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Thursday, Jul 09, 2009


New on GameTap

GameTap announces Hotel Giant 2 is this week's new game for their subscribers, and also reveal Arx Fatalis will be coming in the near future and say next week's new games will be Age of Mythology: Gold and Fishdom. They also have moved two games to their free area this week: Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and in celebration of the release of Street Fighter IV, they offer Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, and say Street Fighter IV should be added to their service in about six months. Finally, they reveal next week's free game will be the original Fallout, which will be SPECIAL.

New on GoG.Com announces the latest additions to their DRM-free marketplace for older games updated with Windows support. Now available are their first two of many offerings from Rebellion: Ground Control and the Dark Conspiracy Expansion and Evil Genius. They are also offering a sale on all games from TopWare Interactive, which are available for 20% off.

MechWarrior Movie

A new movie shows off the just-announced new MechWarrior game. The clip combines cinematics and gameplay to fairly impressive effect. The clip can be found on the YouTube (thanks Kxmode), and on AtomicGamer and FileFront.

Command & Conquer 4 Interview

The Command & Conquer 4 Interview on GameSpot talks with Samuel Bass about the upcoming RTS sequel being described as the conclusion of the Tiberium saga, though Samuel adds: "it is safe to say that the conclusion of the Tiberium saga is not the end of the Tiberium Universe as a whole." Topics include the class-based system, RPG elements, persistency, co-op support, and the fact that Joe Kucan will once again reprise his role as Kane. Here's a bit on those persistent elements:

Essentially, whenever you play Command & Conquer 4, be it in single-player, co-op, skirmish, or online, you earn experience that collects in your persistent player profile. Within the profile, you use your experience pool to level up your classes, earning new units, structures, powers, and upgrades. Since your profile is persistent across the game, you can then take your new toys and put them to use in any of our game modes.

Beyond the obvious compulsions this adds to the game, the player progression system lets us tackle one of the biggest issues we've encountered as RTS developers. To put it simply, when--as an RTS newbie--you install the game, enter your first match, and find yourself faced with 13 units, 10 structures, and an ungodly number of additional powers and upgrades.

Black Prophecy Interview

There's a Black Prophecy Interview on Voodoo Extreme chatting with Simon Bachmann of Reakktor Media about this upcoming MMO space combat game (thanks Cutter). They discuss various aspects of the project, including the inevitable comparisons with similar games: "The comparison of Black Prophecy to Eve Online and Jumpgate is natural as all three games play in a sci-fi space scenario. However, we take a different approach by designing the game more like a fast paced action shooter with role-play elements instead of going the simulation route. Having said that we don’t feel bad about such comparisons and we have full respect for the Eve Online and Jumpgate development teams as we know the hard work that’s behind all this."

Left 4 Dead 2 Interview

There is a Left 4 Dead 2 Interview on Strategy Informer talking with Valve's Doug Lombardi about the multiplayer zombie shooter sequel. Doug has already answered enough questions about backlash over the L4D2 announcement to turn into a zombie himself, but he explains Valve's position once again, and expresses hopes that fans will reserve final judgment "until we’ve put all our cards on the table."

PROTOTYPE Tips Trailer

A new "tips n tricks" trailer from PROTOTYPE is online outlining tips, hints and "stupid chopper tricks" from Radical Entertainment's radical action game. The clip is found on AtomicGamer, FileFront, and Gamer's Hell.

German Games Petition

There's a new petition collecting signatures to protest increasingly strict crackdowns on violent games. Apropos to the situation, the petition is in German. Thanks Fuzzi.

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Thanks Mike Martinez.

Into the Black

Monkey Island: Special Edition Next Week

The LucasArts Twitter Feed announces next Wednesday as the release date for Monkey Island: Special Edition on Steam and Xbox LIVE Arcade, and announces pricing for the Monkey Island revival as well:

Monkey Island: Special Edition: 800 MS points on XBLA, and $9.99 on Steam for PC. Not shabby, eh? Hits on the 15th (Wednesday!)

BioShock 2 Gets Arkane

The Arkane Studios Website reveals the developer behind Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is assisting on development of BioShock 2, the shooter sequel in the works at 2K Marin (thanks dju). Word is: "Arkane Studios is pleased to announce its collaboration with 2K Marin and contributions to Bioshock 2 in the areas of design, animation and art. We're excited about this game, which underscores Arkane Studios' core values."

Free The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

The Elder Scrolls Website offers the free release of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, as Bethesda Softworks celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the release of the RPG series, just like they released The Elder Scrolls: Arena for free five years ago on the tenth anniversary The Elder Scrolls. The download is available on this page along with The Elder Scrolls: Arena, and word is: "To run these games on newer systems, you will need to download an emulation program. We have provided a link to the DOSBox emulator below." Downloads of the free game are mirrored on AtomicGamer and FileFront.

