You’d think that with only one news post per week I’d be able to keep on schedule and keep you lovely people supplied with lots of interesting news about awesome games! Unfortunately it seems that the words “epic fail” are rather appropriate here because, once again, last week I missed the Endweek News deadline and had to shift the information I had gathered into this week!
Anyway! Enough remorse and sorrow! The news is important and I shall supply it to you post-haste! This week I’m also trying out a little bit of a different news system in that I will be making TWO posts! Now if you want you can check either one or the other of my news posts, but know that they contain different things. This news post is all about individual news articles. New games, new stuff, updates and DLC, it’s all the big pieces of news about individual games. The other news post (to follow shortly) will contain release dates, all the videos and the “Colour me Intrigued” bit where I will be talking about a number of games which have piqued my interest recently.
So… Shall we get started!
Rome: Total War 2 – Veni, Vidi, Vici
What I would describe as the biggest piece of news of the last two weeks is that Sega have announced that Creative Assembly is returning once more with another instalment in it’s hugely successful and popular Total War series. This next instalment in the grand strategy game will be a sequel to Rome: Total War and is called, imaginatively, Rome II: Total War. Now before we get down to the details of the game that have been provided it’s worth saying right now that the original Rome was, at it’s 2004 release, absolutely fantastic and even now is still an excellent game and one of the great gaming classics. So with that in mind I am, understandably quite excited about the prospect of another one.
There haven’t been many actual details about the game yet, aside from a prospective release date of the second half of next year (2013). When I say “not many details” I mean that there hasn’t been much along the lines of units and features revealed to the general public. However, Creative Assembly have spoken a lot about the game and their intentions for it.
The first point of interest is that the developers have a much bigger budget than they’ve had for any previous Total War game and Rome II will reflect that with a far grander scope and scale than previous games. The game map will be FAR vaster than it was in Shogun II, instead of just Japan this time the map will stretch for the entirety of the Ancient World (although I assume, going on my knowledge of the original Rome, it won’t include much of Russia or Asia). There will be more varied cities, buildings and battle landscapes. Cities will be bigger, described as “the size of cities” by James Russell, the creative director at the Creative Assembly.
They also want the campaign to “feel more human”. There will be a great focus in game on family affairs and plots within your own government. It seems that the game wants you to not only build up a grand Empire but it will want you to focus on the affairs within it’s borders. There will be characters and stories and drama. Also the decisions you make with your characters will, supposedly, have as big an impact on the world as any major battle or conflict. There will also be a greater focus on the diplomacy, for example when playing as the Romans there will be a lot of focus on whether you will keep the Roman Republic or whether you will just say “Oh fuck it” and make yourself Emperor, there will be plots, intrigue and strife… Essentially it seems you will be playing the TV show Rome within the video game Rome! Now my initial reaction to this was that it might well be awesome (having character development in a game will almost certainly make you more attached to certain ones) but it might also make your life difficult as you become bogged down in managing an Empire AND your multiple affairs without your wife finding out. However, Russell is quick to reassure that while the scope of Rome will be bigger the player’s workload will not be any bigger. There will be a “Province” system which will make sure that your mind never becomes bogged down in the building of units and buildings and managing your taxes. In fact he also says that Rome II might even be easier than it’s predecessor (I wonder whether THAT will be a popular decision).
As well as all this the battles are going to bigger and bloodier and there will be a greater focus on naval warfare where control of the Mediterranean will play a far greater part in your control of your world and Empire. As well as this your enemy will be widely different depending on who you are fighting. The aim behind the new and improved AI was that it would feel like you are fighting against another person and, depending on what nation they are, that person will have definitive traits and characteristics to his tactics.
Finally the game will also have a step up in it’s engine and graphics making the game look beautiful even as you drench it in blood! Because that is, after all, the point of Total War. You are building an Empire… And you don’t get an Empire without killing EVERYONE WHO OPPOSES YOU!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!
Annnyway! There’s also a pretty awesome Live Action trailer which you should check out in our video section. And if you are at all interested you might want to check out our review of Medieval 2: Total War.
Steam to change the way it works!
There’s some more big news from Valve which is such big news I will even link you the original news post I’m getting my information from here, in case you want some more details about what is going to happen with the worlds biggest PC gaming distribution platform.
