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Weekly News Round-Up 23/3/10

I’m a tad behind on the latest news since my last full article about GDC ’10, which had a record breaking 18,000 attendees, having had a recent power outage, but fear not! The gaming goodness is now here and fit for consumption!

Heavy Rain's DLC features Madison Paige

On the DL

A number of released and unreleased games are getting the DLC treatment – it seems it’s the only way forward for any half-worthy franchise. Peter Johansson, lead designer on Just Cause 2 announced forthcoming DLC, following the game’s release on March 23rd, yet he insisted the content already existent in the game is, to say the least, extensive, he qualified this, in an interview with Eurogamer, by bragging he’d completed only 60% of the game, but had racked up 55 hours. Modern Warfare 2 is getting it’s first “stimulus package” to cure sufferers of Mapathy on March 30th for Xbox Live, at a whopping 1200MS – unfortunately healthcare insurance doesn’t cover this one. The map pack includes Crash and Overgrown from CoD4 so you can relive the glory days/nights! And to top it off, a double XP system will be put in place the following weekend April 2nd – 5th. Dragon Age: Origins has a new expansion out titled Awakening and Bioware teased, that in theory, they could release infinite DLC packs like this. Finally, Quantic Dream’s interactive depression title, Heavy Rain, is receiving its first DLC, named The Taxidermist. The content revolves around Madison Paige, and acts as a short prequel story for the character.

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Gaming Blues

Unfortunately the recession is still rearing its ugly head and indeed, backhand, as the recent weeks have seen a number of layoffs – our thoughts go out to them. Rebellion, perhaps most famous for its recent Alien Vs Predator, handed pink slips to around 20 of its staff in Oxford, UK and IGN has reportedly also, been forced to let a number of its junior members ago, despite recent financial success for the media company. However there is one man we’re not sorry to see the back of , Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, famous in the Australian gaming community for his refusal to allow a R18+ game certificate, and vehement battle against video games. Fortunately the over-sensitive Atkinson has stepped down.

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360 Degrees worth of Xbox-ness

Microsoft are always looking for ways to fiddle with Xbox and thereby make more cash and occasionally, genuinely improve our experience, so here are a few rumours/updates. According to a report by Joystiq, the 360 will be receiving a firmware update this spring. The document they claim to have a hold of states “USB Mass Storage Device Support on the Xbox 360” so be sure to check back here for updates on that. In addition, Microsoft are releasing a 250GB standalone 360 HDD, as advertised on the Xbox Dashboard.

Send off your 360 with dignity

A patent, filed by Microsoft back in 2008, for a streamlined DLC system for Xbox Live, has now been approved. The system apparently lets you download available content without having to leave your game lobby, so you can jump in with friends even if you don’t have the content prior to joining the lobby. Presumably this will be pushed out the doors fairly quick now the patent’s approved. Also, the Xbox Live Marketplace release schedule for the next week or so has been revealed and is here.

Finally, Daniel Ek of Spotify, the music service, reportedly told SXSW goers that he’d like to see Spotify on the 360. Granted this is not news, really, or even a rumour – but I signifies that there’s a good chance of this becoming a reality. Ek said that he wants to make music like water, and though personally I’m not keen on it being sole reason the human race and life exists on earth, but you get his meaning.

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DRM Woes

Steam UK is now without the friendly Italian assassin we know and love, as a number of Ubisoft’s main titles that use the much-maligned DRM software, including Assassin’s Creed 2, have been removed. Despite speculations that this decision was taken by Valve due to the controversial DRM, and Gabe Newell’s stance on the subject, Ubisoft told VG247 that it has “nothing to do” with the DRM issues and is simply a business decision, that only applies to the UK.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Wars was released last week, and it was proudly announced it had, in fact, no DRM – fantastic you’re thinking, however it does require an Internet connection to play at all times. It’s a shame to see any franchise follow in the steps of Ubisoft, as this software is damaging to the market; pirating is a problem, but other large companies like Valve manage to get along alright – in fact if every company could be something like Valve we’d live in a better, albeit quirky world.

We do have one partial victory though – in Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s most recent patch, all DRM was dropped from Steam-purchased copies, in DICE’s ever increasing effort to impress the cool kids (and it’s working).

