Joystiq reports that the new end date is Sunday, June 23, at midnight PT. This weekend will also offer double XP in your auto-matched modes, so you can grind out some experience.
As previously reported, your experience will transfer to the main game as long as you buy the full version within 60 days of launch and tie it to the same account. That means your hard work this weekend won't be wiped when the game launches next Tuesday, and you get a chance at a head start. Any advantage is a good advantage when taking on the Russians, boy.
Indie developer Nicalis (Cave Story, Nightsky) has set their sights on pure masochism. They make no secret that they have likely created "the most challenging game to come to the Vita this year" with 1001 Spikes, a 2D pixelated platformer that draws inspiration from 8-bit classics like Spelunker.
Having previously appeared on Xbox Live Indie Games and the Nintendo eShop, 1001 Spikes sees explorer Aban Hawkins venturing into a temple filled with dangerous traps, like bats, fireballs, and...yes...spikes. The object is to find a key that opens the door to the next room, which is also filled with sharp pointy objects. Hawkins can use daggers and a short and long jump to make his way through, but part of the challenge appears to be judging which leap to use. He will also have 1,001 lives at his disposal, but if you think that makes this game easy, Nicalis' Tyrone Rodriguez laughs in your general direction.
"The designers have spent countless hours fine tuning placement of every obstacle and item in the game," Rodriguez tells the PlayStation Blog , "literally every detail of the game was meticulously planned and thought out, tested, tuned and retested."
There are six worlds to explore in 1001 Spikes, which will feature 8-bit cutscenes and special unlockable characters. The game will also feature co-op and competitive multiplayer modes that will likely revolve around the idea of not dying. 1001 Spikes is set to poke through you later this year.
We described Skulls of the Shogun as "a deceptively brilliant strategy game" in our review but you probably never found that out for yourself, as the PC edition launched exclusive to Windows 8. Good news! That's apparently over, as developer 11-Bit Studios has announced it's giving its turn-based strategy proper Windows release through Steam in "late July".
The Steam release is a jazzed up Bone-A-Fide Edition, which 11-Bit explains brings a new four-chapter epilogue episode with a new protagonist and the new teleporting, taunting Tanuki unit. It has six new multiplayer levels too.
While the Windows 8 version had PC-Xbox 360 cross-platform play, Steam users won't be able to play with any of them, 17-Bit confirmed on Facebook. However, Steamers will be able to play against people on mysterious unannounced "future platforms".
None of these improvements will make it back to the original release either. "Due to the expense of releasing this content as DLC for all previous Microsoft platforms, as well as current market conditions, we've decided to focus on Steam and additional yet-to-be-announced platforms for future content and products," 17-Bit said.
You can pre-order now for $11.99, thanks to a 20% discount, to score access to the multiplayer beta as well as the first chapter of the campaign. Observe, trailer:
Ubisoft's decision to delay Rayman Legends to September and release on other platforms was simple, according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. The Wii U version alone wasn't going to sell enough copies. The reasoning isn't surprising, but hearing such candid confirmation is a bit more unusual.
"What happened was that we saw the Wii U was not going to sell enough of those games," Guillemot told VentureBeat. "The game is going to be fantastic, and we didn't want those creators to wind up in a position where even after making a fantastic game, they didn't sell well enough. We decided that we had to come out on enough machines that players can try it out on any one that they have, and give more time to both improve the game on the Wii U and create versions for the other consoles."
He defends it as "the right decision for gamers and for the team," and says the extra time has let them polish and expand the game. "It's much bigger content-wise," he said. "We have new bosses in key levels and so on. The experience is much more complete." He concluded by saying that, "sometimes we have to go against the urge to get to market too fast," and slow down to reach full potential.
The team at Ubisoft Montpellier certainly hasn't been resting on its laurels. The extra time has resulted in a Challenge Mode demo for Wii U, 30 extra stages, and a Vita version, along with whatever spit-shine has gone into the game itself. It's due September 3.
