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Thursday, Feb 21, 2013

  

Two Final Mass Effect 3 DLC Packs Announced

The BioWare Blog announces Citadel and Reckoning, planned as the two final pieces of DLC for Mass Effect 3, their action/RPG sequel. Citadel is a single-player pack scheduled for release on March 5th for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 for USD $14.99 (and the day after on PS3 in Europe), while Reckoning is a free pack geared towards multiplayer due next week, as the day of Reckoning is February 26th (also the next day for European PS3 players). A live stream is planned for Monday, February 25th at 12:30 pm EST to show off the Reckoning pack on Twitch TV. Here's word:

Mass Effect 3: Citadel – Single Player DLC

When a sinister conspiracy targets Commander Shepard, you and your team must uncover the truth, through battles and intrigue that range from the glamour of the Citadel’s Wards to the top-secret Council Archives. Uncover the truth and fight alongside your squad – as well as the cast from the original Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, including Urdnot Wrex!

When the adventure is over, reconnect with your favorite characters from the Mass Effect Trilogy, try your luck at the Citadel’s Silver Coast Casino, blow off steam in the Armax Combat Arena, or explore and furnish Shepard’s own living quarters on the Citadel. With unique content and cinematics featuring your friends and romance interests in the Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect 3: Citadel offers one final chance to see the characters you have known for years and rekindle romances.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel will release worldwide on March 5th on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 (on March 6th on PS3 in Europe). Price: $14.99, 1200MS points and 1200 BW points.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning – Multiplayer DLC

Prepare for the Reckoning! Newfound allies join the multiplayer war for survival in Mass Effect 3: Reckoning. The Geth Juggernaut, Cabal Vanguard, Talon Mercenary, Alliance Infiltration Unit, and more take up arms to stop the Reaper threat. Smash your enemies with the Biotic Hammer as you lay waste to the battlefield as the Krogan Warlord.

Wield 7 new weapons for multiplayer, including the Geth Spitfire Assault Rifle, Venom Shotgun, Lancer Assault Rifle, and amplify your arsenal with new equipment and weapon mods featuring the Geth Scanner and Assault Rifle Omni-blade.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning launches at no additional cost worldwide on February 26th on Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 (February 27th on PlayStation 3 in Europe).

EA Layoffs

A post to the EA website by Frank Gibeau has word from the president of EA Labels that Electronic Arts has cut jobs in Los Angeles and Montreal, "as well as in some smaller locations" (thanks Polygon). The post, titled "Transition is Our Friend," takes a generally optimistic tone in looking forward to things like the PlayStation 4 and Battlefield 4 and speaks of the strides EA has made in mobile and free-to-play gaming. This probably doesn't sit perfectly with someone who was just fired, but he offers this outlook:

EA’s leadership on these high-growth platforms allows us to retain and attract the industry’s best talent. Thousands of our existing employees have been retrained and redeployed to work on the new platforms and initiatives. But when it is not possible to redeploy a team, we soften the tough decisions with assistance. This week we let some people go in Los Angeles, Montreal as well as in some smaller locations. These are good people and we have offered outplacement services and severance packages to ease their transition to a new job.

Console transitions are a complex and challenging experience. I’ve helped navigate several and agree with an old saying we have at EA: Transition is our friend. All the trend lines are converging to reward the creative and financial investments we have made in mobile and console technology. We have never been more ready or more excited about what comes next.

Avadon 2: The Corruption Announced

Spiderweb Software announces Avadon 2: The Corruption a second installment in what's planned as a trilogy of old-school fantasy-themed RPGs. The game is expected for Windows, OS X, and iPad this fall, and here's a list of features it will offer:

  • Epic fantasy role-playing adventure in an enormous and unique world.
  • Five different character classes, with dozens of unique spells and abilities.
  • Uncover the fascinating histories of Avadon and the many lands of Lynaeus.
  • Many different endings. Will you be loyal to Avadon or switch sides and bring it down? The choice is yours!
  • Dozens of side quests, dungeons, and secrets to discover.
  • Hundreds of magical items to find. Use powerful crystals to make your artifacts even more powerful.
  • Huge adventure with lots of replay value. Experience with Avadon: The Black Fortress is entirely unnecessary to enjoy Avadon 2.

