4/17/2010 Demon Souls finally sees release in Europe
Demons Souls was released in the United States last year to fantastic reviews and a Game of the Year nod from Gamespot, and European action RPG fans have been waiting for some time for the game to cross the ocean. The RPG will finally see European shores on the 25th of June. It will also come to the Middle East, Africa and Pacific Asia regions. If you live in these areas, look for this to come to a PS3 near you very soon.
4/16/2010 The last of the leads on Modern Warfare 2 leave Infinity Ward
In the continuing and very negative saga of Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward that all started with the firing of West and Zampella, the last of the lead desingers on Modern Warfare 2 have left the company. It seems that Steve Fukuda and Zied Rieke have left the ailing company. They were the only two remaining leads for Modern Warfare 2 left at the company, but that is not the end of the bad news for the company. It seems that Lead Environment artist Chris Cherubini and programmer Rayme Vinson have also left the company. Cherubini has been with the company since Call of Duty 2 in 2004. Will anything stop the bleeding over at Infinity Ward? Activision hopes so. They stated their intent to reallocate Modern Warfare 2 bonuses previously intended for West and Zampella to "those employees responsible for the success of the game who remain employees of the company."
4/16/2010 Xbox Live 1.0 shuts down for good
An era ended this week as, on Thursday, the original version of Xbox Live shut down permanently. The long running online service for the original Xbox is no more. This means that no original xbox games will be playable on Live. This includes both the disc based versions of the games and the downloadable versions made avaliable on the 360 version of Xbox Live. The original version of Xbox Live has been shut down after having been up and running for eight years, a full four years after the console, itself, was discontinued.
4/15/2010 Apple delays iPad in Europe
Apple, surprised by the success of the iPad in the U.S., has decided to delay the device's launch in Europe by a month. It will now launch at the end of May. Apple lists the sales numbers for the first day as more than 300,000 and more than 500,000 in the first week. They say that they will announce international prices and preordering will begin on May 10. Knowing that Apple fans world wide would be disappointed by this news, they said that it was delayed internationally because "the iPad is a runaway success in the US thus far."
4/15/2010 Nintendo wins controller court battle
You may remember that about four years ago a Texas based company called Anascape filed a law suit against Nintendo for copy write infringement over various Nintendo console controllers. In 2008, an Eastern Texas jury found that the Wiimote and Nunchuck did not infringe on Anascape's patents, but the Classic Controller and the Gamecube's Wavebird and standard controllers had. This verdict would have cost Nintendo $21 million in damages, but this decision was overturned. Nintendo announced this week that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in it's favor and found that Nintendo did not infringe on Anascape's US Patent No. 6,906,700. The 4 year court battle is finally over.
4/15/2010 Forza 3 gets downloadable content
Microsoft announced this week that downloadable content for Forza 3 entitled the Road and Track Car Pack is now avaliable for Xbox Live. The downloadable content costs 400 Microsoft points ($5. Try figuring that one out) and includes ten new vehicles for the game as selected by Road and Track magazine editors in conjunction with Turn 10. For those looking for a "try it before you buy it" deal, you can download the 2010 Mini Coupe Concept free of charge.
Road and Track Pack:
2010 Volkswagen Golf R
2009 Holden HSV w427
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
2010 Renault Megane RS 250
2010 Vauxhall Insignia VXR
2010 Mini Coupe Concept
2010 Bentley Continental Supersports
2010 Mazda MX-5 Superlight
2010 SEAT Leon Cupra R
4/14/2010 Dead Space to get prequel novel in July
Dead Space is getting it's first novel, Dead Space: Martyr, from horror author Brian Evenson, who wrote Last Days in 2009 and The Open Curtain in 2006. The book will give more background on the game by exploring the Church of Unitology, the alien artifact and the Necromorphs. It is a prequel to the game, and further expands the Dead Space universe, which has been expanded with a Wii spin off, Dead Space Extraction, a movie, Dead Space Downfall, and a six part mini series of animated comics. EA hopes that this will not be the only novel.
4/14/2010 Nintendo announces white DSi bundle
Nintendo is celebrating the launch of the DSi XL in very strange ways. They seem to be ignoring it completely. A week before it's launch, they announced a 3D capable version of the DS. The DSi XL has now been on store shelves for two weeks, Nintendo is announcing a bundle for it's predecessor....the DSi. You will be able to purchase this bundle for $170, and your money will net you a white DSi and a copy of the action role playing game Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
4/13/2010 Netflix Wii discs ship wide
You may remember that, in late March, Netflix began to send out thier discs for the service on the Wii. They were shipped to a select number of Wii users as a beta period. Well, that beta period is over. They are shipping it wide. You can now get your Netflix Wii disc free of charge and begin streaming movies to your Nintendo home console.
