Shooter, Hybrid, Delayed to 2012

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games

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Hybrid, the new third-person shooter from Scribblenauts developer 5th Cell, has been delayed until 2012.

The game had been shown as recently at this year’s Game Developers Conference. It features a unique control scheme, referred to as “combat-focused movement,” that sees movement controlled by the face buttons as opposed to an analog stick. The extra development time is intended to make sure the game is of the highest quality, according to a press release.

“Hybrid was very well received this past GDC; people really seemed to enjoy it,” said CEO and Creative Director Jeremiah Slaczka, “but with an additional year, we can take what we’ve learned and really drill down on our ideas to hopefully transform this game into something great.”

“At 5th Cell, our goal is to strive toward making the best titles we can, with the extra time we can make quality a focus,” he added.

Mortal Kombat and Xbox 360 the Top Sellers

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games, Xbox

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Update: According to NetherRealm’s Ed Boon, the NPD figures don’t count “special versions” of Mortal Kombat, in which case the game sold over 1 million units in April. Sony also confirmed to 1UP that the 13% increase in PS3 systems sold is year-over-year, in which case that adds up to about 204,304 PS3s. And Nintendo confirmed its systems’ sales figures, according to MarketWatch: 172,000 Wiis (down 38% from April 2010) and 194,000 3DSes.
Original Story: Mortal Kombat was the best selling game in the month of April, according to the latest figures released by the NPD Group. It sold nearly 900,000 units between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. Portal 2 was the next best-selling game, although no specific numbers for Valve’s latest game were cited. That’s just as well, as the game undoubtedly sold a great deal through Steam, the numbers from which would not be included in the NPDs.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, which was the best-selling game from its release until March, managed to still make a very respectable appearance at number four. It was topped by Lego Star Wars III at number three, which shot up several spots from its debut at number six in March. Just Dance 2 and Michael Jackson: The Experience returned to the top ten, and NBA 2K11 continues to sell well, thanks in part to the lack of competition from EA. Homefront and Dragon Age II, two of March’s top games, fell from the list completely. Five games sold over 250,000 units during the month, up from two during April 2010.

SOCOM 4 and Pokemon Black both would have made the top ten if sales across all platforms weren’t combined. SOCOM 4 also would have made the list if the game’s PlayStation Move bundle had its sales combined with those of the standalone game. Keep in mind that the PSN downtime began on April 20, which could have impacted sales of online-focused PS3 games, including SOCOM, although it was thought that it would be back online within a matter of days at the time.

“April 2011 represents the first month that new physical retail sales of content showed growth in both units and dollars since November of last year,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “The Xbox 360 platform generated the greatest unit sales of new physical content at over 3.5 million units for the month, followed by the Nintendo DS platform. The Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 platforms all generated greater unit sales of content versus April 2010.”

On the hardware side, specific numbers weren’t shared with the press, as per the usual. However, having sold more consoles than any other platform during the month, Microsoft has opted to announce that it sold 297,000 Xbox 360 systems during April. That’s a 60% increase year-over-year, which Microsoft says is the largest growth for any current-gen console. (It also noted that Dance Central has sold 2.5 million units worldwide, while Kinect Sports has sold 3 million units. It didn’t specify if these figures were the numbers sold to consumers or retailers.)

Sony declined to provide sales figures for any of its platforms, only saying that PS3 hardware sales were up almost 13% and PS3 software sales were up 40% year-over-year. “We continue to see a lot of great momentum at the retail level, and appreciate the support we’ve received from our partners, retailers and customers since the criminal attack on the PlayStation Network,” said Sony’s Patrick Seybold in a statement. “We hope to have services restored as soon as we can.”

Nintendo has yet to release any sort of statement, which is somewhat telling. It’s admitted previously that the 3DS hasn’t sold as well as it anticipated, and the upcoming Wii price cut is clearly in order to prevent a further decline in sales.

The software top ten follows:

1.Mortal Kombat (PS3, 360)**
2.Portal 2 (360, PS3, PC)
3.Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, NDS, 360, 3DS, PS3, PC)
4.Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC)**
5.Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (360, PS3, Wii)**
6.Crysis 2 (360, PS3, PC)
7.Just Dance 2 (Wii)
8.Michael Jackson The Experience (360, Wii, PS3, NDS, PSP)
9.Pokemon White Version (NDS)
10.NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, PC)
**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)
We’ll update this story if we learn more.

