New Game Releases and News Wrap-up [NEWS]


Here is what has been making news:  New Releases, EA Shuts Down Servers, Diablo III, Tomb Raider, Portal Designer Speaks Out, Town Destroys Video Games, Pikmin 3, BioShock Infinite, Ghost Recon the Movie?, Angry Birds, ASUS Motion Tracking PC, EPIX Streaming to PS3 and Vita, Crimson Dragon.

Return to Top New Game Releases

January 6th – January 12th

Wow!  Not much happening this week

Monday, Jan. 7th

Kinect Sesame Street TV – Season 2 will be available for the Xbox 360.

Kinect Nat Geo TV – Season 2 will be available for the Xbox 360.

Tuesday, Jan. 8th

Anarchy Reigns will be available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

The Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable will be available for the PS Vita.

Return to Top EA Shuts Down Servers

Allowing IT staff to focus on newer games

Electronic Arts has shut down online services for several games, again.  Those most effected include FIFA 11, FIFA Manager 11, and NBA Jam.  EA explained their decision on their Services Updates page, saying that it is never easy to retire titles, but it was necessary in effort to make way for newer games.

“The decisions to retire older EA games are never easy.  The development teams and operational staff pour their hearts into these games almost as much as the customers playing them and it is hard to see one retired.  But as games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level — fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles — where it’s no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running. We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99% of customers playing our more popular games.  We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.”

Besides the three games mentioned above, online service will end January 11th for FIFA Soccer 11, FIFA Soccer 11 Ultimate Team, Madden NFL 11, Madden NFL 11 Ultimate Team, NBA Live 10, NCAA Football 11, NHL 11, NHL Ultimate Team.  On January 14th, online services for The Sims 2 will end and on January 19th, services for Trenches II will end.

So if you still play any of those games with your friends online, do be aware that sometime in January you and your friends will have to move into a newer game if you want to continue playing together.

Return to Top Diablo III

PVP is stalled

If you have been waiting for Diablo III’s player-versus-player mode (Team Deathmatch mode), you might want to take a seat and get yourself comfortable, it’s gonna be a while.  Blizzard Entertainment recently announced that they feel Team Deathmatch mode falls short of their expectations and just isn’t where they want it to be yet.

Jay Wilson, Diablo III game director, stated “In continuing to develop this mode, playtest it, and put it in front of other developers within the company, we’ve found that it falls short of our expectations for a high-quality Blizzard experience.”

Wilson says there are only a “few issues” that are causing the shortcomings, but they can be big issues in the long run.  For example, he believes the PVP experience they have going now tends to get old quickly and most play testers didn’t enjoy the majority of their time with it. “Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly. We’ve brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn’t feel like it was something they’d want to do beyond a few hours. Without more varied objectives, or very lucrative rewards, few saw our current iteration as something they’d want spend a lot of time in.”

The second issue that has Wilson concerned involves class balance.  “Like Diablo II, Diablo III was designed to be a PvE-first kind of game, where we never compromised on player abilities in the name of future PvP balance. We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn’t think would be good for the game as a whole.”

Wilson did report that Diablo III will soon support dueling options, via a game patch 1.0.7 which should arrive sometime this year.  So, while Team Deathmatch mode is being “shelved for now,” other options are still on the table.  Wilson assures fans that whatever is on its way will be a free download.  These options include “new modes that play up to the strengths of the character classes, focus on objectives beyond just defeating other players, and possibly even integrate PvE elements and rewards.”

Return to Top Tomb Raider

More info on multi-player

Finally, information regarding Tomb Raider’s multi-player mode has come down the pike.  It seems Tomb Raider will have the standard Team Deathmatch game play mode pitting Lara’s allies against a group of natives called Scavengers.  You will be able to alternate between the two sides in a best-out-of-three match.  The maps will include lever traps, climbing walls, destroyable environments, and an arsenal of weapons that include the standard bow and arrow.

There will be a second type of game play called “Rescue” which involves Survivors collecting med-packs and delivering them to rotating destinations, while at the same time Scavengers will be attempting to reach a requisite kill count.  Whoever completes their challenge first will win the match.

Finally, there will also be a third type of game play titled “Cry for Help” which will put emphasis on “discovery and collection.”  There isn’t any further information on this particular mode however.

Expect to see Tomb Raider on the shelves for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on March 5th.

