Archived News:

Friday, Feb 10, 2006

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Half-Life 2 Goes Episodic on GameSpot reveals that Valve has changed the roadmap for Aftermath, saying the Half-Life 2 expansion is now to be released in an episodic form. Apparently the first release will now be called Half-Life 2: Episode One. Update: Several comments point out it looks like I have misinterpreted what is simply a renaming of Aftermath to Episode One, rather than a breaking up of Aftermath into episodes. Apologies for any confusion this has caused.

El Matador Delayed

El Matador Product Section now carries an updated release window for Plastic Reality Technology's upcoming tactical action game (thanks Frans). The site formerly listed Q2 2006 as a release date, but this has been updated, and now reads Q3 2006. Coincidentally, Cenega Publishing and Creative Labs today announce a cross-promotion agreement, highlighting the EAX Advanced HD support in El Matador.

AIAS Winners

This press release announces the winners of the 9th AIAS award winners. God of War was both Console and Overall game of the year winner, while the PC game of the year was Battlefield 2.

SÖLDNER Patch

The Official SÖLDNER: Secret Wars Website offer downloads of a new patch bringing Wings Simulations' first-person shooter to version 33668. The multilanguage patch will update SÖLDNER: Secret Wars, SÖLDNER: Reloaded, and SÖLDNER: Marine Corps, and there is a corresponding updated dedicated server.

Site Seeing

A new Battle of Europe Website is online as the Flash home to Blackbean Games' upcoming World War II combat flight simulator. Also, a new Dragon Age Teaser Website replaces the old site, offering some wallpapers and links to the forums. Thanks Frans.

The Late Show

Blitzkrieg: Mission Kursk Patch

A new Blitzkrieg: Mission Kursk patch is now available, updating the World War II RTS expansion to version 1.31. The download is available on the CDV Software Website, where there is a complete change list. Thanks Frans.

LockOn Patch

The LockOn: Modern Air Combat Website now offers a new patch to update the Flaming Cliffs expansion for the modern combat flight simulator to version 1.12 (thanks Lerx). The update includes a lengthy list of tweaks and fixes.

Evening Q&As

  • Medal of Honor: Airborne
    A new Medal of Honor: Airborne Q&A on GameSpot talks with Patrick Gilmore about the next installment in the WW2 shooter series: "Medal of Honor Airborne will follow the same story arc of the 82nd Airborne division on each platform. The core concept behind Medal of Honor Airborne is strong enough to support all platforms. Additionally, the next generation of consoles will allow us to simultaneously create content suitable for all platforms. More clearly, we no longer have to worry about reducing fidelity in order to fit on a console. The best way to develop the next MOH is to take advantage of what each platform offers. Given this, we will be designing the current-gen and next-gen products (including PC) with separate teams, each focusing on the strengths of each platform. We will be getting into more detail on platform differentiation closer to ship."
  • EverQuest II: Kingdom of the Sky
    MMORPG.COM's EverQuest II: Kingdom of the Sky Q&A #2 continues to converse with Scott Hartsman about the upcoming expansion for the MMORPG sequel: "One of the first dungeons that people will likely encounter is the Sanctum of the Scaleborn, home to the Scaleborn Droag, servants of the dragon priestess Harla Dar. (The capital is actually the Temple of Scale) It’s an underground sanctuary found beneath the Temple of Scale on the jungle-covered lands of Tenebrous Tangle. (Many of the areas inside of it actually the interiors of the great Ziggurats outside.)"
  • Chronicles of Spellborn
    GamerGod's Q&A with Coen Neessen from Chronicles of Spellborn discusses the upcoming MMORPG: "There will be several of such events that can only be completed once. These events take place in the persistent world and cannot be repeated. However, players will not miss out on the content – these events can be replayed when players go back in time through Ancestral Quests. Only one character, group or guild will be able to receive the statue related to the event in the persistent world. These events do not require endless grinding but require skillfull [sic] playing. Casual or hardcore players have the same chance of ‘winning’ such an event as long as they have the skill to do so."
  • Seal of Evil
    The Seal of Evil Q&A on GameZone discusses Object Software's action/RPG: "We should say the storyline is linear, but there are many interesting side quests for players. Players’ choices will affect the end of the game. For example, the game player’s choice will decide the fate of Liang Hu, which will later decide the ending of the whole game."

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

etc, etc.

Into the Black

So long Arrested. The show ended on quite a high note with four very funny episodes.

R.I.P.: Actor Who Played 'Jeffersons' Neighbor Dies.

