News

News 25/5/10: “What the dickens happened at the end of Lost?” edition

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Now that I’ve expressed my repressed dismay on the subject of TV’s most eminent cop-out finale, we can get on with some interesting tid-bits of news to let our palettes savour. I’ve been deep in my childhood wild west fantasies for the last few days, which Read Dead: Redemption allows me to indulge, so I should have a review up for that in the next few days, and as you may have noticed, it’s causing quite stir with shortages on PS3, fulfilled expectations of high sales numbers and even Irish newspapers protesting against its loveable Irish drunk. Anywho, I felt it necessary to put something up here while I prepare my review so here’s some information with which you may temporarily satisfy your never ending hunger.

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Pre-3

With the year’s biggest trade show just around the corner, rumours concerning large announcements at E3 are flittering about interwebs unchecked. So to get our heads straight and prepared for this maelstrom of promised-filled gaming news, I’ve decided to roundup what we know, and what we don’t have a clue about.

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So out with big guns first: It was rumoured last week, by MCV that, the PSP 2 would make it’s debut appearance at this year’s E3, but after some digging from the likes of VG247, supposedly reliable sources reveal that they are “99%” sure that it isn’t setup for an E3 reveal, but it is supposed to have 3G capabilities, 2 cameras and a very powerful processor. Word on the street, or rather behind closed developer’s studio doors, is that it’s actually due for an early 2011 launch, as games are currently being developed in the UK as we speak. Either way, it’ll be certainly interesting to see what the fat cats at E3 have to say.

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Also in the journalists’ sights is Capcom, who according to a recent episode of Weekend Confirmed podcast, have a “bombshell” to drop at E3, and speculation points to either a reboot of a classic franchise that will utilise Project Natal or Devil May Cry 5. Personally, I’m crossing my trembling fingers for the former, as Capcom has some truly fantastic franchises in the cupboard, and lets face it, Devil May Cry 4 failed miserably, so I’ve not got high hopes for that white haired buffoon for a 5th outing.

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To add to the hype, EEDAR boss Jesse Divnich, in an interview with Game Informer, predicted that Rockstar would be at least teasing GTA V at E3, for a possible release in 2011. He also noted that it’s unlikely any exclusivity deals would be drawn up this time round because Microsoft’s attempt’s with GTA IV wasn’t particularly successful, and there are other franchises in the market now standing as tall if not taller than GTA, thus an exclusive deal with for the PS3 or Xbox 360 would do much less to affect hardware sales. Although this leans towards dubious and seems to be complete speculation, it’d be foolish to ignore such a man’s predictions, so stay tuned for Grand Theft Auto: Glasgow.

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On The DL

Some believe these digital downloads are the entire future of games, while others call bullshit, but either way, developers of all shapes and sizes are keen to sate your appetite for their franchises with extra content, so here’s what’s worth looking forward to spending your so-easily disposable income on.

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Firstly, the ever-dependable Bioware, via Casey Hudson told us that the alleged “Star Wars of this generation” Mass Effect series would bridge the story gap between 2 and 3 through downloadable missions. We’ve not really seen anyone use DLC as an instrument to advance narrative in any meaningful way, so as long as Bioware continue to deliver the goods at a reasonable price, we may witness the very evolution of the way DLC is to be handled. The Overlord DLC, including an entire new planet for you to prance around in your space boots on, is heading for Xbox Live in June.

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Also very much on my radar, or should I say in my torchlight, is the sharp implement-filled Alan Wake, which is to receive its first DLC July 27th, “The Signal”, cutting Remedy’s development time record by about 500%, with promise of a second instalment on the way, named “The Writer”, thanks to an opportunistic screenshot of a glitch in the Alan Wake online store. Turn all your lights on and keep looking behind you for my exceedingly, but fashionably, late review in the next few weeks.

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Finally the folks, at least the few left, over at Infinity Ward have announced and detailed the second map pack for Modern Warfare 2, Resurgence, at the same price with the same distribution of maps, headed deployment on June 3rd. Resurgence includes Vacant and Strike from CoD 4, and three new maps by the names of Trailer Park, Carnival and Fuel.

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CoD: Black Ops

Now MW2 is all well and good, but most would agree that it’s starting to loose its edge, and along with all the drama concerning Activision, it’s very nice to see Treyarch, the underdog of the Call of Duty licensing deal, produce something pretty kick ass, with the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops. The trailer below, put simply, is thunder-fucking awesome, and of course, although we must be rational and remember it’s just a trailer, it seems like Treyarch are doing their best to capitalise on all the bad press over Modern Warfare 2. To put salt on the wound Black Ops will have dedicated servers, an issue which caused a debacle back when it was announced this would not be the case for MW2. It appears Treyarch are putting a lot of effort into a brand new multiplayer class system, new vehicles and even a streamlined matchmaking system amongst other things. More info to be thrown our way in due course; Call of Duty: Black Ops launches on November 9th.

