March 2012 Archives

Heatwave Interactive is getting frank concerning its massively multiplayer online game Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising (and no, Frank is not a new member of the development team). The crux of this official Gods & Heroes post is that the game just isn't performing financially, and that the team has been moved to other projects. The game will persist in its current state (at least for a while) unless the company finds sufficient funds to transition the game to a fully free-to-play–style game.
SonySony has closed its Seattle studio Zipper Interactive, as Zipper has confirmed on its twitter feed. Zipper has a variety of games including SOCOM games and the massively multiplayer shooter M.A.G.. Zipper is believed to have had around 80 employees before dissolution.
Sega Sammy HoldingsSega Sammy Holdings announced that it expects to report an "extraordinary loss in the year ending March 2012." The company has adjusted its forecast net income to nearly half of previous predictions. This prediction is obviously certain, as the time period concerned is already over, and the company is clearly preparing its annual financial statements. The company's given reason for the shortfall is "...the severe economic environment in the U.S. and Europe and rapid change in market environment of home video game software." In response, the company has decided to restructure, cancelling some games, incurring costs for processing inventory and reducing headcount. Costs are expected to total around ¥7.1 billion (around $86 million) and total job losses were unspecified.
Namco BandaiNamco, part of Namco Bandai Games, has released Ridge Racer Unbounded for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and as a download for the PC. This latest installment in the Ridge Racer driving franchise allows players to destroy their surroundings using overpowered vehicles to create entirely new paths to victory.
Mass Effect 3 CupcakesClearly, a group of Mass Effect 3 fans dissatisfied with the game's ending thought they might get a bit more traction with BioWare by sweetening the message. So, they raised money to have 400 cupcakes sent to BioWare


The motivation was given as, "BioWare has been slammed by negativity from all sides in the last few weeks. This is our way, as fans, to drive our message home, but in a (literally) sweet way. We want BioWare to add some more 'sweet' to their 'bittersweet' ending. What better way to do this than with CUPCAKES :-D."

BioWare received the cupcakes (in three colors, labeled "A," "B," and "C" to symbolize the senders' view on the variety of Mass Effect 3's endings.

The effort has been covered by many outlets, and BioWare's Chris Priestly responded in the official forums. Noting that the cupcakes were not sent "...in the context of celebrating the work or accomplishment of the Mass Effect 3... it was decided... to donate them on behalf of our fans to a local Edmonton youth shelter."

MicrosoftMicrosoft has released South Park: Tenorman's Revenge as a downloadable game for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade program. Developed by South Park Digital Studios in collaboration with Other Ocean Interactive, the game can be downloaded for 800 points ($10) and has players helping the South Park kids battle Scott Tenorman and his army of Ginger Robots. Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny take on their superhero alter-egos while battling and platforming to save South Park.
Double Fine Productions recently completed an epic Kickstarter campaign, raising enough money to make a new adventure game. While some expressed concern that Double Fine's efforts were pulling cash from other Kickstarter projects, Kickstarter itself explained that's not the case. Talking about recent major campaigns (such as Double Fine and a project by webcomic "Order of the Stick", these major campaigns brought a tremendous number of new participants to Kickstarter.


Double Fine's effort raised $3.336 million and is the largest Kickstarter effort ever. Of the 87,142 backers, 61,692 (71%) were new to Kickstarter, and may now participate in other Kickstarter projects. Kickstarter even noted that prior to Double Fine's effort, projects in the Video Games category averaged 629 pledges per week. After Double Fine launched, projects (excluding Double Fine) averaged 9,755 per week. New backers, brought in by the Double Fine effort, have pledged an additional $875,000 to 1,2000 other projects. Bully for them!