When you get the disc, you will be able to insert it into your Wii and Netflix will appear in the Wii menu, and you will be able to launch it the same way you would launch a game on the system. The disc will contact the Netflix servers and present you with the video que and top movies at the time. You will be able to rate movies, fast forward, rewind and pause the streaming video, just like on other platforms. You can get the video streaming service on your Wii free of charge.
4/13/2010 Sony's Sub Controller given proper name
At last month's Game Developers Conference, Sony finally showed off it's motion controller. They gave it the name Sony Move and gave it's equivalent of the Nunchuck the name of Sub Controller, a name that did not seem to sit well with the gaming industry as a whole. That appears to have been nothing more than a place holder name until Sony could come up with something better. Sony seems to have renamed it the Navigation Controller. While this still isn't a great name, it is a significant improvement.
4/13/2010 3 more top ranking execs leave Infinity Ward
Infinity Ward cannot seem to keep it's name out of the news lately, and none of it is good. Three more top ranking exec have left the company, totalling 5 people leaving and 2 getting fired. It is almost like abandoning a sinking ship at this point. Maybe it is. Mackey McCandlish, who has been with the company since the launch of the first game in the Call of Duty franchise in 2003, announced his departure via twitter. He was a design lead. Jon Shiring, who has been with the company since June of 2004, and Bruce Ferriz, who has only been with the company since March of 2009, have announced their leaving it.
4/12/2010 Epic rains a Bullet Storm on the PS3 and 360
Cliff Bleszinski, creator of Unreal and Gears of War, has, apperently, had one of his big announcements for the Jimmy Fallon show stolen right from under his feet on Friday as the cover for the latest Game Informer was revealed. The cover revealed the first person shooter Bullet Storm, which is coming to both the Playstation 3 and hte Xbox 360 in the first quarter of 2011. The game is a joint project between Epic Games and People Can Fly, who worked on the Painkiller series and the PC version of Gears of War. EA will be publishing it.
4/11/2010 Uncharted 2 Siege pack gets release date
Naughty Dog is readying their third piece of downloadable content for release on the Playstation Network. Entitled the Siege Expansion Pack, this DLC nets you a new Siege co-op game type where two or three players attempt to capture and hold a position against increasingly difficult enemies. It also gives you two new multiplayer maps, Highrise and Nepal, 6 new multiplayer skins to play as and 11 new trophies to collect. All of this can be had for $6 and will get released on the April 22.
4/10/2010 Modern Warfare 2 DLC gets release date on PC and PS3
As you already know, Infinity Ward had an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for the Modern Warfare 2 downloadable content. This deal appears to be short lived, however, as the 5 map DLC pack has already gotten a release date on the Playstation 3 and the PC. The 5 maps, which include 3 new maps Bailout, Storm and Salvage and 2 from the first Modern Warfare Crash and Overgrown, will be hitting the Playstation 3 and PC on the 4th of May. These maps will see release in Australia and Europe on the 5th of May. The price is the same 15 dollars that it was for the 360.
4/9/2010 Pokemon Black/White being released in Japan this fall
Nintendo is just coming off of the release of the Gold and Silver remakes entitled Heartgold and Soulsilver for the Nintendo DS and, to no one's surprise, the next Pokemon is already in developement. Unlike the last games, however, this one is not just a remake of older Pokemon games. These will be full fledged new installments in the series for the first time since Diamond and Pearl. Nintendo claims that these new titles will feature "ground-breaking evolution of all aspects." The game's website can be visited here.
4/8/2010 Startrek Online is not coming to consoles
Cryptic Studios have stated that they no longer have plans to release Star Trek Online for consoles. After stating in 2008, when the game was first announced, that it would come to consoles as well as PC, the game saw release earlier this year on the PC platform to soft critical reception. Now they are stating that it won't be coming to consoles. "It's something we can readily do in terms of technology. We've had it up and running on certain consoles and had plans and designs in order to take advantage of those platforms, but, as it stands right now, it is a little difficult to make the final leap on the business side of things. So, currently, just like Champions, the console versions of Star Trek Online is on the back burner."
4/7/2010 Gilbert leaves Hothead and Deathspank is finished.
