Friday, February 29, 2008

New Battlefield: Heroes trailer available

A new trailer from Battlefield: Heroes has been released by EA, showcasing more details and ingame footage from this free-to-play, advertising-supported addition to the Battlefield franchise. Initial impressions are that the game looks very bright and vibrant, with the influence of Team Fortress 2 clearly visible in the non-realistic style graphics. New information in the trailer includes details of an online territorial meta-game, that will see players fighting over a virtual continent, attempting to wrest control from the opposition.

We'll bring you more details from this interesting title as they surface, but for now you can check out the new trailer below (thanks IGN).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today in the news...

It's GTA 4 preview day today people, and most of the big outlets have new hands-on articles up about this impossibly highly anticipated title for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. Also, it's sad to learn that Titan Quest dev Iron Lore has closed its doors as of today. Anyway, on with the links!

  • GTA 4 Previews

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another Gamespot Reviewer departs

The good times at CNET continued today with the news that yet another Gamespot reviewer, Jason Ocampo, has left the company. The popular gaming website has been beset by editor departures since the Gerstmann-gate affair a couple of months ago ignited gamer rage around the internet.

Well CNET, it looks like your days of reviewers tarnishing your relationships with advertisers may just about be over...if things continue like this there won't be any staff left in the Gamespot offices! It's sad to see such a once well-regarded press outlet deteriorate like this, hopefully they'll be able to get some good new writers on staff soon and we can put this nasty business behind us once and for all.

Another Gamespot Reviewer Leaves the CNET Mothership (Kotaku)

UPDATE: According to IGN's Gamescoop! podcast today, Ocampo has accepted a position as Editor-In-Chief of IGN PC.

Sweet new Force Unleashed footage

A gorgeous new trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has popped up on GameTrailers recently (embedded below), showcasing a new 'junk-planet' environment. Good job Lucasarts, the game looks to be coming together beautifully.

GDC: The secrets of Portal's success

Anyone who played last year's breakout smash hit Portal from Valve will know what an amazing job the team did to marry technology, narrative and gameplay in a short, but highly addictive package. The boffins at Gamasutra have this morning put up a detailed post-mortem of the development of the title from the GDC session hosted by Valve's Kim Swift and Erik Wolpaw.

A big theme from the session was the emphasis placed on playtesting often and including feedback in the development loop:

“Playtesting is probably the most important thing we did on Portal,” Swift continued. “Sit down and watch people play your game. Don’t just have them send you reports: It’s not going to be as valuable. You can find out what you’re players actually want by watching them. Adjust gameplay to what players look like they need, and adjust story to enhance what players are already feeling.”

Swift revealed they began testing the first room from the moment they started at Valve. For example, the first room initially featured a “shimmery force field” and players didn’t understand what it was -- so they changed it to glass. Throughout the game they proceeded to make the world cleaner and simpler to help teach the players what they need to know.

Also discussed were the difficulties encountered when sculpting the end-game. Head over to Gamasutra to read the remainder of the article.

Best of GDC: The secrets of Portal's huge success

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

News catch-up

Don't you just hate it when Real Life (tm) gets in the way of blogging about gaming news? I know I do...Anyway, the show, as they say, must go on. So without further ado, here is the biggest news from the last few days:

It's good to be back...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

EA bids $2 Billion for Take Two

In breaking news this morning, Voodoo Extreme (along with every other Gaming website) is reporting that EA has launched a hostile takeover bid for Take Two, for the princely sum of $2 Billion.

Initially proposed to the Take Two board, and summarily dismissed, EA will now go directly to Take Two's shareholders in a bid to gain control of the company.

Apparently the Lure of GTA 4, and not being big enough already were motivation enough for EA...

More as it breaks...

EA Bids $2 Billion for Take Two (Voodoo Extreme)

UPDATE: Take 2 have formally responded to EA's $26/share offer with a categorical 'NO WAY", calling the bid "Highly Opportunistic", referring to the upcoming release of GTA 4, and undervalued.

Take 2 rejects EA offer (Reuters)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Street Fighter 4: Direct feed trailer you can't miss!

Sick of grainy, offscreen footage of Street Fighter 4 and crappy low-res screenshots? Well wait no more my friends, because the direct feed AOU Street Fighter 4 trailer has been unleashed on the web, and now we can bring it to you, courtesy of GameTrailers. Prepare to pick your jaw up from the floor.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

GDC: Day 3 notes

Some links for you to round up the final day of GDC:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

GDC: Ninja Gaiden 2 demo imminent?

The eagle-eyes over at IGN have noticed a new, currently unclickable entry for a Ninja Gaiden 2 demo has appeared in the XBox 360's GDC 2008 Bringing it Home section today! The title, recently announced to have a June release date during Microsoft's GDC keynote, is expected to be a gory smash hit when it arrives later this year. Hopefully the link will be enabled in the next couple of days! If you can't stand the wait, check out this sweet new footage of the game in action...