The baton for the Need For Speed series has been handed off to Ghost Games, however Criterion hasn't walked away from the racing franchise entirely. Between 60 and 65 Criterion coders and artists are said to be working on Need For Speed: Rivals, which comprises roughly 40 to 45 percent of the project's total staff.
Criterion's Craig Sullivan, former creative director for last year's Hot Pursuit and NFS: Most Wanted, told VideoGamer that while Rivals is being creatively run by Ghost, "There's a lot of Criterion DNA in here." Criterion is best known for the Burnout series, though I noticed a distinct lack of Burnout-like crashes when I went hands-on with Rivals at E3.
As for Criterion VP Alex Ward, Sullivan indicates that he's working on "special, secret Criterion stuff."
With only two months to go until the launch of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, you may have been concerned about publisher 2K's silence on the subject of downloadable content. Relax! The tactical shooter will indeed receive DLC, 2K announced today, and you'll surely be thrilled to hear the first is exclusive to Xbox 360.
XCOM's DLC will be "narrative-driven", 2K said in the announcement. Beyond that, we don't know what it is or when it'll be coming or how much it'll cost. Or, indeed, whether the Xbox-exclusive DLC is simply a timed exclusive. Expect more details as the marketing schedule deems appropriate.
"The alternate 1962 universe that we've created for The Bureau is vast and there are many more stories to tell about the early days of XCOM," 2K Marin development director Morgan Gray said in today's DLC announcement. "We're excited that our stories will provide a new perspective on the war effort, much like how our critically acclaimed Minvera's Den DLC for BioShock 2 allowed us to present a unique perspective of Rapture."
Ooh, wouldn't it be nice if The Bureau's DLC does actually go all Minerva's Den? 2K Marin's BioShock 2 DLC told a beautiful standalone story with new characters, showing a new side of Rapture and, well, perhaps surpassing the core game's story. While the main folks behind Minerva's Den went indie to make Gone Home, DLC following its lead could be quite pleasing.
More DLC comes in the form of an extra side-mission named 'Codebreakers' as a pre-order bonus, which'll see you investing a key communications facility that's fallen quiet (alien troubles, I'd wager). I would be surprised if that isn't later sold separately too. And you can get an exclusive Light Plasma Pistol weapon for pre-ordering from GameStop.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified comes to PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on August 20.
All good things must come to an end. That's the essence of the story behind Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the follow-up to their acclaimed original from Dennaton Games and Devolver Digital. It contains the same 2D top-down action of the first game, but the story treads into darker territory and brings with it a sense of closure, as seen in a private demo at E3.
"It's the finale for Hotline Miami," said Dennaton's Dennis Wedin. "We're gonna work with how we cope with things ending. The characters in the game, they're all gonna meet their end--their mission, their life, or their dreams."
The demo started out in a level designed strikingly similar to one from the original game. The character seen here was the Pig from the first game's original teaser, playing through a new level seemingly pulled straight from the previous game. But the next dialogue sequence revealed that it was simply a re-enactment for a new movie based on that teaser, indicating that Hotline Miami's events were indeed a thing of the past. In fact, Jacket, the first game's main character, will not be playable at all.
The next sequence showed just how deep Hotline Miami's narrative hopes to go, introducing a new vigilante group called the Fans. "It's about a bunch of wannabe guys that wanted part of that first game's vigilante movement, but they kinda missed it," explained Wedin. "And since Jacket pretty much killed all the Russian mobsters, there was no reason for the Janitors to keep calling people. But they are still wearing the masks and driving around in their van, beating up any thugs that they can find in hopes of getting enough media attention that someday they might get that call and be a part of it all. They kind of symbolize the players that want Hotline Miami 2 to be exactly as Hotline Miami 1."
Wedin indicates that some elements of the first Hotline Miami, like donning masks and getting phone calls, will be in the game, but for the most part, this will be a whole new game with new goals, storylines, and motivations. However, the gameplay will remain intact. "People seem to like it a lot," he added. "If you the feeling, the pace, and the difficulty of the first one, it's going to be in there."