UbisoftUbisoft has released Rayman: Origins, previously released for consoles, as a download for the PC. This is a four-player co-operative game featuring the long-running Rayman character that has Rayman, Globox and the Teensies battling the "nefurrious" Darktoons that have taken over the Glade of Dreams. Following Rayman's platforming roots, Rayman Origins allows all four players to cooperate in 2D platforming adventures.
THQUntil recently, THQ had been developing a massively multiplayer online game based on Warhammer 40,000 (not to be confused with the existing MMOG based on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay). Called Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium, the game has taken a dramatically altered path. Rather than taking the form of an MMOG, Dark Millennium will include both a single player campaign and multiplayer experience (the details of which are not yet clear). Thanks to this new direction, THQ will fire 79 full-time employees from its Austin, Texas Vigil Games studio and 39 full-time employees from its Vancouver, Canada Relic Entertainment office (presumably along with plenty of contract labor).
According to the Hollywood Reporter, portions of music conglomerate EMI (currently being sold to Sony and UMG) filed suit against 4mm Games a developer Terminal Reality alleging that Def Jam Rapstar infringes on some of EMI's rights and demanding payment. EMI alleges that it has part ownership in many of the songs featured in the game due to the way many songs have multiple contributors and sampled music. EMI is demanding $150,000 per song it considers to be infringing on 54 songs, as well as the game's net profits. Given that the game supposedly had the cooperation of the Def Jam label owned by UMG, it's not clear whether the suit has merit. If it does, don't expect to see other companies trying any rap-related music games any time soon.
Matrix Games, together with Slitherine and developer Zeal, have released Team Assault: Baptism of Fire for the PC as a download. Team Assault: Baptism of Fire is a turn-based tactical wargame that explores World-War-II–era action on a platoon-level scale.
Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the Angry Birds franchise, has acquired Futuremark Games Studio, the gaming part of the company that makes the Futuremark PC benchmarking software, recently responsible for Unstoppable Gorg. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Microsoft has added several streaming entertainment apps to the Xbox 360, including "HBO Go" (for HBO subscribers), "MLB.TV," and "Xfinity" (Comcast's video-on-demand service). That, in and of itself, wouldn't be particularly worthy of note, except that Comcast appears to be using this app as a way of testing Net Neutrality and pushing against the FCC's Open Internet rules. As DSL Reports.com noted, Comcast's Xfinity app (which requires a subscription) won't count against Comcast's 250 GB usage cap for its internet service. Net Neutrality advocates Free Press point out this is preferential treatment for Comcast's own products. Comcast appears to be arguing that something delivered through the Xbox 360 (despite using the same cable lines) isn't on the "public internet" and is therefore not subject to the same rules.
505 Games505 Games, together with developer Supersonic Software, has released Wrecked: Revenge Revisited for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade program. Available for 1,200 points ($15), this is a combat racing game from the creators of Mashed.
SonyIt's another light week for the PlayStation Store. Closure is the big release, with games also out in retail stores now available in downloadable form for the Vita and PlayStation 3. Only through the PSP Mini program is the PlayStation Store maintaining a token PSP presence. Read on for the full list of releases and more details...
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive, together with Radioactive Software, has released Gettysburg: Armored Warfare as a download for the PC. This is a 32-on-32 multiplayer game set in an alternate version of the American Civil War where infantry carry chain guns and zeppelins dominate the air. The game hybridizes elements of real-time strategy and third-person shooters, allowing players to take on a variety of roles with both the Union and Confederate armies.
GameMill Entertainment has released Gogo's Crazy Bones for the DS to stores in North America. Based on the collectible figures (with which one plays a variety of games similar to marbles), the game for the DS includes 30 different Gogos and a variety of game types.
CapcomCapcom has released the Capcom Digital Collection for the Xbox 360 to stores in North America. This is a collection of eight games previously released through the Xbox Live Arcade program, including 1942: Joint Strike, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, Final Fight: Double Impact, Flock!, Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (including Rocketmen: It Came From Uranus), Super Puzzle Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix, and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3.
GameMill Entertainment has released Country Dance All Stars for Xbox 360 consoles with the Kinect sensor. The game features around 30 songs from country stars (such as Brooks & Dunn and Carrie Underwood) to which players can dance along (and be judged by the Kinect sensor).
505 Games505 Games has released Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted for the PlayStation Vita. This mixed martial arts fighting game has players using a variety of styles (ranging from wrestling to Muay Thai) to battle computer opponents or other humans using online and local multiplayer.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has released Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 (and the associated Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13: The Masters Collector's Edition) for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 3 version supports the Move controller, while the Xbox 360 version supports the Kinect sensor. This latest iteration in Electronic Arts' golf franchise allows players to experience different eras from Tiger Woods' life, including his championship wins and his backyard practice as a toddler. The collector's edition includes a variety of Augusta National Golf Club content, including five additional courses.

