Apr 222011
 
money

Some good noteworthy deals worth passing along:

First off, you can get 25% off of orders over $19.99 at Direct2Drive when you use coupon code “bunny”.  While you’re at Direct2Drive, Crysis 2 is even a bit steeper discount at 30% off, today only.

Also, if you’re looking for a little iOS gaming, be sure to check out Dead Space HD for the iPad, as it’s on sale for the magical price of $0.99. This game has been optimized for the iPad 2 (although still compatible with the first iPad), so it’s a great game to show off what the new iPad can really do — it rivals and even surpasses the current gen of consoles. As a nice throw-in / cross-over, playing the iOS version of Dead Space will unlock some stuff in Dead Space 2, in case you needed additional incentives.

If you’d rather get the iPhone version, Dead Space for the iPhone is also $0.99 for a limited time.

Apr 142011
 
Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops

CoD Black Ops mod tools are reportedly coming in May, if Treyarch pc developer @pcdev is to be believed.    This will mark the first CoD game to have mod tools since CoD (5) World at War.  Better late than never?

What’s interesting is that CoDBlops has done more to try and restore faith in PC gamers than any other CoD game since arguably CoD4, but it still gets little to no respect from PC gamer elitists, myself included.  Is it rational?  Probably not.  Let’s recap what Treyarch has brought to the PC since the woeful, Infinity Ward developed, MW2.

  • Dedicated servers / Server browser — after the abomination that was IWnet, something so simple like dedicated servers is a huge bullet point for CoD Blops PC.
  • Steamworks integration — They could have tacked on GFWL or Gamespy, but they choose probably the best 3rd party PC “platform” that has generally accepted DRM and is most likely the least hated of the available options.
  • Always-on server side demo recordings — this is a really great feature, to play back some great in-game moments with easy editing and sharing options.  Sorely lacking from BC2, especially with the opportunity for great “battlefield moments.”  If BF3 doesn’t have a similar feature, shame on DICE.
  • Single player game — of course nothing great here, but if you like that sort of thing, it’s playable and probably a bit less cheesy than MW2 (ok, that’s not saying much).
  • Co-op zombie mode — Again, nothing earth shattering, but a decent diversion and on the PC from the get-go.  DICE never could bring their co-op mode to the PC BC2.
  • Top-down shooter “Dead Ops” — both available in single and co-op mode.  Another nice add-on, included in the box.
  • Yet another easter egg — a playable game of Zork.
  • Lots of post-release patches / enhancements based on player feedback.
  • Less “BS” perks/play-style than MW2
  • No added PC hurtles we’ve seen elsewhere like encrypted ini files, sparse graphic options, menus designed for controller input and slaps in the face like “Press start to begin.”
  • Mod tools — sure, 6 months after release, but still, it’s hard to complain about ongoing support.  DICE is already preparing the PC community to not to expect any mod tools for BF3, and had plenty of excuses why they’d never come to BC2.

Why do so many PC gamers hate CoDBlops again?  I’m starting to forget, refresh my memory.

Apr 132011
 
portal2

Next week, 4/19, to be exact, marks the release of Portal 2.  Valve has already unlocked Steam pre-loading for the game if you pre-ordered directly from there.  If you were one of the many who held out for the PS3 version, which also includes access to the PC and Mac versions, you may have wondered how exactly that whole process would work and how Steam would interact on the PS3.  Maybe you have no intentions on playing it on the console, and were just a savvy shopper who figured that Amazon’s $20 credit on the PS3 version actually turns out to be less than the PC version.  Hint: [amazon_link id=”B003O6E3C8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]that deal is still available here[/amazon_link].

What’s interesting is that they are bringing pretty much the full Steam overlay to the PS3 (you press the “select” button in-game to access it).  When you link your PSN to your Steam ID in game, you’ll also be able to see and chat with all your Steam friends.  While it’s great to see Steam branch out, I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit odd to have an additional, duplicate functionality layer on top of PSN.  So now you’ll have your PSN friends and separately your Steam friends.  You’ll have Steam achievements and PSN trophies, which, if you’re playing on the PS3, will unlock both sets of “cheevos” simultaneously.  Playing on the PC or Mac, however, does not unlock any PS3 trophies.  Cheevo whores take note.

