May 312011

Coming sometime in June, Brink will be getting its first batch of DLC, which will be free on all platforms. The update, called “Agents of Change” will offer two new maps, new abilities, attachments and outfits. Also, online stat tracking is going online for the PS3 and 360, with the PC version “coming soon.”  Lastly, you’ll probably be happy to know that they are raising the level cap to 24.

Here are the details:

New Maps

  • Founders’ Tower – The revolution finally reaches the island’s iconic spire and takes the battle for the Ark to dizzying heights.
  • Labs – Venture into the depths of the Ark’s original research and development laboratories, a submerged high-tech facility so far untouched by the civil war.

New Player Abilities

  • UAV – This stealthy and lethal device allows Operatives to automatically mark nearby enemies on their radar. For more explosive fun, they can even take direct control of the UAV and detonate it near unsuspecting foes.
  • Napalm Grenade – Soldiers can use this new grenade to cover an area in a sea of deadly flames.
  • Pyro Mine – Engineers can plant these mines and leave enemies in the epicenter of a massive napalm explosion.
  • Field Regen Unit – Medics can deploy these units to increase the health regeneration of any nearby teammates.
  • Tactical Scanner – This universal ability allows players to reveal the active buffs of their opponents, allowing them to pick off enemies more strategically.

New Weapon Attachments

  • Bayonets – Gain the edge in melee combat and cause extra damage with these deadly blades.
  • Weapon Shields – Take cover from enemy fire and prevent headshot bonus damage behind riot-style shields.

New Character Outfits

  • The Sad Punk – Add a touch of Steampunk to your Resistance character.
  • The Limey – Bring order to the Ark with this outfit inspired by traditional European police.

More at the Bethesda Blog

 Posted by at 8:36 am  Tagged with:
May 312011

Ok, so my exclamation point in the title is totally sarcastic, I’m sorry.  It’s been rumored coming for a long time, and now it’s been unveiled.  The monthly subscription will give you access to extra content like map packs, as well as opening up social features, kind of like a CoD Facebook where you can post gameplay videos and track stats with your friends.  The WSJ oddly got the exclusive for the story which tells me that this is more about Activision showing off to investors than gamers.  WSJ is guessing that it’ll be somewhere around an $8 per month fee on top of the $60 price tag of each installment of CoD.

What worries me is the precedent this sets for other high profile games.  It was right around the time Modern Warfare 2 came out that we started seeing the $60 MSRP for PC versions of games (up $10 from the traditional $50), so is this the start of a “PlayStation Plus” type model coming to big budget titles or just a one off money grab by Activision, wringing every last dollar out of over-eager fans? Either way, the CoD series has been way over done for me, so I’ll be sitting out the next installments of the franchise along with any additional subscriptions.

May 272011

EA has had great success with various sales on the Apple App Store, so it’s no surprise they’re doing another one over the Memorial Day holiday.  Dead Space for the iPad is very well done and both the iPhone and iPad versions were recently updated with a new survival mode along other new content.  Many of these games have free “lite” versions that you can try out before you buy.   Also not EA related, but the ever popular Infinity Blade is still half off at $2.99 and features new multiplayer modes.  That app is universal and is almost worth checking out for the graphics alone.

Here’s some of the highlights of EA’s latest sale:



There’s definitely a bunch more I’m missing that might be slightly less appealing deals, so be sure to browse the EA section of the app store if you’ve been holding out for a sale on a specific title.

May 262011

Sony took a break from being hacked on various fronts to announce that you can start to sign up for your year free identity protection/credit monitoring service.  I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t do this, so you might as well head over to this page here, and put in your PSN email address.  After doing so, they claim you’ll receive an activation code and instructions within 72 hours.    Do it.  It’s a great opportunity to check out your credit even if you’re not worried about Sony’s lack of security.  You’ll need to take action before the end of June, so don’t put it off.

May 252011

To update our previous post, it’s now officially official.  What does this mean for D2D customers today?  Not much.  Gamefly was looking to get into the PC gaming business and add to their portfolio.  Those of you who have hopes of eventually seeing PC game rentals, stay tuned as that could be a real possibility.  In a quote to their own Shacknews, Gamefly CEO Dave Hodess said “we know that consumers are interested in PC game rentals, so we will investigate this idea thoroughly.”  I’m assuming that they will be looking at digital rentals, with DRM in place to limit the time and usage of PC games.  Obviously, pricing is the wildcard, but priced right, it could be a worthwhile business.  Would you be interested in renting PC games?  Might not be bad to rent the latest CoD installment or any other 4-5 hour linear single player game that’s not worth owning for the rest of your life, which is the case with PC games today.

May 242011

Sony alerted users on their blog that PSN will be partially down for maintenance for the bulk of the day.  They claim the impact will be minimal and chances are you won’t notice it.  They also took the time to mention that the PS Store won’t be coming back online today, but reiterate they are still on target for “the end of this month.”  While I’m sure there are a lot of people who will boycott the store in light of Sony’s lack of focus on security, the store also is the gatekeeper for code pack-ins in new games and also for downloading content users have already bought.

Of course, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing since PSN was partially restored.   A loophole was found (and subsequently fixed) that allowed unauthorized password resetting, a Thai Sony site was infected and taken over by a phishing scam, a SQL injection attack compromised a Greek Sony music site, exposing more customer data all while the CEO called the whole thing a “hiccup in the road to a network future.”  We’re still trying to figure out what that means, but do appreciate his dismissive attitude towards his company’s continued failures which have left their customers exposed.

