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Thursday, Sep 22, 2011

  

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Closed Beta Next Month

Reporting from the Eurogamer Expo, The Reticule has news that beta testing of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will get underway early next month. Valve’s Chet Faliszek revealed the beta will begin for those who have received keys at the event and for some pro gamers, but they will ramp up after that, and hope to have the beta open to all by the end of this year.

Hellgate Global Interview - Sequel Plans?

There's an interview on GameBanshee talking with Namo Kang, project manager at HanbitSoft, about Hellgate Global, the free-to-play game born out of the ashes of Hellgate: London, the action/RPG from defunct developer Flagship Studios. They discuss how successful the game is and their ongoing support efforts, and conclude by asking about a possible sequel. Thanks to language quirkiness, it's not certain, but the answer seems to indicate a sequel is in development:

Of course we’ve considered developing a Hellgate sequel in-house. Now the developing is ongoing. For more information, we’ll notice about that over time.

The Witcher 2 2.0 Next Week

GOG.com says the promised new version 2.0 of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will be released a week from today on September 29th. The celebrate release plans for the enhanced edition of CD Projekt RED's action/RPG sequel with a permanent priced cut, and then offer a disincentive to take advantage of that by announcing the new version will launch a sale. Here's word:

The best RPG of 2011 is about to get even better, and we're doing a few things to celebrate. For one, we're dropping the price of The Witcher 2 permanently, starting right now. From now on, CD Projekt RED's award-winning game of 2011 is $39.99 USD! Of course if you live in UK, the Eurozone, or Australia, the price will also drop for you, respectively by £5.00, €10.00 and $10 AUD. It still means we're offering the 'Fair Price Package' to European and Australian customers to make up for the USD price difference. Also aside of today's price drop, next Thursday (September 29) when the highly anticipated "version 2.0" arrives, we'll launch a 25% off promo on The Witcher 2, which will make this awesome offer even better as you'll be able to grab the game for only $29.99 USD!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Patched

Steam News announces the release of a new patch for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, offering a hotfix to address problems from the previous update to Eidos Montreal's action/RPG sequel. The patch notes conclude with the following on future patch plans: "In addition to stuttering and performance problems we are continuing to investigate any other issues that players may have and will release a full new patch soon that also includes the previously mentioned 3DVision and Surround support." Here are the patch notes: Continue here to read the full story.

Red Orchestra 2 Patched

A new patch for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is now automatically available on Steam to update Tripwire Interactive's recently released World War II first-person shooter. Here's the change list: Continue here to read the full story.

Why No Commander in Battlefield 3

Eurogamer has an explanation from Karl Magnus Troedsson, general manager of DICE, on why there will be no commander in Battlefield 3, the next installment in DICE's military shooter series. "That's why the idea that we've had, the team-play elements of the Commander mode that we really like, we have tried to push down to the squads and the squad leaders," he explains. "We've tried to push this down into the squads so they can both fill the roles that the Commander had, but then also be an active soldier on the battlefield." Here's why:

"I don't know how many people have tried to play as a Commander in Battlefield 2, but it's kind of a strange experience. Everyone agrees that that actual role of the Commander is very, very cool. But the problem is that only one person per team could play it, and it was always the highest ranking one.

"But even for the people that played as a Commander, the first thing they did was what? They ran off to a corner somewhere and lay down there and tried to hide so the Spec Ops guy wouldn't find them when he was going to blow up the installations.

"They basically spent the whole match lying on the ground on some obscure corner of the map, hoping not to get knifed in the back and trying to support people."

Troedsson concluded: "There was something very cool about the Commander role and there was also something a bit flawed, we have to say."

OIO Demo

OIO is a 3D side-scrolling platformer that's now available for Windows and OS X. A playable Windows demo is available on the game's website, where they explain how in this game you play as wood while spreading seed (seriously), as word is: "The player controls OIO, a little wooden character, who can grow wooden beams by throwing special seeds on fertile grounds." The demo is mirrored on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

New Via Digital Distribution

GOG.com - Help us achieve 6 million downloads milestone. Also, Impulse is now GameStop Impulse!

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Op Ed

GameFront - Consoles Have Just Become Sh*tty PCs.
It’s funny, but I used to think PC gamers had all the problems. What with games becoming obsolete upon the release of a new OS, the lack of extra support and new content that studios lavish on console games, and the ever-present problems with excessive digital rights management, I was once glad that I stuck to consoles. After all, with an Xbox 360 or PS3, you just pop in a disc and the game works, right? Sure, the graphics might not be on par and the deep customization options don’t exist, but at least we get right into a game — no fuss, no muss.