If you did buy the PS3 version only for the cost savings mentioned above, and could care less about the PSN interaction, you’ll be happy to know that each PS3 copy includes a one-time use code which you can activate on Steam.  Valve does indicate you will have to link your PS3 account to your Steam ID before you do that — so don’t buy the PS3 version if you don’t actually have a PS3.  Duh.

Also, the PS3 and PC/Mac interaction doesn’t stop there.  The co-op game can be played across those platforms without any issues.   The Steam Cloud save game feature is also available on both the PC/Mac and PS3, however save games between platforms are not compatible, so no starting the game on the PS3 and finishing on the PC — each system will have separate saves.

Lastly, those who were looking to do local co-op with one copy of Portal 2 will be disappointed to hear that this is not allowed (unless it’s split-screen on 1 PS3).  You’ll need two copies of the game if you had ideas of playing with a local friend on the PC and the other on a PS3 in the same house.   Too bad, it would have been nice to see that supported.

I think Steam on the PS3 is an interesting experiment for Valve.   It’s fairly obvious that this is the next step towards them trying to make Steam become a de facto standard across multiple platforms.  Since it’s clear that Microsoft would never let an additional layer be bolted onto games on the Xbox, the PS3 was the next best thing and allows Valve to showcase their Steamworks package to console publishers as well.

Valve PS3 Steam support page

Apr 062011
 

Last week, EA opened up BF P4F to all their loyal BF players, before a wider release that happened on Monday.  A free Battlefield game, based on BF2 with some adjustments and a new experience?  Sounds great, sign me up!

So I signed up and played for a bit, and pretty early on in my first play through, an old adage came to mind: “You get what you pay for.”  Much has been made about the “evilness” of the micro-transaction system in the Play4Free games.  Thankfully, EA has provided plenty of ways to avoid spending real money on things that really matter in the game, like better weapons and “training” for gadgets.  However, the system can still be annoying.  You have to buy all your upgrades, but you can use your BF bucks earned in game to unlock new weapons for the day or for 3 days.  To keep the guns permanently, you’ll need to spend real cash.  BF bucks are earned pretty easily, and the cost of the guns is low, so unlocking weapons for a day isn’t going to cost you hours of play time.  All cosmetic stuff seems to cost real cash money, so those of you who want to play dress up will have to shell out.

The biggest issue I had with the game is all options and weapon purchases have to be made before you join a server.  Want to tweak your mouse sensitivity?  Quit the server you’re on, edit sensitivity and then re-join another server.  Want to buy a new weapon?  Exit the game and unlock the new gun.  It would have nice for them to incorporate a Counter Strike in-game “buying” system — and they may still do that since the game is still in its infancy.  It’s also worth noting that there is no server browser.  You can either do a “Play now”, join friends, or play on servers you’ve bookmarked — which seems odd…why would you bookmark random servers you joined through Play Now?  Another minor annoyance is the game has to launch from your web browser each time, so even after a web-based installer runs, the shortcut it leaves in your start menu just takes you to the BF P4F website, which you have to click the play button…very much like Quake Live or BF Heroes.

When you’re actually playing the game, it’s hard not to say that the game is essentially a stripped down version of BF2.   Most of your favorite BF2 maps are there, but don’t look near as good as BF2 — a game that was released in 2005.   Video options take a page out of the Crysis 2 book, with only settings of low, medium and high…and in this case, “high” looks pretty mediocre compared to most shooters release over the past several years.  To be fair, this game isn’t built for eye-candy, it’s meant to be an accessible, multiplayer shooter for the masses — if such a market exists.   Does that mean that it’s a bad game?  No, it’s actually pretty fun to play and provides a quick/free alternative to having to dig out BF2 discs, install and then patch a 6 year old game.  That said, I find it hard to imagine myself sinking more than a few hours into this game which doesn’t seem to register as anything more than a temporary diversion for me.

So for BF2 and BC2 die-hards, it’s hard to recommend this game as an alternative to those, as I’d say you’re better off to just keep on playing the existing games until BF3 comes out.  For people new to the BF experience, it’s a quick and easy way to check out that type of gameplay with relatively low system requirements and great for a quick match when you just want to jump in / jump out.  Is this the future of games on the PC?  I doubt it, and I seriously hope not.  My guess is that it’s trying to fill a gap between “hardcore” PC games, who play the “proper” BF games, and the casual PC gamers that play Flash-based games.  This falls somewhere in between which feels a bit like no-mans land.

