Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gaming Today

Gaming Today

Halo: Reach Datapads

Posted: 15 Sep 2010 12:15 AM PDT

Introduced in Halo: Reach as a replacement for Halo 3′s notorious skulls, the datapads are, at this early date, still quite mysterious. Seemingly serving no other purpose than providing bragging rights, they give completionists a reason to scour the game’s single-player levels with a fine-toothed comb.

Two datapads are available for each level, one which will appear on Easy/Normal/Hard difficulty, and the other on Legendary. Check back soon for information about where and how to find each and every one!

01: Winter Contingency

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

02: ONI

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

03: Nightfall

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

04: Tip of the Spear

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

05: Long Night of Solace

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

06: Exodus

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

07: New Alexandria

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

08: The Package

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

09: The Pillar of Autumn

Datapad 1:

Datapad 2:

Blizzard Announces Holy War On StarCraft II ‘Cheaters’

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 03:53 PM PDT

Ruh roh. Fresh from indications that Blizzard might be taking a more official interest in customizing StarCraft II comes some bad news for those of you planning to modify your copy of StarCraft II beyond the strict limits of the Galaxy Editor. You might want to wait juuust a bit before you click save on that invincibility + nukes mod you’re working on, because the overlords at Blizzard have finally turned their jaundiced eye in your direction.

Blizzard hasn’t exactly been flinchy when it comes to regulating the behavior of StarCraft II players. But so far they haven’t gone Judge Dredd on members like they have with their other game communities. That lack of strict oversight officially ended today with an announcement on charmingly titled “Cheating in StarCraft II“.

The statement, in full, reads as follows:

“Blizzard Entertainment has always taken cheating in any form in Blizzard games very seriously, and that’s no different for StarCraft II. If a StarCraft II player is found to be cheating or using hacks or modifications in any form, then as outlined in our end user license agreement, that player can be permanently banned from the game. This means that the player will be permanently unable to log in to to play StarCraft II with his or her account.

Playing StarCraft II legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client. Doing otherwise violates our policies for, and it goes against the spirit of fair play that all of our games are based on. We strongly recommend that you avoid using any hacks, cheats, or exploits. Suspensions and bans of players that have used or start using cheats and hacks will begin in the near future.”

Now look, obviously, OBVIOUSLY, no one likes cheaters, and we won’t be shedding any tears for the removal of people who mod for evil rather than for good. But StarCraft II is an excellent game that comes with a lot of frustrating – and frankly, baffling – limitations on what players can and can’t do. The limited single player campaign, the inability to import your custom maps into single player play, and now this announcement, only the latest confirmation that Blizzard’s policy of “do what we say and like it” will continue apace.

Specifically, “Playing StarCraft II legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client.” is a troubling, exceptionally broad statement. It includes jackhole cheaters to be sure, but as we saw with the Ultimate Tank Defence debacle, there’s no guarantee it won’t be interpreted to also refer to people who create mind blowing fantasticity.

Note to Blizzard: The government which governs least governs best, at least when it comes to gaming. In other words, try being less like Big Boss and a little more like this fellow here:

Unannounced Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Blu-ray Pack Gets Box art?

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 03:25 PM PDT

What does this mean? AAAAAAAHHHHHH. That looks like an actual PS3 game box, I guess, but it could just as easily be shopped. Or maybe it isn’t, and that piece of art that showed up today on Swedish retailer Webhallen’s website is the real deal, and Sony and Team Ico are just waiting until TGS this weekend to make the whole thing official. That has to be the case, right? Webhallen and Wal-Mart aren’t just pulling this out of their asses, right, and they don’t both say the game will be out in April because they’re teaming up to play a cruel joke on gamers, right?

Look, I’m trying really hard to stay calm about this so I can be kinda objective and stuff. But, man, I really want this. I really, really want this.

via CVG


PS2 Adapter for PS3 Patented by Sony?

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 02:59 PM PDT

What the s***************t is that? I couldn’t tell you, but our friends in the East say it’s a “backwards-compatibility adapter” of sorts that, when plugged into the current Playstation, will allow you to play previous-generation games. Basically, it’s a PS2 without a disc drive or controller ports that is completely dependent on another console. This is just a patent, and Siliconera has confirmed that it indeed has been registered, but there’s no way to know right now if it will ever exist in physical form.

Here is another diagram from the patent along with the one pictured above again, but these have been translated into English. (via Eurogamer)

Weird thought: What if this thing is intended for use with the next-generation Playstation console? <— Completely unwarranted speculation, but the wording on the diagram is interesting. However, the diagram for the adapter says it has a DVD emulator rather than a Blu-ray emulator, so that might mean it won’t be emulating a PS3.

So, yeah, what to make of this. What, indeed? We’ll just have to wait and see, because nobody really knows anything about this right now.

For fun, here is

US Court of Appeals Says Restrictive DRM and EULAs are OK

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 01:45 PM PDT

A couple years back, a dude named Tim Vernor tried to  sell a copy of AutoCAD on eBay. Back then, he got in trouble, because AutoCAD’s developer said the purchase of the software only had a license for it and did not own it. So Vernor sued, and he won.

