Archived News:

Thursday, Feb 03, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever Vegas Event

Gearbox Software announces they are holding a Duke Nukem Forever event in Las Vegas on Monday, and they are extending an invitation to those of legal age to join them: "So, if you'll be in the Las Vegas area on Monday, February 7, are 21 years of age or older, and want to spend some time playing with Duke and Duke Nukem Forever, let him know by filling out the form below. Each and every note will be reviewed by one of Duke's lovely ladies and the hand-picked best-of-the-best will be invited to party at his side." Thanks Big Download.

NA Dungeon Siege III May 31

This press release announces a May 31 North American release date for Dungeon Siege III, following earlier news that Obsidian's action/RPG sequel is due in Europe on May 27. The announcement also outlines a bunch of preorder bonuses, depending on whether you get the game from GameStop, Steam, Amazon, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart.

Rift/Team Fortress Cross Promotion

Valve and Trion Worlds announce a cross promotion for players who pre-purchase Rift on Steam between now and March 1st that grants access to a pair of exclusive melee weapons in Team Fortress 2, the Sharpened Volcano Fragment and the Sun-on-a-stick, and an equally exclusive Well Spun Hat to wear in Rift after completion of a new TF2 achievement. Word is: "All Steam pre-order customers will receive the weapons, including those who’ve already purchased Rift through the digital platform. This offer is available to Steam users worldwide." These screenshots show off the items, and here's word on how to collect them: "Team Fortress 2 players will automatically receive the melee weapons beginning today, while players lusting after the Well Spun Hat must complete the new “Riftwalker” achievement. After applying the code on their Trion account page, Rift players will receive the hat in their in-game mailbox beginning with the game’s headstart period on February 24th."

Mass Effect 2 Appearance DLC Plans

The Mass Effect Downloadable Content Page has details on a second alternate appearance DLC pack for Mass Effect 2 that BioWare plans on releasing next week for 160 MS Points/160 BioWare Points. Here's the deal: "The Mass Effect team is proud to announce the next Mass Effect 2 DLC, Alternate Appearance Pack 2. This new DLC will give new armors to Miranda, Tali and Grunt. Put the WAR back in wardrobe with new DLC available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Coming February 8. See all 3 new armors by checking out Alternate Appearance Pack 2."

Mytheon Closed Beta Resumes

Closed beta testing is once again underway for Mytheon, UTV True Games' upcoming online action/RPG. Word is: "Mytheon, now being developed internally, invites previous closed beta testers back to check out all the latest updates and receive exclusive VIP treatment and also welcomes players new to the game to join in and play the closed beta. To obtain a beta key and join in the special exclusive closed beta events, interested players can visit"

Din's Curse Beta Patch

The Din's Curse Patches Page now features new beta patches to update the Windows and OS X editions of Soldak Entertainment's action/RPG to beta version 1.018. As always, their changes page outlines what's new and different.

Darkspore LE Trailer

A new trailer shows off Limited Edition contents for Darkspore, EA/Maxis' upcoming action/RPG. The clip shows a preorder bonus of a "special character and armor" so you can "gain a tactical advantage on day one." The clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Previews

Into the Black

For the first time, two of our annual running gags here fall on the same day, which I did not realize could happen. Anyway, happy Chinese New Year everybody, as today the Year of the Rabbit begins. The thing is, I know for the next few weeks I'll still be writing Year of the Tiger on my checks.

Link of the Day: Can You Spot The Sniper?

Battlefield 3 News Tomorrow?

Following the "watch this space for some exciting news I think you’ll like" Battlefield 3 tease in today's PC BF1943 cancellation announcement, Planet Battlefield notes a few tweets from DICE employees suggesting there will be some BF3 news tomorrow (thanks Ant). Since everyone loves an announcement about an announcement, here goes:
@locust9 - David Goldfarb
Lead designer and writer at DICE. Lead designer Battlefield 3.

    You guys ready for tomorrow? You sure? Really really sure? #BF3

@ViktorALundberg - Viktor Lundberg
Level Designer For BF3

    Tomorrow is going to be rad. That's all I have to say about that!

@Riviera75 - Peter Engström
Frostbite coder at EA DICE

    Isn't it tomorrow yet!?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Trailer

A new Adam Jensen Profile Trailer from Deus Ex: Human Revolution profiles the protagonist in the action/RPG sequel in development at Eidos Montreal. The mix of cinematics and gameplay in the clip demonstrate Jensen's reservations about the game's augmentations, as well as his use of them to kick some major ass. Here are some accompanying screenshots, and the clip is embedded below. Continue here to read the full story.

