Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 21, 2010

Global Agenda Preorder Events

Hi-Rez Studios announces a couple of events for those committed enough to Global Agenda to preorder the espionage-themed Action/MMORPG. They announce players will have the opportunity to reserve names and form agencies as part of an Early Start and Name Reserve Event from January 28-31, which will offer access to a limited portion of the game's content, allow players to rise to level 10, and earn No Elves Flair and Commonwealth Helmet. They also announce that all players will be entitled to use Global Agenda: Conquest features free until March 3, 2010, after which they must pay to play the Conquest portions of the game, which are described in extensive detail on this page (and they repeat that "the non-Conquest features are free-to-play after your initial purchase"). There are complete details on both offers on this page. Since the Keyboard Cat seems to have gone out of fashion, we'll play you out with the Global Agenda Launch Trailer.

Mass Effect 2 Cerberus Network $15 Without Activation Code

The just-revealed Cerberus Network that will deliver free and paid DLC to owners of Mass Effect 2 will cost $15.00 USD, according to a new report on Bitmob. Tuesday's announcement of the Cerberus Network for BioWare's RPG sequel said the service will be free to new owners and could be unlocked through the purchase of an activation code with pre-owned copies. This is primarily of interest to console owners, as PC games are difficult to trade, but it gives a sense of how much value they place on the "free" DLC the network will offer.

Company of Heroes Soundtracks Free

The Company of Heroes on Steam Page heralds the weekend deal on Company of Heroes (story below) by offering free downloads of the Company of Heroes All Heroes Rise Soundtrack and the Company of Heroes Songs From the Front Soundtrack. These combine to offer over 60 music tracks from the World War II RTS game for free. There are more details about the soundtrack and a Q&A on the topic on the Company of Heroes Website.

On Sale

Zombie Driver Demo and Patch

A new patch is now available for Zombie Driver to update Exor Studios' game of undead road rage to version 1.06. The patch updates shaders to support most Intel 900 & 950 series graphics cards and fixes problems with some unique combinations of special characters for user installation paths in Windows. The patch is available from AtomicGamer. There's also now a playable demo for the game, which can be found on Steam and downloaded from AtomicGamer, FileFront, and WorthPlaying.

Mass Effect 3 Date Estimate and ME2 DLC Details

MTV Multiplayer spoke with BioWare's Casey Hudson today about Mass Effect 2, and have posted an excerpt from the upcoming interview that reflects on when we might see the release of Mass Effect 3. "We're already working on 'Mass Effect 3' right now. We do want to develop it in concert with listening to the way people are experiencing 'Mass Effect 2'. We've got a lot of DLC coming out for 'Mass Effect 2' that we're also working on, and then we'll kind of blend that into developing and finishing 'Mass Effect 3'. We don't want to take forever with it. We want people to be able to conclude this trilogy that have been with us over the years... [Development will be] along the same kind of time frame as 'Mass Effect 2'." Mass Effect 2 is following about 26 months after the original game, so Casey's estimate suggests it Mass Effect 3 be out in early 2012. He also discusses how much free content is to be expected from the just announced Cerberus Network:
It's tough to say how long we'll continue to do Cerberus Network in terms of the free content, for example. When you get Cerberus Network you get all this free stuff that's been released. On an ongoing basis we plan to have the whole spectrum, from a free item all the way up to paid stuff and potentially larger packs that tell a big portion of the story. And we want to do that in a way that connects 'Mass Effect 2' to 'Mass Effect 3.' I think we'll be pretty close to the release of 'Mass Effect 3' before we really start focusing on that as the next story.

Aliens vs. Predator "Heritage" Trailer

A new Aliens vs. Predator "Heritage" trailer is now available. The clip takes a look back at Rebellion's original version of the three faction shooter from 1999, discussing the game and showing off some old-school video footage, before turning its attention to the future and how they are looking to continue the success of the first AvP and improve upon it. The clip is on the YouTube and below. Continue here to read the full story.

Star Trek Online/Del Taco Freebies

Atari and del Taco announce a Star Trek Online Del Taco promotion. The U.S.-based Mexican fast-food restaurant is offering collectible bladder-buster drinks that can earn thirsty customers up to 10 days of free-trial game time as well as an exclusive free Type-8 Shuttle "pet" add-on for their Starship for those who buy the full game. Word is:
Customers who purchase a Macho-sized drink at Del Taco will receive a free limited edition Star Trek collector’s cup and a free trial of the Star Trek Online while supplies last. Each collector’s cup will have an individual peel code that can be redeemed for a 48-hour free trial of Star Trek Online at Customers can redeem up to four codes and receive 48-hours of gameplay with each code. As an added bonus, customers that redeem the maximum four codes will receive an extra 48-hours of access to the game for a total of 10 full days.