Essentially Valve are introducing two major changes to Steam with the aim of getting the consumers/gamers and the distributors/developers to have more direct interaction with each other rather than through the intermediary of Valve.
The first big change is that now developers can update their games through steam without any approval from Valve and the gamers can directly send feedback on games and updates to the developers themselves. This will make updates less of a hassle for Valve, it will mean more interaction between customers and developers and it will mean that updates will be able to occur with greater frequency.
The other large change is that now developers will be able to post screenshots, videos, betas, whatever on Steam which will then be voted on by the community with the “Greenlight” system. This will allow developers to test the waters with new concepts of games and gauge the interest of the community who may greenlight some projects and ignore others.
All in all it doesn’t mean all that much for you as the gamer but it is a very smart move and could well result in a better relationship between gamers and developers, which could lead to an increase in the quality of games! It’s a big step forward for Steam…
Borderlands 2 – Rewards for Playing the Original and the Badass System
If you played the original Borderlands then Gearbox Software will be giving you rewards for being such loyal customers in the form of exclusive character customisation elements, for example special heads and character skins will be available if the game detects Borderlands 1 save files on your hard drive.
While this is interesting, the most interesting piece of news about Borderlands is the introduction of The Badass System. The Badass System is a new and completely unique mechanic for Borderlands 2 where you will be able to infinitely level your character, raising them up literally thousands of levels. Essentially what you do is you level up your “Badass Rank” which is linked to your profile and provides bonuses across all your characters from a choice of a random stat which is determined by a secret algorithm which Gearbox are keeping very much under wraps.
The system is supposed to be another example of endgame content for Borderlands, a literally limitless leveling system which Gearbox hopes will keep players entertained for an incredibly long period after they’ve finished the game. Now the chief at Gearbox, Randy Picthford, says that they want players to feel like they have bought a game costing “$60 or whatever” but that the players will then feel like they are “getting more value out of this than the last $500 [they] spent on other video games”. While I think it might well work at keeping people interested in Borderlands 2 and, let’s face it, Borderlands 1 wasn’t so unplayable at the endgame either, but I do think that saying that people will get THAT much enjoyment out of this one system which only involves endlessly leveling up… I think they might be being a tad optimistic there…
Holy Prequel Batman!
Rocksteady, the developer of the awesome Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City has recently announced what the next title in it’s series will involve. Instead of following up Arkham City with Arkham Universe or something similar the next game will actually be a Prequel to Arkham Asylum and will detail Batman’s first encounter with the Joke. It will also apparently be set in the so-called “Silver Age” of the DC Comic Books and will involve Bat’s forming the Justice League with other well known superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern and the Flash. Now the game won’t be arriving until 2014 “at the earliest” so we have a lot of time to slowly build up our expectations but I, as always, want to throw in my own two cents.
Frankly, I’ve never really been too impressed by the DC Universe heroes. Heroes like Superman and Green Lantern seem massively overpowered and so utterly pointless. Don’t get me wrong, Batman himself is absolutely fantastic and one my my favourite characters, but I do wonder if by including the other characters Rocksteady might actually damage one of my favourite series of games.
Microsoft stuff and Xbox 8 – Also known as Xbox ∞
Big stuff coming our way from Microsoft. Well, I say big stuff, honestly one of these pieces of news has been in the works for the last two years or so now and the other piece is a simple little piece of news which rumours have grabbed and spun into a massive story.
The first bit is that Microsoft have now announced that Windows 8 will be released late this October which is a pretty big news story for us computer folk, but not really there isn’t much to say about it.
The other piece of news is that Microsoft have recently bought and registered the online domains for “Xbox 8”. Now this has driven the rumour mill into an absolute frenzy with several popular theories behind the domains, all of course with the belief that we are finally nearing the announcement of the next generation of consoles. First it has been said that the next Xbox will use a form of Windows 8 and so perhaps registering these domains is a way of nodding towards the OS within the new console. Another popular theory is turning the 8 on it’s side results in the Infinity symbol and some believe that the next Xbox will be called Xbox Infinity. As well as this there is the belief that if it will be called the Xbox 720 then you get a double loop, or an 8.
Whatever the reasoning, it’s all really to do with what name the next Xbox will be and doesn’t point to any release dates or announcements or anything of that nature at all. But for gods sake why did my heart skip a beat when I heard about it?
