Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Uncharted 2 unearthing Game of the Year Edition Oct. 12

$50 special-edition rerelease of Naughty Dog's award-winning action adventure includes $35 worth of DLC; 3.8 million sales milestone surpassed.
Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was widely regarded as one of the best games of 2009, securing accolades that ranged from GameSpot's Best Action Adventure to Game of the Year at the 10th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. It comes as no surprise, then, that Sony and Naughty Dog will be teaming up to rerelease the top-rated PlayStation 3-exclusive, announcing today that the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Game of the Year Edition will be available October 12.

The Uncharted 2: GOTY Edition will cost $49.99, but it will include more than just the award-winning game. Gamers will also be given a "super voucher," which allows them to download $35 worth of add-on content from the PlayStation Network.

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PSP2 dev kits widely released - Report

Sony prepping for "significant launch window lineup" for second portable, according to online reports. 
Each month since the NPD Group ceased tracking PlayStation 2 figures, the PSP has been dead last in the industry-research group's monthly hardware rankings. However, the platform's life-to-date sales of 62 million units have convinced Sony to make grand plans for its successor, according to an article in Develop.

The UK-based magazine today reported that Sony has distributed software development kits to "key studios." Further details on the scope of the release were not outlined, other than to say it was in preparation of a "significant launch window lineup" for the platform. When exactly that launch window would be was not made public, and Sony reps declined to comment on what they consider "rumor and speculation."

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Borderlands Claptrap DLC, EA Sports MMA demo slam XBLA

Xbox Live Update: Virtual marketplace adds latest expansion pack to shoot-and-loot sci-fi game, sampler for mixed martial arts fighting game.
Robots and pugilism are this week’s Xbox Live marketplace themes. Gamers can download and play though a robot revolution in the latest content expansion pack for Borderlands and try their hand at EA Sports’ hand-to-hand fighting game with new content added to Xbox Live today.

Announced in early August, Borderlands' Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution (800 Microsoft points; $10) content adds multiple new missions and enemies--including Claptrap-ified monsters--to shoot and loot, as well as new boss battles. Additionally, the content lets gamers earn an additional two skill points (for a total of 61 possible points) and three supplementary backpack slots for holstering more weapons.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Priced, Dated

At long last, SEGA's newest 2D Sonic title coming next month.

Everyone's favorite blue hedgehog will be ready to go next month as SEGA announced the release date for several versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Epsode I. 
The game will be available for download on the iTunes App Store starting Oct. 7, the Wii Shop Channel on Oct. 11 (15th Oct in EMEA territories), the PlayStation Network on Oct. 12 in America (Oct 13th in EMEA territories), and Xbox Live Arcade on Oct. 13 across all territories.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Medal of Honor Open Beta Starting Up

Multiplayer beta beginning on October 4.
EA announced the PC open multiplayer beta for Medal of Honor will begin on October 4 worldwide.

The beta includes two modes and two maps. The Kunar Base map includes the Sector Control multiplayer mode where the two sides fight to control sector points. Shahikot Mountains map includes the Combat Mission mode where players battle through a series of objectives against the enemy.

Both maps feature 12 vs. 12 player limits for a total of 24.

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Wii Remote getting built-in Motion Plus?

Since-pulled GameStop listing for FlingSmash indicates Nintendo will update console's defining controller with precision-enhancing tech.
What we heard: With the PlayStation Move's launch last week and Kinect's November 4 release creeping ever closer, Nintendo finally has real competition in the motion-sensing console wars. One of the steps toward keeping itself competitive appears to be an update to the Wii Remote, one in which the precision-enhancing Motion Plus add-on loses its add-on status.

Today, Nintendo Life claims to have spotted just that, courtesy of a GameStop listing for Nintendo's FlingSmash. As exhibited in box art (pictured) for the $50 title, Nintendo will be packing in a "Wii Remote Plus" with copies of the game when it goes on sale in November. 