Game Officially Out of Game

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U.K. game retailer Game (yes, it's an obvious name, but if you haven't been inundated with GameStops, you get used to it) has entered administration (bankruptcy, in American-speak). Last week, the company's shares stopped trading, and that was after Game stopped carrying certain titles due to its cash flow and credit problems. Game will close nearly half of its stores (many felt its stores were overly close together, anyway). The company has also stopped honoring gift cards and its rewards program, nor will Game offer refunds or exchanges. It's unlikely the retailer will disappear, but will probably be recapitalized by investors, or acquired by another entity at a deep discount to what the company would have sold, pre-administration.
CodemastersWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has entered into an agreement with Codemasters to distribute and market Codemasters' games in North and South America throughout 2012 (including the upcoming releases of DiRT Showdown and F1 2012).
Iceberg Interactive and Vertigo Games have released Adam's Venture: Episode 1 - The Search for the Lost Garden as a download for the PC. This adventure-style game set in the 1920's has players competing against an ancient evil to discover the Garden of Eden by completing action and puzzle sequences. This is the first episode in a planned episodic series.
NintendoNintendo's game Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS is now available in stores in North America. This new take on the classic Kid Icarus game for the NES has players flying into battle against Medusa and her Underworld Army as a boy named Pit. The game also supports up to six players in conventional battles, and the ability to fight in head-to-head battles using the AR cards for the 3DS.
SegaSega and The Creative Assembly have released Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai for the PC through a variety of download portals. This stand-alone expansion for Total War: Shogun 2 follows the events of the 19th century conflict between the Imperial throne and the last Shogunate, 400 years after the events of the original strategy game.
If you have a smartphone, tablet or ever look at anything on the internet, you probably noticed that Rovio's Angry Birds: Space is now available. This casual game introduces new birds that can be slung at space pigs occupying environments with a different take on gravity.
GameStopRetailer Gamestop announced its financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and financial year ended January 28, 2012. While GameStop reported a strong year, the company experienced much lower holiday season sales than in past years, resulting in lower overall performance for the full financial year. It's not clear if GameStop's holiday performance reflects a poor economy or if publishers are managing to successfully cut into used game sales. Read on for more details...
Electronic Arts and Trapdoor, Inc. have released Warp as a download for the PC through Valve's Steam service. This stealth and action game has players guiding an orange alien in his escape from an underwater research facility.
Spellbound Entertainment, a German game developer, has filed for insolvency (bankruptcy, in American-speak). Auditors reportedly believe the company has hope for survival due to the advanced state of several projects. As a result, the company is attempting to recapitalize and is (for the time being) still paying the salaries of its 65 employees while the company seeks investment.
Mobile and social game publisher Gameloft announced limited financial results for its year ended December 31, 2011. Read on for more details...
MicrosoftMicrosoft has added two more downloadable games to the Xbox Live Arcade program. This week's additions are Rayman 3 HD and Sine Mora, but read on for more details concerning the two games...
SonySony has released yet more games through the PlayStation Store, including various games for the PlayStation 3, Vita and PSP. This week's games include an inky demon, Rayman, and an Ultramarine. Read on for the full list and more details...
CodemastersCodemasters has released the Dirt 3: Complete Edition for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This compilation includes the original Dirt 3 racing game released in May, but with subsequently released downloadable content, including 12 routes and 13 additional cars.
THQTHQ's game Paws & Claws: Pampered Pets Resort for the 3DS is now available in stores. This Paws & Claws game has players managing a resort on a Caribbean island and gaining more pet clients to improve and enlarge the resort.
KonamiKonami has released the Silent Hill HD Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This compilation includes remastered versions of the classic survival/horror games Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams and Silent Hill 3. Both feature 720p graphics and updated voiceover work and scores.
Tecmo KoeiTecmo, part of Tecmo Koei Corp., has released its game Ninja Gaiden 3 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. The PlayStation 3 version is compatible with the PlayStation Move accessory. Both versions bring a new story to the franchise as well as multiplayer options that allow players to wield their ninja skills in cooperative and competitive modes.
Namco Bandai GamesBandai, part of Namco Bandai Games, has released Armored Core V for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This latest installment in the Armored Core series once again has players battling with customizable mechs. Armored Core includes offline and online action, and focuses on smaller mechs to encourage more tactical battles.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has released Kinect Rush: A Disney - Pixar Adventure for Xbox 360 consoles with the Kinect sensor to stores in North America. The game allows players to use the Kinect camera to scan themselves and become a character within the game to help characters from Pixar movies (such as Up!, Cars, Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) solve puzzles and explore the film settings.
THQTHQ's game Let's Ride: Best of Breed for the 3DS is available in stores. The game has players choosing a foal from around 25 breeds of horse. Players then train and care for that horse until it can compete in shows. The game also supports letting the horse run around "outside" the 3DS using the 3DS Augmented Reality card.
GameMill Entertainment has released its game Silverlicious, based on the story from the Pinkalicious series of children's books by Victoria Kann. The game has players taking on the role of Pinkalicious, after she has lost her ability to taste sweet things. By doing good deeds and being polite, she restores the sweetness of life while unlocking costumes and exploring holiday-themed locations. Sounds "incarnadinalicious."
CapcomCapcom's game Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores in North America. The console versions of the game should reach Europe by the end of the week, while the PC version should be available in certain regions starting May 18. Developed in collaboration with Slant Six Games, this is a team-based third-person shooter that reinterprets the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. The single-player campaign has players working for Umbrella Corporation to destroy evidence of the t-Virus outbreak. The multiplayer has U.S. Special Ops battling against Umbrella Corporation forces, with zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons complicating matters.
GameMill Entertainment has released its game Xia-Xia for the DS to stores in North America. Based on the line of hermit-crab toys, Xia-Xia has players collecting shells and finding missing friends while exploring 25 levels based on the collectible toys.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts announced that it will retire services for several online games, claiming that these games occupy "fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles." While the decision to retire older games is understandable, several of these (like EA Create depend on online content) while others (such as MMA) required an EA Online Pass. While FI remains extremely skeptical of the explanation, EA has previously defended the Online Pass as a means to extend product life (rather than the attempt to better monetize rentals and used game sales that it is). For the full list of retired games, read on...
Activision BlizzardAs of March 15, 2012, Activision Blizzard has extended its employment contract with the company's President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Kotick. The new contract, anticipating that Kotick will stay with the company through at least June 30, 2016 details a hefty paycheck for Kotick.


