PC Gamer

EA getting a Humble Bundle sounds like a thing that should raise eyebrows, but considering how much money is being raised for charity right now - and how many normally-quite-expensive games can be had for pocket money - I'm finding that my cynicism chip is just not activating. The explosion-studded bundle has raised nearly $8.5 million already, with EA's entire share going to charities the Human Rights Campaign, watsi, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. In addition to the likes of Dead Space 3, Mirror's Edge and Battlefield 3, you can now get C&C: Red Alert 3 - Uprising and Populous if you pay over the average of $4.84.

Here's the full list. Pay what you want to get Dead Space, Dead Space 3, Burnout Paradise Ultimate, Crysis 2, Mirror's Edge and Medal of Honor, or pay over the average to get C&C: Red Alert 3 Uprising, Populous, Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3 thrown in too. You'll get Steam keys for some of the games, plus the soundtracks to BF3 and The Sims 3. It's quite a good deal, and it's quite a good deal that ends in five days.
PC Gamer
Mirror's Edge

The Humble Origin Bundle is live, allowing you to pay what you want for Dead Space, Dead Space 3, Burnout Paradise, Crysis 2, Mirror's Edge, and Medal of Honor. Paying more than the average (roughly $5 at the time of this post) unlocks Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3 with some DLC.And all of EA's share goes to charity.

I know, right?

The offer runs for two weeks, and benefits the Human Rights Campaign, watsi, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Bought separately, the bundle would cost over $200 U.S. While Origin keys are provided for all of the games, you'll also get Steam keys for each of the games that are available on Valve's platform. Origin is also throwing in the soundtracks for Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3.

Check out the whole bundle at HumbleBundle.com. It's a heck of a deal.
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PC Gamer
face off silent protagonist

Are mute heroes better than verbose heroes? Does a voice-acted player character infringe on your ability to put yourself into the story? In this week's debate, Logan says "Yes," while his character says nothing. He wants to be the character he’s playing, not merely control him, and that’s easier to do when the character is silent. T.J. had a professional voice actor say "No." He thinks giving verbalized emotions and mannerisms to your in-universe avatar makes him or her feel more real.

Read the debate below, continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Logan, you have the floor:

Logan: BioShock’s Jack. Isaac Clarke from Dead Space. The little boy from Limbo. Portal’s Chell. Gordon Freeman. These are some of the most unforgettable characters I’ve ever played, and they all made their indelible impressions on me without speaking a single word. In fact, they made such an impression because they didn’t say a word. By remaining silent throughout, they gave me room to take over the role, to project myself into the game.

T.J.: All of the games you mentioned were unforgettable narratives. But everything memorable about them came from the environments, situations, and supporting casts. Gordon Freeman is a great example. What can you really say about him, as a person? I find Shepard’s inspirational speeches to the crew in the Mass Effect games far more stirring and memorable than almost anything I’ve experienced in a silent protagonist game. I was Shepard, just as much as I was Gordon. But I didn’t have the alienating element of not having a voice making me feel less like a grounded part of the setting.

Logan: Ooh, Shepard. That was cold. I’ll happily agree that some games are better off with fully written and voiced protagonists—and Shepard’s a perfect example. But it’s a different matter, I think, with first-person games in particular, where your thought processes animate the narrative: “OK, if I jump into a portal here, I’ll shoot out of the wall there and land over yonder.” In this way I’m woven into the story, as a product of my own imagination. If the character is talking, I’m listening to his or her thoughts—and they sort of overwrite my own. It can be great fun, but it’s a more passive experience.

T.J.: First-person shooters are probably one of the best venues for silent protagonists, but lets look at BioShock and BioShock Infinite. I definitely felt more engaged by Booker, who responded verbally to the action, the story twists, and the potent emotions expressed by Elizabeth... than I did by Jack, who didn’t so much as cough at the chaos and insanity around him.

Logan: But was the result that BioShock Infinite was a better game, or just that it delivered a traditional main character?

T.J.: Booker? Traditional? Did we play the same game? I mean, it’s a tough call to say which was out-and-out better, as there are a lot of factors to consider. But zooming in on the protagonist’s vocals (or lack thereof) as an added brushstroke on a complex canvas, Infinite displays a more vibrant palette.

Logan: Do you think that Half-Life 2, in retrospect, is an inferior game as a result of its silent protagonist?

T.J.: Half-Life 2 was great. Great enough that we gave it a 98. But imagine what it could have been like if Gordon had been given the opportunity to project himself onto his surroundings, with reactive astrophysics quips and emotional back-and-forth to play off of the memorable cast around him? We relate to characters in fiction that behave like people we know in the real world. So yeah, I’ll take that plunge: I think I would have bonded with Freeman more, and therefore had a superior experience, if he hadn't kept his lips sewn shut the whole way.