Ninja Gaiden 2 Demo Coming Soon (IGN)

Intel acquires Offset Software

Keen to get involved with the Games Industry on a software level, Intel has just announced that they have purchased Project Offset developer, Offset Software. 12 months or so ago, the Offset team produced a series of *very* impressive tech demo movies showing off their in-production engine, which was to be used to produce a next-gen RPG called Project Offset. It all looked very nice, and everyone was excited...and them we didn't hear anything for 12 months.

A couple of months ago, a rough gameplay video from the game leaked onto the Interwebs, but it failed to gain the traction that the initial vids had promised. Obviously they've been able to show off some impressive stuff to Intel. Hopefully this will give the Offset team the funds they need to get the game out the door.

Intel acquires Offset Software (Voodoo Extreme)

GDC: Unreal 3 Epic Water simulation confirmed

Up on Joystiq today is some awesome footage of the new water simulation that Epic have added to the Unreal 3 Engine. Looks good enough to swim in!

Unreal Fluid (Joystiq)

GDC - Unreal Technology - Dynamic Fluid Surfaces from Joy Stiq on Vimeo.

GDC: Blizzard's approach to design

When Blizzard talks, people listen. Totally cornering the PC MMO market with World of Warcraft, earning massive revenue from more than 10 Million subscribers, clearly they are doing something right as far as design and quality of experience are concerned.

WoW Insider have a transcript up of a talk by Blizzard's Rob Pardo today, who talked about the company's approach to design.

Rob Pardo talks about Blizzard's approach to MMO's (WoWInsider)

GDC: Day 2

Today marks the second day of the Game Developers Conference. Microsoft today held it's GDC Keynote and there were quite a few interesting pieces of news to come out of it. For all those details and the other GDC news of the day see below:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

GDC: PC Gaming Alliance Formed

Comprised of the biggest hardware and software players in the PC gaming market, the PC Gaming Alliance was announced today at GDC. Designed to be a vocal group that can act as a steering committee for PC gaming, the PCGA is looking to "maintain an industry-facing presence that champions the PC as a games platform."

The full list of members includes Acer/Gateway, Activision, AMD, Dell/Alienware, Epic Games, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and Razer.

Hopefully the new alliance will have more luck than Microsoft's "Games For Windows" initiative in promoting PC gaming as a viable and desirable platform in an age of high performance consoles.

The PC Market is not dying (Develop)

GDC: Fez gameplay debut

GameVideos brings the goods once again today with the first footage of the innovative upcoming 2D/3D hybrid platformer, Fez. Using a rendering technique they call 'Trixels', explained here, the game turns the traditional 2D platformer on its head by introducing the ability for the player to view the environment from any angle, but only interact with it when the camera is viewing a specific direction. This allows the introduction of perspective-based puzzles (ala Echocrome).

An IGF finalist last year, according to 1Up the game has been generating a large amount of positive buzz at GDC 2008. Check it out in action below!

GDC: Too Human footage

Too Human from Silicon Knights is an upcoming RPG for the XBox 360. The title has certainly had a rocky development cycle, being derided by gamers when revealed too early at E3 a couple of years ago, then later drawing more attention recently when the studio filed suit against Epic for alleged failures in its Unreal Engine 3, which the title uses.

Now, finally, perhaps the game is due for some positive press, with IGN putting up a new video of gameplay footage and roundtable discussion with the developers. It looks pretty good! Check it out below!

GDC: Direct Feed Echochrome PS3 gameplay

GameVideo's have managed to snag some gameplay footage of the upcoming PS3 puzzler, Echochrome this morning, embedded below for your enjoyment.

GDC: Day 1 Roundup

As predicted, a busy news day today as GDC got underway in San Francisco. Below are the most interesting stories that came out of the day. Hopefully there will be more big announcements tomorrow, when Microsoft's keynote gets underway.
This is an interesting approach to motion capture that uses an array of cameras to create 100,000 polygon facial models that are accurate to within a tenth of a millimeter -- no special reflective balls required - should improve the ability for games to capture real character emotion
Allegorithmic's other flagship product ProFX was used in last year's XBLA title, RoboBlitz, helping to keep the download size for the title small by generating all the game's textures procedurally. Substance adds real-time texture generation and streaming to allow games to create dynamic and realistic environments on the fly, without massive texture memory costs

GDC: XBox 360 dies from RRoD

At this point Microsoft must be wondering what they have to do to have some luck. First Toshiba pulls out of the High Definition Disc format war with Sony's Blu Ray and now one of their consoles suffers the dreaded Red Ring of Death (or RRoD) at the worst possible time - the middle of the Game Developers Conference. The footage, captured by a delighted GDC attendee clearly shows the flashing "General Hardware Failure" death indicator suffered by millions of XBox 360's around the globe. Microsoft had previously stated that the days of the RRoD had been left behind, along with a US $1 billion write down. So either the demo unit at GDC is an old model, or something is still clearly going wrong with XBox 360 manufacturing. The footage is embedded below (thanks BBC News):