Kotick's base salary has been increased to $2,000,000 per year, and that will be increased by at least as much as other members of the company's leadership team each year. Interestingly, that pay increase was made retroactively to July 1, 2011, so Kotick also received $661,915 to cover the pay he would have received at the new salary level. Above that, Kotick got a $2,500,000 bonus for signing the new contract. Of course, the Activision Blizzard Compensation Committee can award him additional bonuses at any time. Kotick also received the right to receive 2,061,006 shares of restricted stock (currently valued around $25,000,000) that is subject to certain performance benefits and vests over time, along with the ability to receive another 2,061,006 shares if the company meets specific financial targets

If all of that sounds like a paltry paycheck, Kotick gets all the benefits received by other senior officers, along with a life insurance policy worth at least $18,000,000.

XSeedXSeed Games released Ys: The Oath in Felghana for the PSP in 2010. That was simply a port of the game released for the PC in Japan in 2005. Now, the PC version of the game can be downloaded through Valve's Steam service. This Japanese-style role-playing game is a re-imagining of the 16-bit console game Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.
Halfbrick Studios, the folks behind Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, have acquired Onan Game. Onan Game is a Spanish company that makes middleware (called Mandreel) useful for developing and publishing multiplatform smartphone and tablet games. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, although Halfbrick plans to license Mandreel to other developers.
Activision BlizzardEarlier this month, Activision Blizzard's Thomas Tippl was able to step away from the role of Interim Chief Financial Officer when the company hired Dennis Durkin as CFO. Yesterday, Activision Blizzard awarded Tippl a $3 million bonus. Tippl will have to return half of the bonus if he departs before March 14, 2015, but that's still a decent chunk of change.
Sony Online EntertainmentAs of today (the 13th anniversary of EverQuest's launch), Sony has fully converted the original EverQuest to a free-to-play game. As usual, that means that you can play a few classes with certain limitations for free, pay a monthly fee to get everything, or pay piecemeal to unlock individual items and privileges. The game is also celebrating a variety of anniversary events featuring the number "13."
Obsidian, the developer responsible for Fallout: New Vegas and Alpha Protocol, reportedly fired 20-30 people recently, including some recent hires. It has been rumored that this was, in part, due to Microsoft cancelling a project for its next generation console. According to a tweet (that has now been deleted), it appears that Obsidian also missed by a hair its bonus payment from ZeniMax's Bethesda Softworks for its work on Fallout: New Vegas. According to the tweet, Obsidian would receive the payment if the game received an aggregate score of 85 or higher on Metacritic. The game received an 84 on Xbox 360 and PC, and an 82 on the PlayStation 3. Short cash and a major development contract, it's no surprise Obsidian is laying off staff.

38 Studios Adds Two SVPs

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38 Studios, the company founded by Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling that recently shipped Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, has hired to veterans of persistent online game development. 38 Studios has hired John Blakely, formerly of Zynga and Sony Online Entertainment, to work as Senior Vice President of Development oversee game development in 38 Studios' offices in Providence, RI and Baltimore, MD. The company has also hired Mark Hansen, who oversaw development of Lego Universe at Playwell Studios. Hansen will join 38 Studios as Senior Vice President of Operations and Business who will oversee the company's development efforts.
Activision BlizzardWe don't like to constantly harp on the details that trickle out concerning upcoming games, but this is news about Diablo III. Blizzard, part of Activision Blizzard, has finally pinned down the release date of Diablo III. It's May 15. The game will be released for PC and Mac on that day (slightly later in regions outside North America). Interested folks can pre-order and pre-load the game through Battle.net.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive, together with developer Most Wanted Entertainment, has released Defenders of Ardania as a downloadable game for the PC through online portals such as Valve's Steam service. This real-time strategy game mixes elements of troop generation and tower defense to have up to four players battling against one another for supremacy.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has released two more downloadable games through the Xbox Live Arcade program: Defenders of Ardania and Shoot Many Robots. Read on for more details...
