The infamous Humble Bundle is proof positive that not all gamers are cheapskates. You know the drill -- you donate $1 or more and, as a reward, you receive a collection of titles. Many people choose to donate more than a buck, and there are incentives for doing so, but if you're strapped for cash, nobody's going to give you the stink-eye for what amounts to legal robbery. This week's Humble Bundle features "epic THQ games."
Rejoice, RTS fans and/or people who like good things. Relic's WWII real-time strategy has finally emerged from its bullet-time-like stasis. Well, OK, mostly. THQ hasn't mentioned the heavily rumored Company of Heroes 2 specifically, but a recent investor announcement saw it name-drop the franchise as one of its upcoming heavy hitters. On the downside, however, THQ continues to struggle with financial issues in much the same way someone who's spontaneously combusted in a desert searches for a body of water. The Company of Heroes focus, then, comes as part of a realignment to hone in on proven moneymakers like Saints Row and Warhammer. Which is fine by us, assuming they actually, you know, make money. Otherwise, Company of Heroes' triumphant return looks to be crushingly short-lived.
THQ's spent years walking a fine line between ambitious expansion and a collapse that'd rival even the world's most impressively misguided Jenga towers, but recent events suggested that the videogame Grim Reaper had finally lopped a leg right off the teetering beast. In short, Kevin Dent, industry veteran and CEO of games consultancy firm Tiswaz Entertainment, tweeted the following: “Apparently, The [Warhammer 40K MMO] has been canceled by THQ. I am hearing everything [in 2014 is canceled], they need to preserve cash.” He also alleged that the publisher was selling IPs back to their original owners. Dire straits, right? THQ begs to differ.
Metro 2033 was many things – atmospheric, frightening, jaw-droppingly gorgeous – but it wasn't perfect. Enter Metro: Last Light. 4AGames is going all out with the sequel to its underground hit, and it's dropped a whopping 12-minute gameplay demo to prove it. To be sure, this demo's a bit heavier on the slow-mo gunsplosions than 2033, but 4AGames assures us that the final game will still pack just as many gritty, grimy sense-engulfing moments of pure immersion as its predecessor. So then – no longer burdened by that burning question – grab some popcorn, sit back, and consider building a blast shield around your socks. They are, after all, liable to get blown off. Check out the full thing after the break!
Close. So close. Metro 2033 missed its grab at greatness by mere millimeters, and it pretty much broke our hearts. Thankfully, THQ doesn't plan on leaving this diamond-in-the-rough where it lies. And – much as we'd have liked to have seen Metro 2034, if only for confused cries of “There's already been 2,033 of them?” – developer 4A Games has settled on the ominous “Metro: Last Light.” Details and trailer after the break!
Homefront can best be summed up by its opening (which is nice, because that means you don’t have to play much of the game). You’re kidnapped and tossed aboard a bus, at which point you get to witness the ugly carnage of Korea’s invasion right in front of your face. Or maybe “in your face” is the more apt term, as the game immediately balks at the notion of subtlety. Senseless shootings. Dead bodies cluttering the streets. Parents brutally murdered as their child cries in terror. And this all happens within the first five minutes or so. It’s loud, it’s upsetting, and yet—somewhat shockingly— it’s incredibly difficult to care about.
Pour one out, have a moment of silence, or box something in coffin and shoot it out into space, because Company of Heroes Online is, unfortunately, dead. The free-to-play iteration of Relic's beloved WWII strategy will soon shed its beta safety net and, well, ker-splat.
“CoHO is closing. Shutting down. This isn't some kind of weird trick or marketing ploy where in three months we announce that it's back. This isn't New Coke,” a Relic developer said on the Gamerplays forums.
As of March 31, Company of Heroes Online will cease to be. As such, Relic's encouraged players to spend all their CoHO Cash as soon as possible, so as to avoid flushing their money down the gigantic, failure-encrusted toilet that is history.
On the upside, beta participants will receive a code that'll nab them the Company of Heroes Gold Edition for only $4.99. Also, the Company of Heroes franchise isn't down for the count just yet, with Relic explaining that “we are still working on our plans for the Company of Heroes franchise and are not ready to discuss details yet.”
Still though, it's a damn shame that this one will never see the light of day. RIP, COH. May flights of microtransactions sing you to your rest.
One step forward, two steps back. Just when you thought Microsoft's consistently behind-the-times (or “draconian,” because we think that's a neat word) online service had lost one of its main footholds and fallen into the abyss of your bad memories, Dawn of War and Company of Heroes publisher THQ has decided to forgive and forget.
