PC Gamer
steam sale day 7

We've now been living and breathing the Steam Summer Sale for a week, losing sleep for every flash sale, antsy with anticipation every time the new deals tick over. We're feverish from the savings, but it would be madness to stop saving now. Today's deals fuel our appetite for strategy, shooting, and launching valiant little green men into space on absurdly oversized rockets.

Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.

Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.
5 - The Banner Saga
50% off: $12.49 / 9.49 - Steam store page
One of the biggest artistic achievements in gaming this year. We love The Banner Saga s hand-drawn characters and how they animate on the battlefield, but we especially enjoy the way its detailed, Nordic landscapes parallax as your caravan of warriors and survivors march on. The Austin Wintory score is a cherry on the top.
4 - Kerbal Space Program
40% off: $16.19 / 11.99 - Steam store page
We ve murdered a lot of aliens in games, but only in KSP have we stranded little green guys in planetary orbit due to our grossly incompetent management of a budding space program. The Early Access rocket physics simulator is one of the best games still under development, and already has a large community of engineers sharing stories of harrowing space missions, ship designs, and mods. KSP has even made its way into classrooms.

Read Ian s five-part Kerbal Space Program chronicle to see how he learned rocket-building basics and launched a mission to the M n.
3 - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
50% off: $7.49 / 5.99 - Steam store page
The best competitive FPS on PC owes a lot to its skill-based matchmaking format. At any skill level, five-on-five Counter-Strike narrows the range of tactical choices available to you and the time you have to make them, creating a wonderfully concentrated competitive mode. Otherwise, CS:GO is mainly a vehicle for microtransactions: beware the allure of $400 virtual knives.
2 - Tomb Raider
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Lara Croft returns in a gorgeous action game heavily inspired by Naughty Dog's Uncharted series. This younger, rebooted Lara doesn't have her predecessor's confidence or predilection for interesting puzzles the only tombs in this game are disappointingly short and simple but the shooting is by far the best in the series. Exploring Tomb Raider's island and crafting survival gear is also fun, as Lara is a nimble climber and each area is packed with interesting treasures to hunt down. For a challenge, forgo the assault rifle and grenade launcher for Lara's incredibly satisfying (and silent!) bow.
1 - BioShock Triple Pack
83% off: $10.19 / 6.79 - Steam store page
If you haven t explored the ruins of Rapture, you re in for a treat. BioShock s world is a revelation, an under-the-sea society that s crumbled under its own weight, and exploring what remains of it and shooting its crazy inhabitants in the face with fireballs is a delight. BioShock 2 goes even further, changing your perspective and adding a surprising amount of depth with its own story. Irrational s swansong, BioShock Infinite, may still be polarizing, but Columbia is just as beautiful and terrifying as Rapture, and well worth exploring. All three are included here in a bundle that s too cheap to pass up.

Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.

Bastion (40% off) $8.99 / 6.59
Killing Floor (50% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Mirror's Edge (75% off) $4.99 / 2.49
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (66% off) $6.79 / 5.09
Jun 20, 2014
PC Gamer
Xenonauts review

Xenonauts began life as a reimagining of the classic turn-based strategy game X-COM: UFO Defense. But where 2012 s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown modernized the setting and recreated the franchise s systems in broad, easy-to-read strokes, Xenonauts threw itself headlong into the details. From individual, grid-based inventories to a line-of-sight cover system and destructible environments, every mechanic from the classic has been reimagined, rebuilt, and given an extra layer. The result is a deeply engaging, indie version of an alien invasion that stands toe-to-toe with X-COM the classic and the reboots.
Colder war
The year is 1979. An alien invasion has interrupted the apocalyptic bickering of the USA and the USSR, and the international forces of the Xenonaut project are Earth s only organized defense. The first thing you ll see in-game is the Geoscape, the world map. Placing a base and building a radar station allow you to track and intercept UFOs across a continent. Unlike in Enemy Unknown, satellites and sci-fi won t help you intercept UFOs on the other side of the planet. Here in 1979, you ll need to build and manage supplementary bases to protect everyone.

Building a second base as soon as you can is imperative.

