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Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012

  

Ships Ahoy - LEGO The Lord of the Rings

WBIE and the LEGO Group announce the release of LEGO The Lord of the Rings, saying the Windows and console editions of TT Games' latest brixilated action./adventure adaptation can now be found in North America. Those interested in sampling the game can check out the recently released demo. Here's an overview:

Based on The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy, LEGO The Lord of the Rings takes players on an epic journey through Middle-earth as they take the form of their favorite members of the Fellowship and relive momentous events from the films.

Family members of all ages will enjoy playing together in easy drop-in, drop-out co-op gameplay, as they partake in the iconic Helms Deep Battle, explore The Shire, escape the fiery pits of Mount Doom, and battle against Shelob, the Nazgûl, and the Ringwraiths, all while solving puzzles, and collecting and using a variety of weaponry and magical items, including the Light of Eärendil, Elven rope, swords, and bows.

Ships Ahoy - F1 Race Stars

Codemasters announces the green flag has dropped on F1 Race Stars, and the arcade Formula One racing game is now in North American stores for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. There are new home shopping-style videos to promote the game on its YouTube channel, and here's word:

F1 Race Stars, from Codemasters Racing, features the full cast of FORMULA ONE stars as you’ve never seen them before in a chaotic sprint for the checkered flag on circuits littered with power-ups and featuring jumps, loop-the-loops and barrel-rolls! Designed to share the fun with four-player split-screen racing, which can be combined with 12 player-online play, racing fans of all ages will experience a new world of FORMULA ONE fun as they dodge a Truckosaurus, speed past Robo-Sumos and leap into a shark’s mouth on speedy circuits inspired by 11 iconic tracks including Monaco, Silverstone and the new Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas.

AMD for Sale?

AMD has hired JPMorgan Chase explore options, including the sale of patents, and possibly the sale of the entire company, reports Reuters. They attribute this to "sources familiar with the situation," but also have the following statement from AMD confirming the possibility of selling off technology, but stating the company itself is not on the market: "AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by leveraging AMD's highly-differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value. AMD is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time." Thanks nin via Gizmodo.

AMD Catalyst Beta

A new AMD Catalyst version 12.11 beta 7 driver is now available for AMD/ATI graphics cards. The new beta adds CrossFire performance improvements for Call of Duty Black Ops 2, and word is: "This driver introduces significant performance improvements for many games across ALL 28nm AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series products: HD 7700, HD7800 and HD7900."

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Patch Adds Maps

The Sins of a Solar Empire Forums have details on a new patch for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, updating Ironclad's space strategy expansion to version 1.1. The new version includes bug fixes and balance changes while adding dozens of new maps.

Borderlands 2 Patched

Stream News announces a new patch is now automatically available for Borderlands 2 to update Gearbox Software's role-playing sequel to version 1.2.0. The lengthy list of changes follows: Continue here to read the full story.

Black Ops II Disc Mix-up Reward

The BioWare Blog has a follow up to word that Mass Effect 2 discs were included in some copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The first 50 users who can show this happened to their copies of the game, BioWare is offering the Mass Effect Trilogy: "If the universe thinks that you should be playing Mass Effect right now, who are we to argue? In fact, we want to help! The first fifty fans affected by this phenomenon to send us a picture holding their special disc 2 will receive a code for a FREE PC copy of Mass Effect Trilogy."

On Sale

  • Darksiders II on Steam. Save 66%.
  • Interplay Catalog on GOG.com. Save 50%.
  • Star Trek Online Starter Pack on Steam. Save 60%.

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Into the Black

Link of the Day: Unbelievable War Machine Armor. Thanks Ant.