You can sign up and download the game for free at battlefield.play4free.com

I did try to do a little video of the gameplay, but had trouble with both Fraps and WeGame with the beta version of the game.  With the WeGame client running, the game would crash every time when loading a map.  I could actually record with Fraps, but the result was just a stuttering mess even though the game played smooth — something I hadn’t experienced in other games.  Instead you’ll have to just deal with a few screenshots:

Apr 042011
 

BulletstormFinally, a month and a half after the game’s release, People Can Fly and Epic make good on their promise for a PC demo. After playing through the full game and giving the multiplayer a test drive with Suibhne, I’d have to say the single player campaign is the strongest part of that game. I found the story and gameplay much better than expected, and even better than what was revealed in the console demo. The multiplayer co-op isn’t very interesting after the initial few rounds and would have been nicer to have co-op in either Echo mode or in the campaign itself.

If you’ve been holding out for the PC demo, now is your chance. You can download it from Games for Windows and Steam. After you load it up, be sure to check out our wiki entry for it for all the tweaking goodness.

Mar 292011
 

I started playing a bit of Crysis 2 last night.  Of course, there’s lots of “crappy console port” rage flying around this game, but in thinking about it, what PC games don’t have that element these days?  Even huge PC sellers like CoD and Bad Company 2 have been assaulted by the rage of PC gamers, so does “crappy console port” have much meaning these days?

As we previously covered, much has been made about the glaring lack of options available through the game’s menus.  Thankfully, there are many configurable options under the hood, and Wasdie’s GUI utility makes them simple.  Why weren’t these options available in game, or made accessible via a Crytek config utility, like other notable PC games have used?  My guess would be to meet the game’s release window, corners were cut.  Rumors are already swirling (some started by Crytek devs)  that we’ll see DirectX 11 and advanced configuration options in-game in a soon to be released patch.  It’s great to hear Crytek will be providing some meaningful post-release support for the game, but at the same time, it’s continually disappointing that developers use post-release patches to actually finish their games.  I’m looking at you Bad Company 2!

The single player story early on seems serviceable enough, continuing on some random bit of time after the end of Crysis 1.   Playing through the streets of NYC is sufficiently interesting and provides a refreshing setting for a shooter.  You still have some freedom in completing objectives in that you can try to go the stealth route, relying heavily on your cloak, go for a full frontal assault with lots of shootery goodness, or some mix in between.  The game also continues the trend of providing plenty of collectibles and upgrades along the way to keep dangling the carrot on the string.

I was dismayed, however, to find the lack of quick saving in game.  Saves are all automatic checkpointing, and there’s really no way to save your game yourself.  Consolification?  Possibly.  Checkpointing saves can actually be acceptable if done right.  The Assassin’s Creed series is a great example of this.  Crysis 2 doesn’t seem to get it quite right, as I had to quit out of the game and was disappointed that I had to replay a few minutes of a level I had already done where there should have been a checkpoint.  Obviously, a full on save system is almost always preferable.  Devs, please be considerate of gamers. Having to keep playing until I hit the next checkpoint to quit, rather than being able to save and quit at any point, is annoying and frustrating.  Ugh.

Giving the multiplayer a test, not much has changed since the beta aside from more game modes and maps.  The server browser works a bit better, although I think it’s still not reporting accurate pings.  I couldn’t find a server that pinged under 100, even though they were nearby, which leads me to believe that you’re better off just ignoring the ping.  I was mildly surprised to see that it kept my friends list from the mp beta, after how fickle it was with us at the time.  I’ve yet to play through all the maps and modes, but the few maps I did play on “Team Instant Action” (don’t call it TDM!) were varied and seemed more interesting than many of the maps in CoD Black Ops.  The gameplay is very much CoD inspired, from the level up system, to the kill cam, to the end of round kill replay and match rewards.  Entertaining enough to play a few rounds here and there.

So all in all, Crysis 2 seems relatively solid so far in both aspects.  It’s hard to say it’s outstanding in either sp or mp, and there are plenty of well-documented frustrations to complain about, but if you enjoyed Crysis 1 and/or like CoD-style multiplayer, I’d suspect you’ll be reasonably content with Crysis 2.