It s frustrating to watch abductions and other alien activity happen beyond your reach, but it s part of some excellent world-building. The world in X-COM is also at war, but Xenonauts makes me feel besieged and horrified in a way that X-COM never did. From my base in Florida, I can track UFOs across North and Central America, but reports of alien attacks across Europe and Asia continue to rattle in. A passenger airliner has been shot down; 128 dead. A military helicopter disappeared; 11 dead. A boat drifted to shore with no one on it; 14 missing. By the end of my first month, over 1,000 casualties have been reported in the areas that my radar doesn t cover.

As time goes on, the many nations of the Xenonaut project start to complain. Too many of their citizens are dying, and you re not everywhere at once. It s a constant balancing act that is familiar to X-COM players, but Xenonauts represents this tension with a fantastically granular system using dollar figures instead of star-based panic metrics. As a country loses faith in you, they decrease their funding $5,000 or $10,000 at a time. Every time a crop circle goes unanswered, for example, that might be one less jet fighter you can put in the air.
Taking turns
Once you spot a UFO, you scramble your nearest jets to go meet it. This second phase of the game is Xenonauts largest single addition to the classic formula: an overhead, strategic air combat map that plays out in real time. The on-rails button-pushing of Enemy Unknown s air combat mode is more fully realized in Xenonauts. Each fighter can be individually ordered to move, use evasive maneuvers, and target specific opponents. It s intricate fun, but there s an auto-resolve option that will skip this phase if you d rather get straight to the nitty-gritty.

It s good looking, but the aerial combat mode is just one more way for you to get your people killed.

After a UFO has been brought down, you send in a dropship with an assault squad to kill the surviving aliens and capture technology. This phase, which makes up the majority of the game, plays out in a classic, turn-based style that is second-nature for classic X-COM fans but could involve some trial and error for newer players. Each soldier has a reserve of time units they can use to move, check their inventory, open doors, and shoot. Xenonauts sticks very close to X-COM s roots here, but my favorite improvement is a time-unit reserve slider. If your soldier can move 70 units this turn at a dead sprint, you can tell them to move less and reserve enough time units for a quick shot or save more time for an aimed shot. You can use these time units in any order, one or two steps at a time, and you ll still reserve a chance to shoot back when an alien flanks you by surprise. It s an incredibly useful addition that fits right in with the classic mechanics.

Another welcome addition: if you capture the UFO and hold it for five turns, you win the mission. The days of scouring the far corners of the map for the one alien hiding behind a rock have been thankfully left behind.

Xenonauts includes a detailed online manual, but it s a bit of a retro throwback that fails to take the place of a hands-on, in-game tutorial. If you ve never played X-COM or anything of its type, you may have a hard time getting up to speed in Xenonauts, which presents you with a ton of menus and not a lot of in-game guidance. The manual is opened through the launcher, but an in-game tutorial would ve made it more accessible for new players. For die-hard fans of the series, though, the game plays so much like X-COM that you ll already understand all but the most specific details.

Assaulting a crashed ship is a lesson in bloody close-combat.
Class warfare
I like the flexibility Xenonauts gives me to manage my soldiers, especially in regards to their equipment and class designations. The biggest frustration in Enemy Unknown is taking a rookie into the field and having them randomly promote to a soldier class that you don t need. Soon your barracks is full of snipers who can t replace your newly KIA heavy weapons expert. Xenonauts ditches that system and lets you assign any weapon to any soldier. There are class designations (assault, rifleman, sniper), but they re for your organizational purposes only. If you need another assault trooper, hire a rookie and hand them a shotgun: you re in business.

Having an adaptable squad is crucial, because these soldiers are fragile like porcelain dolls. In one of my first missions, my troop transport s doors opened to reveal an alien already aiming at us: we d been dropped into a hot LZ. The oversized reptile s first shot hit my assault trooper in the face, and he dropped dead like a bag of hammers. We returned fire, but the alien s second shot wounded our sniper, who dropped her rifle and ran. As the rest of the squad stayed in cover to take out the alien, she ran into a field and bled to death. Losing an experienced soldier to permadeath always sucks (with Iron Man mode on, there s no save reloading), but after that mission I was able to take one of my other veterans, equip him with a sniper rifle, and rebuild my squad without promoting a gun-shy rookie.