Farewell to Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Links: iWorkWithFools.com.
Science: Spaceship could help Earth avoid asteroid collision. If Bruce Willis is on board.
Smelling Good May Mean It's Good for You.
Images: A Very Star Wars Valentines.
Follow-ups: Halfway point passed by Fossett. And then he shows up on Gilligan's Island.
Teh Funny: Private Spaceflights in Just Two Years?

LEGO Star Wars II

Get set to use the Farce once more, as LucasArts announces The Empire Strikes Brick, as production of LEGO Star Wars II is underway:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Friday, February 10, 2006 – Just in time for the American International Toy Fair 2006, LucasArts and TT Games today announced their plans to release LEGO® Star Wars II™: The Original Trilogy [working title], the sequel to one of the best-selling video games of 2005. Created by TT Games and developed by Traveller’s Tales, LEGO Star Wars II is slated for release this fall across seven platforms. May the Force build with you on PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Sony PSP™, Xbox® video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube™, Nintendo DS™, Nintendo Game Boy Advance™ and Windows.

With a comical take on the Star Wars Trilogy that revolutionized pop culture forever (Episode IV A New Hope, Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI Return of the Jedi), LEGO Star Wars II follows the Rebel Alliance’s battle to dismantle the Galactic Empire and rebuild a galaxy in pieces. From Darth Vader’s pursuit of Princess Leia aboard her Blockade Runner to a showdown on the reconstructed Death Star, the game includes even more of the family-friendly LEGO action, puzzles and humor that earned the original LEGO Star Wars such popularity and acclaim.

And much more new to offer, it still has. For the first time ever, levels feature vehicles and creatures that players can ride or exit at will. Also, in LEGO Star Wars II’s Free Play mode, gamers can customize more than 50 new playable characters by mixing and matching body parts, to build their own LEGO Star Wars heroes. And on certain platforms, a game save from the first LEGO Star Wars can unlock as many as 56 additional characters for Free Play – that’s more than 100 characters total, plus millions of possible creations! Other exciting additions include the ability to Free Play with vehicles, cool new character-specific attacks and maneuvers, playable mini-kit vehicles, an optional advanced mode for experienced players and more.

“Whether it was your first gaming experience or you’ve played everything released since Pong, the first LEGO Star Wars was one of those rare video games that everyone enjoyed,” said Jim Ward, president of LucasArts. “With LEGO Star Wars II, LucasArts is working with TT Games and Traveller’s Tales not only to set players loose through the original three chapters of the Star Wars Saga, but also to make this feel like the true sequel our fans have been clamoring for.”

“TT Games is delighted to have formed a partnership with LucasArts for LEGO Star Wars II,” said Tom Stone, managing director of TT Games. “The first game was an absolute joy to work on, and we’re excited to deliver even more fun and creativity, this time with more features to work on and the original trilogy as the game’s focus.”

Distributed by Eidos Interactive, the original LEGO Star Wars was the No. 13 best-selling video game of 2005 (according to NPD Funworld) with over 2.5 million copes sold worldwide, and also won its fair share of awards. A few of the most notable include G4 Videogame TV’s Best Adaptation of 2005 at the G-Phoria Video Game Awards, IGN.com’s Best Platform Game, GameSpot.com’s Best Use of Creative License, and it was one of 1UP.com’s Hidden Gems of the Year. To date the first game has sold more than 3.3 million units worldwide.

For more information on LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, please visit www.lucasarts.com.

Commandos: Strike Force Release Date, Movie

Eidos Interactive confirms the release date for Commandos: Strike Force, saying Pyro Studios upcoming World War II action game "will be released on April 4th, 2006 on PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Xbox® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PC in North America." Accompanying the announcement is the release of the full motion video opening trailer from the game, available on this page.

MS ♥s PC Gaming

Moore Pledges PC Games Renaissance on Next Generation (thanks Firingsquad and Ant) relates some of what was discussed at Peter Moore's session today at the DICE Summit, with Microsoft taking responsibility for allowing the PC games market to decline. He goes on to say they are poised to reverse that trend based on a reorganization, and an optimistic view of how Windows Vista will help:
He said that Microsoft's recent reorganization would help the company "focus on the games business as a standalone business."

"Previously, we operated under separate units," he said. "Everything is now being brought together to build truly cohesive, integrated marketing."

"The future is about PC games and Vista is at the vanguard of that."

He said that Vista would drive PC upgrades which would help game sales, and gave an impressive demonstration of how Vista improves the gaming experience through better file organization.

Moore once again put the pressure on his own company to push game sales. "We have seen years of decline in PC games retail sales. As a platform holder, we need to drive sales."

