The odds have always been stacked against Call of Duty: World at War. This sequel revisits an undeniably exhausted FPS setting—World War II—and wasn’t designed by series creator Infinity Ward, but Treyarch has delivered a sufficiently compelling shooter. World at War doesn’t bring any lasting innovations to the FPS genre, but it has enough unrelenting shootouts and dramatically scripted events to keep us immersed in the action.
Generally, the term “conference call” stirs up images of stuffy businessmen swapping stories about things like revenues, stocks, and how to be completely out of touch with today’s youth (“Call your online database ‘kgb’! Then fill your commercial with facetious douchebags!”). However, there ain’t no conference call like an Activision Blizzard conference call, and today’s game of telephone didn’t disappoint.
First up, Acti-Blizz finally took war back to the future with the announcement that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will launch during Q4 (real, not fiscal) of 2009. Is it us, or is the recession looking a little pale?
Continuing its elongated pop-the-question date with our PCs, Activision Blizzard also plans to launch StarCraft 2’s beta sometime in the “months ahead.” In addition, the much-anticipated beta will include an early version of Battle.net’s next iteration, which will probably just open a portal to heaven or something.
Did we mention that Activision won’t be laying-off anyone? Presumably at all? Draw your own conclusions.
No one makes a big open-world role-playing game like Bethesda. That’s what the Elder Scrolls games are famous for, and that’s what the company has brought to the post-nuclear-holocaust milieu of Fallout 3. The game takes you to the world outside Vault 101, the charred remains of the Washington D.C. metro area 200 years after the nukes flew. Truly, Bethesda has built an amazing world.
And this world is the star of the game. Fallout 3 is massive—closer to a single-player MMO than a traditional, linear single-player RPG. As you explore the Wasteland, which surrounds D.C., you’ll meet hundreds of people, many of whom have their own stories to tell, and find hundreds of locations to explore. These range from fully fledged towns to survivalist outposts to ammo caches to camps for the various factions that populate the land. As in Oblivion, you control your progress through the game. Should you choose to skip the main quest, you can explore the world and look for adventure, completing quests and reaping the rewards along the way.
In the original Far Cry, rigging a tree branch to clothesline a hapless foe was a deadlier alternative to, you know, shooting them. With guns. Unfortunately, Far Cry 2 de-fanged guns in a similar manner (minus the pro-deforestation propaganda) – something for which we nearly awarded it a seven out of ten. Good thing, then, that Ubisoft Montreal has announced a new “Hardcore” Far Cry 2 multiplayer patch that promises to make sure in-game guns’ bite outdoes trees’ bark (grooooan).
"The hardcore mode has been designed as an answer to a community request," Ubisoft community developer Atmon wrote on the game's official forums. "Some players were seeking and expecting a more realistic experience.”
A new damage model will be applied with increased damage for all weapons.
All weapons have been rebalanced on normal mode, and on hardcore mode.
Enemy names will disappear after the spawning invincibility period is over (A shield is displayed above a player’s head for a few second to show that he is invincible).
A new option will allow you to tweak spawning time (but not spawning rate).
A new search option will be available in multiplayer to allow you to find games that are playing on hardcore mode.
The patch hasn’t been given a drop date just yet, but we’ll be sure to give you a heads up when it does.
Multiverse might be on the verge of revolutionizing web-based gaming, or so it claims. Using its technology platform, Multiverse says it's possible for developers to create 2D, browser-based versions of a full-scale downloadable 3D game, and then allow players to interact between them.
"Now, you can have proven genres of videogames, really popular games, like shooters, real-time strategy, sports, and things that exist on consoles or specially installed games, and those types of games can live in your web browser without a download," said Corey Bridges, Mulitverse co-founder.
To showcase the technology, Multiverse released a simple Flash game called Battle that runs on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, and Kongregate. According to Bridges, Battle is one of the first-ever multiplayer, real-time, action or combat-based Flash games. And unlike most multiplayer Flash games, Battle isn't turn-based.
But the real value to developers in having a 2D to 3D cross-over capability might come from being able to offer free online trials where potential game buyers can jump in and play with other people without requiring a download.
Whether or not Multiverse's platform catches on, only time will tell. But according to Bridges, we may not have to wait long. He says a small handful of developers have begun taking their in-development 3D worlds and "are making a window into those worlds that can be done in Flash."