Return to Top Portal Designer Speaks Out

“We need to change”

Portal designer Kim Swift recently stated that one of the best ways for the industry to gain diversity is to teach children that anyone can make games.  Swift firmly believes that the hopes and dreams of children shouldn’t be suppressed, even those dreams of making video games for a living.  All dreams that children express should be accepted and encouraged.

Swift shared that “Thankfully, I lucked out with some insanely supportive parents, but without that I doubt that I would be making games right now.  And so when I blather endlessly about a game I’m working on until my eyes bleed, in the back of my head, I hope that there’s a little girl out there that realizes her dreams are achievable.”

Back in late November a debate began on Twitter using the hash tag #1ReasonWhy, which generated an important discussion about sexism in the gaming industry.  Swift was adamant that if gamers want more diversity in gaming subjects, and the industry wants a more fair and unbiased workplace, then all the industry really needs to do is “just plain grow up.”  She added that “we need to change the makeup of our industry, because games are a reflection of their creators.”

Swift believes that the solution lies in setting a good example for this current generation of kids.  “Though we may not be able to tell it completely like it is just yet, there’s still plenty we can do to help future generations of game developers.”  The problems with the industry won’t be solved in the short term, but she does believe that within a couple of decades, if the industry takes heed, a more diverse gaming industry is possible.

Return to Top Town Destroys Video Games

Southington, Conn. gets violent on violent games

There has been plenty of discussion surrounding the horrific massacre in Newtown, Conn. on December 14th which left 22 elementary school children and 6 of their teachers dead.  A small town about 35 minutes away from the horror, Southington, Conn., gathered together their community leaders in effort to come up with a plan of attack against further horror in their state.  Their solution followed right along with the paranoia which the NRA (National Rifle Association) planted in the minds of many, more guns and less video games.  Southington’s community leaders plan to gather up all violent video games, CDs, and DVDs and destroy them.

According to reports from The Hartford Courant, volunteers will gather at the Southington Drive-In on January 12th to collect these violent items from parents or children.  In return for handing over the evil CD, DVD, or game, the parents will gain themselves a gift certificate to a local restaurant, amusement park, or bowling alley.

Charlie Cocuzza, Southington board president of the chamber of commerce, stated “We want to stop the violence in our community. Those games can cost $60 or $70. So we want to give families a certificate to do something fun and family-oriented, something where they can spend a couple of hours together instead.”

An honorable sentiment for sure, although I have to admit images of “Fahrenheit 451″ flooded my mind as I read this story.  The initiative is being organized by the Southing SOS community group who stated they are not linking violent games directly to the Sandy Hook killings.  Susan Saucier, the director of the community service stated  “We’re not saying the use of video games causes people to become murderers, but there’s evidence that it causes increases in aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and desensitization about actions of violence.”  Saucier believes now is the right time for parents to discuss playing more appropriate games.

In last months “press conference” put on by the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the association, made it clear that the NRA wants to believe that violent video games were “partially to blame” for the killings.  On the other hand, California’s senator Leland Yee called the NRA’s claim “mind-boggling.”  The claim itself seems to be a change in the NRA’s standard “it’s not guns that kill people, people kill people”, apparently now it’s not guns but games, as the NRA has called for more guns on the streets and less games.

Not once after playing Call of Duty, Far Cry 3, Duke Nukem, Halo, or any number of the other games I own and enjoy playing which feature guns, have I or any of my friends thought it a good idea to pick up one of the real life guns we own (yes, I am a gun owner) and go out on a killing spree.  Even the National Psychological Association says this concept is bunk, yet, we still have gamers and games being demonized.  Congratulations NRA, you have succeeded in taking the spotlight off of you and your continued lobbying efforts for looser gun laws and place the paranoia smack dab on fantasy.  By the way, has anyone read any of the Grimm Fairy Tales lately?  Now we’re talking some ugly violence, and mostly against children.  Its time our nation take up an honest to goodness talk about violence, not this paranoia and fear the NRA generates to move the discussion away from responsible law making.

Note: The views within this story are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of this site.

Return to Top Pikmin 3

Returning to basics

According to designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin 3 for the Wii U will be returning back to the basics of “stress” and recapturing the essence of the first game within the series. Miyamoto stated “First of all, by looking at Pikmin 1 we noticed that it wasn’t a very easy game for people to play, and from time to time they had to feel some stress. Our main aim in Pikmin 2 was to get rid of any stress as much as possible, so that it would be very user-friendly. Well, I myself couldn’t agree with that direction perfectly. That kind of nature of Pikmin 1 was exactly what I wanted to reproduce and I was actually intentionally doing so, so that Pikmin 1 could be a strategic game.”