Day of Defeat: Source Free Weekend Underway

As promised (story), the Day of Defeat: Source Free Weekend is now underway. All that's needed to sample the World War II shooter is a Steam account. Word is: "Day of Defeat: Source is the latest version of the WWII online action game from Valve®. This weekend, everyone is invited to try DoD: Source for free. Join the ranks as Axis or Allies troops located in Western Europe during the height of the war in 1944."

Gold (in 3 Territories) - Crashday

After travelling around the world, hell-tech announces that “Crashday” went gold is the press release announcing that Crashday is gold, and the stunt/racing game is racing to stores, though the only territories this announcement applies to are Greece, former Yugoslavia, and South Africa. A Crashday demo is available (story) for those looking to sample the game.

Frontline Nation Announced

Colossai Studios announces development of Frontline Nation, a modern turn-based strategy game set in Europe in the not-too-distant future. There are screenshots of the Torque-engine game, which is due on Windows, Linux, and Mac in the second half of this year. Here's a bit:
Frontline Nation is a modern, turn-based strategy game situated in a near future Europe. The map is rendered in 3D and is divided into 45 countries, each containing a differing number of regions and cities.

Frontline Nation consists of two different gameplay levels, a strategic and a tactical. The strategic level is where the player manages production, diplomacy, research and coordination of military forces. The tactical level is where the battles take place. It offers the player full control of its military units in a dynamically created hexagon-based battlefield. The battles are fast-paced but different terrain types combined with a dynamic weather system and a day-night cycle adds an almost countless number of tactical possibilities. If the player wishes, the battles can also be resolved automatically.

Unofficial Vampire Patch

A new unofficial patch for Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is now available, updating the Source-engine RPG by now-defunct Troika studios to version 2.1. As always, this is an unsupported update to address outstanding bugs. The download is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, FileFront, Gameguru Mania, Gamer's Hell, VGPro, and Worthplaying.

Infraworld Cancelled

The Quantic Dream Q&A on working-title is a Q&A with Quantic Dream COO Guillaume de Fondaumiere about various topics, learning along the way that Infraworld has been cancelled. Nothing has been heard of this project since it was first revealed last summer (story), and the brief answer to the question about the game indicates it failed to inspire interest from publishers.

Lionhead in Play?

Lionhead back in acquisition talks with key publishers announces that the developer is engaged in talks over a potential acquisition, though the reports are unofficial, attributed to "sources close to" the company. The story goes on to suggest that Microsoft and Ubisoft are said to be the most interested suitors, but that market leader EA has ruled themselves out as a candidate to pick up Lionhead.

Test Drive Unlimited & AitD PC Plans

Atari Reports Fiscal 2006 Third Quarter and Nine-Month Financial Results (thanks Frans) has financials, discloses Near Death Investigation as the subtitle of the upcoming Alone in the Dark game (story), and reveals plans for PC editions of both that game and of Test Drive Unlimited. Hope Fading at Atari analyzes the company's position in what sounds like another near death investigation, announcing the resignation of CFO Diane Baker, and painting a dire picture of the company's future. Also, Capcom bucks market trend with massive revenue increase (thanks Mike Martinez) has further fiscal news. Finally, Majesco Entertainment Announces Changes in Management, Its Board of Directors and Other Disclosures has all that and a bag of chips.

Guild Wars: Factions Beta Plans

This Guild Wars Press Release (thanks Guild Wars Slovenija) announces plans to open up beta testing of the upcoming Factions expansion for Guild Wars on March 24. Testing will be open to all current owners of ArenaNet's MMORPG as well as those who participate in the Faction preorder program.

Pacific Fighters Patch

The Pacific Fighters Website now offers a new patch to update the World War II aerial combat game to version 4.03 or version 4.03m, depending on whether it is the merged or the stand-alone versions of the game being patched.

Far Cry Linux Server

A new version 1.33 of the Far Cry dedicated Linux server is now available, bringing penguin-powered servers in line with the most recent client patch for Crytek's first-person shooter. The download is available on Ubisoft's FTP server (direct link). Thanks Frans.

Dear Diaries

The Early Show

Thanks Frans.

  • Neverwinter Nights 2
    A new Neverwinter Nights 2 movie is now available, offering the first such look at Obsidian's upcoming D&D RPG sequel. The clip is available on 3D Gamers, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.
  • Dreamfall
    As noted on the Dreamfall Website and this press release, this FTP Directory offers downloads of a new Dreamfall trailer in four formats. The "final" clip from Funcom's upcoming adventure game sequel runs for about two minutes.
  • RF Online
    Three new RF Online movies show off CCR's MMORPG that will launch soon in the west. The clips can be found on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.
  • Galactic Civilizations II
    The Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords intro movie is now available, celebrating the gold status of Stardock's space strategy sequel. The download is available on 3D Downloads, 3D Gamers, and Worthplaying.
  • The Secrets of Da Vinci
    The Secrets of Da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript movie is now available, showing off the upcoming game based on the works of the artist/inventor, or thereabouts. The clip is available on 3D Gamers, Factornews, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.
  • Star Wars: Empire at War
    Star Wars: Empire at War is one of the subjects of the new PC Gamer Video Podcast, as they talk with Chris Williams, Producer on the Star Wars RTS game.