That segued into a demonstration of the next stage, in which a whole new character needed to bust into a nightclub and find the owner. More of the action from the original game could be seen here, as the idea was to avoid gunfire and pound away on thugs with fists. There were also several sequences that required getting the drop on thugs by swinging doors at them, in order to cause a distraction. And make no mistake, this looked hard--very hard! Even the makers of the game, who were playing through the closed demo, were dying repeatedly in the game's opening stages. They'd either get popped with a stray rifle shot, beaten to a pulp, or bashed with a baseball bat. Just like the first game, one hit puts you down, often in a pool of blood.
It was upon finding the owner that Hotline Miami 2's darker tone began to take shape. The nightclub owner had already been beaten to a bloody mess. He had seemingly been completely compliant, expressing that he wanted nothing to do with what was happening and had simply wanted to go home. The vigilante Fans wound up beating him within an inch of his life anyway. At that point, the player simply put the poor guy out of his misery with a single gunshot.
In terms of story, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appears to take a major step forward. Dennaton manages to mix in clever meta commentary through the Fans, as well as sprinkle in fresh motivations for the game's characters. Even without Jacket, it doesn't look like fans will be disappointed. Meanwhile, the tough-as-nails gameplay appears to remain in place and may prove even more difficult than its predecessor. Sprinkling in a brand new soundtrack that matches the original's in spirit, Hotline Miami 2 is on its way to becoming a memorable swansong for the series. The Hotline Miami series is set to say goodbye on PC, with no confirmation of a console or Vita version at this time.
Update: Sony has pulled the firmware update for now.
Sony has pushed out a new PS3 firmware update. System software 4.45 was supposed to add trophy notification options and improve overall system stability.
Unfortunately, it did quite the opposite.
The PlayStation community forums have blown up with reports of the firmware causing several issues, including causing consoles to become completely unresponsive.
Sony has yet to respond to these issues that have cropped up. In the meantime, PS3 owners are advised not to update to 4.45 at this time (although it may already be too late for some members of the Shacknews community).
Sony Online Entertainment may be known for their internally-developed MMOs: Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online. However, there they're also publishing a new MMO--one that sticks close to classic fantasy tropes. Dragon's Prophet, a free-to-play fantasy title from Runewaker Entertainment, delivers what it promises--dragons and lots of them.
Playing like most fantasy MMOs, Dragon's Prophet takes place in the land of Auratia, a land filled with the majestic beasts. Great danger has befallen the land and to ward it off, you must fight with a bevy of weaponry and magic spells. There are four classes to choose from--Guardian, Ranger, Oracle, and Sorcerer. In addition to using the strengths of your selected class, you can also fight with dragons by catching them and adding them to your collection.
Yes, much of the appeal of Dragon's Prophet comes in finding different types of dragons (over 400 of them, to be exact) and capturing them. I witnessed several different varieties of dragons in my short time with the game, including some classic designs and some more unconventionally-designed creatures. One of the more unusual dragons I encountered was a bulky beast that bore a closer resemblance to a rhinoceros.
Catching a dragon in the wild is not unlike trying catching a jungle animal. My first target was a blue winged dragon that was gently grazing along a field. I had to sneak up on it from behind, in order to avoid alerting it. When I got close enough, I jumped on its back and attempted to rein it in. This triggered a mini-game, in which I had to use the WASD keys to keep a marker centered on a circular target. The game would occasionally try to throw me off by tossing in quick-time commands, like having to mash different keys. Successfully completing the mini-game would reward me with my very own pet dragon. The dragon can not only be used for combat, but can also be used to fly around and explore the lush green world of Auratia, flying by mountainous fields and flowing waterfalls. When finished playing around with my new pet, I could send it back to my inventory, where I could call upon it later, at any time.
