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Brink HUD Trailer

Take a look at this tutorial video if you want to hit the ground running and know what all of the HUD doo dads mean so your teammates won’t yell at you. (Brandon…)

Brink is set to ship on May 10th.

Spiderweb Software Launches Avadon for Windows

Do you like your role-playing games old-timey and packed with data? Spiderweb Software has been around a long, long time and has developed a lot of really good role-playing games for the PC. These are definitely more in the “classic” sense of the genre and not your super spiffy 3D with facial animations. It’s an indie through and though.

However, this is certainly worth a look simply based on Spiderweb’s history. Jeff Vogel is also one hell of a gaming curmudgeon, so we like him.

You can purchase the game, play the demo, or just read more about it at the Spiderweb website here:

Can You Play Duke Nukem Forever?

Now, this is not do you want to play Duke Nukem Forever, as that is an entirely different question. This is — can you play Duke Nukem Forever. (From the looks of the specs, you can.) That is, if you planned on playing the PC version. Gearbox has released the System Specs, so off we go:

Minimum Specifications
* OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.0 Ghz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 @ 2.0 Ghz
* Memory: 1 Gb
* Hard Drive: 10 Gb free
* Video Memory: 256 MB
* Video Card: nVidia GeForce 7600 / ATI Radeon HD 2600
* Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

Recommended Specifications
* OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4 Ghz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 @ 2.6 Ghz
* Memory: 2 Gb
* Hard Drive: 10 Gb free
* Video Memory: 512 MB
* Video Card: nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS / ATI Radeon HD 3850
* Sound Card: DirectX Compatible

Initial installation requires one-time internet connection for Steam authentication; software installations required (included with the game) include Steam Client, Microsoft DirectX, Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable (ATL), Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable, and AMD Dual Core Optimizer. (AMD optimizer required only for specific AMD processors to run the game correctly, but installs for all of them.)

DiRT 3 Superteams Pack Trailer

Codemasters has released a new “superteams” pack trailer for its upcoming rally racing sequel, DiRT 3, which is due out at the end of May. The 24th to be precise.

It’s worth noting here that the trailer is promoting pre-order bonuses in the form of the “superteams”.

The Superteams pack unlocks the Texaco Racing Team, Brembo Racing Team, Team Yokohama and Mobil 1 Performance Team, allowing players to drive for those teams, boosting their driver rep and giving them exclusive team liveries. It will also give gamers immediate access to a wide range of cars including the Ford RS200 Rallycross, Fiat 131 Abarth, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X Jun and the iconic Lancia Delta HF Integrale.

IF…you pre-order it at “selected retailers”. Hey at least they aren’t asking for more money, right?

Thanks Blue.

THQ's CEO Suggests Single Player Hurt Homefront

Industry Gamers sat in on a conference call where THQ CEO Brian Farrell suggested that the short single player campaign in Homefront was the main reason some critics panned the game.

Farrell has been all over the map when it comes to the criticisms of Homefront, stating after release and after the reviews poured in, “This game is not a 70″ referring to the overall Metacritic score. In fact, if you want to believe Metacritic’s voodoo — it is a 70. Perhaps the THQ CEO has reached the acceptance stage?

Regardless of how the critics or even the public viewed Homefront it did ship 2.6 million units. That’s a lot of angry digital Koreans and the game helped drive the company’s latest fiscal report.

This all came out during a conference call to discuss THQ’s quarterly financials, which if you read the story at IG, THQ is counting on big sales from Red Faction, Space Marine, Saints Row 3, and WWE.

Wii $150 on 5/15, Comes With Mario Kart

No High Scores

Normally I'd make some joke about the fact that we all knew this was coming, or that everyone already has a Wii but I'm tired so instead I'm going to play the straight man. As of May 15th, the Wii will be $150 bucks. Gone is the Wii Sports pack-in, replaced with Mario Kart. Oh, it also comes with the wheel thing-a-mabob. Along with your dirt cheap console, Nintendo is also bestowing upon you a collection of old games you can pick up for $20 bucks, such as the previously included Wii Sports. The shift from Wii Sports as the pack-in to Mario Kart is an interesting one as it says to me that Nintendo knows the days of luring in non-gamers with a generic sports title are over and now maybe they're looking to grab parents who want to start their children down the dark path of video game playing. Either that or they just discovered a massive cache of Mario Kart copies in some Japanese warehouse.

As this is an entirely new SKU, I doubt retailers will do any price matching should you find yourself with a recently purchased Wii and a receipt showing a number bigger than 150. It doesn't hurt to try, but I wouldn't get your hopes up either.

THQ says "da" to Metro 2033: Last Light

You might be asking yourself why I’m sitting here listening to an old Gorky Park cassette, shooting vodka and wearing a giant fur hat. Why, it’s because I’m celebrating the fact that THQ has formally and publically said “da” to the Metro 2033 sequel. Details are pretty much non-existent except for that promise that the follow-up would have a bigger marketing campaign and the fact that it’s no longer going to be called Metro 2034. It’s Metro 2033: Last Light. Great title. I’ve not read the novels, but I wonder if it’s going to be based on the one pictured.

Metro 2033 is on my shortlist for “Best Game of the Generation”. I wrote a long-winded and rambling blog review of it over at Fortress: AT last year. Few games I’ve played have packed such an emotional, atmospheric wallop. And yes, I liked tha the guns were absolute trash that couldn’t shoot straight.

