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Archive for November, 2007

GameSpot’s Jeff Gertsmann Fired Over Review Score?

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Sparked by a Penny Arcade comic, it has been widely speculated that GameSpot’s Jeff Gertsmann — an 11-year veteran of the site — was recently fired due to pressure from Eidos over the score awarded to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (PS3, 360). There may have been mitigating circumstances, but it certainly doesn’t look good. It makes Eidos and, GameSpot parent company, CNET look really, really bad.

I think GameIndustry.biz summed it up nicely:

GamesIndustry.biz has learned that GameSpot’s US reviews editor has left CNET Networks following an incident involving the site’s recent Kane & Lynch review.

A source close to the editorial team has revealed that the row focused on the tone of the content of the original review, which was apparently subsequently altered.

The game scored 6 out of 10, and although it’s unclear how the text of the review may have changed from its original format, it’s not thought that the score was altered.

GameSpot reviews are regularly submitted to the wider editorial team for quality and accuracy reasons, and small changes can be made at this point before the article is published.

Rumours elsewhere cited possible reasons for the editorial changes as being the result of pressure from the Kane & Lynch publisher Eidos, which had marketed the game on the site.

The source revealed that members of the editorial team were extremely disappointed by the incident.

Gerstmann had been with GameSpot for 11 years, and was part of the team – which included Greg Kasavin, now at EA – who drove the site’s core values of editorial excellence and independence over that time.

As well as heading up the reviews team, he also hosted weekly video show On The Spot, and wrote the music to several of the site’s audio or video publications, including the GameSpot UK podcast.

CNET representatives have so far declined to comment on Gerstmann’s departure, and the precise circumstances – whether or not he left of his own accord – have not been disclosed.

Tim Tracy, former head of video at the company, has also departed, although it’s not clear at this time whether or not the two are linked.

Two Worlds: The Temptation Announced

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

An expansion pack for the PC role-playing game, Two Worlds, has been announced.  There isn’t a huge amount of information out about the game just yet, but here’s the press release:

Karlsruhe, 28. November 2007 – Head for a new horizon! With the add-on, “Two Worlds – The Temptation”, the “Two Worlds” universe continues to grow, introducing new game content, extended gameplay and providing you with the answers to many questions and mysteries which arose in the main story!

The developers are focusing on a blend of the proven and the new: besides several well-known regions of Antaloor, there are also completely new territories to explore. The combat system has been further enhanced too – now you can use active blocking, for example. Many other additional developments have been added – developments which have enabled a completely new means of transport and a much enhanced reaction from NPCs – but more on these and a whole host of other surprises shortly! The release of “Two Worlds – The Temptation” for PC and consoles is planned for the first half of 2008. You can get an idea of what to expect at www.2-worlds.com/temptation.

Deus Ex 3 Confirmed

Monday, November 26th, 2007

So, there’s been lots of unofficial talk about a new Deus Ex game being made, but there was never that stamp of official-ness (yes, that’s a word…sort of) saying that indeed Eidos was working on the game.  That has changed, though, as the company has a little movie do-dad on the main page to their Montreal web site indicates that there is a Deus Ex 3 in the works.  No other details are available about the game outside of, “Hey, it exists!”

New Namco Wii RPG

Friday, November 16th, 2007

A teaser site for an upcoming Wii RPG by Namco has recently gone up.  All that we know so far is that the game will be called Fragile.  More information is expected in the coming days from a Famitsu feature on the game, which will be followed by an event shortly thereafter.

Interplay Bringing Back Old Franchises?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Beleaguered game publisher Interplay appears to be trying to bring back some of its old, popular franchises in an attempt to get back on course business-wise.  After a series of massive financial problems over the last several years that saw the company all but shut down permanently, Interplay has recently made a filing with the SEC outlining what it plans to do to improve it’s situation, “through sequels and various development and publishing arrangements.”

Among the titles that may be resurrected are Earthworm Jim, MDK, Descent, and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.  Meanwhile, the company is still looking for the $75 million it says that it needs in order to make a Fallout MMO.

[Hat tip to Gamespot]

Need for Speed ProStreet Ships

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

The latest in EA’s popular racing franchise has shipped to retail:

VANCOUVER, Canada–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS – News) announced that Need for Speed™ ProStreet ships to retailers today in North America. The game will ship in Europe from November 22 onwards. To celebrate the launch of the game, EA is auctioning off a one-of-a-kind autographed Need for Speed ProStreet poster and will donate the proceeds to the non-profit organization, Save the Whales, founded 30 years ago. The poster was signed by over 40 celebrities including Hayden Panettiere from NBC’S Heroes. Proceeds from the auction will go to Save the Whales for their programs to educate children and adults about marine mammals and the importance of protecting them in their environment. The poster will be placed on eBay on Friday, November 16 at 9:00am PST. (more…)

AVENCAST Ships

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Lighthouse Interactive have sent word that their latest action / RPG, by developer ClockStone Software, has shipped for PC.  Here’s the press release:

Haarlem, The Netherlands – November 14, 2007 – Leading publisher Lighthouse Interactive and developer ClockStone Software are happy to announce that their fantasy-based Action RPG, AVENCAST: Rise of the Mage is now available in major retail stores across North America and Europe. To accompany the highly anticipated release of this Windows® game on PC DVD-ROM, a new trailer is now available. AVENCAST is also Windows® Vista™ compatible. (more…)

Crysis Ships

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Crysis has officially shipped.  The demo was pretty, and soon gamers can play the whole thing.