But like any succulent treat, I demanded more. So I tried to catch the aforementioned rhino-like dragon that I had encountered earlier. Unfortunately, as I tried sneaking up on it, some random jerk tossed a fireball at it, angering it and making it uncatchable. This sent me into a combat phase, which played out like most action MMO's currently on the market. Since I was playing as a Sorceror class, I struck the dragon repeatedly with a fire spell binded to a hotkey, trading blows with it until it fell dead to the ground. Unfortunately, dead dragons obviously can't be caught, so I could only mutter to myself and end the demo there.
Like most free-to-play games, Dragon's Prophet will contain microtransactions, but they are limited to cosmetic items. Dragon's Prophet launched its open beta two weeks ago and is still accepting signups. Any characters and progress made during the open beta period will remain in place, as Runewaker doesn't plan to do any character wipes when the game releases its final version. The final version of Dragon Prophet's is set to release before the end of summer.
When Jason West and Vince Zampella struck out on their own with Respawn Entertainment, the pair seemed primed to capitalize on their identities as the minds behind one of the most successful video game franchises to date. But in March, well before Respawn announced its first game Titanfall, co-founder West left the company. A new report claims that the departure was partly fueled by conflict with partner Zampella.
Vanity Fair cites an unnamed source that says "Vince felt that Jason was sabotaging the company." In response, Zampella told the magazine: "It's hard to work with one person for 15 years."
The note from Zampella upon West's departure cited "family issues" as the reason. "It is sad to see things come to an end, but there are times when change is best for growth, both personally and professionally," the note read. "I wish Jason the best and send my best wishes to his family."
West's departure doesn't seem to have detracted from Titanfall, which was one of our favorite games at E3.
Oculus Rift has not only caught the eyes of gamers, but the interest of investors. The new funding will allow for more prototypes and experiments, and the eventual release of a consumer version of the much buzzed-about VR headset.
A Kickstarter update states that the money will be put towards hiring more staff from among "the best and brightest minds in VR from around the world." CEO Brendan Iribe told Forbes that it plans to roughly double its current staff of 30.
"Virtual reality will be one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century. It has the potential to drastically alter the way we play, communicate, and learn," the post says. "I want to thank everyone for their support. None of this would be possible without you, the people who supported Oculus when it was nothing but a rough prototype and a dream of changing gaming forever!"
Oculus Rift was one of many subjects bantered about on the latest Weekend Confirmed, gathering buzz coming out of E3. Development kits shipped in April, but the company has not yet set a date for the consumer version.
Max Payne 3 is making a surprise appearance on OS X this week. Rockstar Games has announced that the game will jump and slo-mo dive into the Mac App Store on June 20th. Like its PC counterpart, the Mac version will feature higher-resolution textures and character models and "advanced graphics" over the console iterations.
Here are the recommended specs for interested Mac gamers:
- Mac OS X 10.7.5 Lion
- Intel Dual Core Xeon / Core i Series 2.4 GHZ or greater
- 4GB System RAM
- NVIDIAÂ® 8800GT 512MB VRAM or AMD Radeon HD 4870 512 VRAM
- HDD Space: 35GB
Starting with Battlefield 4, all games using Frostbite 3 will be "optimized exclusively" for AMD cards, IGN reports. Given that Frostbite 3 has become EA's engine of choice for its upcoming slate of games, this could be a significant blow to rival graphics card manufacturer Nvidia.
According to their report, "while Nvidia-based systems will be supported, the company won't be able to develop and distribute updated drivers until after each game is released."
The site postulates that AMD's complete control of tech in the new generation of consoles may have played a part in this agreement. AMD chips can be found in PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
PC Gamer points out that these kind of exclusive agreements can be problematic for rival card owners, as evidenced by Tomb Raider's shaky launch. If IGN's report is true, that means Nvidia card owners may experience equally bumpy launches of not only Battlefield 4, but other Frostbite 3 games like Need for Speed Rivals, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Dragon Age: Inquisition, the new Mirror's Edge, the new Star Wars: Battlefront, and the upcoming Mass Effect.
We've contacted AMD for more information.