In early 2008, the creator of Secret of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, was made the creative director of Hothead Games. He, then, began developement on the action role playing title Deathspank. Originally planned to be an episodic game, Deathspank eventually developed into a full fledged downloadable game for both the Playstation Network and the Xbox Live Arcade. He confirmed recently that the game is finished. It has left the production stage and entered, "that long and winding road of certification and testing of the Xbox and PS3 and [REDACTED] versions,"
Furthermore, he stated, via his personal blog, that he is leaving Hothead. "I wanted to let all the Premium Gold Level Grumpy Gamers subscribers know that I left hothead," he said. "When I started working there two years ago, my goal was to make Deathspank the most awesome game ever made and have it win a Nobel Prize and the early word out of Stockhom is that Deathspank is neck-in-neck with some string theory dweeb (eleven dimenions my ass.)"
4/6/2010 Two more leads depart Infinity Ward
As we discussed in Press the Action Button a couple of weeks ago, the two heads of Infinity Ward Vince Zampella and Jason West were fired. It would seem that it is not the last of the company's troubles. It seems that two more high ranking team members have left the troubled company. Lead designer Todd Alderman and lead software engineer Francesco Gigliotti departed the company this month.
The two joined the company in 2002, one year before Activision bought the studio and they shipped the first game in the Call of Duty franchise. Alderman would be the bigger blow of these two. His profile indicates that he was the head of the series multiplayer component that has taken off and sold so many copies. All of this comes on the tail of the massive uproar last month, when Activision suddenly fired both Zampella and West for reasons of "breaches of contract and insubordination." Activision also set up a unit dedicated to the series. They are overseeing a new first person shooter developed by Treyarch, an action adventure by Sledgehammer Games and a massively multiplayer online role playing game set for release in Asia.
4/5/2010 DICE claims they will never charge for Bad Company 2 DLC
As we discussed in this week's podcast, the Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Map Pack was released last week with a 15 dollar price tag. It left people unable to play games online. Soon after that, the Bad Company 2 Stimulus Map Pack was released, and it was free. It caused no problems at all. Dice senior producer Patrick Bach claimed in an interview with Xbox World 360 Magazine that they have no plans to charge for their maps. He was quoted saying, "We don't ever want to charge for our maps and insisted to EA that this attitude was crucial when it came to keeping our community happy and playing together." He added, "We're owned by EA, but we're still very much DICE."
4/4/2010 Nintendo shuts down fan made MMO
Nintendo has issued a "cease and desist" order to a fan-made Pokemon MMORPG known as Pokenet. The creator of this MMO, known simply as Nushio, recieved a fax from Nintendo in late March, issuing the shut down order. Nushio stated, "We kinda postponed closing the site, but after much talks within the devs, we decided to 'formally' close it down, on April Fools, no less. Did I expect the game to meet with this end? Of course not. Truth be told, we're not the only 'Poke-MMO-n' around this side of the net. We [were] however, the only one that handed out the source code to whoever wanted it. I'm not sure if that's the reason they attempted to shut us down or not. We don't know what exactly we did different."
Fan projects do get shut down every now and then, but Nushio does not seem to want to stop his long running project. The MMO has been running for 2 years now. He said, "We joked around using Digimon, or Monster Rancher as our next targets, but most of the devs are just giving up. There's still people tied to the Pokemon MMO genre, and they might try to revive it though, who knows. The code is out of the bag, and anyone can start a new game and server quite easily. There's still developers on our team that are waiting on us to say 'Haha, we gotcha! It was all a joke." Unfortunately for him, it isn't a joke.
4/3/2010 Final Fantasy IX is coming to the PSN in Japan
After having released Final Fantasy FFVII on the PSN in June and FFVII in December, many series fans were left wondering if or when Final Fantasy IX would see a release on the Playstation Network. Well, Square Enix confirmed via their Twitter feed that it is coming, in Japan atleast. There was no release date and no pricing information for the game. There was also no news of whether it will be released for the PSN outside of Japan or not, but it is coming. Only time will tell if it is coming to States. Keep your eyes on this site, and we will keep you informed.
4/2/2010 Take-Two is suing former execs for fraud
The latest earning's report indicates that Take-Two is fixing it's financial problems, but they still have problems to fix, it would seem. A federal judge in New York has given the company the go ahead to persue a law suit against 4 former execs of the company. The lawsuit is for security fraud relating to backdating stock options.