Ships Ahoy - Unity of Command: Red Turn

Matrix Games now offers Unity of Command: Red Turn, the first DLC for Unity of Command, the Windows and OS X World War II strategy game. Here's what this adds: "The Soviet campaign features 17 scenarios, which put together tell the story of how a maturing Red Army won the war through perfecting the art of the deep operation – essentially a Soviet variant of the blitzkrieg. 2x2 Games has added scenarios that cover everything from large scale operations such as Rumyantsev or Bagration, to the more confined and intricate affairs such as the Battle for Kiev in November 1943."

On Sale

Amazon's Digital Games Farewell to February Sale has 850 PC games up to 75% off. Use the code "CAGROCKS" at checkout to save an additional 25% on your item (limit one per customer). Thanks DEALZON.

  • The Chosen Bundle on Indie Royale. Five games as low as $2.99.
  • Thief Gold on Steam. Save 75%.

Evening Q&As

Evening Patches

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: The BT Tower. Thanks nin.

R.I.P.: Game Designer Kenji Eno Has Died at Age 42.

Ziff Davis Closing 1UP, GameSpy, and UGO

Ziff Davis is closing down the UGO, 1UP, and GameSpy websites, reports Polygon, based on a memo they say was sent today to employees by CEO Vivek Shah. According to the memo this is to concentrate their efforts on their "flagship" brand in the gaming area, IGN, though the report also includes news of an unspecified number of editorial employee layoffs at IGN. UGO already has a post declaring the site "dead" while 1UP and GameSpy seem unchanged for now, as 1UP's Jeremy Parish tweets: "We won't be killing the site today; I'll post more thoughts later."

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Free Weekend

Steam News has word that Call of Duty: Black Ops II is free to play on Valve's service until 4:00 pm EST Sunday. Here's word on the military first-person shooter sequel: "Pushing the boundaries of what fans have come to expect from the record-setting entertainment franchise, Call of Duty®: Black Ops II propels players into a near future, 21st Century Cold War, where technology and weapons have converged to create a new generation of warfare." The game is also on sale for the duration of the event for 33% off.

Gratis Weekend for Gratuitous Space Battles

Steam News announces a free weekend is now underway for Gratuitous Space Battles, Positech's space strategy game. The game can be played at no cost between now and Sunday at 4:00 pm EST, and it is on sale for 75% off for those who enjoy themselves. Here's word on the game:

Gratuitous Space Battles combines the visual appeal of an RTS, with the addictive unit-placement and design gameplay from tower defense games. In GSB, the player does not control individual ships at all during battle. The ships fight to a pre-determined set of orders and formations given to them by you before the battles.

GSB casts you as supreme space admiral, tasked with the design of individual spaceships, and the composition of your fleet, as well as general orders of engagement. This is not a twitch-based real time arcade game like many an RTS, but a game of careful thought, planning and big-picture strategy. Huge space battles can be won or lost depending on just how cleverly you balanced the needs of defensive shielding and armor against the expensive punch of laser cannons and plasma torpedoes.

TrackMania2 Stadium Info "Very Soon"

ManiaPlanet Official News has details on six ManiaPlanet tournaments Nadeo is holding during the Gamers Assembly March 30th-April 1st in Poitiers, France (thanks Frans). They have details on the ShootMania and TrackMania2 competitions and other festivities at the gathering, including word they will be showing off the next installment in the TrackMania series, and that more details on that near: "For the first time ever, TrackMania² Stadium will be unveiled to everyone in competition during this great event (more information about it will arrive very soon)!"

