Archived News:

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010

Aliens vs Predator Website

The Aliens vs Predator Website is live as SEGA's home to Rebellion's just-released first-person shooter revival. The site includes new screenshots and information on the game's multiplayer and single-player maps, descriptions of multiplayer modes, and details on each of the game's three species. They also offer blog posts about the franchise and the game, including a full Alien Retrospective, tutorials on playing as Alien; Predator; and Marine, and more.

Supreme Commander 2 Unit Trailers

A pair of new short trailers are available for Supreme Commander 2, narrated by Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games who describes a couple of the "over the top" experimental units in their upcoming real-time strategy sequel. One trailer shows us the Bomb Bouncer, a unit that makes opposing units pay a price for attacking it with a shield that covers itself and surrounding units and an ability to strike back at enemies with power from weapons hitting the shield. The other clip introduces The Kraken, an experimental submarine with "a very, very intimidating look, but its looks match its firepower." Each approximately minute-long clip includes gameplay footage, and the HD version of The Kraken trailer is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Screenshots

On Ubisoft's Online DRM

A post to the PC Gamer Blog discusses playing a prerelease copy of Assassin's Creed II for the PC, which includes Ubisoft's new DRM requiring a constant online connection. The story indicates that fears about such a system being disruptive are not unfounded, saying: "If you get disconnected while playing, you're booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you're reconnected." They give an example, saying: "So I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers'. The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen - all my progress since it last autosaved was lost." They point out that this is what will happen to even the most stable net connection if Ubisoft's master servers go down, saying: "playing a current Ubisoft game is kicked out of it and loses their progress. Even massively multiplayer games aren't so draconian about the internet: you can't play when the server's down, but at least you don't lose anything for getting disconnected."

Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943 Demo

A playable demo for Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943 is now available, offering the chance to test drive some tanks in Graviteam's and Paradox Interactive's World War II strategy game. The download is a bit over 300 MB, and it can be found on AtomicGamer,, FileFront, Gamer's Hell, and WorthPlaying.

WoW Expansion Oked in China

China's General Administration of Press and Publication has approved the application by NetEase to localize the first World of Warcraft expansion, reports GameSpot, so after a burning crusade to overcome the Chinese Bureaucracy, the Burning Crusade is heading east. Thanks Ant.

Blizzard Wants To Be Gaming's Facebook has some exclusive video interviews with Blizzard's Greg Canessa, Dustin Browder, and Rob Pardo & Chris Sigaty, discussing the just-launched StarCraft II beta, the new, and more. They also have a story quoting Blizzard co-founder and senior VP Frank Pearce at DICE 2010 on their ambitions for going forward: "For me, I think about the web 2.0 experience and all the people that are connecting with each other around the world on sites like Facebook, and I would like Blizzard's Battle.Net to be the equivalent in the gaming space." He tells them. "But that's pretty ambitious."

Shattered Horizon Free Weekend Preloads

Steam is now offering preloads of Shattered Horizon in preparation for the free weekend for the zero-G multiplayer first-person shooter from Futuremark Games Studio. They also offer a reminder that: "Shattered Horizon requires DirectX 10 or higher and Windows Vista or Windows 7 in order to run."

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: LARP Live Avatar Role Playing. NSFW. Thanks Ant via Digg.

Ships Ahoy - Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures

Telltale Games and Aardman announce that Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures is now available in retail stores, offering the entire season of episodic games in one box. Word is: "Alternating between the roles of both Wallace and Gromit throughout the game, players banter with a charismatic cast of characters, tinker with Wallace's creative contraptions, and enjoy four all-new stories set in the colorful Wallace & Gromit universe. The Collector’s DVD for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures includes the entire series, along with a host of special features and exclusive content."

Free Bad Company 2 LE Upgrade for Preorders

EA announces that those who preorder Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will be receiving a free upgrade to the limited edition of the military shooter sequel. The Limited Edition includes six exclusive unlocks: A vehicle motion sensor, improved vehicle armor, vehicle alternate fire, an M1A1 submachine gun, an M1911 Pistol, and the Tracer Dart Pistol. There's also a post on MTV Multiplayer explaining that Battlefield 1943 players who confirm their veteran status will get the WWII M1 Garand, leaving us wondering if this will apply to the PC edition as well (when we are not wondering if the PC edition of BF 1943 will ever be released). A video trailer is available to highlight the upgrades in the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Limited Edition, and the HD version of the clip is embedded here. Continue here to read the full story.

Direct2Drive Top 10

Direct2Drive announces the top 10 global bestsellers on their online marketplace for the week of February 7-13:

  1. BioShock 2
  2. Star Trek Online Digital Deluxe Edition
  3. Star Trek Online
  4. Stargate: Resistance
  5. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Limited Edition
  6. Mass Effect 2 Digital Deluxe Edition
  7. Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition
  8. Mass Effect 2
  9. Civilization 4: The Complete Edition
  10. Dragon Age: Origins

Dead Space 2 PC Listing

Here's a little more confusion over whether to Expect a PC edition of Dead Space 2, Visceral Games' upcoming sci-fi shooter sequel. EA's Dead Space 2 Product Section is online, plainly stating: "Dead Space 2 is being developed for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC." The game was announced for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, but earlier this month we were told no PC version was planned after the PC was not listed among the game's target platforms in EA's financial reporting. After that EA's Jeff Green tweeted reassurances that a PC version is coming, but later corrected that, saying: "Dead Space 2 PC is just 'Under Consideration'." Thanks ^Drag0N^.