War of the Roses beta sign-up
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! All men strong enough able to bear arms are hereby commanded to head over to the War of the Roses website (from Fatshark and Paradox Entertainment) where you can now sign up for the closed Beta which will begin soon!
Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises!
Mass Effect 3 Downloads and Music
So I heard you like Mass Effect 3, I mean who doesn’t?! Well Bioware have announced a few interesting tidbits of information for all us ME fans. First up there are two pieces of new DLC that are coming our way soon, the next batch of multiplayer DLC, and the first (or technically second) batch of in-game content to be released.
The multiplayer DLC, entitled the Earth DLC, will include six new N7 classes (listed below), a new extra-hard difficulty setting “Platinum” for the multiplayer matches, and will introduce maps based on Earth’s Rio, London and Vancouver. The new N7 soldiers ready to throw their lives into the fight against the Reapers are (as well as the powers they will be able to utilise):
- N7 Fury (Adept): Throw, Annihilation Field, Dark Channel
- N7 Destroyer (Soldier): Multi-Frag Grenade, Missile Launcher, Devastator Mode
- N7 Demolisher (Engineer): Homing Grenade, Arc Grenade, Supply Pylon
- N7 Paladin (Sentinel): Snap Freeze, Incinerate, Energy Drain
- N7 Shadow (Infiltrator): Tactical Cloak, Shadow Strike, Electric Slash
- N7 Slayer (Vanguard): Phase Disruptor, Biotic Charge, Biotic Slash
The new in-game DLC which was leaked by one of the voice actors for it is called Leviathan and will centre around a traitorous Reaper named Leviathan which has killed one of it’s own kind. Leviathan will eventually have the option of being recruited into a War Asset and the DLC will supposedly supply information on the background and history of the Reapers including on their mysterious origins. It also will give rise to the suggestion that the Reapers are indeed fallible after all.
The other piece of Mass Effect news I have for you lot is that if you have an Origin account you can head over to the Bioware website and download the seven-song soundtrack for the Extended Cut of Mass Effect. And what’s even more awesome, is that it’s completely free. Composed by one Sam Hulick I feel I ought to say that the Mass Effect soundtrack deserves praise as some of the most epic and atmospheric music I’ve heard in a game in a while. But then… I WOULD say that…
Games of Thrones MMO Seven Kingdoms – No “Winter is Coming” jokes here
Bigpoint have announced that the name of the Game of Thrones MMO in development is Seven Kingdoms. Bigpoint is the same developer behind browser based MMO’s Drakensang and Battlestar Gallactica Online both of which I believe have met with a measure of success.
The game will be set in the George R. R. Martin’s fantasy Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and will be set after the events of the first book in which Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon die and the North declares war on the South… OH! Spoiler Alert! Ned Stark dies! The company says that the game will hopefully allow players to experience some of the “epic moments” from Martin’s hugely popular world.
Honestly it sort of bothers me that everyone still calls it “A Game of Thrones” when that was merely the title of the first book and the whole series is actually “The Song of Ice and Fire”. But then I get incredibly hipster about this because I actually did like it before it became cool. Seriously…
Minecraft Updates Inc!
There are two fairly big updates for Minecraft to talk about here. First off is the news that Minecraft 1.7.3 is now available for the Xbox version of everyone’s favourite lego simulator! Rather than post the features of the update here I’m simply going to direct you over to Mojang where you can find out what’s what.
The other big update is update 1.3 which has yet to be released but will soon be coming to the PC version of the game. And this update looks like it’s going to be a big one. The update which will include emeralds and emerald ore (whether these will have any practical use I have no clue), the ability to buy items from villagers (which sounds awesome), the ability to write in books and an optional “bonus chest” in order to help new players “get started quicker” (cheats!) and of course many more features actually also has one rather big feature which is worth mentioning.
The plan is to that the update, which will release on August the 1st, will combine singleplayer and multiplayer where singleplayer will be a “shell on top of multiplayer.” I’m not entirely sure what this means for either the singleplayers or the multiplayers, but it will supposedly be of great asset to the modding community as it will allow modders to avoid having create two separate versions of their mod for single and multiplayer.
