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Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009


Sledgehammer Games Formed

Activision Publishing announces the formation of Sledgehammer Games, a new wholly-owned game development studio located in Foster City, CA that corresponds to a trademark they registered a couple of months ago. The studio is being run by industry veterans Glen A. Schofield and Michael Condrey (Dead Space) and is said to be developing an unannounced new videogame. "Both Glen and Michael have outstanding reputations in the industry through their work as GM and COO of Visceral Games, and as the leadership of the Dead Space development team," says Dave Stohl, Executive Vice President of Studios at Activision. "We are excited to add their combined 30 years of experience and expertise to our management team"

Ships Ahoy - The Sims 3: World Adventures

EA announces The Sims 3: World Adventures is now available via digital distribution to expand the lifestyle simulator with new items and locations. There's a music behind the scenes trailer on FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and WorthPlaying. Also, there's a new version 1.6.6 patch for the game on The Sims 3 Website that's mirrored on The Patches Scrolls.

PES 2010 Patch

A new patch for Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 updates this association football/soccer simulation to version 1.02. The patch can be downloaded from The Patches Scrolls, where they also have the patch notes.

The Saboteur Preorders

Impulse is now offering preorders of The Saboteur, unfortunately opening them up on the same day as the game's developer, Pandemic Studios, closed down. They provide the following description of the World War II stealth/action game: "Welcome to Nazi-occupied Paris, a unique open world where you are The Saboteur. Play as Sean Devlin, a street-tough Irish racing mechanic seeking personal redemption on a Nazi officer that has taken everything away from him. Now, it’s time for payback—with the help of the French Resistance, British intelligence, an arsenal of weaponry, your own street smarts and brawn, you must exact revenge on those who aimed to destroy your life. Motivated by retribution and armed with tactics of sabotage, blow up zeppelins, derail trains, implode bridges, destroy armored tanks, and level enemy facilities in the name of vengeance. This truly is the first open-world action game set in Nazi-occupied Europe."

Runes of Magic Patch Nears

Runewaker Entertainment announces a new update for Runes of Magic will go live Thursday for their subscription-free MMORPG. The announcement announces a new 12-player dungeon, details changes to the crafting system, a Thanksgiving banquet, a new dragon, and more.

Star Trek Online Trailer

A new trailer is now available to show off Star Trek Online, Cryptic's upcoming Trekkie MMORPG. They kick off a new series of combat videos with a clip called Starship Tactics - part one with pre-beta footage showing starship combat. This clip is available on GameVideos and the YouTube.

Evening Screenshots

On Sale

Wal-Mart cuts prices on toys, video games. Up to 60% starting Saturday and Black Friday 2009 Buyer’s Guide.

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Tech Bits

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: 'Total Recall' death scenes. Thanks Ant via Digg. So over the top it's beautiful. I need to see that movie again.

NVIDIA Beta Drivers

NVIDIA has released new "WHQL-candidate" beta reference drivers for NVIDIA accelerators. The new drivers add support for GPU-acceleration with the new Adobe Flash 10.1 beta, support for new GeForce 240 cards, adds SLI support for new games including Borderlands; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; and FIFA Soccer 10, and fixes some bugs. There are new drivers for Windows XP, Windows XP x64, Windows 7/Windows Vista 32-bit, and Windows 7/Windows Vista 64-bit. Thanks FiringSquad.

Krome Kuts

Aussie studio Krome cuts staff on GameSpot reports an undisclosed number of employees have been laid off at Krome (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed), the Australian studio described as one of the largest independent developers in the world. “Regrettably, an undisclosed number of employees across each of Krome’s three studio locations were informed they would be let go, says Krome CEO Robert Walsh. "With declining game sales, the industry is really feeling the effects of the struggling economy. In spite of industry-wide cutbacks and Krome’s need to reduce costs, we’ve worked really hard to minimise the impact on our staff. These cuts, while incredibly difficult as they affect the coworkers we consider friends, are necessary as we position Krome for the future. We’re also actively pursuing several business opportunities which, if secured, will enable Krome to reemploy some of the staff given notice."