StarCraft II Beta System Specs

With the StarCraft II beta underway (next story), Blizzard Support has posted system requirements for testing the real-time strategy sequel, noting that the final requirements for the full game have not yet been determined (thanks IncGamers). Another set of requirements was recently published, but they turned out to be inaccurate. Here are the new, presumably correct, minimum requirements:
PC Minimum Requirements:
• Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1/Windows 7
• 2.2 Ghz Pentium IV or equivalent AMD Athlon processor
• 1 GB system RAM/1.5 GB for Vista and Windows 7
• 128 MB NVidia GeForce 6600 GT/ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video card
• 1024x768 minimum display resolution
• 4 GB free hard space (Beta)
• Broadband connection

StarCraft II Beta Underway

The closed beta test for StarCraft II is now underway, reports IncGamers, where they have a screenshot showing the Blizzard downloader digesting a 1.64 GB beta client. The StarCraft II FAQ has details on how to opt-in to the beta program to be eligible for invitation to be a tester (thanks Target Gamer). Update: This Blizzard Entertainment press release officially announces the launch of testing. "Gathering concentrated feedback from our players is an important step for us as we head into the final stretch of development for StarCraft II and the new service," says Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We look forward to having our players' help in polishing the overall experience and preparing for launch."

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Free Day One DLC Plans

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will feature free day one DLC for the military shooter sequel through via a "VIP" code, reports MTV Multiplayer. This will operate like the Cerberus Network for Mass Effect 2, as the DLC will not be freely available for used copies of the game. Combating used game sales is primarily a concern on consoles, so we asked EA for clarity on whether this scheme is in effect for the PC as well, and were told they would have more news on this "soon."

New ATI Drivers With Game Profiles Released

AMD/ATI announces plans for new Catalyst reference drivers for ATI accelerators, and the new version 10.2 reference drivers mentioned in the announcement are now available. There are new drivers for Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit, and Windows 7 64-bit. The new drivers offer CrossFireX improvements as well as performance gains through Game profiles to "help optimize performance so that gamers get an amazing experience." Word is: "AMD is focusing its efforts to provide access to game profiles when a new game launches – often on the day of launch - and AMD plans to post a separate executable file on that users can install to get access to the latest application profiles for improved performance." They also reveal plans for next month's version 10.3 driver release, as the March drivers will be the first of their monthly releases for ATI-based notebooks, also offering ATI Eyefinity improvements and third-party middleware support to bring more 3D stereoscopic gaming options to consumers by allowing for independent left and right images at 120 Hz.

SouthPeak in Trouble?

SouthPeak Interactive announces their Fiscal 2010 Second Quarter financial results, reporting $10.1 million net revenues, compared with $17.3 million in the comparable period in fiscal 2009, a decrease total operating expenses by 29% to $5.3 million, a GAAP net loss of $2.6 million ($0.06 per share), and non-GAAP net income was $433,000 ($0.01 per diluted share), compared with a non-GAAP net income of $1.7 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in the same three month period in fiscal 2009. As noted on IndustryGamers, the company has also made a 10-Q SEC filing revealing that the business is now operating on a "going-concern basis," revealing the company's future is in doubt. Word is: "The ability of the Company to continue as a going concern is predicated upon, among other things, continuing to generate positive cash flows from operations, curing the default on the production advance payable, renewing its line of credit with SunTrust Banks, Inc. and/or obtaining alternative or additional financing, and the resolution of various contingencies."

On Metro 2033 DirectX 11 Support

THQ and NVIDIA explain the Metro 2033 screenshots mentioned earlier in their announcement of DirectX 11 and 3D Vision support for the upcoming first person shooter. "Our engineers have been working closely with 4A Games to ensure that Metro 2033 takes full advantage of some of the spectacular effects made possible with the next generation of DX11 hardware," said Tony Tamasi, Senior Vice President of Content and Technology at NVIDIA. "The 4A Engine is one of the most advanced game engines we’ve ever worked with, and with DX11 enabled, Metro 2033 is undoubtedly one of the best looking PC games of 2010. Combine this with NVIDIA 3D Vision and PhysX and you will experience mind-blowing visuals."