PC BF1943 and BC2 Onslaught Cancelled

The Electronic Arts UK Forums have the announcement that the other shoe has dropped on the PC edition of Battlefield 1943 as Karl Magnus Troedsson, General Manager of DICE, finally admits it has been cancelled (thanks Gamer's Hell). This comes two weeks after a profile for the game showed up in some new NVIDIA reference drivers, four months after a foul up suggested the PC edition had been released, six months after EA started refunding preorders, ten months after the game was promised "soon", and 18 months after the game's release on Xbox 360. Karl also announces that the doubts about the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Onslaught for the PC were justified, as any plans for that are now cancelled as well. Word is:
This is one of those cross roads where I need to make a hard decision. While we’ll continue supporting Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and previous games, it’s time to look ahead to the next giant leap for DICE – the release of Battlefield 3, powered by the mighty Frostbite 2 engine. Our goal is crystal clear: we’re going to build the best Battlefield game ever, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make this the biggest launch in DICE’s history.

We know some of you eagerly have been awaiting Battlefield 1943 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Onslaught on PC. I’m sad to say that these two titles are now officially cancelled. Instead, our talented teams will focus on delivering the greatest possible gaming experience in our next behemoth release. We’re confident this will lead to an even better experience in Battlefield 3, not only on PC, but on all platforms.

For an idea of what that means, watch this space for some exciting news I think you’ll like.

Dragon Age II Demo Confirmed

EA now confirms plans to release the playable demo for Dragon Age II on February 22, less than 24 hours after going to the trouble to cast doubt upon the evidence of their plans (though the demo is coming out one day sooner than the initial news indicated). This page on the Dragon Age Website offers details on the demo, which they say "represents just a small taste of what Dragon Age 2 has to offer." Here's a bit on the demo, including word on how it can unlock an item in the full game:
In the demo, players will venture through the game's prologue, choosing from three different character classes. They'll also learn more about Hawke and hone their skills and abilities that will make them the ultimate hero. After finishing the prologue, players will enter a key new location in the world of Dragon Age, Kirkwall, befriending Isabela, a romantic interest in the game who is also a deadly smuggler. Upon completion of the demo, players will unlock a special weapon, Hayder's Razor, an ancient dwarven blade which increases health, mana, and combat abilities, in the full release of Dragon Age 2.

EU Dungeon Siege III on May 27

Square Enix and Obsidian Entertainment announce plans to release Dungeon Siege III in Europe and other PAL territories on May 27, 2011, which presumably indicates the North American edition of the action/RPG sequel will be released around that time as well. Word is: "In DUNGEON SIEGE III, players assume the role of one of four legionnaires in the crumbling kingdom of Ehb, fighting for the sake of their fallen comrades. Conflict is constant and decisions have lasting consequences, allowing players to dictate the outcome of the tale. Do battle as a lone hero or fight alongside up to three friends and, thanks to robust AI, DUNGEON SIEGE III’s co-op multiplayer mode allows players to seamlessly drop in and out of battle without interrupting the action or impacting the campaign." The announcement is accompanied by box art of both the standard and limited editions of the game.

Men of War: Assault Squad This Month, Second Beta Opens

1C Company announces the second stage of the Men of War: Assault Squad Beta on Steam is now underway, and that the game's release is planned for February 25. Word is: "Men of War: Assault Squad Open Beta stage 2 introduces a new playable faction from the full game, the Soviet Union. There are also a variety of improvements in gameplay and balance."

Saints Row 3 in Autumn

Eurogamer has word from the THQ earnings conference call to expect Saints Row 3 in autumn of this year (spring down under). They quote THQ CEO Brian Farrell saying: "Volition is setting a new bar for this outstanding franchise and we look forward to unveiling this game in the near future."

UK Indie Publisher Forming

Develop has details on plans for "The Games Consortium," a new developer-operated digital distribution publisher led by Mastertronic founder Andy Payne. The UK-based publisher is looking for eight developers to sign on between now and Valentine's Day: "Eight studios will be allowed to buy into the initiative by taking a £20k stake each, with some funds also supplied by NESTA. But after the first year, it is expected that the business will become self-sustaining."

Steam 2010 Revenue Nearly $1 Billion?

Valve's Steam service took in almost $1 billion USD, according to Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment, where they say: "Estimated revenues through the major digital PC retailer were estimated at $970 million USD in 2010, with December capping off the year with an estimated $213 million USD." They offer a list of the top titles on the service, which was dominated by shooters:

Top Selling Titles, by Estimated Gross Revenues in 2010

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision) - $98.2 Million USD
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision) - $39.4 Million USD
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve) - $36.0 Million USD
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Electronic Arts) - $25.4 Million USD
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V (2K Games) - $21.9 Million USD
  • Portal (Valve) - $20.0 Million USD
  • Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks) - $17.0 Million USD
  • Metro 2033 (THQ) - $13.4 Million USD
  • Mafia II (2K Games) - $11.9 Million USD
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising (THQ) - $10.8 Million USD

Crysis 2 Specs Unofficial

The MyCrysis Forums have word that the Crysis II system requirements posted yesterday are neither official nor final. This is a little odd, as they were posted on the German Crysis Facebook page, but here's word: "These minimum specs are not official or final, we'll have an announcement about this soon. Please note if you didn't hear it from me/see it on MyCrysis, then it's not official :)" Thanks VG247.

