Archived News:

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010

Assassin's Creed II PC DRM Patch

Ubisoft's Assassins Creed 2 Page now offers a patch to update the Windows edition of Assassin's Creed II to version 1.01, a patch that's mirrored on WorthPlaying. If you're thinking this sounds premature, that's because the PC edition of the stealth/action sequel is not expected for anouther couple of weeks. Looking at the patch notes, we have what seems a logical theory for issuing the patch prior to the game, which is to mitigate concerns spurred by reports that progress in the single player game could be lost to the behavior of Ubisoft's new online digital rights management (DRM) scheme. Here's the first item in the patch notes: "Game can now be continued from the exact same point when connection is restored."

PC Shatter Announced

New Zealand-based developer Sidhe announces plans for a PC edition of Shatter, their "retro-inspired brick-breaking game." A Windows version of the game was hinted at last summer in an interview with Sidhe's Mario Wynands, and now word is to expect it to be released on Steam before the end of this month. This version will include Steam achievements and leaderboards, as well as some new features, described here: "Shatter PC will feature new PC-exclusive game modes including Endless Mode, Endless Co-op Multiplayer, Time Attack, and Time Attack Co-op Multiplayer."

More Borderlands DLC Planned

Take-Two plans to issue more downloadable content for Borderlands, reports Eurogamer, saying the publisher is pleased with the response to the DLC for Gearbox's role-playing shooter. They quote Take-Two CEO Ben Feder from today's financial results conference call saying: "We'll continue to support the title with more digital content."

Sam Suede Revived

Apogee Software is supposed to be dead, as is Sam Suede: Undercover Exposure, a game being designed by Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe until it was cancelled in late 2006. Of course they thought Snake Plissken was dead too, so the announcement that Apogee Software will be publishing Sam Suede: Undercover Exposure has a precedent. The game is now being developed by Icarus Studios using their Fallen Earth engine. "Chemistry is the key to the success of any partnership," says Dan Lutter, President and CEO of Apogee Software. "In this case, the melding of the creativity, technology, and experience of the partners creates a perfect formula for this comedic twist on the action-adventure genre." As for the originator of the game's concept, Big Download quotes Al Lowe saying: "This is the first I've heard of it. It's been four years since I was involved. I wonder who's going to finish the design and add the humor?"

U.S. gamigo Offices Planned

German MMOG publisher gamigo AG announces plans to open a North American office in New York City, the town so nice, they named it more than once. Word is: "The company will open its first foreign office in New York City. From there, gamigo will be able to contact and collaborate with business and media partners directly." The complete announcement follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Total Annihilation on Impulse

Impulse announces they are now the exclusive digital distributors of Total Annihilation, the classic real-time strategy game developed by Cavedog Entertainment. "Being huge strategy fans at Stardock, we’re excited to be able to bring this awesome PC gaming experience exclusively to fans of Impulse," said Stardock’s CEO and President Brad Wardell. "Total Annihilation is personally one of my all-time favorite games, and it makes a fantastic addition to the Impulse catalogue."

More on the Portal ARG

The Portal patch released earlier apparently alters the game's ending. There's a clip on the YouTube showing what's new, which may help figure clarify what Valve has up their sleeves here. Or not. Thanks Ben.

Steam AI War Patched

Steam News has word on the release of a new automatic patch for AI War, corresponding with Monday's version 3.070 patch for the sci-fi strategy game. Here are the patch notes. Continue here to read the full story.

Just Cause 2 NVIDIA Trailer

A new Just Cause 2 Trailer shows off the NVIDIA-specific features of the game engine in Just Cause 2, the action sequel in the works at Avalanche Studios, showing water effects, depth of field effects, soft shadows, 3D Vision, and more. Here's the clip in HD. Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

  • Indie Game Pack on Steam. Seven games for $2.00 or the Bundle for $9.99.

    Still on sale (previously reported):
    Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

  • Little Red Riding Hood on Flickr. Concept painting for American McGee's GDC pitch.

