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Guardians of the Galaxy converge in Disney Infinity 2.0

The Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel's oddball ensemble leaping from comics to film on August 1, are visiting earth in the form of tiny figures. Disney Interactive is preparing a cosmic Play Set for the upcoming launch of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, rooted in the likenesses of Groot (the tree), Gamora (the assassin), Drax (the Destroyer), Rocket Raccoon (you know) and Star-Lord. (Star-Lord, man. Legendary outlaw?)

The five space criminals on the cusp of heroism are playable in their own story, joined by a handful of crossover characters from other sets. Iron Man swings by to help out in the battle against Ronan the Accuser, while Nova jets in from the Spider-Man Play Set. Oh, and switch "swings" with "jets" there. Now it's wordplay.

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Microsoft unveils 100 cars from Forza Horizon 2 garage

With the debut of Forza Horizon 2 less than two months away, publisher Microsoft has unveiled the first 100 cars included in the open-world racing sim's roster of exotic machines.

Though not a complete list - Playground claims that Forza Horizon 2 will ship with 200 cars in tow - the 100 vehicles mentioned today provide a nice glimpse of what the game's garage will look like. Ferrari, Jaguar, Lexus, Volkswagen, Ford, Audi and all the other manufacturers you'd expect are included, and alongside the typical high-powered sports cars, the Forza Horizon 2 roster even includes a few novelty vehicles, such as the World War 2-era 1945 Jeep Willys and the countercultural icon 1963 VW Type 2 De Luxe van. Notably absent are any vehicles from Porsche, though given the manufacturer's long-standing licensing agreement with EA that omission should come as little surprise.

For a full rundown of the first 100 vehicles included in Forza Horizon 2, pay a visit to the Xbox Wire website.
[Image: Microsoft]

Microsoft's Xbox revenue up 14% thanks to console sales

Microsoft reported an increase in revenue for the Xbox platform to the tune of $104 million, or 14 percent, in its fourth quarter results (ending June 30). Xbox One and Xbox 360 sales teamed with the company's Surface sales to boost its Computing and Gaming Hardware category by 23 percent for the quarter to $1.44 billion (an increase of $274 million). In total, Microsoft reported a 17.7 percent leap in revenue, from $19.9 billion to $23.4 billion in the past quarter.

Microsoft says it shipped 1.1 million consoles during the quarter, which compares to one million in the same period of time one year ago. Just last week, the company said sales of its Kinect-less packages doubled Xbox One sales in June. As of April, Microsoft shipped 5 million Xbox One systems to date. Meanwhile, NPD reported a substantial lift in video game hardware sales across the board last week, an increase of 106 percent in June compared to the previous month.
[Image: Microsoft]

Guardians, the Destiny beta is back and early on Xbox

Maintenance on the Destiny beta has concluded early, Bungie has announced, and Guardians are invited to proceed on their galaxy-saving quests.

"We know you've been waiting, so we busted our asses to finish our chores up early," a post on Bungie's blog says. "Every single Guardian with a pre-order code is welcome to join us in the Tower," it adds. This appears to include Xbox One and Xbox 360 users, as Destiny beta codes are now available for Microsoft's platforms.

While the beta was scheduled to begin tomorrow for hardware crafted by Bungie's previous overlords, codes work right now. Download the beta on Xbox One or Xbox 360 and help join the fight.

Remember, on Saturday, Bungie has something special in store: "If you've already played, you haven't seen everything yet. We've got some surprises in store, and if you play on Saturday, July 26th beginning at 2pm PDT, we've got a permanent reward on reserve that will commemorate the experience."

The beta is scheduled to end on July 27.

Battlefield Hardline delayed, now arriving in 2015

Despite earlier claims that EA's cops versus robbers shooter Battlefield Hardline would debut in October of this year, the publisher has now officially delayed the game to 2015.