Dragon Age II Demo Not Confirmed

A post on the BioWare Social Network by David Gaider follows on yesterday's indication that a Dragon Age II demo is on the way later this month, saying this is not confirmed: "The demo is not 'confirmed'. We have made no official announcement. This is speculation, and no matter what it's based on it shouldn't be so misleading. Regardless of what you think we should or shouldn't be doing (it's not my place to give info) please keep the fact that this is still all speculation in mind and that you're self-referencing here." Thanks Eurogamer.

Square Enix Financials

Computer and Video Games has word that third quarter profits at Square Enix are down 76.6% and sales are down 27.5% over the same period last year (thanks Joao). Further, (registration required) notes that the Japanese publisher/developer's full year profits are projected to be down 89% over the prior year. This is attributed to "intensifying competition in the console game market," by Yoichi Wada, Square-Enix president, who looks forward saying: "the company has implemented organisational changes in the third quarter while also working to better select and further strengthen our most competitive titles." The downturn comes in spite of word that Kane & Lynch 2 and Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 sold over one million copies each during the quarter.

Konami Financials

MCV has the latest quarterly financial report from Konami, where revenue was down 1.4% year-on-year, operating income fell 50.6%, and net income was down 9.5%. They note that this is "a big improvement on last year's figures when operating income was down 50.6 per cent and net income down 40.4 per cent." They also have a breakdown, showing that only two percent of Konami's business is on the PC: "PS3 software sales accounted for 28 per cent of Konami's total, followed by PSP (21 per cent), Wii (16 per cent), DS (15 per cent), Xbox 360 (12 per cent), PS2 (7 per cent) and PC (two per cent). This represents a gain on PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP but declines on all other platforms."

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Interview

Deus Ex: Franchise Evolution on (registration required) converses with Mary De Marle about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the next installment in the action/RPG series. Eidos Montreal's lead writer talks about working on a series that's had only two installments in over a decade, her role on the project, the general lack of recognition for game writing, defends the game's preorder incentives, and discusses the challenges of following up a game with such a loyal fan base, saying, "you as a writer, you don't own that story. A lot of people own that story, and the people who play it own that story. They get very passionate about it and it becomes their story, so they get very upset if you make the slightest change to their story."

UFC Facebook Game

THQ announces the launch of UFC Undisputed Fight Nation, an interactive Facebook game. Word is the game, "allows players to take control of their virtual UFC careers in a fun and engaging environment by training moves, competing against others and sharing their results on Facebook, as well as enabling them to successfully manage their progress for the opportunity to compete against many of the UFC’s most renowned fighters."

Op Ed

The Armchair Empire - Are Gamers Too Negative?
Sometimes negativity and cynicism just happen, and it's not like they materialize out of thin air. There's usually a cause for these things, which is why we can't pretend like the game industry doesn't have a hand in it too. If $60 games didn't get released so often with bugs still in them (and sometimes these are highly anticipated "AAA" $60 games), gamers would have one less reason to be upset. If publishers took a few more chances, instead of milking every fad to come along, only to discard its withered husk on the side of the road when they're finished with it, gamers would have another big reason not to be negative. Sure, there's a good sized cloud of cynicism hovering around gamers these days, but given some of the directions that the industry has gone in of late, this sentiment seems somewhat justified.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Groundhog Day, as today is the annual celebration of woodchuck weathermen. We're in the middle of an ice storm here in the northeast U.S., so it is a formality to check with the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to confirm that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, traditionally a harbinger of an early spring. Staten Island Chuck agrees with Phil, and managed to make his prognostication without biting the mayor this time. An early spring will certainly be welcome at this point, so I've decided the science behind this forecast is solid.

Traditional Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Heaven and Hell.
Hungry Shapes 2.
Links: Ant's related poll.
Prime Big Series. Thanks Neatorama.
The 9 Best Places To Have A Cup Of Coffee Around The World. Counting fail.
Stories: MTV: 'Beavis & Butt-Head' will return.
Immigration officer fired after putting wife on list of terrorists to stop her flying home. Thanks Slashdot.
African country set to make breaking wind a crime. Thanks Neatorama.
Mona Lisa 'was a boy’. Thanks Digg.
Science: NASA Kepler finds family of habitable, Earth-size planets.
Defining life: the development of an artificial cell.
Parkinson's Disease- Scientists Find Five New Genes.
Images: Unusual location to put a straw on a princess sippy cup.
When the Mayor of Boston asked MIT for anti-snow flamethrowers. Thanks dakslf.
When World’s Collide Of The Day.
Media: Super Bowl Delayed So Doritos Can Finish Its Commercial.
Asking People if They Have Seen Themselves.
I Am Optimus Prime - Parody of The Time by Black Eyed Peas.
Shotguns vs. Footballs. Skeet kicking is born.
The Funnies: Dilbert.
Virtual Shackles - Block Like an Egyptian.
M thru F- NOO, IT’S A TRAP.
Follow-ups: Kill Bill Extended Look.
Barbara Ficarra- 'BPA' Plastic Bottles- Are They Safe?
Chernobyl: 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster.
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