The wait’s nearly over, but it’s not going down without a fight. Today, developer Relic confirmed that Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II, its long-awaited RTS sequel, will take back the tabletop on February 23. However, should your need to… er, what were we saying? Sorry, we got distracted by some wicked-awesome Dawn of War II screenshots and realized that we’d really like to play the game before its relea...
On January 28, Relic will finally let its armor-clad, gun-toting progeny wander outside its baby-pen for a quick open beta. Even better, those who purchased the final Dawn of War expansion, Soulstorm, can expect beta access on January 21.
The beta will give players a chance to poke and prod all four of the game’s races across five multiplayer maps. Steam and Games for Windows Live are teaming up to put on this peep show, with Steam providing the downloads and GFW the matchmaking.
So then, we’re just going to sleep for the next 456 hours, because we’re not into the whole waiting thing. You, er, probably won’t even notice.
Microsoft’s CES keynote was, as expected, light on megaton gaming news, but a somewhat small – though undeniably interesting -- gem did manage to escape from Microsoft’s warchest. Titled Kodu, this easy-to-use game-creation tool is operated with only the Xbox 360 controller. However, based on a demonstration given during the keynote, Kodu could very well relegate games like LittleBigPlanet to the musty back corner of the toy box. Said MPC’s own Will Smith upon viewing the demo:
“The kid doing the Kodu demo (Sparrow) is hardcore with the radial menus. I forget how awesome they are if they're fast enough that you can actually use them. She was using the radial menus to adjust items in her game world. These are incredibly deep radial menus, compared to other apps. This is a pretty impressive tool, and she's controlling it entirely using the Xbox controller. There are lots of little games in the world.”
According to a Microsoft press release, Kodu’s colorful vistas are “expressed in physical action-reaction terms, using basic concepts like vision, hearing and time to control your character’s behavior.” Sounds pretty wicked.
Kodu launches this spring on the Xbox Live Community Games Channel.
See the rest of Microsoft’s game-related announcements after the break.
Want to bring some law back to this lawless, DRM-overrun country? Here’s your chance. The Federal Trade Commission plans to devote an entire town hall meeting to the do’s and don’ts of DRM, and it’s asking for input from those who feel that digital rights management has been mismanaged.
“Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content," the FTC explained on its official page. "Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations."
Even better, making your voice heard is as simple as vandalizing a blank email page with one of your scandalous messages – though bombarding the FTC’s inbox with outraged anti-DRM hatemail probably isn’t the best idea.
"The Commission invites interested parties to submit requests to be panelists and to recommend other topics for discussion. The requests should be submitted electronically to email@example.com by January 30, 2009....The Commission will select panelists based on their expertise and on the need to represent a range of views."
Frankly, we’re all for this. No matter the meeting’s outcome, it’s a sign that people in positions of power – and not just keyboard warriors – are beginning to realize DRM’s invasive nature. At the very least, cries of DRM’s deviance will no longer ring ineffectively in the ears of companies like EA. DRM has finally hit the big time, and the big time’s hitting back.
It’s the end of an era for videogame magazines. Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ziff Davis’ flagship multiplatform gaming magazine that began publication in 1989, is no more. Today, Ziff Davis announced the sale of its Game Group to Hearst Corporation, owner of the UGO network of websites. EGM, sadly, won’t be making the jump -- nor will the fan-favorite 1UP Show or any of the network's podcasts.
"We are extremely excited to join the UGO team," said Sam Kennedy, editorial director and creator of 1UP. "Relying on UGO's publishing platform will allow us to focus on what we do best -- creating great content and 'owning the conversation' among gamers through our unique, authentic and definitive voice and community."
Many of 1UP/EGM’s former employees, on the other hand, don’t share Kennedy’s excitement. Joystiq has the full list of lay-offs and departures – which they’ve aptly titled “Assessing the damage” – should you wish to get an up-close look at 1UP’s shattered remains.
Our best wishes go out to the many affected by this unexpected turn of events. Your smiling faces' monthly presence in our mailbox will be sorely missed. Even so, whatever you do next, we’re sure it’ll be amazing.
After a two-month brush with death (which may or may not have involved dueling a Balrog), Tribes 2 once again walks among us. However, the jetpack-heavy multiplayer shooter has cast aside its old, Sierra-shuttered servers in favor of a new robo-brain provided by an enigmatic group known as “TribesNext”.
Fortunately, TribesNext’s rule is a benevolent one, and Tribes 2 remains completely free – as it has been since 2004.
Whether you’re a death-frisbee spewing Tribes vet or simply think Left 4 Dead should fling you six feet into the air instead of six feet under, Tribes 2 is definitely a great game. Give the TribesNext beta a download here.
We've already spent some hands-on time with the G13 gamepad announced last month, but now Logitech has finally unveiled its full CES peripheral lineup with the rest of the new G-series family members. The popular G15 gaming keyboard has been completely revamped in a new G19 model, not only boasting more macro keys (the count is now up to 12 physical keys with 3 modes each) and customization options, but also a full color 320x240 GamePanel LCD display. Logitech also announced a brand new USB gaming headset, the G35. Dolby 7.1 surround-sound technology, noise-cancelling mic, convenient button locations, and voice-morphing software make this the first Logitech headset that we’re actually excited about. The $200 keyboard and $130 headset will be available in March, but we have some hands-on impressions and photos for you right now!
