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Get Red Orchestra 2 for free on Steam, offer expires tonight

Developer Tripwire Interactive is giving Steam users a freebie. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, a World War 2-themed tactical shooter, is available for free. Like Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2 some months ago, the game is yours to keep forever as long as it's added to your Steam account within the giveaway period.

Tripwire Interactive will parlay its gifting mood into a free Steam weekend featuring Red Orchestra 2's Rising Storm expansion. During the free trial period of the expansion, Rising Storm will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

To grab Red Orchestra 2 for free, simply "add" it to your account from the game's Steam store page. Tripwire's shooter is regularly priced at $9.99. Though the announcement on the game's Steam forum does not mention a specific time for the promotion's expiration, it has already begun and should be available at least until the end of the day (Pacific).
[Image: Tripwire Interactive]

Zynga founder Pincus steps down, Xbox Live GM to head Zynga Studios

Zynga Co-Founder Mark Pincus is stepping down as Chief Product Officer of Zynga, the social gaming company announced alongside its first quarter 2014 financial results today. Pincus will continue to serve in a non-operational capacity as Zynga's Chairman of the Board, a role he held in addition to company CEO until Don Mattrick was named CEO in July 2013.

Additionally, Alex Garden was announced as President of Zynga Studios in the report. Garden departs Microsoft as the general manager of Xbox Live and Xbox Music, Video and Reading. Prior to that, he was CEO of Nexon Publishing North America. Garden will report directly to Mattrick, much like Zynga's new chief financial officer David Lee, who was hired this month as well.

Zynga also added visual effects artist Henry LaBounta as the developer's chief visual officer. LaBounta worked with Electronic Arts and Microsoft Studios, and previously was visual effects supervisor at DreamWorks on the films Minority Report and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
[Image: Zynga]

Games for Health 2014 includes keynote by Papo & Yo dev

Vander Caballero, the creative director at Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, will be giving a keynote speech at this year's Games For Health conference. Caballero's speech will focus on his work creating Papo & Yo - which was based largely on Caballero's experiences growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father - as well as Minority's upcoming game about bullying (and terrifying crow people), Silent Enemy.

This year is the 10th for the annual Games for Health conference, which aims to "foster awareness of, education about, and development of games that make a positive impact on the health of communities and health care," according to the official site. Games for Health will run June 18 - 20 at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston. Registration is now open for those hoping to attend.
[Image: Minority Media]

Come on feel the toys: What's new in Skylanders Trap Team


Knowing full well that kids love catching them all when there are even more to catch, Activision announced Skylanders Trap Team for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, and Xbox 360. The latest entry in the franchise follows up last year's Skylanders: Swap Force and introduces the ability to not only buy many, many heroic action figures but also the ability to trap the game's enemies and turn them to the light.

Developed by Toys For Bob, which hasn't led development since 2012's Skylanders: Giants, Trap Team expands the compulsive collectable nature of the game. The game comes with a brand new NFC portal that reads not just the usual Skylanders toys, but new crystal toys. When fighting specific villains in the game like goofy old man Chompy Mage, plugging a trap crystal into the base actually sucks up the villain making them a usable character. There are 40 trappable villains in the game, and you can switch between one trapped villain and one regular Skylander figure on the fly, adding a tag team element to the Zelda style brawling that's the series' signature.

Toys For Bob is adding 60 new Skylanders as well, including the Trapmasters, a new class equipped with giant weapons made of "Traptanium," the same fictional substance the toys for trapping villains are made of.

Continue Reading

Nine minutes of futuristic cell phone use in Watch Dogs multiplayer

Image In a nine-minute walkthrough of Watch Dogs' multiplayer component, Animation Director Colin Graham takes us through streets filled with people staring at their phones. It's the future. Watch Dogs is due out on May 27 for PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360.... Continue Reading

Beefcake Braum is League of Legends' next champion



League of Legends' next champion will be the beefy barbarian Braum, developer Riot Games has revealed. The Freljord native will take up his massive shield to block projectiles and soak up damage from enemy champions. The official League of Legends site has more details on this magnificently mustachioed man, who is, according to Riot, the game's "first true tank support" character.