Double Fine ProductionsDouble Fine Productions has wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign to make a new adventure game, and has raised $3.335 million to make the game. That's an unprecedented number, and we at FI are as excited as anyone to see the folks at Double Fine receive this opportunity. We will point out to all those eager to jump on the Kickstarter bandwagon and raise funds, that this kind of success comes to those with proven talent and an incredible fan following, not someone who put 2.3 minutes into sketching an idea on a Post-It note.
SonyWhile this week's additions to the PlayStation Store don't feature any new games for the PSP, there are two titles for the Vita and several much-anticipated games for the PlayStation 3. Journey headlines the list, but read on for the full slate of titles and more details...
Namco Bandai GamesBandai, part of Namco Bandai Games, has released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Storm Generations for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This is yet another Naruto Shippuden game featuring Naruto characters in a variety of battle modes. Developed by CyberConnect2, this game promises even more characters than any past Naruto game.
SegaSega, part of Sammy Sega, has released its game Yakuza: Dead Souls for the PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This latest game in the Yakuza series (released last year in Japan) takes the franchise in a new direction by setting the game in the midst of a zombie outbreak with yakuza defending humanity against the undead.
Namco Bandai GamesNamco, part of Namco Bandai Games, has released Tales of Graces f for the PlayStation 3. Yes, you read the title correctly – this is a follow-up to the original Tales of Graces. The game is a bit more than a port – it's an enhanced version localized for North America, but still following a young knight forced to forsake his position after the death of his father.
KonamiKonami's game Silent Hill: Downpour for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores in North America. This latest horror game in Konami's Silent Hill franchise has players returning to the eponymous town as escaped inmate Murphy Pendleton. Konami claims the game is a return to the style of the early Silent Hill games with deep, psychological horror and challenging puzzles.
MicrosoftFormer Sony and Atari executive Phil Harrison has now joined Microsoft as a corporate Vice President. Harrison will help lead the Interactive Entertainment Business in Europe by developing strategic partnerships and growing the development resources for the Xbox program.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has released FIFA Street for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. The game should be in stores in Europe by the end of the week. This is a street soccer game that includes a variety of "...authentic street dribbling styles and trick moves..." to replicate authentic street soccer in cities around the globe.
ParadoxParadox Interactive has released the Mount & Blade Collection for the PC as a download through a variety of online portals. This compilation includes the original Mount & Blade as well as the expansion content Mount & Blade: Warband and Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword. All together, the compilation gives gamers an extensive world developed by Taleworlds Entertainment in which player can engage in mounted combat as part of an action-oriented role-playing game.
MicrosoftThis post on Major Nelson's blog confirms that Microsoft's achievement policy is changing. By June of this year, all Xbox Live Arcade games will have 30 achievements worth a total of 400 Gamerscore points (twice what is currently allocated). XBLA titles will have the option of moving to this new limit as early as next month. Also rumored (but unverified) is that the achievement policy for downloadable content may change.
MajescoMajesco announced its financial results for its fiscal first quarter ended January 31, 2012. Read on for more details...
Last summer, it came to light that Bethesda Softworks (part of ZeniMax) planned to sue Mojang (the makers of Minecraft) over Mojang's plan to release a digital card game called Scrolls. The contention was that the name "Scrolls" might be confused with Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls franchise. As we pointed out, Bethesda had to do this to protect its trademark. We are a little surprised to discover that Mojang and ZeniMax (Bethesda's parent) have reached a settlement. We can only speculate that either ZeniMax had a much stronger case than we expected, or made a sizable payment to Mojang, because Mojang will transfer all ownership rights to the Scrolls trademark and Mojang will assign all trademark applications to Zenimax. Zenimax will then license the Scrolls mark to Mojang for the upcoming digital card game and any add-ons for that game, but not for sequels or other games.
Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Developer: NetherRealm Studios


Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Reviewed on Xbox 360

"This tournament, the 10th after nine Outworld victories, will determine Earthrealm's fate..." Created by the Elder Gods, the Mortal Kombat tournament gives the Earth Realm a chance to defend itself against encroachment by the other realms spawned by the Elder Gods. Once again, Outworld is battling to subsume Earthrealm, and it's up to fighting game fans to keep the realms separate. Yet even when Outworld fails, the combatants are moving outside the usual competition for a new tournament.

TurbineTurbine, part of Warner Bros., has launched a major content update for its massively multiplayer online game The Lord of the Rings Online, called "Shores of the Great River." This update adds the Great River region to the map, allows players to progress the story by seeking Galadriel's wisdom, and even lets players summon a skirmish soldier to complete difficult challenges.
While the game has been in open beta testing since December, Doctor Who: Worlds in Time has now officially launched. The game is a browser-based persistent puzzle game developed by Three Rings (the folks behind Puzzle Pirates). The game has players working together (often by playing mini-games) to defend civilization against threats like the Cybermen, Daleks and Weeping Angels.

Binary Domain Review

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Binary Domain Publisher: Sega
Developer: Yakuza Studio


Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Binary Domain has trouble deciding if it wants to be Terminator or Blade Runner or some kind of perverse buddy-cop movie. There's a background story to this near-future dystopia that has global warming flooding much of the world's cities and arable land. Faced with a massive death toll, humanity has retreated to elevated cities supported by robot labor, while the poorest scrounge the abandoned cities for work and sustenance. Two robotics corporations appear to have more political clout than the world's governments, with one maintaining a near-monopoly over the world's labor force. Suddenly, Hollow Children are popping up – robots that have been masquerading as humans, often for decades, completely unaware of their artificial nature.

