Archived News:

Monday, May 03, 2010 World Press Freedom Day

Mass Effect 2 DLC Tomorrow

The Mass Effect 2 Website announces the Mass Effect 2 Equalizer Pack DLC will go on sale tomorrow for 160 MS Points/160 BioWare Points, adding the Archon Visor, the Capacitor Helmet, and the Inferno Armor to BioWare's RPG sequel. They offer some new screenshots and this description:
Cerberus doesn't just need a hero - they need a one-man army. That's why the Equalizer Pack adds the Capacitor Helmet, Archon Visor, and Inferno Armor to Shepard's armor locker. The Capacitor Helmet stores power for kinetic barriers, allowing Shepard's shields to recharge faster. The Archon Visor manages omni-tools and biotic amps, reducing the recharge time of Shepard's powers. The powered Inferno Armor speeds up Shepard's movements and increases his tech and biotic power damage, additionally stress analysis software even gives him an edge in negotiations outside of combat. The Equalizer -- when the armor goes on, the gloves come off.

Black Prophecy Closed Beta

Closed beta testing for Black Prophecy is now underway, offering the chance to play the prerelease version of this MMO space action game (this should have been mentioned earlier, thanks Cutter for the reminder). Sign ups for the beta are still being accepted, though as the blurb below indicates, the test is pretty limited at the moment:
It's the moment players have all been waiting for. gamigo and Reakktor Media have given the green light for closed beta testing of the space action MMOG “Black Prophecy”. The virtual universe is now open to a select crew of daring pilots looking to join the Genide or Tyi factions.

In the past few weeks, the Reakktor team has been working very hard to get “Black Prophecy” ready go to into beta testing. The focus during the first phase of testing will be on server and program stability. For that reason, only a small group of about 100 players will have access to the game server. More fighter pilots will be recruited in time.

King's Quest Fan Game Saved?

The recent closure of the fan-created King's Quest game called Silver Lining may yet have a silver lining, reports Kotaku, where they received an update from the project's amateur development team, Phoenix Online Studios. "Given the overwhelming community support for the Silver Lining project," reads the statement, "Activision is in discussions with Phoenix Online Studios about allowing them to continue to finish the game and then release it to their fans."

TF2 Statues Priced

Gaming Heads is now accepting preorders for the recently revealed Team Fortress 2 Heavy statues, revealing the price for the game art. The two-headed statue is $244.99 and the standard variant is $229.99 (thanks for ReverendTed for clearing up our confusion on that). For some reason, the price for the superior blue statues is the same as their red counterparts. Thanks Big Download.

Impulse Bestsellers

Here's the Impulse Weekly Top 10 with the bestselling titles sold through Stardock's digital distribution for the week of April 25-May 1:

  1. Sins of a Solar Empire - Trinity
  2. Sins of a Solar Empire: Diplomacy
  3. Armada 2526
  4. Total Annihilation
  5. Sins of a Solar Empire Expansion Bundle
  6. Galactic Civilizations II - Ultimate Edition
  7. King's Bounty Gold Edition
  8. Mount & Blade Warband
  9. Sins of a Solar Empire - Entrenchment
  10. SpellForce Platinum

On Sale

Direct2Drive Spring Sale Week Four is underway. And remember: "Direct2Drive will be giving gamers $15 in store credit when they spend $75 or more on any titles site-wide during the Spring Sale."

Game Crazy Closing

Following news that some Game Crazy stores were closing, GameSpot has word by way of the Wall Street Journal that the company is closing the remaining Game Crazy locations. Word is: "The move will see all 2,415 US Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video, and Game Crazy locations close in the coming months, with about 19,000 people losing their jobs. The fate of the company's 184 Canadian locations is unclear."

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Screenshots

StarCraft II in July

Blizzard announces July 27, 2010 is the official release date for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty in the following lengthy list of territories: United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. They also indicate they will begin selling the real-time strategy sequel directly to customers shortly after that retail launch. Here's word on the game:
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is the sequel to Blizzard Entertainment’s 1998 hit StarCraft, which has been hailed by players and critics worldwide as one of the top real-time strategy games of all time. Sporting a vibrant 3D-graphics engine, StarCraft II will once again center on the clash between the protoss, terrans, and zerg, with each side deploying legions of veteran, upgraded, and new unit types. Unparalleled online play for StarCraft II will be available through a new version of Battle.net, Blizzard Entertainment's world-renowned gaming service. Battle.net has been redesigned from the ground up to be the premier online gaming destination for Blizzard gamers, with several enhancements and new features, such as voice communication, cloud file storage, leagues and ladders, achievements, stat-tracking, and more.

The solo campaign for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will continue the epic saga where it left off in StarCraft: Brood War®. The story line chronicles the exploits of marshal-turned-rebel-leader Jim Raynor and features both familiar faces and new heroes. Players will be able to tailor the experience, choosing their own mission path and selecting technology and research upgrades to suit their playing style throughout the 29-mission campaign. Several challenge-mode mini-games will also be included, with focused goals designed to ease players into the basics of multiplayer strategies.

New MTX

The MekTek Website has recovered from its recent outage, and now offers an updated beta of the MTX software designed to overcome some of the problems users experienced trying to download the free MechWarrior 4 rerelease using the first release of this content delivery system. The new version will no longer fail if their website is unavailable, and removes the custom skin that caused its performance to lag. They also respond to user criticism of the use of MTX to distribute the free version of MechWarrior 4, but they also say: "MekTek will be releasing a self extracting installer containing both MTX and Mechwarrior4: Mercenaries very shortly. However, in the meantime, if you have your MTX files, download the new installer of MTX, and give it a try." Their defense of the MTX software follows, which seems to downplay the ability to distribute patches through more traditional community approaches. Continue here to read the full story.