We’ve started an entry for Crysis 2 in our wiki here.


Download Crysis 2 Now!

Mar 082011
 

A post on the Crysis 2 Ea Blog alerts us to a new patch for the Crysis 2 multiplayer demo.  A few “welcome” changes in the list, the most important being the un-consolification of the demo, by changing the text on the first screen from “Press start to begin” to “Press enter to begin. ”  Also, now the servers show no ping at all.  Nice work guys.

The patch will auto-update the next time you launch the game, and will also be pushed out via Steam.

  • “Press Start to Begin” has been changed to “Press Enter to Begin” on the main menu
  • Ping changes in server browser – no ping for anyone now (all 0)
  • Fixed crash if getting force disconnected from a dedicated server (although the force disconnect issue has been resolved anyway)
  • Account creation now works properly
  • G35 headset fix now implemented
  • People not able to sign in with certain characters such as “-“ or “numbers” in their username, now can

The servers for this multiplayer demo will only be active for another week, so if you’re planning on checking it out, now’s the time.

Mar 072011
 

Here’s an unscientific, fairly lazy list of gaming-related titles that caught our eye for 2011. Inclusion in this list is not a stamp of approval. We’ve listed hotly-anticipated titles right alongside games that we absolutely dread, games whose mere prospect may knot our guts in a clenched ball of searing terror.

We do our best to keep this updated as new games or release dates are announced, but feel free to post any corrections – or suggestions of games that we missed.

 

2011 hardware!
Nintendo 3DS: 3/27

Confirmed
Released:
Lost in Shadow (Wii): 1/4
Little Big Planet 2 (PS3): 1/18
Dead Space 2 (PC/PS3/60): 1/25
Breach (PC/360): 1/26
Magicka (PC): 1/26
You Don’t Know Jack (PC/PS3/60): 2/8
Dungeons
(PC): 2/8
Bulletstorm (PC/PS3/60): 2/22
Killzone 3 (PS3): 2/22
Dragon Age 2 (PC/PS3/60): 3/8
Shogun 2: Total War (PC): 3/15
Yakuza 4 (PS3): 3/15
Homefront (PC/PS3/60): 3/15
Okamiden (DS): 3/15
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (PC): 3/17
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime (PC/360): 3/18
Crysis 2 (PC/PS3/60): 3/22
Battlefield Play4Free (PC): 3/31
Darkspore (PC/PS3/60): 4/1
Hoard (PC/OS X): 4/4
Magicka: Vietnam (PC): 4/15
Sanctum (PC): 4/15
Portal 2 (PC/OS X/PS3/60): 4/19
IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover (PC): 4/19
The Conduit 2 (Wii): 4/19
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs (PS3): 4/19
Section 8: Prejudice (XBLA): 4/20
Outland (XBLA): 4/25 (and to be released for PSN once service is restored)
Mount and Blade: With Fire and Sword (PC): 5/3
Section 8: Prejudice (PC): 5/4
Hydrophobia: Prophecy (PC): 5/9
My The First Templar (PC/360): 5/10
Brink (PC/PS3/60): 5/10
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC): 5/17
Fable 3 (PC): 5/17
L.A. Noire (PS3/60): 5/17
Dirt 3 (PC/PS3/60): 5/24
Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale (PC/PS3/60): 5/24
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge (PC/PS3/60): 5/31
Red Faction: Armageddon (PC/PS3/60): 6/7
Infamous 2 (PS3): 6/7
Operation Flashpoint: Red River (PC): 6/7
American McGee Presents American McGee‘s Alice: American McGee’s Madness American McGee Returns (PC/PS3/60): 6/14
Outland (PSN/XBLA): 6/14
Duke Nukem Forever (PC/PS3/60): 6/14
Dungeon Siege 3 (PC/PS3/60): 6/17
Might and Magic: Heroes VI (PC): 6/21
F.E.A.R. 3 (PC/PS3/60): 6/21
Shadows of the Damned (PS3/60): 6/21
Air Conflicts: Secret Wars (PC): 7/1
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (PS3/60): 7/5
Panzer Corps (PC): 7/11
Bastion (XBLA): 7/20
From Dust (PC/XBLA): 7/27
Limbo (PC): 8/2
Section 8: Prejudice (PSN): 8/2
Bastion (PC): 8/15
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (PS3/60): 8/16