EA: Pandemic IPs "Will Live On"

Gamasutra has further details on the now confirmed closure of Pandemic Studios based on getting to see an internal Electronic Arts memo on the topic. They report Pandemic founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud are among the reported 200 layoffs, with the remainder of the Pandemic team reporting to EALA's Sean Decker at the company's Playa Vista offices. EA says the moves are intended to "accelerate our transformation to a direct-to-consumer digital model, and to better manage our cost structure." The memo also says the Pandemic IPs will continue: "I want to make it clear that the Pandemic brand and franchises will live on," writes EA's Nick Earl. "In the months ahead, we will announce plans for new games based on Pandemic franchises."

Van Caneghem to EA as C&C Lead

The Gamasutra article referenced above also reveals that Might and Magic creator Jon Van Caneghem has joined EA to lead the Command and Conquer brand with "a new digital model that is going to re-ignite the fan base for this franchise." Van Caneghem recently departed Trion World Networks, where he had been helping develop a new MMORPG.

Dragon Age: Origins Patch

A manual patch is now available for Dragon Age: Origins, updating BioWare's recently released RPG to version 1.01b with the same changes and fixes from last week's patch plus a few additional changes. These include various bug-fixes as well as tweaks to the easy and normal difficulty levels. The download is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying.

Pandemic Closure Confirmed

Pandemic's Drew Marlowe tweets a confirmation of the earlier rumor that Pandemic Studios has been closed by Electronic Arts (thanks Shacknews). This inspires Infinity Ward's Mikey Neumann to tweet: "Well, if anyone from Pandemic would like to work at Gearbox, we'd love to have you! Sorry, about a lousy day :/" Here's word from Drew Marlowe's tweet:

It's official, pandemic is shut down as of today. Thankfully it looks like we are getting decent severance.

International L4D2 Dates Moved Up

After issuing a detailed clarification of Left 4 Dead 2 release times last week, Valve has posted a new update to the Left 4 Dead Blog that tosses that all aside, saying: "Due to high demand for L4D2, we decided to move various street dates forward for a coordinated worldwide release—except in the UK, where this was not possible (copies of the game are still arriving)." They clarify the situation in the UK like this: "The good news is that we plan to have everyone in the UK playing Left 4 Dead 2 by Friday morning. Those who pre-ordered in the UK before the worldwide launch have been given access to the game."

Gratuitous Space Battles Editor Plans, New Demo

A new version 1.24 demo is now available for Gratuitous Space Battles, offering an updated sample of this space strategy game from Positech Games. The 46 MB download is available from AtomicGamer, Filefront, and Worthplaying. Also, cliffski tweets about the possibility of releasing ship editing tools in the future: "Writing code to edit engine data for new hulls, in the hope that one day I can release proper ship editing tools, wobbly though they are."

Ships Ahoy - Elven Legacy: Siege

Paradox Interactive announces the release of Elven Legacy: Siege, the second expansion for Elven Legacy. There's a release trailer on the YouTube, and the expansion requires the original Elven Legacy, which is currently on sale for half-off on GamersGate. Here's word:

Several months have passed since the events of Elven Legacy: Ranger. Outcast elves, living under the leadership of the elven Lord Saggitel, have once more acted provocatively and dared to cross into the realm of man. Yet, the human armies await. Inciting the wrath of the fearsome knight of the Holy Inquisition, along with the agent of New Tixus, the ranger Cornelius, Saggitel is now the target of retribution. How far can Saggitel run before he is caught up to?

Stand in battle with a fierce army behind you and withstand mighty sieges in your quest for survival and victory. The ancient impregnable fortresses of the dwarves, the enchanted cities of the elves, and the historic capital cities of Eolia, all set the stage for historic battles that will forever be remembered.

Key Features:

• 19 new campaign missions
• The outcome of mission quests will directly impact subsequent missions
• Two different armies and three new heroes
• Bonus mission (becomes available after Gold ranked victories)

New ATI Catalyst Reference Drivers

GAME.AMD.COM now offers downloads of new version 9.11 Catalyst reference drivers for ATI accelerators. As noted here, the new Windows drivers add GPU acceleration of H.264 video content using Adobe Flash Player 10.1 Beta and High Quality downscaling for video transcoding MSE. The new Linux drivers add support for RHEL 5.4 and openSUSE 11.2, though we cannot find the new Linux drivers for download yet.