Arma III Steam Exclusive

Full Steam Ahead is a developer blog from Bohemia Interactive announcing their plan to release Arma III exclusively on Steam, saying that they feel this is necessary to allow them to release the military shooter sequel this year. They speak of the efficiencies of only have to code for one distribution platform, the benefits of Steamworks, and the protection provided by Steam DRM. They offer the following list of "preemptive answers" to questions they expect this to provoke:

  1. So, when will you release Arma 3 then?
    a. "Soon" has become an overused word, but we are preparing all we need to unveil our plans right this moment.
  2. Do I have to run the game through Steam?
    a. Yes, it will be required to run the game through Steam. We do not believe in always-online types of DRM however, so Offline mode will be supported.
  3. Will I be able to buy a boxed copy of Arma 3?
    a. There will be boxed copies in most regions. These may either be Steam Codes in a retail package, or also contain DVD data (speeding up installation). You will still have to run and update through Steam the first time.
  4. I don't want any of the benefits Steam brings me, so why should I care?
    a. There was a very real chance there would be no Arma 3 this year otherwise.

March of the Eagles Demo

The Steam Page for March of the Eagles now offers a playable demo for the just-released Napoleonic strategy game from Paradox Development Studio. Word is: "The demo limits you to playing Prussia, the great central European power sandwiched between the might of France and the inexhaustible hordes of Russia. All single player capabilities as well as the tutorial and the hints system are included."

Legend of Grimrock 2 Announced

An update on the Legend of Grimrock Website announces development of Legend of Grimrock 2, following up on recent hints about plans to build upon their dungeon crawler with word on a sequel, which does not yet carry a release date. They indicate they plan on posting development updates "as the work progresses," expressing regrets they have not had the certainty about future plans to keep up communications with the community since the release of Legend of Grimrock. They say they contemplated updating the original game before deciding they needed to make a sequel:

Creating a mere DLC or expansion to Grimrock simply would not have felt right. As today’s meeting proved, we still have a lot of ideas we’d like to explore, lots and lots of new content already done (originally made for a DLC/expansion) and a big engine update in the works. Simply put, a DLC would have limited too much what we can do. With a full blown sequel we can raise Grimrock to the next level.

BioShock Infinite Season Pass Announced

Irrational Games offers details on a Season Pass for BioShock Infinite that includes three add-on packs valued at USD $30.00 for the upcoming shooter sequel for the discounted price of $19.99. Here are some details:

Irrational Games today announced that production of downloadable content has recently begun for BioShock Infinite and revealed details of the BioShock Infinite Season Pass. Three all-new add-on packs will provide hours of additional gameplay and continue the player’s journey in the sky-city of Columbia with new stories, characters, abilities and weapons.

Those who purchase the BioShock Infinite Season Pass will also receive the Early Bird Special Pack at no extra cost. This bonus pack contains four pieces of exclusive gear, a Machine Gun Damage Upgrade, a Pistol Damage Upgrade, a gold skin for both weapons and five Infusion bottles that allow players to increase their health, their shield durability or their ability to use Vigors by increasing the quantity of Salts they can carry.

The BioShock Infinite Season Pass will be available on March 26, 2013 when the game is planned to launch, and provide nearly $30.00 of add-on content for $19.99 (PlayStation®Network, Windows® PC) or 1,600 Microsoft Points (Xbox LIVE® online entertainment network) – a savings of more than 30%. The Season Pass will include all three add-on packs, and can be pre-ordered today through www.preordernow.com or at a participating retailer.

Deus Ex Movie Details

Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, respective director and co-writer of the upcoming Deus Ex movie, discuss plans to adapt the action/RPG series for the silver screen with CraveOnline. Here's a bit from Cargill answering how they plan to avoid the obvious trap that "basically every video game movie has sucked before." He replies:

Yeah. Yeah, the chief philosophy is we’re not making a video game movie, we’re making a cyberpunk movie. We’ve taken a look at what’s worked in video games and what hasn’t, and really what we’ve broken down is what we think the audience really wants, [what] the audience that loves Deus Ex is going to want to see out of a Deus Ex movie. And it’s not a rehashing of the game. What they want to see is, they want to see elements of the game that they love, but they want to see things that they hadn’t quite seen in the game, that the game didn’t allow them to see. So it’s really allowed us to expand upon the things that happened in the game, and the game has such a great cinematic story to begin with that those elements are very easy to extract. But really, at its core, we just keep telling each other, “We’re not making a video game movie, we’re making a cyberpunk movie.” And Scott and I are such big cyberpunk fans from way back in the day that that just really charges us up. Because that’s what’s so great about Deus Ex to begin with, is it really gets cyberpunk. I Eidos Montreal really understood the nature of cyberpunk and made “the” cyberpunk game, and it is just fantastic, and we’ve just had a great time adapting it.

