EA and Klei Entertainment announce Shank 2, saying this action game sequel is coming to Windows PC, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network early next year. "Creatively, Shank still has a lot to give," said Jamie Cheng, founder of Klei Entertainment. "We took the feedback from the community and ran with it, putting our own flavor on every change. For Shank 2, we literally took apart the game and put it back together to push the envelope in combat mechanics, visuals, and 2D animation in games." Here's more:
Shank 2 returns with a story of redemption as Shank, a former mob hitman with a dark and vengeful past, is thrust back into action when the lives of those close to him are endangered. Expanding on the original game’s rich and intuitive combat and control system, Shank 2 continues Klei's tradition of making fluid brawling controls and stunningly beautiful visuals that leapfrogs the competition in the 2D side-scrolling genre. The game also introduces an intense new, arcade-style survival co-op mode that has gamers working together to take down their foes, relying on the environment and weapon pick-ups for survival.
A job listing from IO Interactive for a Senior Multiplayer Programmer may be an indication that a third installment in the Kane & Lynch series may be on the way, as it mentions an "unannounced 3rd person game with strong cooperative multiplayer elements." Thanks PC Gamer via Gamerzines.
A semi-recent post on the Dejobaan Games Website announces a contest that reveals plans for a "semi-sequel" to AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!: A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, their base-jumping game (thanks GamePro). They say: "The semi-sequel to our 2009 hit, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! is coming. The cleverest captioned photos will appear in the game and will net their creators a free copy on Steam, once it’s out at the end of the year! (Yes, we haven’t officially announced the new game. Don’t tell anyone.)"
The Bethesda Blog announces the Courier’s Stash and Gun Runners' Arsenal DLC for Fallout New Vegas are both now available, offering one final preview of the new content these add to Obsidian's action/RPG sequel. They are both available on Steam, where they offer these descriptions:
Gun Runners' Arsenal™ includes new weapons, weapon mods, ammo types and recipes. The Gun Runners inventory doesn’t come without a price, though. Trek far and wide throughout the Mojave Wasteland in search of this elite class of weapons that range from the outrageously potent to the bizarrely impractical.
Courier’s Stash™ gives players immediate access to four content bundles previously available only through pre-ordering Fallout: New Vegas®: the Caravan Pack, Classic Pack, Mercenary Pack, and Tribal Pack.
The Total War Blog has word that the Rise of the Samurai DLC is now available on Steam, offering a new prequel campaign for Total War: Shogun 2, the strategy sequel set in feudal Japan. They offer a couple of trailer showing off its new content, and here's the description from Steam:
Set 400 years before the dramatic civil war depicted in SHOGUN 2, the "Rise of The Samurai" campaign is based on the Gempei War, a conflict between six legendary clans of the Taira, Minamoto and Fujiwara families. It culminated in the first Shogunate, and the rise of the Samurai as the ruling class.
EA SPORTS announcesFIFA Soccer 12 is now available in North America for Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo 3DS, PSP, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (sorry Commodore 64 owners). They note that this is "currently the highest rated sports videogame ever on PlayStation3 and Xbox 360," and that the game's release in other territories will come on Friday. Here's how they describe the latest installment in the association football series:
FIFA Soccer 12 brings to the pitch the game-changing new Player Impact Engine, and revolutionary gameplay innovations inspired by the real-world game, including all-new Precision Dribbling, Tactical Defending, and Pro Player Intelligence. Plus, new live services and breakthrough social experiences like EA SPORTS Football Club, and FIFA Ultimate Team, will deepen fans’ connection to the real-world game, their favorite club, and their friends, rivals and millions of other players around the world in the massive FIFA online community. FIFA Soccer 12 on Mac has the same revolutionary core gameplay features as the HD consoles, and for the first time ever, Mac and PC gamers can play with and against each other in online head-to-head matches.
The Lord of the Rings Online Website announces that the Rise of Isengard expansion is now live in the Tolkien-inspired MMORPG. This offers three new regions to explore, a new 24-player raid, and raises the game's level cap to 75. Here's the flowery version: "Where ancient forests once flourished, a corrupted waste of metal and wheels suffers under the thrall of the traitorous wizard Saruman. Here, in the shadows of the tower of Orthanc, gathers an army of Orcs and Uruk-hai, toiling to make ready for war. Forge ahead into these devastated lands and uncover new quests, skills, and traits as you strive to thwart Saruman's ambition!"
