Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Next week is Black Friday and digital retailers are preparing to offer their best stuff. Of course, that means this week's deals aren't quite so hot.

However, there are some gems to be found. Super Time Force Ultra, Battleblock Theater, and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare are all on sale on Steam. GOG is contining its fall sale. And Humble Bundle has Costume Quest 2 on sale for today only, but also as part of its weekly bundle. All that and more below!

But first, a word from Shacknews Deals.

Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:

Amazon

Bundle Stars

Pay $3.49 for Wickland, Waves, Enemy Mind, Guns and Robots: Terminator Pack, QbQbQb, Chuck's Challenge 3D (w/soundtrack + DLC), Panzer Tactics HD, Spoiler Alert: Collector's Edition, and Tiestru. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $3.99 for Scania Truck Driving Simulator, Bus Driver, Euro Truck Simulator, Ski Region Simulator: Gold Edition, Rulers of Nations, Trucks & Trailers, Farming World, and Taxi. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $3.99 for Trainz Trouble, Trainz Simulator 12, and all of its DLC. These activate on Steam.

GamersGate

  • Far Cry 3 [UPlay] - $7.49 (75% off)
  • Trials Evolution: Gold Edition [UPlay] - $4.99 (75% off)
  • Other games in GamersGate's Ubisoft Week promotion, including other Far Cry games and Child of Light, can be found here.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition [Steam] - $6.80 (66% off)
  • Bastion [Steam] - $5.10 (66% off)
  • Other games in GamersGate's Warner Bros. Week promotion, including LEGO games and Mortal Kombat games, can be found here.

GameStop

Get Games

  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon [UPlay] - $3.74 (75% off) (Other Far Cry games also on sale here.)
  • Rayman Legends [UPlay] - $9.99 (75% off) (Other Rayman games also on sale here.)
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut [Steam] - $4.99 (75% off) (Other Deus Ex games also on sale here.)
  • Hitman: Absolution Elite Edition [Steam] - $6.24 (75% off) (Other Hitman games also on sale here.)

GOG.com

  • GOG.com is in the middle of their 2014 DRM-Free Big Fall Sale! New bundles are being offered every 24 hours, while new flash deals are going up every 40 minutes. To see what's currently available, check out GOG.com.

Green Man Gaming

Enter the code NOVEMB-ERGMGX-20XOFF to get 20% off your purchase. Restrictions apply.

Humble Bundle

Pay what you want for Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure, Always Sometimes Monsters, and four copies of Insurgency. Share any of those Insurgency copies to also unlock Full Mojo Rampage. Pay more than the average $6.13 to also receive GRID 2, Blackguards, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy, Grid, and KickBeat Steam Edition. Pay $12 or more to also get Saints Row IV. Select soundtracks included. All games work on Steam and are Steam keys are available with a $1 minimum.

Or pay what you want for Beat Hazard Ultra (w/Shadow Operations Unit DLC), Intake, Dungeon of Elements, and The Dream Machine (Chapters 1-4). Pay $6 or more to also get Slender: The Arrival and Primal Carnage. Pay $15 or more to also get Costume Quest 2. Select soundtracks included. All games work on Steam and Steam keys are available with a $1 minimum.

Steam

As well as regular discounts, Steam has a couple of additional weekend deals.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

More details are coming in about what the PC version of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will contain. The game will run at 60 frames per second, while adding higher-resolution textures, additional lights and shadows, and increased detail. It will also include Nvidia SLI Multi-GPU spport, as well as 4K resolution.

So with all that in mind, it might make more than your average PC to run this puppy. Check out the PC specs below, as indicated by the GeForce website:

Minimum Specifications

  • Windows Vista 64-Bit or later
  • Core i5 Sandy Bridge 4 Core (4 Thread) 2.7GHz or above
  • 4GB RAM or above
  • GeForce GTX 650 video card or above
  • DirectX 11 or above

Recommended Specifications

  • Windows Vista 64-Bit or later
  • Core i5 Sandy Bridge 4 Core (4 Thread) 2.7GHz or above
  • 8GB RAM or above
  • GeForce GTX 760 video card or above
  • DirectX 11 or above

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will arrive on PC on December 18. Thanks to Chatty poster valcan_s for the tip.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U arriving today, the Shacknews Chatty community has been preparing for its imminent arrival in different ways. In the case of Chatty's lord cecil, also known as Uber Entertainment senior software engineer Forrest Smith, he's taken a look at the series' core design.