Monday, February 18, 2008

LEGO Indiana Jones preview have slapped up a nice preview of the highly anticipated Indiana Jones-themed followup to the LEGO Star Wars games from Traveller's Tales this afternoon, offering insight into the title's production and design challenges:
We’ve got some leeway we might not have had, in that the Lego company appreciates that we’re going to do things in a videogame with their properties, their toys, that they couldn’t have imagined happening in any other context,” says Smith. “Particularly distorting the figures, for example, to make them come to life. That could have been really frowned upon but we were lucky in that, right from the start, they knew we were doing something different. And they were carried off by Jeremy [Pardon, the game’s animator] and James with such style that, bang, it was right there from the start.

Check it out below, at Next-Gen:

FEATURE: 2008's Biggest Blockbuster (Next-Gen)

First God of War: Chains of Olympus review

IGN is first out of the gates today with their God of War: Chains of Olympus PSP review. By all accounts, the game is outstanding, being awarded an impressive score of "9.4" (highlight to show score). This makes Chains of Olympus the highest rating PSP game thus far, besting the previous high water mark of 90% set by Lumines ( Of course, more reviews may balance this out in the future, but it certainly bodes well for Kratos' latest outing.

The title, developed by Ready At Dawn studios (Daxter, PSP) is a prequel to the original God of War (PS2), with Kratos having been saved by Ares at the start of the game.

Both visually, and controls-wise, it sounds as though Ready At Dawn certainly have the PSP's capabilities well in hand:

"While Ready at Dawn's first title, Daxter, was a visual accomplishment for its time, God of War: Chains of Olympus is quite simply the best looking title on the system, bar none."

"Aside from its rather stunning visuals, the first thing you'll immediately notice about Chains of Olympus is that Ready at Dawn has done a stellar job of keeping Kratos' move set intact..."

"...though the PSP is missing the L2 and R2 buttons and the right analog stick of the Dual Shock 2, I dare say that the control scheme here works better than on the PS2. Instead of having to use the D-Pad to change between magic types, you now hold R and press a corresponding face button."

Combat and action too seemed to have been nailed:

"While Ready at Dawn didn't stray from the formula, it has done a fantastic job of keeping the intensity the series is known for cranked up to 10 the whole way through"

Sounds like lightning has struck twice now for breakout developer Ready at Dawn. Looks like the first must-buy game for the PSP in a loooong time!

God of War: Chains of Olympus Review (IGN)

Morning news roundup

GDC this week people, expect a barrage of news, previews, footage and screenshots later this week as things hot up in San Fran. On with the news of today!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

GDC 08 Preview

Kicking off this week in San Francisco is the Game Developer's Conference, or GDC, a time for Game Developers to showcase their talents before their peer group; to discuss new opportunities and technologies in the land of Video Game entertainment. GDC has a different feel to other Industry events like E3, which are more marketing/retail driven rather than about the process of developing games for us all to enjoy. It's also about employment opportunities, with Studios looking to hire the next generation of artists, animators, designers or programmers to help build the Next Big Thing (tm).

As far as what the average gamer can get out of GDC coverage, it is usually about interesting new technologies, game engines and middle-ware solutions, or talks from Industry veterans about their recent development experiences rather than flashy booths and game demos. GDC is interesting for Gamers who want to learn more about the games that they experience, understanding the thought, design, artistic and technical aspects that must all converge to put together a successful title. More than ever before, Game development is a significant financial, logistical and technical challenge, and GDC raises the curtains on the issues being faced by those 'in the trenches'.

Unfortunately, the juiciest tidbits on new games are usually dealt out in business meetings that happen behind closed doors, with playable demos of new games being few and far between. The biggest press outlets however, usually manage to sneak a peek at some of the exciting new upcoming games, and you can rest assured that we'll alert you to them as they come online during the week.

Some of the presentations that stand out among this years GDC schedule are:
  • Rules of Engagement: Blizzard's Approach to Multiplayer Game Design by Rob Pardo, Blizzard Entertainment
  • How to Go from PC to Console Development without Shooting Yourself in the Foot by Elan Ruskin, Valve
  • An Evening with Will Wright & Friends, Electronic Arts
  • Stylization with a Purpose: The Illustrative World of Team Fortress 2 by Jason Mitchell, Valve
  • Storytelling in BioShock: Empowering Players to Care about Your Stupid Story by Ken Levine, 2KBoston/Irrational
  • A Portal Post-Mortem: Integrating Writing and Design by Kim Swift and Erik Wolpaw, Valve
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED: How LucasArts is Building a Game, a Development Team and a Technology Pipeline... At the Same Time by Haden Blackman, Matt Omernick, Cedric Collomb, Lucasarts Entertainment Co
Games that we can expect to hear more about at GDC are:
..and many more! As always, often the best things to come out of Industry events like GDC are the things we didn't expect to hear about. We look forward to bringing you all of those exciting tidbits, and anything else that comes out of GDC in the next few days!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

HD-DVD Dead: Toshiba pulls the plug

Engadget is reporting today that the Toshiba and Microsoft-backed HD-DVD format has finally been put out of its misery, with Toshiba set to shutdown the money-losing business after a string of high-profile blows to the format, most recently with rental companies Netflix and Blockbuster declaring exclusive support for Blu-Ray. The competing Sony Blu-Ray format can now officially be declared the winner in this format war, marking one of the first times that a proprietary Sony storage format has been successful (Betamax, UMD anyone?).

