Archived News:

Thursday, Nov 11, 2010 Armistice/Veterans/Remembrance Day

InstantAction Closed

A November Update on the Torque Community Forums has word from Eric Preisz that InstantAction "will be winding down operations," and indeed the web-based gaming service is already shut down (thanks Gamasutra). Word is:
Today, InstantAction informed employees that it will be winding down operations. While we are shutting down the InstantAction.com website and Instant Jam game, Torquepowered.com will continue to operate while InstantAction explores opportunities with potential buyers for Torque. We thank all of our past and current customers for their support.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Patch

Planet Vampire has word on the release of Unofficial Patch version 7.2 for Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the action/RPG from defunct developer Troika. The patch is available on its official home at The Patches Scrolls, and here are the patch notes. Continue here to read the full story.

Mac Gratuitous Space Battles

Steam News has word that Steam now offers Gratuitous Space Battles: The Nomads, the latest expansion for Positech's space strategy game. They also announce the promised Mac editions of GSB are now available: "Gratuitous Space Battles and it's [sic] DLC - The Tribe, The Order, The Swarm and The Nomads - are now available on the Mac!"

Tactical Intervention Beta Plans

FIX Korea announces plans to beta test Tactical Intervention, the upcoming Source-engine online shooter from Counter-Strike co-creator Minh Le. Word is European testing is expected to get underway before the end of this year, while North American testing is planned for the first half of 2011. Word is: "‘Tactical Intervention’ retains the fun features of ‘Counter Strike’, and yet has strengthened the realistic details and effects. All objects in the game are destroyable, and special objects can be utilized as attacking forces."

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions in Wal-Mart for Thanksgiving

Hero HQ Facebook Page has word that the PC edition of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions will be available on the U.S. beginning the Thanksgiving weekend, but that the Windows edition of the superhero action game will be available exclusively through Wal-Mart. Thanks Big Download.

On Sale

Shogun 2 in March 2011

SEGA of America announces March 15, 2011 as the global release date for Shogun 2: Total War, The Creative Assembly's upcoming sequel to their real-time strategy game set in feudal Japan. They offer some new screenshots to go with the announcement, which includes this description of the game: "Shogun 2: Total War will feature enhanced full 3D battles via land and sea, which made a name for the series, as well as the tactical campaign map that many refer to as the heart and soul of Total War. Featuring a brand new AI system inspired by the scriptures that influenced Japanese warfare, the millennia old Chinese “Art of War”, The Creative Assembly brings the wisdom of Master Sun Tsu to Shogun 2: Total War. Analyzing this ancient text enabled The Creative Assembly to implement easy to understand yet deep strategical gameplay."

Arma 2 Patches

Three new patches are now available for the Arma 2 series, offering fixes and changes for Bohemia Interactive's military shooter sequel and its expansions. Word is: "Amongst the variety of tweaks and fixes detailed in the attached change-log files, these patches also bring a number of engine improvements, such as: stability and functionality fixes and improvements, various visual optimisations, AI behaviour improvements, new scripting commands and event-handlers, new grenade launcher optics in Arma 2: BAF, doubled texture and sound quality for BAF-Lite and much, much more." All three patches are available on the Official Arma 2 Website, and the version 1.08 patch for ArmA 2 is mirrored on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls; the version 1.55 patch for Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead is mirrored on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls; and the version 1.01 patch for Arma 2: British Armed Forces is mirrored on AtomicGamer and The Patches Scrolls.

K2 Buys APB?

K2 Network has acquired the APB: All Points Bulletin intellectual property from defunct studio Realtime Worlds, reports GamesIndustry.biz (registration required), where they say the operator of free-to-play MMOG service GamersFirst paid a reported £1.5 million for the game, which may be up and running again before the end of the year. They have not confirmed this with K2, but seem pretty convinced the story is accurate, saying to expect an official announcement in the coming week. They also say to expect the game to use a free-to-play business model when it relaunches.

Retailers Versus Steam?

A story on MCV with a quote in the headline (which isn't in the article itself) stating "Valve monopoly is killing PC market," reports they understand "that at least two big-name digital retailers are facing financial difficulties as they struggle to compete" with Steam. "I've fought hard for my customer, and never before have I had to give my customers away. Steam is killing the PC market and it is no wonder digital retailers are failing," says the director of a Steam rival. "Steam is locking down the market." In a separate report they also discuss retailer dissatisfaction with Steam's dominance of the marketplace, which insiders tell them amounts to 80% of PC downloadable games. Since this competes with online sales initiatives by retailers, they say at least two major U.K. merchants will demand that publishers remove Steam integration from their games or they will refuse to sell them. With PC game sales at retail stores in steady decline, it seems an odd moment for these stores to flex their atrophying muscle, but they quote the head of sales at a big-name digital service provider saying: "At the moment the big digital distributors need to stock games with Steam. But the power resides with bricks and mortar retailers, they can refuse to stock these titles. Publishers are hesitant, but retail must put pressure on them."