His detailed article, centered on the GameCube classic Super Smash Bros. Melee, focuses on the 1v1 competitive scene. It specifically examines character balance, looking into character uses and trends, observing their fluidity despite Melee having never received a single patch.

"I think a large part of what enables this depth to be found in Smash Brothers is that the game isn't balanced," Smith says. "It's not a small roster of perfectly tuned characters. It's a big game with lots of characters that creates a huge and unexplored problem space. It's up to the players to explore the nooks and crannies and see what treasures they can find. I find that incredibly exciting and compelling."

Smith examines this phenomenon of player-created 'balance,' in comparison to games like League of Legends, which receives character buffs and nerfs on a regular basis.

"Riot changes LoL all the time," he adds. "Characters are regularly buffed. The nerfhammer is swung with reckless abandon. Ability sets are completely redesigned. The meta is meticulously influenced between seasons. I just can't help but wonder how the game would evolve if it was left alone like Smash. What would it look like after five or ten years? What amazing team comps would be found? What metas would develop? We'll never know, and that makes me a little sad."

The analysis is fascinating, especially given that Nintendo is now going in a more modern direction with regular patches. The most recent patch was released a few days ago for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Visit Smith's article to check out detailed power rankings charts for both Melee and Brawl and debate the merits of balance patches versus simply letting players find balance in it themselves.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

This week, the Chattycast crew welcomes back WWE Supercard enthusiast Asif Khan, aka Briefcaseman. Together they talk about podcasts, WWE Supercard, the Wii U, WWE Supercard, combat in Assassin's Creed Unity, WWE Supercard, silent protagonists, and WWE Supercard. 

Thanks as always to those who provided our topic suggestions this week: valcan_s, LoioshDwaggie, and sergeon. If you want see your name in lights, keep an eye on Chatty to suggest topics!

Games Discussed:Segment 1: WWE SupercardSegment 2: Smash Bros for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, AmiiboSegment 3: Assassin's Creed Unity and RogueSegment 4: Half-Life 3, Zelda Series

RSS | iTunes | Download this episode 

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Telltale is preparing to release their story-based look into the Borderlands universe with Tales From the Borderlands. Of course, this is a decidedly different take on what's primarily been a first-person shooter, so how did Gearbox bring Telltale aboard for this adventure game spin?

A new behind-the-scenes video explains just that, speaking to various Gearbox developers about how the collaboration with Telltale came about, starting with Claptrap's role in Telltale's Poker Night 2. They also discuss how they're mixing together Borderlands' proponent for grabbing the biggest gun available with Telltale's penchant for consequence-based dialogue and decision-making.

Check out the full video below and watch to the end to see Gearbox tease something about a certain character that appeared in the original trailer. Tales From the Borderlands is coming soon to PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, iOS, and Android.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Kixeye is announcing the launch of its latest title, TOME: Immortal Arena, on Steam today which is a new brawler MOBA that is said to deliver a “streamlined, fast-paced, action-first approach” to the popular game genre. To celebrate the game’s launch, a new 5v5 map called “Sanctuary” has also been released.

TOME: Immortal Arena has players assuming the role of Harbingers as they enter arenas to battle with a team of Guardians for supremacy over a domain caught in conflict. Players will work to defeat their opponent’s minions and Guardians to make their way to the Tower, which once the Tower falls, the game will end.

One of the main draws of TOME: Immortal Arena is the fact games can be won within 10 to 20 minutes, which is much quicker than the standard 30 to 60 minute matches traditional MOBA games require. The game also features constant action as players will experience in-lane healing, no last-hitting, and the ability to purchase items from anywhere within the map as well as an auto-buy feature.