The loss is a huge blow to the companies that have invested millions in HD-DVD, including Microsoft, who supplies a HD-DVD addon for the XBox 360. Not integrating the HD-DVD format into the machine itself must now seem a masterstroke to the Redmond giant, who will presumably soon announce a replacement Blu-Ray compatible addon.

So what of the millions of early-adopting gamers who had backed the unsuccessful HD-DVD format and invested in a player? Well there may be little choice for gamers that want to continue to purchase or rent the latest high-def movies but to pony up for a new player. Nobody wins in a format war, certainly not consumers, but this reporter is happy to see that the war is finally over.

Toshiba Pulling the plug on HD-DVD already? Yup, it's over. (Engadget)

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Edition

Well, it turns out that the baffling rumor that the next Guitar Hero release would follow a single band, Aerosmith, has turned out to be true, with Activision announcing that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith would be released this June for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Wii.

Neversoft (Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero 3) will be working on the PS3 and 360 versions, while the Wii version is being worked on by Vicarious Visions (Guitar Hero 3), and the PS2 version is being created by Budcat Creations (Guitar Hero 3).

The game will put players in the shoes of Aerosmith guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton as they take virtual rockers through a discography of the band's history, including influential songs, and classic hits. Players will be on-board as the band becomes more famous, eventually becoming musical gods (or something like that).

Whether this washes with gamers itching for their next fix of Guitar Hero remains to be seen. I can imagine this concept working well for a band like, oh I don't know, ACDC, but Aerosmith? Wheelchairs and retirement village condo's not included.

If you just can't wait until June to sample the sort of songs you can expect from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, you can download the Aerosmith song "Dream On" for free for Guitar Hero 3 now on XBLA or the Playstation network.

Rock on!

Daily Catch-up

Hey all, how's it going this fine day? We're staring down the barrel of a very busy week here at Game Theory Online with GDC happening this week in San Francisco from Feb 18-22. Still, for the calm before the storm, there's still been a bit going on today, here are all the links you need to catch up on what you missed!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Street Fighter 4: First Gameplay Footage

There's really only one way to describe these (off-screen) character and match trailers for the upcoming Street Fighter 4....HOT!! Check them out below.

World of Warcraft: Blizzard announces Arena tournaments

Press release below for all you World of Warcraft junkies! Play WoW, earn big cash!

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced plans to launch a new type of tournament competition using the Arena System in World of Warcraft®, its popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The tournaments will take place on special realms that allow competitors to instantly create level-70 characters with epic equipment, placing the focus on tactics and execution rather than normal adventuring.

“eSports is one of the most exciting facets of online gaming today,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re pleased to expand World of Warcraft’s tournament options for players who want to focus mainly on the competitive aspect of the game.”

The tournaments are scheduled to start in April with two rounds of online qualifiers in Europe, South Korea, North America, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Each qualifier round will have a per-competitor entry fee -- €15/£12 in Europe; 20,000 won in South Korea; $20 in North America; and NT$450 in the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau -- and will run for six weeks. During this time, teams will play 3-vs.-3 matches on the tournament realm in their region, with the top four teams from each round advancing to the regional finals to compete for more than $27,000 in cash prizes. Winners from each region will then be invited to a global championship event to compete for $120,000 in cash prizes, including a $75,000 grand prize.

Team Fortress 2 Update Released

As promised, Valve have released their Valentine's Day update for Team Fortress 2. Coming in at 86Mb, the update can be grabbed now by firing up your Steam client. Along with the TF2 updates, a new Steam client is available that contains the following fixes:
Steam Client - February 14th Update
  • Fixed downloads becoming paused
  • Improved download speeds
  • Decreased application launch time
  • Fixed URL links in chats to not include trailing punctuation as part of the link
  • Changed group event notifications to open at most 8 dialogs

  • Voodoo Extreme have a gallery of screenshots from the new Badlands map, available here.

    Badlands gameplay footage from GameVideos below:

    Today's news

    To catch you guys up, here's the latest big gaming stories we've noticed around the interwebs today. Don't say we never do anything for ya ;-)

    That ought to keep you going for a while eh? eh? ;-)

    Dark Sector refused classification in Australia

    In yet another example of how desperately Australia needs an 'R18+' rating for video games, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has refused the upcoming XBox 360 3rd person action game, "Dark Sector" classification, preventing it from being sold in Australia in its current form. It was described by the OFLC as, "a violent and sometimes gruesome game with a sinister storyline and ominous outcome...", meaning that once again Australian gamers will pay the price for having entertainment regulators that are behind the times.