Logan: A scripted and voiced Gordon Freeman may or may not have been a memorable character, just like a scripted and voiced Chell from Portal might have been. But in a sense, that’s the problem! Because some of my best memories from games with silent protagonists are the memories of my own thoughts and actions. I remember staring at the foot of a splicer in BioShock and realizing that the flesh of her foot was molded into a heel. I was so grossed out that I made this unmanly noise, partway between a squeal and a scream. I remember getting orders shouted at me in FEAR and thinking, "No, why don’t you take point.” I’m glad these moments weren't preempted by scripted elements.

T.J.: You were staring at the Splicers’ feet? Man, in a real underwater, objectivist dystopia ruined by rampant genetic modification, you’d totally be “that one guy” who just stands there dumbfounded and gets sliced into 14 pieces.

Logan: No, I’d be the guy at Pinkberry with his mouth under the chocolate hazelnut nozzle going “Would you kindly pull the lever?” But my point is, I remember what I did and thought at moments throughout all of my favorite games, and those are experiences that are totally unique to me. And that’s at least part of why I love games so much—because of unique experiences like that.

T.J.: I see what you’re getting at. Likewise, a lot of my love for games is driven by their ability to tell the kinds of stories other media just aren’t equipped for. Silent protagonists take us further beyond the bounds of traditional narratives, accentuating the uniqueness of interactive storytelling. That being said, really good voiced protagonists—your Shepards, your Bookers, your Lee Everetts—never feel like a distraction from the mutated flesh pumps you come across. When the execution is right, they serve to enhance all of those things, and lend them insight and believability.

There’s nothing like being pulled out of the moment in Dragon Age: Origins when the flow of an intense conversation stops so the camera can cut to the speechless, distant expression of your seemingly-oblivious Grey Warden.

Logan: Oh yeah, there’s no question that voiced protagonists have their moments. But they’re not my moments, and those are the ones I enjoy the most in games. Valve seems to understand this intuitively, and that’s why it’s given us two of the most memorable characters in videogame history: because I think the developers deliberately build into their games moments that they all understand will be uniquely owned by the players; “a-ha!” moments when the solution to a puzzle suddenly snaps into focus, or narrative revelations like watching horseplay between Alyx and Dog that instantly tell you a lot about how she grew up. Voiced protagonists can give us wonderful characters; silent ones let me build my own.

That’s the debate! As always, these debates are exercises meant to reveal alternate viewpoints—sometimes including perspectives we wouldn’t normally explore—and cultivate discussion, so continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for more opinions from the community.


@pcgamer it really depends on the writing. Some voiced characters are amazing, and some are whiny and annoying.— Ryan H (@kancer) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer In many cases, yes. I am forced to substitute the absence of a developed personality with my own words and thoughts. I like that.— Rocko (@Rockoman100) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer The volume of the protag doesn't matter, only the skill of the writer: hero voice is just one tool of many in a master writer's box— Jacob Dieffenbach (@dieffenbachj) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer The most interesting characters are the ones with a history, with regrets. Blank characters don't have that.— Devin White (@D_A_White) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer Most voiced characters seem to disappoint. I think silent ones express the storyline better through visuals which I prefer.— Casey Bavier (@clbavier) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer Definitely voiced. Having an NPC talk to you directly, then act as if your lack of response is totally normal feels eerily wrong.— Kirt Goodfellow (@_Kenomica) April 19, 2013

@pcgamer Silent! #YOLO— Michael Nader (@MNader92) April 19, 2013
PC Gamer
Origin Player Appreciation Sale

It isn't often we see the words "Origin" and "sale" next to each other, but this week is the exception: EA is running a week-long Player Appreciation Sale which discounts some pretty hefty games in the publisher's lineup—titans such as Mass Effect 3, Crysis 3, and Battlefield 3.

Here's the full list of games on sale and their prices:

Battlefield 3 Premium—$25
Battlefield 3—$12
Battlefield 3 Premium Edition—$30
Crysis 3—$30
Crysis 3 Digital Deluxe Edition—$40
Crysis 3 Digital Deluxe Upgrade—$10
The Sims 3 Seasons—$20
The Sims 3 University Life—$28
The Sims 3 Supernatural—$15
Dead Space—$6
Dead Space 2—$6
Dead Space 3—$30
Resident Evil 5—$10
Mass Effect 3—$10
The Walking Dead—$10
Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition—$12
FIFA Soccer 13—$20
Command & Conquer Ultimate Collection—$15
Hitman: Absolution—$15
Saints Row: The Third Full Package—$25
Assassin's Creed 3—$35
Assassin's Creed 3 Deluxe Edition—$56
Darksiders 2—$18
Dead Island GOTY Edition—$10
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City—$25

Normal and special editions on sale? And they're big games? I don't want to spoil this rare opportunity to enjoy a good Origin sale with cynicism, but it's hard not to chortle lightly at the convenient devaluing of nearly half the games EA offered SimCity players for free earlier this week.