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Bad Company Fights Back

So speaking of Bad Company 2, although it’s nothing like Modern Warfare 2, it seems to have pitted itself against it. The first person shooter, having sold 2.3 million units, and topped March sales records in Europe and North America, released a public service announcement video the other day:

In case you missed it, the video pokes fun at Modern Warfare 2’s original video F.A.G.S. PSA, which was pulled after complaints over the obvious. On top of this, DICE plan to release a playlist update for all original owners of the game free of charge (part of Project Ten Dollar) on March 30th in direct (and fierce) competition with Modern Warfare 2’s exorbitant map pack, and plan to release paid DLC in the near future. I thought DICE’s decision to release Bad Company 2 in March when MW2 was beginning to become a tad samey, was a savvy decision, but you’ve got to respect them for going up against the behemoth this month – courage or stupidity? Either way it’ll be interesting to see how the two battle it out.

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BioWare

My beloved BioWare are now busy at work extending Mass Effect 2’s universe and experiences with DLC and after having seen what Greg Zeschuk had to say at GDC, that, as he put it, “It’s [DLC] not like a piece of lunch meat”, but rather part of a long term vision, to extend the lifetime of the game for consumers and publisher alike, after having put so much work into the original game – I’m fairly confident we’ve got some galactic delights in store. First up is Firewalker hitting tomorrow, March 23rd, on the Cerberus Network with the new Hammerhead Tank and 5 accompanying missions, then there’s a character appearance package for Thane, Jack and Garrus on the same day but (unfortunately) for $2 and finally Kasumi’s Stolen Memory on April 6th, for a modest 560MS. Additionally, if you’re interested in some input from BioWare about how Mass Effect 3 will shape up, there are a couple of articles here and here, thanks to VG247, explaining the company’s development and teasing their approach to the final instalment.

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For Your Consideration

There are a number of high profile games in development due for release this year or early next year, and GDC brought the chance to get a better idea of how each developer is tackling their game, so here’s some updates and articles, mainly thanks to VG247, again.

–> Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor, EA’s answer to Call of Duty, despite lacking a much-needed “u” in it’s title, is under full-swing development at the moment and apparently has “cool toys” and aims to portray a number of different viewpoints in the Afghanistan war.

–> Killzone 3

Guerrilla Games, creators of Killzone, are convinced they haven’t pushed the PS3 to its limits yet, in terms of graphics, and presumably mean to implement said visuals in Killzone 3 which has been promised by Jack Tretton, though release date rumours range from April to 2011.

–> Halo: Reach

Bungie recently released some details on Halo’s swan song, Halo: Reach, in regards to matchmaking – undoubtedly fans will be obsessing over each scrap of information as we speak, such are that strange breed.

–> Fable 3

Peter Molyneux, aside from other daily activities such as proclaiming the rise of the PC again, praising Quantic Dream and promising the first thing that enters his mind, has recently tweeted that he’s worried about the first 30 minutes of Fable 3 due to a lack of combat. In other Fable 3 news there will be twitter support, episodic content and one last “big” reveal at E3 (I ask to readers, for sanity’s sake to take “big” with a large handful of salt, due to source material).

–> Rockstar

Rockstar co-president Dan Houser, in the most recent issue of GamesTM, stated that developing Red Dead: Redemption has been “challenging”, despite the company’s vast experience. Additionally, speaking to Edge, Rockstar has said that LA Noire is taking a different approach to the usual Rockstar open-world game, relying less on action and more on interaction other subtleties. It’s fantastic to see Rockstar pushing itself, to be original but also build off of it’s unique and unquestionably brilliant sandbox-gaming heritage.

–> Star Wars: The Old Republic

BioWare, regardless of its other strong franchises, are taking on what is clearly it’s biggest undertaking, (its first MMO) Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA aim to secure 2 million subscriptions for the game due to be release in a year’s time, though I suspect, if VG247’s early preview is anything to go by, it’ll be a lot more than that and may rival World of Warcraft. CEO Ray Muzyka, teased that TOR will have some “twists” regarding payments, but added that it will mostly follow the traditional business model of MMORPGs, and the twists will be well integrated into the story and mechanics. With things like micro-payments being a contentious issue for many hardcore MMO players, who makeup a large percentage of the market, BioWare will have to be careful about how they handle this – lets hope their passion for story and great gameplay will makeup for lack of experience in this particular genre.