Ships Ahoy - Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Activision announces that Call of Duty: Black Ops II is now available worldwide for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, offering another chance to experience the Cold War as depicted in this first-person shooter sequel. The announcement also confirms that the Nuketown zombies bonus map that was a preorder bonus will also be included in the upcoming season pass that will bundle a bunch of DLC, saying: "Additionally consumers who purchase the Call of Duty: Black Ops II Season Pass will not only receive an exclusive in-game calling card, but also access to the Nuketown Zombies bonus map. Nuketown Zombies will be offered to Season Pass holders in December, releasing first on Xbox 360 with other platforms to follow." This release has not been perfectly smooth, however, as PC Gamer notes threads on Steam, Reddit, and the Call of Duty forums suggesting that some users have found the second disc in their package is for Mass Effect 2, rather than Black Ops 2, which is obviously a problem, as well as a puzzle, considering this puts an EA disc in an Activision wrapper. They say this only seems to impact a small number of users, who should be able to download the game from Steam using their CD keys. Back to the release, if you have a couple of hours to kill, here's the lengthy announcement:

The wait is over. The groundbreaking Call of Duty®: Black Ops II is now available at retail locations across the globe. The highly-anticipated sequel to the best-selling Xbox 360® and PlayStation ® 3 console game in history has been called "the most ambitious Call of Duty® ever," pushing the boundaries of the blockbuster franchise to new heights by propelling players into a world full of advanced weaponry, robotics and drone technology in the year 2025. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which has shattered pre-order records set last year by Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3, is on its way to a historic launch, and is poised to usher in a new era for the 30-million Call of Duty fans worldwide with a host of new innovations to deliver the complete gaming experience. Providing great value to the Call of Duty community, starting today Activision's Call of Duty® Elite services for Call of Duty: Black Ops II are free, providing fans with deeply integrated features, including Clan Operations, Zombies Leaderboards and more.

Activision kicked-off the celebration overnight as eager fans lined-up at midnight across an unprecedented 16,000 retailers around the globe from Sydney to Dubai to Paris to Los Angeles to get their hands on Activision and their award-winning studio Treyarch's innovative new release. Anticipation for the title has reached a fever pitch and is expected to be the "biggest game launch of all time," as GameStop Tony Bartel recently noted.

Continue here to read the full story.

StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm in March 2013

The StarCraft II Website announces that the release date for the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft 2 is now set as March 12, 2013, this news coming just a week after the news that the RTS add-on is due in the first half of next year. In the meantime, a StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Presale FAQ has details on the content of a planned Digital Deluxe edition, which will include bonuses for other Blizzard titles. Here's what this will include:

The Digital Deluxe version of includes a digital copy of the expansion along with the following exclusive in-game bonus items for StarCraft II, World of Warcraft®, and Diablo® III:

  • Three StarCraft II Swarm-themed Battle.net portraits
  • StarCraft II Zerg Ultralisk “Torrasque” skin
  • World of Warcraft Baneling Battle Pet
  • Diablo III “Blade Wings” item – Queen of Blades-styled wings for Diablo III heroes
  • Diablo III Zerg banner sigil

Players who purchase the Digital Deluxe edition will receive their World of Warcraft and Diablo III in-game bonus items immediately. The StarCraft II bonuses will not be available until Heart of the Swarm is released.

Ships Ahoy - RIFT: Storm Legion

The RIFT Website announces the new Storm Legion expansion for RIFT is now available, adding a bunch of new content to Trion's MMORPG. Here's word:

Storm Legion™, the highly-anticipated first expansion to the award-winning MMORPG RIFT®, launches today in North America and Europe. Veteran Ascended can now travel to the ancient continents of Dusken and Brevane where their skills will be put to the ultimate test as they face off against the dragon lords Crucia and Regulos, ultimately determining the fate of plane-ravaged Telara.

Tripling the size of the game world with two new continents, the capital city of Tempest Bay, seven dungeons, and three raids, Storm Legion is one of the deepest MMO expansions ever. An epic questline will open up new adventures, increasing the level cap to 60 and propelling players into massive new zone events and heroic content. Additional features include four new souls (RIFT’s classes), player housing Dimensions, capes, new rift types, and much more.

“Storm Legion is a labor of love, and we dedicate it to our incredibly amazing players.” said Scott Hartsman, RIFT Executive Producer and Trion’s Chief Creative Officer. “Their feedback and critique throughout the expansion’s development really pushed it over the top, making it a truly special experience. Thanks to them, Storm Legion is huge, dynamic, and incredibly fun to play.”

