Archived News:

Thursday, Jun 23, 2011

Team Fortress 2 Goes Free-to-Play

Valve announces that Team Fortress 2 is now free-to-play, saying this change is part of the Über Update, which they are calling the "largest content pack delivered to TF2 since it shipped in 2007." There is an interview about this with Valve's Robin Walker on Develop explaining this will not entail advertisements, just microtransactions for hats and other aesthetic items. "We've been toying with the idea of making Team Fortress free-to-play ever since the Mann-conomy update [in September 2010]," Walker said. "The data we got back from that update leads us to believe that TF2 would be more successful as a completely free product." He goes on to discuss the benefits of this move: "It's a belief of ours that in multiplayer games it's generally true that the more people playing the game, the higher value the game has for each individual customer. The more players, the more available servers in your area, the wider variety of other players you'll find, the greater the opportunity for new experiences, and so on." Here's a Team Fortress 2 is Free to Play trailer and the Meet the Medic trailer, and here's the announcement:
Team Fortress 2 is now Free to Play

June 23, 2011 - Valve, creators of bestselling game franchises (such as Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), announced today that after four years and over 200 updates, its popular and critically-acclaimed online action game Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is now Free To Play (F2P).

The F2P announcement comes as part of the "Über Update". Released today, it is the largest content pack delivered to TF2 since it shipped in 2007.

New players interested in experiencing what PC Gamer calls "the most fun you can have online" will have access to training and offline practice modes, so they can hone their skills before jumping into the ever-expanding TF2 universe.

To celebrate the launch of the Über Update, Valve has released "Meet the Medic," the latest in its series of TF2 animated shorts.

TF2 is now Free to Play for PC & Mac players via Steam.

For more information on Free to Play, please visit http://www.teamfortress.com/freetoplay.

For more information on the "Über Update" and "Meet the Medic", please visit http://www.teamfortress.com/uberupdate.

Homefront Demo

Steam now offers a playable demo for Homefront, KAOS Studios' first-person shooter set during a future invasion of the U.S.A. by Korean forces. There's no indication on what the demo includes, but the game is currently on sale for half-price for those who enjoy the sample. Thanks VG247.

Black Death Announced

The Black Death Website unveils this horror-themed first-person shooter in the works at French developer Darkworks (I am Alive) for Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The website offers some media, including a brief trailer, and the following simple explanation: "We’re going back to our roots with a fresh twist on the survival genre." Apparently the game does not yet have a publisher. Thanks Eurogamer.

$3.00 Cthulhu Saves the World Bundle Next Month

Zeboyd Games announces a July 13th release date for Cthulhu Saves the World, which, as previously announced, will include a free copy of Breath of Death VII. They also announce pricing, saying the game bundle will be on Steam and GamersGate for all of $3.00. Word is: "Friends and family of the developers attribute the low price to cosmic insanity, induced by the developer’s prolonged exposure to Lovecraftian monstrosities." Thanks nin.

The Killing Floor Summer Event and DLC Next Week

The Killing Floor Website has details on a Summer Sideshow Event coming to Tripwire Interactive's first-person shooter a week from today. Here's word on this: "We've got a new map for you, for free - the Abusement Park. Populated with sideshow freaks from the realms of someone's fetid nightmare. More new achievements. A new DLC character pack - some of our favorite Perks, gone all Steampunk. And another unlockable character: our old friend Mr Foster 'Steampunk'd'." This will also be accompanied by new DLC. Here's word on that:
Add to that a new DLC character pack: in keeping with the whole Victorian-era, freak-show theme, we thought we would go all Steampunk, with a Steampunk Character Pack. This time, our artists have taken some of their favorite perks and re-imagined them as Steampunk heroes. So now you can have the Berserker, Firebug, Medic and Sharpshooter - all in a way you've never seen them before!

Anarchy Online 10th Anniversary

Funcom announces they are celebrating the tenth anniversary of Anarchy Online, as the sci-fi MMORPG went live on June 27, 2001. "When Anarchy Online launched ten years ago nobody would have predicted where it would go, and that we would even see this day are all thanks to the dedication of our players and our community," says game director Colin Cragg. "I have so many fond memories from the years with Anarchy Online, and there are so many people to thank. The span of time and the way our world has touched the lives of so many is something we will always cherish. The fact that the kids of couples who met in AO are now playing our game says it all. I feel incredibly grateful to have been a part of Anarchy Online, and can't wait to see what the future holds in store for us all." Here's a bit on the planned festivities:
As a part of the celebration Funcom is adding new content to boost the festivities. Ranging from an all new birthday raid to new vehicles, clothes, gear, action figures and pets, players will have tons of new content to play around with. Players who choose to re-subscribe during the festivities will even get a special "Heckler of Celebration" social pet, and many other benefits. The Heckler is known as one of the most notorious monsters in ’Anarchy Online’, and it comes complete with a rocky personality and a 10th anniversary Birthday Hat.