Evening Metaverse

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Warners Is Off To -Gilligan's Island (thanks Ant). Here are my casting suggestions:

Gilligan: Michael Cera
Skipper: Charles Durning
Professor: Gary Oldman
Ginger: Scarlett Johansson
Mary Anne: Amanda Peet
Thurston Howell: John Lithgow
Lovie Howell: Jessica Walter

Blur in May

Blur is slated for release in the U.S. on May 25 and on May 28 in the U.K, says MTV Multiplayer, reporting from an event showing off the game, which was once expected last November. They also offer impressions of what they experienced of Bizarre Creations' upcoming racing game, saying: "The result resembles 'Mario Kart' racing with vehicles off your local dealership's lot and neon-tinted blasts and sounds borrowed from 'Iron Man' set in recognizable cities around the world."

More Portal ARG

Steam News has word on the release of another unusual automatic update to Portal, continuing Valve's alternate reality game for the first-person puzzler. The new update adds "valuable asset retrieval."

New Aliens vs Predator Dedicated Server

Steam News announces the release of a new dedicated server for Aliens vs Predator. The new server for Rebellion's first-person shooter adds new console commands "maxplayers" and "ip," improves the "listplayers" console command, adds player details to the server info view inside the Steam client, and addresses some bugs. The complete patch notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Mafia II Delayed

Following their financial results, Take-Two has indicated that Mafia II will not make its planned release by the end of this July, reports Shacknews. The game is now due in Take-Two's fiscal Q4 2010, which runs from August 1 and October 31, 2010. They say Take-Two CEO Ben Feder cites "a focus on quality and the need for more development time" as the reasons for the setback.

Take-Two Plans Cuts and Possible Game Delay

Take-Two has published their first quarter financial results, posting better than expected results (albeit still losing money), and stating they plan on trimming 15% of their workforce. This Reuters report says: "Take-Two declined to say how many jobs would be cut in the restructuring, but said its game studios would not be impacted. It expects to save $15 million a year." Here's word on earnings: "Take-Two posted a net loss of $33.9 million, or 43 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31, versus a year-ago loss of $50.4 million, or 66 cents a share. Excluding items, the company lost 31 cents a share, better than analysts' average estimate for a loss of 51 cents a share according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue rose 9 percent to $163.2 million, versus the Wall Street estimate of $125.3 million."

Meanwhile, they have increased their projections for the future, while indicating one of their titles may be delayed: "For the current quarter, the company forecast earnings, excluding items, of 20 cents to 30 cents a share on revenue of $250 million to $300 million. That compares with the analyst target for a profit of 7 cents a share on revenue of $267 million. Take-Two raised slightly its forecast for fiscal 2010. It now expects a loss of 40 cents to 60 cents a share on revenue of $725 million to $925 million. The company added that it may push back one title slated for fourth-quarter release into fiscal 2011."

More Valve Mac Clues

Valve sends along a batch of images that are another indication that they are thinking different, and planning additional support for Macintosh systems, following the recent discovery of OS X images in the new Steam beta client. These images include a "Steam for the rest of us" ad, a shot of the iHEV suit, a Heavy iTunes homage, Alyx Vance in the 1984 ad, and more.

Direct2Drive Top 10

Direct2Drive announces the top 10 bestselling titles on their digital distribution service for the week of February 21-27:

  1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Limited Edition
  2. Star Trek Online Digital Deluxe Edition
  3. Bioshock 1 + 2 Bundle
  4. Star Trek Online
  5. Dragon Age: Origins + Awakening Bundle
  6. Civilization 4: The Complete Edition
  7. Aion
  8. Mass Effect 2 Digital Deluxe Edition
  9. BioShock 2
  10. Mass Effect 2

FIFA Online Closed Beta Resumes

Closed beta 2 for FIFA Online is now underway. Word is: "You will be able to access the server from 5PM to 11PM GMT on weekdays until March 18th. Delve into the newly introduced League Mode and build your dream team! Compete with your ever improving club against friends in 1v1 matches in VS mode or team up and take on the CPU with 2v0." You can register your interest in being a tester for the association football/soccer game on this page.