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Little Big Planet 2 delayed until January 18

Media Molecule confirms its PS3 platformer sequel has been pushed back until the first month of next year.
As part of the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony announced a host of PlayStation Move-compatible titles that would be available by the end of the year. Included on that list was Media Molecule's Little Big Planet 2, the unexpected follow-up to the studio's hit PlayStation 3-exclusive platformer and user-generated content platform.

Since that time, Media Molecule has opened up the closed beta-testing window for the game. Despite that progress, though, the game won't be hitting its projected November release. In a statement on its official site, Media Molecule says it has "taken the hard decision to delay the worldwide release," pushing the release date back to January 18, 2011. The studio says it needs the extra time to make sure fans get "the best experience imaginable."

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Atari unveils indie partnership plan

Atari GO will assist outside creators with original games and remakes of publisher's retro arcade lineup; casual and online-focused endeavor will also see vintage games embedded into Web sites.
Last year, Atari's then-CEO David Gardner revealed plans to have outside developers remake some of the company's retro hits. While Gardner's tenure as CEO ended months later, that particular goal is alive and well at the company, as evidenced by today's announcement of the new Atari GO initiative.

Atari GO comprises a number of programs advancing the publisher's interests in the online and mobile gaming worlds, starting with outreach to indie creators. As the name suggests, the independent developer program will see Atari work with outside studios to create original games or new titles based on the company's retro intellectual properties. 

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 Fresh Ideas Saving Gaming

A counterpoint to our 'Stale Ideas' feature. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows!
It's not all doom and gloom, you know – there's a lot to love and be proud of within our favoured pastime. As something of a counterpoint to our '10 Stale Ideas Holding Back Gaming' feature, we're taking a look at 10 concepts and techniques that are pushing the industry forward – both from a creative standpoint and an economic one. Hopefully, when viewed in tandem, these features will help paint a fuller picture of the wider industry and your place as a gamer within it.

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TGS: Date Set for Tokyo Game Show 2011

Following biggest event in TGS history, CESA plans similar time frame for next year.

Have you been enjoying all our Tokyo Game Show coverage over the past week? Well here's how you can experience it all again.

As the show closed its doors earlier today (actually yesterday in Japan), organizer CESA announced the holding dates for next year's event. Your next epic flood of Japanese gaming news will come around the same time next year. CESA plans to hold Tokyo Game Show 2011 from either 9/15 through 9/18 or 9/16 through 9/18.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TGS: How Far Has Kinect Come in One Year?

Reflections after a year of Kinect demos.
It was at E3, mid-year of 2009, that Microsoft formally unveiled Kinect. It wasn't until the Tokyo Game Show a few months later that I got my first opportunity to try out Kinect. A year has passed since that event and I'm now back in Tokyo for the 2010 version of that show, once again stepping up to the camera for more controller-free gaming. A lot has happened since then with major announcements coming at every press show. Perhaps more importantly, it appears the game designers have learned a lot and improved a lot in that time. What started as a promise is now very close to being a reality...

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TGS: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Takes You to Vietnam

A sneak peek of the upcoming downloadable expansion.
 Battlefield is going back to Vietnam, this time for a downloadable expansion to the well-received first-person shooter Bad Company 2. The add-on, due out this Winter for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, delivers four new maps, a rematch of sorts between the North Vietnamese army and the United States, and a change in the weapon and vehicle options to match the setting. I got my first taste of this huge expansion at an EA press event on the eve of the Tokyo Game Show.

If you've played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 before, then you know exactly what to expect out of the Vietnam expansion. The base game remains unchanged. Sure, you get different tools of destruction and new achievements or trophies to unlock, but the modes and basic approach to a shooter follow the guidebook laid out by Bad Company 2's multiplayer. That means a focus on team play, some objective based gaming, and wide open maps filled with destructible buildings and plenty of vehicles. Squint your eyes a bit while playing the Vietnam expansion and you can imagine you're still playing the original base game.

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PSN Store UK Update: Get Your Move On

FIFA and PES demos battle it out whilst the Store goes Move mental.
This week's pilgrimage to the PSN Store is a heady experience - like a fat kid going into a sweet shop with a pocket full of loose change.

Want something to try out you newly bought Move controller? You're in luck because the Store has gone Move crazy with Heavy Rain, Start The Party!, and Sports Champions demos to name but a few.