The Dungeons Website announces the North American release of The Dark Lord, a standalone expansion for the good to be bad strategy game. The new release adds new features, including multiplayer play, as described here:
In Dungeons – The Dark Lord, players will craft elaborate dungeons, laden with traps, treasure and monsters, in an attempt to lure in hapless heroes. Once those heroes enter the dungeon, they'll become fodder for the torture racks of the Dungeon Lord and his friends. Dungeons – The Dark Lord adds a new campaign map, a new single-player storyline, additional prestige gimmicks and more importantly – multiplayer gameplay! Players will now be able to go head-to-head in various competitive modes, proving who is the most sinister gamer of all.
Improves performance in Battlefield 3 Open Beta release for both non-Anti-Aliasing, and application enabled Anti-Aliasing cases on the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series for single GPU configurations
Improves performance in Battlefield 3 Open Beta release for both non-Anti-Aliasing, and application enabled Anti-Aliasing cases on CrossFire configurations using the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series
Enables support for Eyefinity 5x1 display (portrait and landscape) configurations using the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series
Vision Engine Control Center: User Interface enhancements have been implemented for the CrossfireX, GPU Overdrive, and Information Center pages.
Above and Beyond Technologies announces The Repopulation, an upcoming MMORPG being independently developed for a while now by a small team using the HeroEngine. A pre-alpha trailer and these screenshots show off where this currently stands, and here's their official description: "The Repopulation is a Science Fiction Massive Multiplayer Online Role Player Game by Above and Beyond Technologies. You begin your adventure as a second generation clone colonist on the planet of Rhyldan, with mankind on the verge of extinction, and in the midst of a civil war. We've taken a fresh look at every feature of the Massive Multiplayer genre, with an eye on revolution, rather than evolution. The end result is a unique feature set aimed towards old school fans and new players alike." Here's an extensive feature list: Continue here to read the full story.
Lionsgate has optioned rights to adapt Dead Island for the big screen, reports FirstShowing, saying the game will play on the Dead Island cinematic trailer that created such a stir, as well as the game itself: "Like the trailer that will serve as its primary creative inspiration, the film Dead Island will be an innovation of the zombie genre because of its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling." A report in February that the film rights to the game were optioned before it was even released were quickly debunked.
The Iron Tower Studio Forums put out a call for help completing Dead State, the zombie RPG they announced last summer (thanks Acleacius).They list a number of positions they need to fill, but also explain they are not offering full-time salaried positions:
It has become apparent that a lot of people want Dead State and they want it now. So far we’ve been able to accomplish a lot with our small team, but in order to get the game done in a more timely fashion, it’s apparent that we’re going to have to at least start considering some new additions to help us get Dead State to the marketplace.
So, here’s the pitch – are you a modder looking to work on an original title? Are you new to the game industry and looking to get professional credit on your resume? Are you an experienced game developer looking to work on a zombie RPG in your spare time because you’ve always wanted to play one? We are looking for folks like you.
Now, a few things about the project. We have very little funding – work on the project ranges from contribution for credit in the game to payment after the project comes out (for the long-term members of the team). This is not likely to change, so this is NOT a full-time job with a salary, though if the game does well enough (and we like your work) it could lead to paid work on future projects.
We’re not expecting full-time hours – attitude, efficiency, and reliability are key. We’re looking for team members that can complete tasks they’ve agreed to take on within a reasonable amount of time and communicate their progress to the leads. Professional discretion about your work is expected. Working well with the team is a must.
Croteam and Devolver digital announceSerious Sam: The Random Encounter will be released in the middle of next month, offering this retro-styled RPG installment in in their indie series of Serious Sam games. "We’re big Serious Sam fans and this was a once in a life opportunity to make something truly unique for the iconic franchise with Serious Sam: The Random Encounter," said Rami Ismail, co-founder of developer Vlambeer. "Plus, Devolver Digital promised us matching Ferraris and all the chocolate milk we could drink. We really love chocolate milk." Here are some screenshots, and here is a feature list: Continue here to read the full story.