LEGO Games Deal Extended

LEGO Systems and TT Games announce an extension of their partnership for video games based on the LEGO license through 2016. "The LEGO Group is a brilliant and trusted organization with an extremely loyal fan base," said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. "We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue the successful partnership between this legendary company and the talented TT Games, which will enable us to further expand our slate of widely recognized, family-friendly games."

Aion Patch Plans

Some general information about an upcoming version 1.9 update for Aion is now available on the official website for NCsoft's MMORPG (thanks Blend Games), relating the outcome of a "top secret, critical meeting" between their European and North American offices (they don't make secrets like they used to). They do not say when they expect the new version to go live, but promise complete patch notes later in the week which are "far exceeding 20 pages in length." The preliminary patch notes are below. Continue here to read the full story.

R.U.S.E. Open Beta Next Week

Ubisoft's Aymeric Evennou tweets that R.U.S.E. will have an open beta test on Steam next week, saying: "w00t! A #RUSE Public Beta will be available to everyone on Steam on March 9th ! Stay tuned as more details will come throughout the week !" Another tweet clarifies this will be a truly open beta: "Yes 'it's next week' and everyone is invited to play ! All you need is a Steam account . Jump in !" A final tweet points the way to this video in which senior producer Mathieu Girard explains what they have changed based on user feedback since the VIP beta for the RTS game. The clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic Patch

A new patch for Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic is now available from Ubisoft, updating the naval combat simulator to version 1.1 (thanks Spike). The game is now available in the US, while its release in Europe is expected on Friday. The full release notes follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Clover: A Curious Tale

Blitz 1UP and Binary Tweed announce the release of the PC edition of Clover: A Curious Tale, the singular installment in the water-colored political platform puzzler genre. There are some screenshots on Flickr and a game trailer on the Blitz 1UP Website. The game can be purchased from GamersGate and Get Games as well as directly from Blitz1Up. Here's a bit on the game: "An updated version of XBLIG favourite and critically acclaimed title Clover, Clover: A Curious Tale is bigger, better and a load more bang for your buck. The new and enhanced version invites players to put their puzzle-solving skills to the test by confronting the mysteries of its fascinating Tudor-style world."

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Kick on Connect Fix Coming

Electronic Arts UK Community Forums have word from Barrie "Bazajaytee" Tingle that a server fix is inbound for a problem that can cause players to be immediately kicked after joining Battlefield: Bad Company 2 servers (thanks littleme). Here's word:
For all the players connecting to servers and being kicked straight away (and pbsetup.exe or manual updating didn't help) then you will be happy to know we are sending out R4 servers to our hosting providers which will hopefully solve this issue.

This is going out to the hosts shortly and then allowing time for them to update you should see connections going back to normal in the next few hours and continuing to spread to all servers during this evening.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Announced

Atari announces development of Test Drive Unlimited 2, saying the racing sequel will offer "All-new race types, vehicle classes, environmental challenges, locations and much more," when it is released for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 this fall. They describe the game's genre as Massively Open Online Racing or M.O.O.R. (those are registered trademarks), saying this immerses: "drivers in a persistent online environment and revolutionizing multiplayer racing communities as players compete, team up, and share their achievements and creations online. Unlike any other driving game, TDU2 blends the open world experience with realistic vehicles and performance dynamics and for the first time, TDU2 features vehicle damage, weather effects, day and night cycles, and a brand new island to explore." French developer Eden Games, who created the original, are handling the sequel. The Test Drive Unlimited 2 Website is online, offering newsletter signups and a few screenshots.