Upcoming:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC/PS3/60): 8/23
Tropico 4 (PC): 8/30
Rock of Ages (PC/XBLA/PSN): 8/31
Dead Island (PC/PS3/60): 9/6
Resistance 3 (PS3): 9/6
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (PC/PS3/60): 9/6
Rage (PC/PS3/60/iPhone/toaster): 9/13
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (PC): 9/13
Sengoku (PC): 9/13
Saint’s Row 3 (PC/PS3/60): 9/15
Defenders of Ardania (PC): 9/27
Gears of War 3 (360): 9/30
The Darkness 2 (PC/PS3/60): 10/4
Dark Souls (PC3/60): 10/4
The Cursed Crusade (PC/PS3/60): 10/11
Batman: Arkham City (PC/PS3/60): 10/18
Battlefield 3 (PC/PS3/60): 10/25
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3): 11/1
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC/PS3/60): 11/11
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii): 11/20

Unconfirmed dates (roughly in order)
Amy (PSN): September 2011
Hard Reset (PC): September 2011
Trine 2: September 2011
Nuclear Dawn (PC): September 2011
Warp (PC/PSN/XBLA): Q3 2011
Serious Sam 3: BFE (PC/PS3/60): Q3 2011
Sword of the Stars 2 (PC): Q3 2011
Orcs Must Die! (PC/XBLA): Q3 2011
Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC): Fall 2011
Dyad (PSN): Fall 2011
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (PC/PS3/60): November 2011
Need For Speed: The Run (PC/PS3/60): November 2011
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PC/PS3/60): Winter 2011
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2011
Final Fantasy Tactics (iPhone): TBA 2011
Torchlight 2 (PC): TBA 2011
Dungeon Defenders (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2011 (“First Wave” already out for Android and iOS)
Toy Soldiers (PC; XBLA already out): TBA 2011
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress (PC): TBA 2011
Dear Esther (PC): TBA 2011
The Shadow Sun (iOS): TBA 2011
Tribes: Ascend (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2011
Renegade Ops (PC/PSN/XBLA): TBA 2011
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3): TBA 2011
Scivelation (PC): TBA 2011
The Witness (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2011
Jagged Alliance 2: Reloaded (PC): TBA 2011
Lego Star Wars III: Begun These Clone Wars Have (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2011
I Am Alive (?): TBA 2011
X: Rebirth
(PC): Q4 2011
Trenched: TBA 2011
Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm (expansion; PC): TBA 2011, after RO2 (duh)
Half-Life 2: Episode Three (PC/360): TBA 2011…or 2012…or…
Alan Wake (PC): Never – unless you think MS is full of hot air and will end up releasing a shoddy PC port for extra cash monies in 9 months, after they’ve convinced everybody possible to buy the 360 version

Confirmed for 2012 or later
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC/PS3/60): 2/7/2012
Mass Effect 3 (PC/PS3/60): 3/6/2012
XCOM (PC/360): 3/12/2012
Planetside 2 (PC): Early 2012
Max Payne 3 (PC/PS3/60): March 2012
Secret World (PC): April 2012
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC/PS3/60): Q2 2012
Bioshock: Infinite: TBA 2012
Far Cry 3 (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Dishonored (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Spec Ops: The Line (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
God of War 4: War Harder (PS3): TBA 2012
Mirror’s Edge 2 (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Beyond Good and Evil 2 (?): TBA 2012
A Valley Without Wind (PC/OS X): TBA 2012
Age of Decadence (PC): TBA 2012
The Last Guardian (PS3): TBA 2012
Blackout (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Prototype 2 (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Silent Hill 2 and 3 HD (PS3/60): TBA 2012
Hitman 5
(PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Dead State (PC): TBA 2012
Zone of the Enders 1 and 2 HD (PS3/60): TBA 2012
Metal Gear Solid Collection HD (PS3/60): TBA 2012
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Darksiders 2 (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Metro: Last Light (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
Fallen Frontier (PC/PSN/XBLA): TBA 2012
Prey 2 (PC/PS3/60): TBA 2012
STALKER 2: TBA 2012
Diablo 3 (PC): TBA 2012
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC): TBA 2012

Lost in Shadow (Wii): 1/4