Modern Warfare 3’s Story, Screenshots

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games

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Activision has yet to confirm much of anything about this year’s Call of Duty title, including whether or not it is, as expected, Modern Warfare 3. Some details were unearthed earlier this week — namely, it is MW3, and environments in the game are going to be larger and feature destructible elements, bringing the game more in line with what’s seen in a Battlefield title. More details were set to be revealed in the “coming weeks,” most likely at E3, but a huge leak has instead brought with it a tremendous amount of information about Modern Warfare 3 including screenshots, multiplayer details, and an outline of the game’s campaign and story (complete with spoilers, which are marked below). We’ve also got what’s allegedly the game’s release date: November 8, 2011.
Update: Infinity Ward Creative Strategist Robert Bowling, better known as FourZeroTwo, wrote on Twitter a short while ago, “A lot of hype & a lot of leaked info on #MW3, some still accurate, some not. To avoid spoiling the experience, I’d wait for the real reveal.”

Kotaku obtained the information by way of “multiple sources” who were not identified, though speculation is sure to be rampant about who’s responsible given just how much was leaked. Some of the content is subject to change, given the game is still six months away from release. Kotaku noted that they haven’t seen the game for themselves, but they’ve “gone to great lengths” to confirm what they could. It’s unlikely this was an intentional leak in order to generate buzz, as some of the screenshots aren’t especially great looking — and considering that the consensus on Battlefield 3’s graphics has so far been a resounding “wow,” that makes it unlikely that Activision, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, or Raven Software (the latter two of which are helping out with development of the game since IW’s former heads and many of its staff have left over the past year-plus) would leak any of this as a PR move.

If you want to avoid learning anything about the game, you’ll want to stop reading now. Story-related spoilers will be marked in bold below.

There are 20 multiplayer maps currently in development, but it’s possible some won’t make the final cut or will be held back for a lucrative map pack release. Modern Warfare 2’s Spec Ops mode makes a return with two types of levels: Cooperative missions, like those in MW2, and ’survival maps’ that sound similar to the Horde mode in Gears of War where you face waves of enemies that become more difficult as time goes on. There are five Survival maps listed (Carbon, Dome, Radar, Seatown, and Village) and seven mission-style Spec Ops maps (Civilian Rescue, Flood the Market, Invisible Threat, Little Bro’s, Out of Africa, No Fly Zone, and Wing Man). The names of the competitive multiplayer maps were also shared: Alpha, Alps, Bootleg, Bravo, Brooklyn, Carbon, Coast, Dome, Exchange, Hardhat, Interchange, Lambeth, Meteora, Mogadishu, Paris, Plaza 2, Radar, Seatown, Underground, and Village.

Single-player spoilers ahead.

Without going into great detail — Kotaku’s report outlines much of the game’s story (they’ve held some stuff back), the different locales you’ll visit, which characters die, and so on — it’s worth noting that the story picks up immediately after Modern Warfare 2 as the U.S. is still dealing with the Russian invasion which was caused by the infamous “No Russian” level. As per the usual, you’ll assume the role of multiple characters, including a tank gunner and an AC-130 gunner, across 15 levels. The Russians will invade New York City (Manhattan, specifically) before the story wraps up in Dubai. Besides the existing cast of characters we’ve seen in previous titles, two new Delta Force troops, Frost and Sandman, are introduced, whom Kotaku speculates could become recurring characters in future MW games.

At one point, SEAL Team Six is mentioned, which isn’t something new; it was previously mentioned during Call of Duty 4. But the name becomes more significant now that the real-life SEAL Team Six is responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. It’s unlikely that there’s any connection given how recently that happened, but that won’t stop people from thinking otherwise.

With E3 less than a month away, we should have at least some aspects of this leak confirmed soon — unless Activision decides to address the leak sooner. As of yet, it hasn’t made any comments.

Update: Improved images now included in story.

