Prey 2 Officially Announced, Set for 2012

So it looks like Prey 2 is a go. Not sure how much this moves the meter with you folks but everyone seems to be talking about this so here’s the quick PR.

March 14, 2011 (London, UK) — Bethesda Softworks today announced that Prey 2, the sequel to the popular 2006 game, is scheduled for release in 2012 and will be available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows. First details on the game will be revealed in the May issue of PSM3.

Prey 2 is being developed by Human Head Studios, the studio that created Prey, the original award-winning game. Prey 2 is being built on the cutting edge id tech engine from id Software.

“We are thrilled to be working with Bethesda on Prey 2,” said Chris Rhinehart, project lead. Prey 2 will provide gamers the opportunity to explore a new facet of the Prey universe, one that offers fast-paced action in an open, alien world. We’re excited to show gamers the title we have been working on and hope they will be as excited by this title as we are.”

Good Old Games Makes The Witcher 2 DRM Free

I loved The Witcher. Such a great, great solo role-playing game. With today’s official announcement that GOG.com will release a DRM free download version of the Digital Premium Edition of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings there’s no reason to not get excited about this one. Well, unless they screw up the sequel and it ends up being terrible but other than that there’s no reason.

This remains one of my most anticipated games of 2011.

PR time…

Good Old Games: http://www.gog.com is announcing that it will be the sole DRM-free distributor of the Digital Premium Edition of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. As a sister company to CD Projekt RED, the development house behind The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, GOG has been offering preorders for the title with exclusive downloadable content, but in a change of pace today it’s what they’re not offering for download that may pique a gamer’s interest.

GOG’s copy of The Witcher 2 will not contain any DRM, unlike all other versions of the Digital Premium Edition.

“DRM is not an effective way to combat piracy,” said Managing Director Guillaume Rambourg. “Our main concern has always been the user’s experience with the titles they purchase, and DRM effects that experience in a negative way, which is why we’ve been absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to distribute CD Projekt RED’s incredible RPG. We’re also pleased that we’ve been able to stick to our guns with The Witcher 2 and release it DRM free to all of our customers around the world.”

GOG will be hosting a live Q&A with CD Projekt RED Senior Producer Tomasz Gop and GOG’s head of marketing & PR Trevor Longino. The Q&A will be on Friday, March 18th, at 19:00 GMT and during the Q&A, Tomasz will be revealing some exclusive “Making of the new Geralt” concept art and discussing the changes in the fighting mechanic from the original game. Preordering The Witcher 2 is free on GOG (http://www.gog.com/tw2) and doesn’t compel the person preordering a copy to purchase it then, and everyone who does so by Thursday the 17th will receive a password to enter the UStream channel. There, they will be able to ask questions about The Witcher 2 and GOG live, and everyone whose question is chosen to be answered will receive a free game code good for any regular GOG title.

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark #60

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a busy, busy week for Jumping the Shark 60. We were missing Danielle, who had a work function, so that sucked. But Tom Chick was back with us after an extended absence and it’s always great to have Tom on. This week we had an extended discussion about Tom’s GDC encounter with Starcraft II lead designer Dustin Browder as well as a pretty detailed look at the Rift MMO. With spring training finally here, that means baseball games, and Bill got deep into The Show. I wrapped up my red ringed 360 saga and spent a fair chunk of time talking Dragon Age 2. By this point Brandon gave up any hope of having time to talk about what he’s been playing, so we dove into our topic segment: DLC.


iTunes Link
Direct Download

Since The Straw drove out from the far off land of Ohio this week for a quality weekend of boardgaming here in Indiana, I skirted my editing duties, leaving editing our group Skype recording on Brandon’s lap. Big props to Mister Binky for picking up my slack and for putting up with a week that is probably a bit less than stellar in terms of audio quality. I haven’t listened to the show yet, but Tom’s Skype connection was a little spotty in the early going and I had some background noise going on in parts as my dad was in town, visiting. Hopefully the content makes up for that. Enjoy!

