legendary Disney and Disney•Pixar films. Each world will allow players to experience objectives and missions that follow Disney and Disney•Pixar movie storylines. Players will select a character-based costume, with each costume offering a specific tool that changes and grows in power as players adventure through the game. Disney Universe offers frenetic gameplay, multiplayer with up to three friends and slapstick humor that will appeal to players of all ages.

Black Prophecy Patched

A new version 1.02 of Black Prophecy is live, offering an update to this MMO space/action game that's operating in Europe and still be beta in North America. The update adds 10 new missions for different levels along with new clan resource missions. All the changes are outlined in these patch notes.

New Minecraft Beta

The Word of Notch announces the launch of the promised beta version 1.6 patch for Minecraft, the indie sensation that gamers dig so much. The update has extensive details on the changes and fixes in the patch, which requires both a client and a server update.

Syndicate Script Leaked?

Siliconera has segments of that they claim is the script to the Syndicate revival long rumored to be in development at Starbreeze. This outlines the game's cyberpunk themes and dystopian setting, but it is not explained how they got their hands on it. Thanks VG247.

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