Players will always be earning Guardian XP, Devotion, and favor with the six Gods in every battle, even during practice mode. These will unlock a variety of rewards, such as Relics and Blessings that can be used to customized Guardians. Speaking of Guardians, a total of 20 Guardians will be available during TOME: Immortal Arena’s launch with more expected to be introduced in the future.

TOME: Immortal Arena is free-to-play and is now available on Steam. I’ve dabbled in MOBA games in the past, and I’m definitely going to be checking this one out considering how fast I can get in and out of games, leaving me able to play a game whenever I have a few minutes of free time in my day.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

Take the gameplay from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, give it a little tweak for a new time period and location, and feature a protagonist from the shadowy Templar Order. Sounds fantastically straightforward, right? Yet, somehow, Assassin's Creed Rogue manages to mess it up on practically every level.

The story features Shay Patrick Cormac, a hot-headed Assassin who, after a mission to procure a First Civilization artifact goes horribly wrong, turns against his brothers by joining the Templar. He then sails the northern Atlantic during the Seven Years' War hunting down the leaders of the North American Brotherhood. His tales should be unique and epic, but it turns out Templars don't do anything much different from Assassins. Shay runs around 18th century New York City, taking out criminal gang fortifications and setting up Templar outposts. When he's not doing that, he's sailing the chilly seas, sending French and pirate ships to the bottom of the ocean. All this familiarity might have worked well if every other aspect of the game weren't broken.

Broken Brotherhood

Rogue marks the end of the Assassin's Creed franchise on the previous generation consoles, but instead of bidding a fond farewell, it's more like a bitter goodbye and good riddance. The Xbox 360 and the pre-Unity Assassin's Creed engine both show their age and limitations here, especially if you've played Unity on Xbox One or PS4 consoles or even Black Flag on the PC. This would be an easy thing to forgive if the game weren't completely bug ridden from start to finish. It's never a good sign when, early on, a ship spontaneously sinks for no reason as you sail past it. Or when you leap onto an enemy ship for the first time to take it over and nobody from your crew bothers to join you.

During some of the early missions, the prompt to perform a stealth assassination from cover or ledge is faulty. Instead of pulling a target in, Shay actually leaps out from the bushes or climbs up a ledge to stab someone, which alerts everyone nearby. Perhaps this is supposed to demonstrate his inexperience as an Assassin, since the problem doesn't occur in later parts of the game, but it's nonetheless frustrating to be unable pull off simple moves. Drop assassinations are also a problem, since it seems Shay can't perform them from too great of a height. However, you can still highlight targets that you can't kill, which makes it all the more annoying. I can't count the number of times I screamed, "What are you doing?!" at the screen.

Then there are times when assassination moves simply fail. Drop assassinations will sometimes fail when the target is only vaguely aware of you. Running assassinations may simply miss, leaving Shay looking like an idiot as he unsheathes his blades, dashes past a target, and then doesn't know what to do with himself as soldiers go into full alert.

Free-running is an utter disaster, as Shay will often come to a complete halt instead of leaping to a nearby tree branch or climbing up to the next ledge. That's assuming that he even runs in the direction you want him to, because trying to compensate for these sudden pauses often causes him to go off in some strange direction. Enemies have messed up sight lines, and will often be looking up at rooftops and trees, which completely defeats the point of using them. Once, while moving along a ledge, I leapt between buildings. An enemy on the ground spotted me for a split second between the narrow building gap and went into full alert, signaling his allies to hunt me down. These keen senses aren't limited to Assassins, or even the criminal gangs they ally with. Every type of enemy has eagle eyes. Therefore, there's little point in playing stealthily. Might as well just get a head count of soldiers, get rid of the snipers, then kill everyone in an open sword fight so you can finish your mission.