Research group The Nielsen Company recently released a list of 2008’s 10 most played PC games, but seeing as how you’re probably still scraping bolded numbers off your monitor after you last careened into our listsanctum, we nearly skipped it. However, as it turns out, Nielsen’s runway strut contained a pretty interesting anomaly, so we want you to look at it.
Top 10 PC Game Titles in the U.S.
World of Warcraft (2004) / Blizzard Entertainment 671 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.723% AU*
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) / Infinity Ward 403 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.163% AU*
Halo: Combat Evolved (2003) / Gearbox, Bungie 295 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.092% AU*
The Sims (2000) / EA Maxis 213 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.09% AU*
The Sims 2 (2004) / EA Maxis 291 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.086% AU*
RuneScape (2001) / Jagex Ltd. 451 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.084% AU*
Diablo II (2000) / Blizzard Entertainment 313 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.065% AU*
Team Fortress 2 (2007) / Valve 371 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.063% AU*
Counter-Strike (2000) / Valve 282 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.062% AU*
Counter-Strike: Source (2004) / Valve 426 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.061% AU*
*AU is the percent of PC Gamers playing title in the average minute. Data from Jan - Oct 2008.
Notice anything? Yep. Not a single game on the list was released in 2008 – except for maybe WoW: WotLK, but even then, this is telling sign of where PC gaming now needs to park its tuckus. Bottom line: Subscriptions and microtransactions. You’re welcome, industry. Our bill’s in the mail.
If you’re reading this right now, it means that 2008 just settled into its final resting place inscribed across its own grave stone, and that you’re reading this right now. I think we both have reason to celebrate. How to celebrate, though? Well, that’s your call. If you want to know which game – of the thousands released this year – is quantifiably GAME OF THE YEAR, then go here, here, or here (then everywhere else) and have a few repair hammers standing by for your reading glasses. However, if your 2008 -- like mine -- was defined by a number of exemplary moments in your favorite games, then why not get your gears turning with my favorite gaming moments of 2008? Enjoy!
Left 4 Dead’s Opening Cinematic – Sure, L4D is a meticulously sown-together Frankenstein monster of moments that both bring players together and blow them apart, but snuffing out Smokers and playing whipping boy while my buddies tangoed with Tanks wasn’t what impressed me most about the game. Instead, it was L4D’s subtle, yet utterly potent opening cinematic that really snuck its hand into my cranium-shaped cookie jar. As pointed out by the always fantastic Offworld blog:
“It wasn't until I actually started playing Left 4 Dead about a week ago that it all clicked for me. I popped the disc into my 360, decided to watch the opening cinematic again, and found myself just as unimpressed as I had been the first time. But when I actually started to play the game, I discovered that I somehow already knew how to play the game. I knew what abilities the zombies I had. I knew what strategies were effective. I knew that a pipe bomb was good for getting the horde away from your group; I knew that when I heard crying, I should shut off my flashlight; I knew that I had to help up fallen team mates, and that I wasn't surprised that I could should my guns when disabled.”
“Without once having booted up the game, I knew how to play it. “
What’s better than seeing the world? Seeing the world during its post-life crisis – at least, according to Valve. And so, during a recent pow-wow with Kotaku, Valve writer Chet Faliszek confirmed that a smattering of new L4D scenarios are currently making sure their crumbling shacks and snaking paths are undead-accessible, as is the long-awaited L4D SDK.
However, as of now, details are sadly few in number. Apparently, Valve wants to “deliver more content you can play at this point,” meaning that the SDK probably won’t arrive with the initial batch of DLC.
On the bright side, the zombpocalypse preparation tool’s first tune-up will add versus mode support to the Dead Air and Death Toll campaigns, allowing you to feast upon your friends’ flesh at all of the game’s fine locales.
The Kotaku-Valve chat was recorded on December 15, so Faliszek’s claim that "We should be announcing that before Christmas, what the DLC is,” was obviously derailed.
"The holidays aren't actually so much delaying it as the press guys--[marketing VP] Doug [Lombardi]'s been taking some time. We'll have an announcement shortly, I don't know exactly when,” he continued. We’re guessing that bit’s still valid.
As is Valve’s wont, the DLC probably won’t cost any money – though arms and legs haven’t been ruled out just yet.
We’ll make sure to let you know when Lombardi and co. finally raise the curtain on Left 4.1 Dead. Pencil us in for “soonish.”
Pockets still belching out quarters after a colossal Christmas cash feast? Looking to really score some bang for your newly acquired buck? Well, right after buying MPC subscriptions for a few friends, family members or neighbors (MPC makes for an amazing house-warming gift!), why not take a quick peek at Steam’s wall-to-wall sales extravaganza?
Should words like “extravaganza” not be enough to persuade you, here are a few more that might do the trick: BioShock for $4.99, Team Fortress 2 for $9.99, Company of Heroes for $14.99 and Left 4 Dead for $37.49.
The sales’s price tag-pulverizing kryptonite applies to all games currently available on Steam, but only until January 2nd. So get your credit card started on its New Year’s workout regimen early; the clock’s ticking.