Blizzard's Make-A-Wish Donation

The Make-A-Wish Foundation announces they've received a $1.1 million USD donation from Blizzard Entertainment, half the proceeds of November and December 2009 sales of a special in-game World of Warcraft pet, the Pandaren Monk. Word is: "On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Blizzard made the presentation during a special ceremony at the company's headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Blizzard invited 15 wish children who are also gaming enthusiasts and their families to enjoy an exclusive learning experience with the World of Warcraft development team, including an inside look at how the game is created." Founded in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Shattered Horizon Free This Weekend

Futuremark Games Studio's multiplayer first-person shooter Shattered Horizon will be free to play this weekend beginning at 00:01 GMT Friday (7:01 pm EST Thursday) and ending 21:00 GMT Sunday (4:00 pm EST Sunday). Additionally the game will be on sale all weekend for 50% off. This will give everyone the chance to sample the content of the just released Moonrise expansion for the zero-G shooter. They also say: "Players and game hosting companies who would like to put up their own servers during the free weekend can get the dedicated server files now from the Shattered Horizon website or from the Tools tab within Steam." Full details are in this announcement.

Richard Garriott Returns to Gaming

Richard "Lord British" Garriott has returned to the world of video games with a start-up called Portalarium, described in the announcement as having "a broad-based, open-social mission that will also see it expanding into content that includes open learning, open health, open science/environment, open government and much more, all wrapped in a connective virtual world in the online social networking space." The scope of that description is pretty impressive, but this journey is starting with the small step of a browser plug-in: "Portalarium’s first product is an innovative new cross-platform web browser plug-in that permits games developed on a wide variety of game engines and technologies – not just the pervasive Adobe Flash platform – to run seamlessly inside of the major popular social networks. Dubbed The Portalarium Player™, it is currently in limited beta testing as a Windows PC app on Facebook® and is running Portlarium’s [sic] first published title, a Texas hold ‘em card game called Sweet @$! Poker™. It already supports all major Internet browsers and is also in development to run within MySpace and other social networks, as well as on Macintosh and on mobile devices such as iPhone and Android."

Bad Company 2 Mod Support "Out of the Question" at Release

There's a Battlefield: Bad Company 2 interview on BASHandSlash translating a German conversation with Patrick Bach from Gamestar magazine (thanks Joker961). They ask about a few absent features, with Patrick saying the following about co-op: "One of our game modes is squad deathmatch where four players fights against three other squads. Basically this is a coop mode where one fights against a 'superior' enemy. Kind of an online coop mode. And our focus is the online gaming." Of LAN support he says: "But it might be that we will offer this later." He also indicates the game will definitely not have mod support out of the box: "The player can change settings on the dedicated server but there won't be modding tools included in the retail game. The reason is the same as coop mode. That is, we decided to focus on other aspects because we want to achieve the highest levels of quality possible, rather than a buggy game with average gameplay but with modding possibilities. Theoretically we could still add mod support after release, we just don't know yet. But it's out of the question for the retail version."

Miner Wars Delay, Promotional Price Plans

Miner Wars is now expected late this year, announces Keen Software House in a status report for this underground MMO shooter that was previously expected before the end of last year. The reasoning reflects an odd take on the term "indie," as they seem to equate it with quality, rather than publisher affiliation: "This release was intended to be an 'indie' released product. We have however decided that in order to bring the full quality to the gamers out there we will push the release until the late 2010." They also announce plans to make the Windows version of the game available before it is completed for a promotional price "that will be at roughly 1/3 of the final product price," though this plan will not apply to the Xbox 360 edition. Miner Wars will feature fully destructible environments, a single-player story in addition to the MMOG, and in a throwback, boasts six degrees of freedom.

Strike Fighters 2 Series Patched

Third Wire Productions now offers downloads of the February 2010 patches for Strike Fighters 2, Strike Fighters 2 Vietnam, Strike Fighters 2 Europe, and Strike Fighters 2 Israel. Here's the read me for the Strike Fighters 2 Israel patch and here's the read me for the other games. Thanks Jim.

Morning Screenshots

  • Metro 2033 on Flickr. DirectX 11 screenshots.

Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

We had snow all day yesterday here at the BlueTower, but it tapered off right around sundown, allowing me to get out there and dig out the walk. The timing on this was perfect, as no further work was needed today, and thank goodness, as after a couple of major storms in a row, I don't think my back is up to another shovel job any time soon. I don't know what it is with kids today, but after almost ten years in the suburbs I've given up on having kids show up looking to be hired to clear the sidewalk, as it has only happened one time since we've lived here.

Buried Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: MegaDrill.
Crazy Go Nuts 2. Thanks Jay is Games.
Links: Videogames Based on True Events, And Why They Really Aren't.
10 Jobs You Thought Would Pay More.
Ford Recalls 2010 Mustang For Being Too Cool.
Stories: Coin of the Realm- Spelling Chile the Right Way. Thanks Mark.
Syfy teams with Corman for 'Dinoshark'.
Yoga to reduce prison sentences.
Science: How King Tut Died Revealed in New Study. Thanks brother19.
Images: Help me...I am your father. Noisy.
Live Action DS Games.
Indiana Jones Can't Stop Katamari Damacy. Thanks superannuation.
Media: The most hilariously bad fighting game ever created.
I Love the Whole World! (of Warcraft).
AWESOME Rubik's Cube robotic speed-solver in LEGO Mindstorms.
The Funnies: If Bruce Wayne Had a More Normal Childhood.
Follow-up: Private Companies Like SpaceX Look to Take Over From NASA. Thanks Neutronbeam.
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