Final Fantasy XI Account Bans

This Press Release announces the banning of over 700 accounts for actions related to "Real Money Trading," or RMT. The art of farming for game currency and selling it for real cash had caused near runaway inflation in the game, but as a result of what Square Enix describes as RMT Countermeasures, over 300 billion gil has been removed from the game's economy, and item prices have begun to subside. Perhaps Alan Greenspan has become a game master since retiring from the fed.

Morning Q&As

  • Red Orchestra
    The Red Orchestra Q&A on Game Informer Online (thanks BicycleRepairMan) talks with John Gibson about the move to turn the Red Orchestra modification for Unreal Tournament 2004 into a retail game: "There are a lot of rumors about Red Orchestra, and one of them is that we were a bunch of evil money grubbers that got together for the sole purpose of winning the MSU contest and that was all we cared about. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. We had probably eight or nine months of development on the game before the contest was even announced. When it was announced we all had a meeting and said, 'Should we enter this thing?' And everybody’s like, 'Yeah, let’s just do it.' It wasn’t one of those things where we looked at each other and said, 'Yeah, we’re going to win this thing. Let’s do it.' Our thought was that there was probably going to be lots of other really good mods, but we’re going to do this thing just for fun."
  • Star Trek: Legacy
    The Star Trek: Legacy Q&A on GameSpot talks with Mad Doc's Ian Davis about the upcoming game that boldly goes where other games have gone before: "We're thrilled to be developing a Star Trek game, and we're especially thrilled to be developing this Star Trek game. Fans have been clamoring for us to deliver another great title for some time... We've been bombarded with requests. We've always wanted the chance to make the Star Trek game fans want, so I'm really looking forward to bringing Star Trek: Legacy to life for them. With Legacy, we want to capture the core Star Trek fantasy, while moving the franchise forward, giving it a fresh spin."
  • Manifesto
    The Greg Costikyan Q&A on StrategyZone OnLine gets the manifesto from Manifesto games: "We will overthrow the existing order and establish a brilliant new future of innovation, gaming goodness and public virtue, in the process building a company with revenues exceeding that of the US treasury. But what else would you expect an entrepreneur to say?"
  • Music
    The Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter Q&A on GameSpot talks with composer Tom Salta about the news that he will be producing the soundtrack for the next installment in the tactical shooter series.
  • Game Head
    Gamecloud's Game Head Q&A talks with Geoff Keighley about the game-related Spike TV program, and the world of gaming on television in general.

Morning Previews

F.E.A.R. Preorder Content to be Unlocked

A post on the Lost Contact F.E.A.R. Fansite (thanks Ant) quotes the VUG Community Manager as saying the upcoming F.E.A.R. patch will unlock the special content received by those who preordered the game. These bonus items include special insignias and models.

Morning Screenshots

Thanks Frans.

Game Guidance

The Official SÖLDNER: Secret Wars Website now offers a new Söldner Strategy Guide with tips on Wings Simulations' first-person shooter in either English or German. Thanks Frans.

Gatherings & Competitions

Friday Game Reviews

Friday Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Well the Olympics start this evening, but that holds no interest for me. There is the two hours of Arrested Development to look forward to, but of course this is accompanied by the sadness of knowing this may be the end of the road for the show.

Torch Carrying Links! Thanks Mike Martinez and Ant.
Play: Elizium Lemmings. Thanks Digg.
Links: The Wolfenstein Radio PC.
Digital Rectal Examination simulator. Thanks Warren. Yeah, I'm speechless.
Stories: Little rhyme or reason to picking hit songs: study. Naively failing to model payola.
Science: Are Skies Dimming Over Earth? As opposed to where?
Titania nanotubes make better solar cells.
Before the Tyrannosaurus, Guanlong Roamed China (registration required).
Media: Nacho Libre Trailer. Thanks Dax.
Hillary Duff Gets Punkd.
Auction: The Last Holden Monaro Legend Ever Made. Thanks Davin.
Follow-ups: Fuel leak could threaten distance record.
Teh Funny: ActionTrip Comic Strip.
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