According to a new entry on the Battlefield blog, Battlefield Hardline has been delayed to give developer Visceral Games more time to ensure that Hardline is "the best, most innovative Battlefield experience we can give to you, our fans." Full details on how Visceral plans to accomplish that feat are lacking, but the developer claims the delay should allow it to improve the game's single-player story depth, add more innovative multiplayer features and enhance the shooter's online stability.

Battlefield Hardline is not the only game delayed by EA today, as Dragon Age: Inquisition has also been pushed back to November 21.

Dragon Age: Inquisition delayed to November

Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch on November 18 in North America, a delay from the previous launch date of October 7, Executive Producer Mark Darrah announced today. In Europe, Inquisition will now launch on November 21.

"We appreciate the enormous support we've received from all of you to get to this point, and while this extra few weeks may not seem like a lot, I know the game you'll play will be all the better for it," Darrah says.

He continues, "I'm privileged to be a part of a team that has been working very hard to surpass every measure they've set for themselves. That has meant completing huge amounts of game content, fixing bugs both big and small, and improving the overall experience. This last bit of time is about polishing the experience we want you to see. Ensuring that our open spaces are as engaging as possible. Strengthening the emotional impact of the Hero's choices. And ensuring the experience you get is the best it can be in the platform you choose to play on."

Dragon Age: Inquisition was part of what we called "The Video Game Industry's $300 Day," a lineup of five major games slated to launch on October 7. This is the first game on that list to change release dates, and a few of our contributors totally called it.

EA also announced today the delay of Battlefield Hardline from October 21, 2014, to some time in 2015.

Walk like an Altair at the SDCC Assassin's Creed Experience



When San Diego Comic Con opens on Thursday, would-be Ezios, Altairs and Avelines will finally get their chance to seamlessly run over castle walls, shuffle along delicately arranged plinths, and hop over pedestals like a bonafide assassin in the Assassin's Creed Experience.

Ubisoft constructed this new, real-life teachable obstacle course for the convention, conceived in part by Michael "Frosti" Zernow, the publisher's new Chief Parkour Officer. Zernow and other pro freerunners will not only give demonstrations, they'll also give lessons on how to move like a regular Auditore as well. Before you go diving off any churches into hay carts, maybe try this out. Also remember you'll probably end up pulling a Homer.
[Images: Ubisoft]

Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition debuting at Comic-Con this week

Developer Toys for Bob will showcase the upcoming figure-powered action game Skylanders Trap Team this week at San Diego Comic-Con, giving showgoers an early look at the collector-oriented Dark Edition prior to its launch in October.

Skylanders Trap Team's Dark Edition is a special starter bundle that features the Ultimate Kaos Trap, an accessory that allows players to capture and control series antagonist Kaos for the first time. The package also includes two additional trap accessories, a redesigned Portal of Power, a poster, sticker sheets, trading cards, and exclusive black-and-silver variants of new characters Snap Shot, Wildfire and Food Fight.

Toys for Bob will additionally host a Skylanders-themed panel discussion and costume contest starting on July 24. The Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition retails at $99.99, and is set to launch on October 5 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and 3DS platforms.

[Image: Activision Blizzard]

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Madden 15 ranks the NFL's top ten rookies


EA Sports kicked off its annual player ratings reveal yesterday with a list of the top 13 rookies in the Madden NFL 15. The first-year athletes are led by Houston Texans' outside linebacker and first overall draft choice Jadeveon Clowney, whose 83 overall rating comprises stats like 88 speed, 95 hit power and 94 power moves.

The developers at EA Tiburon will issue regular player ratings updates for Madden 15 over the next few weeks, the culmination of months of work by Madden's "Ratings Czar," Donny Moore. Head past the break for the full list of Madden 15's top 13 rookies and their overall ratings. The game will launch August 26 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360 and PS3, and features an "overhauled" defense and aims to encourage players to learn football strategy within the game.
[Image: EA Sports]

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The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 4 review: Life and Death

This review covers the latest episode in an ongoing season, and may contain minor spoilers.
Death is better than zombification, but life is the best option of all. Even in a hellhole of a world; even with rotting corpses hunting you down every path, salivating for your flesh; even when you have to kill your friends every day – life is the better option.

