Archived News:

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008

Quake Live Beta Signups

This page is where to register your interest in beta testing Quake Live, the upcoming free online Quake first-person shooter (thanks FiringSquad). Word is: "Beta testers are given early access to the QUAKE LIVE website and game, and will help us test all of the game's features and functionality while offering feedback and suggestions. Simply enter your email address below to apply, but please note that entering does not guarantee participation in the beta program."

Strategic Command 2: Patton Drives East Announced

Battlefront announces Strategic Command 2: Patton Drives East an expansion for the Battlefront edition of Strategic Command 2, the World War II strategy game. The add-on incorporates a number of what-if scenarios, including a couple that, true to the title, fulfill Patton's dream of continuing eastward through Europe and pursuing a war against the Soviet Union. The game will be released via mail order and download this summer.

Crysis Update

The Crysis Weekly Update #4 on Crymod Modding Portal is live. In short: "This time we have got an update on the Mod Software Development Kit for you and also a new status report on the long awaited patch 1.2 for Crysis. In addition to that we are going to introduce you to quite a few new bug fixes of the change log and also new features that are included."

Savage 2 Patch

The Savage 2: A Tortured Soul Change Log outlines changes in a new version 1.3.1 patch that's now available for the action/strategy sequel. Along with bug fixes the update incorporates balance tweaks and changes to prevent team stacking.

Orb Bringing Console Games to PCs

WildTangent Announces Orb the Industry's First PC Game Console for Enthusiast Gamers is a press release in which we learn that not only is WildTangent the fastest growing online game property in the world, but they are releasing a new game console called "Orb" in April, which is actually your PC with their software providing a console-style interface that will apparently allow console games to be played on PCs. Here's word:
Game Developer Conference - WildTangent, Inc., the fastest growing online game property in the world, today announced The WildTangent Orb(TM), the industry's first application to transform the PC into a console for enthusiast gamers. The company also announced that Sierra Online, a division of Vivendi Games, THQ and other leading game publishers will release their AAA titles for the WildTangent Orb when it launches on in April. To support the launch of Orb, Sprint will be the first advertiser to sponsor free premium game play to millions of enthusiast gamers.

The WildTangent Orb will feature the same full-screen user interface and game pad-enabled experience that other leading game consoles offer. Additionally, it will leverage the superior hardware performance and connectivity of the PC, the world's most popular and pervasive online gaming platform.

"The WildTangent Orb turns any modern PC into a full-featured game console more powerful than any next generation game console including the Microsoft XBOX 360, Sony PS3 or Nintendo Wii," said Alex St. John, CEO of WildTangent. "Now enthusiast gamers can download and play popular console games they love on the most ubiquitous gaming device available today: the PC."

St. John today encouraged the nearly 20,000 attendees at the annual Game Developer Conference in San Francisco to follow the lead of THQ and Sierra Online into online game distribution of their AAA console titles.

"Enthusiast gamers are spending a tremendous amount of time playing games on their PCs," said Michael Pachter, managing director of research at Wedbush Morgan Securities. "While traditional consoles will continue to have their place for the foreseeable future, the market has become highly fragmented and modern PCs have the media capabilities and market share to represent the largest contiguous enthusiast gaming audience console publishers can reach."

Starting in April, 12 million WildTangent gamers will be offered a free upgrade to the WildTangent Orb game console, when it will be released publicly for the first time on In the second half of 2008, WildTangent Orb will come pre-installed on every major-brand consumer PC in the U.S., including HP, Gateway and Toshiba.

"Sierra Online is continuously looking for opportunities to offer its popular and award-winning titles to game enthusiasts in the format they prefer to play them," said Ed Zobrist, president of Sierra Online. "Those who enjoyed playing our AAA tiles on console, as well as PC gamers will be eager to get their hands on some of our most desirable console titles on the PC."

The WildTangent Orb will launch with popular AAA titles from Sierra Online including 3D Ultra(TM) Mini Golf, Assault Heroes(TM), Battlestar Gallactica(TM) and Switchball(TM) as well as popular PC titles from Sierra Entertainment. THQ titles will include Juiced(TM) 2 Hot Import Nights(TM), Company of Heroes®, Company of Heroes® Opposing Fronts(TM), Red Faction®, Red Faction® II, Full Spectrum Warrior®, MX vs. ATV Unleashed(TM), Full Spectrum Warrior Ten Hammers®, Titan Quest(TM), Warhammer® 40,000 Dawn of War Gold and Warhammer® 40,000 Dawn of War Dark Crusade(TM). Also included in Orb will be more than 55 enthusiast titles from THQs Valusoft.