Braum is a support champion, meaning he won't be dealing out much damage of his own, but rather helping his teammates survive and taking the hits for them when he can. That doesn't mean he won't be useful in a fight, though. His "Winter's Bite" ability shoots a line of ice out from his shield, dealing magic damage and slowing those it catches. The "Stand By Me" ability causes Braum to leap to a nearby ally, positioning himself between them and the nearest enemy champion. This move also grants both Braum and the ally a boost to armor and magic resistance. His "Unbreakable" ability lifts Braum's shield and causes projectiles coming contact with it to be destroyed. Lastly, Braum's ultimate ability, "Glacial Fissure," sends out a long-range attack that knocks enemies into the air and slows them.

Braum is currently available on the League of Legends beta servers, and is expected to make his way to the main game soon.
[Image: Riot Games]

Project Cars takes drivers on 'the ultimate journey' in November


Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios announced that its sim-styled racer Project Cars is due to hit the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and PC platforms in November.

Project Cars demonstrates its slick presentation and advanced damage modeling in the newly released trailer above. Slightly Mad recently announced that Project Cars will be one of the first games to feature support for Sony's upcoming Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.

[Image: Slightly Mad Studios]

Report picks apart relationship between Metacritic and Steam sales

Ars Technica has released a new installment of their Steam Gauge project, where the website analyzes Valve's digital distribution service and its impact on the games industry. This time, they've explored the connection (or possible lack thereof) between Metacritic scores and number of sales on Steam. Do higher Metacritic scores correspond to a higher number of Steam sales? Unfortunately, the answer isn't as simple as a "yes" or "no."

Initially, things look disjointed. Ars notes that "a game with an 80 on Metacritic ... is just as likely to bring in about 56,000 estimated Steam sales (at the 25th percentile) as it is to earn 375,000 estimated Steam sales (at the 75th percentile)." However, looking at the median sales and aggregating Metacritic scores into 10-point ranges, a more identifiable trend emerges. According to Ars' estimates, a game with a median Metacritic score of 90 or higher will sell 50 times the amount of copies that a game with a Metacritic of 30 or lower sells.

Some caveats: Ars Technica's data represents estimates based on publicly-available information, and Metacritic itself weighs reviews from different sites differently. One man's trash may be another man's treasure, but Metacritic may be inclined to agree with one side more than the other. Also, the data analyzed doesn't take into account discount events such as the Steam sales - which we all know are the bank account's natural enemy - so there are additional factors that could be at play here. Lastly, Ars notes that individual games may buck the trend: Orion: Dino Horde has a Metacritic rating of 36, yet an estimated 314,000 Steam sales, while NBA 2K13, despite its rating of 90 on Metacritic, has only sold an estimated 50,000 copies on Steam.

Nonetheless, there appears to be some sort of correlation between higher Metacritic ratings and higher sales on Steam. Causation, though? Maybe not so much. And while this information might seem like common sense, now there are numbers to back up your intuitions.
[Image: Metacritic]

Artist Omocat's surreal RPG Omori channels its inner Earthbound


Omori, a "surreal, exploration, horror RPG" from webcomic artist Omocat bears fleeting similarities to popular games like Nintendo's Earthbound, which may be what pushed it past its $22,000 goal on Kickstarter in just over one day.

Omori has players traveling between two worlds, exploring their own memories and uncovering some "hidden truths" between turn-based battles, which are listed as "traditional," though they feature untraditional player statuses "based off real human emotions and conditions." The game is written, directed and illustrated by Omocat with a soundtrack courtesy of chiptune artists Slime Girls and Space Boyfriend, the latter of which directly cites Earthbound, Animal Crossing and Persona as inspirations for the game's music. It is in development for PC and will come to Mac if the project crosses its $50,000 stretch goal.

Omocat expects to deliver Omori to backers by May 2015 according to the project's reward tiers, which includes a $15 level that grants donors a copy of the game.
[Image: Omocat]

FTC clears Facebook's purchase of Oculus VR

Facebook has earned U.S. antitrust approval to purchase Oculus VR, clearing the way for its acquisition of the company and its Oculus Rift VR headset technology, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition this week. Facebook announced its purchase plans last month, revealing that it will pay $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR and its assets.