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And Finally…

I’ll leave you with this completely unrelated video, which I can justify posting, purely because it’s so gut-wrenchingly hilarious. Curtains please.

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May 24th, 2010
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News

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

News 21/1/10

DLC! It seems its all the rage this week, and not surprisingly, as companies are beginning to realize the huge benefit of DLC to increase games’ longevity and indeed, profitability. We’ve got Bioshock 2 DLC confirmed, day one, free DLC for Mass Effect 2 and some dodgy leaked info on the Modern Warfare 2 DLC. Along with that we’ve got NPD sales report, predictions and release dates…and some dates that are no longer release dates.

Modern Warfare 2 DLC

So here’s the scoop on the MW2 Map Packs: A hacker on YouTube claims to have found 6 brand new maps, including the white house, and a separate Map Pack with remakes of CoD4 classics – here’s to hoping. You can check out the video here. Also at CES last week, it was indeed confirmed that Xbox Live would be getting the first Map Pack exclusively to begin with, for at least 30 days – sorry PSN Puckers!

Mass Effect 2 DLC

Bioware have announced The Cerberus Network – a system available to Mass Effect 2 owners, that is, brand new copies, which will give updates and news on upcoming DLC and the like for free. They are currently planning two sets of DLC, both free, one which drops on day one and another shortly after. They promise to deliver new vehicles, weapons, missions and even a new alien chum!

NPD Sales Report

Last week the NPD released it’s most recent data report and surprise surprise, Modern Warfare 2 is the best selling game of 2009, totalling over $1 billion in sales so far, topping the Xbox 360 charts and becoming America’s fourth best selling game of all time. The Sims 3 topped out the PC chart, with MW2 coming in at 5th, presumably suffering from the rage over no dedicated server support. The Wii also secured an impressive number of high placings with it’s “games” – curse you Wii Fit!

Release Dates

In terms of release dates, Splinter Cell Conviction has been pushed back…again; but what with the recent CES there’s been quite a few announcements, so here they are:

  • Sony Motion Controller – Fall 2010
  • New Assassin’s Creed Title next year (supposedly with a multiplayer feature)
  • Natal Christmas 2010
  • Nintendo DS2 predicted 2011
  • Fable III 2010

Market News & Predictions

It hasn’t been a great year for EA – Its closed down studios, taken significant losses and as a result, has recently lowered its’ forecast – under the current CEO John Riccitiellio, EA has reportedly destroyed $11bn in market value, according to former EA senior executive, Mitch Lasky, on his blog. Analysts are predicted something falling through sooner or later and an acquisition looks highly possible; certainly Disney seems interested. Last week it was announced they are planning less games at a higher quality, the operative word being “planning”. Things could get interesting here.

January 20th, 2010
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Investing means putting your money to work to potentially earn a better return over the longer term than by keeping it in savings or in some other investment. Visit https://www.sofi.com/investing-101-center/ to learn all you need to know about investing!

I would not invest more than 4% of my current net worth into something that has a return that is equal to 5%/year, and I think many people do not do this. But if you think you might be in the market for an investment that might outperform the market over a long period, then investing 4% of your net worth in that investment might be a reasonable investment.

Many investors have trouble with this because they feel that their money has to be put to work for them, but they are not putting it to work for themselves by doing something that earns a higher return than 4%/year. This is why I’m in favor of making sure that the money I earn from an investment is invested in stocks that earn a 5%/year return on average, because then the potential returns from the investments go up over time. To me, an investment that pays me 4%/year is a good investment and an investment that earns a 5%/year return is a great investment.

I’ve had a hard time telling people my actual plan of action to achieve a 5% return. I’ve done plenty of reading and some research, but I don’t have a clear-cut answer. There are a few theories.

Why Is It So Hard To Reach 5% Return On Investments?

Before you take my word for it that this is possible, you need to look at the fact that investing doesn’t always pay off. There is no guarantee of that 5% return, no matter how good you are at the investments or how diligent you are in tracking your progress. There are three main reasons this happens. You make more money in one year than in 10. Investing can be very risky. That’s why you need to be diligent. If you get some money, then lose some it will cost you. Once you reach a certain level, it takes a long time before you get that return. And once you get that money, it’s not yours to give back. Once you get a return, you have to spend it or you’ll have to start all over again. You can’t hold on to it forever. There is no reason to keep the money for as long as possible. You should sell it when you can get enough interest.

I know this is the main reason many people don’t invest. The long term. It takes a lot of time to earn enough to pay the return. If you take the time to accumulate a good amount of money you’ll have plenty of interest. I know this is the reason many people don’t invest. Because they don’t want to spend too much time in making it work. But this is a wrong way. It is dangerous. You can run the risk of losing a lot of money too. There is no good way to make money. It’s not about how much you make.

January 9th, 2005
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