Gatling Gears Announced

Independent Developer Vanguard Games announces EA will publish Gatling Gears, offering this "new dual-analogue shooter" for Windows, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and PlayStation Network in spring 2011. "When Vanguard Games first showed us Gatling Gears, it was clear we were looking at a best-in-class title developed by people who are passionate about making fun, accessible games," said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development at EA Partners. "Given our strategy of partnering with the top developers in the world, we are very excited to work with Vanguard as they advance the classic twin-stick shooter genre with new gameplay and beautiful visuals."

EA's Old Republic Role Expands

EA and LucasArts announce a new global publishing agreement for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the upcoming Star Wars MMORPG. EA is now assuming some of the duties that were to have been handled by LucasArts. Here's word: "With this new agreement, certain publishing, marketing and distribution responsibilities previously designated to LucasArts will shift to EA, so that all publishing, marketing and distribution responsibilities can be centralized for efficiency. Lucasfilm will continue serving as a key partner, collaborating on design and marketing, and as a licensor of the property."

Civilization V Patch Notes

A recently updated post on the 2K Forums by community manager 2K Greg now offers some preliminary changes for the next patch in the works for Sid Meier's Civilization V, the turn-based strategy sequel (thanks The Patches Scrolls). The patch does not yet have an ETA, but Greg does indicate what it is for, saying "the primary direction of the next patch is going to be: AI and Diplomacy. This is not to say that these will be the only parts of the game under the microscope, but it will be the focus." The first batch of changes they are planning follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Harmonix for Sale

WSJ.com (subscription required) has Viacom's latest financials, saying net profits at the media giant fell 59%. The report also includes word that Viacom is seeking to divest itself of Rock Band developer Harmonix, listing the Boston-based studio as a "discontinued operation" in its third-quarter report. Thanks nin via Joystiq.

Steamships Ahoy - Guardians of Graxia

Following its exclusive launch on GamersGate, Guardians of Graxia is also now available on Steam, where the strategy game is on sale at a 10% discount. Word is: "Guardians of Graxia takes on the form of a card-based board game set in a floating island environment high in the sky of the Graxia world. Releasing with four powerful Guardians that will guide your armies into battle, charge onto the battlefield by laying out your forces strategically."

The UnderGarden & Demo Released

Steam and Atari now offer digital distribution of The UnderGarden, a new puzzle exploration game. Here word on the Zen experience this promises: "The UnderGarden is a beautiful underground world filled with strange life forms, physics based puzzles and plenty of hidden secrets. The vibrant world comes alive and music evolves as players traverse throughout the game, pollenating [sic] flora. With local co-operative gameplay, players can chill out and work together to solve puzzles and explore the world. The UnderGarden offers 14 different levels of modern exploration filled with brain teasing physics and eco-friendly puzzles that evoke an emotional response to the beauty and calm of this underwater oasis." Atari is also offering a playable demo, which is mirrored on AtomicGamer.

Bejeweled 3 Pre-Purchases

Steam now offers pre-purchases of Bejeweled 3, PopCap's upcoming puzzle sequel. The rank-and-file are entitled to a 10% pre-purchase discount between now and the game's release on December 7, while the elite who already own either Bejeweled Deluxe, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, or Bejeweled Twist will get a 20% discount for their advance commitment.

Free Chaos Parachute for Just Cause 2

Steam News announces the availability of the Chaos Parachute as free DLC for Just Cause 2, the open-world action sequel from Avalanche Studios. Word is: "Featuring a skull motif, make an entrance no one will forget…should you leave anyone alive to remember."

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Well today is Veteran's Day here in the U.S., a commemoration originally known as Armistice Day. I was thinking this is one of those serious occasions that's not taken very seriously anymore, but I do hear on the radio that rush hour traffic seems light today, so I guess there are folks with a holiday today besides government employees.

Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Ragdoll Spree: Players Pack.
Nuclear Ragdoll.
Links: Celebrate your natural 20s with dice that light up, flash.
Playing $1000 on a Slot Machine at Thunder Valley Casino.
Story: Cheating Scandal Prompts Professor to Issue Ultimatum.
Science: US army develops tooth-cleaning gum. Thanks Slashdot.
Images: Why so serious?
Earthquake Twists Railroad Tracks.
Party On, Palpatine!
Media: OK Go's 'New Leaf' video is toast. Thanks WalterEgo.
Nail Gun Artist 'recreates the Mona Lisa'.
The Funnies: Brevity.
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