On Sale

The Video Games Deal of the Day offers a one-day sale of $20 off all editions of Prototype, making the Windows edition $29.98 and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions $39.98 for today only (thanks Joystiq). Also, over on GameStop they are offering a sale on "thousands" of games for under $20.00. Meanwhile, Shrapnel Games are celebrating their tenth anniversary, and this post outlines a bunch of sales that are running between now and July 22. Finally, Meridian 4 continues to celebrate their fifth anniversary, and all their games are on sale on Impulse for 50% off, and The Meridian4 Complete Pack is available for $79.99, described as a $360.00 discount off the full price.

Modern Warfare 2 Hears the Call of Duty Again

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 looks like it will be the actual title of Infinity Ward's upcoming military shooter sequel, according to an image of the cover art on VG247. The game was announced with the Call of Duty in the name, but more recently Activision indicated the CoD was being dropped from the title. With the physical evidence of the cover art, this seems pretty settled now.

Avernum VI Announced

Spiderweb Software announces Avernum VI, the next installment in their multiplatform RPG series, saying the Mac edition is due this winter and the Windows edition is due next spring. This page has details and screenshots, and here's an excerpt:

The epic conclusion of the award-winning Avernum series. Travel into the strange subterranean land of Avernum, full of dungeons, labyrinths, and constant warfare. A final set of disasters threatens to destroy your homeland in a spasm of famine and warfare. Only you can help your people to get to safety before everything falls apart.

As you wander the gigantic world of Avernum, you will experience:

      • An enormous world. Hundreds of quests, dozens of dungeons and enemy fortresses, and multitudes of characters.
      • A fascinating storyline, full of surprises, treachery, and epic battles.
      • Many unique encounters. Not just mindless hack and slash. Many unusual enemies that will require clever tactics to defeat.
      • Rich game system with over 50 spells and battle disciplines, many character building options, and powerful secret skills to unlock.
      • Unique game world. Unique races and settings make Avernum different from any RPG out there.
      • Experience with previous Avernum games is completely unnecessary to enjoy Avernum 6.

Free MechWarrior 4 Soon

On the heels of the revelation of new MechWarrior plans, Smith & Tinker announces that MechWarrior 4 and its expansions will soon be released for free on Word is: "In honor of BattleTech’s 25th anniversary, Smith & Tinker has authorized and MekTek Studios to distribute MechWarrior 4 (along with its expansion packs) completely free. For years, has been the central point for online distribution of MechWarrior 4 expansion packs. Now they can provide the core game free to the fans as well. Keep an eye on—the free download will be available soon!"

Champions Online Open Beta Correction

A post on the Champions Online Forums by a member of the Online Community Team for Cryptic's upcoming MMORPG indicates that yesterday's indications on VG247 that open beta testing for Champions Online will begin on August 17 is subject to change (actually "most likely going to change"), nor is the accompanying information about changes to the beta level cap accurate (thanks Shacknews). Word is:

These dates are by no means finalized, and are working dates that are most likely going to change. I'm not sure why this information was posted, but we will post the dates for things like Open Beta as we set them.

Additionally, the "level cap" in that article is incorrect. There is currently no level cap for characters in the beta. (Besides hitting the maximum level of 40, that is.)

Splinter Cell Preorder Bonus: Not So Fast, PC

GameStop now offers a preorder bonus for Splinter Cell: Conviction, an in-game semi-automatic shotgun that fits the game's stealthy concept like a tutu on an elephant. It seems, however, this is only for the Xbox 360 edition, so PC owners will have to settle for the intrinsic bonuses of better graphics and mouse support. Thanks VG247.

Ships Ahoy - Europa Universalis: Rome - GOLD

Paradox Interactive announces Europa Universalis: Rome - GOLD is now in stores, offering a bundle of the original Europa Universalis: Rome along with all the content in the Vae Victis expansion pack. Here's a bit from the announcement outlining the improvements from Vae Victis: "With new features previously only available through the digital download only expansion pack, the road to success is much more difficult to traverse. Governments now hold sway over the actions that can be taken. Senates and tribal councils will order players to conduct missions they see fit to test players' abilities to achieve their goals. Players can also guide their nations to their ultimate goals with the enactment of beneficial Laws. The AI controlled opponents now behave with more vigor and purpose as they set about surviving the turmoil of these times."