    With gaming no longer the hobby of children and teenagers (the average gamer being in their mid twenties), surely it is time to embrace a more mature attitude to game classification. Certainly many games are violent, but the vast majority of Australian adults are able to draw the line between violence in a video game, even if it might be realistic and not "stylised", cited by the OFLC as one reason for Dark Sector's rejection. Disappointingly, the rejection comes just a short time after the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) had promised to pursue an official 'R18+' ratings system for Video Games. With a recent change of Federal Government, it had been hoped that such an outcome could be achieved quickly. Unfortunately it has not come soon enough for Dark Sector, which now joins the unenviable list of games that the OFLC have rejected, including Reservoir Dogs, 50 Cent Bulletproof, Manhunt and the recent Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

    So what now for Dark Sector's publisher Digital Extremes? Most likely the game will be altered, watering down the violence sufficiently that the OFLC will allow it to go to retail. As a double blow to Australian gamers, this will almost certainly significantly delay the release of the game. We'll bring you more updates on the Dark Sector drama as it unfolds. At Game Theory Online, we're wondering how many more times this will have to happen before the regulators recognise the need for a mature adult classification for entertainment in Australia.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Massive Team Fortress 2 patch coming Valentine's Day

    In a gift to gamers that will be more appreciated than flowers or chocolates, Valve have announced that their sublime multiplayer game, Team Fortress 2 will be getting a large update on Valentine's day. All the details are below:
    Tomorrow at 11 am PST all PC versions of Team Fortress 2, the class-based multiplayer action game named PC Game of the Year by, will receive its largest update since the product was first made available on October 10, 2007, as part of Valve's best-selling Orange Box compilation.

    The free update includes global optimizations for networking, graphics, and player statistics, plus improvements to Source TV for tournament viewing.

    In addition, three of the currently available maps (Dustbowl, Granary, CTF_Well) have been iterated for enhanced performance and gameplay.

    The release is headlined by the introduction of "Badlands," a new map that pushes control-point gameplay onto vertical landscapes.

    Available free to all Team Fortress 2 PC gamers around the world automatically via Steam, there are too many features and improvements included in this update to list here. To view the full release notes and/or find out more about Team Fortress 2, please visit

    Morning news

    Morning all! It's going to be hard to top yesterday as a news day, but here's the roundup of gaming news around these parts:

    Call of Duty 4 Patch coming to XBox 360 (Team XBox)
    Race Driver: Grid preview (IGN UK)
    Too Human to be playable at GDC 08 (Kotaku)
    Pure announced for Playstation 3 from Black Rock Studios (IGN PS3)
    Rockstar confirms all versions of Grand Theft Auto 4 will have multiplayer (Joystiq)

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Prototype extended gameplay trailer

    Gamersyde has this nice new extended trailer from Vivendi of their new game Prototype up today containing a decent chunk of gameplay footage. Definitely looking nice! Keep it coming Vivendi!

    Red Alert 3 announcement imminent?

    Attention Comrades, it looks like we might see an announcement of the latest game in EA's Command and Conquer spin-off franchise, Red Alert in the next few days, with the game set to appear on the cover of the April 2008 PC Gamer US magazine.

    No official word yet from EA, but you can bet we'll be hearing something soon. We expect that the game will use an updated version of the engine that powered the recent Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Rest assured that we'll keep you posted as more details emerge!

    Red Alert 3 announced in April PC Gamer US (PC Gamer)

    Morning News roundup

    Fresh out of the oven, here's your morning news roundup:

    Mass Effect Coming to PC May 2008 (Kotaku)
    Pirates of the Burning Sea MMO free for Aussies (Kotaku)
    Eurogamer's Lost Odyssey Review (Eurogamer)
    Spore release date announced - September 7 2008 (Evil Avatar)
    EA extends NFL exclusivity deal (Shacknews)
    Lair control fix in the works? (1Up)

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    Street Fighter 4: Now in glorious 720p

    Kotaku has put a up a gallery of 720p Street Fighter 4 images this afternoon, and boy, does it ever look great!! The detail is fantastic, but we can't help but wonder at some of the art direction decisions - the characters look a bit, well, overweight in some images in our opinion. Chun-Li in particular looks to have stacked on a few pounds since her last outing. Anyway, you can check out the images for yourselves below.

    Finally, a High-Res look at Street Fighter 4 (Kotaku)

    Yahoo set to reject Microsoft's hostile bid

    According to ArsTechnica, the latest in the Yahoo vs. Microsoft saga is that Yahoo will reject Microsoft's attempt to "steal the company for less than it's worth". Microsoft has said that it will press on with its attempt to gain control of the online giant, most likely bypassing the board and going directly to the shareholders.

