The Firaxis bundle headlines Amazon's Digital Mayhem promotion, with other discounts spanning Telltale's The Walking Dead, Battlefield 3, BioShock, Mark of the Ninja and many more. The sale ends on May 31, so feel free to take your time perusing the hundreds of eligible discounts.
"If you look at Call of Duty in general, you're on the high-tech, super-powered forces. You're America, you're strong, you're Britain, Germany," Rubin told Joystiq at a recent press event in Los Angeles. "It just felt like, what if we could reverse those roles a bit, what if we had America as the underdog and not the superpower? What if we had some other countries as the big superpower and we're fighting against this more technologically superior force. And so that is really where we got: now we've got this technologically superior super force, they devastate the western world, the US, with a weapon of mass destruction of some kind - I'm not going to go into that, it will come later, and what we did is we had that event start the game, but the story picks up ten to fifteen years later and you as a soldier grew up in this new changed world."
That soldier will be a focal point for the game, Rubin said, and won't contribute to the fractured, multi-perspective narratives for which the series has drawn ire in the past. "It's not like before where you have these multiple sides and trot around. You're pretty much the same person throughout."
You'll also be accompanied by a Navy SEAL dog (not to be confused with a Moreau-style seal-dog), which can sniff out dangers and aid the team in several ways as a companion AI of sorts. As you might expect from a production of Ghosts' caliber, Infinity Ward did full motion capture on a retired SEAL dog.
The latest Call of Duty, dubbed Ghosts, has drafted Syriana and Traffic writer Stephen Gaghan to provide its fiction.
Games don't get more Hollywood than Call of Duty, and Activision has shown little hesitance in acquiring composers and writers from the silver screen to aid in its ever bigger and brasher efforts. Gaghan's work on Traffic, a dour crime drama, and political thriller Syriana made him a standout candidate for Ghosts. The game follows the remainder of the US military in a world scarred by a weapon of mass destruction.
According to developer Infinity Ward, Gaghan didn't swoop in and drop off a script – he requested an office, and worked from one amidst the game's single-player team all throughout the game's production. That's a sterling gesture, but I asked Call of Duty: Ghosts executive producer Mark Rubin to explain why Gaghan was deemed suitable to write for players, not viewers.
"Basically, we looked at his work – he's a great writer, no doubt about it and that's fine, there are probably lots of great writers out there," Rubin said. "So what we did is we actually got the chance to talk to him a long time before we decided to go forward with it. And we realized he was getting it. We've had writers before, and they know how to write, but they don't understand the game aspect of it.
"And I feel like with Gaghan, he really understood what we were trying to do. He asked more questions than try to sell himself, and that was, I think, a really big selling point. He was asking how things work and how we do things, and was really interested in how we craft the story, not from a writing standpoint but from the visuals and gameplay. He was really asking more questions. Although he was a gamer – he knew it from that side – he didn't know it from the dev side. He really was asking a lot of questions about the dev side, he really wanted to know more. I think that interest in what we were doing is really what drove us to him."
Brave New World, the second expansion to Civilization 5, is due in July and will add nine new civilizations, several new wonders and modified mechanics from the base game. The first expansion, Gods and Kings, arrived last summer, adding new espionage and religious mechanics.
Other games on sale for up to 75 percent off this week are Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, Wasteland Angel, Lords of Football, Spectraball: Extended Edition and Steel Storm: Burning Retribution. In software (and Greenlight) titles, game design tool articy: draft SE is $67 during this week's sale.
The weekly Steam sale ends on May 27 at 10 a.m. PT.
Meanwhile, a hearing in the state's lawsuit against the architects of the 38 Studios loan is scheduled for this Wednesday, after studio founder and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was unable to get the suit dismissed in March.
The sale of the studio's physical assets net the state approximately $830,000. Following the sale of the IP, Rhode Island tax payers will have to pay off the rest of the debt.
Deathstroke is seemingly a leading man in the video game world now, with Batman: Arkham Origins his second role of the year after Injustice: Gods Among Us in April. His real name is Slade Wilson, a mercenary and assassin created by teenage cartoonist Gary Wilson in 1980.
Shoot up the old west this week with Call of Juarez: Gunslinger...
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Playing it in enhanced form on an HD console, however, feels just a little goofy. The textures do look excellent, but the game's models are clearly made for a more lightweight graphics engine, which means you get characters with hair frozen in place and enemies with just a few animations to use over and over again. Revelations was made for a handheld machine, and its designers cut corners that the other platforms would have let them curve around more gracefully.
But Revelations' saving grace is that it's a Resident Evil game, and it's a good Resident Evil game at that. For that reason, fans of the series who missed out the first time around will probably appreciate the chance to see it for themselves.
To mark the occasion, Zeboyd and Penny Arcade are giving away free Steam codes for Rain-Slick 3. Zeboyd assures that the giveaway has no strings attached, but fans have a limited window of opportunity to hop on this deal, as the offer ends tomorrow.
Zeboyd Games resumed the Rain-Slick series after the departure of previous developer Hothead Games, producing a pair of JRPG-inspired sequels. Rain-Slick 3 was supported with a wealth of free DLC, and the upcoming sequel will likely follow suit.
Those who commit early through GameStop will receive an additional single-player mission, with a perk that unlocks "exclusive investigation opportunities inside of the network" and bonus cash when hacking into bank accounts, plus an exclusive poster designed by Alex Ross. Amazon pre-orders also get an exclusive mission that, upon completion, unlocks a special biometric assault rifle and an outfit.
Watch Dogs launches on the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U on November 19. A port is also planned for next-generation consoles.