Thinking of that attitude as I come fresh off a forty-five minute Resistance 3 patch, I can’t help feeling like a little bit of a tool.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Diablo III DRM Problems

Rock, Paper, Shotgun discusses the always-on DRM in the Diablo III beta in an article titled "How Diablo III’s DRM Will Affect You," posted under the heading "Why Blizzard Must Reconsider." This recaps Blizzard's reasoning for requiring a constant internet connection to play the upcoming action/RPG sequel, and in spite of there being a better reason for risking players losing their progress due to crashing than was the case in Settlers VII, says: "it doesn’t make the problem go away, and I want to strongly argue that Blizzard reconsider their decision, in the face of its simply breaking their game. Because no matter how perfect your connection, it will affect you." The author describes losing progress due to server glitches, and grants that this is still a beta, but notes that such glitches are still to be expected occasionally once the game launches for real. He also goes on to outline the following "more striking and regular problem" he has encountered:

You can’t pause. In fact, in most ways, the game acts like an MMO. For instance, quit it, and you’re given the optional cooldown to have your player clear the server properly. But it’s not an MMO. It’s not even close to an MMO. So when I’m playing the single-player game, and I’m in the middle of a frenzied mob, and there’s a knock at the front door, there’s nothing I can do. As happened to me yesterday. Twice. On another occasion I was surprised by a phone call that led to my having to do some other things. I’d safely left my character in a cleared area, but long between checkpoints. When I came back to the PC, I’d been idle for too long and the game had logged me out.

I’d been logged out of a single-player game because I was away for an hour. And thus lost all my progress (although not my items and stats) since the last checkpoint, a long, long way back.

In fact, currently, losing your connection (either by idling or the server going down) resets huge chunks of what you’ve already played, such that the map is blank, and you need to battle through it again. Whether that’s an issue with the beta, or something that will also carry through to the finished game, we obviously don’t know. But it’s another clear example of how having your single-player, offline game require a constant connection is massively idiotic and counter-productive.

Games with occasional checkpoints are obviously a massive pain for anyone who might or need to stop playing at that moment – something that’s not exactly an uncommon occurrence. But a game where that’s the case, AND you can’t even leave it running in the background, is beyond acceptable.

Batman: Arkham City "Secrets Of The Joker" Trailer

MTV Multiplayer has a new "Secrets of the Joker" trailer from Batman: Arkham City, though it does not seem to actually reveal any secrets about the clown prince of crime (not even how he got those scars). It does, however, hint at some sort of hidden agenda for the him, as even though Hugh Strange is the primary antagonist in Rocksteady's upcoming superhero stealth/action sequel, the clip concludes with the Joker saying: "We're coming to the end, aren't we? When you see what I've been planning all along... you'll just die!" Update: Word is this is exclusive for U.S. users for some reason. Sorry about that.

Ships Ahoy - Call of Duty: Black Ops Rezurrection

Activision and Treyarch announce the Windows PC and PlayStation 3 editions of the Rezurrection DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops are now available, now that the timed Xbox 360 exclusivity of the zombie-themed content pack has concluded. This will be celebrated with a double XP weekend for the military shooter, which will run from tomorrow through Monday. The PC edition is available on Steam, and here's a reminder about what it offers:

Santa Monica, CA - September 22, 2011 - Call of Duty® gamers lock and load in low gravity today with the release of Call of Duty®: Black Ops Rezurrection, the fourth downloadable content pack for the best-selling first-person-shooter, Call of Duty®: Black Ops. Rezurrection's top-secret cargo features the massive Zombies frag-fest Moon, as well as four re-mastered levels from Zombies past, an enhanced soundtrack and new Moon theme.

Moon features all-new weapons, futuristic gear and hordes of low-gravity loving undead, delivering Black Ops' deepest and most intense Zombies experience yet. Meanwhile, strengthened with the firepower and visual splendor of Black Ops, players can relive the nightmare of "Nacht der Üntoten," escape the zombie madness in the asylum of "Verrückt," battle back the undead Imperial Army of "Shi No Numa," and pull the plug on "Der Riese," the zombie factory that started it all.