    Microsoft undeterred by Yahoo's rejection, will press on (ArsTechnica)

    Saturday, February 9, 2008

    Grand Theft Auto 4: New movie surfaces

    Below is a movie taken from the official GTA4 website that doesn't actually appear anywhere on the site. It seems as though it was intended to be used as the introductory movie to the website but never hooked up. Anyway, since any new GTA4 media is news-worthy, here it is for your drooling pleasure. Thanks RockstarWatch.

    UPDATE: Looks like Rockstar have removed the video.

    This week on Game Theory Online

    Here are the biggest stories we posted about this week:

    I think I'll be playing some Call of Duty 4 and Burnout Paradise this weekend. Post about what you're playing in the comments! Hope you guys have a great weekend!!

    EA Facebreaker: first footage

    First news of EA's new boxing game, Facebreaker was revealed a couple of weeks ago. Being developed by the team behind the excellent Fight Night Round 3, Facebreaker is a return to a more arcade-style of boxing game compared with the uncompromising realism of the Fight Night franchise. Visually, Facebreaker looks like it's been attending the Valve school of cartoon shading, alongside other EA classmates, Fifa Street 3 and Battlefield: Heroes. Nothing wrong with that mind you! Well tonight on Gametrailers is the first teaser trailer of the game, and we have to say, it looks pretty cool! Hopefully EA will get this one right. Trailer below:

    Friday, February 8, 2008

    EA Dead Space preview

    Proving that in space, nobody can hear you scream is Eurogamer this afternoon, with a new in-depth look at EA's new space survival horror game, Dead Space. Clearly drawing inspiration from the cult horror movie Event Horizon, Dead Space puts the player in the shoes of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is dispatched into deep space to determine the reason behind the loss of communication with the enormous interstellar mining ship, Ishimura.

    On arrival, the thousand-crew Ishimura is cold, quiet and empty, but Clarke is not alone. Containing spectacular almost gothic-styled architecture, the atmosphere within the Ishimura is thick and oppressive, with dynamic lighting and audio leaving the player feeling uncomfortable. Refreshingly, and following in the footsteps of characters like Half-Life's Gordon Freeman, Isaac is not a muscle-bound space marine. This doesn't mean he won't get into sticky combat situations however, with the Ishimura well equipped to supply Clarke with the tools to get the job done:

    "...the Ishimura is helpfully equipped with a wide variety of mining tools which do a rather fine job of dismembering enemies. Your most basic weapon is a Plasma Cutter, which is essentially a powerful pistol - other guns we saw included a Line Gun, which fires out a long arc that's excellent at shearing enemies in half, and an as-yet-unnamed ("the first name we thought up for it was really dumb," laughs Schofield) weapon which is essentially a circular saw that floats in the air in front of you."

    The concept of "strategic dismemberment", is one that will surely get gamer's attention, with Clarke able to use his arsenal to remove legs, arms, heads, tentacles (!) and other such limbs from the creepy-crawlies that now call the Ishimura home. Half-Life 2 gets another nod from Dead Space with the TK Gun:

    "He's also got something called a TK Gun, which is essentially Half-Life 2's gravity gun - and can be used to turn environmental objects (or dismembered limbs, of course) into lethal weapons when ammo runs low."

    With over two years of development thus far, producer Glen Schofield reckons we should be seeing Dead Space on XBox 360, Playstation 3 and PC by the end of 2008. From what we've seen so far, we can't wait! Expect to hear more about Dead Space in the coming months.

    Dead Space Preview (Eurogamer)

    News roundup

    Another busy day today - here's a roundup of the biggest news:

    Grand Theft Auto 4 Official Site goes Live, internet goes bananas:

    Containing new movies and screenshots (although notably, still no gameplay footage) from the game, hype for GTA IV has now started to reach unhealthy levels. April cannot come fast enough.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Project Gotham Racing 4 gets two DLC packs on Valentine's Day

    Bizarre Creation's PGR4 was probably one of the more underrated XBox 360 games released last year. Building on the excellent (although slightly flawed) PGR3, PGR4 gets nearly everything right. Coming soon to XBLM is two downloadable packs, the first of which is free.

    DLC pack one contains the Peugeot Flux – a hydrogen-powered car that took out the Peugeot International Design Competition last year – and two new game modes (Tourist Mode and Free Roam Cat & Mouse). Tourist Mode will allow players to cruise the PGR4 cities freely, accumulating kudos wherever is desired, while Cat and Mouse has slower 'mouse' vehicles being persued by faster 'car' vehicles in a game of tag.

    400 MS points will net you DLC pack two (the Premium Challenge Pack), which contains seven new cars, 3 new bikes and a World Challenge Arcade Mode, containing 20 new arcade events.

    Project Gotham Racing 4 Download Splash (IGN)

    New LEGO Indiana Jones screenshots materialise:

    Up on Gamersyde this morning are several new screenshots from this highly anticipated LEGO adventure.