–> Sega

The once great Sega are apparently announcing a Natal Project at E3. Its unkown with it will be a new IP or whether they will bring back a much-loved story from the many in the depths of their games history. And Lastly, creators of the upcoming third-person shooter, Vanquish, Platinum Games of Sega, are to make a PS3 version first, before the 360, because the Playstation 3 is untrodden territory for Sega, and thus they want to avoid a “shoddy” port.

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Odds & Sods

Every week there are a number of odd bits of news I can’t justify a whole section on nor think of a brilliantly unfunny title for. Try to read the following as TV news headlines with epic music in the background.

  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Microsoft is already developing a Natal 2. [This probably isn’t as surprising as it sounds, if it is true, as it’s most likely internal development that’s taking place all the time at the company’s headquarters – it’s unlikely to stay stagnant just because the Natal’s almost ready.]
  • Game Informer have yet more scoops on the Portal 2 world, now with new characters, including new loveable sentry bots.
  • The movie adaptation of Kane & Lynch is to star none other than Bruce Willis (that sounds about right) and Jamie Foxx (wait, what?), respectively.
  • GameStop will reportedly have shortages of Wiis and PS3s until the summer, according to the company’s Executive VP of merchandising, Tony Bartel.
  • Nintendo have are due to release the 3DS in March next year, to support 3D gaming, with a sharp screen and analogue sticks.
  • Vice President of Epic Games, has confirmed there will be no Gears of War this year, in order to stay out of the way of blockbuster titles and the Natal. [When questioned on the April 2011 rumour he answered, “you’re kidding right?” – take what you will from that]
  • The Playstation 3 is the heaviest console of all time.
March 23rd, 2010
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News

Christmas Update

Best wrapping paper ever.

Best wrapping paper ever.

Well its knee-deep in leftover turkey that I bring you this update, so I thought it only appropriate to do a short round up of gaming news, good gaming gifts and things to look forward to. So in the spirit of the everlasting and eternal with which Christmas is now loosely asscociated with, I bring you something else just as everlasting – Duke Nukem Forever …and ever. That’s right, the unfortunate title is not actually dead, at least according to Scott Miller, CEO of 3D Realms, despite the various lawsuits and speculated release dates. He claims that in the next few years there will be a “resurgence” of the Duke Nukem IP. More info here – just let it die!

Adding to the already comprehensive evidence of the importance of the games industry within the entertainment sector is a new report from the Daily Telegraph showing that Britons spent more on games in the past year than movies (that’s DVDs and cinema visits together) totalling up to a wopping £1.73bn compared to just over £1bn at the box office. Mainstream media is slowing pulling itself out of its own ignorance, and the more this continues, the better acknowledgement games will get. It took the global event of Modern warfare 2’s release to even alert some newspapers that men over the ages of 21 actually played video games and they subsequently published whole articles on how astounding it was – lets hope for a brighter future. In news from the US various studios are reporting layoffs such as Futuremark, but on the positive side,  a recent developer census chowed that there has infact been a slight rise in employment over the pond – glass half full eh?

I mentioned the importance of DLC a couple weeks ago, and the avalanche of downloadable delights is proudly rolling forth right now. All the Fallout 3 DLC is now available for half price on Xbox Live should you need to get your post apocalyptic fill, and you should; Also up for the picking is all the CoD:WaW DLC for just 2000MS points, though im still yet to figure out why you’d be playing that, what with god’s Infinity Ward’s gift to gamers being out there on the shelves. We also have brand new content for our pleasure including Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot for Borderlands which is out now for Xbox gamers, and January 7th for the PSN. Finally we have some Dragon Age: Origins DLC to look forward to, coming out next week – dig deep folks – afterall, its Christmas.

Speaking of Dragon Age, its one of the many delectable gifts I received this festive season and im thoroughly enjoying it – but its very much an RPG fan’s wet dream, so hardcore FPS’ers should stay clear for fear of pointy ears and swords. I also received WW2 sandbox game The Saboteur and I’ll be posting a review up in a week or so with my thoughts.

