Jan 30, 2013
PC Gamer - PC Gamer
This week, Chris and Toms Senior and Francis talk Teleglitch, SimCity, Crysis 3 multiplayer and more. Includes our thoughts on the troubles at Gas Powered Games, Jon Blow's next game, and your
questions from Twitter.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or download the MP3 directly. The YouTube version will be going up early next week as I've, er, got a train to catch.
Follow PC Gamer UK on Twitter to be informed when we're putting the call out for questions. Here are our individual accounts:
Chris - @cthursten
Tom F - @pentadact
Tom S - @pcgludo
Gas Powered Games' Wildman Kickstarter and Matt Barton's interview with Chris Taylor.
Our collected thoughts on Crysis 3 multiplayer, plus The Hidden: Source mod.
/r/GuildWarsDyeJob, the Guild Wars 2 dress-up subreddit that Chris is weirdly excited about.
The Dota 2 character art guide.
The nascent Twitter feed for the Absolute Bedlam Dota 2 tournament.
Try a round or two of Cheese or Font.
Jan 29, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Nathan Grayson)
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. It’s a delightfully optimistic statement, though in truth, it’s not always, well, true. (Note: I mean this in the metaphorical sense. I don’t claim to be an expert on clouds’ relative silver content, as I still believe they’re made of cotton candy.) Case in point: at first, it sure seemed like Darksiders dev Vigil Games would be getting some of said rain in its gothic Death mascara while everyone else found new homes in the wake of THQ’s collapse. But now, that dark cloud within a silver-lined dark cloud has found a different silver lining. On the wings of nanosuit-clad angels, Crytek’s descended to save the day. Or, well, most of it, anyway.
Jan 28, 2013
Surprisingly, blood suckers aren't as common in video games as you might expect. They might appear as a generic type of enemy, and of course there are a few of them in the Castlevania series. We collected some of these vampires, paying attention to leave out those who like to carry people on their backs.
Bodhi (Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows Of Amn)
This former elf is the scariest thing ever created that has anything to do with elves. Geez those random entries!
Demitri Maximoff (DarkStalkers: The Night Warriors)
Probably the only vampire in the world that looks like Phoenix Wright on steroids.
Vamp (Metal Gear Solid series)
Even if he is not a real one, he's got all the abilities—and the right to be on this list as well.
source: Raiden vs Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 4
Vincent Valentine (Final Fantasy VII)
Just as Vamp, Vincent is rather a result of an experiment than a natural born vampire, but the similarities are quite obvious.
Rachel Alucard (BlazBlue series)
Vorador (Legacy Of Kain series)
The main characers Kain or Raziel should have been the obvious choices, but Vorador—who also has a major role—looks just so much cooler.
source: Legacy Of Kain Wiki
Alucard and Dracula (Castlevania series)
At least these legendary guys bring back something from the classic Dracula look.
Jeanette Voerman (Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines)
Both Vampire games—Redemption and Bloodlines—are full of vampires (sounds incredible, right?) but the only possible pick is this memorable NPC from the second game.
source: White Wolf Wiki
Jericho Cross (Darkwatch)
The weird western-steampunk hybrid style, mixed with classic vampire lore made this character (and the game!) really exciting.
source: Capcom Database
One of those female vampires that look badass rather than cute—and there's absolutely no problem with that.
source: BloodRayne Wiki
You should submit your picks with visual support in the comments!
Jan 25, 2013
Darksiders 2 may not have had the care and attention we like to see of a PC port, but that didn't hold back the game's tough, rewarding combat from making the game an overall enjoyable experience. So when the details of THQ's auction were revealed, it was a surprise to see that no-one had bid for Vigil. What gives?
As it turns out, the lack of interest shown in Vigil may have had nothing to do with the quality of the studio, as much as the timing of the sale. Speaking to Game Informer, THQ's president Jason Rubin touched on the difficulties with finding a home for Vigil. "Having just finished a product, Vigil was farthest from release of their next game, and we were not able to garner any interest from buyers, despite a herculean effort. Additionally, they were working on a new IP, which meant even more risk for a buyer."
Essentially, many of the bidders weren't just buying up a development studio, but also their games which, for the most part, were well into development. Relic were preparing for Company of Heroes 2's launch and Volition were well into development on the next Saints Row. Darksiders 2 released at the end of last August, giving the team less time to gear up and launch into development of their next project.
That project was codenamed Crawler, and it sounds like the team were extremely excited about the direction it was heading. In an emotional post to NeoGAF, made from an empty studio, Vigil's lead combat designer Ben Cureton wrote, "I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven't done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times."
Unfortunately funding a studio's development, marketing and staff costs for an untested new IP appears to be a risk that bidders involved in the THQ auction found too great. The situation likely wasn't helped by Darksider's 2 financial performance, which THQ's sales projections, taken from the first day motions, put at a loss.