An interview on IndustryGamers talks with Tony Bartel of GameStop about their cloud gaming initiatives, where Bartel says his company has "an advantage" over competition like Gaikai and OnLive because they "know who has reserved a game for the big launches. As you have these large launches come out, it will tax the system. Based on the fact that it’s extremely capital intensive, it is going to be a challenge for the industry to scale for some of these major launches, especially if people are streaming directly."
Jonathan Blow talks about The Witness in a new interview on Edge Magazine about his upcoming project, also covering topics like puzzles, non-linearity, the impact on the industry of the success of Minecraft, his frustration with the aging current generation of game consoles, and more. He has some interesting things to say about the iterative release of games like Minecraft and console limitations:
Plus, these types of games only really work on PC and iOS platforms because consoles aren't open to constant updates.
I wonder what those console platforms are going to do when this type of development becomes more widespread, because I think it will. But we'll still have both types of games - the finished article that's perfectly tied up, and the exploratory type where you, the player, are along for the development ride. If I worked with consoles I'd be wanting to find out how we can make that more possible on my architecture.
We like 360 and PS3, but their specifications are over five years old now, and that's a lot in computer years. The kind of tricks we'd have to perform to get this game working on those platforms are such a lot of work that to port it over at this point is just not worth it for us. The budget of this game we would hope to make back through Steam and iOS, plus I would like to make a profit. But breaking even is most important as it allows me to keep making games, and I can do that without consoles. Maybe this time next year I'll be singing a different tune because I found out I was wrong, but I don't think so. By the time this game comes out in a year or more, we might be on an iPad 4.
The Eidos Montreal Blog offers this trailer to answer the burning question of whether the fridge from Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be making its return in The Missing Link, the upcoming DLC for the action/RPG sequel. Continue here to read the full story.
So many techie bits today and too many game stories make for quite an evening news flood. Days like this make me consider the pros and cons of giving up on the bulleted lists of tech stories to concentrate on getting the game stories posted as they come up, rather than in a big batch like this, but it's hard to make such a fundamental change in approach. I'm very concerned with what you all would think about this, so feel free to share your thoughts if you have an opinion.
Markus 'Notch' Persson tweets that the legal battle between Bethesda Softworks and Mojang is headed to court, saying simply: "The Scrolls case is going to court! Weee! :D". In March, Mojang announced plans for a collectible card-based game called Scrolls, which prompted Bethesda to sue, alleging this infringes on The Elder Scrolls brand. Notch initially expressed optimism this could all be sorted out without litigation, at one point suggesting a QUAKE III Arena deathmatch to settle matters, but apparently hotter heads have prevailed.
Ubisoft announces that the Windows PC edition of Driver: San Francisco is now available in North America, offering a new installment in the driving/action series that began with Driver: The Wheelman back in the 20th century. Here's word:
Developed by Ubisoft Reflections under the direction of the creators of the original title, Driver San Francisco marks the return of the established video game series that has sold 14 million copies worldwide. Gamers will play as Detective John Tanner on a relentless manhunt for crime lord Charles Jericho through the hills of the City by the Bay. Thanks to a groundbreaking gameplay feature, players can now seamlessly SHIFT between well over a hundred licensed vehicles, keeping them constantly in the heart of the action.
NCsoft and Paragon Studios announce the launch of City of Heroes Freedom, beginning the free-to-play era for the superhero MMORPG, converging with the launch of the game's issue 21 update, titled Convergence. "Our fans have come to expect great content and with City of Heroes Freedom we’ve clearly raised the bar by delivering the best game play we’ve ever developed, and giving players the choice to truly customize their gaming experience," said Brian Clayton, Executive Producer at Paragon Studios. "We aren’t just flipping a switch and going ‘Free-to-Play.’ We’re embarking on the biggest content and feature update to City of Heroes in its seven-year history." Here's more on the now free-to-play game:
Starting today, the Freedom model allows all players to reach level 50 at no cost, while providing players with the option to purchase new content a la carte to build a one of a kind gaming experience. Kicking off this era of choice, reward and content is Issue 21: Convergence, ready for players as soon as they log in. Issue 21: Convergence and City of Heroes Freedom come packed with a whole new zone, Incarnate Trial, powers, costumes and more, including the new monthly Signature Story Arcs and the Paragon Rewards Program.