"THQ is committed to making its games available to gamers in the most convenient ways possible including online distribution," said Adrienne Lauer, national sales director of Market Development in the Americas, THQ. "We are excited to make our games available for the WildTangent Orb and offer our AAA games to enthusiast gamers online."

Game developers and publishers interested in making their enthusiast titles available for the April launch of the WildTangent enthusiast game console should e-mail

Evening Q&As

Evening Previews

  • Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures on GameSpot.
  • Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath on GameSpot.
  • LEGO Batman: The Videogame on IGN.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate on RPG Vault. Diary #2.
  • Recoil Retrograd on 1Up.
  • Supreme Ruler 2020 on GameSpot.

Evening Screenshots

Gatherings & Competitions

Gears of War 2 Announced

Cliff Bleszinski closed Microsoft's keynote address at the GDC by announcing Gears of War 2, an Xbox 360 exclusive due this November. Word from Microsoft Game Studios is: "This highly anticipated sequel to the 4.5 million-selling blockbuster 'Gears of War' delves deeper into humanity’s struggle for survival against the nightmarish Locust Horde, and promises to take high-definition visuals to a whole new level." And word from CliffyB is: "To our team the original game was just a tease, the appetizer to the ‘Gears of War’ characters and new style of gameplay. We were so amped to get to the next chapter, and dig deeper into the universe of this franchise. ‘Gears of War 2’ is an even bigger, better, and more badass experience than the first game, and we can’t wait to get it in the hands of eager gamers this November." There's a trailer teasing the game on Gamer's Hell.

NA Gold - Stranger

Fireglow Games announces Stranger is gold, and the strategy/role-playing hybrid that's already available in Europe is due in North America on March 3, as promised:
Cary, NC, February 20, 2008 – Stranger, the new RTS/RPG hybrid title from Fireglow Games, has gone gold today. The game, set to begin shipping in North America on March 3, puts players in the role of a mysterious hero lost in a strange fantasy world. Stranger features a deep magic and enchantment system, and a rich world populated by more than a hundred unique monster types. Players can take control of three characters and enjoy a single-player campaign lasting more than 30 hours, while also being able to take their game online in eight-person Internet multiplayer matches. For more information about Stranger, visit the official Web site at

It’s a fantasy come true: Epic role-playing adventure and real-time tactical confrontations collide in Stranger, a sprawling saga of sword and sorcery mayhem set in a world beyond your wildest imagination!

As one of three battle-hardened heroes, explore a hostile surface kingdom and mysterious subterranean realm, growing your combat skills and magical abilities. Blade and spell streak across the screen in a dizzying dance as you duel with slavering beasts and mutant monstrosities, using intuitive enchantment and melee systems or ruthless mercenaries’ help to defeat opponents. Gather not just your courage, but also wits and resources before proceeding. From recruiting ultra-powerful allies to going face-to-face with the blackest evil and amassing a mystical arsenal capable of seeing you safely through this epic tale, you’ll need all to meet the challenges which lie within.

Spaceforce Captains Demo

A playable demo is now available for Spaceforce Captains to provide a sample of Provox Games' turn-based strategy game set in that place where no one can hear you scream. The demo is a 684 MB download, available on,FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Strategy Informer.

PC Gaming Alliance Formed

Top technology companies form gaming alliance (thanks Mike Martinez) officially announces the formation of the gaming alliance first revealed last week (story) to help promote/revive the PC gaming scene. Here's word:
Some of the top technology companies, including Intel, Microsoft, Dell, and Advanced Micro Devices joined forces Tuesday to form the PC Gaming Alliance, which will try to promote the PC as a gaming platform.

The alliance will bring hardware makers, software companies, and game publishers under one roof to "accelerate innovation, improve the gaming experience for consumers and serve as a collective source of market information and expertise on PC gaming," the alliance said in a statement.

The companies will work together on challenges facing the PC gaming industry, including piracy and the establishment of hardware requirements for PC games, the alliance said. PCGA also hopes to accelerate growth of the PC gaming industry and standardize the development of gaming PCs and software by developing and promoting guidelines.

The alliance comes at a time when PC video game sales are falling. PC games sales in the U.S. were $910.7 million in 2007, down from $970 million in 2006, according to research from NPD Techworld. PC game sales in 2007 dwarfed in comparison to the sale of software for video game consoles like Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii, which were $6.6 billion.

Unit shipments of PC game software totaled 36.4 million in 2007, compared to video game software unit shipments of 153.9 million, according to NPD.