Well, kinda. GameStop has reopened its palace doors to Dawn of War II and – by virtue of its inclusion with the game -- would-be assassin Steam, but THQ’s Saints Row II and 2K’s NBA 2K9 remain conspicuously absent.
Upon its removal from GameStop’s pre-order list, Dawn of War II was thought to be the opening volley in a scuff between storefronts – retail vs. online, to be specific. GameStop employees, however, insisted that the retail giant merely exhausted its pre-order supply for a short period of time.
Certainly, GameStop’s passive refusal to slow its waterfalls of boiling oil for Saints Row II and NBA 2K9 seems a little odd, but re-stocking Dawn of War II – PC gaming’s first heavy-hitter of 2009 – pretty much puts the kibosh on any sort of cold war between GameStop and Steam.
Well, that’s that. Every single inhabitant of the Capital Wasteland – be they man, woman, or part-man, part-tree, with-another-person-in-there-somewhere-maybe – has gazed upon our newly acquired invisibility suit, badass lightning sword (technical term), and gauss rifle, and felt envy’s green tendrils grip the Do Want lobe (again, technical term) of their brains. Hell, we even created a separate Fallout 3 save file in order to murder all of said people with said badass lightning sword. Long story short, we’ve encountered the Wasteland’s most intimidating foe: boredom.
But sadly, we might just have to expose our virgin minds to other games, because Bethesda recently sent word that Fallout 3’s remaining DLC packs, The Pitt and Broken Steel, have each been delayed for a month.
The Pitt will now go live in March, while Broken Steel and its ten levels-worth of new content won’t emerge from the vault until April.
If Dead Rising taught us anything, it’s that donning goofy apparel is par for the course during a potential zombpocalypse. So, of course, as mindless slaves to our media (though not quite “zombies”), we’re thrilled that it’s finally kosher to sport a pair of multi-colored shades while doing our civic, undead-slaughtering duties.
Oh, we guess you also get “true 3D” out of the whole deal or whatever, but it’s not like anyone else benefits from your newfound sight beyond sight. Only you, you self-serving greed-pig.
So here. Here are your dumb means to achieve your selfish ends. After all, it’s not like we’re bitter because the hack won’t work on our PC. No. You’re just a terrible person. Never forget that.
Killing zombies does not get boring. Ever. Complacency – allowing your well-trained, unflinching nerves to put on a nice layer of soft, easily startled flab – is exactly what the zombies are waiting for. However, one can never be too prepared for the decomposed, constantly vomiting end of civilization as we know it, so Valve’s announcement that it intends to continually expand Left 4 Dead is perfectly reasonable.
The game’s first batch of DLC, titled “The Survival Pack,” will slather a new layer of glue onto your computer screen this spring. It’ll include a new multiplayer mode – called Survival, natch – as well as two new campaigns for Versus Mode.
Also hitting shelves this spring is a Critic’s Choice Edition of L4D. Not content to merely repackage the game’s vanilla edition, L4DCCE will lure new players in with a warm mug of glowingly positive review quotes and keep them on the edge of their seats with the aforementioned Survival Pack.
Valve’s also tossing a free SDK in there around the same time, giving you the ability to kill zombies in a box, with a fox, in a house – anywhere really!
Hell, we suppose, if you’re a complete madman, you could even cook up something totally ridiculous like zombie Nazis. But that’d just be loony.
Update: GM Mark Jacobs confirmed that Mythic has seen a rash of lay-offs. However, he didn't dig into the who's and why's of this sad state of affairs.
Looks like the Fat Lady and Porky Pig are eying Warhammer Online as a possible next gig, though no contracts have been inked just yet. EA surreptitiously tossed Warhammer’s subscriber numbers into its recent investor call, probably hoping no one would notice the compact number’s squeaks and squeals. Unfortunately, the little tyke mumbled its way into an avalanche.
After announcing that Warhammer Online’s subscriber base has dropped from its rapid rise to 750,000, all the way down to 300,000, developer Mythic apparently axed 60-130 of its employees. Even worse, senior designers have reportedly been told to take a hike as well. Granted, this is only a rumor for now, but we’re seeking confirmation from Electronic Arts.
Regardless, though, things are looking grim for Mythic’s incredibly promising MMO. Here’s hoping the game’s upcoming series of live expansions can save this raid from completely wiping, but to be honest, we’re not hopeful.
See, economy? This is why we can’t have nice things.