Batman: Arkham Asylum - Drop 'til you Stop

MTV Multiplayer stretches their NDA by offering a tidbit about gameplay in Batman: Arkham Asylum after playing with an embargoed preview copy of the upcoming superhero brawler. Word is the game will offer a chance to save the Batman from a falling death with a slowdown prompting the press of a button for a batarang save. They liken the system to the Elika safety net in Prince of Persia, though this is arguably a more logical gameplay function based on the nature of the character. Word is Bats can still take enough damage to perish during combat.

Alien Breed Evolution This Year

Team17 Software's Facebook Page offers three new screenshots from Alien Breed Evolution, an upcoming remake of Alien Breed. Details are scant for now, here's all they have to say at the moment: "First 3 screenshots of our Unreal3 fuelled 1/2 player co-op shooter due later this year. Enjoy this action packed, atmospheric 'retro modern' remake of our 1991 classic!" Thanks Joystiq.

New MechWarrior

The MechWarrior Q&A on IGN confirms yesterday's indications that a new MechWarrior game is in the works, discussing the project with Piranha Games president Russ Bullock and FASA cofounder/MechWarrior creator Jordan Weisman about the Unreal-engine project, which will be simply titled MechWarrior, as it is one of those franchise reboots that the kids are all so wild about these days. This separate IGN article offers a teaser trailer and details about the game, which is in development for Windows and Xbox 360, but does not yet carry a projected release date. Here's a bit on the game, including plans for co-op support:

This new MechWarrior is set on the planet Deshler in the year 3015, and places players in the role of Adrian Khol, a wayward nobleman who prefers partying and shirking responsibility over his training and studies. However, when House Kurita launches a massive invasion to conquer Deshler, resulting in the death of his entire family, Khol discovers a purpose to fight for.

There are ambitious plans for this new MechWarrior. The original MechWarrior games were limited by technology; now with modern computing power, the developers are hoping to really capture the sense that you're piloting a giant, walking war machine in the middle of an incredibly dynamic battlefield. While the two companies are still talking to potential publishers that could determine the final production budget, Weisman and Bullock explained that they plan to have a full single-player campaign, as well as support for a four-player co-op campaign, and a full multiplayer suite.

One of the key features is a sense of information warfare, using everything from unmanned drones surveying the battlefield from above to light scout mechs relaying information to teammates. Weisman and Bullock both explained how they want every class of mech to really matter in this game; it's not just a race to the heaviest, most powerful mechs. The designers want to reward you for picking a mech and sticking with it -- you will gain experience and become better at piloting your chosen mech, and that will translate into better accuracy and damage with weapon systems. This way, a player could specialize in a light mech throughout the entire game if they choose. It also means there are multiple playthroughs with different mechs. The developers also said the game will change based on your chosen mech class.

While the developers didn't go into how many mechs will make the game, based on the video trailer and the discussions, we know of at least four. There's the Jenner (light class), both the Warhammer and the Rifleman(heavy class), and an Atlas Prime, a feared assault-class mech.

Dawn of War II Beta Update Plans

As noted on the Dawn Of War II Website, a new version of the "There is Only War" beta patch for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is in the works. This post has release notes for the beta version 1.4.2 patch, which has bug fixes and a lengthy list of balance changes. When the patch will go live will be revealed in a future update.


A playable demo is now available for FUEL, the open-world racing game. The demo is available on the FUEL Website, and here's word: "The FUEL demo enables players to take on the Ocean Rush career event, where 7 racers pick their own paths through treacherous landscapes and short-cuts are key to taking the chequered flag. Gamers can also take on Blitz – a wild, high-pressure challenge where players must race against the clock to reach the next checkpoint before time runs out. Gamers who download the console versions can also play online for a limited period of 2 weeks from release, experiencing up to 16 player free ride in a limited area of the Tsunami Reef zone or challenging up to 6 other players in the Ocean Rush career race." The demo is mirrored on AtomicGamer,, FanGaming, Filefront, Games On Net, and Gamer's Hell. There's also a launch trailer on AtomicGamer and Gamer's Hell.

Command & Conquer 4 Announced

After one one false start and then another, EALA officially announces Command & Conquer 4, saying the PC-exclusive RTS sequel will ship next year:

Behold disciples of Nod, the end is soon upon us. Electronic Arts Inc. today announced that, after almost 15 years and 30 million games sold, EALA is bringing the award-winning Tiberium series to an epic conclusion with Command & Conquer 4. Shipping in 2010, Command & Conquer 4 will introduce a multitude of innovations to the to the classic fast and fluid Command & Conquer gameplay while retaining the core compulsions that fans have come to love over the series’ history. Introducing new class-based gameplay, mobile bases and persistent player progression throughout all game modes, Command & Conquer 4 offers players new, innovative and compelling strategic depth. “Command & Conquer is a powerful franchise with an amazing 15-year legacy. We are thrilled to bring the dramatic Tiberium saga to a conclusion in Command & Conquer 4. This game is designed to give fans all the answers they’ve been looking for,” said Mike Glosecki, Lead Producer of Command & Conquer 4 at EA Los Angeles. “With its objective-based multiplayer mode, persistent player progression and all-in-one mobile base, players will experience Command & Conquer like never before.”