The U.S. gaming industry already has the Entertainment Software Association, which represents vendors that publish games for both computers and consoles. About 90 percent of the $7.4 billion revenue of PC and console gaming software in 2006 belonged to ESA members, giving the association a dominant presence.

Other PCGA members include Acer, Epic, Nvidia and Razer USA.

The announcement comes during the Game Developers Conference, which is being held in San Francisco. During the show PCGA member Intel launched a new gaming platform formerly code-named "Skulltrail." The Intel Dual Socket Extreme Desktop Platform includes two quad-core microprocessors, totaling eight-processing engines, and supports graphics cards from ATI or Nvidia.

Red Faction: Guerrilla Announced

Revolution Returns to Mars in THQ's Open World Shooter Red Faction: Guerrilla is the announcement following up on several recent indications that a new Red Faction game is in the works. The new game once again gets your ass to Mars, and the series continues to explore the gameplay implications of destructible environments, but the first-person perspective of the first two games is giving way to a third-person point-of-view:
AGOURA HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--THQ Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI - News) today announced that Volition, Inc.’s critically acclaimed Red Faction® franchise will make its open-world, next-generation debut with Red Faction®: Guerrilla™. Set 50 years after the climactic events of the original Red Faction, this third-person open-world action-shooter will return to Mars and once again re-define the limits of destruction-based game-play. Red Faction: Guerrilla is currently in development for Microsoft Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Sony PLAYSTATION® 3 computer entertainment system, and Windows-based PC, and is scheduled to ship in THQ’s fiscal year 2009.

"Red Faction is one THQ’s most successful and critically acclaimed original franchises to date, with a huge global base of loyal fans waiting to join the new revolution," said Brad Carraway, director of global brand management, THQ. "With the game’s unique pairing of true physics-based destruction, fast-paced guerrilla warfare style combat, and a massive world to explore – Red Faction: Guerrilla will redefine the limits of open-world gaming.”

“Red Faction: Guerrilla expands the signature destruction elements of the series and pushes the boundaries of next-gen gaming on a massive, terra-formed Mars where gamers can literally tear down the enemy EDF presence brick by brick,” said Mike Kulas, president of Volition, Inc. ”With a new 3rd person perspective, a full cover system that allows for guerrilla style tactics and a diverse planet to explore we’re excited to revitalize the gripping world of Red Faction for high-definition platforms.”

About Red Faction: Guerrilla
Red Faction: Guerrilla is a 3rd person, open-world action shooter set on Mars, 50 years after the events of the original Red Faction. Players will take the role of an insurgent fighter with the newly re-established Red Faction movement as they battle for liberation from the oppressive Earth Defense Force. Throughout their fight for freedom, players will carve their own path, wreaking havoc across the vast, open-world environment of Mars, from the desolate mining outpost of Parker to the gleaming EDF capital city of Eos. Utilizing improvised weapons, explosives and re-purposed mining equipment and vehicles, Red Faction: Guerrilla allows players to tear through fully destructible environments in an unforgiving Martian landscape swarming with EDF forces, Red Faction resistance fighters, and the downtrodden settlers caught in the cross-fire. Red Faction: Guerrilla will also feature a robust multiplayer component, including several modes focused on destruction-based gameplay. Currently in development for Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PLAYSTATION 3, and Windows PC, Red Faction: Guerrilla is expected to ship to retailers worldwide in THQ’s fiscal year 2009.

Champions Online Announced

This press release officially announces Champions Online, an MMORPG in the works at Cryptic Studios based on the Champions pen-and-paper superhero RPG. The game was first revealed on the cover of an issue of Game Informer Magazine (story), but the announcement offers first details, including a Spring 2009 release date, and word that the connection between Champions and Champions Online will extend to information about the MMORPG being included in the sixth edition of the HEROES system and Champions rulebooks, which will be released around the time of the game. The Champions Online Website is live, offering information, forums, a developer blog by Jack Emmert on the new game, and more. Here's the announcement:
LOS GATOS, CA--(Marketwire - February 20, 2008) - Cryptic Studios™, one of the leading independent developers of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), announced today Champions Online™, their first ever self-developed and self-published MMORPG. Champions Online, based on the popular pen-and-paper Champions RPG, will give players the power of total customization of their hero experience while they explore a vast universe of richly detailed 3D environments. Champions Online is slated for release in Spring 2009.

Cryptic Studios also announced today that it has acquired the Champions intellectual property (IP) from Hero Games. First published in 1981, the Champions role-playing game is one of the first RPGs to forgo the traditional dice-rolling system of character generation in favor of a point-based system. Cryptic Studios has licensed back to Hero Games the rights to produce Champions RPG books, and the sixth edition of the HERO System and Champions, set to release in 2009, will include rules on how to recreate Champions Online characters and scenarios.