Resident Evil: Revelations launches this week and Capcom has promised some DLC. It starts on June 4 with the Resistance and Enhancement sets for 160 MS Points ($2), each including six different weapon upgrades. Then, on June 11, Capcom will issue two additional characters for use in Raid mode: Rachel Ooze and Lady Hunk. Each character costs 240 MS Points ($3).
Resident Evil: Revelations is a remake of the 3DS game bearing the same name launched by Capcom in early 2012. Bridging the story between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, Revelations follows series regulars Jill and Chris, and takes place aboard a derelict cruise liner called the SS Queen Zenobia. A free demo has been available to all on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and Steam since last week.
The ninja assassin protagonist, Lo Wang, intended as a spoof on East Asian action heroes, was a walking racial stereotype. Lo Wang shouted "you want-a some wang?" with a mocking Asian accent, used chopsticks to catch flies, picked up fortune cookies in secret areas and fought sumo wrestlers. For many, Shadow Warrior was offensive and the game was criticized heavily for it.
Sixteen years later, Devolver Digital and developer Flying Wild Hog have announced a collaboration to reinvent Shadow Warrior; the spoils of the partnership due this fall on PC and in 2014 for unspecified next-gen consoles. While a modern Shadow Warrior will bare an updated skin, the "reinvention" isn't expected to be a departure from the original game's roots.
Ubisoft has released a new trailer for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, showcasing gameplay from its co-op narrative campaign and some gruff banter between Sam Fisher and his partner-in-stealth Isaac Briggs.
Splinter Cell is beefing up its multiplayer offerings for the latest series entry, as Blacklist will feature both a two-player co-op campaign and the returning Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode. We had a chat with Blacklist's lead co-op designer Richard Carrillo earlier this month, in which he confirmed that teammates will need to adapt to multiple playstyles in order to survive.
Blacklist's co-op element spans four mission types and 14 maps, and is playable online and in local split-screen. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is set to launch for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and PC platforms on August 20.
If you don't recognize the names, you'll definitely recognize their previous work. Craig Smith's immense portfolio includes Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed, Chris Redfield from Resident Evil, and he's the current voice of Sonic. While he's never starred in anything Batman related, he does have superhero experience. It is for the other side, however; he's played Captain America in both games and animations.
Baker is similarly prolific. While he recently graced our screens as Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite, his past work includes Sgt. Matt Baker in Gearbox's Brothers in Arms, Snow from the Final Fantasy 13 line, Kai Leng from Mass Effect 3, and Vincent from Catherine. When we profiled Baker around this time last year, he shared his love for all things Batman on the back of starring in Arkham City.
"Being a part of Arkham City was just incredible - because I'm a huge Batman fan," Baker told us, "And to play Two-Face and Robin after growing up watching The Animated Series was a banner moment for me."
The news follows apparent confirmation long-time Batman vocalist Kevin Conroy does star in Origins, but how he features remains to be seen. We know Origins deals with Batman's "initiation into that insane world" of the other Arkham games, so perhaps Conroy's role is something retrospective. Even if Conroy doesn't play the dark knight in any sense in Origins, to fans he's still the goddamn Batman.
Bat-click here to check out our preview and the new trailer.
Batman: Arkham Origins follows the world's most enduring vigilante after just two years on the job. The developers at Warner Bros. Montreal, taking over from Rocksteady Studios and their critically acclaimed construction of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, want to convey a "rawer, scarier Batman." He's all growl and grimace in the cutscenes, dangling squirming henchmen from clock towers until they turn verbose, but in play his rookie temper is more difficult to detect.
The prequel is a tricky proposition, especially when it concerns history that's been dissected again and again across comics, movies and games. It's harder to conjure narrative tension while it's colored by the inevitable outcome, and that draws greater scrutiny on mechanical expansion and refinement. Why does this younger Batman make for a better Batman game?
After Dead Island: Riptide sliced through its competition for three weeks, this time it's dethroned by another follow-up in the form of Metro: Last Light. By debuting in top spot, it does what Metro 2033 failed to do when it placed fifth in 2010.
Chart-Track says Metro 2033 sold stronger than Last Light in its launch week. Back then, Metro 2033 was fighting March megatons like Final Fantasy 13, God of War 3, and Battlefield Bad Company 2. In contrast, May 2013 has been dead quiet - emphasis on dead.
Having said that, this week sees another new release in the top ten via Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. The spinoff charts fourth this week. We expect the next 3DS Poke-game to do slightly better.
In other movers and shakers, Last Light only nudged Riptide into second place, making this week a 1-2 for Deep Silver and Koch Media. Tomb Raider drops out of the top five for the first time in its 11th week, slipping down to sixth. Meanwhile, Injustice: Gods Among Us and The Walking Dead (packaged retail edition) shuffle into eighth and seventh.
Spicy Horse is unsure which game it will make next, OZombie or Alice: Otherlands, and it all depends on whether the studio can regain the Alice rights from EA. If Spicy Horse and EA work out a good deal, then Alice it is. If not, OZombie gets the green light and probably a Kickstarter.
"Actually, the more I think about it – and the more I see/hear feedback from you guys – the more I'm personally leaning towards Oz," Spicy Horse founder American McGee writes on the OZombie Facebook page. "There's so much fun stuff to explore, so many interesting characters and locations to discover. Wonderland will also be there, if not today, if not the next project, then perhaps the one after that?"
Keep in mind (and mind your brains) that OZombie is entirely separate from American McGee's Oz, the game Atari canceled in 2004.
"A proper, meaty puzzle game is something I've wanted to make for ages, and I'm having lots of fun just messing around with the mechanics for this one and seeing what I can make out of them," Cavanagh said. It's inspired by DROD, but also things like Qrostar games, Zachtronic games, and my flatmate Increpare's games."
Cavanagh said he's really excited about this one – and so is that happy little sprite.
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