Amazon Nabs Angry Birds Rio for Android

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One of the nicest surprises when I bought my HTC Evo was not having to pay for Angry Birds. Sure, the ads could be annoying, particularly for shots that required aiming at the top of the screen, but you couldn’t beat the price. Well, the days of free bird slinging on Android may be coming to a close as Amazon is claiming that their soon to be unveiled Amazon apps store will be the exclusive retailer for Angry Birds Rio. Given Amazon’s penchant for slashing game prices it’s entirely possible they’ll keep the free bird rolling as a way of promoting the portal but being the only place to get the game should be more than enough to build buzz.

Seen at develop online.

Homefront Launch Trailer

We’ll have a review ready tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s the last THQ trailer in preparation for Homefront’s release. I have a copy which I’ll get to soon but I’m officially in Shogun 2 mode so this will have to wait.

Calendar Man – Week of 3/14

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Welcome to Calendar Man where I outline all of the games you can spend your hard earned cash on. It’s Asian Mayhem Week with genre fans of all types able to cause some mayhem either with or against our friends from the Pacific Rim.

New Releases
THQ throws its hat in the CoD ring with Homefront this week. THQ has been marketing this game like crazy, and according to their Spin Wizards, it is their most heavily preordered title, so it will be interesting to see how it performs.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play a video game against Sun Tzu, Shogun 2: Total War has the answer, or at least a box bullet point to make you think they have the answer.

For the Japanese gangster fans in the house, Yakuza 4 is here with its signature style of mayhem and wait, harbor fishing?

Koei fans, rejoice! Warriors: Legends of Troy is out. Unfortunately its not Asian themed, which totally screws up my post. Thanks for nothing, Koei.

Okamiden, the DS sequel to Okami was supposed to come out on Tuesday but it’s out right now. Yay! Get your brush going with the most adorable god ever made. Amazon still is holding on to the preorder date, but GameStop is selling it in stores.

Monster Hunter fans may find their monster-killing itch scratched with D3′s Gods Eater Burst for the PSP. Oddly enough, Amazon has the title as “God Eater Burst” while everyone else has “Gods Eater Burst”. I guess Amazon only gives you one god to eat. Silly Amazon!

Top Spin 4 returns to the court bringing with it other tennis analogies I’m not aware of as I haven’t played tennis since the 9th grade when I spent all of tennis camp mooning over a girl. Money well spent.

From Aksys comes Jikandia: The Timeless Land, an RPG about a people that have no concept of time. It’s like being the parent of an 8 year old, but with dungeons. The game allows you to set a timer before entering a dungeon which then alters what you find while in the dungeon. It’s an interesting concept. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

As if there aren’t already enough dancing games out there, Dance on Broadway for the PS3 is coming. Finally, you can release your inner Bob Fosse.

In case the dozens of fitness games out there aren’t enough for you, or if you want a camera for your Wii, Fit in Six is here. Woo. It also come out for the PS3 but oddly enough, not the 360. Apparently the Kinect’s camera isn’t good enough for these people.

Deals
Target – Save $10 when buying Homefront and the strategy guide together, buy one, get one at 50% off for the following games: Just Dance 2, Zumba Fitness Party, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Sonic Colors, Dance Central, Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm, MLB ’11 The Show. In addition, both Kirby and Sonic Colors are on sale for $39.99

Best Buy – The following Wii games are on sale for $19.99: You Don’t Know Jack (PS3/360 as well). The $1,000,000 Pyramid, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Toy Story 3 (PS3/360 as well), Toy Story Mania, Guilty Party. All Kinect titles are on sale with Dance Central, Kinect Sports, Zumba Fitness Party, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals and Joy ride for $39.99 while MotionSports, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, The Biggest Loser and Body and Brain Collection for $34.99. Buy Homefront at Best Buy and get three unlockable weapon camouflage skins.

Toys R Us – No physical ad this week (at least not for me) but here are the deals. Either Pokemon White Bundle + Pokemon Black is $194.98. The same goes for the other bundle. Buy either Pokemon Black or White and get one of the following games for $10: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, Phineas and Ferb: Ride Again, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Shrek Forever After, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Sonic Colors, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. Buy one of the following games and get a $15 TRU gift card: Homefront + strategy guide, MLB 2K11, Dragon Age 2.