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Street Fighter 4: Pics of new characters

    Famitsu have come through with the Street Fighter 4 goods this afternoon, with a heap of new high resolution pics of previously unseen characters from the upcoming brawler. The pics confirm that all of your Street Fighter favourites will make a return in the new version, including E. Honda, Guile, Dhalsim, Zangief, Chun-Li and Blanka in additional to to the already known return of Ken and Ryu.

    New SF4 pics (Famitsu)

    Steam hits 15 million users, 158% sales growth

    Celebrating with cake today is Valve, announcing that their baby Steam is all grown up, and has passed the 15 million user mark. Since its inception, Steam has become the online distribution network of choice for gamers, with more publishers coming on board each month. A likely contributing factor to this massive growth is Valve's excellent compilation release, The Orange Box, which included two of last years best games, Portal and Team Fortress 2. Valve last month revealed SteamWorks, a suite of tools to help independent publishers get their games onto Steam.

    Cell Processor shrinks, gamers rejoice

    IBM has today announced that it has managed to shrink the size of the Cell Processor that powers your shiny new Playstation 3, among other computing systems, to a respectable 45nm, down from the previous best effort of 65nm. This apparently reduces the power requirements of the cell by a whopping 40%, which means (a) cheaper cooling and (b) more chips can be made on a single wafer, increasing the yield. For you and me dear readers, this means cheaper Playstation 3's are on their way - that is unless Sony decides to ride this one for all the profit they can generate.

    IBM shrinks Cell to 45nm. Cheaper PS3s will follow (ArsTechnica)

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    LEGO Indiana Jones at GDC 08

    From Kotaku this morning comes word that Lucasarts will be holding an event during GDC at which they will be showing off not 1, but 4 hot upcoming games, in the form of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Indiana Jones, Fracture, and perhaps most exciting, live gameplay of LEGO Indiana Jones.

    Hell yes.

    Morning news roundup

    A bevy of interesting news this morning, linked below for your reading pleasure!

    • Duke Nukem Forever coming 2008, original Duke Nukem 3D heading to XBLA soon, according to Kotaku
    • Famitsu spills the beans on Mario Kart Wii, from 1Up
    • Rock Band stage and light show first look, from Kotaku
    • First Mass Effect DLC pack announced, at IGN
    • More Street Fighter 4 character revealed by magazine scans up at Gamersyde
    • Lucasarts The Force Unleashed to deliver "I am your father" level plot twist, from Kotaku.
    • Zero Punctuation reviews Call of Duty 4, at The Escapist
    • Assassin's Creed PC coming in March, is 'Directors Cut', from Kotaku

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Red Faction, Drawn To Life coming from THQ

    In a conference call today, THQ CEO Brian Farrell confirmed that a new entry in the popular shooter franchise Red Faction would be making its way to the XBox 360 and PS3 before April 2009. Being made by THQ's Volition, the studio responsible for the well-received Saint's Row, the game is expected to bring the series' famous destructible environments to next-gen consoles in spectacular fashion.

    Also mentioned in the call was word that the DS title Drawn To Life would be making its way to the Wii. No specifics about the title were mentioned, but rest assured that we'll bring you more details as they surface!

    Check out Gamasutra for more details from the conference call.

    Devil May Cry 4: Review Roundup

    Here is a collection of Devil May Cry 4 reviews that have recently appeared on the interwebs:

    1Up (text)(video)
    IGN XBox360 (text)
    Gametrailers (SD)(HD)
    IGN PS3 (text)(video)
    Shacknews (text)
    Eurogamer (text)
    Gamespot (text)
    TeamXBox (text)

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Battlefield Heroes details emerge

    Sneaking up on the control point this afternoon is this post on the official Battlefield Heroes blog, from Producer Ben Cousins. For those not paying attention, Battlefield Heroes is a new entry in the popular Battlefield franchise, using an upgraded Battlefield 2142 engine, with a twist. The game will be free, instead being financed by advertisements and a series of microtransactions during gameplay- ie. you would have to pay real money to upgrade your weapons etc. In the post, details about the high-level goals of the game are revealed:
    1. We wanted to return to the crazy unrealistic feel of Battlefield 1942 and Codename Eagle, games which we had both been fans of.
    2. We wanted to make sure that players could ‘get to the fun’ easier this time - faster, cheaper and easier.
    3. We were committed to ensuring that the gameplay would still feel like a legitimate part of the Battlefield franchise, with the core elements and feel preserved.
    Head over to the official site to check out the rest of the details!

    Gears of War 2 limps onto the battlefield

    Those expecting a megaton blowout of information about the inevitable sequel to one of Microsoft's biggest XBox 360 hits, Gears of War, might be surprised, nay disappointed to learn that, yes, while information about the game is due to hit soon, according to the cover of the upcoming issue of gaming mag GamePro, its not the splashy, hype-filled debut you might expect for such a huge title. Mentioned twice on the cover, but yielding top spot to a "10 page scoop" on Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, the cover, at least in Gears of War terms, is underwhelming. Will we see Gears of War 2 in action at the upcoming Game Developer's Conference from February 18-22? Time will tell, but for now, it looks like Microsoft dropped the ball on this one. Big time. The aforementioned GamePro cover is below.