But now the US Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit has reversed that decision. According to the judge: “We hold today that a software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user's ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions.”

What does that mean? Well, it means that all PC software and games cannot be resold given away if the item in question has an end user licensing agreement that says the purchaser cannot resell the item in question. It does not, however, apply to console games, because they have no end user licensing agreement at this point in time.

What I find most interesting about this is that it seems to officially legalize restrictive DRM  and EULAs on PC games (<—bolded because that’s the most important part of this post), at least until this case goes higher up in the US court system, which it undoubtedly will. Many publishers have long stated that software purchasers only had a license for it, and now the government is recognizing that they can do that.

What does this mean for the future? It means it could be a pain to legally find out-of-print PC titles if Amazon Marketplace and other places take this ruling seriously and refuse to post listings for games with restrictive EULAs. For console games, I feel like publishers, by enacting initiatives like Project Ten Dollar (and if they enact online subscriptions fees as Pachter has speculated), have become more comfortable with the existence of the used games market, and they have to admit that more people will be able to buy brand new titles if they can trade in old games for them. So I doubt that publishers will start adding goofy EULAs to console games for a while now, if ever.

via Gamasutra

Dead Rising 2 Preview

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 01:20 PM PDT

Fortune City is a big place

It takes a while for Dead Rising 2 to let you off the chain in Fortune City. You spend the first few minutes of the game with cutscenes and a short stint participating in DR2′s zombie-themed game show, Terror is Reality.

Five or 10 minutes later, after everything inevitably goes to hell, you finally get to leave your safe haven with a weapon and mission, and step into the city free to do what you will.

And holy crap, is it big.

The original Dead Rising was set in a bi-level mall, and it was pretty sprawling. In Dead Rising 2, only the first area you enter – maybe about a sixth of the total map – is a mall comparable to a large portion of DR1′s Willamette Mall. The rest is casinos, a pair of outdoor strips populated by storefronts and landscaping, and hotels. All packed with teeming legions of the undead.

Fortune City

Willamette Mall

As Josh Bridge, senior producer at Canadian developer Blue Castle, explained, you’re going to want to learn the layout before really trying to tackle the story.

“The world of Dead Rising is a feature,” Bridge said Friday at Greene’s Hardware Store, a Capcom promo event in Los Angeles that took place in a mock storefront filled with Dead Rising 2′s combo weapons and props (Capcom put up the same storefront in Seattle at PAX 2010). It also let me get a solid half-hour with the game. “You’re really going to want to explore and find out where the vehicles are, and where the moving sidewalks are, and where the wheelchairs are, because you actually run faster when pushing a wheelchair.”

Greene's Hardware

Bridge was referring to the fact that, despite Fortune City being absolutely enormous, the story of the game still only spans 72 “hours” according to the game’s internal, sped-up clock. DR1 spanned three game days as well, and both games are built around meeting objectives by certain times. Punctuality was tight in DR1 – DR2 is much bigger, and so getting around will definitely play a factor in completing objectives.

From a play standpoint, a side-effect of all that hugeness meant lots of looong, slightly painful loading screens as I moved from area to area. This is offset by the fact that even though it takes a bit to load each of the game’s locales, they are extremely dense, with rooms and stores and buildings and alleys to explore, without additional waiting.

Clear Your Schedule

From what I saw, it’s going to be hard to make any attempt at playing Dead Rising 2 all the way through on the first go. The Dead Rising series allows players to gain levels (in DR2, by building combo weapons and killing zombies with them, and rescuing survivors or completing objectives), then start the game over with their amped-up character intact. There doesn’t seem to be much possibility at playing DR2 through, and getting the better of the game’s multiple endings, without spending a lot of time leveling and just learning the map.

Watching Bridge play was the best part of the promo event. I watched him grab a bunch of DR2′s new combo weapons, the most interesting being the Auger. A motor added to a pitch fork set the business end of the fork spinning. When Bridge jammed it into a zombie, he suddenly had an end-over-end spinning, five-point fleshy star of death that he could use to melee other zombies. And the whole time, the spinning zombie’s limbs were flying off from the impacts. It was gory, violent, hilarious and surprisingly effective.

Combo weapons - better than regular weapons

But you’re going to want a list of combo weapons from the Internet handy when you fire up Dead Rising 2. There’s an obscene number of items that you can use as weapons, just like in DR1. But now you can combine many of them, and combo weapons are almost always much more effective than standard weapons.

The problem is, combos are pretty specific. A bat and a box of nails makes sense, but you can’t just strap nails to, say, a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers combine with squirt guns, or dynamite – not with chainsaws or leaf rakes. And you’re constantly running across combinable items, all denoted with the special blue “combo” icon. So you know you can make cool weapons, but you don’t know exactly how, and all that experimentation will eat up a lot of time.

Even so, the combo weapon mechanic is very satisfying. There’s no shortage of creative and funny weapons to build and try, so much so that the combo weapons will keep you busy for a while just by themselves.

Otis – Stop Calling Here

DR2 also does a great job of maintaining the hugeness and customization of DR1, while streamlining the experience.