Then comes the part of fighting the Master Assassins, which by all respects, should be grand, epic and (in a sense) heartbreaking, especially when confronting known characters like Adewale. Nope, it's actually just a big joke. All but a couple of Master Assassin encounters can be resolved in a few seconds by tapping the button to quickly fire your pistol at them. Some of the others take a little longer because you have to chase them down to shoot them.

The one bright spot comes from the sea battles, which is largely lifted from Black Flag, except enhanced with icebergs. Although destroying small icebergs with your cannons and watching them collapse into the water is impressive, the frozen wastes of the Northern Atlantic and its narrow channels takes a lot of the joy out of sailing and exploration. The icy sea will damage Cormac if he swims in it for too long, which (when combined with the terrible free-running) discourages exploration. I hated trying to figure out a platforming puzzle, falling into the water, and having my screen freeze over with white as I desperately tried to get back on land. Whale hunting is enhanced to include small icebergs that damage your boat as the whale drags you across it. It makes the mode significantly harder, and discourages further tries.

Similar to Black Flag, Rogue has a notoriety meter that fills when you attack enemy ships, but it slowly decays as long you stay out of combat. Defeating a ship creates an alert radius, and ships passing through it will automatically be on the lookout for you. However, waterways tend to be so narrow that ships can't help spotting your sea battle, and that's when things get kind of comical. Thanks to a new weapon called a Puckle Gun, essentially an autocannon, you can demonstrate how embarrassingly bad the 18th century French fleet was by sinking ship after ship until there's nothing left, not even bounty hunters. It only takes a few upgrades to become a greater scourge of the seas than any pirate from Black Flag.

The Templar Way

Rogue brings back the investment and banking system from Assassin's Creed II, where renovating landmarks and clearing out enemy encampments brings in money that is deposited periodically. Although I was very pleased to see its return, the system pretty much makes every other source of revenue obsolete. There's no reason build up a fleet a ships and conduct naval missions anymore (which in itself is a watered down version of Black Flag's), search for hidden crates, or gamble at a tavern.

All I had to do was clear out the gang hideouts and renovate a few buildings before, true to the Templar fashion, I soon ended up with more money than I knew what to do with. With it, I purchased the best gear and animal skins so that I could craft gear without having to go hunting. Unfortunately, you still can't buy raw materials like wood, cloth and metal from stores--something that only makes sense in the Assassin's Creed universe--otherwise I would have also had a fully upgraded ship in short time.

One feature that makes Rogue unique are Stalkers. This enemy type, like Assassins, hide and lie in wait until Shay passes by. Then they strike for high damage before running off. To combat this threat, Shay has a sort of danger sense that alerts him whenever a Stalker is nearby so that he may seek them out and kill them first. While this might sound like a great innovation, it actually brings the gameplay to a halt. Stopping mid step while running down city streets or over tree branches to play "find the Stalker" breaks what little fluidity Rogue has going for it. However, I will admit that it's fun to shoot a stalker with a Berserk Dart and watch them one-shot kill nearby soldiers.

About the only thing that I genuinely enjoyed about playing Rogue is the modern day sequences, where you're granted access to Abstergo's files for a look into Templar missions and their mentality. I'm still unsure what's so appealing about a world that's kept in ruthless order, but it's fascinating to learn about Templar goings on and how there's a modern day Assassin hunting squad called Sigma Team. Apart from an annoying lady that keeps referring to you as "numbskull," the modern day segments might be one of the best parts of the game.

Other than that, the story can be quite silly. Shay's conscience is torn up because he doesn't believe anyone deserves to have the power to destroy whole cities, and possibly the world, but he's more than willing to hand it over to the Templars. Not to mention, he spends the whole time protecting a book, and keeping it out of Assassin hands. So, the whole affair could have been avoided if he just burned it. Shay comes off as a bit bratty when he's sent to kill Templar Grandmasters that were old and had one foot in the grave anyway. He also says, "I make my own luck" so many times that you just want to slap him. He's not the only one, either. His quartermaster, Christopher Gist, has a voice that sounds so pompous that it almost makes me regret rescuing him.