Additionally, if consumers choose to purchase the game after their free trial, they will receive a free Type-8 Shuttle "pet" add-on for their Starship, available exclusively from Del Taco.

Splinter Cell: Conviction Transcript

There's a chat transcript on Facebook where Guest Speaker Patrick Redding (Game Director, Splinter Cell: Conviction Co-Op) answers questions from his BFFs about the upcoming installment in the stealth/action series. Thanks Voodoo Extreme, where they offer info we can't find on the Facebook link.

Evening Previews

  • Age of Conan on Massively. Shrines of Bori outdoor PvP.
  • Two Worlds 2 on IGN.

Evening Screenshots

  • Star Trek Online on Massively. Character customization.

More Borderlands DLC Planned, Level Cap to Raise

A post to the Gearbox Software Community Forums by Gearbox designer Jason "haTts" Reiss reveals plans for "the biggest DLC we have made" for Borderlands. Details are scant, but he does say this will raise the level cap in the role-playing shooter (thanks Shacknews). Word is: "Sorry, I haven’t gotten to post on the forums in a while! After finalizing Zombies DLC, the team and I began reading the DLC feedback around the forums on the wants and desires. Guess what, level cap increase anyone? Got it and it's awesome. Hopefully we can get a full announcement out to you guys soon but, man is this the biggest DLC we have made. So don’t worry, we are working really hard right now on both the update (that solves a bunch of issues) and the DLC. More to come guys!!"

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online Open Beta

Open beta testing of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online is now underway, as predicted earlier this month, offering the chance to see if you can hit it like Tiger (sorry). Registration for the open beta is free, and they also offer a free demo that can be played in your browser using the Unity Web Player. Here's word on the game. Continue here to read the full story.

Star Trek Online Klingon, Cardassian, Vigilant Trailers

Three new trailers from Star Trek Online have arrived, along with some screenshots and fact sheets for the Trekkie MMORPG under construction at Cryptic Studios. This trailer shows off the Vigilant class starship exploring the final frontier, as well as engaging in a little combat, Cryptic has written up this overview of the capabilities of these "small, heavily-armed starships," and here are some screenshots and concept art with various looks at the Vigilant class. Also, this clip features the Cardassians, a subset of the Klingon Faction, and in proper Cardassian fashion it features combat, but none of that exploring stuff. Word is: "The Cardassian civilization is a major player in Star Trek Online. You’ll find yourself interacting with members of various sub-factions, including the Detapa Council and militaristic True Way. A major plotline in Star Trek Online features Cardassia and its politics, and will send you into Cardassia’s orbit and eventually onto terra firma. You’ll also be exploring Deep Space 9 and spending time on the previously deserted Empok Nor and Trivas." This article has more on the role of the Cardassians in the game, and here are some Cardassian screenshots. Finally, a new Klingon Montage Trailer shows the Klingons in action, both in starship combat, as well as a little gladiatorial melee combat and a couple of moments of ground-based phaser battles. The Klingon montage trailer is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Serious Sam HD, Madballs, Altitude Patched

There's a new automatic patch for Madballs in... Babo:Invasion available through Steam with a "Minor tech update to incorporate newer Steam libraries." There's also a considerably more substantial patch that's automatically available for Altitude that adds plane skins, new maps, and a quite extensive list of ball mode improvements. Finally, a new patch for Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is now automatically available through Valve's digital distribution system, adding demo recording and playback among a lengthy list of changes, which is reproduced here. Continue here to read the full story.

Game Tester Reality Show

A new reality show called The Tester is gearing up to air on the PlayStation Network, where 11 contestants will vie for the coveted (at least by the guy who cleans the Hot Pocket grease out of the microwave) job of a game tester (all kidding aside, there are certainly a lot of people who would jump at an entry level position in the game industry). Word is: "The eight episode series features 11 avid gamers competing in a series of physical and mental elimination challenges to win an actual job as an official PlayStation® game tester along with a $5000 signing bonus." The show will include game designer David Jaffe as one of their featured panelists along the way. Thanks

Chris Taylor Optimistic About PC Gaming

Total PC Gaming Magazine has some tidbits from an interview with Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games from issue #30 of their print magazine, which hits newsstands next month. "Anytime you have a propriety system it’s like a benevolent dictatorship – there are some short term benefits to it, but they fall down in the long run," Taylor told them. "That’s been the way it’s been over and over again in the history of technology and even the history of the world." He goes on to explain how the openness of the PC platform will protect against these proprietary issues: "So I think the PC is an open platform, and digital distribution means the ability for people to create strong (independent) publishing and distribution platforms- none of which is possible on consoles," he explains. "I could really go down the rabbit hole with this, but I see the PC as the only logical place to carry forward for everyone who wants to compete- it’s the open market place." Thanks

BioShock 2 Activations: SecuROM 0, GFWL 15

A post to the 2K Forums by community manager 2K Elizabeth follows up on conflicting information about BioShock 2 activation limits, saying "We are using SecuROM only as a disc check method for the retail copy of BioShock 2. That is it's [sic] only use." Yesterday the BioShock 2 on Steam Page listed a SecuROM 15 install limit which was later changed to say there will be a five install limit. A later post by Elizabeth clarifies: "That item on Steam is an error and will be corrected. It is not correct right now." True to that, the Steam BioShock 2 Page no longer lists any activation limits. Update: Thanks nin for pointing out this forum post which brings us back to where this all started, as it states the game will have a 15-install limit enforced through Games for Windows Live.