Redwood City, Calif. – November 13, 2007 – The wait is finally over! Today, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) and Crytek announced that Crysis® is now shipping to stores in North America and Europe. Featuring jaw-dropping visuals, industry leading technology and open-ended gameplay, Crysis is set to break new ground in the FPS genre and has already received a 98% from PC Gamer, the highest score ever awarded in the magazine’s 14-year history. Crysis is also setting the bar internationally, with a 94% from Gamestar in Germany – in its 10-year history no other game has earned a rating over 94%.

“Crysis is the culmination of the dedication and tenacity of everyone here at Crytek who shared the goal of creating a true next-generation FPS,” said Cevat Yerli, CEO and President of Crytek. “Our vision from the beginning was to deliver an immersive, open-ended single-player campaign, to innovate in multiplayer and to give our community a powerful, easy-to-use editor and we’re extremely proud of the end result.”

“Crysis is nothing short of amazing. It is an innovative, technical achievement that has blown us all away,” said David DeMartini, Vice President and Global General Manager, EA Partners. “EA Partners has a long history of working with the most talented independent studios in the world and helping them deliver their creative vision to a mass, global audience and our experience with Crytek is adding to that legacy.”

The complete Crysis package is composed of three primary components:

• An Epic Single Player Campaign – Players are thrust into the middle of a global conflict between the US and North Korea over a mysterious artifact that turns out to be extraterrestrial in nature. Fortunately, players are outfitted with a high tech Nanosuit that allows them to alter their strength, speed, armor and cloaking abilities and an arsenal of fully customizable weapons, helping to even the playing ground against a highly mysterious and intelligent enemy threat.

• Multiplayer Reinvented – Crytek has also focused much of their development efforts in creating two unique multiplayer experiences. PowerStruggle is a new, team-based multiplayer mode where players need to work together strategically to capture resource points throughout the map to win the ultimate arms race for nuclear technology. And for those who are looking for a more action-packed experience Crysis also features Instant Action, traditional deathmatch made even more frenetic as every player is outfitted with the revolutionary Nanosuit.

• CryENGINE 2TM Sandbox Editor – Also included with Crysis is the complete version of Crytek’s Sandbox Editor. Extremely powerful with a simple user interface, the editor will give the community full access to one of the most powerful design tools in the industry.

Crysis has been rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB (Blood and Gore, Language, Violence) and 16+ by PEGI in Europe. Visit www.esrb.org and www.pegi.info for updated rating information. For more information about the game, log onto http://info.ea.com or the game’s official website at www.nanosuit.com.

NPD Scrapping Changes to Public Data

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Last week, the NPD, the body who keeps track of video game and console sales in North America, announced that they were going to scale back the amount of data they made available to the public in terms of charts.  There would be no more console sales charts, and no more top ten games; just a top five instead.  Well, there was a massive outcry about this from gamers, media, and industry types, and now the NPD has decided to step back and scrap the plan.

The reasoning behind the proposed pullback was to “leave it up to our clients to release their numbers,” Riley had stated last week.

Riley assures that now, “Nothing is going to change. All will remain the same… The ‘Big Three’ [Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony] are on board, so we’ll be providing these figures indefinitely.”

[Hat tip to Next Gen]

Eve Online Supercomputer in the Works

Monday, November 5th, 2007

CCP, the company behind the MMORPG Eve Online, recently held their annual FanFest where a slew of new informations was announced / confirmed.  One of the most interesting tidbits is that the company plans to make one of the most powerful supercomputers in all of Europe in order to address lag issues in Eve Online.

The company also confirmed info on Eve Online’s soon to be released update, Trinity, which is due out in December.  The patch will bring a drastic graphical update to the game, with 500 redrawn ships, as well as 20 new vessels, improved missions, drones, and in-game voice communication.  The update will also be free just like previous Eve updates.

[Hat tip to Gameindustry.biz]

Canadian Copies of Witcher Without CD-Keys

Monday, November 5th, 2007

It looks like the Canadian version of Atari’s new RPG, The Witcher, are missing their CD-key, though it is only the case with bilingual copies of the game.  These are the keys to register the game on Project Red’s site, not for actually playing the game.  At this time, Atari says they are working on resolving the issue.