NVIDIA on PC Gaming Sales and Performance Uptrends

Techgage and PC Perspective both offer reports based on a conference call conducted by NVIDIA to discuss gaming trends on the PC platform. They provide results of some research conducted by DFC Intelligence to suggest that not only is PC gaming not on the wane, as some have suggested, but that revenues from PC games will surpass consoles by 2014, offering a graph showing the uptrend in sales via digital distribution, online subscriptions, and microtransactions being a major part of this equation. True to NVIDIA's business, they also offer a graph showing the steady improvement in PC graphics performance in the past six years compared that with console graphics performance, which obviously has not changed at all over that span. They start at 2005 showing PC graphics performance about 80% higher than the Xbox 360, and the uptrend that leads to the present, where graphics performance on the PC is shown to be nearly 900% higher than on the 360.

Battlefield 3 Expansions Timed PS3 Exclusives

DICE has struck a deal with Sony to make all "full-blown upcoming expansion packs" for Battlefield 3 timed PS3 exclusives, though the exclusivity period will be just one week, as opposed to the approximate month-long headstart Xbox 360 users get on DLC for Call of Duty. Tommy Rydling, Junior Product Manager at DICE, made the announcement on PlayStation Blog: "But that’s not all for our PlayStation fans! You’ll be happy to know that beginning with our first expansion pack Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand (to be released later this year), all full-blown upcoming expansion packs for the game will appear one week early exclusively on PS3, brought to you by Sony!" Thanks G4tv.com.

Annotated Max Payne 3 Trailer

The Max Payne 3 Website now offers a "pop-up edition" of the recently released first trailer from the next installment in the film noir-style third-person shooter series. Though absent the familiar pop-up sound effect from the VH-1 days, the clip does add annotations that appear throughout, offering insights about the game, including the return of James McCaffrey as the voice of Max, story elements like why he must leave New York City, and gameplay details like "cover will only give you a respite, the way to survive and progress is by running and gunning, and "all guns are fully articulated and every bullet is physically rendered allowing Max to shoot dodge and use bullet time with great accuracy to avoid bullets." Adding to the experience, these annotations are annotated, as they contain hyperlinks to other resources expanding on their explanations. Continue here to read the full story.

New XCOM "Adheres to the Tenets" of X-COM (By Changing Everything)

This video offers the first developer diary from XCOM the upcoming X-Com revival in a clip titled "What is XCOM?" They call this a "really beloved franchise" that 2K Marin – Canberra is looking to "reinvigorate...with a new entry that really adheres to the tenets of what made the original game so special," in spite of the change in genre from a turn-based tactics game to a first-person shooter. "Our telling of XCOM is an origin story. It's about experiencing the origins of this organization from a really zoomed in and boots-on-the-ground perspective," explains Jonathan Pelling, lead designer. "We really wanted you to feel like what it was like to be one of the squadies in the original game, and not the all-knowing, top-down commander."

So what about these tenets to which they are adhering? "We've taken a lot of the mythos that had previously been established, and sort of re-imagined it, or re-engineered it," says Morgan Gray, development director. "Like sort of the very small humble roots of the organization before it became this globe-spanning, globally funded anti-alien defense force." The diary goes on to offer more details about the game's alien invasion and the unusual nature of the organization combating it. Continue here to read the full story.

Valve eSport Documentary; Dota 2 Item Shop? Ep3/Space Sim Hints?

A thread on NeoGAF attempts to round up all that was found in a data mining expedition through Valve's Dota 2 beta, which has apparently leaked onto the internet. This includes some sounds, artwork, lore, and more. They also look through data structures in the MOBA beta finding indications the game will have an item shop, hats, a killcam, a "newbie detector," and more. Some of the data therein are being interpreted as indications of future projects, including what may be references to Episode 3 as well as a space game, though it's not clear why such things would need to be in Dota 2. None of this is confirmed, of course, but there is also an updated Valve logo and a video showing the beta that seem strong indications that this is not based on nothing. On a less speculative note, a story on the South Oregon Mail Tribune indicates Valve is at work on a documentary about e-sports, focusing on Defense of the Ancients. Thanks Steven.

ArcaniA: Fall of Setarrif Next Month

Nordic Games announces an October 25th release date for ArcaniA: Fall of Setarrif, saying the standalone expansion for ArcaniA - Gothic 4 will carry a European price of €14.99 via digital distribution. This was previously expected this past March before being delayed due to "unclear and diverse legal positions," regarding its funding. This was no doubt related to the insolvency of publisher JoWooD and cleared up by the acquisition of JoWooD by Nordic. "We are glad that ArcaniA: Fall of Setarrif happens to be the first release of our company," said Lars Wingefors, CEO, Nordic Games. "There are still a lot of background activities taking place, but I could not think of a better way to break the ice and get our communications started than with this product announcement." They says Fall of Setarrif should provide between four and eight hours of gameplay.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Arsenal Modes Revealed

Valve announces two "Arsenal" gameplay modes for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, their upcoming continuation of the Counter-Strike series of tactical first-person shooters:

September 22, 2011 - 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), today announced the new game modes for 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 12 years ago.