If there's one thing people love more than social games, it's investing in social game companies. Capitalizing on the runaway success of Candy Crush Saga, Midasplayer (aka King) is looking into going public and launching an IPO.
If you've logged into Facebook any time in the past few months, it's likely you've received an invitation to play Candy Crush Saga, currently the most popular game on the social network. The match-three game locks progression behind walls that can be bypassed through money or hassling friends.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has started conversations with banks about a potential IPO. However, pricing and timing of a deal is still quite a ways off. "King's success and growth presents numerous opportunities for the business to develop further, and one option would be to take the company public. However, while it's an option for the future, we would not comment on when we could consider making such a decision," a spokesperson told the newspaper.
While Candy Crush Saga has been a tremendous success so far, it's unclear if the market will respond to yet another social gaming offering--especially after Zynga's high-profile implosion. Shares of the rival company have fallen about 70 percent since launch. And once-popular games like Draw Something show how fickle the casual audience can be: Zynga pretty much closed the team after purchasing the company for about $200 million.
Mickey Mouse was once a video game celebrity, thanks largely to a handful of beloved platformers starring the Disney mascot. Castle of Illusion was among the most fondly remembered, and in the era of HD remakes, another visit to the castle was inevitable. Judging by hands-on time at E3, Sega is striking a delicate balance between nostalgia and revisionism.
"It is one of the most requested games for us to make for us on the Sega side, and on the Disney side as well," Sega of America senior producer Frank Hom told Shacknews. "About two years ago we decided to reimagine it. We didn't just want to make an HD version. We wanted to freshen it up, not just in graphics, but in gameplay as well. As a result you see something that is very true to the original game and is very modern as well."
The two stages I played, one in a Dungeon and another in a Toy Box, certainly weren't mere retreads of existing levels. Familiar traps and enemies filled their corridors, but a veteran couldn't sleepwalk his way through this installment. It feels like a classic, to the point that I felt more comfortable using a D-pad, but it isn't merely a new coat of paint.
The concessions to the old game include its notorious difficulty level. Hom said the original was always revered as a hardcore platformer, and they didn't want to change that. "It's a gamer-game, we kept it a gamer-game. It's a difficult, challenging platformer." Sometimes, I had to fumble a bit to figure out just where to go, or was caught off-guard by a trap I didn't see coming. Mastering these stages may take some time.
Hom also said the team took the opportunity to tweak some elements that hadn't aged as well, most notably that cornerstone of any platforming challenge: jumping. "The jumping mechanics are pretty modernized," he said. "The old game, it was good, it was challenging, but for a modern game you have a little more fluidity of animations. That's one part that we've had the opportunity to add a lot more animations."
Mickey's animations add more characterization to the character, and Hom said that has been a benefit of working so closely with Disney. Their animators have been keeping a close eye on the character models, and an ever-present narrator -- approved by Disney, Hom noted -- was a nice finishing touch for capturing the Disney charm.
Sega has also brought in a few entirely new elements. While the majority of stages are in 2D like the classic game, the bosses are 3D battles more akin to what you might expect in current-gen platforming. Other areas, like a behind-the-back running challenge across an enchanted deck of cards in the Toy stage, break up the pacing nicely.
Given the voracious appetite for Castle of Illusion, Sega probably could have easily stuck with the proven formula. A simple remake of the classic might have done very well for the company. But it appears to be taking a few more risks with this release, and what I've seen plays more like loving homage than carbon copy.
Nintendo announced last week that it would be trying its hand at a free-to-play game sometime this fiscal year. We expected the company to bank on one of its franchises, but we didn't see this coming: it will be a sequel to Steel Diver, the 3DS launch game.
Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto told IGN that about the new game, but didn't specify platforms or even how the free-to-play transactions would work. He did comment that the team is currently balancing how to make a good pricing model for the game, and plans to make it a packaged product as well.
"There is something we're doing with the Steel Diver idea that I think is going to open things up with that game," Miyamoto said. "It's going to be very fun. We're exploring from a perspective of where we can take that from a multiplayer standpoint - it's going to have this four-player battle mode that I think is going to be very interesting. It's something that we're hoping to be able to show relatively soon."