The studio may have closed, but the Darksiders property, along with Vigil's staff, have attracted some interest. Platinum Games' JP Kellams tweeted at Dearksiders 2's lead designer, asking him, and other staff members, to get in touch if they were interested in working with the Bayonetta developer. And Platinum's head Atsushi Inaba also tweeted his interest in picking up the franchise at the upcoming auction, saying (translated by Kotaku), "In THQ's studio and IP selling off auction, Darksiders is unsold? wanna buy it...on the cheap..."
Here's hoping that both Darksiders and the studio's staff quickly find a home.
Thanks to Eurogamer for the Platinum Games info, and to Distressed Debt Investing's Hunter for the analysis of THQ's first day motions.
Jan 24, 2013
Farewell then, THQ. Yesterday saw the publisher’s final assets sold off to a variety of buyers, and while many good people (and franchises) managed to find a new home, our thoughts and well-wishes are with those that didn’t. As we’re in a reflective mood, we thought it only appropriate to commemorate the loss of this fine company with a look back at ten of the best games it’s delighted us with over the years.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (September 2004)
Tempting though it is to bang on about Relic Entertainment’s wonderful sci-fi RTS Homeworld, it wasn’t until 2004 that THQ took the Vancouver-based studio under its wing. Dawn of War represented the first fruits of that union, and it remains one of the most successful digital adaptations of the tabletop favourite, capturing the appeal of the series in a smart, refined package.
Full Spectrum Warrior (October 2004)
The most satisfying triumphs come from conquering the greatest adversity. Pandemic’s squad-based military shooter was an incredibly demanding game in its day, its punishing authenticity a result of its origins as a US Army-affiliated training simulation. Persistently tense and claustrophobic, it may not have been the dictionary definition of ‘fun’, but it was a sweaty-palmed experience we’ll never forget.
Titan Quest (June 2006)
Time for a lesson in ancient history - well, 2006 does seem a fair while ago these days. THQ managed to temporarily sate appetites for a new Diablo by releasing this gloriously entertaining action-RPG that proves you don’t need an awful lot more than an enormous world and hordes of colossal monsters to biff for a good time. Titan Quest may not have been anything particularly new, but there’s an art to making hacking and slashing as fun as this.
Company of Heroes (September 2006)
Just as the world and his dog was heartily sick of WWII settings, Relic’s blistering RTS managed to make us all care again. ‘Visceral’ may be horribly overused in games criticism, but rarely has the word been applied more accurately than to CoH’s shudderingly intense combat. Tough, gritty and oddly beautiful, it elevated its creator among the giants of the strategy genre.
Supreme Commander (February 2007)
Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games might be in the headlines for very different reasons at the moment, but back in 2007 this talented studio was making waves with a truly brilliant RTS. Supreme Commander was grand-scale warfare at its most exhaustive and exhausting – with some of the best AI in the business putting up a heck of a fight, every hard-earned victory was worthy of a triumphant air-punch.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R (March 2007)
Frightening, surprising, intense and ambitious? Or scrappy, buggy, overwhelming and confusing? S.T.A.L.K.E.R was all of the above and more, a sandbox-survival horror-RPG-FPS-adventure that cast you as a scavenger around the ruins of Chernobyl. Everyone’s experience was different: ours involved a lot of nervy creeping around in the dark, punctuated by terrified shrieks whenever a mutant spotted us. And we loved (almost) every minute of it.
Red Faction: Guerrilla (September 2009)
God bless Geo-Mod 2.0. It’s rare we’re minded to salute a physics engine, but the unparalleled destruction it enabled is what made Volition’s game such a giddy joy to play. After all, why just shoot an enemy when you can topple a multi-storey building onto him? Expertly paced, with a campaign that escalated into hysterical carnage, Guerrilla may have been unrefined at times but boy was it fun.
Metro 2033 (March 2010)
A rare thing: a great shooter with shooting that isn’t that great. Metro’s gunplay is lacking in feedback, but it’s hard to care too much in a world this rich and enveloping. Every inch of 4A Games’ subterranean nightmare is permeated with an atmosphere so thick you could slice it. This is the FPS as survival horror, and as appropriately brutal and hard-edged as that suggests.
Darksiders (September 2010)
A tilt of the hat to its sequel, too, but we’ve got rather a soft spot for Vigil’s original, even if ‘original’ is hardly a word you’d use to describe Darksiders’ unholy blend of Zelda and God of War. If you’re going to steal, though, then be sure to pinch from the best, and this post-apocalyptic tale did just that, marrying puzzly exploration with thrillingly weighty scraps, topped off nicely by some fine Joe Mad artwork.
Saints Row: The Third (November 2011)
What started out as a poor man’s GTA began to find its own identity in the follow-up, but it wasn’t until the third game that Saints Row realised its true potential. It was a monument to excess, a crude, coarse, tawdry descent into debauchery that was almost operatic in its tastelessness. Some remained immune to its charms (if that’s the right word) but there was genuine sophistication behind the silliness. Dumb, then, but artfully so.