Lost Saga Found

OGPlanet announces they have launched Lost Saga, their subscription-free MMO fighting game. Word is: "Lost Saga pits players against one another in a battle for the ages. Players face off with heroes from fantasy, science-fiction and history, including everything from boxing champs to iron knights, pirates to ninjas, and even cowboys to dark shamans. Each hero comes with unique skills and abilities, and as players hone their battle skills and gain experience, their characters' powers will grow."

Funcom Slumps

MCV reports on the fiscal third quarter reporting from Funcom, where revenues have dropped 68.5% over the same period last year, with year-to-date revenue at $20 million compared with $31.3 million for the first three quarters of last year. Word is: "In total Funcom’s losses hit $9.6m for the period. In Q3 last year it recorded a profit of $3.3m. The drops were blamed on both declining revenues from Anarchy Online, as well as the fact that Age of Conan was released in the comparable period last year." In semi-related news, there are some brief comments from Funcom's Erling Ellingsen on IncGamers discussing their new Montreal studio. In spite of the tax benefits of working in Canada, Ellingsen says: "the Norway office remains Funcom's headquarters and it will not be closing. We consider the new office in Canada an expansion of our business."

Ships Ahoy - LEGO: Indiana Jones 2

LucasArts and TT Games announce that LEGO: Indiana Jones 2 is now available in stores for Windows, Wii, DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, and Xbox 360. There's a parody release trailer for the brixilated action/adventure sequel on Filefront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying, and here's part of the announcement:

Developed by the same team at Traveller’s Tales that created the award-winning LEGO® Indiana Jones™: The Original Adventures and the LEGO® Star Wars™ series, LEGO Indiana Jones 2 presents a tongue-in-cheek take on all four cinematic adventures of pop culture’s most iconic archaeologist, including for the first time ever Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Players will also get to experience all-new re-tellings of the classic movies, with new objectives and brand new levels, including devious boss fights and white knuckle chase scenes. Fans can also fight the powers of evil with Indy’s newly enhanced whip and interact with worlds filled with more objects and enemies than ever before.

Avatar Demo

A playable demo for James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is now available, providing a sample of the upcoming tie-in with the latest major motion picture from the Aliens and Titanic director. The demo first surfaced on the German Coca-Cola Zero Website (thanks EMkaEL and Andy), of all places, and while the page is German, the demo supports several other languages, including English. The version we checked out here had a few complications, on installation it complained of a CRC error on the UK readme, but the installation proceeded fine after choosing to ignore that, and after bombing once, it ran (we've also not been able to get sound to work, but haven't really spent that long trying to fix that). Also, the installer didn't create any shortcuts to launch the game, but it could be launched from the \Program Files\Ubisoft\Demo\James Cameron's AVATAR - THE GAME (Demo)\bin\ directory. The download is mirrored on AtomicGamer,, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying.

Pandemic Closing?

Kotaku has an unconfirmed report that Pandemic Studios will be closed down today as part of EA's restructuring, attributing the rumor to "several sources close to the situation." They say the news will come down today at 2:00 pm EST and that almost all the studio's 200 staff will be let go, with the remainder to be absorbed into other EA development teams. Pandemic's stealth/action game The Saboteur is scheduled for release three weeks from today.

Steamships Ahoy - Left 4 Dead 2

Valve announces Left 4 Dead 2 is now available in North America for Windows and Xbox 360 and via Steam worldwide:

North American Retail and Steam Available Now, Rest of World Follows Later This Week

Nov 17, 2009 - Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the availability of its zombie thriller, Left 4 Dead 2, at retail outlets across North America (360, PC) and worldwide via Steam (PC). Retail outlets around the world will launch the title later this week.