Weekend Deals: PlayStation Move and Serious Sam

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games, Sony

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Steam has a deal on the Serious Sam series, offering The First Encounter for $3.74, The Second Encounter for $4.99, the Double Pack for $7.49, or the Gold Edition (which includes the older titles) for $9.99. Each of those prices is 75% off what you’d usually pay.
If you’re in the market to get yourself set up with PlayStation Move, GameStop will sell you a Move controller for 50% off with the purchase of another Move controller. Whether you take advantage of that deal or already have Move at home, GameStop is also offering buy one, get one free on select Move titles.

Portal 2 remains cheap on all platforms at Amazon, Direct2Drive has Mass Effect 2 for just $9.99, and Impulse has the complete collection of Civilization IV titles for only $19.99. The latter is now a bit outdated with Civilization V on the market, but it’s still a terrific deal for $20.

Read on for this week’s deals and let us know what we missed in the comments below.
Amazon

•Buy a 160GB PS3, get a free DualShock 3
•Portal 2 (360/PS3) — $39.99 (from $59.99)
•Portal 2 (PC) — $29.99 (from $49.99)
•Xbox Live Gold 12-month card — $39.99 (from $59.99)
•Rift 60-day game card — $20.70 (from $29.99)
•Kinect sensor with Kinect Adventures — $138.99 plus $25 Amazon credit

Direct2Drive

•Crysis 2 — $41.97 (from $59.95)
•Bulletstorm — $29.97 (from $59.95)
•Battlefield: Bad Company 2 — $9.97 (from $19.95)
•Medal of Honor — $14.97 (from $29.95)
•Mass Effect 2 — $9.97 (from $19.95)
•STALKERS: Shadow of Chernobyl — $4.98 (from $19.95)
•Hearts of Iron III — $5.95 (from $19.95)
•Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi — $5.95 (from $19.95)

EA Store

•Buy two or more games, get 50% off your order

GamersGate

•1C Complete Pack — $49.99 (from $99.99)
•1C RPG Pack — $23.99 (from $79.95)
•1C Space Strategy Pack — $14.99 (from $49.95)
•1C Strategy Pack — $23.99 (from $79.95)
•Revenge of the Titans — $11.21 (from $14.95)

GameStop

•Buy one Move controller, get one for 50% off
•Buy one select Move game, get one free
•Pre-order FEAR 3, get a free copy of FEAR 2

Good Old Games

•30% off Activision RPGs

Impulse

•50% off all Gothic titles
•Supreme Commander Gold — $9.99 (from $19.99)
•Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 Uprising
•Civilization IV: Complete Edition — $19.99 (from $39.99)
•Rig ‘n’ Roll — $17.49 (from $34.99)
•Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition — $19.99 (from $39.99)

Steam

•SpaceChem — $7.49 (from $14.99)
•Serious Sam HD: Gold Edition — $9.99 (from $39.99)
•Serious Sam HD: Double Pack — $7.49 (from $29.99)
•Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter — $3.74 (from $14.99)
•Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter — $4.99 (from $19.99)
•You Don’t Know Jack — $9.99 (from $19.99)
•RailWorks 2 + Farming Simulator 2011 — $32.49 (from $64.98)
•Hearts of Iron 2 Complete — $4.49 (from $14.99)
•Hearts of Iron III — $5.99 (from $19.99)
•Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi — $5.99 (from $19.99)
•Arsenal of Democracy: A Hearts of Iron Game — $4.49 (from $14.99)

Call of Duty Devs Called “Lazy” by Competitor

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games, Upcoming Games

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The competition between DICE and fellow first-person shooter developers — presumably Call of Duty devs Infinity Ward and Treyarch in particular — is heating up. Karl-Magnus Troedsson, the general manager of DICE, which is working on Battlefield 3, has claimed that the way other FPS developers are operating is “lazy” and issued a warning.

“Our competitors are getting lazy,” he told Official PlayStation Magazine UK. “They’re using the same engine, the same recipe for building a game. At some point you need to take that leap. I haven’t seen them take that leap since a long time ago.”

No names were named, but the Call of Duty games have been running on the same base game engine for years now — Modern Warfare and its sequel, World at War, and Black Ops all use the IW Engine first seen in Call of Duty 2. As for the next CoD game, thought to be Modern Warfare 3, there’s been no indication that Infinity Ward will make a departure from the norm.