The Cold War theme is expressed with powder-blue uniforms and boxy helmets. Nice duds, Oscar.

Equipping your squad also gives you an opportunity to bring gadgets like demolition charges, heat-resistant riot shields, smoke grenades, and flashbangs. Adding these to your kit opens up new ways to play in Xenonauts fully destructible environments. I never imagined a version of X-COM that would encourage me to use C4 to blow apart a wall, toss flashbangs, and charge into close range with shotguns. Now that I ve found one, I never want to go back.

New features like these are a lot of fun, but in replicating and improving what made X-COM great Xenonauts also repeats the steep initial learning curve, unforgiving failure states, and occasional frustrations of the classic. The Geoscape and all its many possibilities is daunting for first-timers, and getting used to the time unit system will require some tinkering and missteps. Players who appreciate granular detail will love the options Xenonauts gives them, but it may take a couple of hours of work and a few quickloads to feel comfortable with everything the game has to offer.

If you re an old fan of the X-COM series, of course, forget about finding your old install disks or putting up with twenty-year-old graphics playing Xenonauts is the best way to relive those glory days with deeper systems. If you re new to X-COM, Xenonauts will let you explore the series classic roots with added depth and details.

Price: $25 / 15
Release date: Out now
Publisher / Developer: Goldhawk Interactive
Multiplayer: None
Link: http://www.xenonauts.com/
PC Gamer

The word went out in late May that the hit strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown was in the process of being ported to Linux by Feral Interactive, as were its DLC and expansion packs. Today that port went live, just in time for a pretty sweet Steam Summer Sale price.

I don't like the word "re-imagining" but I have to admit that XCOM: Enemy Unknown got it right. It somehow managed to turn a 20-year-old turn-based strategy game into a modern hit, putting players at the head of an elite international military organization charged with defending Earth from an alien invasion. It's not in the league of, say, Call of Duty, but the enviable review scores and healthy amount of add-on content speak for themselves.

Now it's available natively for Linux, too. Feral's version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown runs on Ubuntu 14.04 and SteamOS, and it's a SteamPlay release, meaning that if you already own the Windows version, you get the Linux release free.

And if you don't happen to own it, this would be a good time to rectify that situation: It's currently in the Steam Summer Sale mix at $7.50 for the base game 75 percent off the regular $30 price or $16.50 for the Complete Edition, which includes the Slingshot and Elite Soldier DLC packs and the Enemy Within expansion, that normally sells for $50. The Summer Sale pricing will remain in place until 1 pm EDT on June 21.
PC Gamer
Steam summer sale day one

Some claim that summer doesn t start until the 21st, but Valve says it s time for the Steam Summer Sale and we haven t heard anything from the solstice lobby so, happy first day of summer! As always, it s celebrated with a ridiculous store-wide Steam sale renowned for its low prices and intoxicating effect on the PC gaming community. Everything looks great when it s 80% off, but before you start filling up your library, here are our favorite picks of day one.

Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.

5 - Trine Complete
85% off: $3.74 / 2.69 - Steam store page
What Trine lacks in challenge it's not very difficult as platformers go it more than makes up for in magical fairy tale charm. The sequel, Trine 2, improves upon the formula just about every way, particularly through the addition of cooperative multiplayer action. And with the original game about to undergo a dramatic (and free!) overhaul thanks to the coming Trine Enchanted Edition, this bundle at this price is a must-have by any measure.

4 - Hotline Miami
85% off: $1.49 / 1.04 Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
No game revels in ultraviolence like Hotline Miami, which turns pixelated murder sprees into an art form. It's brutal, stylish, and challenging in that perfect way: once you make a perfect run through a level without stopping, mowing down a dozen thugs with a knife and then a pipe and then a shotgun, you'll feel like the god of sleazy Miami murders. You'll want some practice now, since Hotline Miami 2 includes a level editor that will let you craft your own murder rooms. Get it fast the flash sale on Hotline Miami won't last long.