Despite dismissing several other claims made by the company, the judge, Laura Taylor Swain, gave Take Two permission to proceed with the law suit, saying, "the company specifically identified the alleged improperly backdated option grants and sufficiently alleged the defendants had an intent to deceive or defraud." It was just one year ago that the company paid $3 million in a settlement to end an investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission.
The suit was filed against ex-Take Two CFO's Larry Muller and James David, as well as former CEO's Kelly Sumner and Ryan Brant. It is not the first time that Brant has been in legal trouble in relation to the company. In October 2006, Brant left the company while it was under investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission. Three months later, Take Two released the results of this investigation, which pinned Brant with the blame. In Febuary of 2007, he pled guilty to first degree felony charges of falsifying business records for his role in the company's stock option backdating scandal.
What the SEC found was that, from 1997 to 2003, Brant was granting stock options to both himself and other employees. He also altered the records to allow them to be instantly profitable to him and other employees. He was given a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid jail time, which he took in 2007. He was ordered to pay $6.3 million to the SEC to settle their suit against him. He also had to pay local New York Authorities another $1 million. This new suit against him could make him liable for even more monetary penalties.
4/1/2010 The Conduit returns to the Wii
If you like shooters and own a Wii, Sega is giving you a reason to be excited. It looks like Nintendo might be getting their wish for more third party hardcore games. Sega announced this week that it is, once again, teaming up with High Voltage Software to bring a Conduit sequel to the Wii. The first game sold 150,000 copies world wide. Evidently, this is enough for a sequel.
The Conduit 2 will be coming to the Wii in both North American and in Europe this fall. The single player campaign will pick up where the first game's story left off. Sega is promising that the sequel will have "dynamic environments, player customization options and giant boss enemies." Take this to mean what you will. The games multiplayer modes will include a co-op mode, both offline and online. For the offline side, it will feature 4 player split screne. Because the first game had problems with cheaters, Sega is promising increased multiplayer security for the sequel. No furhter details have been announced at this time, but Wii owners have something to look forward to.
4/01/2010 Darksiders is coming to PC
If you are a PC gamer, and you were drooling over Vigil Game's Darksiders: Wrath of War, your chance to play it is coming up sooner than you think. The post apocalytpic action adveture game where you play as the horsemen War as he tries to clear his name will be coming to a PC near you in June, as was announced on the game's official website. There has been no additional content announced for the PC port at this moment in time, but the game will feature PC friendly features, such as the ability to define the resolution yourself and keyboard and mouse control schemes. The game will also be avaliable through digital distribution. You can read Digital Delirium's review of the PS3 version of this game here.
3/30/2010 X-Box 360 brand USB drives to start at 40 dollars
As we discussed in this week's podcast, Microsoft announced that the next 360 firmware update will allow for the system to start supporing USB flash drives. This update will go up on April 6th. This move comes on the heels of only offering first party memory cards and harddrives, which have been critisized as being overpriced. The previous firmware update also locked out third party memory units. As such, it came as a bit of a surprise that Microsoft would allow for USB storage devices at all.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that Microsft is creating their own X-Box 360 band USB flash drives. To do this, they are teaming up with SanDisck. On Gamestop's website the price for these drives has been listed to start at 40 dollars. The 8 gigabyte unit will retail for $39.99 and the 16 gigabyte model will retail for $69.90. There is no big surprise there. It is significantly more expensive than an unbranded flash drive would be.
The given description of the units on Gamestop's website say that the 360 brand USB flash drive's main selling point is that they are "preconfigured" for a "seemless experience." They also come with a one month gold level membership to X-Box Live, a retail value of 8 dollars. Unbranded drives will be supported, however. Configuring them for use with your X-Box 360 is as simple as plugging them into your X-Box 360, going into the system settings, selecting the USB Flash Drive and selecting "configure now." It is worth noting that, even with the added bonus of a free month of X-Box Live Gold, an unbranded drive is still significantly cheaper than a branded one.
3/29/2010 Tetris helps ease stress
If you have had a traumatic experience, playing a video game is probably the last thing to come to mind. You probably have no urge to immediately reach for the nearest version of the classic game Tetris, but it seems that this might help. According to psychologists at Oxford University, Tetris does help to ease stress. It is supposed to help with treatment of post-traumatic stress, or so an experiment by Oxford University seems to indicate.
Dr Emily Holmes of the university's Psychiatry department led a group of researchers in an experiment whose goal it was to prove this theory. They took 40 healthy volunteers and showed them traumatic images of people being injured for aproxamately 30 minutes. Following this, half of the group was allowed to play Tetris for 10 minutes. These 20 people reported fewer disturbing flashbacks over the course of the next week than the 20 that were not allowed to play Tetris.
