Archived News:

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 St. Patrick's Day

Big Huge Games for Sale

Crispy Gamer reports that THQ is looking to sell off Big Huge Games, not much more than a year after acquiring the RTS developer. This follows on their earlier story that Big Huge layoffs are coming, but it is more dire than that, with THQ informing them that the studio will be closed if a sale is not completed in the "near future." They also announces that Heavy Iron Studios and Incinerator Studios have been granted their independence:
As part of THQ’s previously announced business realignment and related headcount reduction plans that targeted cost reductions of $220 million, including a reduction in workforce of 600 people worldwide, THQ today notified the staff at two of its development studios that they will be spun out as independent companies: Heavy Iron in Los Angeles, CA, and Incinerator in Carlsbad, CA. In addition, THQ informed the staff at its Big Huge Games studio in Timonium, MD, that it plans to close the studio if a sale is not completed in the near future. These actions were unfortunate but were necessitated by the difficult economic environment.

XomB Announced

3G Studios announces XomB (pronounced "zombie"), a game being developed for Windows and consoles, though details like genre and release date are not being offered yet. A preliminary XomB Website is live with some concept art, and here's the announcement:
RENO, Nev. – March 17, 2009 - 3G Studios, Inc. released details of its upcoming next-generation console and PC game which will pit the player against the hordes of a dark and powerful enemy. In XomB (pronounced “Zombie”), the player will fight in epic battles, overcoming incredible odds to triumph against an evil that is sweeping their homeland.

“The game is set in a re-imagined version of feudal Asia. The player will find themselves thrown into the middle of a war which is already being waged; one where the spreading Darkness is forcibly corrupting the landscape and reaping the souls of entire populations of innocents,” stated Patric Starr, Designer at 3G’s Tahoe studio.

Todd Imus, Writer for 3G’s Tahoe studio, elaborated: “The dead are being harvested and re-animated in different forms by this incredibly powerful force. The player will learn to alternately fight and control the force as they liberate the slaves of the conquered lands. This tale is very dark and draws heavily upon the unique world of Asian mythology.”

The game is currently being developed for PC, next-generation consoles, and select handheld devices. Nameplates are available at: http://www.3gstudiosinc.com/xomb. More details and assets will be released in the coming weeks.

Simon The Sorcerer 5 Subtitle, Details

The Games Company announces Simon the Sorcerer: Who’d Even Want Contact?! as the full title of the upcoming fifth installment in the Simon the Sorcerer series, which takes on a science fiction theme. The official website is online, offering screenshots and details for the game, which is due for release this summer.

Into the Black

Ships Ahoy - Merchants of Brooklyn

Steam now offers digital distribution of Merchants of Brooklyn, saying this is "the first volume" of this CryENGINE 2 first-person shooter from Paleo Entertainment, who promise "development updates and product details on upcoming volumes in coming weeks." This press release has details on the game; here's a portion:
M.O.B. tells of a dystopian New York where environmental crisis has forced the population to literally inch closer to the sky through a massive network of bridges to avoid the toxicity of the surface. The violent change call for a new breed of laborer and modern science answered the call. Society then witnessed the birth of new working class -- Neanderthals. Physically powerful but mostly obedient, the Neanderthal population exploded and clogged the lower levels of the city where they were forced to fight in blood sports.

As Matteo, a Neanderthal fighter specially engineered for mental and physical superiority, players will blast their way through a sprawling dystopia where the glow of towering megastructures illuminate epic firefights and brutal hand-to-hand combat. Using a biomechanical arm made specifically for Matteo by a mysterious scientist, players will rip through hordes of ancient enemies, such as Neanderthal thugs, as well as futuristic foes, such as Hover Droids and security drones.

WAR Career Opportunities

Mythic Entertainment announces the new Dwarf Slayer and Orc Choppa careers are now live in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, showing rising unemployment has not yet hit the toons in the fantasy-themed MMORPG. Here's a quick pair of job descriptions:
The ornery and savage Choppa is an offensive juggernaut that embodies the love of a good fight found in every Orc. He has a one-track mind that is dead set on wreaking havoc on enemy lines and bashin' heads! Driven by an inexplicably strong bloodlust, the Choppa is a whirlwind of destruction on the battlefield with a …debatable sense of self-preservation.

The tattooed Slayer is the manifestation of the Dwarfs’ obsession with honor, seeking only a heroic and honorable death in combat. However, dying quietly is simply not in his nature. In WAR, the Slayer is a ruthless and terrifying fighter, throwing himself into battle with no regard for his own well-being. He is a force to be reckoned with and relies on his ever-escalating rage to power each swing of his dual axes.