Most notably, the transceiver on which you receive mission instructions is not nearly as intrusive as it was in DR1.

The hated Otis“We figured it out – call waiting,” Bridge joked, referring to DR1′s phone mechanic. In the first game, Otis, a survivor back in the safe room, would often call main character Frank with information about survivors and missions. But pulling out that phone instantly rendered Frank incapable of defending himself, picking stuff up, opening doors, or even jumping. And getting attacked ended the call – only for the transceiver to start ringing again a few seconds later.

Needless to say, it was annoying. The guys at Blue Castle thought so too.

“We wanted to have a scene killing Otis, but we just didn’t have time,” Bridge said. “We wanted him surrounded by zombies, getting eaten alive, but we couldn’t do it.”

Earn Money in Multiplayer for Single Player

The build of DR2 available at Greene’s Hardware Store was pretty complete, and quite disappointingly, that rendered DR2′s new multiplayer modes unplayable for me. Both co-op and competitive multiplayer are online-only.

The game does give you a taste of Terror is Reality, the American Gladiators-style, zombie-killing-themed game show on which the competitive multiplayer is based. The opening scene of DR2 has Chuck, the ex-motocross star protagonist, competing on the game show. The event features Chuck riding a motorcycle with two chainsaws strapped to it through a horde of zombies in an arena, the goal being to kill as many as possible before the time limit. Three other riders were also criss-crossing through the fray.

Multiplayer seems to be similar to the style of Fusion Frenzy or Mario Party, with zombie-themed minigame events that don’t appear to include any sort of death match-style play. That’s not confirmed, however – Bridge wouldn’t talk about multiplayer modes.

Co-op play gives incentives for single player

He did mention that there are lots of single-player incentives to fire up multiplayer. When you play online co-op, which is drop-in, drop-out-style, any stats you earn carry back to your single-player game. And so does money and items, Bridge said. Competitive multiplayer is similar.

“The money you make in Terror is Reality can come into the main game,” Bridge said. “So if you need cash, you can just hop online and try to place in the top three.”

Economy is a big part of the game, and Fortune City is littered with money. Bridge likened the city more to a big adult theme park than Las Vegas, and from the looks of it, there’s tons to do – and most of it costs, and earns you, more greenbacks.

I was most struck by a pair of minigames that dolled out winnings. First was a mechanical bull-riding game, which required the player to hit a specific button when prompted to avoid getting tossed off. It cost money to get on, but doing well earned the money back.

The second, and arguably the thing that made me smile the biggest of everything I saw, was a cash grab booth. Chuck steps in, and suddenly he’s surrounded by money flying around. Rapidly tapping a button grabbed the money out of the air, and after, Chuck stepped out with a sizable wad for his trouble.

A Huge and Crazy Place

My time with DR2 reminded me a lot of the best parts of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Running Man – a gaudy, super-bright place with a bunch of exceedingly dangerous and gratuitous ways for greedy people to make money. And zombies by the truckload – there was almost never a time when I wasn’t under constant threat of getting eaten alive. It made the whole experience tense (“where’s my next weapon?”) as well as darkly funny.

Overall verdict: Dead Rising 2 is a better game than its predecessor, and is massive and well-rounded. The multiplayer modes – and their incentives in the single-player game – are a good mechanic for keeping DR2 interesting and getting players to get into the game in different ways, and my impression is that they won’t feel tacked on to players. At every turn, it seemed like there was much more to do than just a zombie-slaying rampage, which can get old after a while. And that’s not to mention the bunch of completionist achievements and trophies that will keep hardcore players changing how they approach the zombie apocalypse.

Capcom and Blue Castle want you to spend with Dead Rising 2 to get the full story experience. Luckily, it appears that there’s enough freedom and content to keep players from getting bored in the meantime.

Check out our review for Dead Rising 2′s downloadable prequel, Case Zero. And read our walkthrough for Case Zero here.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Beta Delayed

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 07:32 AM PDT

You may recall that Ubisoft had announced that the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood beta would be coming to the PS3 yesterday. You may also be wondering where the heck your beta key is.

Well, if you don’t have it yet, you’re not alone. Ubi has delayed the launch of the PS3 beta to October 4, the same date as the beta launch in Europe. Beta keys will be mailed that day, so you’ve got a couple of weeks to practice skulking through shadows and leaping on your prey.

Until then, keep your appetite in check by checking out all the trailers on our Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood page.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Preorder Bonuses Now Available

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 06:08 AM PDT

Treyarch’s next Call of Duty Title, Black Ops, is less than two months away, and that means it’s time to roll out the pre-order bonuses.

First up, Amazon. If you’re one of the first 100,000 people to pre-order Black Ops, you’ll also get an Exclusive Call of Duty: Black Ops Limited Edition Laser Cell with Certificate of Authenticity. You’ll also get a PC wallpaper featuring the same image. Here’s a full size look.

If you’d rather get your copy at GameStop, you’ll receive an exclusive high-altitude flight suit avatar. In case you’re wondering exactly what that would look like, check out the GameStop video below.

Call of Duty: Black Ops will hit store on Nov. 9, 2010.

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