    GamePro to unleash a fury of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 news

    UPDATE: Looks like GamePro are simply attempting to drum up more sales for their magazine, with Epic's Mark Rein stating that, "It is pure nonsense. We have not announced a sequel to Gears of War to Gamepro or anyone else." Looks like any Gears of War 2 info in the issue would be pure speculation, rather than a hands-on preview. Cheers Firing Squad.

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    Crysis Patch 1.2 Details

    Up on the official Crysis site this morning is news of the game's v1.2 patch, which will be released soon, according to the weekly update:

    Alright, let’s begin with the first topic. Patch 1.2 has been in development for quite some time now and we are very satisfied with its current progress. The patch as itself is nearly finished from a content point of view.

    This means no new features and major changes are getting implemented unless a critical issue appears and requires immediate fixing. At the moment the tasks that are left to be done are testing the whole patch content-wise and installer-wise to ensure all bug fixes/features are working as intended and nothing else is broken.

    The test phase will last until EA’s and Crytek’s Quality Assurance departments are satisfied with the overall quality and stability of the whole patch. Since this is a very important part of the patch development we have to wait for additional feedback from both QA departments in order to set and announce a release date.

    Fixes and new features included with the patch are detailed below:

    1. Optimizations and Stability
    • Fixed potential server exploit that could cause servers to crash.
    2. General Fixes/tweaks
    • Added mouse wheel scrolling support for server browser.
    • Fixed an issue where in unarmed mode, the character's arms will suddenly reappear and disappear when picking up and dropping an object.
    • Added new effects for vehicle shattering after being frozen.
    • C4 will now stick to doors correctly.
    • Added new grenade indicator icon. (explained in detail further above)
    • Adjusted explosion radius of grenade launcher to be more efficient vs. players.
    4. Vehicles
    • Added check for players riding on vehicles while not seated to prevent them being killed.
    • Tweaked damage for players hit by vehicles at lower speeds.
    • Adjusted wall collision damage for civilian car.
    5. Singleplayer
    • Improved AI machinegun handling (both stationary and mounted machineguns on vehicles).
    • Fixed an issue with "Escort Prophet out of sphere" objective failure causing reloading issues.
    6. Multiplayer
    • Added team colors to kill/death messages (explained in detail further above).
    • Fixed some game states not properly resetting after game restart.
    • Fixed issue where VOIP doesn't work properly on non-dedicated servers.
    7. New Features
    • Added auto team balance. Players will now be moved from full teams to the opposing side when dead if the numbers are unbalanced. (Can be disabled/enabled via cvar)

    Head over to the official site to check out the remainder of the post.

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    This week on Game Theory Online

    The biggest news this week, straight from us to you!

    Microsoft and Yahoo: A perspective

    Probably the biggest news this week wasn't gaming related at all, rather it was the enormous $44.6 billion offer by Microsoft to take over the ailing Yahoo. Offering a 62% price premium, the deal has been structured by the software giant to make it almost impossible to refuse by Yahoo shareholders. Make no mistake, this is a hostile takeover attempt, and burnt by the dotcom bust, it seems likely that Yahoo will have little choice but to accept.

    So why would Microsoft be interested in Yahoo? On the surface it might not be clear. Both offer similar online products and services (Yahoo mail, messenger, search etc), with little of Yahoo's products standing out against Microsoft's Live suite. The answer almost certainly lies in market share, advertising revenue, and the ability for Microsoft to sustain competition with Google. Most online analysts would say that Microsoft has been falling well behind in the online race for supremacy, with Google appearing younger and more agile with its range of online products and services, and being able to generate massive advertising income as a result.

    Google's flagship search and Adsense technologies have resulted in a self-regulating profit generator, with the huge traffic volumes being attractive to advertisers, which in turn generates more relevant advertisements and hence income. If Microsoft hopes to compete effectively with Google in the online space, they need to grow, pure and simple. Acquiring Yahoo, and amalgamating Yahoo's online services with Microsoft's offerings will allow them to do just that.

    Only time will tell how this will all pan out. Even if Yahoo accepts the deal, antitrust issues as have plagued Microsoft in the past, particularly in Europe, may rear their ugly head and prevent the deal from going forward. Assuming it all goes ahead, Microsoft will need to approach Yahoo customers carefully to avoid losing too many to its competitors, particularly Google, as well as deciding how, and if the Yahoo brand should live on. Either way, this is clearly a more aggressive Microsoft, and perhaps a window in the future of the company in the absense of Bill Gates. Is this the last takeover of this type we'll see from Microsoft going forwards? Magic Eight-ball says no.