Avernum 6 and Demo Released

Spiderweb Software has released Avernum 6 for Windows and Macintosh, bringing the second Avernum RPG trilogy to a conclusion. The game and the free trial are available on the Avernum 6 Homepage, where word is: "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."

Boom Blox Team Axed

EALA has laid off the Boom Blox team, developers of the Wii puzzle games created in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. The LinkedIn profile of Jeff Dixon has this brief explanation: "Jeff Dixon Has joined the ranks of the EALA departed. The Boom Blox team was laid off today." We spoke briefly with Jeff, who tells us that the team was working on a Natal launch title, and adds: "I strongly believe in the future of Natal." Jeff says 14 employees were cut, and we wish them the best of luck in their job hunts.

Six Days in Fallujah Lives

Development of Six Days in Fallujah is complete, and the game is still on the way, reports IGN by way of a "source close to the game's development." The game does not have a publisher or a release date, but their source says: "I can promise you that game is still coming out and it is finished." This military-themed third-person shooter attracted controversy due to its planned depiction of the Iraq War, and was dropped by publisher Konami shortly after being announced. Developer Atomic Games suffered some job cuts this summer, but has been steadfast in pursuing the project, saying they want to honor the Fallujah combatants who fell in battle and others who have consulted on the game.

On Tomb Raider's Future

Crystal Dynamics Studio Head Talks Change, Evolution on Gamasutra is a conversation with Darrell Gallagher, studio director at Crystal Dynamics, who discusses the future of the Tomb Raider franchise. "What I can say is Tomb Raider, as a franchise, is absolutely part of the Crystal fabric," he says. "It's a key franchise and awesome to be part of... we're excited about what we've been exploring, and we're excited to share it with the fans at some point."

On Team Fortress 2's Cancelled Repair Node

The Team Fortress 2 blog discusses plans for the upcoming Engineer update in Valve's teamplay shooter. The update has a lengthy description of the Repair Node, which they developed as a new deployable before deciding this was a feature they needed to cut. They explain how it was supposed to work, and ultimately why it did not, offering insights into game design balance issues. Here's a bit: "Despite the design choices we had available, we were never really able to get the Repair Node to feel balanced for the attacking team. TF2 maps tend to be designed with very specific predicted Sentry placement locations and length of Sentry survivability. The Repair Node distorted both old favorite maps and made testing new ones more difficult by exaggerating intentional choke points and creating new choke points where they didn't previously exist."

Op Ed

Bitmob - Dark Void: A Lesson in Trusting One’s Own Opinion.
The moral of this story is that if you’re excited for a game you should give it a chance. While I’m glad I only rented Dark Void (as it’s a tad bit on the short side), I certainly regret not playing it sooner. You can listen to and respect those who deem themselves “educated members of the gaming community,” but remember: always put your own opinions and ideas first and foremost.

Morning Previews

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

This is my boss, Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire, he's quite a guy. This is Mrs. H. She's gorgeous; she's one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of both of them, which ain't easy, 'cause when they met it was MURDER!

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez.
Play: Double Dragon.
Mad Karate Man. Thanks Jay is Games.
Big Tree Defense.
Stories: Orange officials sue couple who removed their lawn. Thanks Slashdot.
U.S. Considers Brake Override System on All Cars.
Wales' giant dragon project.
Science: Chile earthquake may have shortened days. Thanks brother19.
The World's Largest Amateur Rocket Is Almost as Tall as a V-2.
The Unintended Consequence of Mass Layoffs: Fewer Boys Being Born.
Images: Everything You Needed To Know About The Oscars. Thanks Digg.
Oscars: If Geeks Ran the Academy.
Sports Truck: Not As Cool As It Sounds.
Media: 'I Suck at MW2' l A Modern Warfare 2 Fail Montage.
Epic Stop Motion Lego Star Wars Lightsaber Battle.
Watch Roger Ebert Get His Voice Back.
Follow-up: Smithsonian rejects O.J. Simpson's suit. Thanks brother19.
China to Launch Space Station Module.
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