"We thought carefully about which IP to select for our next game," said Jack Emmert, chief creative officer of Cryptic Studios. "I've been playing the Champions RPG since it first came out and I love both the rich history and wide array of compelling characters which made this an obvious choice for Cryptic Studios."

"I am very excited to be working on Champions," said Michael Lewis, president of Cryptic Studios. "We have a powerful development team, a better engine, more resources, and a vision for a new kind of MMO experience. Bringing the operating side of the business in-house enables us to be more efficient, get our developers even closer to the customer, and ultimately make a better game and long-term experience."

Champions Online is all about total customization -- it will offer a near infinite amount of character customization so that all players will have a unique game experience. Gamers will be able to create their hero's name, back story, costume, powers and abilities as well as design their own personal arch-enemy and his or her back story, which will guarantee a truly unique experience.

"Champions Online brings a lot to the table. Gamers have literally billions of options to create their own fully customized hero," Emmert said. "Couple that with the unique character generation system and tons of beautiful, expansive environments in which to roam, and Champions Online is going to be unlike anything MMO fans have seen before."

For more information on Champions Online and Cryptic Studios please check out the feature story in the March issue of Game Informer magazine on newsstands now,, and to view character profiles, gameplay trailers, and forums.

Ships Ahoy - ArmA: Gold

Atari Aims for ArmA: Gold announces the North American release of ArmA: Gold (thanks Gamer's Hell), the compilation of Bohemia Interactive's ArmA: Combat Operations the Queens Gambit expansion for the military shooter:
NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR - News), one of the world's most recognized brands and a third-party video game publisher and distributor, today announced that ArmA: Gold, the compilation of ArmA: Combat Operations and ArmA: Queens Gambit the official expansion pack from Bohemia Interactive, has shipped to retailers in North America. ArmA: Gold is rated M for Mature and is now available at the suggested retail price of $49.95. ArmA: Queens Gambit, the expansion pack only, has been released exclusively for digital download for the Windows platform for the suggested retail price of $29.95.

"ArmA: Queens Gambit takes players back into the battlefield for an exceptionally realistic action-packed combat experience," said Todd Slepian, Producer, Atari, Inc. "With the ArmA: Gold bundle, fans of ArmA: Combat Operations will be able to revisit their favorite tactical missions and engage in all new campaigns as seasoned veterans."

In ArmA: Combat Operations, players will be able to engage in the story-driven single-player campaign or take part in huge multiplayer battles with more than 50 players on one battlefield at once. Featuring a vast environment with more than 150 square miles to explore, ArmA: Combat Operations allows players to pilot or drive more than 30 vehicles including APCs, tanks, self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, helicopters and fighter planes.

ArmA: Queens Gambit will offer a new story-based campaign occurring 18 months after the ArmA: Combat Operations war conflict. In the same realistic combat simulation experience, players take on the role of a group of seasoned mercenaries to help the government with a sensitive matter that the army cannot handle alone. With unprecedented freedom of movement, actions and tactics, the game will allow players to immerse themselves in battle with six completely new characters, new vehicles and seven original campaigns.

For more information on Atari and its entire product line-up please visit

Lord of the Rings Online Deal Extended

Turbine announces an extension of their deal with Tolkien Enterprises to develop MMORPGs based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The deal now runs through 2014 with an option to push it out to 2017.Here's the announcement, including an asterisk with no corresponding footnote claiming that Lord of the Rings Online was named 2007 PC game of the year, though we're not sure where:
WESTWOOD, MA – February 20, 2008 - Turbine, Inc. announced today that in the wake of the global success of The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™, named the 2007 PC Game of the Year*, it has reached an agreement with Tolkien Enterprises to extend it’s license to develop Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG) based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien to 2014 with additional options to extend the rights until 2017.

“We’re thrilled with the global success of The Lord of the Rings Online since its launch in 2007,” said Jim Crowley, president and CEO of Turbine, Inc. “With the recent announcement of what are sure to be two blockbuster films based on The Hobbit and a sequel, we expect the success of the license and our relationship with Tolkien Enterprises to grow for years to come.”

“We have had a wonderful working relationship with Turbine over the past several years,” said Albert M. Bendich, Executive Vice President of The Saul Zaentz Company, and its merchandising division Tolkien Enterprises. “We look forward to our continuing success with Turbine as it pushes the envelope for compelling online entertainment and gameplay to bring the compelling characters of Middle-earth to life for Tolkien fans around the world.”