Exclusively available for the Xbox 360 and PC, L4D2 promises to set a new benchmark for co-operative action games and become one of 2009's marquee titles. The title adds melee combat to enable deeper co-operative gameplay, with items such as a chainsaws, frying pans, axes, baseball bats, and more.

With the AI Director 2.0, L4D's dynamic gameplay is taken to the next level by giving the Director the ability to procedurally change weather effects, world objects, and pathways in addition to tailoring the enemy population, effects, and sounds to match the players' performance. The result is a unique game session custom fitted to provide a satisfying and uniquely challenging experience each time the game is played.

Finally, with new Survivors, boss zombies, weapons, and items, Left 4 Dead 2 offers a much larger game than the original, featuring more co-operative campaigns, more Versus campaigns, new Survival maps, and the new competitive game mode, Scavenge, all available at launch.

For more information, please visit

Gold - Theatre of War 2 - Centauro announces the Centauro add-on for Theatre of War 2: Africa 1943. They announce the expansion, which requires the World War II tactical game, will be on sale this week. Word is:

Theatre of War 2 – Centauro is an expansion to the WW2 tactical ground combat simulation Theatre of War 2: Africa 1943 and is dedicated to the Italian 131st Armored Division „Centauro“ and the battles it took part in North Africa, starting from December 1942 until mid-May 1943. Some of the exciting new features include new desert and mountain landscapes of North Africa on ten brand new maps accurately reconstructed according to historical documents, ten new military vehicles such as the Semovente M40 tank destroyer, the Carro Armato M13/40 medium tank or the Autoblinda AB 40 armored car, and much more.

No MW2 Russia Recall

Eurogamer has a follow-up to reports that surfaced over the weekend that the console editions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had been recalled in Russia due to the controversial Russian airport scene. According to Activision: "Reports that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been banned in Russia are erroneous. Activision only released a PC version of the game in Russia which went on sale on Tuesday, Nov. 10." As for the PC edition, they say they removed the "No Russians" mission voluntarily: "Other countries have formal ratings boards that we regularly work with. However, Russia does not have a formal ratings entity. As a result, we chose to block the scene after seeking the advice of local counsel."

Borderlands Patch

The Gearbox Software Forums has word that a new version 1.01 patch is now available for Borderlands, Gearbox Software's role-playing shooter. There is a patch for the English and German editions along with a warning that: "If you obtained your copy from a digital distributor (examples: Steam or Direct2Drive), automated digital distribution will provide the update shortly." One or both patches are mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and Worthplaying. Here's word on the changes:

- Characters that have lost skill points will have the lost points refunded
- Clients will no longer lose proficiency progress upon leaving a co-op game
- Item cards now display the intended five lines of detail text
- Lilith's Phase strike and melee attacks from Phase Walk now function as intended
- Voicechat: users can now control volume and individually mute players
- Fixed a bug that sometimes caused CL4P-TP to stop progressing during the introduction
- Server browser population times have been improved
- Server information should now always display the correct plot mission
- Benchmarking feature now works as intended
- Nvidia 3D Vision visuals now render shadows correctly (requires minimum 195.28 drivers, available from nVidia)

Sacred 2: Ice & Blood EU Patches

The Sacred 2 Updates Page is where to find the new version 2.65.1 update for Sacred 2: Ice & Blood Ascaron's expanded RPG sequel. The new version is available for many of the localized versions of the game, though the English edition is not one of them. Some or all of the patches are mirrored on AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying.

SunAge Patch

A new patch for SunAge updates Vertex4's real-time strategy game to version 1.09.4. After patching the full version of the game now has multi-language support. The patch is available from AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying.

Takeda 3 Patch

A patch is now available for Takeda 3 is now available to update the English retail or GamersGate editions of the historical RTS game to version 1.20.2. The new version improves path-finding speed for a couple of castles and fixes a few bugs. The patch is available on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying.

And Yet It Moves Patch

Puzzle platformer And Yet It Moves can be updated to version 1.1.0 via a new patch that's available from AtomicGamer, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and Worthplaying. The new version improves the patching process, fixes exploits, and adds German, French, Italian, Spanish localizations.

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