Steel Diver was initially a tech demo for the original DS, and was then revived for the 3DS launch with some new features like sea battles using the accelerometer and a multiplayer strategy mini-game. You can check out our review of the original if you need a reminder. In short, "free" might be about the right price.
There are two certainties when dealing with Nintendo: a) Princess Peach will get kidnapped again and b) their franchises will always make the jump to handheld. One Nintendo series has managed to escape the grasp of their portable empire, however: Pikmin.
Apparently, Nintendo has been keen on bringing its strategy series to handheld, with series creator Shigeru Miyamoto admitting that the company "experimented" with both DS and Game Boy Advance prototypes. However, "we really felt that the portable machine simply didn't have the capabilities to create the Pikmin gameplay in a way that we felt like it needed to be represented," Miyamoto said.
With 3DS being a far more capable system than its predecessors, it seems like it would be powerful enough to handle a proper Pikmin game. However, Miyamoto argues that it still couldn't do the franchise justice. "There's actually one particular facet of this game that we were very focused in on, which was building bridges in Pikmin 3," Miyamoto explained to Polygon. "If you look at it, the bridges are made out of these little tile pieces, and each tile piece is shaped kind of differently, and each individual Pikmin might pick it up and hold the piece in a different way.
"We could be able to take something like that element of the Pikmin gameplay and try to do it on a portable, probably what would end up happening is you would have to make all the pieces the same size and shape, and they'd have to carry them the same way," Miyamoto said. Unfortunately, without being able to appreciate these subtle differences, Miyamoto says that "it really doesn't feel like Pikmin."
Pikmin 3 will be available on Wii U in August. And look, here's a new video showcasing that version of the game:
Dark Souls 2 game director Tomohiro Shibuya raised some fan concern when he said this new game would be "more straightforward and more understandable." Long-time fans of the series worried that the notoriously difficult game would be compromised for the sake of a larger audience. Shibuya clarified that he simply wants a smoother difficulty curve and clearer story elements. In addition, co-director Yui Tanimura now says that he was referring to reducing tedious tasks throughout the game.
"What we meant by that was, based on feedback we got on Dark Souls, we got a lot of feedback that said that it was challenging and that the satisfaction was there, but there were a couple of areas that were a little bit tedious or a little bit time-consuming," Tanimura told Polygon, thorugh a translator. "Those are things we want to sort of streamline - to sort of cut away a lot of the fat, to make some revisions and enhancements so that we can really deliver the pure essence of the challenge in the Dark Souls experience."
He pointed out that in Dark Souls, players would often have to backtrack across large areas multiple times. He said they're attempting to "get rid of all the tediousness and the time-consuming stuff so you can actually get into the game and not worry about having to do certain tasks like this."
That sounds less like dumbing down the difficulty, and more like reducing the repetition. We'll have a clearer idea when the game releases in March 2014.
Here's the next DLC pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. "Vengeance" will be coming to Xbox 360 first on July 2, and PC and PlayStation 3 later.
The add-on includes four new maps--Cove, Detour, Rush, and Uplink--as well as a new zombie map set in a Wild West town. The latter will also introduce a new version of the Ray Gun, aptly named the Ray Gun Mark II.
"Vengeance addresses the community desire to have super controlled, head-to-head gameplay that's pushing you," Black Ops 2 game designer David Vonderhaar said. "And the players that have the skill are the ones who will come out on top of those battles."
Check out the trailer below for details on each of the new maps and how they play.
Those of you who have been wishing for a comedic morality play to take along with you can celebrate. Double Fine's adventure game The Cave will be headed to iOS devices sometime this summer.
A representative confirmed the release window to Polygon, after a hands-on from TouchGen revealed changes for the platform. The mobile version will rely on taps for movement instead of a stick, and you'll swipe the screen to jump. The game is already available on PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, but adventure games all migrate to mobile phones eventually. It's like a rule.
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