Kmart – Get a 4GB Xbox 360, Kinect and Dance Central for $299.99. Save ten bucks each on an Xbox 360 black wireless controller, wireless headset or wireless N adapter. Save $10 on the following Kinect titles: Dance Central, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals, Game Party in Motion, The Biggest Loser and Body and Brain Collection.

Steam – Steam has a Total War Collection pack up for purchase that includes Empire: Total War, Medieval II: Total War, Napoleon: Total War Imperial Edition, Rome: Total War Gold Edition and Shogun 2 for $64.99. Buy it now and you can play everything but Shogun. Shogun unlocks on March 15. Buy rift between now and 3/18 and get an additional 7 days of playing time.

Impulse – Impulse has a bunch of things listed on their sale page but some highlights are Gray Matter for $19.99 and Lost Planet 2 for $19.99.

Over Six Billion Achievement Points Served

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While doing some reporting for an unrelated story, Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett dug up the dirt on how many achievement points have been slung to Xbox 360′s since the machine started keeping track. Since the console launched in 2005, over six billion achievements have been, well, achieved with over 176 billion Gamerscore points going along with them. The average Gamerscore stands at 11,286 which makes my score of 68,923 look positively astounding. Finally, I’m better than the average gamer at something.

Seen at Kotaku.

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes Gets April Release Date

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Oh April, you just became my favorite month.

The extremely excellent Might and Magic Clash of Heroes will finally be coming to XBLA and PSN in April. Clash of Heroes remains one of my favorite games ever released on the DS and the XBLA version I saw at E3 last month year looked positively gorgeous. Along with a visual upgrade, the game is sporting some usability enhancements, rebalanced units and online multiplayer. To say that spring just got a lot better is an incredible understatement.

EA Being Jerks About Dragon Age 2 – (Updated)

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Check the end of the story for the latest update.

Before I get started, I want to point out that it might seem like we’re bagging on Dragon Age 2 a bunch lately, but this story isn’t about Dragon Age 2, really, it’s about EA. Dragon Age 2 just happens to be the game that got caught up in the whole sorry mess. It’s a shame because for all of Dragon Age 2′s faults, it doesn’t deserve to be caught up in this storm of indescribable bullshit.

You’ve probably read about it by now, but the situation I’m referring to concerns BioWare forum user Arno. Arno bought, meaning he legally paid money for, and installed Dragon Age 2 along with the Whiny Prince DLC. He then proceeded to go on the BioWare forums and insinuate that BioWare sold their soul to the EA devil. In the grand schemes of internet comments, this wasn’t all that bad, albeit a little rude. BioWare’s response was to then ban Arno from their forums for 48 hours. In doing so, they also banned him from playing his copy of Dragon Age 2.

How could they do this? Well, Arno preordered DA2 so he got the Whiny Prince DLC automagically. EA ties your DLC verification to your unified EA account. This was true with Dragon Age: Origins and with Mass Effect 2. Once installed, this DLC is tied to your save games in such a way that if the legitimacy of your DLC can not be verified by EA’s servers, you can’t load up a save from whatever game the DLC is tied to, even if you haven’t gotten to the DLC in the game. Arno’s account was suspended which meant that his DLC couldn’t be verified which means that the game he legally bought and paid for could not be played because the very second he booted it up, the game was tied to the DLC.

Let that sink in for a minute.

There is no other analog to this situation. None. I recently watched All Star Superman and I could go to the DC comics message boards, or the Warner Bros animation message boards and type up a storm about how this was the worst movie ever made and everyone responsible for it should be boiled in oil and while they could certainly ban me from their forums, I could still watch the movie as much as I want.

And that is exactly how it should be.

Now, was the possibility of account suspension in the EULA? Yes, it was, so you can argue that Arno should have known better. Bullshit. For one, this process should not be allowed, at all, regardless of EA telling us about it. Second, putting things like this in the EULA, a document you can’t read until you have opened the game and started installing it, thereby nullifying your ability to return it if you find you disagree with the EULA is bullshit simply because you have no retail recourse if you find the EULA objectionable.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

EA tying your ability to play your game was a problem with Dragon Age: Origins, it was a problem with Mass Effect 2. I remember an issue with Origins where some glitch in how the DLC was downloaded over Live meant that you couldn’t play the game if you had certain DLC installed and you lost your Live connection. I “fixed” it by deleting everything and re-downloading it in some half-assed way. With Mass Effect 2, I couldn’t access the Cerberus network for days due to some strange problem with my Live id not being tied to my EA account properly. Hell, when I installed the Dragon Age 2 demo, the goddamned demo it asked me to make an account. Why do I need to make an EA account for a demo? I have multiple Live accounts, so God only knows how completely screwed up my primary BioWare/EA/Live account is now. Mass Effect 3 ought to be a hoot.