I can’t wait to hear some more details- hopefully they’ll include assurance that the deadly light orbs won’t be returning, that was the only bad part of the game IMO. If you’ve played the first game, how in the hell do you think they’re going to follow up on that profound, introspective ending?

uDraw Coming to Next Gen Consoles This Holiday Season

No High Scores

I must admit, I’ve always been curious as to how the uDraw tablet works. THQ’s drawing peripheral, er, thing, has been primarily focused at the young’uns, but this holiday season, the tablet will be brought to next generation consoles. The tablet will be designed specifically for the new systems, which makes sense given that the Wiimote plugs right into it, something not easily replicated with a Sixaxis. THQ isn’t giving any more details about the upcoming peripheral so we’ll just have to wait and see. Seeing how they’ve shipped almost two million of the little buggers, I’m assuming THQ knows what they’re doing. Then again, the announcement came alongside a mention of a $136M loss this quarter, so maybe not.

Mount & Blade With Fire and Sword Available Now

Paradox today announced the release of With Fire and Sword, the latest installment of the Mount & Blade series.

My game diary for this one isn’t over, but I did have to restart (long story).

OK, not a really long story. Basically I learned that I am really, really bad at Mount & Blade and wanted to start over so I could review the damn game at a somewhat reasonable speed. Sir Niklas was, quite simply. the worst 17th century Eastern European mercenary in history. Now, that WOULD make for a great game diary (woo boy…) but not a timely review.

Anyway, PR Ahead:

Take up arms, hire mercenaries, and build your own empire—the world is what you make of it. Paradox Interactive today announced that highly anticipated open-world sandbox RPG Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword has officially launched and is now available on all leading digital distribution platforms for $14.99. To celebrate, a launch trailer and the demo has been released!

With Fire and Sword, the third stand-alone title in the acclaimed Mount & Blade series, gives players the freedom to decide who both their allies and enemies are as they create their own world inspired by Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1884 cult classic novel “With Fire and Sword.” Players will plan tactical takeovers, scheme which castles to siege, and battle rival armies with traditional weapons found in previous Mount & Blade titles, as well as newly introduced firearms such as muskets and pistols.

- Siege mechanics: storm the castle, blow up the walls, bribe an officer or poison the well/food to get past the defenses!
- New army and castle/town upgrade system ; The addition of firearms and explosives¨
- 15 new multiplayer maps and a new multiplayer mode, Captain Team Deathmatch in which players will command a squad of soldiers
- A setting based off the cult novel “With Fire and Sword” (1884) by Nobel- prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz
- Multiple endings for high replay-ability

The game is a stand-alone game created by the independent developers Sich Studios together with Taleworlds Entertainment based on the Mount&Blade: Warband engine.

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword is now available on all leading digital download platforms for $14.99, with a retail release following shortly. The retail box price will vary on different markets depending on retail box content.

Download the Mount&Blade: With Fire and Sword demo here:

Gaming Addiction

Over at, the other site I’m partially responsible for, one of our regulars has posted a rather chilling account of losing a loved one to gaming addiction . I’ve known “MJ” as I call him through the site for a couple of years and he’s tough as nails and super-critical, seeing him this vulnerable and really kind of at a loss for what to do is sort of disarming. This is pretty raw, emotional stuff and it deals with how sometimes games can cross over a threshold where they stop being fun pastimes and becoming something all-consuming, smothering, and harmful.

This is not some alarmist, Fox News piece about the dangers of gaming and it’s written by someone that plays a lot of games himself. Before anyone launches into the Gamer Defense Initiative, whereby games are absolved of any responsibility for this person’s actions, take a second to think about how many times you’ve played a game rather than doing something else that could have been more productive, social, or tangibly rewarding. Imagine doing that all of the time. That’s what it sounds like this person was doing. It could have been heroin or Gears of War, either way this person is someone who shouldn’t have been anywhere near games.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think video games cause people to do bad things any more than an Ozzy Osbourne record causes a kid to commit suicide or a Dungeons and Dragons game to incite someone to kill somebody. There’s extraneous, outlying causes including severe depression, dissociation, and other maladies that cause people predisposed to addiction or abberant behavior to cross the line. Games aren’t to blame in this story, but in a sense, gaming is. If only because it can be addictive, and it does hit a similar reward center that drugs or other addictive behaviors do.

Having been in and around games all of my life, owning a retail store selling them, and now running Web sites and writing about them professionally, I’ve seen more than my fair share of people that I’d class as game addicts. We probably all know someone who’s retreated into WoW games for months on end, or someone who’s played a Civilization game to the point where marriage and friendships are tested. I remember having a party once and I spent the whole thing playing Civ 2 while my friends were having fun upstairs. I’ve known many people who identify themselves by the games they play more than by who they are. I used to sell games to middle-aged men that would ask me if our credit card reporting put “games” anywhere on the statement. They had to have $200 worth of new games and didn’t want their wives to know. I had college kids coming in and spending the money their parents sent for food and expenses on 40k miniatures, claiming that they’d just eat dollar boxes of macaroni and cheese for the next month. “Being a gamer is expensive”, I had a customer say once.

This is one of the several reasons why I almost never refer to myself as a gamer and in fact I think it’s a negative term almost on par with “pothead”. Is there really anything different- on a fundamental level- between sitting in your living room playing an MMORPG or multiplayer FPS all day and smoking weed to the exclusion of doing anything else? I love games, I love gaming, but I know where the limits of fun lie. I think most people that enjoy games do and the overwhelming majority of people that pick up a control pad or roll dice do so and understand that games and life are not one in the same. But there are people out there who don’t, and every time I see those news stories about some mother that let a kid die so they could play Farmville or I hear about someone who’s marriage is in trouble over gaming it makes me sick.

Moral? Enjoy responsibly.