Shacknews - Steve Watts
The Humble Bundle is offering another spate of PC games, this time a collection of WB Games properties for charity. Appropriately enough, a portion of proceeds will go towards DC Comics' We Can Be Heroes charity, which combats the hunger crisis in the horn of Africa by selling branded superhero merch.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on F.E.A.R. 3!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends June 25th at 10AM Pacific Time
Announcement - Valve
Save 60% on F.E.A.R. 3 during this week's Midweek Madness!

Alma is expecting and a new level of terror grows as you and your cannibal brother battle through a hellish nightmare. Fight together or die alone on a deadly mission to confront your twisted mother. Players can take on the role of Point Man, a genetically enhanced soldier with superhuman reflexes and the ability to manipulate time, or the undead spirit of his brother Paxton Fettel, a paranormal entity who possesses incredible psychic powers.

Eurogamer


F.E.A.R. and Gotham City Impostors dev Monolith may be working on a Hobbit game to coincide with the Peter Jackson film that airs this December.


"As to what Monolith/Warner Bros. Games Seattle is up to now - pretty sure it is a little fantasy action RPG-lite called The Hobbit: Part One," tweeted internet sleuth Superannuation, who has a solid track record uncovering secrets.

'FEAR dev making Hobbit film tie-ins - report' Screenshot bilbo

"Who's Peter Jackson? Is he the one doing a Halo film?"


Warner Bros. laid off 60 staff across its Seattle-based studios last November. These studios included The Lord of the Rings: War in the North developer Snowblind, This is Vegas developer Surreal Software and Monolith.


"Snowblind basically no longer exists," Superannuation added, "so WB Games Seattle is more or less Monolith and some other dev support/publishing staff and whatnot.


"It also sounds like WB Seattle will be handling the tie-in for the second Hobbit film."


The Lord of the Rings: War in the North came from a studio with pedigree (Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance), but flopped. "Repetitive, dull, buggy and frustrating, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North turns visiting one of Western civilisation's most revered fictional settings into a chore," wrote Eurogamer's Jeffery Matulef in his 4/10 War in the North review.


Monolith's recent work has been lacklustre, too. Gotham City Impostors (2012) scored 6/10 on Eurogamer, and F.E.A.R. 2 (2009) scored 5/10 on Eurogamer.


It's a downward turn on the well received Condemned 2: Bloodshot (8/10 Eurogamer - 2008) and fantastic F.E.A.R (9/10 Eurogamer - 2006).

Announcement - Valve
This weekend, save 50% off F.E.A.R. 3!

Alma is expecting and a new level of terror grows as you and your cannibal brother battle through a hellish nightmare. Fight together or die alone on a deadly mission to confront your twisted mother.

Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time.

Jul 20, 2011
PC Gamer
Fear 3 - Daddy Issues
Wandering through darkened hallways with a buddy, with constant achievement pop-ups high-fiving your eyeballs every time you pick up a dozen ammo packs, it’s hard to get into the mood for horror. It’s a problem that FEAR 3 can’t resolve in its attempt to integrate co-op, and sacrificing the spooky mood reduces it to just another shooter with great action but a lot of typical problems.

As it awkwardly wedges itself into FEAR’s mythology, the plot approaches incoherence: psychic soldier Point Man once again battles the evil Armacham, a defense contractor so powerful that it can apparently conduct open warfare inside the United States; while trying to prevent his ghost-mother Alma from giving ghost-birth to the ghost-child she conceived with that other psychic commando from FEAR 2.

Pointy and the Ghost
When weak storytelling and tedious level design get out of the way, FEAR 3 shows flashes of greatness. Point Man might be a typical FPS hero with recharging health, two weapon slots, bullet-time, and a magnetic attraction to cover; but his dead psycho brother and new co-op partner Paxton Fettel can zap, stun, and even possess enemies. This power makes for deliciously chaotic battles, as both players are pushed to charge forward into close-quarters combat to feed Fettel’s need for harvesting fresh kills. The best sections are spectacular whirlwinds of bullets, grenades, knives, slide-tackles, and slow-mo headshots.