And of course, no celebration would be complete without a grand party, and we’re featuring music from the founders of the world’s first virtual game radio. The combined efforts of Funcom, in-game volunteers and Gridstream Productions is going to bring it to you live with one of the biggest AO parties ever. Running over three days on two dimensions, this is the Anarchy event of the decade. The party starts this Friday, and a complete list of times can be found on the official site.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Patched

Steam News announces the release of a new automatic patch for Call of Duty: Black Ops. The patch notes for the new version of the military shooter sequel follow. Continue here to read the full story.

Arma 2 Patch

The Arma 2 Website now offers downloads of a new patch to update Bohemia Interactive's military shooter sequel to version 1.10. Among other things the new version adds support for Arma 2 free, includes stronger signature checking, and adds a new command line option called "-donothing" (no, really). The patch is mirrored on AtomicGamer and WorthPlaying. There's also an updated Linux dedicated server, which is mirrored on AtomicGamer.

New Via Digital Distribution

Games

  • Back to the Future: The Game on Steam.
  • Europa Universalis III Spritepacks on Impulse.
  • Europa Universalis III Spritepacks on Steam.
  • Hamilton's Great Adventure on Impulse.
  • Heroes Chronicles: All Chapters on GOG.com.
  • RETRO – Expansion Pack for RACE 07 on Steam.

Patches

On Sale

  • Aveyond - The Darkthrop Prophecy on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Big Sky on Impulse. Save 50%.
  • Cities in Motion on Impulse. Save 33%.
  • Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Droplitz on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Homefront on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Medal of Honor on Direct2Drive. Save 50%.
  • SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED on Impulse. Save 50%.
    Still on sale (previously reported). Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Previews

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: M. Night School.

39 Steps and Other Literary Games Planned

The TernTV Website has details on plans for a game based on The Thirty Nine Steps, describing this as an "interactive-cinematic" adaptation of John Buchan's spy novel, which is probably most remembered for its film adaptation directed by Alfred Hitchcock. According to a post on Ology with more detail this game is planned for Windows, PlayStation 3, and iPad, They also say Tern has further literary aspirations, saying they hope to create similar projects down the road based on such classics as Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, 1984, Treasure Island, and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Brink Patched

Though it's not noted on Steam, the Splash Damage Website says a new patch is now available for the Windows edition of Brink, along with an updated version of the dedicated server for their first-person shooter (thanks AgentX7). Here's the summary: "A brand-new update is now available for the PC version of Brink, containing a huge stack of improvements and fixes. End game chat, a new Stopwatch results screen, VoIP sliders, a fix for invisible players, networking optimizations, and a massive amount of weapon tweaks are all among the things you'll be getting in this one, and we've assembled the complete changelog for your perusal below. All you need to do to get the update is sign into Steam." The complete change list follows. Continue here to read the full story.

Windows L.A. Noire This Fall

Rockstar Games announces that L.A. Noire is headed to Windows this fall, offering PC owners the chance to check out the console detective game (thanks Mark). Here's the deal:
PC gaming aficionados, we hear you. And today, we are very happy to announce that L.A. Noire will be arriving on the PC platform this fall.

Developed by Rockstar Leeds and built to run on a wide range of PCs, L.A. Noire's robust feature customization includes keyboard remapping and gamepad functionality to both optimize and customize performance and user experience. Along with increased fidelity and improved graphical enhancements, the PC version will also feature 3D support for an even greater sense of interaction and immersion within a painstakingly detailed 1940s Los Angeles.

Originally developed by Team Bondi in conjunction with Rockstar Games, L.A. Noire is a crime thriller set in post World War II Los Angeles. As Detective Cole Phelps, players must search for clues, interrogate suspects and chase down criminals to solve a series of cases based on real world incidents. As he rises through the ranks of the LAPD, Phelps comes face-to-face with the corrupt heart of Los Angeles: from fallen starlets to double-dealing police officers and the vast reaches of the criminal underworld and finally, the darkness of his own personal demons.

For much, much more about L.A. Noire, visit www.rockstargames.com/lanoire and stay tuned for the PC version release date announcement.

Arma 2 Free Open Beta Begins

Bohemia Interactive announces that open beta testing is now underway for Arma 2 Free, the recently announced free version of their military shooter sequel. Here's word:
Arma 2: Free redefines the free-to-play battlefield with its truly unrivaled scale and gameplay possibilities. Arma 2: Free serves up almost everything offered by the original Arma 2 - the '13th best PC game of all time', according to North American PC Gamer - minus the campaign, HD graphics and support for user-made addons and mods. Arma 2: Free Public Beta is available now via http://www.arma2.com/free/

Create your own custom-built scenarios or deploy a massive selection of missions and game-modes made by others. No micro-transactions, no hidden costs, just the same epic terrain and huge variety of equipment! This is Arma 2 Free - virtual war without the training wheels. Arma 2: Free to download, free to play, free to share, free to host, free to create... free to play redefined!

Operation Flashpoint Rerelease: Arma: Cold War Assault

Bohemia Interactive also announces Arma: Cold War Assault, a revival of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, which has been discontinued by Codemasters, that includes the game's Resistance expansion. Word is: "All existing users of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis and the Game of the Year Edition are entitled to download and install Arma: Cold War Assault at no charge. The game will also be released through various online stores in the near future." Though this is written in the present tense, it does not look like this free upgrade is available yet. The Arma: Cold War Assault product section offers further information and screenshots, and lists this as a Summer 2011 release.