3D Realms Lawsuit Response

Next Generation has responses from Scott Miller of 3D Realms about the lawsuit filed by Cinemagraphix Entertainment over Earth No More (story). One quote is from the Shacknews forums and the other from an email:
“Also, their settlement offer is far more than the $150k I've seen here. As another example of their cluelessness, they have asked for 20 percent of game revenues, along with a far richer settlement number.

3D Realms never settles, period. If we're in-the-right (as we've *always* been), we battle to the end just on principle alone. If it gets out that you're a company that settles, you invite dozens of lawsuits like this.”

"They have no actual case, only a fantasy they've created in a sad effort to strike it big off the backs of creative, dedicated people in our industry. You can be utterly sure we will not settle because we have not done what they've claimed--our ideas are 100 percent self-created.

Talk to me in a few months when this thing is behind us, and you'll see they failed to extort any money from us. We've been involved in several lawsuits of this type, and in each case we've prevailed as having done no wrong, and without paying a dime in settlement extortion. When fully innocent as we are here, on principle alone we will never settle."

Cyber City in Thailand & New Entropia Planet

This press release announces development of a quarter-billion dollar facility called Cyber City in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a collaboration between Creative Kingdom and the Thai government, offering this modest assessment: "The developers of Cyber City Chiang Mai believe it will prove a benchmark in the ongoing evolution of the new global economy." Word is the first project for the new facility will be creation of a new virtual planet for Mindark's Entropia Universe. Here's word on that, which takes the claims of the success of Entropia to a new high, claiming it is prepared to challenge WoW for virtual supremacy:
The maiden project for the new complex will be CKI's collaboration with the Swedish company Mindark, makers of Entropia Universe, an enormously successful Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORG) with a real cash economy that is already positioned to challenge the dominance of market leader World of Warcraft. CKI, the first high-profile architectural firm to be enlisted for such an undertaking, will design an entire planet within Entropia Universe.

Sudden Strike 3 Patches

New patches are now available for Sudden Strike 3: Arms for Victory, updating the World War II RTS game to version 1.31. There are three flavors of patch, one for the international edition, one for Polish, and one for Russian. These patch notes describe what's new and different. All three patches are available on the Fireglow Games Website and mirrored on FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and The Patches Scrolls.

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Movie

The Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Website now offers a new video from ASCARON Entertainment's upcoming fantasy RPG sequel, offering a brief look at the game's take on the Golum. Thanks Gamer's Hell.

Molyneux: PC Gaming "Huge Tragedy"

Molyneux despairs at tragic state of PC gaming on quotes the Lionhead designer on his complaints that a lack of innovation is to blame for declines in PC gaming:
"I think it's a huge tragedy. I mean, you might as well say PC gaming is World of Warcraft and The Sims... The weird thing is everyone's got a PC, they're just not buying software for it," commented Molyneux.

And while many developers are chasing the casual PC gaming market as the next big thing, Molyneux believes it's already suffering from repetition and a lack of imagination.

"There's an enormous amount of gaming happening with PopCap, Big Fish and Reflective.

"The fascinating thing is when they first started, all these games came out like Peggle and Mystery Files and Alice Greensleeves and Diner Dash, and it felt quite exciting. There was a lot of innovation going on. Okay, there weren't great graphics, but there was innovation.

"In my view, that has completely stopped. They're doing the same game over and over again with a different wrapper. It's like a mini-universe in itself which is emulating what's happening in our industry," he added.

Disney Retakes Toy Story License

Disney snatches back Toy Story license has word the entertainment giant is planning on creating their next Toy Story game in-house. This is described as a blow to THQ, who pitched the chance to develop a Toy Story 3 tie-in, but MCV also quotes THQ's Brian Farrell saying they are not surprised that Disney is developing the game themselves.

Morning Preview

Morning Screenshots

Wednesday Game Reviews

Wednesday Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

A collection of Thomas Boswell's outstanding baseball essays is titled Why Time Begins on Opening Day. That sounds about right to me, so now that spring training is underway, time for time to begin is coming. Or something like that.

Timely Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Beatbox.
Pirate Chains.
Links of the Morning: X-Wing Fighter Art Sled.
Stories: Never Lost, but Found: Daily Japanese Honesty. Thanks Digg.
Postcard Delivered 79 Years Later.
Science!: Physicist Neil Turok: Big Bang Wasn't the Beginning.
Long Nights, 90 Below. What More Could Astronomers Want? Thanks Neutronbeam.
Media: The CRAZIEST low pass ever by a Helicopter.
2 geezers - 1 RC plane.
If it quacks like a duck, it's probably... a CAT?
Teh Funny: xkcd.
Subnormality. Thanks Digg.
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