Weapons don’t have a lot of personality in general, though. There’s little in the way of recoil or beefy sound effects—even the mighty, spike-launching Penetrator is watered down and unsatisfying. But they do fill important tactical roles: aggressive enemy AI and varied combat terrain gave me ample reason to adopt different approaches, even though the encounters and boss fights mostly felt the same.

Gunplay itself is rewarding, but the campaign will frustrate both solo and co-op players. Playing the early missions with a friend, the horror theme didn’t work—rambling cutscenes and scripted scares killed the pacing. Soloing the final act was an excruciating trial-and-error slog through unbalanced encounters. Scares, such as they are, come in the form of cliché blood-spattered walls, corpse-piles, distorted visions, and annoying monsters that’re more pest than terror. There is no imagination or style here, just repeated blood-textures and shrill screams.



No safety in numbers
Multiplayer is more effective at conveying menace, chaos, and violence, and each mode cleverly twists convention. During one “Contractions” co-op survival game I was backpedaling from a pair of ax-wielding cultists and stumbled into Alma, who wanders the map at random. She instantly teleported me outside, and I had to run-and-gun my way back to my squad as cultists hunted me in the eerie mists. It’s fun in spite of the console-esque sabotage: local hosting makes for iffy connections (not that you know your ping, because FEAR 3 doesn’t tell you), and a lack of text chat in the lobby makes communication difficult when Steam’s voice chat gets choppy.



When it works—such as when the brothers eviscerate a roomful of enemies in mere seconds, or in a close-run multiplayer match—FEAR 3 is an enjoyable, even refreshing FPS. Its strong combat and clever mechanics save it from its own clumsy campaign, and it’s worth playing for those moments, no matter how hard it tries to convince you otherwise.
Jun 30, 2011
Product Update - Valve
Issues addressed in this version:
* Stuttering and jerky movement at frame rates above 30 fps is fixed!
* Steam voice communication "push-to-talk" option is now fully supported.
* 4-player voice chat should no longer have audio drop-outs.
* A rare bug that would cause enemies to stop spawning in Contractions is now fixed.
* The game will now prefer Steam cloud storage over local file system storage.
* Network connection reliability has been improved.
* Support for wider than 16x9 aspect ratio displays has been added to support users with non-standard display devices and spanned multi-monitor displays like AMD Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround.
* An "options.cfg" file has been added to the F.E.A.R. 3 install directory for advanced user customization and troubleshooting. Included in this file are options to extend the FOV on narrow aspect ratio displays, reduce or remove motion blur, and to override driver-default settings for full-screen refresh rate, overscan, letterboxing, etc.
Jun 27, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jim Rossignol)


F.3.A.R. has leapt into our lives with a butcher’s hook in its hand and a glint of innovative asymmetric co-op in its eye. But does it chill the blood, or simply apply a damp rag to our fevered brow? Allow me to turn dramatically to the camera and tell you Wot I Think.>
(more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

I KEEP saying I’ll do this regularly, but something about numbered lists makes me curl into a tiny ball and weep for mother. Anyway, let’s do it this week and maybe I’ll be a better boy again next week. Here’s the top ten best-selling released PC games on Steam last week, in comparison to the top 10 at UK retail. As always, there are some verrrry interesting variations, which have much to say about both Steam and retail’s own peccadilloes…
(more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Pay attention, students – here’s your homework for today. Cloud gaming services such as OnLive and Gaikai: discuss. They’re on the rise, and approaching the point where they’re not just a fascinating gimmick but a viable way of playing high-end games at reasonable graphical quality. But what do they mean for PC gaming? Indeed, can they be considered PC gaming? And most of all – how seriously should we, and you, be taking them?
(more…)

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