Skyrim Map as Preorder Bonus

The Bethesda Blog announces a preorder bonus for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, saying those who make an advance commitment to the RPG sequel will receive a "premium quality world map" of the sort that used to be pretty commonly included with games. Word is: "Making real maps of our fantasy worlds is an Elder Scrolls tradition. As Todd Howard said all the way back in a Morrowind blog post, 'There’s something about having a physical object in your hands that feels like it’s part of this other world, that you are that person in the game, finding your way among the hills'."

Fallout: New Vegas DLC and Patch Next Month

Also on the Bethesda Blog is word that the Old World Blues DLC for Fallout: New Vegas is delayed from its planned release this month, and is now due next month along with a new patch with further improvements for Obsidian's RPG sequel:
We’ve received plenty of inquiries asking when we’ll be releasing Fallout: New Vegas’s third DLC, Old World Blues. Today I can confirm the content will release on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on Tuesday, July 19th.


Prior to release, we will release a new title update for New Vegas. Along with adding support for Old World Blues, the update will bring improvements to performance and stability in major areas.

We’ll also be releasing a new trailer for Old World Blues in the coming weeks. I’ve already seen an early version, and it’s crazy awesome. Until then, today we’re releasing new screenshots on our Facebook or Flickr pages.

PopCap in Play for $1B?

PopCap may be for sale, as TechCrunch reports hearing from "multiple sources" that the casual games developer may soon be sold for as much as (Dr. Evil voice) one billion dollars. They also have speculation about possible buyers, listing traditional publisher Electronic Arts and social gaming giant Zynga as possible candidates, though they indicate the $1B may be too rich for Zynga's blood, and add that PopCap could also be the target of an Asian company looking to make inroads in western markets. There's follow-up to this on VentureBeat, where they note that PopCap's "soon-to-be customer engagement leader" Jennifer Kye tweeted a refutation of this story, saying: "Sorry, I might not have been clear. I was simply stating that @TechCrunch‘s article is not true. I’ll be working there next week! My boss confirmed it for me." However, adding fuel to the speculative fire, this tweet has since been deleted, with Kyle calling it a "rookie CM mistake." VentureBeat also has a follow-up statement from PopCap spokesperson Garth Chouteau: "Per company policy we do not comment on rumor and speculation of this type."

CryENGINE 3 Powered Tour Golf Online Announced

GamesCampus announces Tour Golf Online, a free-to-play online golf game planned for launch next year. The company already operates a similar game called Shot Online, but the new game will boast much more realistic visuals thanks to its use of Crytek's CryENGINE 3, which is shown off in these screenshots. "It was important to utilize the amazing CryENGINE3 technology in the development of Tour Golf Online because our goal with the game was to take the online golf experience to a whole new level with superior graphics and gameplay that offer the player a feeling of almost physically being right there on the green," said Kevin Kim, CEO of GamesCampus.com. "Our talented development team has done an amazing job building training areas that have been painstakingly recreated from the real-world courses where the pros practice during tournaments, along with life-like climates and weather, state of the art gear and more, we are proud to add this amazing title to the GamesCampus portal."

Infested Planet Beta, Trailer

The promised beta testing of Infested Planet is now underway for anyone who preorders either the Windows or OS X edition of the RTS game. The website offers a new trailer from the game, and here's word on what this is all about: "Infested Planet is a tactical RTS where you annihilate 100,000 swarming aliens with a crack marine team of 5. You have to flex your strategic muscle as the aliens mutate and evolve."

Morning Previews

Morning Screenshots

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Well, it took a while to dig up the QUAKE CD yesterday, but I was able to install the game, patch it, and download and install WinQUAKE. I was saddened to realize that I could not recall any console commands off the top of my head, but was eventually able to turn on mouselook and other important functions. The game ran smoothly at 1280x1024, though character animations seemed a little jumpy. It's been a while since I last played the original, and one of the most surprising things was recalling that in spite of all the 3D polygon-based characters and geometry, just how many effects in the game still used sprites.

Pixilated Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: LabScape. Thanks Daniel.
Lunar Commander.
Links: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Star Wars.
Marriage Proposal FAILs - 12 Funny Failed Marriage Proposal Videos.
Stories: Horse Semen Shots Taste 'Like Custard'. Who wants to prove them wrong?
7-Year-Old Michigan Boy Steals Car, Drives It 20 Miles To Visit His Dad.
Tang sales skyrocket to $1 billion annually.
Science: NASA Spacecraft Reveals Moon As Never Before.
At new NYC hotel, a robot handles the luggage.
City dwellers more sensitive to social stress than country folk.
Images: Video Games Depicted as Fake Vintage Book Covers.
Media: Unleash Your Fingers. Thanks dakslf.
Very unusual crash between two racing superbikes.
The Funnies: Starfish Cartoon - Savage Chickens.
Follow-up: Japan- three months after the quake. Thanks Dark Roasted Blend.
SETI seeks extraterrestrial life, and funding.
Galactic Smash-Up Shows Where Dark Matter Goes.
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