This week a couple of football heavyweights will be going head to head in living rooms across the land – no we're not talking about Man United v Liverpool – we're talking FIFA v PES, which are both available to download as playable demos right now, so give them a go and pick your side.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Dead Rising 2: Inafune Speaks

The undead rise again, but where does Inafune see the series going? 
If there's anyone that knows zombies it's Capcom, and through association it means that head of R&D Keiji Inafune knows them pretty well too. While he's best known for his creating Mega Man, he's also overlooked much of the Osaka-based companies output, and most recently is on production duties for Dead Rising 2, a game that sees the undead hordes swaggering onto the Xbox 360 and, for the first time, PlayStation 3.

It's already impressed us with its ever-inventive ways to decapitate, eviscerate or just plain duff up entire crowds of zombies. Here's Inafune's take on Dead Rising 2, and where he sees the series going next.

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Borderlands Claptrap DLC Dated, Level Cap Increases

Players can now level grind to 69.
During the Gearbox panel at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this weekend, studio president Randy Pitchford announced Borderlands: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, the fourth downloadable add-on pack for the game, will be released on Sept. 28, 2010.

Pitchford also had another surprise up his sleeve for fans by saying a new patch for Borderlands will be released that increases players' level cap by eight. The patch will be available to everyone for free, even if you did not purchase the The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC, which increased the level cap from 50 to 61. The new cap limit is now level 69.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Halo: Reach PAX Panel Report

Bungie shares the origins of Reach, and reveals a few bits from the cutting room floor. 
PAX: This morning Bungie had what is likely to be their final public discussion of a Halo title prior to its release, as we're now just 10 day away from the release of their Microsoft exclusive swan-song, Halo: Reach. With that in mind, their panel this morning at this year's PAX started off with the bittersweet reminded that the music the audience was hearing was a taste of the last music composer Marty O'Donnell would be contributing to a series to which he contributed quite a bit of identity. After these reminders though, Bungie dove headfirst into discussing the development and pre-production of Reach, and they hit on a few important points in particular.

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Portal 2 Multiplayer Preview

Robotic love and cooperation. 
Leave it to Valve to give us a pair of robots with more personality than most human characters you'll see in games. The Seattle based developer finally gave the public a view of the cooperative mode for Portal 2 this week at PAX, and I was one of the first to have a sit down and see what Valve has in store for co-op hungry first-person-puzzle-platform-humor fans when the game releases next February.

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Dragon Age Origins: Witch Hunt Preview

The witch of the wilds returns for a last romp in Ferelden. 
After getting my hands on Dragon Age 2, there was really only one thing BioWare could've done to get me back into Dragon Age: Origins – make a DLC pack focused on Morrigan. Luckily for me and anybody else who was a fan of the witch, that's exactly what BioWare has planned as the very last piece of downloadable content for Origins.

Occurring around a year after the ending of Dragon Age: Origins, Witch Hunt will give players some perspective on why Morrigan left the party on such a mysterious note. You can either import your hero from Origins or start up a completely new character, but in this case importing a character that had any kind of relationship (friendly, antagonistic or romantic) with her makes the most sense. Dalish Elf Grey Wardens will also experience a slightly unique segment as this story fills in some of the lore surrounding that race.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Walking Up Fable III's Road to Rule

Five hours in Albion ain't enough.

After playing Fable III for five hours, I get one distinct impression: this is not a role-playing game for folks that dislike them, but is instead for gamers that truly want to like them but are turned off or overwhelmed by the minutiae. This is precisely why my lengthy demo session was so favorable. After multiple attempts over the last two or three years to dive deep into so-called hardcore RPGs and being put off by incessant battles for incremental character improvements, Fable III's urgent narrative and multiple accessible systems – combat, item management, and questing – seemingly cut through the weeds.

What does Move Bring to Traditional Games?

 Ubisoft's Ruse shows what Move can do.

The key difference between Move and Kinect – at the moment at least – is that Move is far more obviously suited to existing game genres; it's got buttons and an analogue stick. Create a Kinect game and you've got to design it from the ground up for body-control, but Move can be used as an optional accompaniment to a DualShock rather than a forced alternative.