The story of Command & Conquer 4 takes place after the events of the critically acclaimed Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. The year is 2062 and humanity is at the brink of extinction. With only six years left until the mysterious crystalline structure Tiberium renders the earth entirely uninhabitable, the two opposing factions – Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod – inevitably find themselves in desperation for the same cause: to stop Tiberium from extinguishing mankind. The unthinkable becomes reality and Nod’s enigmatic leader Kane takes off for GDI headquarters. What is Kane planning in the heart of his enemies’ base? Command & Conquer 4 draws the epic conclusion to the beloved Tiberium universe, where fans will learn the fate of Earth, Nod, Tiberium, GDI and most importantly, Kane’s motivations behind his decade-long plan.

In addition to the two campaigns on the epic battles of GDI and Nod, which players will get to conquer alone or in a cooperative mode, Command & Conquer 4 will also feature a new 5v5 objective-based multiplayer mode, promoting teamwork and cooperation and delivering a social real-time-strategy experience never seen before in a Command & Conquer game.

FIFA Manager 10 Details

New FIFA Manager 10 Online Mode Details and PC Screenshots are available, outlining multiplayer details for the coming installment in the sporting series. Here's a bit:

Additionally up to 40 international leagues will be available in FIFA Manager 10 and players will also benefit from over 400 enhancements within the offline mode, many of which are based on feedback from the fan community.

These include:

      • Deeper AI, player development
      • In-game presentation and financing
      • New experiences like the FIFA World Player Gala, an almanac with team photos and squads, the revised game website, the manager diary in which the player can collect photos of cups, stadiums and players, and the new "stadium infrastructure" where players can fine tune details of their facilities
      • The 3D mode has been expanded by several hundred new animations and is now based on the latest FIFA 09 animation system
      • FIFA MANGER 10 supports resolutions of up to 1920x1200 now, and the player’s manager desktop is individually customizable with up to 30 widgets and more than 50 desktop objects.

WWII: General Commander Patch

Matrix Games announces they now offer digital distribution of World War II: General Commander, Stragames' turn-based strategy/wargame set in World War II, or "the big one," as Archie Bunker would say. Here's the deal on the game also known as World War II: General Commander - Operation- Watch on the Rhine: "World War II: General Commander is an introductory war strategy game which brings a unique mix of scale, combat dynamics, and force management. An intuitive combination of rules and controls will give beginning wargamers and real time strategy fans the opportunity to simulate Germany’s famous last Blitzkrieg from either side. Evaluate the tactical situation while monitoring your overall strategy over real scale 3D maps, with high quality graphics and effects. World War II: General Commander creates an intense command experience with a choice of engagements ranging from defending a single town to the full campaign stretching hundreds of miles and involving all the historical forces!" Also, the Game's Official Website offers a new version 1.3 patch and dedicated server for those who have already acquired the game, and there is a new version 1.3 dedicated server, as well (there's also a playable demo). The patch and server are mirrored on The Patches Scrolls.

The Evolving Galactic Arms Race

Galactic Arms Race (GAR) is a multiplayer online game that also serves as a "research experiment in automatic content generation driven by player preferences," that they describe as "'Space Diablo', with real-time combat, cool particle system weapons, and RPG-style leveling and skill trees" (thanks Mike Martinez and Slashdot). The website has videos and write-ups describing how systems within the game evolve, and since there's a new version 1.1 this forum thread outlines what's new and different. Here's word on the game:

Unique game content, namely spaceship weapon systems, automatically evolves based on player behavior through a specialized version of the NEAT evolutionary algorithm called cgNEAT (content-generating NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies). In particular, new variants of weapons that players like will be continually created by the game itself. In this way, the game never stays the same. GAR is the first video game to demonstrate that critical content can evolve as the game is played to satisfy its players.

Op Ed

The Game Reviews - In Defense of the Pre-rendered Cut Scene.
It’s always a delicate balancing act when a game chooses to break the immersion by employing pre-rendered cut scenes rather than in-game graphics. If done well, these cut scenes can be entertaining in their own right, and can enhance the player’s connection to its characters and its world. If done poorly, it can be a jarring distraction that feels out of place. There isn’t one right way of doing things, but I think developers can get so swept up in the idea of staying in-game at all times that they forget there are other ways to tell a story.

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