Archived News:

Tuesday, Sep 09, 2008

Ships Ahoy - Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI

KOEI announces that the Windows edition of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI is now available for digital purchase and download for North American and Brazilian customers via either Direct2Drive or Trygames. Here's word on the latest installment in this historical turn-based strategy series: "Set during the end of China's Han Dynasty and the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., RTKXI presents the most visually captivating evolution in the history of the series. Blurring the line between video games and art, RTKXI features visuals evocative of classical Chinese ink-paintings along with debates and duels rendered in real-time 3D animation." Those interested in a sample can check out the recently released playable demo (story).

Fallout 3 Censored for AU, and Everywhere Else Too

Censors Force Fallout 3 Changes on Edge Online has a surprising revelation about the news that Fallout 3 was rejected by Australian censors (story) later to be approved for sale down under after the editing of some of the game's drug references (story). It turns out the edited version resubmitted down under will be the version that's released globally, so everyone will be subject to the Australian standards for adult games, which is that there are no such things. They quote Bethesda Softworks' Pete Hines on the topic: "An issue was raised concerning references to real world, proscribed drugs in the game, and we subsequently removed those references and replaced them with fictional names. To avoid confusion among people in different territories, we decided to make those substitutions in all versions of the game, in all territories. I didn't want people continuing to assume the version in Australia was some altered version when it's not. There are no references to real world drugs in any version of Fallout 3."

NCsoft Cuts? Tabula Rasa in Trouble? reports a rumor that NCsoft is planning on cutting about 50 positions from its European office in Brighton, reversing an expansion from just a year ago (story), saying that this is the result of the cancellation of an unannounced MMOG the studio had been creating. The report is attributed to "a number of sources close to the company," and the story also includes speculation that Tabula Rasa is in trouble, saying: "It is also thought that the company's troubled MMO Tabula Rasa will be discontinued at some point in the coming months due to continuing poor subscriber numbers."

Ubisoft's Accessibility Commitment

Ubisoft Commits To Include Subtitles In Future Products on GameInformer has word that Ubisoft has announced the launch of Handigo: The Game, a "serious game," described as "a tool to raise understanding of difficulties encountered on a daily basis by disabled individuals worldwide." This was created in conjunction with Handicap International as part of that charity's Ability Together campaign, and in other news related to game accessibility, the article also states that Ubi has committed to including subtitles in all their future in-house games, and will also attempt to add subtitles where possible to titles currently in development, including Far Cry 2, Prince of Persia, and Shaun White Snowboarding. Those interested in Handigo: The Game, which is actually three mini-games "placing the player in a situation of disability: motor impairment, sensory impairment and learning difficulties," can find it on this page.

FaceOff Hockey 2008 Announced

Wolverine Studios announces they will be publishing the 2008 edition of FaceOff Hockey, adding the ice hockey simulation to their roster of sports games. Word is: "FaceOff Hockey 2008 will be the first version of the series released through Wolverine Studios and will update the prior version of the single season replay PC game for the 2008-09 season. Going forward we intend to introduce career play to the franchise as we do with our other sports titles." They also put out the call for programmers interested in working on the project.

Multiwinia Movie

The Multiwinia Mondays Page offers what is said to be the penultimate installment in this weekly series of media releases for Introversion's upcoming multiplayer offering. Word is: "This week we’re taking a look at Blitzkrieg – a mode with a basic premise not dissimilar from a game of join-the-dots!"

The Sims 3 Trailer

A new trailer from The Sims 3 offers a developer-narrated behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming return of your Simlish-spouting little friends. In particular focus is your ability to create characters that look and act the way you choose. The clip is available from AtomicGamer and FileFront.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

Into the Black

So did you break out your Dreamcast today to celebrate its birthday? Nah, neither did I, but it would have been appropriate. Oh well, maybe next year for its 10th.

Ensemble Closing?

Shacknews is reporting a rumor that Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires) will shut down completely following the release of the upcoming console RTS game Halo Wars (due next year). According to their anonymous sources, described as "multiple independent reports," employees not associated Halo Wars were let go today, while incentives have been offered to those staying on to complete that project. Neither Ensemble nor Microsoft have commented on this story at this point. Thanks nin.

WAR Head Start Timing Tweaked

Mythic Entertainment announces details on the head start program for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which will allow preorder customers to get started progressing through Mythic's MMORPG in advance of its full launch on September 18. Those who preorder the Collector's Edition will gain access on September 14 as expected, with the festivities getting underway at 7:00 am EDT. The deal for preorder customers of the standard edition is slightly different than what we'd heard, however, as they will not get to start playing on the 15th, as had been reported (story), but will gain access on Tuesday, September 16, likewise at 7:00 am EDT.