As Move inventors and evangelists Dr Richard Marks and Beautiful Anton have demonstrated it's perfect for the RTS – a genre that traditionally doesn't do so well on consoles without the speed and precision of mouse control. Ubisoft's Ruse is the first game to try it out, offering a Move-aided point-and-click control option as well as plain old pad control. But does it work?

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Medal of Honor Pulled From Military Stores

Army and Air Force Exchange Service won't sell the game this fall.

In order to honor military families, Electronic Arts' upcoming shooter Medal of Honor reboot will not be sold or advertised at military-based Gamestop stores, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service confirmed to IGN.

"Out of respect to those we serve, we will not be stocking this game," said AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella in a statement.

"We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the sensitivity to the life and death scenarios this product presents as entertainment. As a military command with a retail mission, we serve a very unique customer base that has, or possibly will, witness combat in real life."

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Sony Packs Tokyo Game Show Booth with Move and 3D

Over 50 titles to feature in Sony's booth at upcoming game event.

3D and Move were Sony's big focuses at E3 this year. Not much has changed in three months. Based off a preliminary list of titles for the company's Tokyo Game Show booth, Move and 3D will be big in Tokyo later this month as well.

Sony shared today the lineup of of games that will appear in playable form in its sizable Tokyo Game Show booth. The lineup includes the usual mix of first party and third party offerings.

Sony is splitting its booth into a bunch of zones this year. There will be five software zones covering all the variations: PS3, PS3 with Move support, PS3 with 3D support, PS3 with Move and 3D support (is such a thing possible!?) and PSP. A hardware zone will have Sony's mascot green onion character (he's like Kevin Butler, only a vegetable -- see some commercials here) introduce the latest PS3 and PSP hardware.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Square Enix Readying Next Gen Engine

Company shares first details on Luminous at Japanese game developers event.

Crystal Tools? That's so 2009. The new thing in Square Enix tech is "Luminous."

You might have heard back in May that Square Enix had started recruiting top programmers to begin work on a new next generation engine. Luminous is the name for the resulting engine.

The name and some preliminary details were shared during a technology session today at the CESA Developers Conference in Tokyo's neighboring Yokohama.


The Witcher 2: Why You Should Sit Up and Take Notice

High fantasy has rarely looked better.

The original release of 'The Witcher' was something of a cult classic in the circles of high-fantasy RPG players. The premise, established through a series of Polish fantasy novels, perfectly suited a deep game scenario, and the lead character, Geralt of Rivia, was all kinds of bad-ass. However, as developer CD Projekt RED openly admit, it was a work of flawed genius; the ideas were there, but the execution lacked polish.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is about to change all that.

This game, above almost all others coming this year, has the potential to surprise you with its depth, beauty and focus on true role-playing. Read on for our thoughts on why The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings should be on your most-wanted list.


New Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Modes, Details

Treyarch unveils new modes tonight in L.A.

Treyarch online director Dan Bunting and multiplayer design director David Vonderhaar took the stage during a special event in Los Angeles tonight to announce new multiplayer modes for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

 For the first time ever, Call of Duty is getting its own offline multiplayer Bot mode called Combat Training. This mode uses a completely independent rank progression, which you can play alone or with friends. Consider this a new opportunity to train before you test your skills online...


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sony Reveals Qriocity Music Service

New cloud-based service coming later this year.

At the IFA 2010 in Berlin today, Sony announced its new digital music service Music Unlimited Powered by Qriocity will launch later this year.

The service promises to give users access to millions of songs stored and synchronized through the cloud. This will be compatible with PlayStation 3, Bravia TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, Blu-ray Home Theatre systems and VAIO computers.

Square Enix, Ubisoft Share Tokyo Game Show Plans

The 3rd Birthday, Kingdom Hearts from Square, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood from Ubi.

The Tokyo Game Show announcements keep on coming. Joining Sega, Konami and Level-5 from yesterday, Square Enix and Ubisoft shared their lineups today.