Following up on what he said before, Troedsson referred to the ‘leap’ DICE is taking by using the brand new Frostbite 2.0 engine for Battlefield 3 when he said, “We are doing that now. They had better watch out. We are coming for them.”

He later claimed, “Our competitors keep building very, very high tempo games. We want to tell a story with more drama curves. It’s not about pumping round after round for six hours.”

This isn’t the first time that DICE has directed shots at the developers of Call of Duty — it reassured PC fans back in 2009 that Battlefield would not go the way of CoD, and it has also bashed Activision’s handling of DLC.

If it continues to follow the same pattern Activision has been going with for years, the next Call of Duty will be out this November. A release date has yet to be set for Battlefield 3, but it’s expected to be out at some point this fall, setting up a showdown between the two FPS heavyweights.

Black Ops is the Best-Selling Game of All Time

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games, Xbox

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With its chart-topping performance in February, Call of Duty: Black Ops has become the best-selling game in U.S. history.

Specific sales figures for last month weren’t revealed, but according to the NPD, 13.7 million copies of Black Ops have been sold since its release on November 9, 2010.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops was the best-selling game in February, retaining the top selling spot since launch in November,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. “It has now become the best-selling game in history, topping Wii Play.”

Those behind the Call of Duty series might be “lazy” if you agree with the general manager of Battlefield developer DICE, but Activision has big plans for the franchise going forward. The question now becomes, will Modern Warfare 3 be able to top Black Ops’ sales performance?

Prey 2 Details on the Way

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games

prey-2-s

Details on the sequel to Prey should be out in the open soon, as the game is featured on the cover of an upcoming issue of French gaming mag Joystick.

Until the issue gets into people’s hands, we won’t know much more, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard about Prey 2. After the original sold more than a million units in its first two months, a sequel was guaranteed. When Radar Group was formed back in early 2008, Prey 2 was among three projects that it announced were in development. Since then, ZeniMax Media — owner of id Software and Bethesda Softworks — acquired the rights to Prey.

Once we learn some information, maybe it’ll include the revelation as to whether or not Prey 2’s walls will be as suggestive as its predecessor’s.

Weekend Deals: Total War and Bad Company 2

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Nintendo, Popular Games, Xbox

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With Total War: Shogun 2 coming out next week, Steam has the Total War Collection Pack for half price. For $64.99, you get Shogun 2 (a $50 game) upon its release in addition to four other Total War games: Empire, Medieval II, Napoleon, and Rome, the latter of which you can get on its own for just $2.50. Impulse has Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for just $9.99 and Direct2Drive is offering 20% off any game with a promo code.

Read on for the list of this week’s deals:
Amazon

•Buy one DS game, get one 50% off
•Xbox 360 Gearfest
•Xbox Live Gold 12-month subscription — $39.99 (from $59.99)
•DualShock 3 controller — $43.99 (from $54.99)

Direct2Drive

•Save 20% on all games — use promo code “hangover”

GamersGate

•Amnesia: The Dark Descent — $7.98 (from $19.95)
•Batman: Arkham Asylum – GotY Edition — $10.18 (from $29.95)
•Bulletstorm — $53.95 (from $59.95)
•Chains — $1.24 (from $4.95)
•Company of Heroes — $3.74 (from $14.95)
•Crash Time 2 — $3.74 (from $14.95)
•Crysis — $7.49 (from $29.95)
•Flatout — $1.49 (from $5.95)
•Flatout 2 — $2.49 (from $9.95)
•Flatout bundle — $9.96 (from $39.85)
•Flatout duo pack — $6.25 (from $24.99)
•Flatout Ultimate Carnage — $4.99 (from $19.95)
•Ghost Master — $1.50 (from $5.99)
•Jagged Alliance — $1.25 (from $4.99)
•Jagged Alliance 2 Gold — $4.99 (from $19.95)
•Mirror’s Edge — $4.99 (from $19.95)
•Mount & Blade — $5.99 (from $19.95)
•Obulis — $1.99 (from $7.95)
•Pacific Pack — $44.99 (from $99.94)
•Resident Evil 5 — $14.98 (from $29.95)
•Saints Row 2 — $6.78 (from $19.95)
•Thief: Deadly Shadows — $6.00 (from $14.99)
•Thief: The Dark Project — $5.00 (from $9.99)