The Bohemia Interactive Forums point out an ITV Documentary which aired yesterday on British TV showing a helicopter attack labeled "IRA footage 1988" which is actually footage from Arma2, BIS's military shooter sequel. One of the ensuing user comments answers the documentary's statement that "no one was killed in this attack" by pointing out that this is because it was a videogame. There are also comments from Bohemia stating this was done without their permission, and is against the game's terms of service. The scene in question is shown in this YouTube video which also provides the original gameplay clip. Thanks digitalFatteh via joe.ie. Update: A post on Kotaku has a statement from ITV: "The events featured in Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA were genuine but it would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers. This was an unfortunate case of human error for which we apologise." They say ITV claims to hold actual video of the attack, and plan on replacing the game footage in the documentary.
Kalypso Media USA announces that Air Conflicts: Secret Wars is landing on North American store shelves, offering World War I and World War II aerial combat, including three multiplayer modes, for Windows PC and Xbox 360. Here's word:
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars- is an arcade flight game with battles spanning both World Wars, featuring seven campaigns and 49 missions that engage players in white-knuckle air battles and secret missions across Europe and North Africa. An impressive selection of famous aircraft of the era is available to the player, each showcasing specific strengths and weaknesses in the battle for air supremacy.
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars- challenges players with an exciting mix of mission types, including—patrolling, sneaking/stealth, hit & run, bombing and escort objectives. Mission objectives are presented in an animated, graphic-novel style format as cockpit chatter keeps the game lively and fun. An upgrade system lets players tune their skills while also boosting their wingman’s skills. Casual pilots and veteran simulation fan will appreciate the game’s dual control schemes- either arcade, for simpler, faster control, or simulation mode, for more fine-tuned and realistic control.
The Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded Website has an update from a few days ago that this Unreal Engine 3 remake of Duke Nukem 3D, which was coincidentally first mentioned here exactly one year ago today, will be completed "at a future date that is yet to be determined" (thanks Mad Max RW). Though the remake was going forward with the approval of Gearbox Software, owners of the Duke franchise, a follow-up post on their forums from the project lead indicates they may have made this decision out of a dispute with Gearbox over how the project was being handled:
We are around 90% finished with the current Multiplayer version - But you have to remember, that we don't own the game. Its done under a signed license with Gearbox Software. Which ultimately means, that we cannot do whatever we want with the project.
Its not really up to us. We have had a long conversation with Gearbox about this matter. And the fact is, that we are bound by a license. A license of an IP owned by Gearbox Software. And we can't do much about it.."
We haven't given up - By far! This team is extremely productive, and we were actually in the final phase of the game, slowly starting our Beta phase.
But there are some conditions which we can't live with, with our license and agreement. And because of this, we have decided to put the project on hold.
This might change in the future - it all depends on what Gearbox decides to do, after the DNF DLC has been released.
Update: A subsequent post stresses that shelving the project was the development team's decision, and not Gearbox's.
An interview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun talks with Adam Badowski of CD Projekt RED about the version 2.0 update for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings that will be released on Thursday. He also says that if they choose to release DLC for the game, it will be free for the Windows PC edition. "All DLC for the PC version is and will remain FREE. That’s not likely to be the story for the Xbox version, because of certain Microsoft policies that need to be followed," he explains. "But on PC, once you buy our game, you don’t need to worry about any additional costs – we will provide all updates, including those featuring new content, for free. I think it’s reasonable than when you buy our product, you can expect us to service it for you quite a long time after release, though less intensively as time goes by. Any payable DLC that appears is likely to be a more classic expansion pack along the lines of, say, Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast. But this is a purely theoretical discussion at this point, as we have yet to confirm or even plan any official expansion packs." Also, this recent trailer discusses the improvements in version 2.0, and GOG.com offers these patch notes: Continue here to read the full story.
Capcom Unity has details on the Windows PC edition of Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, listing the various etailers where a 10% discount is offered for preordering the zombie game sequel. They also note the game uses Games for Windows LIVE SSA DRM and will require a one-time online activation. The Direct2Drive listing for the game (thanks Eurogamer) offers PC system requirements:
Operating system: Windows Vista®/XP, Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better, AMD Athlon X2 2.2 Ghz or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard disk space: 8.5 GB free hard drive space
Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800GTS or better, ATI RadeonTM HD 3850 or better
Internet connection required for game activation. Game not playable until 10/11/2011.