When Nintendo started to think about Pikmin 3, the core developers from Pikmin 2 were gathered together and instructed to return to the basics of Pikmin 1.  Miyamoto admits that this wasn’t easy for them. “Or I should say that half of my job at that time wasn’t just to talk, but rather to persuade them to understand what I intended to do and to agree to my idea.”

Pikmin 3 was announced during Nintendo’s 2012 E3 briefing last June.  It was reported to be a direct sequel to the 2004 GameCube title and was expected to release last year.  As a result of the delay in release, Pikmin 3 is now scheduled for a spring 2013 release, most likely during the Wii U launch window in March.

Return to Top BioShock Infinite

Pre-order your own Skyhook

Have you longed for the Skyhook, the first weapon you get in the game BioShock Infinite which doubles as a tool to zip along the rail system between the floating islands of Columbia?  Well you are in luck!  Pre-orders are now open for NECA’s Skyhook replica, although it doesn’t really do any of what was just described, it does look really sweet though! NECA is the same company that brought us the Portal gun replica.

United States customers can pre-order the item for $79.99.  You can see the replica in action on the official Facebook page.  Just like the Portal gun replica, expect this replica to go just as fast.  If you think you’re ever going to want one, best to do the pre-order to ensure you are able to have one in your hot little hands.

Return to Top Ghost Recon the Movie?

Ubisoft makes pitch to Hollywood

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is slated for a possible movie, according to UMP chief executive Jean-Julien Baronnet.  Ubisoft has had its foot in the doorway of Hollywood since its big screen adaptations of Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed.

Ghost Recon is in the very early stages of being adapted into a movie, so at this point there isn’t much information, but we expect to hear more as the project gets to moving forward.

Return to Top Angry Birds

30 million downloads this week

According to Rovio, during the holiday week of Dec. 22nd through Dec. 29th, Angry Birds games were downloaded some 30 million times.  Eight million of those downloads happened just on Christmas day.

Rovio stated, “It’s been an amazing year and we can’t thank our fans enough for their fantastic support. Stay tuned in 2013 for even more incredible surprises!”  Rovio also announced that Angry Birds Star Wars has held the number one slot for iPhone games since its release.

Return to Top ASUS Motion Tracking PC

A Kinect-like function

Later this year, ASUS PCs will feature Leap Motion, a Kinect-like feature that senses and tracks gestures and motions.  The feature will be incorporated into ASUS’ all-in-one desktops and high-end laptops and will let you control the Windows 8-based systems with just a wave of your hand.

This incredibly precise 3-D motion technology senses movements to “1/100th millimeter maller than the tip of a pin” from each of your fingers at the same time.  It works within a 150-degree field of view at 290 frames-per-second.

At this time there is no information on pricing, but ASUS states that the first Leap Motion PC will launch later this year.

Return to Top EPIX Streaming to PS3 and Vita

Coming this year

EPIX is the latest streaming service coming to the PS3 and PS Vita.  It describes itself as “the big new movie channel that’s more than just a big new movie channel.” The service will launch as an app on the PS3 early this year and on Vita sometime during the spring and is packed with content from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount.  However, the service will only work on your console if you are already a subscriber to the service through your cable provider, similar to HBO and HBO Go.

Return to Top Crimson Dragon

Demo pulled from Xbox LIVE

Crimson Dragon is a game that is uses Kinect and is targeted toward hardcore gamers and is basically the next Panzer Dragoon game.  Because of this, it really is a surprise that the playable demo appeared only briefly on the Japanese Xbox Live Arcade, being pulled almost as soon as it arrived without any explanation.

The game, to those who were lucky enough to grab it before it vanished, is said to be a bit like Child of Eden but with full-body control.  The dragon control was done using the full-body control, leaning in various directions.  The lock-on laser attack and the music style are both similar to Panzer Dragoon.

The primary question everyone is asking is “what’s happening to the game?”  A couple of months ago there was an official comment by Microsoft,  ”Crimson Dragon on XBLA was initially slated for a June 13 2012 release in Japan, however the release has been delayed. We don’t have a release date to share at this time, but we’re excited about Crimson Dragon’s progress, and we are continuing to work on it with the teams at Grounding and LandHo!”  What we want now is an official statement letting us know what happened and when the demo will return.  Microsoft, we’re waiting …


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