Cities in Motion: London Next Week

Paradox Interactive announces Cities in Motion: London, a new expansion for their European mass transit simulation. Players will probably not mind the gap between this announcement and the release, as word is this will be available through digital distribution next week:

London, one of the world’s busiest cities, requires an effective and substantial transport system capable of meeting the high demand of the millions of commuters going about their daily business and tourists visiting its famous attractions alike. Introducing three new scenarios, new vehicles including the famous London Underground and world-renowned landmarks such as Tower Bridge, players will put their civic planning prowess to the test as they attempt to serve the transport needs of the great metropolis.

From navigating the narrow, meandering streets with the iconic red buses to crossing the banks of the mighty Thames, Cities in Motion: London provides a new set of challenges and obstacles for the savvy urban planner to overcome.

Cities in Motion: London will release November 20th 2012 on digital download portals for $4.99/€4.99/£3.99.

GTA5 Trailer Countdown

Rockstar Games offers a countdown to the release of the second trailer for Grand Theft Auto V as an aide for those concerned they might not be the first to see new footage from the upcoming open-world action sequel. The timer is at a little over 24 hours, as the clip is to be released tomorrow at noon Eastern Standard Time.

Morning Consolidation

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Game Reviews

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Out of the Blue

Happy Felix Unger Day!

Well, we may be on the verge of another of our version of a free weekend here, as I've gotten a couple of reports from users attempting to visit and being redirected to MySpace, of all places. It's possible we've opened a temporal rift that makes your browser think it's 2007, but it's more likely this is coming from an ad here. The trouble is that the redirect may make it difficult to pin down which ad is the culprit, so all the ads may need to be removed to make this stop, so that may be what happens this morning. I want to offer a big apology to anyone who has been inconvenienced by this: Obviously you are all at an extreme end of the tech-savviness scale, and would not find it challenging to block the ads here, so it pains me greatly to abuse your willingness to support this site and your trust. Hopefully a quick resolution for all of this can be found.

MyLinks: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Mushbits.
Links: James Bond: 50 Years of Impact in Cinema.
Gummy Python Weighs Nearly 27 Pounds And Packs 36,000 Calories.
Stories: The Top Ways We Injure Our Genitals. Thanks nin.
Science: Human intelligence peaked thousands of years ago.
Scientists use quasars to probe dark energy over 10 billion years in the past.
Perception of harmonicity, not beating underlies perception of dissonance?
Media: Another 10 bets you will always win.
Overly Attached Computer. Commercial.
SoundWorks Collection - The Sound of Skyfall.
Follow-up: Autism Linked To Fever And Flu During Pregnancy, Study Finds.
Invisibility cloaking in 'perfect' demonstration.
Killzone Intercept - fan film by Beyond Black Mesa director.

Monday, Nov 12, 2012

Mass Effect 4 Uses Frostbite 2

The BioWare Blog has an update from BioWare Montreal on the next installment in the Mass Effect series of action/RPGs, announcing their studio is taking the helm of the next game. Word is they will be working with the Edmonton studio and the Frostbite 2 engine from the Battlefield series to make and installment that's "respectful of the heritage" of the series:

To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.

There is really not much I can tell you about the game right now, except that it will be built with the amazing technology of Frostbite as its foundation, enhanced by many of the systems that the Dragon Age III team has already spent a lot of time building.

The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.

Next Crysis not Crysis 4

Eurogamer talks with Crytek's Cevat Yerli about the next installment in the Crysis series, though details are hard to come by at this time. He also tells them this will not be named Crysis 4. “I wouldn't name it Crysis 4 at this stage because it would be misleading,” he explained. “We want to finalise Prophet's story and Crysis 4 would imply the story just moves on.”

Dungeons and Dragons Online Updated

A new update #16 is now live in Dungeons and Dragons Online, Turbine's MMORPG. This page has details on what's new. In short: "Dungeons & Dragons Online’s newest update is now live! Continue the adventure as you discover that Oriphanun Huntsilver is not the only disappearance. His journal, containing a fabled Nether Scroll, has also vanished and the Harpers are in need of your help to retrieve it. Use caution as you voyage down the High Road, as Netherese agents will stop at nothing to gain possession of the Scroll."