Impulse's Million Man March

Stardock announces they are nearing the one million user mark for Impulse, their digital distribution service. To commemorate this milestone, they plan on giving a high-end gaming rig worth $4,000.00 USD to their millionth user. The announcement also outlines the next stage in the service's evolution: "Next month Stardock plans to release the third major update to Impulse since its release which will include features such as Impulse Anywhere (ability to download your title from a web page on one PC and then install on your home PC), and the full release of Impulse Reactor, which will provide in-game features from Impulse seamlessly and an updated Impulse client with a host of tweaks and changes."

Mass Effect 2 in "Early 2010"

EA and BioWare officially announce Mass Effect 2, though a sequel to the sci-fi RPG has already been revealed via a GDC listing, a teaser trailer, and comments and actions from BioWare. The announcement does fill in some details however, including Windows and Xbox 360 as target platforms, and an early 2010 release window for part two of what they are calling the Mass Effect trilogy. Here's the announcement:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – March 17th, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today officially announced Mass Effect™ 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the multi award-winning 2007 hit, Mass Effect. The Mass Effect trilogy is a masterful science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life forms and mysterious uncharted planets. In this dark second chapter, Saren’s evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, who are still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with an even greater peril…

“We’re going to surpass the extraordinary gaming experience we brought our fans in Mass Effect by delivering intensified combat and expanded weapon options as well as increased depth of planet exploration, all while delivering a powerful, emotionally engaging story,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, General Manager and CEO, BioWare and General Manager and Vice President, EA. “Mass Effect 2 is shaping up to be an unforgettable RPG-shooter experience, taking players on a non-stop roller-coaster ride filled with stunning plot twists and no-holds-barred action.”

Mass Effect 2 is coming to PC and the Xbox 360 video game system in Early 2010. To see the exclusive new Mass Effect 2 teaser trailer check out the website here: www.masseffect.com.

Men of War NA Ships, Campaign Generator

Aspyr announces that Men of War is now available in North American stores and for digital distribution via GameAgent, though according to GameAgent they won't be distributing Best Way's World War II RTS sequel for another week. Also, addressing the growing concern the gaming community has over digital rights management, Aspyr stresses this release is completely DRM-free. On a related note, Digitalmindsoft offers download of version 2.0 of a user-created Men of War Dynamic Campaign Generator (thanks Gamer's Hell). Here's word on the release of the game:
Men of War is a stunning mixture of RTS and a third-person action that takes players to the most brutal battlefields of Europe and North Africa during the height of World War II. The game unfolds across three different campaigns played out through the eyes of Soviet, Allied and German soldiers. Each campaign has its own scenario and structured timeline bringing a different story of the war to life. Whether in single or multiplayer warfare, gamers can employ the unique Direct Control System, which allows for player control of any single soldier or vehicle on the battlefield at any time. Men of War features epic multiplayer battles, realistic vehicles and weapons, and highly detailed environments and characters.

Dominions 3 Patch

The Dominions 3: The Awakening Website now offers new patches to update the Windows, Linux, and MacOS editions of Illwinter Game Design's fantasy-themed turn-based strategy sequel to version 3.23. According to publisher Shrapnel Games: "The new patch brings the full retail version of the game to version 3.23, and like previous patches does a little bit of everything: fixes bugs, enhances gameplay, and brings a smile to the faces of modders everywhere." The Windows patch is mirrored on FileFront and Gamer's Hell; the MacOS patch is mirrored on FileFront and Gamer's Hell; and the Linux patch is mirrored on FileFront and Gamer's Hell.

New StuntMANIA!

The StuntMANIA! Website offers an update for Sector3 Games' stunt-driving game, which is now up to version 3.1 for both Windows and MacOS. You can check out all the changes in the new version thanks to updated playable demos, which offer one challenge on one map using one car from the game. The Windows demo is mirrored on FileFront and Gamer's Hell, while the Mac demo is mirrored on FileFront and Gamer's Hell.

Red Faction Guerilla Demo Next Month

GameStop is now accepting preorders for Red Faction: Guerrilla (including the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions), revealing plans for a demo for Volition's shooter sequel, as early access to the demo is a preorder bonus. Word is: "Reserve Red Faction: Guerrilla and receive exclusive access to the demo from April 3 to April 23. Available for online and in-store customers while supplies last."

Stargate Worlds Woes

Ten Ton Hammer (by way of AZ Central) reports that Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment is being sued by Arizona-based datacenter IO Capital Princess over an open account. This lends further support to rumors of financial difficulties at the developer of Stargate Worlds, as there were reports last year that employees were going unpaid.