Ships Ahoy - FlatOut Ultimate Carnage

Empire Interactive and WBIE announce that the Windows edition of FlatOut Ultimate Carnage has taken the green flag and has raced onto North American store shelves. Word is: "Published by Empire Interactive, distributed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, FlatOut Ultimate Carnage (developed by Bugbear Entertainment) takes the trademark mayhem of FlatOut and FlatOut 2, lifting destruction racing to a whole new level of bone-breaking slaughter. FlatOut Ultimate Carnage captures arcade destruction racing at its best and most extreme with real world physics, three different game modes, stunts and competitions. "

StarCraft II Interview, Videos

Crispy Gamer's StarCraft II Interview talks with Blizzard's Frank Pearce and Bob Colayco about StarCraft II, focusing on how to attract a new audience for the sci-fi real-time strategy sequel while simultaneously satisfying fans of the original game. Along they way they probe for details on beta testing: "A beta is very important from the perspective of getting feedback from the community and continuing that process of iteration. A beta is something that we're very likely going to need to host. But we haven't made any determination whether we're going to have to host a closed beta or an open beta, or both yet." On a related note, OMG links to three StarCraft II cam videos from PAX. Thanks Ant.

Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Demo

The playable demo for Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals is now available, offering the sample of this point-and-click adventure from Benoît Sokal’s White Birds Productions that was supposed to accompany the game's recent release (story). Word is: "Join struggling artist Alcide Nikopol in a richly detailed world of a future Paris. Who watches and waits from high above this City of Light and what dark secrets lie buried beneath its fabled streets? Begin your search now for clues and embark on your path to personal and political destiny from this humble artist's apartment." The demo can be found on the Nikopol Website, and it is mirrored on AtomicGamer,, FanGaming, FileFront, FileShack, Gamer's Hell, and Strategy Informer.

Velvet Assassin Delay

Eurogamer announces the European launch of Velvet Assassin has been pushed back to early 2009, after previously being scheduled for next month. Word is the EU edition of Replay Studios' stealth/action game formerly known as Sabotage will now coincide with the launch of the North American version.

Sword of the Stars: A Murder of Crows Delay, Preorders

GamersGate is now accepting preorders for Sword of the Stars: A Murder of Crows, the upcoming expansion for Kerberos Productions' upcoming 4X space strategy expansion. A Murder of Crows was announced with a September 2008 release date (story), but GamersGate now lists an October 9 release date for the add-on, which will require ownership of either the Sword of the Stars: Collector’s Edition or Born of Blood to play. They do not seem to be offering any preorder bonuses.

On WAR's Rough Euro Beta Launch

Mark Jacobs' Blog has thoughts from the Mythic boss about the difficulties launching the open beta testing of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in Europe (story), which is now underway. His initial post is mostly to decry the outcry over troubles with a beta, though this may not be completely cognizant of how beta access was dangled as a benefit of preordering. The post was subsequently updated clarifying that GOA is not without blame, saying that the game's European manager "messed up" and that it "was an ugly day," and clarifying that he does not deny the right of players to be angry. He also comments on statements by GOA's IainC: "I’ll simply say this, I do not agree with what he said, I do not support what he said and his comments were, in my opinion, way out of line." We're not sure what comments he's referencing, there's a Letter from IainC on the Warhammer Forums, but this does not seem at all inflammatory. Moving forward, Videogaming247 has received a statement from GOA saying "These issues will of course be completely fixed for the launch."

RA3 SecuROM Details

Fresh off of negative reactions to the SecuROM DRM in Spore (story), a post to the C&C Support Forums by Red Alert 3 Executive Producer Chris "easmudge" Corry looks to head off a similar outcry for Red Alert 3 by saying the SecuROM implementation in the coming RTS sequel will be more lenient than for their previous titles. According to the post, RA3 will require a one-time online authentication upon installation, the game can be installed and played on five different computers, and you will not be required to have the disc in the drive to play. He also says that users who need more than five installations will be able to contact customer support, and additional activations will be authorized on a case-by-case basis (similar to other games with limited activations). He also says: "I think it would be a shame if people decided to not play a great game simply because it came with DRM, but I understand that this is a very personal decision for many of you and I respect that. As you might imagine, I’m a lot less respectful of those people who take the position that they will illegally download a game simply because it has DRM." Thanks Destructoid. Also, there's a new Command & Conquer 3: Red Alert 3 Interview on ActionTrip talking with producers Amer Ajami and Greg Kasavin, asking the pair of GameSpot expatriates about various aspects of the game, none of which relate to DRM.