“It's been easier for development [moving to Steamworks], so far, but Microsoft is really talking to me a lot about getting back on Games for Windows Live,” THQ core games boss Danny Bilson told Shacknews. “I like both platforms and I really, really, really like Microsoft as a partner. They're fantastic partners. I want to respect them.”
“There are a lot of discussions going on about that now because it's a sensitive issue. But from a development point of view, it has been easier on Steamworks. That has nothing to do with Steam as a distribution platform, as you know. The developers really like it, but again, I have incredible respect for Microsoft and they're really fantastic partners. And so, there's a lot of ongoing discussion about that.”
On the upside, Bilson also threw his company's considerable weight behind the PC, saying that “you're going to see every single title from [the Core group at THQ] that makes sense, on PC. I mean, almost every one.”
Meanwhile, in GFWL's little slice of the gaming world – which we have to imagine is located under a rock, unburdened by silly inconveniences like recent developments or timely feedback – they're just now getting around to lauching a dedicated online marketplace. Granted, it's lacking a number of Steam's features, but hey, at least they're finally getting rid of those silly Microsoft Points. Which is all a very roundabout way of saying: Danny, we love you, so please don't make us hit you.
Used-game sales have been a particularly painful thorn in game publishers' sides (and wallets) for years now, so we can certainly understand why THQ would want to dig its fingernails in deep and yank them right out of existence. On the other hand, however, the publisher's plan to ask for even more of gamers' money up front might be the equivalent of poking and prodding the thorn until it goes in even deeper.
The program's making its debut in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, and asks players to hand over a flat sum of $9.99 in exchange for the promise of “select select downloadable content released throughout the life of the game for a one-time anticipated purchase." For now, they're calling it “Fan Axxess,” which caused our spellcheck to run to its room in tears and stop speaking to us.
So, why fork over your dough before the DLC's even finished cooking? Because, in the long run, this method's cheaper for you. For instance, the first DLC pack will go for 560 Microsoft Points (or $7.00) on its own, while the second one will lightly tickle your piggy bank to the tune of 240 Points ($3.00). With Fan Axxess, you'll pay $9.99 up front and get both once they release later this year and next year, respectively, on top of immediate access to all the game's unlockables and -- presumably -- more DLC in the future.
The implication, of course, is that this is only the beginning. Two DLC packs could hardly be called a “life,” so more is probably in the pipeline. A potential problem, however, climbs into the ring and clocks the ref with a steel chair if the game tanks and DLC development stops being worth THQ's while. Fortunately, for now it seems THQ's only sticking Smackdown vs. Raw's giant, steroid sponge of a neck out with this one – probably to gauge players' reactions before deciding whether or not to implement it into other titles.
So, the obvious question: Would you pay for “Fan Axxess” – assuming, of course, that it didn't have a name that made you want to hack THQ in two with an axe? In retrospect, we would've killed for something like this back when DLC-heavy games like Fallout 3 and Borderlands first launched. Of course, we're saying this now – after both games have already fulfilled all their DLC-related promises. What's your take?
We're pretty sure Dawn of War II is the only RTS in existence that requires more micromanagement before you're able to play the game than while you're clickity-clicking through the thick of battle. See, in order to even view the sci-fi strategy title's start screen, you have to first negotiate your way past two login menus – one for Steam and one for Games For Windows Live. In addition to that relatively minor annoyance, most of you probably know GFWL by its true acronym: SATAN.
Fortunately, THQ's decided that it's high-time Microsoft's online games “service”/dark lord of the underworld be kicked to the curb. From here on out, it's full Steam ahead.
"The move to Steamworks will also allow us to provide features like guest passes, free multiplayer weekends, pre-loading and the ability to provide fast turn-around on future patches and updates,” said THQ in a statement.
"This new back end will allow players to invite friends into matches from their Steam friends lists and take advantage of the full set of Steam community features including groups, achievements, and Steam overlay chat channels.”
Dawn of War II: Retribution, which is scheduled to launch in March 2011, will be among THQ's first to finally tell GFWL that “no means 'no'” and declare that its one true love has always been Steam. Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, to continue the metaphor, will be singing its best rendition of 'N Sync's “Bye, Bye, Bye” to GFWL as well. Good riddance, eh? This makes us almost as happy as when we heard 'N Sync broke up.