Arsenal Mode is based on the popular Counter-Strike: Source mod Gun Game. "Arsenal: Arms Race" and "Arsenal: Demolition" add eight new maps and expand on the classic Counter-Strike gameplay.

Valve is working directly with creators of Gun Game to create Arsenal Mode. "We are excited that Valve reached out and is working with us to ensure Arsenal Mode is the best version of Gun Game.", Michael Barr project lead of Gun Game.

Salem Delayed; Live Stream Demo Next Week

Paradox Interactive announces plans to show off some of their upcoming games with online live stream demos on the Paradox Interactive channels on Justin.tv and Twitch TV. This will kick off next Tuesday, September 27th at 3:00 pm EDT, with a look at Salem, their MMORPG set in the days of colonial America. They also indicate the game will be delayed, as the announcement from back in February said it was to go live "later this year," but now word is to expect it by the middle of 2012. "Our players have asked for more info, more access and a greater view into how our title line-up is coming along," said Gordon Van Dyke, producer at Paradox Interactive. "We’ve found a way to bring our community deeper into the process through live streaming demos, show off our progress and give our fans and players the chance to ask about how things are developing."

Ships Ahoy - Bunch of Heroes

NGD Studios announces that Bunch of Heroes is available on Steam and GamersGate, offering the chance to fend off an alien invasion and an army of zombies y controlling "the most formidable team of elite fighters ever assembled from around the world." This apparently represents some sort of self-publishing milestone: "We’re very excited to become the first studio that self-publishes their very own game on STEAM. We’re proud of Bunch of Heroes because of its quality but mostly, because it was born out of our passion for making videogames", said Gastón DiPasquo, Lead Artist at NGD Studios. Here's a trailer, and here's word:

"Bunch of Heroes" features stylized cartoon like artwork, funky rock and roll music, cutting edge technology, great humor and cooperative gameplay to inspire zombie killers and E.T. haters alike all over the globe! Become a Hero; Earth needs a bunch of them at least!

A Game of Thrones: Genesis Trailer

A new trailer from A Game of Thrones: Genesis offers cinematics and gameplay from the imminent real-time strategy game based on the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the related HBO television series. Word is: "Plunge into the heart of the continent of Westeros for a minute, while a Targaryen king is preparing to battle the Houses seeking to claim his Iron Throne. From the kingdom of Dorne in the South, to Winterfell and the famous Wall in the North, many will be the people he will have to subject to his rule. Military conquests, treachery, or diplomacy… all strategies are conceivable. What king will you choose to be?" The game is expected to go on sale one week from today. Continue here to read the full story.

RailWorks Signs Amtrak Agreement

Railsimulator.com announces a licence agreement to bring officially-licensed Amtrak content to their railroading simulators, including RailWorks3: Train Simulator 2012, which is due for release tomorrow, a rare opportunity for Amtrak to stay on schedule. Amtrak , joins licensees BNSF, Union Pacific, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, and more. "The partnership with Amtrak adds passenger service to our already robust coverage of North American railroads," said Paul Jackson CEO of Railsimulator.com. "As Amtrak celebrates its 40th anniversary, record numbers of people are rediscovering train travel, and our simulator makes it simple to get started in the hobby." Also, the Train Simulator 2012 Official Trailer is now online, showing off the game (thanks Rhialto). Continue here to read the full story.

New Evochron Mercenary

The Evochron Mercenary Website now offers downloads of a new version 1.588 of Evochron Mercenary, which serves as a full installer, a patch for prior versions, as well as a playable demo for this space exploration and combat simulation. Here are the changes in the new version, which is required for multiplayer compatibility: Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

GameSpy - Should Diablo III have been first person?
I'll admit it. My first ever hands-on time with any Diablo game occurred just 24 hours ago, when my inexperienced Demon Hunter took his first fumbling steps into the Diablo III beta's dark and ominous dungeons. It took just three hours before I'd hacked and slashed my way to the main storyline's satisfying conclusion, but in that short period of time my eyes were opened to an entirely new perspective on a gaming world. As a lover of first person games, the isometric camera system in Diablo III felt very unfamiliar, and I inevitably wondered why Blizzard didn't make the leap to first person like so many other developers. This led me to wonder - should Diablo III have been a first person game, and what are the pros and cons of this approach? Let's find out.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Video game reviews and the world of low standards.

Hardware Reviews

etc.

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