Dead Space 3: Awakened: The Kotaku ReviewI'm having a hard time remembering Dead Space 3.

It's not that I've recently become afflicted with amnesia or anything like that. I just don't find the game all that memorable. If you read my review, you'll know that I had my share of gripes with the third title in what was previously known to me as one of the better sci-fi horror series I've played.

I can recount scenes to you that stuck with me from the original Dead Space and its sequel. I can slip off and recall memories filled with genuine fear and creepiness. The first time I floated through zero gravity, or the infamous eyeball scene. Revisiting Ishimura, or the baby Necromorph introduction. These are all memories that I've kept with me since playing the previous two Dead Space titles.

What Dead Space 3 was missing, among many other things, were those memorable moments. It was the lack of creepiness that really struck me as odd about Visceral Games' latest foray into their horror series. Where were the hallucinations? Where were the mind twists and the horrifying cultist attitude?

They were saved for Awakened, apparently.

Awakened actually starts off sort of weak. The new content picks up where the game left off, somehow sparing the lives of Isaac and Carver, who are left stranded on Tau Volantis. Their initial mission is to find a way off the planet, to get back home safely. Ok, so far so boring. But the duo soon meet what appears to be a sect of the Church of Unitology crazier than any worshipper you've ever encountered before. They're self-mutilating and whispering their fears to no one in particular, over and over again. This is more like it.

Dead Space 3: Awakened: The Kotaku Review
WHY: All of Dead Space 3's creepy is hiding in Awakened. And the cooperative portions are fun and fairly clever.

Dead Space 3: Awakened

Developer: Visceral Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Released: March 12th

Type of game: Third-person shooter, survival horror

What I played: Two-ish hours cooperative on hard difficulty.

Two Things I Loved

  • Creepy, mutilated cultists and the psychological thrill of hallucinations.
  • Fun cooperative elements, including the evolving relationship between Isaac and Carver.

My Two Things I Hated

  • Boring introduction that dragged its feet before getting to the fun parts.
  • Rough storytelling that doesn't play up its strengths, like its villains and the mystery behind them.


  • "Are you next to me? Where are you? Are you seeing this? What's happening? Who's attacking you? Do you see me? Is it over?" —Tina Amini, Kotaku.com
  • "It's evil Edward Scissorhands!" —Tina Amini, Kotaku.com

It doesn't take long for it all to start getting to Isaac and Carver. They suffer from frequent, and what look like painful hallucinations. Granted, most of these hallucinations are the same image burned into your screen at random intervals. Other times it involves battles against the new mutilated enemies (which you can watch in action in the video posted at the end of this article). Are you being attacked? Did you get separated from your partner? Who knows. You just shoot and pray, and hope there's a bottle of advil somewhere to quiet the inevitable in-game headaches.

The hallucinations begin to take their toll on the two, and it becomes a divisive point between them, which then begets some interesting tension in the storyline. Yes! Finally, I say aloud to my co-op buddy. This is what I've wanted. A reason to feel more invested in the people I'm adventuring with/as. Dead Space 3 felt like it was filled with characters I couldn't care less about. I was listening in on the drama of some bizarre romantic triangle instead of getting deep inside the psychological damage these horrors were inflicting on Isaac, and potentially other people. But Awakened ignores all the cheesy film fodder in favor of real drama, and Isaac and Carver's relationship unfolding throughout that is a good execution of it.

Isaac's unhealthy drive to purge the universe of Necromorphs becomes abundantly clear, all the more so when juxtaposed with Carver's no bullshit demeanor. Carver works almost to balance Isaac, giving him a good slap across the head when he needs it, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively.

I've said here on Kotaku that Dead Space 3 is more fun to play with a friend. That holds true for Awakened. The creepy interlude is followed by some really interesting cooperative elements that were surprisingly fun to play. Visceral toys with some good ideas in the latter half of this new content. It's not just about watching your partner's back in battle. You'll work together to complete tasks. You'll interact in an entirely unfamiliar way than you have ever before in this game.