Oculus VR crowdfunded its headset technology in 2012, later expanding its development team with the addition of former Valve software engineer Tom Forsyth, University of Illinois robotics scientist Steve Lavelle, and id Software co-founder John Carmack. The Oculus Rift headset has sold over 85,000 units to date.

[Image: Oculus VR]

Destiny will fly you (and Titans, Hunters and Warlocks) to the moon

A revamped website for Destiny, Bungie's upcoming sci-fi shooter, has spilled the proverbial space-beans on player classes Titan, Hunter and Warlock. The new info also details the various enemies players will no doubt be 360-noscoping in the face, as well as locales where said leet skillz will be on display.

Destiny's classes hew close to the holy RPG trinity of Fighter, Rogue and Wizard. Titans are the Fighter analogue, wearing thick, bulky armor and described on the Destiny site as "steadfast and sure." Hunters are the Rogue-like class of Destiny, possessing a "unique brand of daring and ingenuity." Lastly, Warlocks align with the Wizard archetype, using "arcane energies" to slay their foes.

The four-armed Fallen are described as hardy warriors who use guerrilla tactics to hit their enemies and immediately disappear. There's also the ghoulish Hive, the massive and militaristic Cabal, and the robotic Vex. You'll be able to take on all of the above across the surfaces of Earth, Venus, Mars and Luna (that'd be the proper name of our moon - the more you know).
[Image: Activision]

Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor canceled, composer says

A proposed spiritual successor to Rare's Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie has been called off, series composer Grant Kirkhope confirmed in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" post this week.

"The other guys actually had a secret meeting in a pub near Rare and we even got as far as having a character drawn up and a demo level type thing but it all fell to bits .... everyone's got other jobs, etc.," Kirkhope said.

Developed by a team of ex-Rare staffers, the "Mingy Jongo" project promised to retain the detailed environments and googly-eyed characters of its N64 inspiration. The team's Twitter account went dark in December 2012, and a proposed Kickstarter project failed to materialize.

[Image: Rare]

Another World rated for current consoles, handhelds in Germany

Eric Chahi's classic side-scrolling adventure game Another World may soon see a re-release across multiple consoles and portable platforms, a recent USK ratings submission suggests.

Another World (released on 16-bit consoles as Out of This World) transports players to a harsh alien planet where they must fend off hostile humanoids and solve environmental puzzles to survive. The game saw an anniversary release on PC platforms in 2010, followed by ports for iOS and Android courtesy of retrogame remastering studio DotEmu.

Another World's ratings submission points to future ports for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PS Vita, with Digital Lounge listed as publisher. We've contacted DotEmu for more information regarding the listed release.

[Image: DotEmu]

Fan support could lead to SNES, GBA Remix

"If you build it, they will come" doesn't always apply to game development, as NES Remix director Koichi Hayashida recently illustrated. When asked about the possible inclusion of Super Nintendo, Game Boy or Game Boy Advance games in a future Remix game, Hayashida told IGN that "if there's a big enough outpouring of support for these titles, it's something I'd like to take a look at."

Nintendo just launched NES Remix 2, which fared much better than the first game in our review. The first NES Remix arrived in December, though its selection of games was lackluster. Both games approach a collection of classic NES titles in a novel way: by issuing brief mini-game-style challenges. While other Virtual Console platforms like SNES and GBA sound like natural fits for future Remix installments, Hayashida said it still boils down to the question, "Does the marketplace want it or need it?"

"If we get a big enough cry for that, with a lot of people saying, 'Hey, we'd love to see more of these perhaps for the SNES, Game Boy or Game Boy Advance,' then it would be something we can take a look at," he added.
[Image: Nintendo]

Download deluxe edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition, sit on a dragon skull throne

Now that everybody expects the Dragon Age: Inquisition in October, EA's seen fit to reveal what's in the game's Digital Deluxe Edition. The $70/£60 bundle features the RPG's digital soundtrack as well as a bunch of in-game goodies. That includes everything from a throne fashioned out of a dragon skull to an unfortunately titled Bog Unicorn.