GameStop

•World of Warcraft: Cataclysm — $29.99 (from $39.99)
•World of Warcraft Battlechest — $29.99 (from $39.99)
•Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 — $49.99 (from $59.99)

Goold Old Games

•40% off ‘Gems of Gaming’

Impulse

•Battlefield: Bad Company 2 — $9.99 (from $19.99)
•TimeShift — $9.99 (from $19.99)
•The Chosen: Well of Souls — $9.99 (from $19.99)
•Crazy Racers & Crazy Arena bundle — $14.99 (from $24.99)
•Academagia: The Making of Mages — $19.96 (from $24.95)
•Lost Planet 2 — $19.99 (from $39.99)

Steam

•Total War Collection Pack — $64.99 (from $129.95)
•Rome: Total War – Gold — $2.50 (from $9.99)
•Crazy Machines Everything Pack — $23.99 (from $39.99)
•Crasher — $5.10 (from $14.99)
•Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light — $7.49 (from $14.99)
•Wings of Prey — $14.99 (from $29.99)
•Majesty 2 — $4.00 (from $19.99)
•Majesty 2: Kingmaker — $2.00 (from $9.99)
•Majesty Complete — $34.99 (from $59.95)

Active Time Babble XXXIII

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games

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I know we’ve been talking about Dragon Age 2 for three episodes now; please bear with us though, I swear this is the last time. Jason Wilson joins Scooter and I for a breakdown of the final game, which we all agree is an improvement over the first game. How much of an improvement though is down to the individual, and we all have differing opinions on everything from the gameplay to whether or not Merrill is actually an annoying character.

Also in this episode is a chat with Deus Ex: Human Revolution devs Jean-Francois Dugas and David Anfossi, who were kind enough to sit down with Scooter and I during GDC. Lots of interesting info in this one, including an overview of the main character’s evolution from “Inspector Gadget” (their words) to the man we see in screenshots like the one above. I really think Deus Ex has a chance to great when it comes out later this year; and the same goes for Guild War 2, which is covered at the beginning of show.

Normally I would say what to expect next time on Active Time Babble; but I’ve managed to find gainful employment at another publication, and this will mark my final turn as host. Thanks to Jeremy Parish and the rest of 1UP.com for giving me this amazing opportunity in the first place, and to all of you for listening. With luck, this won’t be the last you hear of ATB.

Here’s the breakdown:

Episode Breakdown

•0:00 | Theme & Introduction
•00:35 | MMORPGs of GDC
•21:25 | Musical Interlude: Main Theme (Dragon Age)
•21:55 | Dragon Age II Final Verdict
•01:00:45 | Musical Interlude: Liberty (Deus Ex)
•01:01:15 Interview: Deus Ex’s Jean-Francois Dugas and David Anfossi
•01:35:33 | Musical Interlude: Ash to Ash (Super Robot Taisen)
•01:36:15 | Outtro & Farewell

Infamous 2 Beta: Design a Mission For Use at Launch

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games

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Infamous 2 sets itself apart from other open-world action games by allowing players to create and share their own in-game missions with other players. A selection of lucky gamers will get to start working on their creations before the game is even out as Sucker Punch today launched sign-ups for the Infamous 2 user-generated content beta.

Between today, March 14, and March 21 at 2pm Pacific, you can sign up for the beta at infamousthegame.com. Due to some legal mumbo jumbo, you’ll need to re-register even if you’ve signed up there before — be sure to check the box for the UGC beta sweepstakes.

The beta will begin officially on April 12. Multiple waves of invites will be sent out over time, so don’t be discouraged if someone else has received one when you haven’t.

Unlike many betas, your progress could carry over to the final product. Just as it will with levels made post-launch, Sucker Punch will be selecting certain user-created missions from the beta and inserting them into the game world for other players to discover, just as they would a developer-made mission. (They’re denoted as user-made by a special color, as seen above.) Some of the best missions from the beta will be included in players’ game worlds “on or near” launch day, June 7, which should be a prime opportunity for your level to get noticed.