There is a time limit, however. Dr Holmes deduced that this form of treatment will only be successful if Tetris is played soon after the traumatic events take place and stated that the memory becomes fixated aproxamately 6 hours after the traumatic experience occurs. She said that playing Tetris can "Interfere with the way our memories are retained in the brain." It allows the brain to focus on something other than the traumatic experiences, which means that this will probably work with many other acitivities as well. Tetris was the only one experimented on, though. As such, it remains to be seen if any other video game will have the same effect. It is hoped, however, that playing Tetris can help calm down the hospitalised and people in war zones.
3/28/2010 Hydro Thunder gets downloadable sequel
As many of you know, Midway went bankrupt last year. When this happened, Warner Brothers purchased most of Midway's assets for a grand total of 49 million dollars. WB did not purchase everything that Midway had to offer, however. They left behind the TNA wrestling lisense as well as the Hydro Thunder arcade style boat racing franchise, a series long thought to be dead.
Well, we were all wrong on that one. An independent gaming studio named Vector Unit did pick up the Hydro Thunder franchise. It was announced that they are defeloping a brand new sequel to the original game. This sequel is entitled Hydro Thunder Hurricane and will be coming to the X-Box Live Arcade. This downloadable title is listed as a sequel to the original arcade game. It will feature new levels, speedboats, water physics and multiplayer modes, both cooperative and competitive. These modes will allow for up to 8 people to race each other online and up to 4 players to play via split screen. This games tracks will feature themed tracks with over the top obstacles such as a massive hammer-wielding viking and a large sea serpent.
The trailer for this title can be seen here
3/28/2010 Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3 canned
The Penny Arcade Expo has finally hit the eastern side of the United States, as it kicked off in Boston this weekend. One of the first bits of news to be announced at the conference, however, was not a happy one for fans of the long running web comic. In an interview with the gaming blog Joystiq, the creators of the comic, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins confirmed that the third installment in their episodic foray into the realm of video games has been cancled. In short, there will be no Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 3. They went on to state that the storyline established by the first two installments would not go uncompleted, however. They stated that they plan to finish the games story on the games website with an episodic graphic novel. The project is not being dropped all together. It will just no longer be in the format of video games. It will, instead, be in the format of an online graphic novel. The given reason for this was that Hothead Games, the company developing the series, will be focusing on the EA backed DeathSpank. Instead of having the company focus on two games and, possibly, having the third installment in the series be half assed, they decided to drop the game project all together.
3/27/2010 Netflix ships out discs for the Wii
In the first edition of the Press the Action Button podcast, we discussed Netflix coming to the Wii. Well, for everyone that owns a wii, it is finally happening. The disc required to run Netflix from the Wii was shipped out recently and should be in the hands of Wii owning Netflix subscribers shortly. It is not all good, however. Only select members are having discs shipped to them as part of a trial period or test run for the service on Nintendo's console. Not every person that wants one will be getting one right away. The rest of you will e getting your discs eventually, just not today. The discs are expected to be shipped within the next couple of months, but Netflix has not confirmed a date for this. If you wish to be ready for it when this day arrives, follow this link to place an order for your disc.
3/25/2010 Shigeru Miyamoto blames the industry slump in 2009 on game quality
In a recent interview with The Economist, Mario and Zelda creator Shiteru Miyamoto didn't blame the slumping economy, as a whole, for the gaming industry, in particular, slumping a bit in sales from 2008 to 2009. He, instead, placed the blame on the games themselves, effectively calling into question the quality of games released in 2009. He was quoted as saying, "The fact that in 2009 we were not able to sell more than we did in 2008 was simply that, in comparison, we were not able to produce fun enough products. There are always up and downs in this business. As long as we create a unique and unprecedented experience with games, there should be nothing to worry about."
He went on to talk about online gaming later on in the interview. He gave reasons for why Nintendo was slow to adapt to the online gaming world. He said that Nintendo wanted "to take sufficient time to make it a proper business." He said, "I think it is obvious that when everyone is connected online, there will be enormous opportunity for me to create something really unique, but my job is to try to entertain as many people as possible, and I see all Wii owners as the audience. Of course, we have Mario Kart, which can be played online by multiple people, so we are gradually expanding the experience using the internet, but my own personal focus is to try to entertain people, even if they are not connected to the internet. That is my priority."