Ships Ahoy - Commander - The Great War

Matrix Games announces the release of Commander - The Great War, the World War I strategy game. Here's word on the game:

Players can now assume command of the Entente or Central Powers from the start of the war in 1914 to its conclusion in five grand campaigns on a huge hex campaign map that stretches from western USA to Africa and Arabia in the south, Scandinavia to the north and the Urals to the east. Players can encounter more than 40 unique historical and what-if events triggered by their actions on the campaign map, which offers near limitless replay value. Attach historical commanders to exploit their unique strengths (and avoiding their weaknesses), research and develop technology to gain an advantage against your enemies with superior technology such as airships, bombers and machine guns. Command 18 different types of unit types on the battlefield in your struggle to gain victory or stave off defeat. Players can also take the fight online against human opponents on Slitherine’s revolutionary PBEM++ system for easy matchmaking and setup.

NVIDIA Beta Reference Drivers

NVIDIA now offers new beta version 310.54 GeForce reference drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards. The beta includes Windows 8 support, and in spite of the beta status, is also the recommended driver for a couple of upcoming PC games: "This is the recommended driver for the best experience in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin's Creed III, providing up to 26% faster performance in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and up to 18% faster performance in Assassin’s Creed III, as well as smooth, shimmer-free graphics with TXAA antialiasing in both games." Thanks Charles.

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Into the Black

Valve Confirms New Engine?

LambdaGeneration has word on Valve's software engineering efforts based on a video of a visit to Valve by some members of 4chan's /v/ (thanks Joao). This seems to offer the first concrete word on hints that they are working on a new game engine. Here's their transcript of the pertinent passage:

Fan: Is Valve potentially already working on a new engine?

Fan: Source 2? Could or… could not be?


Gabe Newell: We’ve been working on Valve’s new engine stuff for a while, we’re probably just [incomprehensible, subtitled as: "waiting for a game to roll it out with"]

Fan: Is it going to be more than just an extension to Source? Is it an entirely new engine?

Gabe Newell: Yeah!

Modern Warfare 3 and CryENGINE 3 Vulnerable?

Researchers have discovered what's called "a serious vulnerability" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, reports Computerworld from the Power of Community (POC2012) security conference in Seoul in an article that also notes a different vulnerability in Crytek's CryENGINE 3 (these are two separate issues: Modern Warfare 3 uses Infinity Ward's IW Engine, derived from id Software technology). Researchers from security consultant ReVuln demonstrated a denial of service attack that could be used to crash a Modern Warfare 3 server, before using the game Nexuiz to show how running the server for a CryENGINE 3 game can be used to launch a remote shell on a client computer (thanks Ant via Slashdot). It sounds like they are holding out for a payday based on their discoveries:

The first problem the pair presented is a denial-of-service vulnerability in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, made by Activision. Auriemma showed in a video how the server administrator received a warning when he remotely crashed the server running the game.

Auriemma masked some details in his presentation so as to not give too much information away, but he and Ferrante are planning to release advisories on the two vulnerabilities next Tuesday, the launch day for "Black Ops II," the latest game in the Call of Duty series. Ferrante said they are willing to work with Activision but aren't going to volunteer the information, since their research is part of their business.

The second problem relates to CryEngine 3, a graphics engine developed by Crytek for use in its own and other companies' games.

Auriemma's demonstration showed an attack on CryEngine 3 within the game Nexuiz. The attack, at the server level, enabled him to create a remote shell on a game-player's computer.

PC Minecraft Sells 8 Million

The Mojang Website has word that the phenomenal success of Minecraft continues, revealing the indie construction game has now sold more than eight million copies on the PC. To put this in perspective, they note that according to the Wikipedia, this makes it the ninth bestselling PC game of all time, ahead of such luminaries as StarCraft II, Myst, and Diablo II. In response to this, Notch has provided a message, which is either encoded, or really badly mistyped: "69I960EHE0A4A0IVG0EHE02500R4R0G1T30PLJ00V6V0EHE0V1U01V10U5U0VGV0V4R."

Win8 Exclusive DirectX 11.1?