Set against this threat is an elite, multi-national Rust Crew. This group of combat specialists divides into small strike teams and sets out to infiltrate Japan and put a stop to Amada Corporation, a Japanese robotics company that appears to have violated the Geneva Code by creating these Hollow Children. The Rust Crew must eliminate the threat and capture Amada himself, facing hordes of military robots along the way.

NintendoNintendo's game Mario Party 9 for the Wii is now available in stores in North America. This is the latest game in Nintendo's long-running series of party games that has players competing in mini-games while racing around board-game–like worlds. This latest version includes 80 mini-games for up to four players to participate in together, with each stage culminating in a boss battle that has players cooperating to defeat enemies like Bowser and King Boo.
GamesCampus has officially launched its online trading card game Carte. The game has players collecting cards and building decks to join forces with one of five nations and battle against the others in matches and raids for victory and glory.
UbisoftUbisoft's game I Am Alive for the Xbox 360 is now available as a download through the Xbox Live Arcade program for 1,200 points ($15). Set one year after a worldwide cataclysm, the game has players helping a single survivor search through a crumbling city for his wife and daughter.
SonySony has released a new slate of downloadable games through the PlayStation Store, including various games for the PlayStation 3, Vita and PSP. This week's titles include downloadable versions of several games available at retail as well as a racing and a party game. Read on for the full list and more details...
Sega SammySega, part of Sega Sammy, has released Crush 3D for the 3DS. Developed by Zoe Mode, this game is based on the original Crush, released for the PSP in 2007. Players take on the role of Danny, testing a machine that traps him in his dreams and forces him to solve puzzles that switch between 2D and 3D modes.
Double Fine Productions has released Stacking for the PC as a download through Valve's Steam service. Previously released for consoles, Stacking has players taking on the role of Charlie Blackmore, the world's tiniest Russian stacking doll, able to jump into other stacking dolls and assume their special abilities.
NCsoftNCsoft has launched Issue 22, the latest major update for its massively multiplayer online game City of Heroes called "Death Incarnate." Following the death of Statesman, the search is on for Paragon City's ultimate defender. The update adds a new "Darkness Control" power set, the "Dark Astoria" Incarnate Zone, the "Dilemma Diabolique" Incarnate Trial and minor content updates for most other levels.
SonySony's game Unit 13 for the PlayStation Vita is now available in stores in North America. This shooter has players taking on the role of a military operative and taking on 45 missions alone or co-operatively with other Vita owners over WiFi.
KonamiKonami's game Blades of Time for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores in North America. The game has players taking on the role of a Lara Croft-esque treasure hunter named Ayumi as she explores a dangerous island filled with Chaotic magic while armed with her gunswords.
CapcomCapcom's game Street Fighter X Tekken for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores in North America. Both PC and Vita versions are expected to be released later this year. This latest fighting game from Capcom features 38 characters from both the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises and includes a new "Scramble Mode" that has four players battling at once.
Take-Two Interactive2K Play, the casual label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Nicktoons MLB 3D for the 3DS to stores in North America. This baseball game for Nintendo's 3DS handheld features a variety of Nickelodeon Network's characters (such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron) playing against players from various Major League Baseball teams. Versions of the game were previously released on the Xbox 360, Wii and DS, and now the game can be played in 3D.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts (and its BioWare division) have released Mass Effect 3 to stores in North America. Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, the game should reach stores in Europe (and certain other areas worldwide) by the end of the week. Concluding the trilogy that began with Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, the game has players engaging in an all-out war with the ancient Reapers. This action-heavy role-playing game also includes a multiplayer component that requires a code (including in new copies of the game) to unlock.
SonySony has released MLB 12: The Show for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita to stores in North America. This latest iteration in Sony's baseball franchise includes full support for the PlayStation Move and the Vita's various interface devices. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the game (if you're not into baseball) is the fact that it was not released for the PSP or PlayStation 2 (as MLB 11: The Show) was, indicating that Sony really is done with both platforms.