3 - Far Cry 3
75% off: $7.49 / 3.74 - Steam store page
Attacking outposts is our favorite part of Far Cry 3. The sandbox shooter s story is a strange and meandering mixture of Alice in Wonderland and the spring break trip you made in college, but dismantling the dozens of bases that populate Far Cry 3 s islands however you want is scrappy, open-ended FPS combat at its best. Now s a good time to jump in before Far Cry 4releases later this year.

2 - The Witcher 2
80% off: $3.99 / 2.99 - Steam store page
You ve got until early 2015 before The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt releases, and it s looking fantastic. That s plenty of time to catch up on one of our favorite modern RPG series not only is The Witcher 2 on sale, the first game is only $1.99 / 1.39. Bonus value: The Witcher 2's fantastic story splits into two completely separate arcs in its second act, so if you want to experience both paths, you've got two playthroughs ahead of you.

1 - XCOM: Complete
67% off: $16.49 / 8.24 - Steam store page
Our favorite strategy game of 2012, conveniently collected into bundle form with the equally-great Enemy Within expansion, has one of the best campaigns in gaming. Hand-building your alien defense force replicates the feeling of running imaginary missions with action figures in your living room. Except this time, G.I. Joe can die for reals. Thoughtful strategy, a tense metagame, and detailed maps that explode into pieces make XCOM the second-best digital board game available (Civilization V would be the first).

Other great deals today:
Rising Storm: Game of the Year Edition (50% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Tomb Raider (50% off) $9.99 / 7.49
Max Payne 3 (70% off) $5.99 / 4.49
Mirror s Edge (75% off) $4.99 / 2.49
The Witcher Enhanced Edition (80% off) $1.99 / 1.39
Papers, Please (50% off) $4.99 / 3.49
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines (50% off) $4.99 / 3.74
Announcement - Valve
XCOM: Enemy Unknown and all available Expansion Packs and DLC are Now Available on Linux and SteamOS!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown will place you in control of a secret paramilitary organization called XCOM. As the XCOM commander, you will defend against a terrifying global alien invasion by managing resources, advancing technologies, and overseeing combat strategies and individual unit tactics.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Lousy spawn-camping Snakemen.

What happy times we live in for fans of old-style X-COM, the way your Gollopmother used to make. The awfully X-COM-y Xenonauts left early access and launched properly only a fortnight ago, and now “open-source clone” OpenXcom has hit version 1.0 after five years of development (“This is your father’s X-COM” goes the tagline in an alternate universe with softer copyright laws).

It’s actually more of a replacement engine for X-COM: UFO Defense, mind, requiring the original game to drop in its data files. As well as improving the interface and fixing old bugs and whatnot, it adds mod support. And with that, you can keep playing new old X-COM for ever and ever and ever.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Borderlands' Pandora is a weird place, filled with slag-spewing skags, cyborg ninjas, sarcastic robots and psychotic midgets. After watching the first 30 minutes of Telltale Games' next series Tales from the Borderlands in an E3 demo, I think Pandora's about to get even weirder. But not because Telltale is introducing an alien zoo of new creatures rather, because the combination of Telltale storytelling and Gearbox insanity is 100% as bizarre as everyone thought it would be.

In established Telltale fashion, Tales will be a five-part episodic story. It runs on the same engine as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and older Telltale adventures, with familiar dialogue choices (mapped to A, B, X, Y on a gamepad) and quicktime event action scenes. Unlike Telltale's two current series, though, there are few agonizing moral-based decisions to make on Pandora. Greed is expected with a side of slapstick, hold the logic.

As Telltale's president Kevin Bruner pointed out to me after my demo, Telltale's history is rooted in comedic games like Sam & Max and Strongbad. They can do funny. But the 30 minutes of Tales from the Borderlands didn't quite convince me that Telltale has Gearbox's sense of humor completely dialed in.