A recent forum post by Microsoft employee Daniel Moth indicates that DirectX 11.1 is exclusive to Windows 8, much the way DirectX 10 was not released for versions of Windows before Vista, saying it is integrated into the new version of the operating system. Here's word on where this stands right now: "DirectX 11.1 is part of Windows 8, just like DirectX 11 was part of Windows 7. DirectX 11 was made available for Vista .... but at this point there is no plan for DirectX 11.1 to be made available on Windows 7." Neowin was told "we have nothing further to share" after contacting Microsoft for further comment on this. The biggest difference between DirectX 11.1 and DirectX 11 seems to be native stereoscopic 3D support, so this should not impact serious gamers anyway. Thanks VG247.

Black Ops II: Stats Reset? No. FOV Fix? Yes

David Vonderhaar Tweets that players with legitimate copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II will not have their stats reset, even if they start playing the military shooter sequel before its official release tomorrow: "FAQ. Will people be reset? A. Read the previously linked Security/Enforcement policy. Unless you are a bad person doing bad things, no. +" Thanks Polygon. Also, pcdev tweets that Treyarch is backing off on the hard line he recently took on not allowing an expansion of the field of view on the PC edition past 80 (thanks VG247), saying: "On the post-launch patch task list: 90 FOV #BlackOps2 #PC."

U.K. Sales Charts

The list of the 20 bestselling full-priced PC entertainment titles on GfK Chart-Track is now updated for the week ending November 10th. The chart has no new titles, just a couple of re-entries. Football Manager 2013 retains the top spot, and the big mover is Borderlands 2, which jumped to number three after sitting at #17 last week. The all platforms chart has more action with the unsurprising entrance of Halo 4 at number one.

Outlast Interview

An interview on VentureBeat talks with David Chateauneuf of Red Barrels about Outlast, an upcoming horror game from this studio formed by former Ubisoft developers. At one point Chateauneuf describes Outlast's combat-free gameplay as Mirror’s Edge meets 28 Days Later. "Mirror’s Edge was definitely a good inspiration," he tells them. "We definitely like that feeling that you are actually the main character and not feeling that you’re just a camera floating in the air with a gun at the bottom of the screen. We definitely want [players] to feel more immersed by the experience. So by having to interact with the environment, we’ll put the player more close to the action. For us, it was really important. Really touching the walls, and interacting with different things. That’s something that we want to bring to the game."

Blood Bowl Patches

A new patch is now available for Blood Bowl - Legendary Edition, updating the game that marries the violence of Warhammer with the strategy of football (or vice versa) to version 2.0.1.7. The patch is available on the Blood Bowl Forum along with the full patch notes, and the download is mirrored on The Patches Scrolls. As always, those who own the game through Steam should just let it update itself automatically, and similarly, a new update is now also automatically available through Steam for Blood Bowl - Chaos Edition to update that installment in the series to version 3.0.0.5. The patch notes for this auto-patch are also available on the forums.

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  • Aerocool Mechatron Full-Tower PC Chassis on eTeknix.
  • AZIO Levetron Mech5 Gaming Keyboard on Metku.
  • Cooler Master Seidon 120M Liquid CPU Cooler on Pure Overclock.
  • Cougar Evolution Galaxy Full Tower Chassis on TweakTown.
  • ECS A85F2-A Golden Motherboard on Guru3D.
  • GIGABYTE Z77X UP7 Overclocking Motherboard on Ninjalane.com.
  • Kingston Data Traveler Workspace Windows To Go Flash Drive on The SSD Review.
  • OZONE Gaming Gear Radon Opto Mouse on Mad Shrimps.
  • Toshiba Satellite U840W on t-break.
  • Zowie Ec2 gaming mouse on RBMODS.

etc.

Out of the Blue

As I mentioned yesterday, today is the official observation of yesterday's Veteran's Day here in the U.S. Yesterday was also Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, so these also may be observed today in some places, which may make for a slow day. We'll see. Anyway, once again here's a salute to vets everywhere.

Veteran Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Stop GMO.
Stories: Bigfoot Monster Truck goes electric. Thanks HARDOCP.
"Skyfall," "Lincoln" Soar At The Box-Office.
Science: Clever cockatoo manufactures, uses tools. Thanks Slashdot.
Media: Driving in Russia.
Horses Agree.
Game of Bones - Opening Theme.



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