Take-Two Interactive2K Sports, the sports label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Major League Baseball 2K12 to stores in North America. The game is now available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, PlayStation 2, PSP, and DS. This latest installment in Take-Two's professional baseball franchise features a new season mode, dynamic ratings and a revamped throwing system.
505 Games505 Games has released Top Gun: Hard Lock to stores in North America. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game are available in stores, while the PC version of the game is available as a download through certain online portals. Based on the film Top Gun, the game has players flying as naval aviators engaging in aerial dogfights across 15 missions.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has released The Sims 3: Showtime expansion pack for the PC and Mac both to stores and as a download for owners of The Sims 3. This latest expansion allows players to help their Sims pursue a career as a mega-star, and even customize their own performance venues.
NintendoNintendo wants everyone to know that the 3DS, since its launch on March 27, 2011, has sold 4.5 million units. Nintendo is eager to compare that to the DS, which had sold around $2.3 million units at roughly the same point in its lifecycle. That comparison isn't entirely apt, as the 3DS was selling poorly and experienced a massive price cut after only a few months. Despite the unit's ability to display 3D without glasses, it hasn't been the runaway hit that Nintendo was hoping for, and is fighting an increasingly uphill battle against smartphones and tablets.
Activision BlizzardActivision Blizzard has hired Dennis Durkin to serve as the company's Chief Financial Officer. Durkin, 41, previously served at Microsoft as Chief Operating and Financial Officer of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. Thomas Tippl has been the interim Chief Financial Officer for Activision Blizzard, and can now focus fully on his responsibilities as the company's Chief Operating Officer. Durkin joins Activision Blizzard with a base salary of $650,000 per year (with scheduled increases of at least 5% per year). He also has a discretionary bonus with a target amount of 100% of his base salary and a signing bonus of $1.25 million. In addition to other benefits, Durkin also receives the option to purchase 300,000 shares of common stock and 350,000 shares of restricted stock. In other words, Durkin is being paid well to leave Microsoft.
Battlefront.com has released Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy - Commonwealth Forces for the PC and Mac as a download or mail order. The Commonwealth Forces expansion requires the original World War II strategy game Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy game, and adds two new campaigns and several scenarios, along with new German formations, UK forces, Canadian forces, and Polish forces.
Slitherine, Matrix Games and 2by3 Games have released Don to the Danube, an expansion for the PC strategy game Gary Grigsby's War in the East. This expansion adds massive scenarios that further explore battles in the European theater of World War II.
Square EnixCrystal Dynamics, a studio of Square Enix, has hired Cory Barlog to join its development team. Barlog was the director of the original God of War and worked extensively on the God of War franchise. Presumably, Barlog will be working on Crystal Dynamics' "yet to be announced new title."
Lace Mamba Global has released J.U.L.I.A. through major PC download portals (such as GamersGate). This adventure game sets players in the role of astrobiologist Rachel Manners (who also has control of a massive reconnaissance robot) on a mission to make contact with and study the first extra-terrestrial life form discovered by humanity.
UK Retailer Game is nearly bankrupt, and now it appears that the retailer won't be able to stock certain new games. It appears that Game will not be stocking Electronic Arts' upcoming Mass Effect 3. In a leaked internal memo, Game said that it is "...committed to only stocking products on which we could get the right credit terms..." The wording of the memo suggests that EA is not willing to take the risk that Game will sell copies of Mass Effect 3 and not then pay EA the money EA would be owed. Frankly, who can blame EA for worrying that it's funds will be lost in bankruptcy proceedings?


UPDATE (3/5/2012): It appears that Game is failing to stock quite a few new titles, including all of EA's games, Nintendo's Mario Party 9 and various Capcom games.

Meridian 4 and developer HeadUp have released Bridge Constructor as a download for the PC. This is a casual simulation game in which players construct bridges over a variety of obstacles.
Strange Loop Games has released Vessel as a downloadable game for the PC. Vessel is a platformer featuring physics-based puzzles in which players animate various fluids, transforming them into living machines called Fluros.
Biart Company has released Deep Black: Reloaded as a download for the PC. This arcade-style third-person shooter is set in a dystopian near-future and has players battling to capture a biological weapon through a series of underwater missions.

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