Dead Space as Middleware - Zero G Movie

Gameplayer has an article about the potential to power other games with the engine behind Dead Space, which is an update of the tech behind the Godfather game that has been refined over the past two-plus years by the team behind the upcoming sci-fi horror game. This engine is also being used for the upcoming Godfather II, and they quote executive producer Glen Schofield saying that lawyers are currently working through the process of renaming the engine to pave the way for its debut as a middleware product. Thanks Videogaming247. There's also a new Dead Space diary movie showing off some zero-gravity action from the game and collecting thoughts from the team on zero-G gameplay (including a science-bending comment about learning how much various body parts "weigh" in zero gravity). Grab your Dramamine and head over to ActionTrip, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell to view the clip.

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Movie

A new Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway diary movie offers thoughts from the team at Gearbox about realism in the coming World War II shooter sequel. They describe the use of the squad as a weapon, and the balance between promoting real tactics and allowing the player freedom to play as they like. The discussion of realism also covers destructible environments, gore, and more. The clip can be found on ActionTrip, Gamer's Hell, and MyGameTrailers. There are also new screenshots from the game on PC Games and PC

Vanguard Update Next Week

The Vanguard – Saga of Heroes Website has details on Game Update 6, which should go live early next week for this SOE MMORPG. The update will add a new Isle of Dawn starting area, a character model revamp ("beefing up the men while enhancing the feminine features of our females"), and "thousands of bug fixes." Thanks Eurogamer.

Stardock's Fantasy/Strategy Plans

The Stardock Interview Part 2 on Shacknews talks further with Brad Wardell of Stardock about how his PAX experience and about games, including Gas Powered Games' Demigod and Stardock's upcoming fantasy-themed strategy game, which Wardell says may be formally announced in November: "We're going to be formally announcing it--the team promises me in November, which means I can't promise that. But it's a turn-based fantasy strategy game. It's essentially--imagine Civilization with magic, in terms of general, broad play style. I mean, it's a lot more than that, because I'm a Civ fanatic--no pun intended, great site--but there's a really good mod for Civilization IV that lets you do magic and stuff. Obviously it's a lot more than just Civ with magic."

More on Outsourcing

An Examination of Outsourcing- The Developer Angle on Gamasutra is the second installment in their three-part series on outsourcing and its role in the game world of development. This segment looks at outsourcing from the perspective of the developers, talking with Kuju, Wideload, and THQ about their reliance on outsourced work. Part one was posted last month (story).

Far Cry 2 Trailer

A new Far Cry 2 trailer offers a promotion for the just-announced pre-order program for the shooter sequel in an unusual in-game format. The clip is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Legendary Movie

This sixth behind-the-scenes trailer from Legendary is now available, offering another look at the creation of Spark Unlimited's first-person shooter based on the myth of Pandora's Box. This clip rocks out with its box out, as it looks at the creation of the game's music soundtrack and sound effects. The clip can be found on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Arcania: A Gothic Tale Trailer

The GC 2008 trailer for Arcania: A Gothic Tale promotes the next installment in the Gothic series once known by the title Gothic IV. The clip is pretty much a nothing, offering neither gameplay nor cinematics, but it does conclude with a release date of Winter 2009. The clip is posted on ActionTrip, AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Our phones are acting funny again, and while they are not dialing the police like last time, one or both lines occasionally gets disconnected, offering a busy signal to incoming callers. A very nice woman from Verizon came by yesterday and said she needed to come back today to complete the repair, but that by disconnecting one phone jack the problem wouldn't recur in the meantime. As you can guess, one of the lines did its thing about 10 minutes after she left, so we may have another of those F.M. situations here.

F.M. Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Battalion: Nemesis. Thanks Jay is Games.
Stories: Burglar wakes men with spice rub, sausage whack.
Russia in legal bid to ban extremist U.S. cartoon. You killed Kensky! You bastards!
Depp & Hoffman In For Next -Batman? Is Will Smith The New "Captain America"? Woah! Thanks nin.
Science: More flu vaccine aimed at key flu spreaders- Kids.
'Water bears' are first animal to survive vacuum of space.
The human Buzz Lightyear... The man about to cross the Channel on a wing and a prayer.
Auction: Iron Man 2 Premiere, Meet & Greets, Walk On + More. Thanks Dark Horizons.
Media: Tumbleweed Vortex.
Follow-up: Astroland Closes, This Time, It Appears, for Good. A sad day.
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