If you happily received Modern Warfare 2 this Christmas or any other time, you will, apparently be going straight to hell, at least according to a Maine Christian group who are saying all decent people should denounce MW2. Ironically, all those loonies are doing is giving the game with all the publicity in the world, just a tad bit more; Morons. And while we’re on the subject of Infinity Ward’s Shooter, I feel its worth mentioning that its topped out the illegal download charts this year unsurprisingly, being downloaded 5 million times – bit of a shame really; TV shows and music are one thing – but don’t bother illegally acquiring such a damn fine game.

Christmas is also a time for sharing, so I’ll underwhelm you by sharing the videos and links ive been looking at recently that you may also enjoy. Firstly, spoiler warning, as Mass Effect 2’s Achievement list has been leaked, you can find that here, Then we have a couple of videos on YouTube which apply the mythbusting method of the popular TV series Mythbusters to Modern Warfare 2 – a match made in heaven; and you might just find out some interesting stuff or at least some new methods to torture noobs. Lastly I’m a huge fan of the Inside Gaming series, so what could be better than a games-related comedy web series featuring the host of Inside Gaming, Adam Kovic, AKA The Dead Pixel? …..not much, so here it is.

Finally, its time to do as Noddy of the 1970s band Slade did and look to the future because we’re in for one hell of  year this time round, especially in the opening months. Not only are we getting some fine DLC for Assassin’s Creed II for only a shiny nickel or two, but we’re in for some blockbusters as well. Topping my list is the space epic, Mass Effect 2 – Bioware know what they’re doing, and as an added bonus, have apparently made this sequel much seedier and adult – fun times. Also looking bloody fantastic is Rockstar’s Wild West offering Red Dead Redemption; the gameplay trailer looks bedwettingly-good I’ll have you know. Then of course we have some great potential in the FPS area with MAG, Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Bioshock 2, not to mention Splinter Cell Conviction and other big titles coming later on such as Brink. So thats it for now, not much actual news for this week – I hope to update much more regularly in the coming year and wish anyone who has stumbled across this blog a merry Christmas and belated new year!

December 30th, 2009
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Reviews

Network security is one of the most important aspects to consider when working over the internet. Though it sounds scary, it’s not very difficult. I personally have come across several dozen hacks I wished were a thing of the past. To get started, it’s easy to use free tools to protect your computer. These apps can protect you from the most common internet threats, like phishing, viruses, and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).

What is cyber protection? - Definition, Importance, Types, Cost - Acronis

Choose Your Most Secure Browser

Browser security is a topic that can’t be discussed enough. It comes down to convenience and effectiveness. You want to be able to do all of your tech tasks with a browser, whether it’s navigating around the web or using an online app. If you’ve got a choice, go with a browser with the strongest security technology and a strong core code, so that you won’t have to worry about hacks being used to break in, we suggest including the use of SD-WAN solutions to protect your network as well. But these days, everyone wants the fastest, most stable, and most efficient browser they can get. We’ve got the best browsers to choose from. Here’s a few of the most secure browsers:

If your phone is like mine, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what a fingerprint scanner and iris scanner will do for your security. These two simple tools can help you to keep your information private when you get in to a new place. These are also very effective in stopping nefarious people from accessing your accounts, but it’s up to you if you want to take the plunge. They’re easy to use and the encryption tools they use are secure. If you really want to protect yourself online, then be sure to use these two services.

Some of the best smartphone apps are also available for your desktop. For example, your browser is more secure, as all your online accounts are stored within your phone, whereas on your desktop, your personal files are isolated, protected, and encrypted.

Protect Your Virtual Machine

Before you get to your virtual machine, be sure to secure your computer first. Many users will simply choose not to install any antivirus software because antivirus programs can be more tedious than necessary to operate. But if you use the very most up-to-date antivirus programs available, it could be the difference between your system being hacked and having to scramble your files. And since your antivirus programs aren’t capable of being installed on virtual machines, it’s even more important to protect them. If you have a Mac or Linux machine, then you can simply install your antivirus software, but if you’re a Windows user, then you’ll need to download an antivirus solution that’s specifically designed for virtualization.

How To Protect Your Data from Hacking in Virtualization

Your resources are finite and there’s not much you can do about it. The good news is that you don’t need to do anything complicated or sophisticated to protect your data. You simply have to make sure you keep a backup of your system before it’s shared with your guests.

April 2nd, 2008
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