Star Wars The Old Republic – Free until level 15
Star Wars The Old Republic, the big and awesome Star Wars MMO by Bioware and EA is now free to play for all players up to level 15. While there have been free trials for the game before they haven’t been on this scale and it has been done to give prospective players a taste of the world created by Bioware Austin. The trial will allow the use of all 8 character classes, PvP and is available to all, even those who have participated in previous free trials.
The move is a clear move to try and restore some of the business the game has lost recently with a loss of over 400,000 subscribers between February and May. It could also be the first step towards the free to play business model which the developers were believed to have been considering recently.
Speaking of Films – Deus Ex and Assassin’s Creed Movie
So first off the news from Hollywood from the last two weeks includes the fact that CBS Films have bought the rights to create a film based on last years Deus Ex: Human Revolution and have roped in Roy Lee and Adrian Askarieh to produce it. If you don’t know who they are the don’t worry because I’d never heard of them either but apparently Adrian was producer on the Hitman movie a few years ago which was decidedly underwhelming. While the game was absolutely awesome and I approve, in general, of attempting to bring video games to a wider audience it’s fair enough to say that so far no films made of games (or games made from films for that matter) are particularly good, so I won’t hold my breath thank you very much.
That said, I’m about to be a bit of a hypocrite and say that I AM still excited about the idea of an Assassin’s Creed film, simply because of my undying love for the series. And the news about the film now is that actor Michael Fassbender (and yes… that IS the first picture of him I found on Google) will co-produce the film and will actually play as the protagonist of the film. Let’s try and picture him in a cowl now…
Hmm… I suppose that’s acceptable…
Halo 4 – Using a hard-drive is good
Microsoft have recently announced that in order to play Halo 4’s multiplayer you will need to have either a hard drive or at least one of Microsoft’s own 8GB USB flash drives and they “highly recommend” for “optimal performance” that you use a hard drive.
I’m not entirely sure why a multiplayer mode would need either of these things but that isn’t the first question to come to my mind honestly. The first question that came to my mind was “Who the hell owns and Xbox and DOESN’T have a hard drive for it?” If people like that actually exist then I say now, your choice was bad and you should feel bad!
Final Fantasy 7 re-release for PC
I give up… Honestly sometimes I’ll think I’ve researched a story and then I find out that everything I thought about it was actually wrong. You see I was under the impression that Square Enix had announced that they wouldn’t be remaking or re-releasing Final Fantasy XII until they had gotten the current FF games to a standard that matched the standard of the older games. Or something along those lines…
Well, I was wrong… Because Final Fantasy 7 is being re-released on PC this year to celebrate the Final Fantasy series 25th birthday.
You can check out a trailer in the videos post… I’m going to be here trying to figure out where I went wrong…
Assassin’s Creed 3 limited edition and co-op
Ubisoft have recently revealed the contents of the special Limited Editions for Assassin’s Creed 3 they will be releasing. There is the Digital Deluxe Edition for PC which will cost $64.99 and includes a notebook which will tell “George Washington’s true story,” three extra single-player missions, two special in-game costumes, and an original soundtrack collection and it is slated for a 23rd of November release.
The Limited Edition for Xbox and PS3 which is available for pre-order only will contain, for the meagre price of $119.99: a 9.44 inch figurine featuring Connor “poised to strike with tomahawk and hidden blade”, an embroidered 28×48 inch colonial flag and a “3×3.25 inch metal belt buckle.”
And, even more interesting for those of you with money I wish I had, Gamestop will be selling replica hidden blades on the game’s console release date for $39.99 which looks absolutely awesome and even works! I’m not going to lie… I’m poor… I have sense to know it’s a poor choice… But godammit I want, no I NEED, that replica!
Also in the news for AC3 is IGN’s reveal of the Assassin’s Creed co-op mode which allows a four man Wolf Pack (no seriously, that’s what the game mode is called) to take on waves of 25 NPCs fighting against the clock to assassinate increasingly difficult NPC targets. Co-op Assassin’s Creed? Is there anything about this game that ISN’T going to be awesome?
The answer is no… Everything about it will be awesome…
And, thankfully, THAT is the end of this weeks Endweek News! Keep your eyes on this spot folks because soon I’ll be posting the next part of the News which will include the last two weeks videos and trailers and our Song of the Week!