Want to play some free games this weekend? Steam's latest Free Weekend promotion has a couple to choose from, and they couldn't be more different. One lets you colonise an alien world, another lets you spray liquid faeces at buildings and people.
I'll let you decide which sounds more appealing. No judgements.
In one corner we have Firaxis's latest, Civilization: Beyond Earth. In the other corner, Volition's absurdist open-world comedy Saints Row. It's the full series that's playable, including Saints Row 2, Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV.
I particularly enjoyed the latter two Saints Rows, which are enjoyably silly and perfect for a mindless weekend of laughs and carnage. If you are in the mood for something more considered, Beyond Earth is a perfectly good alternative. I'm not it's greatest fan—much preferring last year's Endless Legend—but our reviewer liked it a lot.
To download any of the games, head to their Steam page and click the "Play Game" button. You've got until Sunday to get your free time in, and each game is discounted until Monday if you like what you play.
Written by Tom Marks
We ve already shown you what Metro 2033 Redux looks like when put side-by-side with the original, but the game looks so darn pretty that we wanted to spend more time in post-apocalyptic Moscow. We fed it to that benevolent giant we call the Large Pixel Collider and ran it on max settings at 2560x1440 resolution, and what do you know a video came out!. You can also check out our review of Metro 2033 Redux here.
Want more from the LPC video archive? Recently we've hit Deus Ex, NeoTokyo, Watch Dogs, Wolfenstein: The New Order, the Titanfall beta, Max Payne 3, Metro: Last Light, and Arma 3. There's much more to come. Have a game in mind you'd like to see the LPC take on at ultra settings? Tell the LPC directly on Twitter.
Sep 5, 2014
Back in May, the original Dawn of War and its many expansions cast off the shackles of Gamespy and Games for Windows Live and replaced them with Steamworks. Dawn of War 2 and Chaos Rising, meanwhile, required additional work work that's now been completed. A new update for both games has just been released, which gives GfWL the old heave-ho and moves achievements and leaderboards over to Relic's servers, while integrating Relic's battle servers to manage multiplayer networking in both entries.
In the process, Relic have removed a few features from the games. LAN multiplayer, Referee mode, and the option to pause during multiplayer are all gone. It's a shame, but at least the games are still playable online. Meanwhile, Games for Windows Live is still kinda, sorta trundling on, despite reports that it was heading for the guillotine Microsoft hasn't put it out of our misery just yet.
The Metro and Stalker games are incredibly atmospheric post-apocalyptic shooters, but where Stalker is set in a sprawling open world, Metro is a far more claustrophobic and linear experience. But it sounds like Metro developer 4A Games might just be aiming for something a little more Stalker-like in its next game.
In a lengthy interview with Eurogamer, 4A Games Chief Technical Officer Oles Shishkovstov talked about "the performance differential between Xbox One and PlayStation 4," the difficulty of developing for multiple platforms, the strengths and weaknesses of different APIs and all that sort of thing. It's good stuff if you're into that sort of thing, but the really interesting bit, at least for me, came around the midway point when he was asked if he could talk about what the studio is currently working on.
"For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience - less linear but still hugely story-driven," he said. "I will not go into details, but it requires some work from programmers as well."
It's only a couple of sentences and nothing more is said about it, although to be fair, it's a Digital Foundry interview focused on developing for the new generation of consoles. But the possibility of an open-world Metro game is incredibly exciting. And it's also the sort of thing that 4A Games might actually do: It was founded in 2005 by former members of GSC Game World, the studio that created the Stalker franchise.
Video by PC Gamer intern Tom Marks
Last week we gave you our review of Metro 2033 Redux, but today you can judge the graphical differences firsthand. We decided to throw both the original game and the Redux version to our irresponsibly large computer, the Large Pixel Collider, to scrutinize 4A Games' remastered environments, lighting and character models. We cranked all the graphics to max, set the resolution to 2560 x 1440, and started killing monsters. The original is still a good looking game, but Redux has some impressive new lighting effects, and runs much, much better it stayed at a rock-solid 60 fps even during combat, which would drop Metro 2033 down to about 40 frames per second.
In the world of video games it's just one outrage after another until you just wish Flanders was dead. This time people are upset about the pricing for 4A Games' forthcoming Metro Redux package, which includes both Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light. The former is a huge overhaul of the 2010 original, while the latter doesn't differ greatly from the 2013 shooter, though all DLC is bundled.
Of course, people who already own both games aren't happy that they'll need to pay again, despite 4A Games offering a 50 per cent discount to those who have either game in their Steam library. The controversy got so heated in the Steam discussion forums that it prompted a "blindsided" 4A Games to release a (rather lengthy) statement justifying the price.
"Almost the entire team of around 80 people at 4A Games will have been working on the Metro Redux titles for almost a year by the time we release next month," the statement read. "It has been a substantial project for the studio, with three main elements."
The studio went on to list the substantial new features, including engine additions such as global illumination and terrain tessellation, among other tweaks. Metro: Last Light will get some "minor" new features like a Check Watch and Check Inventory, as well as a whole new game mode. Finally, transferring Metro 2033 to the new engine, along with the new content and assets, was no small feat.
"We think the 50% discount is more than fair for the amount of work that has gone into this title," the statement continued. "It is a complete remake of the original game in the latest engine, that will offer a significantly different experience from the original throughout with improved graphics, performance and gameplay."