Doctor Who and Top Gear Games?

MCV reports on efforts by the BBC to get back into the world of video games, shopping some of their properties such as Doctor Who, Top Gear, and In The Night Garden to publishers and developers. They say they are pursuing games on iPhone and Facebook as well as portable games for DS and Wii. It sounds like they may be aiming at youthful audiences, however: "We are open to conversations with anybody in games about all kinds of business models to see how we can extract more value," said Neil Ross Russell, MD of children's and licensing. "Outside of Disney we have the most well-known line-up of children’s characters around the world."

Huge RPG Bundle for Charity offers a "mega-bundle of RPGs in exchange for a $20.00 contribution to the relief efforts in Haiti, and they are also matching $5.00 and $10.00 donations, all of which will go to Doctors Without Borders. The bundle, which they say is worth a staggering $1,481.31, is outlined on this page where we see that this is built on strength in numbers, as it includes 174 games. Word is: "There is no set date for terminating the donation efforts, though the bundle will only be available until the end of January." Thanks Ant via Boing Boing.

Mass Effect 2 Launch Trailer

The launch trailer for Mass Effect 2 is now available to show off still more of BioWare's imminent sci-fi RPG sequel. The clip features cinematics from the game, and narration from the Illusive Man (Martin Sheen). The embedded version follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Star Trek Online Beta Patched

An update to the Star Trek Online beta is now live, adding changes and fixes to Cryptic Studios' upcoming MMORPG (thanks Massively). The Release Notes and Known Issues on the Star Trek Online Website outline all the fixes and changes, and offer the following list of major changes. Continue here to read the full story.

Postal 2 Multiplayer Patch

Running With Scissors announces the release of a new multiplayer patch for Postal 2, created by Jon Merchant of RWS along with community support, offering what they describe as "a parade of cool new Multiplayer features." They warn: "For Windows only, 1409X is not compatible with Linux servers (sorry!), though Linux users can still install the patch and join Windows servers, as 1409X will work on both dedicated listen (in-game) servers." This is not posted on the Running With Scissors Website (though they do have some restaurant reviews), but details on the patch and where to find it, as well as a reminder that Postal 2 multiplayer is available for free, can be found in the announcement and complete instructions are in this Acrobat document. The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, The Patches Scrolls, and WorthPlaying.

Op Ed

Ethiopian Review - Where are the US civilians in the ‘Modern Warfare 2′ video game? Thanks Joker961.
But while Activision producers go to great lengths to depict fatally wounded Russian civilians leaving big streaks of blood as they crawl on the airport floor – all in the name of realism – they designed the US-based levels in such a way that no virtual American civilian can be seen nor hurt.

The game includes scenes featuring the near-annihilation of Washington DC, but even the depiction of US civilian corpses remains taboo – a sharp contrast to the Brazilian favela or Russian airport levels.

Couch Campus - Genre Wars: Downside of the RPG Takeover. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.
Now, I’m not here to rain on the RPG parade. I don’t think that it’s clearly a bad thing that FPS games are beginning to adopt more and more from other genres. I actually believe that the combination of RTS elements into this genre is largely under-explored. That’s what makes indy titles like Natural Selection 2, and (hopefully) Nuclear Dawn so appealing, and it’s the reason that despite the awesome looking Bad Company 2 on the horizon, we’re still all really waiting for Battlefield 3. On the other hand, the adoption of RPG mechanics into the genre is anything but under-explored. Practically every new release into the genre, be its focus on single or multiplayer, is entrenched in progression more typical of World of Warcraft than Quakeworld.

IndustryGamers - Why Brand IP Doesn't Matter to Online Games. By Alex St. John.
The online world, however, harkens back to the days of the game arcade, which didn’t demand a major cash outlay on the consumer’s part to find out if Pac-Man or Asteroids was truly a great game. It cost a quarter, and if the game didn’t deliver the consumer never played it again. Thus, like modern online games the amount of money an arcade game made was in direct proportion to how addictive the actual gameplay mechanic was, NOT on how big its marketing budget or movie-tie-in was.

Morning Previews

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