The two publishers, incidentally, have some ties. In Japan, while Ubisoft is an independent publisher, Square Enix serves as its distributor.

Here's what Square Enix is promising for the show...


Starcraft II sells 3 million

Blizzard releases first-month sales total for Wings of Liberty; real-time strategy sequel on track to meet analyst expectations

When Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty was released, analysts were bullish with their estimates, with projections of as many as 7 million copies this year. Blizzard is making headway towards these figures, as the publisher today announced one-month sales of 3 million copies.

Starcraft II sold 1 million copies on July 27 when it hit stores across the world and a further 500,000 copies on day two, making it the fastest-selling real-time strategy game of all time, according to Blizzard. While these numbers don't come close to matching those generated by World of Warcraft--Wrath of the Lich King sold 2.8 million copies in its first day--Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime today declared himself pleased by "how strongly the global community has already embraced [Starcraft II]."

Valve promising three 'surprises' within next 12 months

Portal 2 studio boss Gabe Newell says "people will be shocked again" by trio of announcements due over the coming year.

Valve dropped a sizable bombshell during the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, when former PlayStation 3 critic Gabe Newell announced that Portal 2 would ship for Sony's console in addition to versions for the Xbox 360, PC, and Mac. What's more, Newell crowned the PS3 version of Portal 2 "the best console version of the game," due to its inclusion of Steamworks, which allows for auto-updates, downloadable content, and community support directly from Valve.

As it turns out, Portal 2's presence on the PS3 apparently won't be the only bit of shocking news from Valve in the near future. In an interview with PC Gamer magazine (and relayed by sister site CVG), Newell promised that his studio is planning to make three more surprising announcements over the coming year. 

1.5 billion iPhone 'games' sold, Game Center launches next week

Apple claims iPod Touch is "number one gaming platform in world"; online multiplayer gaming service goes live next week with leaderboards, matchmaking, and achievements.

At an event in April, Apple unveiled the iPhone Game Center, which was billed as "a social network for gaming," one that operates in a fashion similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live platform for the Xbox 360. Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised the service will offer portable gamers matchmaking services, friends lists, leaderboards, achievements, and a singular gamer name for use across all titles. 

No Kinect Voice Recognition for Mainland Europe until 2011

Feature being patched in next Spring.

Mainland Europe won't be getting voice recognition with Kinect when it launches this November, with the feature being patched in next Spring.

The news comes as reports confirm that Kinect will only support English, Japanese and Mexican Spanish upon its release.

Like many other European languages, native Spanish will be added next year. Until that date voice recognition will be completely locked out of Kinect across the mainland.

PlayStation Move Review

Has Sony perfected the concept of motion control?

After spending the last several years on top, the momentum of the Wii is slowly starting to wane, and now both Microsoft and Sony are getting in on the motion control action. Microsoft is going bold with their controller-free camera solution, Kinect, but Sony has taken the middle ground, blending the best elements of both; maintaining the familiarity and precision of a controller, but integrating a camera for full body tracking and augmented reality applications. Has Sony simply reinvented the waggle or have they perfected the concept of motion control? The answer falls somewhere in between.

Disciples III: Renaissance Review

Turn-based doesn't have to mean boring.

Disciples has been a respected series in the turn-based strategy genre. It's been years since a proper sequel, though there have been several expansions released for Disciples II: Dark Prophecy that came out in 2002. Over that time period it seems the developer Akella focused more on creating a game with visual flair than one with an interesting story and satisfying gameplay. Although the third game, subtitled Renaissance, has good elements to it, overall it's a testament to how monotonous turn-based games can be. 

Diablo III Status Update

There's still no release date, but here's the latest from Blizzard.

Back at Gamescom 2010, a major videogame event in Cologne, Germany, Blizzard held a press conference to break some news about Diablo III. No, it wasn't a release date. It was instead a crafting system, called the Artisan system, which game director Jay Wilson detailed during the hour long session. While Blizzard likely won't be making public any more bits of information about its anticipated action-role-playing game until Blizzcon this year, which takes place at the end of October, we were able to sit down with Wilson to get some additional details about how development was going.