Gratuitous Space Battles: The Swarm Released

Positech Games announces the release of The Swarm, a new expansion pack for Gratuitous Space Battles, their game of tactical space combat. The add-on is available from their online store, and they say this will work on your copy of the original game, regardless of the vendor from which it was purchased. Word is: "The latest race to invade the galaxy of Gratuitous Space Battles are here. They call themselves 'the swarm'. Space-dwelling nomads who destroy all they encounter, using cunning new gratuitous weapons such as disruptor beams, fusion guns, and deadly smart-bombs. The Swarm expansion pack adds an entire new race to Indie Space Strategy game 'Gratuitous Space Battles'. 10 new ships, new weapons and ship modules, and two new scenarios to battle against, as well as to use online in the unique GSB online challenge system." The news is accompanied by some screenshots from the expansion and a new gameplay trailer, which is embedded here. Continue here to read the full story.

Wings of Prey in UK

Iceberg Interactive announces Wings of Prey is now available in UK stores, offering this aerial combat game, which is also available in the US and most of Europe. As for the remainder of Europe, word is the game is expected in German-speaking territories, Scandinavia, Benelux, and France over the course of this and next month. Here's a bit on the game: "Wings of Prey is based around the large-scale aerial combat and ground military operations of World War II. Participate in frantic dogfights in some of the most famous battles like The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad and Ardennes. Players can choose their own country, alliances and planes and can compete in a thrilling multiplayer experience or practice in the challenging single player campaign." A playable demo is available for those interested in a test-flight.

Fallout MMOG Screenshots Explained

Duck and Cover speaks with Interplay's Chris Taylor, Lead Systems Designer on Project V13, their upcoming Fallout MMOG, who explains the nature of the concept art and the various project 13 screenshots released along the way. Word is: "I'd like to point out those weren't even 'alpha' screens, just 'Proof of Concept'. The current models look different. We still want a somewhat stylized look so we can avoid the 'Uncanny Valley'."

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Map Kit

The Battlefield Blog has word that the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Map Kit is now available on this downloads page for US and UK users. Word is: "Want to see what the BFBC2 maps look like from above? Want to plan your next game? Want to see all the places the enemy or you can hide? Well now you can. We have uploaded and made available the Map Kit file for download. It includes overhead views of all the maps for you to use in any way you like and is available NOW."

Shrek Forever After Q&A

Shrek Forever After Q&A on Skewed & Reviewed learns the basics about the upcoming animated movie tie-in by wooing Activision associate producer Donna Woo into answering questions about the project.

New Audigy Drivers

Creative Worldwide Support offers new(ish) version 2.18.0017 drivers for Creative Sound Blaster Audigy series sound cards. The drivers were release on April 8, and are said to fix a number of issues. They also warn these are not to be used for Sound Blaster Audigy LS, Sound Blaster Audigy SE, or Sound Blaster Audigy Value cards. Thanks Ant.

Blacklight: Tango Down Comic Plans

An update on Facebook has word on plans for a one-off comic book based on Blacklight: Tango Down, Zombie's upcoming first-person shooter. Word is: "Storm Lion's upcoming comic release follows an elite cover ops team as they fight off zombies while trying to rescue an officer from behind enemy lines. Based on the sci-fi shooter video game from Ignition Entertainment and Zombie Studios, BLACKLIGHT: TANGO DOWN, adapted from a story by Mark Long, is written by Jared Gerritzen and Ian Stephens, with art by Zid (CITY OF DUST)." Thanks Big Download.

Op Ed

GamePro - Too Big and Too Hard.
Every studio I've spoken to that does this, to a fault, says that many of the games they've released are far too big and far too hard for most players' behavior. As a general rule, less than five percent of a game's audience plays a title through to completion. I've had several studios tell me that their general observation is that "more than 90 percent" of a games audience will play it for "just four or five hours."

Steam Bestsellers

Here are the top 10 bestselling titles on Steam for the week:

  1. Rockstar Collection
  2. Codemasters Racing Pack
  3. Left 4 Dead 2
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package
  5. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  6. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction Deluxe Edition
  7. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction
  8. Guild Wars Trilogy
  9. Grand Theft Auto IV
  10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

MrsBlue and I attended a local craft show over the weekend, and enjoyed a pleasant enough time (which for me means we didn't linger long enough to expend the limited patience I have for such things). Of most interest was the guy selling homemade salsa, as he had one variety marked "XXX stupid hot," which of course drew us in like a magnet. It was indeed the hottest salsa I can recall trying, and proof of that was MrsBlue taking a full scoop of it on a chip (I was a little more prudent), and actually giving herself the hiccups, something I've seen happen to others (including myself), but never my wife, who has the greatest tolerance for spicy food of anyone I know. We each got stickers proclaiming our bravery, and the proprietor confessed that the XXX salsa actually had pure capsaicin as an ingredient, which sort of seems like cheating, but what can you do? We ended up picking a variety two notches cooler (on a scale of like 25, so it was not exactly mild) made with pineapple and habanero peppers, and the funny thing about that is sampling that one helped cool off my mouth after the first one.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Omega Crisis.
Links: How Apple sells their products. Thanks Digg.
A Bourbon Picking Guide for Derby Day, and Every Day. I'm a Scotch man, myself.
Stories: Times Square Car Bomb Suspect On Video- Police Search For Suspicious Man.
United, Continental Agree to Merge. Contited.
Images: Breaking News.
A Collection of Alternative Superman Costumes.
Media: Angry Video Game Nerd: Action 52. NSFW.
Conan Breaks Silence on "Tonight Show".
Follow-up: Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe.
Gulf Oil Spill: At Least Another Week For 'Underground Volcano Of Oil'.
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