Massive Founder Leaves

GamesIndustry.biz reports Martin Walfiz has parted ways with Massive Entertainment (Ground Control, World in Conflict), the Swedish development studio he founded, a move that is surely related to Ubisoft's acquisition of Massive late last year. There are no real details, just this quote from Ubisoft: "Ubisoft is saddened by the recent departure of Martin Walfiz from Massive Entertainment and we wish him all the best in his future projects."

Marvel MMOGs

VentureBeat has word that startup Gazillion Entertainment has made a deal to launch series of online games with Marvel Comics characters. This brings to mind Marvel Universe Online, the game Marvel and Cryptic Studios announced in 2006 that was cancelled early last year, but the first project is a decidedly less hardcore game based on Super Hero Squad planned for a 2010 release based on a kids show to debut on the Cartoon Network in the fall. Their license covers 10 years, however, and there are plans for more serious offerngs going forward, as outlined in a conversation on Big Download where Gazillion CEO Rober Hutter says: "Marvel thought this would be a great casual MMO to enter the market place and focus on the mass market before thinking hard about bringing the big Marvel Universe MMO to PC and consoles over the next few years. As we started working with them, we started attacking the casual MMO audience, the conversations quickly broadened and this deal came about."

Blacklight Revealed

The Seattle Times reveals plans for Blacklight, a futuristic military shooter being developed as an Unreal-engine video game by Zombie Studios, while Fox Atomic creates an associated comic book and feature film. The article has a couple of pieces of concept art and further quotes from Long about the project, which is described as similar to Apocalypse Now about 25 years from now. "We're hoping to graduate into the big league, frankly, with this one," is a quote from Zombie co-founder Mark Long, who says he expects the Seattle-based developer to grow by 30 to 40 employees as a result. There's a page for this on the Zombie Studios Website, where word is:
Zombie Studios has reached an agreement with Fox Atomic, a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, and production company Union Entertainment to develop its military action franchise "Blacklight" as a feature film, comic book series and video game. The announcement was made jointly by Zombie CEO Mark Long, Fox Atomic President Debbie Liebling, and Union President Richard Leibowitz.

An original property created by Zombie Studios, "Blacklight" is a covert military action epic set twenty-five years in the future. The three companies will work together on a movie and comic book series to be produced by Fox Atomic and a multi-platform video game that will be produced by Zombie.

Both the film and the video game will be written by Jason Dean Hall, a veteran writer whose latest film, SPREAD, sold at Sundance to Summit. He is also writing projects for Dreamworks and Universal.

"'We are excited by the huge potential "Backlight" has to succeed across multiple platforms -- theatrical features, comics books, and video games," said Liebling, "it offers us a remarkable franchise opportunity for film."

"From the start, I have envisioned 'Blacklight' as a story that spans all of the forms of media I enjoy most," stated Long. "It's an ambitious project and I've been fortunate to find partners at Fox Atomic and Union who share that same vision. We are cooperating on the comic, game and movie at levels that are unprecedented in the industry."

"'Blacklight plays to Union's strengths as a film and game production company, allowing us to help bring a great property to consumers in both media," added Leibowitz, a producer on the project.

Richard Leibowitz will produce and Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will executive produce for Union. Mark Long, in addition to developing the video game, will serve as an executive producer on the feature. Zak Kadison and R. Eric Lieb will oversee for Atomic.

The "Blacklight" film, video game, and comics will feature the same characters and high caliber military action, but with unique, intersecting storylines that complement each other. No release dates for any of the properties have yet been announced.

Three Kingdoms Launches

Three Kingdoms: The Battle Begins is now live, offering a subscription-free MMOG based on the Asian novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The game boasts Guild versus Guild combat, the ability to hire former enemies, and a dynamic quest system so you can "spend les time travelling, and more time killing."

Godfather II Interview

EA’s John Salera Gives Us a Godfather II Interview We Couldn’t Refuse on Game Zone chats about the upcoming sequel to the mafia movie homage. Topics include the game's recent delay and a number of pretty standard questions about the story, combat controls, AI, and more.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Go and have fun, but remember, bartenders call this amateur's night for a reason, so please be careful out there, especially if you're on the roads.

Irish Links: Thanks Ant, Mike Martinez, and Neutronbeam.
Play: Cubic Disturbance.
Links: The Most Violent Video Games Ever Made.
Sexy People. Thanks Devicer.
Stories: Iraqi Goalie Killed In Victory Shooting.
In Thin Air of the Alps, Swiss Secrecy Is Vanishing.
Science: From Arctic Soil, Fossils of a Goliath That Ruled the Jurassic Seas.
Media: Amazing Sexual Innuendo.
Follow-ups: Treatment for Peanut Allergies Shows Promise.
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