ESRB Comments on Manhunt 2 Hacks

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

The ESRB released a statement regarding hacks that have surfaced on the Internet that return Manhunt 2 to its AO (Adults Only) state.  They trip over themselves to clear Take 2 or Rockstar of any wrong doing.  It’s a lengthy read but worth it, because they also touch on why this is different than the infamous Hot Coffee incident and the nudity in Oblivion:

New York, NY – November 2, 2007 – Earlier this week we learned about a hack into the code of the PSP and PS2 versions of the game that removes special effects filters that were put in place to obscure certain violent depictions.  We have investigated the matter and concluded that unauthorized versions of the game have been released on the Internet along with instructions on how to modify the code to remove the special effects.  Once numerous changes to the game’s code have been made and other unauthorized software programs have been downloaded to the hardware device which circumvent security controls that prevent unauthorized games from being played on that hardware, a player can view unobscured versions of certain violent acts in the game.  Contrary to some reports, however, we do not believe these modifications fully restore the product to the version that originally received an AO rating, nor is this a matter of unlocking content.

Our investigation indicates that the game’s publisher disclosed to the ESRB all pertinent content in the authorized Mature-rated version of Manhunt 2 now available in stores, and complied with our guidelines on full disclosure of content.

What parents, and indeed all consumers, need to be aware of is that computer software and hardware devices are susceptible to unauthorized modification.  Parents should be cognizant of whether or not their children are engaging in unauthorized modification of their games, consoles or handhelds, as those modifications can change game content in ways that may be inconsistent with the assigned ESRB rating. That being said, the vast majority of consumers have not made the unauthorized modifications to their hardware necessary to view the content at issue.

ESRB president Patricia Vance said:

“Manhunt 2′s rating makes it unmistakable that the game is intended for an older audience.  The unauthorized hacking into the code of this game doesn’t change that basic fact.

“Parents need to be vigilant about monitoring what their children are downloading on the Internet and ensure that they are not making unauthorized and oftentimes illegal modifications to software and hardware that remove the controls the industry has so diligently put in place for their own protection.”

Q&A

How is this situation different from the “Hot Coffee” incident?

The Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas “Hot Coffee” situation involved a scene that was a) fully rendered in an unmodified form on the disc (the Hot Coffee mod did not alter the content that was there, it merely unlocked it), b) not previously disclosed to the ESRB during the rating process, and c) easily accessible to all owners of the PC version of the game.  Conversely, in the case of Manhunt 2, a) content that was programmed to be part of the game (i.e., visual blurring effects of certain violent depictions) is being modified, b) the content was previously disclosed to the ESRB, and c) unauthorized versions of software and/or hardware are required to play the modified content.

How is this situation different from the one with “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion?”

After the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the ESRB discovered extensive amounts of fully rendered and previously undisclosed blood and gore in the game that warranted a Mature rating.  In addition, there was a fully rendered anatomically detailed art file of a topless female character present on the disc that had not been previously disclosed to the ESRB during the rating process.  The blood and gore was accessible to all owners of the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game.  The partial nudity was accessible to all owners of the PC version of the game if they downloaded a modification available on the Internet that replaced one version of character artwork for another, both of which existed in a fully rendered form on the disc.  Conversely, with Manhunt 2, a) the content in question was previously disclosed to the ESRB, b) the content is being modified by removing the obscuring blur effect that was programmed as part of the game, and c) unauthorized versions of software and/or hardware are required to play the modified content.

Why does this instance not fall under the ESRB’s disclosure rule clarification requiring that locked-out content contained in the code on a game disc be considered in the assignment of a rating?

Our rule clarification following Hot Coffee required that pertinent content that is programmed to be locked out but which exists in an unmodified, fully rendered form on game discs must either be removed or disclosed to ESRB during the rating process.  In the case of Manhunt 2, the scenes in question were playable (not locked-out), programmed to include the blur effect, and fully disclosed to the ESRB.

Turok Coming to PC

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 releases of Turok are supposed to hit retail February 5, 2008, but it was announced today that Turok will also be hitting PCs this coming Spring (2008).

Here’s a snippet from the official press release:

“First person shooters have a rich history on the Windows PC platform and are known for having enthusiastic, dedicated fans,” said Josh Holmes, vice president and general manager, Propaganda Games. “Turok will be an unforgettable experience ideal for the Windows PC platform when it becomes available in 2008.”

Elder Scrolls Online

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

The folks at Voodoo Extreme made an interesting discovery while trawling the Net.  It would seem more and more evidence is surfacing that Bethesda may be working on an online Elder Scrolls game:

While doing a little domain crawling, we noticed that ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, recenly purchased ELDERSCROLLSONLINE.COM. Combine this little acquisition with the fact that it recently opened up a online game division headed up by Mythic co-founder Matt Firor, and I think we might have made a love connection. We contacted Bethesda about this, but have yet to get an official response.

Tabula Rasa Gold

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Word has come down the pipe that Richard Garriott’s first MMO since Ultima Online has just gone gold:

AUSTIN, Texas, November 1, 2007— NCsoft®, the world’s leading developer and publisher of online computer games, announced today that Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa®, a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game for the PC where players are thrust into an exciting intergalactic struggle, launches commercial service in North America and Europe on November 2, 2007. (more…)