The new downloadable content may not be perfect. The pacing is a little odd and the framing of the villain side of the story feels hackneyed even though there's certainly potential for it to be unique. The main villain seems like he could be a fascinating character, but he's drowned out with focus leaning favorably to other angles, like on Isaac and Carver and their escape. It may also be somewhat "too little, too late" when thinking about Dead Space 3 as a whole. But it's a welcome addition to a horror experience that was seriously lacking in horror. And the fun cooperative elements? Well that's just the perfect excuse I need to get a friend online to play a game with me.

Dead Space 3: Awakened: The Kotaku Review

Proof That There's Some Creepiness Left In Dead Space 3, Thanks To New Content

One of my biggest problems with Dead Space 3 is that it is utterly lacking in the hallucination department. What happened to all those twisted, freaky things I witnessed in the first two titles?
Playing as Isaac got you close to zero hallucinations. More »


One of my biggest problems with Dead Space 3 is that it is utterly lacking in the hallucination department. What happened to all those twisted, freaky things I witnessed in the first two titles?

Playing as Isaac got you close to zero hallucinations. You could get minor satisfaction in co-op while playing as Carver, but even then the acid trippy moments felt thin. And weak.

Well, fortunately we're getting more Dead Space 3 content. Awakened, the DLC that releases today, brings some of the much-needed creepy back.

What kind of creepiness, you say? Look no further than the video above, which I captured earlier tonight while playing cooperatively with a friend. Beware of minor enemy spoilers, which are new in this latest chapter. But if you're up for a little tease, the video will give you a glimpse at what I'm referencing.

Expect my review of Awakened tomorrow.


Dead Space 3 presented a pretty radical departure from the first two games in the sci-fi horror series. Too many fetch quests and co-operative play made Isaac Clarke's third outing against the Necromorphs feel less scary and atmospheric than DS1 & DS2. But, most of all, longtime Dead Space fans missed the freaky hallucinations that made Isaac Clarke doubt his own sanity.

But, you don't have to worry: the mindfuckery is coming back.

Next week's Awakened DLC is an epilogue to Dead Space 3's main storyline that pits Isaac and partner character John Carver against crazy Unitology cultists on the derelict wreck of the Terra Nova. At a recent preview, an EA representative told Kotaku that head trips are going to be a major part of Awakened and that those who play as Isaac will experience up more hallucinations in the DLC than in the whole game. You can still play co-op, too.

If you want the horror to come back to Dead Space 3, then you should know that Awakened is coming to PSN, Xbox Live and Origin on March 12. European PSN gets it on March 13.

Dead Space 3's Awakened DLC Brings Back Those Horrific Hallucinations Dead Space 3's Awakened DLC Brings Back Those Horrific Hallucinations Dead Space 3's Awakened DLC Brings Back Those Horrific Hallucinations Dead Space 3's Awakened DLC Brings Back Those Horrific Hallucinations

PC Gamer
Dead Space 3

When EA spoke of a future business strategy where "all of our games" include the dreaded m-word, reactions weren't exactly positive. CFO Blake Jorgensen shared that original statement during the Morgan Stanley Technology conference last week, but he's now used another conference—the Wedbush Transformational Technology conference—to redact that statement. As Gamasutra reports, Jorgensen says he meant microtransactions will figure into all mobile games instead of EA's entire lineup.

"I made a statement in the conference along the lines of, 'We'll have microtransactions in our games,' and the community read that to be 'all games,' and that's really not true," he explains. "All of our mobile games will have microtransactions in them, because almost all of our mobile games are going to a world where its play-for-free."

Jorgensen uses a different term for paid content on the PC and console platforms: extensions. "You're going to see extensions off of products like Battlefield Premium which are simply not microtransactions," he says. "They are premium services, or additional add-on products or downloads that we're doing. It's essentially an extension of the gameplay that allows someone to take a game that they might have played for a thousand hours and play it for two thousand hours. We want to ensure that consumers are getting value."

Though there is some difference between types of paid content, it seems like Jorgensen is mostly just side-stepping the phrase "microtransactions." Whether calling them microtransactions, extensions, or micro-extend-actions, EA (and, arguably, most other big publishers) will continue using whatever works to leverage the popularity of its games and sell additional content.

But enough of my yakking. What do you think?

You Can Now Dress Just Like Isaac ClarkeIt's been over two years since we saw the design for the first one, but Indonesian artist machine56's amazing line of Dead Space hoodies and shirts are now finally ready to order, direct from the artist.

You'll find ordering info below, as well as a full catalogue containing other pieces, some Dead Space-related, others less so. Those RIG and Ishimura hoodies are just the best.

5060 X DS3 PREORDER [machine56]

You Can Now Dress Just Like Isaac Clarke

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