The bottom line is that in a desire to maximize profits and streamline their ability to shove a metric ton of crap into your email box and your FaceBook account and every other goddamned aspect of your goddamned life, EA has built a system that makes playing their games at times a complete and total clusterfrak and BioWare is caught right in the middle.

And if this isn’t bad enough, Dragon Age 2 for the PC has SecurROM on it. Yeah, SecurRom. You know, the copyright “protection” that EA is legally required to inform you about? It’s on there, but nowhere on the box packaging our the EULA is this made known.

So in short, there’s a bit of SecurROM on your PC thanks to Dragon Age 2 but if you go on to the BioWare forums and complain about it, you may find your account suspended and your ability to play the game you legally bought and paid for suspended as well.

Great job guys.

(Update) – Now EA is saying that the game banning was an error and that Arno was never meant to be locked out of his game. The question remains why they would need the option to ban someone from their game remotely in the first place, but according to EA, this was not the original intent. The game ban has been lifted and EA has apologized.

As for the SecurROM, here’s what BioWare’s Derek French had to say about it, according to a forum post at Blue’s News:

“Sorry, but there is some confusion on this. We use Sony Release Control which shares some functionality with other Sony products (SecuROM), but we do not use SecuROM for the DRM. Once the Sony Release Control check is passed, Release Control self-destructs, removing the Release Control wrapper and it is never used again. Game updates will not use Release Control because obviously the release date is passed. Additionally, installing the game and then any future game patch will also remove the Sony Release Control check and it will never run on your computer.”

The left over files and registry entries are apparently not referenced again and should be cleaned up, possibly in an upcoming patch.

New Battletech Introductory Set Streets 3/30

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It’s been years since I’ve played Battletech, and although I had a couple of guys at Atlanta Game Factory that were diehard players, I never got back to it. Always wanted to, because I really liked it when I was a kid. There was also that period when Wizkids was doing that terrible Clix game where farming robots duked it out and you spent $150 on a case of boosters hoping that you’d get an Atlas, a Mad Cat, a Jenner, anything but a walking bulldozer. Now, I’m pleased as punch to see that the classic game is coming back!

Catalyst Game Labsnow produces a couple of former FASA licenses including Shadowrun, and they’re declaring that the ultra deluxe 25th Anniversary Box Set is almost ready for deployment. I can’t wait to check it out, it sounds like a great deal for fifty bucks. Here’s what their press office has to say about it.

BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set ($49.95)

Strap yourself into the ultimate suit of armor: the BattleMech. Thirty feet tall and weighing up to a hundred tons, this humanoid engine of destruction is a walking arsenal with enough firepower to level a city block. The BattleTech game system takes you into the world of the 31st Century, where war has become a way of life. You are a MechWarrior. You are in command of the most powerful machine on the battlefield, and hold the fate of empires in your hand!

The BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set thrusts you onto the battlefields of the 31st century. This box contains everything needed to play:

24 unpainted, ready-to-play plastic BattleMech minis
2 unpainted, premium-quality plastic BattleMech minis
One 12-page full-color quick-start rulebook will have players into the action in minutes
36-page book of pre-generated BattleMech Record Sheets
One 80-page full-color rulebook
Inner Sphere at a Glance, a 56-page full-color book of universe
background and BattleMech technical data

One 16-page full-color Painting and Tactics Guide
Two heavy-duty cards of compiled tables
Two 18? x 24? game-board quality maps
It’s been a long wait for this much anticipated return of the best-selling Introductory Box Set to the perennial BattleTech game line. With product in transit to the warehouse, the wait for the best version yet of the box set is almost over!