Check out Origin for the full list of Deluxe bonuses, but if you'd prefer a lower-priced, extras-free download, the standard edition is going for $60/£50. If you're after something more physical, EA said it'll have news on a Collector's Edition in the "next few weeks."

As for the game itself, Inquisition centers around a group of allies tasked with uncovering the truth behind the new evil threatening Thedas. As Executive Producer Mark Darrah explained on the game's site, you play as the leader of this formation of heroes. As the Inquisitor, it's up to you to make the tough decisions like passing judgments of guilt and innocence, choosing which paths to follow and which to close off, and how best to use your chief weapons of fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and a nice red uniform.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming to PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on October 7.

PS Plus Europe in May: Stick it to the Man, Puppeteer, Muramasa Rebirth

Stick it to the Man is the next PlayStation 4 offering for Plus subscribers in Europe, starting next week on April 30. The eccentric 2D adventure is due in North America on May 6, which perhaps suggests a later start for May's stateside batch of Plus, or possibly a different PS4 game. We will have to wait and see.

Returning to Europe, there are four other games entering the PS Plus service at the end of April, including two on PS3 and two on Vita. The first of the console offerings is performer plaformer Puppeteer, while the second is first-person robber Payday 2. The latter is a neat addition for subscribers who downloaded the first Payday last summer.

The Vita newbies are two very different games hailing from Japan, namely hand-painted 2D adventure Muramasa Rebirth and cutesy sports sim Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. That's Everybody's Golf if you're European, but Loads of Fun no matter where you're from.

As ever, five games in means five games out: Make sure you grab Mercenary Kings, Pro Evo 2014, BioShock Infinite, Hotline Miami and MotoGP13 before Plus drops them on April 30.
[Image: Ripstone]

Rise Kujikawa confirmed to be playable in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Former teen idol Rise Kujikawa isn't staying idle in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, after Famitsu confirmed her as one of the game's playable fighters. The original Arena introduced the Persona 4 starlet as a non-playable announcer, but in the enhanced follow-up she's one of a bunch of new fighters including Yukari and Junpei from Persona 3, and a character that's brand new to the series, Sho Minazuki.

The news gives credence to rumors that Ken Amada, Persona 3's youngest (human) protagonist, also features in the Ultimax roster. As Siliconera reported, a now-baleeted Best Buy listing noted both Ken and Rise as playable in Ultimax. It also mentioned a total of six newbies, indicating there's another fighter we've yet to hear anything about. We'll likely find out soon enough, given the game is due to hit PS3 and Xbox 360 sometime this fall.

Lords of the Fallen trailer gets knocked down, but it gets up again

Image The new Lords of the Fallen trailer is a bit Groundhog Day, except with Bill Murray as an unwavering knight rather than an arrogant weatherman, and instead of reliving some local festivities, he's stuck in an endless loop of grueling, bloody duels to the death. Yup, we'd so watch that movie. As... Continue Reading

Xbox One reaches Japan on September 4

The Xbox One launches in Japan on September 4, Microsoft announced this morning. The company didn't disclose a launch price or which launch titles to expect, but there are just over 40 confirmed Xbox One games for the country, including Titanfall, Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy 15 and Sunset Overdrive.

Japan was previously confirmed as one of 26 territories expecting the system in September, but the other 25 remain without a concrete release date. The Xbox One launched in 13 regions back in November 2013, in which Microsoft has shipped 5 million units to date.
[Image: Microsoft]

Warface exits beta, enters warzone on Xbox 360


As was previously announced, Crytek Kiev-developed FPS Warface officially launched on Xbox 360 today following its near one-month open beta phase. The game is free for all Xbox Live Gold subscribers to play, and features four soldier classes, playable in cooperative multiplayer raids as well as versus modes.

Warface launched on PC in North America in October, later receiving an update with added multiplayer modes in February. The game first debuted in Russia in 2012, and will later come to China, Taiwan and Japan. Crytek revealed late last month that the game reached 25 million registrants. Warface is based on the developer's own CryEngine 3 tech, the same engine used to create games like Crysis 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome.
[Image: Crytek]

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