Ships Ahoy - Grotesque Tactics: Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead

Headup Games sends a heads-up that Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead is now available, offering a spin-off of Silent Dreams' Grotesque Tactics series, a bit delayed from the game's original release date of September 2012. Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead is offered as a standalone release, as well as part of a Full Saga Bundle that also includes Grotesque Tactics and Grotesque Tactics 2 – Dungeons & Donuts, and the new game is also the subject of a current Steam Greenlight campaign. Here's word:

Silent Dreams has listened to the Grotesque community and created this new chapter from the ground up with brand new visuals: Fresh Cel-Shading graphics and a colorful and clean look!

As part of this new approach, Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead is introduces a fixed camera, providing you with a clearer overview of the events in the game.

The Caribbean island flair is felt throughout the game from the tropical design of the HUD and character portraits to the sound of the steel drums, rum-soaked music, carrying the warm comforting Southern Sea feel throughout.

Features:

  • Exciting round-based battles with a wide range of quests
  • Ironic and thrilling story with plenty of potshots at well-known movies and video games
  • Equally suited for beginners and seasoned RPG gamers
  • Character-growth through multiple skill trees
  • Colorful, comic-like graphics and a soundtrack with Caribbean flair
  • ZOMBIES, lots and lots of zombies!

Path of Exile Race Events

The Path of Exile Website has details on the first season of "Race Events" in Grinding Gears' action/RPG, which will get underway on Saturday. As the following announcement explains, this expands on a series of events that proved popular during beta testing:

Auckland, New Zealand--February 21, 2013--Grinding Gear Games announced the first season of race events in the popular action RPG Path of Exile. Race events are short-term leagues separate from the main game with separate characters and varying goals that test the players' skill and luck. Season One commences on Saturday, February 23 and runs for six weeks until April 7 (New Zealand time).

Unlike the self-contained individual races held during Closed Beta, race events are now structured by seasons. There are prizes for the top-place finishers in each race, prizes achieving good results for a set of events in a season, and prizes for placing at the top of the realm overall in a given season. New custom prizes have been created for the events.

"The race events were extremely popular in Closed Beta," said Chris Wilson, producer for Grinding Gear Games. "The leagues generally reward players who can level up quickly and place in the top ranks of their character class, but there are also rewards for meeting objectives like finishing side quests or full-clearing areas first. By structuring the races into seasons, players are motivated to participate in multiple events and it gives them something meaningful to work toward over the course of several weeks."

DayZ Mod on Steam

Steam News announces the popular DayZ mod for Arma II: Combined Operations is now available on Valve's service:

Join the scores of desperate survivors in the free award-winning and massively popular persistent multiplayer mod for Arma 2: Combined Operations!

Go Solo, team up with friends or take on the world as you choose your path in this brutal and chilling landscape using whatever means you stumble upon to survive. However the infected are not your only threat. You will be forced to fight for your life against other survivors, over rare necessities like food and water, in your constant battle to survive in this wicked world.

Morning Patches

Morning Q&As

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

I made some chicken wings without the benefit of the man-stove last night, and they were pretty darned good in spite of the heresy of indoor cooking. MrsBlue dug up an Alton Brown recipe which worked nicely. This involves steaming the wings first, and the big inconvenience of needing to cool them in the fridge for an hour to prep them for the oven. This was all probably easier than loading them into the rotisserie, though the outcome was not nearly as good, so residents of Manstovia need not fear creation of our number one export is likely to be permanently outsourced (insourced?) any time soon.

Indoor Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Counter Terror.
Stories: Sam Raimi Hasn't Seen "Amazing Spider-Man".
Disneyland ends discount for Southern California residents during slow season.
Science: An 'alternative universe' will eventually destroy ours, says Higgs researcher.
Images: Playing our way through an indie game arcade.
Media: Dog Barely Escapes Collapse. Wtf?



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