UPDATE:  Another Sony music site, this one in Japan has fell victim to yet another SQL injection attack.  Yes, Sony is on quite the roll these days.  Also, I was remiss not to mention that PSN is still down in Japan, as they need to answer more questions and meet more guidelines before the Japanese government will allow them to go back online in their home country.  Is it clear that Sony simply can’t be trusted with your data or do they just have a huge target on them right now?  While it’s obvious they’re a popular target as of late, that doesn’t excuse them from constantly failing.  SQL injection attacks aren’t anything new.

UPDATE #2: Yes, this keeps getting more ridiculous.  Another site, this time the Sony Ericsson Canadian site has been compromised, just like the others, with more customer data stolen.    You just can’t make this stuff up.  Should Sony just uninstall the internet?

May 242011

Last night Splash Damage posted a patch for the PC version which includes a fair number of bug fixes cleaning up many common issues with the game.  You can read the changelog here, although the three key ones that have plagued many users are:

  • Fixed sound dropping out when playing networked games
  • Improved graphical performance, especially when using Ambient Occlusion
  • Fixed memory leak/crash when alt-tabbed out

To extend the double meaning of this post title and to follow up my post last week, I can say that Brink does get better with time.  While I don’t think I ever found that “Eureka!” moment, after more time spent with the game and playing with friends, the game does start to click.  There is a bit of a learning curve to some of the game’s nuances, and unlocking abilities while leveling up your character improves the experience greatly.   Since the game does rely heavily on team play (arguably, even more so than say, BFBC2) online matches can vary wildly in quality depending on how adept your pub teammates are.  Brink does provide a nice change of pace from the latest round of cookie-cutter modern warfare shooters, and while it doesn’t get everything right, does a good enough job for those willing to stick around long enough to learn the ropes and find a groove.


May 202011

Brink has been out well over a week, and I’m still not sure what to make of it.  I’ve done some challenges, played a bit of the campaign modes and did some random online action and I’m still not sure how I feel about this game.  This is a bit strange for me.  Usually I have a fairly strong opinion of a game after several hours, but I’m having a hard time trying to figure out exactly what Brink is.

One thing I have learned is that you can essentially throw out all the single player and co-op stuff, if you want to call it that.  Bot matches in this game are completely unfulfilling, even after a recent patch that was said to “remove bot intelligence inhibitors.”  While the bots are aware of objectives, they seem to have zero concept in supporting those objectives — which, ya know, is kind of important in objective based games.  A strong argument could be made that the bots in UT2K4 are more intelligent than what we’re seeing in Brink 7 years later.

You’re probably yelling at the screen at this point, telling me that of course the bots are dumb, and the only way to play this game is with real people.  I’d easily agree with that.  My sticking point with the bots is that they seem to be such a large part of the game.  The game has essentially three modes: single player or “solo”, a co-op mode and internet “freeplay.”  Bots are prevalent in all three and required in two of them.  Join many freeplay servers that are less than full with real players, and it’s filled in with bots, which I wouldn’t have a problem with if they were just a bit less stupid.  One more reason why you can throw the co-op/private modes out: forget about trying to set up a peer-to-peer game with friends on the PC.  Obviously some people have gotten it to work, but suibhne and I wasted a good 20 minutes last night trying to get something other than a “server not responding” message before we gave up and played on a public server.

Now that I’ve gotten over my bot rage, the rest of the game seems ok, but for some reason it’s just not clicking with me yet.  I say “yet” because I keep feeling like I’m on the brink (sorry) of hitting that magical moment where it all comes together in perfect harmony for me.  All the multiplayer hallmarks are there; classes, character progression, unlockables galore and enough guns and weapons to keep it interesting.  However, I’d have to question some of the balance of the classes, since it feels like engineer and medic are really the only two classes that are worth playing regularly, unless a specific objective calls for something else.  The stunning amount of guns and attachments sounds great, but I find that without the help of the community, figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of some of these in game is virtually impossible.

On the positive side of things, I’ve grown to appreciate the parkour-style movement, and the way you can smoothly navigate some obstacles works surprisingly well.  I haven’t felt this nimble in a FPS multiplayer game since probably UT2k4. Graphically the game looks as good as any other current mp games and the game engine allows for ample tweaking which bucks the trend of locking everything down.  Check out our wiki page for some common tips.  Also the game has Splash Damage’s traditionally great long term support behind it, so Brink does have a lot going for it.

Brink really does have great potential that’s just beyond my grasp at this point.  The fact that it hasn’t “clicked” for me just yet but I want to keep trying it has to mean something, right?  It’s like a meal that’s been simmering on the stove all day that’s missing that one ingredient to bring it all together.  I’m hoping to find that spice soon with some more game play time.

May 202011

MCV is reporting that one of our favorite PC digital distribution sites, Direct2Drive is being sold to Gamefly.  Gamefly rents console games by mail (think video game Netflix) in the US and also recently bought community news site Shacknews.  An interesting development, for sure, although I doubt that this will have much impact on users in the short term.  The deal is said to be in the final stages.  D2D was previously owned by IGN.

May 192011

GiantBomb and other outlets are reporting that the PlayStation Store will be up next week. This comes from a memo sent to PSN devs letting them know when they can start to sell their products again. Expect two store updates a week for the next two weeks so that Sony can catch up on all the releases that were missed due to the outage. Of course, this is also great news for those trying to redeem codes for extra content packed in to recently released games like L.A. Noire and gamers who have been waiting to catch up on Telltale’s Back to the Future adventure game episodes.

Hopefully this will mark the end of the Sony / PSN drama and things can go back to working normally.