That's what "Amid the Ruins" teaches us. More than any previous episode of The Walking Dead, it throws the importance of life in our faces – the fragility of breathing, the futility of fighting, the need to do it anyway – and it makes us wish for life harder than we ever have. Not necessarily our own lives, either. Clementine, for her part, is capable and in charge in this episode. She's rarely in direct danger herself (at least not in any way she hasn't already conquered 50 times before), but she bears witness to the potential deaths of many others, multiple times over. She saves some people. She kills some people. And she survives.

She lives.

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Pre-order Destiny, earn a trip to the Vanguard Armory

Image Those who purchase Bungie's open-universe shooter Destiny prior to its September 9 debut will be granted in-game access to the Vanguard Armory where they'll find new weaponry, gear and an "exclusive player emblem." [Image: Activision] ... Continue Reading

UK charts: Watch Dogs stands guard, market melts in heat


Watch Dogs notched its fifth UK number one this week, the most for any game in 2014, and that's all well and good. Frankly, the entire country is just too exhausted from the relentless summer heat to notice. Brits are so used to rain, clouds, rain and more rain, so prolonged heatwaves like this one tend to take their toll.

Maybe the heat's even affected games retail in the country, with nationwide sales enduring a 14 percent drop in revenue from the week before as the heat ramped up. Then again, it really doesn't help when you're having a summer drought of new releases.

Since the UK charts refuse to play - it's another week of tiny changes - we're continuing our run of music below the break. In the words of Avicii, wake us up when it's all over.

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FIFA 15's North American cover gets shirty over Xbox sponsorship

World Cup star Clint Dempsey joins Argentina's Lionel Messi on the North American box art for FIFA 15, EA revealed. The USA talisman is a great choice, but if money's short and you're looking to save loads, we recommend the Tim Howard edition (boom boom tish.)

Dempsey, however, isn't the most striking thing about the new covers. That honor goes to his jerseys and the unmissable difference between them on Xbox and PlayStation. As you can see above, Dempsey's wearing his Xbox-sponsored Seattle Sounders jersey on the Xbox One cover, while on PS4 he's clad in the Xbox-less Team USA colors.

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Join Risen 3's Demon Hunters faction, kill creepy beasts

When your world's gods have bailed, how do you combat mysterious, unchecked enemies stemming from the darkness? You side with the faction called Demon Hunters, earn a bunch of skills and gear from quests and then trample everything in sight with your newly-earned power. Risen 3: Titan Lords' adventurers will have three allegiances to choose from, though Deep Silver's recent press release and accompanying batch of screens only detail the Demon Hunters.

The Demon Hunters are recovering from a bit of a slump ... okay, slump probably understates a few decades' worth of time. The point is, they're getting back together, arming themselves to restore their once-glorious citadel and reestablish fear in their enemies, which we're assuming would be the demons.

Risen 3 won't reach the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC until August 12, but you can pass some time viewing its landscapes in the gallery below, complete with twisted creatures that look like some prime prey for the Demon Hunters.
[Image: Deep Silver]

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Bungie engineer explains lack of cross-platform play for Destiny

Destiny's galaxy may be vast and currently well-populated with beta Guardians, but players aren't able to team up with heroes hailing from different consoles. While technical issues might seem like a likely culprit, Bungie engineer Roger Wolfson told Digital Trends the lack of cross-platform play is more about maintaining a consistent experience for everyone.

"Regardless of where the reality is, there's definitely a perception among gamers that better hardware means you have an advantage," Wolfson explained. "We don't want to have to enter that fray, so to create the best, most level playing field, both actually and perceptually, we separated it by platform."

Wolfson provided a hypothetical example of snipers aiming at each other while using two different consoles. The one playing on older hardware might see their target as two pixels, while the modern console's output could paint a target twice as wide.

Speaking of pixels, Xbox One users will be missing out on a few when their Destiny beta launches on July 23, but Bungie is still aiming for 1080p with the final version for all consoles.
[Image: Bungie]

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