The studio's full statement is over on the Steam forum. A before and after trailer released last week, showing how the new edition will size up next to the old games.
Darksiders studio Vigil Games came to an untimely end in the wake of THQ's collapse, and yet it didn't: Instead of purchasing the studio, Crytek left it to wither and die, then hired a big chunk of its staff for its Austin-based Crytek USA. Now its happening again, as Crytek USA has been vastly downsized in the wake of Crytek's move to free-to-play, but the Vigil team is sticking together under yet another new name.
Vigil Games founder David Adams, who was also the chief of Crytek USA, actually left the studio three weeks ago, taking the "core team" with him to form Gunfire Games. He said Crytek's money issues were part of what convinced him to go, but it was also the fact that Crytek's problems were causing others to leave.
"It really was the team," he told Polygon. "When you make a game, one of the most important elements of that is the people you work with. You could get 12 of the best developers in the world and put them into a room and they may not make a good game."
There are currently only seven people at Gunfire, all of them "leads at Crytek USA," according to Studio Director Matt Guzenda. "We're still working on the next round of guys coming around."
Adams said the new studio is "exploring" the possibility of making Darksiders 3, and has actually spoken with Nordic Games, the publisher that currently owns the IP, but added that he doesn't want to "jump into anything immediately." For now, the team is looking at some smaller projects to get started, with a long-term goal of launching a brand-new game that would "build upon what we've done in the past."
"Third-person, games with a lot of characters, adventure aspects, player progression, hunt cool bosses, fantastical creatures," he said. "We have some ideas kicking around."
It may be premature to declare that before-and-after comparison videos are all the rage, but hot on the heels of yesterday's Project CARS trailer comes something similar for the upcoming Metro Redux. Major visual updates to both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light are at the top of the menu, but there's a lot more to it than just a new coat of paint.
The video initially focuses on visual improvements to the console versions of the games, which will now be able to provide the same level of visual fidelity as a high-spec PC on the originals. Contemporary high-end PCs will still have the advantage in Redux, however, through support for 4K resolution and a wide array of graphical enhancements.
But the really interesting stuff is happening under the hood. The AI is improved, and features that were previously exclusive to Last Light, including better stealth gameplay, weapon customization and non-lethal takedowns, will also appear in 2033. New secrets, hidden areas and encounters have been added, and previously separate locations have been "seamlessly stitched together." Two new play modes have been added, Spartan and Survival, and Ranger mode is now available in both games.
I was a pretty big fan of the Metro games when they were new, so I was sold on the Redux release pretty much from the moment I heard about it; if it's possible, I think I'm ever more sold now. Metro Redux launches on August 26.
Over the past few months, Crytek has looked very much like a company in trouble. Reports of missed paydays and high rates of employee turnover were unsubstantiated but persistent, and in July a couple of high-ranked employees left the company for greener pastures. It all seemed to come to a head last week when Deep Silver acquired Homefront and Crytek UK was closed down. But Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli recently insisted that the company didn't need to downsize, and claimed he was surprised that some employees were unhappy about not being paid on time.
The interview with Yerli obviously only offers his perspective on the Crytek situation but even so, it's surprising at times how he brushes off concerns that Crytek was in trouble. Employees weren't being paid on time because of a "diminished capital resource" caused by the shift to free-to-play, he said, not because of any underlying structural problems with the company; he also claimed shock that "some people were very impatient and got angry at the smallest delay" in their paychecks.
"I was surprised and upset a little bit that the intention of us keeping together everybody upset a few of them. But I understand that situation," he said. "Some people live in very tight financial planning. That's their own privacy. They can do whatever they want. Those guys, when they get under pressure it can become emotional. We tried to individually help out. Like if somebody gets in trouble they can talk to us directly so they don't get under pressure. We tried whatever we could do. But you can't make it right for everybody."
Yerli also claimed that Crytek was never in danger of bankruptcy, and that it didn't need to downsize or close the UK studio because it had already secured a financing deal that would have actually allowed it to expand rather than contract.
"It is an optimization stage that we said we should do strategically right now in order to focus short term our mindset on the launch of Warface, Arena of Fate and Hunt," he said. "It wasn't a pure commercial deal. It was a strategic deal for focus. We didn't need to sell Homefront or the UK office."
Yerli comes across as perhaps a tad tone-deaf in the interview can he really be surprised that people were unhappy about being paid late? but it's well worth reading if you have any interest in the recent troubles at Crytek. Check it out in full at Eurogamer.
Jul 30, 2014
Deep Silver has announced that it has acquired the Homefront property from Crytek, including the recently-announced Homefront: The Revolution, which will be completed at its new "Dambuster Studios."
The source of Crytek's recently-announced new capital appears to have been revealed as Deep Silver, the proud new owner of all things Homefront. "We are thrilled to see another great IP joining the Deep Silver universe," Koch Media Group CE Dr. Klemens Kundratitz said in a statement. "We strongly believe in the potential of Homefront: The Revolution and trust in the new team to continue the path they have been walking in the last years."
The game will be finished by Deep Silver Dambuster, a new addition to Koch Media's studio lineup. Deep Silver declined to comment on whether it's actually a new studio or if Crytek UK has also been acquired and renamed, saying that it's still in the process of setting things up.