A post on Japanese site Sponichi Annex translated by Andriasang quotes Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada on the impact of the disasterous launch of FINAL FANTASY XIV, as he says the "The Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged," by the MMORPG. He says their efforts at rectifying this continue: "We'll continue with our reform work, which basically amounts to fully redoing the game, and hope to revive the FFXIV that should have been released." Thanks VG247.
The Bethesda Blog announces the "star-studded cast" of voice actors appearing in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the next installment in Bethesda's role-playing series. They are not exaggerating the star part, as the game will feature Max Von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, and Joan Allen, a trio with five Oscar nominations between them. "It’s been incredible to have all these actors together," said Todd Howard, Game Director. "When you start a project, you always make your wish-list of actors, and to actually hear them in the game, it’s amazing. We can’t wait for everyone to experience it." The cast will also feature Lynda Carter, Michael Hogan, and more. Word is the game will include 70 different voice actors delivering over 60,000 lines of dialogue.
Triangle Studios announcesCross of the Dutchman, an action/adventure game set in medieval Europe based on a Dutch folk legend planned for release in early 2012. The Cross of the Dutchman Website offers all sorts of media and information for the game. Here's word on the game:
Cross of the Dutchman tells the legendary story of “Grutte” Pier Gerlofs Donia. A hero 7 feet tall with the strength of an ox. A man who stood up to the oppressors of his land after a great injustice was done to him and his family. A kind man who turned into a brute, and took up the task of liberating his homeland, and destroying those who stood against him.
Matrix Games announcesDistant Worlds Legends, an upcoming second expansion for Distant Worlds, Code Force's 4X space strategy game. the add-on is in beta testing for a November release, when it will offer owners of the original game "exciting new features and improvements, including a brand new character system with skills, traits and advancements based on each character’s actions." They are also running a competition to create a new creature to be included in the expansion.
An interview on GameSpy chats with Robert bowling of Infinity Ward about the Windows PC edition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, their upcoming military shooter sequel. He reiterates all the PC-specific features the game will offer that were missing from Modern Warfare 2, says the server browser will only offer the ability to sort by ping, changes to matchmaking algorithms, that they are not certain whether user-hosted servers can be ranked, the reason for removing dedicated servers from MW2 and adding them back to MW3, cheat prevention, how MW2's system requirements are slightly higher than MW3's, their uncertainty over whether they will ever support user-created mods again, and more.
PC Games Hardware has their own look at the advantages in the Windows PC edition of Batman: Arkham City, the upcoming action/stealth sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum talking with Ben Wyatt of Rocksteady Studios on how the Windows edition will differ from the console versions. The game's Technical Director tells them that the game will not support DirectX 10, and outlines the following advantages its DirectX 11 graphics will enjoy over running it under DirectX 9:
Compared to the DX9 mode, the DX11 mode will have:
1. More geometric detail on tessellated objects, such as architectural details, vines and other organic shapes. The main difference will be no visible triangles and additional displacement-mapping detail. The difference will be mostly noticeable at to object's silhouettes, as well as playing the game with 3D Vision (which makes the displacement-mapping detail much more obvious).
2. A more pronounced contact occlusion due to the DX11 SSAO (especially noticeable on the PhysX debris, leaves, and paper), which makes certain objects look more in contact with the ground (as opposed to floating above the ground).
3. Contact-hardening soft shadows for the dynamic shadows cast by the player-controlled character (either Batman or Catwoman). On DX9, this dynamic shadow does not harden on contact, which looks less realistic.
Happy Cloud is a Cambridge, MA-based cloud gaming startup, as they are partnering with AMD to bring videogames to internet-connected televisions. There are details on BostonHerald.com where Happy Cloud claims they are pioneering this area in spite of already established players OnLive and Gaikai, as the article states: "The service will provide high-resolution, console-quality games — a first for the industry, according to Happy Cloud — without the need for a console or physical game disc." Word is: "Happy Cloud, whose new TV service will run on Windows, says it has undisclosed partnerships in place to make more than 2,000 video games accessible through the new TV technology. It’s teamed with Akamai Technologies, a Cambridge-based Internet data-delivery company that will give it access to 100,000 server locations throughout the world to ensure high-speed delivery."