This is no place for a horse.
Jan 23, 2013
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Yesterday we finally got word of where THQ's franchises were going, as the company's intellectual properties were sold off piece-meal to various publishers. One notable exception, however, was Vigil Games and the Darksiders franchise, which went unclaimed. The series' fortunes look bleak, but Platinum Games has signaled an interest in saving it.
IGN reports that JP Kellams, a talent spotter and translator for Platinum, reached out to Vigil lead designer Haydn Dalton about getting in touch with staff members to work with or at Platinum.
Platinum isn't as flush with funds as some auction buyers like Ubisoft or Take 2, so the purchase would probably have to be "on the cheap." But given that Darksiders hasn't stirred up interest elsewhere, that might be a viable goal. This could mean future games in the Darksiders franchise, and possibly even some involvement from former team members if they take Kellams up on the job offer.
THQ is no more: the bankrupt publisher and developer auctioned off its assets in U.S. Bankruptcy Court today. Though the court must still approve the sales, a letter from THQ's CEO (which was passed to Kotaku by an employee) reveals the bidders, which include Sega, Ubisoft, Deep Silver, Crytek, and Take-Two, and the THQ franchises and studios they'll acquire. Below is a breakdown of who's getting what, and what led to today's sale.
Who's getting what? Based on what we know right now...
Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40,000 developer Relic Entertainment is going to Sega.
Saints Row developer Volition, Inc. and the Metro series are going to Koch Media (Deep Silver).
The Homefront franchise is going to Crytek.
THQ Montreal and the South Park license are going to Ubisoft.
Evolve, a game in development by Turtle Rock Studios (which worked on Left 4 Dead), is going to Take-Two Interactive.
THQ will "make every effort to find appropriate buyers" for its remaining assets, such as Darksiders developer Vigil Games.
On November 13, 2012, THQ announced that it had defaulted on a $50 million loan. Its subsequent Humble THQ Bundle raised about $5 million for THQ, charities, and the Humble Bundle organizers, but it wasn't enough: the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 19th.
Bankruptcy isn't necessarily the end—Chapter 11 allows the debtor to stay in control of the company under court oversight—but things didn't go as planned. THQ expected to sell itself in whole to a private equity firm called Clearlake Capital Group, but THQ's creditors and the bankruptcy court rejected that proposal earlier this month, which led to today's piece by piece auction.
One of the sad and somewhat odd outcomes of today's big auction of top games and studios from game publisher THQ is that no one—not EA, not Activision, not Take Two, not Bethesda, not Ubisoft... no one—made a bid for the action-game series Darksiders and Vigil, the studio that made those games.
Look, even here at Kotaku the Darksiders games aren't uniformly loved. But some of us dig them and we can now share the bittersweet news that some very talented game developers dig them, too.
Here's Atsushi Inaba, the head of Platinum Games, makers of Bayonetta, Vanquish and other cool action titles:
And here's a translation, via our own Brian Ashcraft:
"In THQ's studio and IP selling off auction, Darksiders is unsold? [We] wanna buy it...on the cheap..."
Earlier today, some of us half-kidded that Nintendo should have snatched up Vigil. The Darksiders games are, more or less, an M-rated love letter to Zelda (please don't read that the wrong way!). Nintendo obviously didn't go for Vigil. If Platinum did? Or even went just for the series? We're not rooting for people to be out of work, but either result would be fascinating.
We're following up to see what could come of this.
News has broken out about the sale of THQ's assets and it looks like many of the defunct publisher's signature franchises have been acquired. But, surprisingly, some seemingly bankable properties haven't been snatched up.
Many of the titles mentioned in a previously published assets list were sold off today. Most conspicuously, WWE isn't mentioned in the list of sold-off franchises mentioned in an official goodbye letter from earlier today. The pro wrestling license was the source of annually released games, which ranked among THQ's top earners for years. Another installment of the WWE franchise was said to be in development, presumably due to hit shelves later this year. But so far, no suitors for the video game slice of Vince McMahon's empire have emerged.
Vigil Studios, the wholly owned dev group of the two Darksiders games, also hasn't found a home yet. The future for any further Darksiders games was nebulous and updates to the dev team's work on the Warhammer franchise were unclear as of a month ago.
Add the Red Faction franchise to those two entities too. While Dead Island publisher Deep Silver has acquired Volition and that dev studio's beloved Saint's Row series, it's still unknown where Red Faction—also created by Volition—will wind up.
In the letter that circulated to THQ employees today, exec leaders Brian Farrell and Jason Rubin said:
Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.
That seems to hint that THQ may yet find companies willing to take on the WWE franchise and Vigil. Kotaku has reached out to WWE representatives for comment and will update this story if we hear back.