As rising through the ranks of the Templar Order, it's not anything to write home about. As stated previously, Templars don't do anything that Assassins haven't been done in previous Assassin's Creed games. A few things are turned around, like how bounty assassinations are interception missions, where you have to stop an Assassin from killing his target. Templars are also allied with the British, which doesn't amount to much, since British soldiers don't recognize you as an ally. They will roughly shove you aside if you stand in their way, and they'll show up as enemies on the minimap. I once tried to rescue a couple of British POWs from a French encampment, but targeting is so unreliable that I ended up drop assassinating the prisoners instead of the captors.

Broken Memories

I disliked Assassin's Creed Rogue on almost every level, from its numerous game-breaking bugs, to its terrible free-running, and (worst of all) its ruined assassination system. Not even the plot, which fills in the gap between Black Flag and Assassin's Creed 3 while recounting the fall of the North American Brotherhood, is very satisfying. I started this game wanting to become a Templar believer, and I left shaking my head in disbelief.


This review is based on a Xbox 360 retail edition provided by the publisher. Assassin's Creed Rogue is available in retail stores now for $59.99. The game is rated M.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Nintendo’s Splatoon was introduced during E3 2014, which we learned a bit of the title’s single-player campaign from a Nintendo Direct stream earlier this month. Today, we’re learning a little bit more about the game’s story as well as some aspects of its gameplay mechanics.

Siliconera did some digging of the title’s official Twitter account, which publishes its updates in Japanese, and learned we’ll be guided by mysterious squid character who will be our guide through Splatoon’s Hero Mode. The mysterious squid is in the know regarding the Octopus Corps’ activities, while other squids are left out in the dark and have been living peaceful lives.

The world of Splatoon runs off the energy of a “Battery Catfish,” and it’ll be up to you to retrieve it from the Octopus Corps, who have stolen it for presumably nefarious reasons.

We also learn some of Splatoon’s gameplay mechanics. Here's what the control scheme is in Splatoon:

  • ZL – Squid (dive into the ink)
  • L stick – Move
  • R – Bomb (uses 70% of your ink)
  • ZR – Ink Shot (uses ink)
  • R stick – Look left and right
  • X – Jump
  • Y – Camera Reset
Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Killer Instinct: Season 2 is about to receive its next playable fighter soon as the Babylonian Sorcerer, Kan-Ra, will be joining the title’s roster of characters starting on Monday, November 24.

Kan-Ra draws his combat powers from the dark sorceries that he’s mastered as he uses a combination of ranged attacks, ground and air-based traps, and is quite agile. His backstory involves a failed assassination attempt on his king over 2000 years ago, which is why he was cursed to rot for centuries. Kan-Ra eventually was freed due to an Ultratech attack on Maya’s city, and he now journeys through the world looking for suitable specimens to dissect.

Kan-Ra will be available on Monday to Season 2 Ultra Edition purchasers, while Combo Breaker purchasers will receive him on Sunday, Nov. 30. Additional characters will be made available on a monthly basis until spring 2015. Iron Galaxy teased one of its upcoming characters, which looks to be Riptor, or at least some other version of the dino.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Killer Instinct: Season 2 is about to receive its next playable fighter soon as the Babylonian Sorcerer, Kan-Ra, will be joining the title’s roster of characters starting on Monday, November 24.

Ken-Ra draws his combat powers from the dark sorceries that he’s mastered as he uses a combination of ranged attacks, ground and air-based traps, and is quite agile. His backstory involves a failed assassination attempt on his king over 2000 years ago, which is why he was cursed to rot for centuries. Ken-Ra eventually was freed due to an Ultratech attack on Maya’s city, and he now journeys through the world looking for suitable specimens to dissect.

Ken-Ra will be available on Monday to Season 2 Ultra Edition purchasers, while Combo Breaker purchasers will receive him on Sunday, Nov. 30. Additional characters will be made available on a monthly basis until spring 2015. Iron Galaxy teased one of its upcoming characters, which looks to be Riptor, or at least some other version of the dino.

...

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