The surface-level elements are there. Characters are introduced with Borderlands' signature stylish freeze-frame and witty description. There are skags and bandits and cartoony cel-shaded wastelands. But most of the dialogue in the 30 minutes of Tales I saw (probably a 60/40 cutscene/game split) was clever without really being funny. Some of the other dialogue tried hard for for funny, but fell flat. Only a few lines and visual gags really made me laugh. There was a lot of exposition, which didn't help I can see the game doling out jokes at a more comfortable pace once its main cast of characters are established.

Despite how much this looks like Borderlands, Tales doesn't much feel like Borderlands, because the jokes and gags come at Telltale's measured pace, without the manic speed of Gearbox's kid-in-a-joke-store delivery. Surprisingly for a game set on Pandora, I think storytelling, and not comedy, will be the real strength of Tales from the Borderlands. I shouldn't be surprised by that at this point it's Telltale but I was anyway, because this is a very different type of storytelling for them.

Tales will divide its time between two protagonists: Fiona, a grifter I didn't see much of, and Rhys, a cocksure Hyperion suit working his way up the corporate ladder. The "Tales" in the title are actually tall tales, as Fiona and Rhys prove to be unreliable narrators talking up their past adventures. At one point, Rhys punches a man in the chest and rips out his heart, only to have Fiona interject with a sarcastic "That's totally not what happened." Then she provides her point of view.

This is where player choice plays a big role. In this scene, Fiona's perspective brings up four dialogue options, and each one will affect how the overarching story plays out. The idea that both characters are making up embellished stories, none of which are the proper "truth," is an absolutely perfect approach to the Borderlands world.

Instead of brawling like Bigby Wolf, Rhys can call in a Hyperion robot to fight for him.

The QTE action scenes are as minimally interactive as ever, and the comedy doesn't feel quite on, but the storytelling is as good as ever. Telltale also seems deeply devoted to mining the Borderlands lore for cool characters and backstory, which is something I didn't know I cared about until today. Gearbox throws out so many jokes, it's easy to forget that there's a pretty cool sci-fi world underneath the pile of screaming psycho midgets. Tales is a reminder that there's more to Borderlands than guns and humor.

Telltale aims to release Tales from the Borderlands this Autumn at the same $25 per season, with new episodes coming out "roughly monthly."

Stay up to date with the very latest PC gaming news from E3 2014
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

This man represents open source supporters.

Is… Is this E3 news? On day three, I can’t tell anymore. Did Sid Meier swing on a trapeze across the E3 concourse to announce that Civilization 5 was now available on SteamOS and Linux? Did Aspyr gather the world’s press in an art deco theatre to reveal that this was their first Linux port, after years of porting popular games to Mac? Or is it the case that there was a simple post on Civ V’s Steam forum to declare that users of Ubuntu could now begin conquering 4X strategy worlds?

Probably that last one.

… [visit site to read more]

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Of all the times to roll out a video game, the middle of E3 probably threatens to drown it out the most. That makes the announcement of Civilization 5 on Linux and SteamOS a bit odd, but let this serve as your official alert: Civ 5 is now on Linux and SteamOS. And it's on sale to boot.
PC Gamer

E3 is in full swing and that means an overload of press events, trailers, interviews and hands-on time with the latest and greatest of upcoming videogames. But I'd like to take a break from all that sound and fury for a moment, if I may, to let you all know that the strategy classic Sid Meier's Civilization V is now available for Linux and SteamOS. (Oh, and it's on sale, too.)

Civilization V has been around for a few years now but this still qualifies as pretty big news for SteamOS and Linux gamers. Developer Aspyr Media said today's release "targets SteamOS on current gen hardware," and it's also looking toward supporting Ubuntu 14.04 and additional video cards in future updates.

To that end, Aspyr is asking for feedback about what works, and what doesn't, in the Steam forums or via its own support channel. Some users are saying that the DLC isn't currently appearing in their Civilization V: Complete Edition packages, but the general consensus seems to be that it's a solid port that runs very well.

And as it occasionally does, Steam is marking the moment with a sale, offering Civ V and its various DLC releases, as well as Civilization IV and III bundles, for up to 75 percent off. The sale ends in a little over 19 hours at the time writing, however, which puts it around 1 pm EDT. Best not to dawdle.

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